Rethinking Design

This is 'Solar Sanctuary' my modular canopy prototype shown in an exhibition which celebrated craft and technology by the Crafts Council of Ireland.  Each petal is laser cut, then assembled by hand into variable shapes and scale.

I had put the 'petals' aside....until recently, when I was asked to re-build and recolour them into a panel backdrop for the sustainable and fair trade fashion company 'People Tree' lookbook.  
Here's me in my socks and the panel just installed in the photographic studio last weekend.  Scroll down for a sneak peek of one of the finished shots.

This is the model in a People Tree dress which was a collaboration with the wonderful designer Orla Kiely. With the red, it all looks quite Christmassy.  The organic cotton and fair trade dress is currently available from People Tree (and in green too!)  Photo is by Jonathan Rose at DigiBoutique.

London Design Festival 'Tent' People

A quick post with some pics of lovely people I know doing good stuff exhibiting at Tent and beyond this year.  
Go and see them!

Chris Haughton at Node Rugs

Suzanne Goodwin


Plus lovely Irish lady handweaving baskets in SCP

She told me you can get willow in all these colours - naturally!

Away from East side for a moment - Constanze at 100percent Design with her Curl tables and wall art

More East London graffiti - which is becoming my obsession....

and finally, lampshades floating in SCP

Yayoi Kusama - Tate & Selfridges

I went to Yayoi Kusama's exhibition at Tate Modern earlier this year and wrote a blog post (below) at the time.  Just spotted this pic of the 'concept store' in Selfridges.  Quite fab...must go and take a look.

I'm a bit embarrassed to say I didn't know much about Yayoi Kusama, the eighty two year old Japanese artist, before visiting Tate Modern's exhibition (Feb-June 2012) which covers nearly fifty years of her work.  

She's had quite an incredible and troubled life and has for the past 35 years of her life, lived as a resident by choice in a psychiatric care home in Tokyo.

In 1957 she had moved to New York, saying 'For art like mine.....Japan was too small, too servile, too feudalistic and too scornful of women'.  She became a fixture of the avant garde scene there during the 60s and there's plenty of this period including a 'warning, contains nudity' film of one of the happenings she curated where much dotty body painting took place.

Support for the exhibition has come from Louis Vuitton, and in July, with a colloborative collection called 'Infinitely Kusama'.  Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton's artistic director, who's a big fan, says "this will bring the work of Kusama to another audience.  For many people who don't look at art or go to galleries there will be a new venue, a new place to see this work, and to come to appreciate it through the eyes of Louis Vuitton.' Guess shopping is the new art!

There's some great little film about her life on their website.

It 'slightly' glosses over her childhood troubles.  In Tim Adam's review of the exhibition in The Observer, he says 'as a child, she claims to have experienced hallucinations, and nightmarish out of body the same age as she was seeing her visions, she was forced by her mother to spy on her father in bed with his string of mistresses and geishas. She developed a loathing of phallic images, and an overwhelming fascination with voyeurism.'

I don't think LV will be focusing on the phalluses, but there are plenty on show at the Tate in the form of soft sculpture stitched onto all sorts of things including a rowing boat.  

My own personal picks were the smaller detailed paintings which seemed to be all about patterns in nature. I loved these paintings in the exhibition and the smaller ones in the first few rooms.  

Grayson Perry weaving class

Visited the Victoria Miro gallery this weekend to see Grayson Perry's recent tapestries.  The gallery is in an amazing conversion of an old shoe factory between Islington and the city.  A really fab space to roam around with a hidden garden right in the centre of an urban neighbourhood.

I'd watched Channel 4's three programmes 'All in the Best Possible Taste', with Grayson Perry's look at Britain's taste and class and the tapestries emerged alongside the series. AA Gill, the Sunday Times journalist summed it up well "On camera Perry is able to organise complex and abstract thoughts, and explain them with an unpatrician clarity, without art snobbery."  It was really illuminating and fun telly particularly Perry asking his hosts' opinions on what dress to wear to fit in with their clan! 

Grayson Perry says "The tapestries tell the story of class mobility, for I think nothing has as strong an influence on our aesthetic taste as the social class in which we grow up.  I am interested in the politics of consumerism and the history of popular design but for this project I focus on the emotional investment we make in the things we choose to live with, wear, eat, read or drive. "  The artist's primary inspiration was William Hogarth's 'A Rake's Progress.

Each programme ended with Perry with the digital weavers in Belgium, looking at the finished result.  This sequence lasting just 5 minutes, linked with Perry at his computer producing the work. Perry probably works fast and doesn't seem to suffer from any artists block or self doubt, but  I felt it undervalued the process.  After all, it's digital!  Just push the button and you've got the product spewing out at the other end!

So I was interested to see the final results and how much textural details had been achieved.
2m x 6m - six of them!  
Colourful, bursting with detail...almost too much to take in.
A bit overwhelmed, I started to focus in on the drawing style of the dogs, which I particularly liked, so here are my favourite pics which show some of the weaving detail nicely.

and rather sadly, the dead dog in the final tapestry.....

They're on show until 11 August.

Thomas Heatherwick at V&A

Forget Royal pageant, forget the other exhibition currently at the V&A "Britsh Design", it's the Thomas HeatherwickDesigning the Extraordinary exhibition which makes me really proud to be in Britain right now.  

We went last Sunday afternoon with kids and teenagers in tow.  The exhibition is located in the smaller gallery space near the museum front.  It took us some time to actually get in - and everyone off Heatherwick's Spun chairs in the lobby....

Plus, a spiral winding Heath-Robinson-esque device allowed you to wind and deliver your own exhibition leaflet.

Another chance to swirl in the outdoor central courtyard space...