If you read this blog often, you would know that I have a major admiration for Zaha Hadid Architects, ever since I did a project inspired by her during my interior architecture student days.
So flicking through her website, I was taken aback by the image of the RIBA Stirling award winning project.
The Evelyn Grace Academy, is situated in Brixton, an area once known for its crime and poverty but over the last 10 years has increasingly improved. Having once been a teacher, this project also resonated with me because of its conceptual basis. It was conceived as a ‘school within schools’, where four different schools are housed within the campus, creating a more intimate relationship between the school, its teachers and students.
As you can see in the images, the teaching spaces are light and bright, with a lot of flexibility. The spaces are also available to the community to use, contributing to the continuing regeneration of Brixton.
This is a project that shows exactly how architecture can change a community and the lives of the people that live within it.
18 September 2012
images via diptyque
Diptyque is a quintessentially French brand so this interpretation by the English designer Christopher Jenner in their new store in the Leadenhall Market is so interesting.
The Leadenhall market was built in the Victorian era and the new store has worked within this aesthetic time period, using the original pressed metal ceiling as a starting point and adding to it traditional English brass work, coloured glass and walnut cabinetry reminiscent of a Victorian library.
The palette is similarly in keeping with the Victorian era: forest greens, cobalt blues and rich reds are mixed together like a Gothic revival English church. Pugin would have been proud. Pity about the really ugly point of sale…couldn’t they have hidden it with a brass lectern? Even so- it’s better than the very disappointingly designed IFC store here.
14 September 2012
If you thought the work of Edvard Munch began and ended with The Scream, think again. The latest exhibition at the Tate Modern explores this fascinating artist, his life, influences and his work.
His work was typified by an unforgiving and unrelenting process of self-examination. This process, together with his willingness to experiment with different media, from drawing to printmaking to photography to film, resulted in a body of work that was diverse, but returned time and time again to the reworking of the same images and themes.
The reworking of images is the thing that I found most interesting about Munch’s work. That an artist, over a number of years and, having worked on different pieces in the meantime, can repeat a composition that is both clearly recognisable, but different as well is most fascinating. Though repeating a painting was common practice in the nineteenth century, his reworkings were never the same.
Images like The Sick Child 1907 reveal past traumatic memories of his young sister’s death from tuberculosis. This was an image you can see again in a later painting which, though painted in a looser style, reveals as much pain and emotion that it did in the first version.
All in all, a great and well-curated exhibition which gives the viewer a much stronger understanding of the artist.
Edvard Munch:The Modern Eye
19 August 2012
I have always been a bit of a stitcher so I was thrilled to come across the pop-up store of Fine Cell Work. Taught by volunteers from the UK Embroiderers and Quilters Guild, these pieces are stitched by prisoners who use their time to learn a new, paid skill.
The pieces are finely crafted and worked. Interestingly, most of the needlework is made by male prisoners who find the work calming and meditative. On average, prisoners in the UK are locked up for around 17 hours per day so small cushion not only represents hours of work ( approximately 80!!) but also means that prisoners are spending their time productively, earning money that can be used to support their families as well as teaching them a skill.
You can learn more about Fine Cell Work via their website and if you are in London, take the time to visit their new pop-up store in Grosvenor Street, Mayfair open now until the 30th September. You can also commission a piece of needlework via the website. It is a great way to commemorate an event and you can join the V&A, the Tate and the Prince of Wales in commissioning a piece.
You can also donate money to support this fine enterprise. It really is a worthwhile cause.
5 Grosvenor Street , London, W1K 4DJ
16 August 2012
Folk- the hippest of the hip clothes store in London
love these colours in the window of darkroom
Ben Pentreath is a fabulously quirky store- get your gifts from london here
The French House-if you can’t make it to the south of france this summer, this is the place for you!
deliciously quirky costume jewels at Maggie Owen
One of the hidden areas of WestLondon-definitely one for the locals- is Lambs Conduit Street. Here you will find some of the most quirky stores in London whether you are looking for fashion or homewares. Here are a few of the best.
Part of a chain that stretches from East London to Amsterdam, Folk stocks some of the coolest womens and menswear around. Including Acne, Humanoid, Sessun and their own recently launched self-named brand, Folk carries clothes that are simple, stylish and easy too wear. I defy you to come out of here looking less than impossibly hip.
3 Lamb’s Conduit Street London WC1N 3NB
Want to be part of the Bloomsbury set? Persephone Books is a boutique fiction publishing company that specialises in reprinting books by forgotten (mostly female) authors of the 20th century. Wrapped in their signature dove grey cover, these books are not only stylish but pretty good reads too. I love their windows which use vintage artifacts to evoke a lost era of writing.
59 Lamb’s Conduit Street London
I first heard of Darkroom via their online store which stocks unique and hard-to-find items (sound familiar?). With a great range of jewellery, homewares and artifacts, there are things here I have never seen anywhere else, and I shop a lot! Love their concept and store.
52 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1N 3LL
If you look at my very limited blog roll you will see that one of the select few includes Ben Pentreath. Around the corner in Rugby Street, this store is very quirky and lots of fun. Find fab light fittings, gifts and furniture here. Ben is also a very talented period architect and does lots of very interesting, but classical, work in London and overseas.
17 Rugby St London WC1N 3QT
If you live in London but can’t quite make it to an authentic french brocante, the french house is the place for you. Linens, furniture, copper cookware and simple glasses make up this store where the stock is generally made specifically for them. Lots of solid basics here which will add texture and solidity to your interior choices.
50 Lamb’s Conduit London WC1N 3LH
I do like her jewels but one of the standouts is the very lovely tiled exterior of her store. When we visited there last week, it was covered in very festive red, white and blue bunting. Venture inside and you will find a selection of gorgeous costume jewels. Love it.
52 Lamb’s Conduit, London, WC1N 3LL
To get to Lamb’s Conduit Street, take the tube to Russell Square and walk 5 minutes from there. There are plenty of cafes around to get a bite, but I particularly recommend the cafe at the Foundling Museum at 40 Brunswick Square. Lots of lovely eats there in a bright & cheerful space. Visit the museum too- it’s cool!
15 August 2012
images by eclectic cool
Covent Garden has a bit of a dearth of good quick food. I had read about Mishkin’s in the TImes that morning and I thought it would be the perfect place for a quick Reuben sandwich on the way to see War Horse.
Decorated in the style of a 50s diner and full of the cool tattooed crowd, the air is full of the mouthwatering taste of salted beef.
If you squinted your eyes and were immune to accents, once you squeezed yourself into a red vinyl booth with the black and white checked floor and wooden detailing, you could almost imagine that you were in NY.
Though it possibly couldn’t be kosher, the mix of macaroni and salted beef in the mac and cheese was too die for. However, Heston Blumenthal’s autograph on the wall promising a heavenly Reuben was not too be. For my taste, it was way too thin- both the rye bread and the meats were not chunky enough, though the sauerkraut was pleasingly tangy. I tried to take a photo of it but its proportions just didn’t make a good image!
However, if you do want to eat something a bit different to the usual London fare- this is the place for you.
14 August 2012
When you get off the tube at Baker Street, you can’t help but enter into the world of Sherlock Holmes. The tiles lining the station give you a good clue about what you will find in the museum. Deerstalker hats, pipes and magnifying glasses all about- quite different to the harder edged Sherlock we know and love from the more contemporary representations.
With the Victorian bobby guarding the front door, throw all your cynicism away because though corny, even I temporarily forgot that Holmes was a fictional character. The museum does seem like a snapshot in time, with all the displays having that very authentic moth eaten look.
The first two floor had displays of Sherlock’s, Dr Watson’s and Mrs Hudson’s rooms which were full of papers, books and artifacts that could have conceivably been owned by them. These were quite a bit of fun to look at-everything from his Baedaker of Switzerland to his medal presented by the French government was included.
The only let down were the unrealistic wax tableaus of famous scenes from his cases, but even this was kind of fun.
If you are a Holmes fan- this is well worth a visit. If you are not, it is a pretty authentic representation of a middle class Victorian boarding house.
Sherlock Holmes Museum
Open every day of the year (except Christmas Day) from 9.30am – 6pm
13 August 2012
Visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum when I come to London is like visiting an old friend.
When I was at Christies, I used to come here nearly twice a week and spend a couple of hours each visit looking at a particular room. The museum is so vast that even though I come to London twice a year and spend a similar amount of time on my visit, it never gets boring.
I usually choose a theme: this visit I looked at fans. What?
Carried by ladies, not only to cool themselves, but to look alluring-a fan is one of the most beautiful accessories that a lady can hold. Usually, fans were constructed of carved wood or bamboo and covered in silk or lace. However, they were often painted by skilled miniature painters and carved out of precious or rare materials such as tortoisehell, leather, ivory and with metal details. A fan had to be light, as they were often used for hours at a time.
Check out these 3 fine examples.
The first is mid 18th century and each blade is made of intricately carved ivory. Such a rare material was extremely expensive and was probably a gift for a very rich woman.
The second is constructed of silk and pressed leather. The detail of the painting again is the main ornament of the fan.
The final example is again beautifully carved of mother of pearl and gold. Again the fan itself is made of painted silk
7 August 2012
This is my third post for the pavilion. It might seem a bit like overkill, but I do love it and I am a great admirer of both the artist, Ai Wei Wei and the architects, Herzog+ De Meuron. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to seeing it.
9 June 2012
A couple of months ago, I mentioned the collaboration between Herzog & de Meuron and artist Ai Wei Wei in designing this year’s Serpentine Pavilion. To be asked to design this temporary pavilion is one of the most prestigious honours for architects in the world.
You can read the design intent here.
Their design used the footprint of old pavilions in the past to design the interior and then create a reflective pool
on the roof. This reflective pool can even be drained away so that the space can be used as a dance floor. I am pleased to say that the design is interesting and beautiful. I am heading off to London this summer . Can’t wait to see it in the flesh, so to speak, I’ll take some photos and share!
8 May 2012