Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Contemporary furniture

Interesting applications of form and practicality. I like the compact nature and simplicity of these designs.

Hot Chip album designs

I always like Hot Chip album covers nearly as much as their music (which is a lot) It's really bold when there's a running theme or template as with these ones that I've picked out, it shows they are different pieces from the same source and they each kind of illustrate the songs. Each entity circled onto the square seems to embody the sense of the song through textures and materials. Album covers should do what these do, i think; act as a depiction of the music in a seductive, picture frame type way.

Their videos are generally an obscure raw and conceptual style, I find them some of the most visually interesting videos around.

There is an old version they made but never released for 'colours' on this page:


Michael Hughes

Michael Hughes has compiled a small book of postcards, called 'souvenirs' in which he has made images of postcards within their settings and images of attractions worked into their actual setting. I really like this idea of a double photograph. It makes me think about what an image represents and senses of time and presence. like a layered reality. I also came across the below series of images within an image, which really caught my eye.

Hot Rods and Hairy Beasts

This exhibition at London's Coningsby Gallery features work by illustrators Nishant Choksi, Rod Hunt, Linzie Hunter and Allan Sanders. They showcase 'an impressive menagerie of horrendous and hairy beasts'!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

The World's Fastest Indian

In my opinion, this is one of Anthony Hopkin's best performances. It's based on a true story of a New Zealander called Burt Munro, who spent 25 years working on an old motorbike (1920's Indian) that he hoped would break the land speed record held at a convention in Utah on the salt flats. With a threatening heart condition, very little money and his makeshift invention (no breaks, old tyres..) he travels across the world and competes against hundreds of hi-tech creations. There are some awful moments when you think they will just turn him away or it's all going to go wrong and it's an extraordinary adventure of courage and perseverance.

Below are some genuine images from the Burt Munro site;

Trap Door

You've got to love Trap Door! The entire set is plasticine and was created by Terry Brain and Charlie Mills. It's unlike any other plasticine animation, I think, in it's humour and style. Truely brilliant.

UPS Widget

I came accross this UPS pop up whilst researching and not expecting much of it, I had a look and thought there's actually a really good idea in that.. they provide a widget in the form of a branded ups office assistant. The little guy with the post hat on tells you when your packages are being shipped/arrived etc and runs around your desktop. It's quite a novel idea and emphasises the idea of being of service!

The History Boys

"The current of intellectual energy snapping through “The History Boys,” the ferociously engaging screen adaptation of Alan Bennett’s Tony Award-winning play, set in a boys’ school in northern England in 1983, feels like electrical brain stimulation. As two teachers jockey for the hearts and minds of eight teenage schoolboys preparing to apply to Oxford and Cambridge, their epigrams send up small jolts of pleasure and excitement. How to teach and interpret history is the question."

One view is represented by Irwin, hired by the school to scrape away the rust of received opinion from the students’ thinking so that their answers to test questions will have more edge.” On the other side is Hector, the poetry-spouting, eccentric teacher of general studies who cares deeply about how knowledge is applied to life. His pure idealism is measured by his response to a student during a discussion of the Holocaust. When the boy reels off a quote from Wittgenstein — “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” — Hector scolds him for glibness and for treating the words as “a dinky formula.” and responds “All human knowledge is precious whether or not it serves the slightest human use.” Most of the best lines go to Irwin “History nowadays is not a matter of conviction. It’s a performance. It’s entertainment.”

Transferred to the screen with its language intact, “The History Boys” inevitably feels less like a movie than like an academic vaudeville show. In one scene the students converse comically in French. Interwoven with the serious monologues are vintage popular songs (“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”) and scenes from old movies (“Now, Voyager” and “Brief Encounter”) performed by the students with a deadpan playfulness. If these songs and re-enacted film bits seem anachronistic choices for a movie set in the 1980s (the soundtrack includes period rock by the Clash and other groups), without its breezy horseplay “The History Boys” would come across as a drier, English answer to “Dead Poets Society.” All this verbal dexterity should awaken in viewers a wistful Anglophilic envy. How often do the most articulate characters in American films express themselves with such finesse?

--- London Movie Review

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Fish Face

Cambridge Open Studios

The Cambridge Open Studios are a really good way for new artists to get their work seen. Held annually, the programmes are handed around detailing artists residences and viewing time periods for their work. Some local galleries host the work as well as the artists themselves, which I prefer to actually visiting their houses! But if you go with a fellow art student and make good conversation about the work it can be a very insightful experience. Some of the work I've previously seen is shown on the portfolio websites, although they don't particularly like you to take photos.

Strange Clock

The last weekend I spent at home, I stumbled upon this odd installation apparently recently unveiled by Stephen Hawking adorning the front of Corpus Christi College near the Cambridge market. It's a hideous bug/insect/creature sat on top of a huge gold dial that displays a blue light show of hours, minutes and seconds in some revolutionary way of showing the time... and it cost £1 million. The insect thing moves its mouth up and down and crawls around the clock ( well it moves from underneath it ) and it looks, I thought, just a bit horrible and unsightly! It's strange what some people do with their money..

---Dr Taylor is an inventor and horologist - one who studies the measurement of time - and was a student at Corpus Christi in the 1950s. He has given the clock as a gift to his former college. The grasshopper or "chronophage", meaning "time eater", advances around the 4ft-wide face, each step marking a second. Its movement triggers blue flashing lights which travel across the face eventually stopping at the correct hour and minute. But the clock is only accurate once every five minutes - the rest of the time the lights are simply for decoration. ---
"Conventional clocks with hands are boring," he said. "I wanted to make timekeeping interesting."

"I also wanted to depict that time is a destroyer - once a minute is gone you can't get it back.
That's why my grasshopper is not a Disney character. He is a ferocious beast that over the seconds has his tongue lolling out, his jaws opening, then on the 59th second he gulps down time."


The Art of Looking Sideways

An inexhaustible "guide to visual awareness." This is a concoction of anecdotes, quotes, images, and bizarre facts that offers a wonderfully twisted vision of the chaos of modern life. Fletcher is a renowned designer and art director and describes his book as "a journey without a destination," He captures the sensory overload of a world that simply contains too much information. In one typical section, entitled "Civilization," the reader encounters six Polish flags designed to represent the world, a photograph of an anthropomorphic handbag, Buzz Aldrin's boot print on the moon, drawings of Stone Age pebbles, a painting of "Ireland--as seen from Wales," and a dizzying array of quotations and snippets of information, including the wise words of Marcus Aurelius, Stephen Jay, and Gandhi's comment, "Western civilization? I think it would be a good idea." Fletcher's mastery of design mixes type, space, fonts, alphabets, color, and layout combined with the strange and profound to produce a stunning book that cannot be read, but only experienced. Thought provoking and inspiring, this book is a rambling artist journal of tidbits he has found interesting over his long creative career.

Here are some quotes that I jotted down;

'Triumphs of imagination such as the person you love is 72.8% water'

'How to think by jumping. Never wait for yourself. A word in your eye. The art of looking sideways... By the way, what’s it like living with a paper bag over your head? Not referring to you of course – the uncommon exception to universal bondage.'

'Every tool carries with it the spirit by which it has been created'

And a lot on the philosophy of vision;

If you do not raise you eyes you will think you are at the highest point
The most important instrument of thought is the eye
Every period has its own optical focus
Images have had a great influence on realities
Love comes in at the eye
Every man mistakes the limits of his vision for the limits of the world
To gaze is to think
One hundred tellings are not as good as one seeing
Originality is simply a fresh pair of eyes
To unveil is to enchant
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye
A monk asked his teacher ‘what is myself?’ he answered ‘something hidden within yourself’ the monk asked what this was and the teacher opened and closed his eyes.
Man is a seeing creature who sees with his thoughts and thinks while seeing
The entire course of our life depends on our senses, of which sight is the most universal and noble

What is originality – to see something that has no name.. hence cannot be mentioned although it stares us in the face.

Goethe thought thinking was more interesting than knowing, but not so interesting as looking. Certainly when confronted by a boring conversation my concentration is inclined to fold its arms and divert itself by observing the visual dialogues of my surroundings: the chit chat between dappled sunlight and a chint fabric, the point of contact between the edge of a near chair and the silhouette of a far lampshade, the dissolving outline of a face as it passes in front of a bright light. As Georgia O Keefe pointed out, nobody sees the flower, really, it is so small, we haven’t time, and it takes time to see, like to have a friend takes time.

We tend to reduce our environment to visual muzak – a perceptual symphony of colours, shapes and patterns. Blinkered by habit we glance around rather than look with acuity. In effect the eye sleeps until the mind wakes it with a question.

This has been really good research for my dissertation and given me a lot to consider further

Never Let Me Go

This is an amazing story that keeps you gripped and then completely shatters your emotions at the end but all the while its makes you think a lot about life and the reality of things and has a really strong impact.

Ishiguro is a Japanese-born, British writer whose books are generally never light hearted or particularly upbeat but he renders the characters meticulously well and captures the atmosphere for the stories fantastically. I read this book last year, in relation to the Alzheimer's D&AD brief because it's based around consciousness and existence and subjective experience. The theme is similar to that of 'The Island' in the way that the children in the school are clones, anaware of the reality of their environment - they exist in a controlled place as 'donors' and so their lives are lived with that purpose and only rumours suggest what happens beyond completing their donation. The story raises social issues and tests human emotions by unfolding these unsettling mysteries throughout.

T Rex - Born to Boogie

This is a short film directed by Ringo Starr to celebrate the success of T-Rex at their Wembley Empire Pool concert. I'm quite the T Rex fan so I love this! It's centered around the live performances with an acoustic set filmed at John Lennon's mansion and amusing backstage footage of Bolan.. also some very surreal scenes of nuns and dwarves! Bolan's son presents some extra trailers, outtakes, studio sessions, interviews, etc. It feels kind of special because it's all unseen stuff and it makes you sentimental about his life and career having been cut short. I also love the Beatles short films and the whole Monty Python style they have to them:

The Fez Club flyer

The Fez Club is one of Cambridge's few night clubs worth visiting. I really liked the concept for this flyer they used to promote one of their nights. It's fun, simple and quirky with a retro design of a cassette tape keeping the message simply 'music'. If only they hadn't spoiled it by using comic sans at the bottom! Although it does look a lot like my dads writing on all of our old cassette tape labels.. so it could be arguably suitable.

Thursday, 25 September 2008


This advert worked for me!


I'm in the middle of reading this book. Someone let me borrow it and said it was one of the best books they had read.. it's quite hard to get into but really gripping once it gets going. It's an epic story of the author's time in Mumbai and seems to cover everything from relationships, culture and travel to drugs and crime. The descriptions are captivating and I really enjoy the writing style.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Garden State

"A whip-smart, angst-ridden comedy. As well as making an assured directorial debut, Zach Braff from TV's Scrubs wrote and stars in this tale of a jobbing Hollywood actor rudely awakened from a lithium haze to attend his mother's funeral in New Jersey. While it may sound like a depressing anti-drugs video, in Braff's hands it's a witty, wacky, and wonderful trip through the minefield of being twenty-something. "
I think everyone has to watch this film!

Wired.com Photography Contest

Some amazing images! I find the compositional decisions and framing of photography a really fascinating subject. It's also intriguing to see the natural art in the different subject matter people have chosen and makes you appreciate things around you that you might not have imagined to be such artistic images if cropped and focused on. When I go anywhere with my camera I seem to automatically look at everything around me in a visual frame and I think that's an important method of thinking for every area of design.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Russ Mills - Illustration

Russ Mills studied Illustration at Leeds Metropolitan, specialising in experimental film and animation. His past and existing clients include- Future Publishing - Imagine FX, The Royal Court Theatre, US Playstation Magazine, Them London, Audio Agent.com and Leaders Edge Magazine.
He uses a vast range of source material to achieve the textures and random marks, scanning images in and then manipulating them further on the computer. In his FAQ section of the website, he states that his influences include Van Gogh, Picasso and Jackson Pollock. He also provides a list of links to other illustrators and artists on his site which shows a variety of styles. I find his work visually exciting and love the delicacy of the lines against the more erratic strokes they are teamed with.

Some of his animations can e viewed here YOUTUBE.
His advice to young designers:
"Patience Perseverence Discipline Commitment. DRAW ALL THE TIME, sketch or doodle as much as possible or at the very least write down ideas. Carry an A5 black book always. Be aware of what others are doing, seek out the best of the best and learn from their approaches. Never be satisfied with what you achieve. Above all enjoy working and over time nurture the necessity to work."
his website:

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Escher Staircases

I went to see the above staircase in Austria, inspired by the Escher designs. The stairs go upwards on the underside of the spiral as well as the top and they break off in odd directions. It makes you feel really dizzy! There are some other examples I've found of similar structures below:

Kunst Haus - Graz, Austria
I would say this is probably the most memorable piece of architecture that I've seen on my travels. It was designed by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, both London based architects. The thing that struck me most about this building was the way it drastically contrasted with it's setting. The reflective panels create distorted displays of the surrounding traditional Austrian architecture when stood up close and its looks so odd and obvious amongst the panoramic view of the town from afar. The alien-esque character of the space lab fits in with it's presence in the setting; it represents the future and the possibilities that are ahead of us. Its plexiglass skin is a media fa├žade which can be changed electronically and has protrusive skylight openings.

"The aesthetic dialogue between the new biomorphic structure on the bank of the Mur and the old clock tower is the trade-mark of a city aiming to create a productive tension between tradition and avant-garde"

"In terms of urban design, the building is intended to have a major impact on the regeneration of the western half of the city which has until now been relatively underprivileged compared to the Eastern side which contains the major public buildings, universities and museums. Cultural institutions, particularly museums of modern art, have the remarkable ability, if made appealing to the public, such as the Pompidou centre in Paris, the Guggenheim in Bilbao or the Tate Modern in London - also located on the “wrong” side of the river - of acting as powerful catalysts of change and symptoms of this urban transformation are already noticeable."

Kunst Haus Graz hosts international exhibitions of multi-disciplinary modern and contemporary art. The particularity of the Kunsthaus Graz is that it is not intended to house a permanent collection.

The Kunst Haus features a slow moving travelator that transports visitors around the galleries and gives the sense of being penetrated through the outer skin.

Colin Fournier - “The friendly alien swallows everything with its travelator. It is like a giant Hoover, like the belly of the whale, evoking the distant memory and unconscious desire that we have, since childhood, of being swallowed by the dragon, the subtle pleasure we experience when licked by the family cat’s sandpaper tongue. It is the black whole of the whale’s stomach, where one can find all sorts of things: old boots, lost treasures, bewildered fish, Jonas himself: that’s what a museum has to be, a place that plays on our desire to find ourselves in the company of surprising and unexpected things, bizarre confrontations, things that sometimes are not yet quite fully digested."


I adore Gaudi architecture. It's all so interesting and intricate so that the closer you get to it, the more amazing it looks. Last summer, I travelled with friends to Barcelona, where we visited the Sagrada Familia and learned about his influences and inspiration for the design. It was really fascinating to see the miniature models of the finished building (it's still unfinished at present) and all of his sketches of different natural structures that he had taken the shapes from. These included honeycomb, shells, the double helix structure (present in the winding columns) and forms such as the Fibonacci Golden Spiral. There are echoes of cubist design in the figures and gargoyles adorning the walls, buried in the bark-like earthy exterior texture. The ceiling windows created splendid lighting and patterns. Some of my photo's are below;
We also went to see the Casa Mia apartments and Park Guell. Park Guell is situated high up on a hill and gives awesome views of the city, be prepared to climb ten or so escalators up the hill to reach it.. but they are interesting in themselves because the streets are so steep and narrow and run down and ghetto-like that the escalators seem almost surreal in the setting! Some images I took are below;

Price James - Music Videos

I love this pop-up-book style music video directed by Price James for Shit Disco. He also directed the above for Simian Mobile Disco. You can see more of his work on the myspace link below;

Tuesday, 26 August 2008