Month: June 2014


Student Shows: Inked by Jess Fügler

I discovered the work of Jess Fügler last week when I visited the Royal College of Art’s (RCA) summer show. Jess has just graduated from its Design Products programme where she studied under Simon Hasan and Alexander Taylor. This project, titled Inked, uses the craft of tattooing to insert ink below the top layer of sheets of leather, and in doing so, leaves an indelible mark and colourful pattern. The process is called ‘subdermal printing’ and she had the machine on display and working in the show. So far Jess has made bags, ipad and phone covers, but the possibilities are endless. She says: ‘Unlike tattooing by hand, there is complete control of the process, allowing for precision and exact geometry. This results in a print that is completely customisable and will not wear away with time.’ You catch watch a video of the process here.

art and life ben and winifred nicholson

Stop Look Listen: Three things to do this week

A little bit late but here’s my pick of three things to do this week, from hyperrealistic or painterly portraits at the National Portrait Gallery to an exhibition on artists Ben and Winifred Nicholson and a showcase of quirky objects from 1950s Russia.  STOP What: BP Portait Award Where: National Portrait Gallery, London When: Until September 21 Now in its 25th year of sponsorship by BP, and 35th year at the National Portrait Gallery, the Portrait Award showcases 55 of the best and newest portraits from across the world. From informal and personal studies of friends and family to revealing images of famous faces, the exhibition features a variety of styles and approaches to the contemporary painted portrait. Image above: Gina and Cristiano by Isabella Watling, 2013 © Isabella Watling LOOK What: Art and Life: Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, William Staite Murray, 1920 – 1931 Where: Dulwich Picture Gallery, London When: Until September 21 This exhibition, curated by their grandson, Jovan Nicholson, provides a rare opportunity to see Ben and Winifred Nicholson’s views of the same landscapes, seascapes, still lifes and portraits alongside pieces by contemporaries Christopher …


Travel: Monet's house and gardens in Giverny

On the way back from Île de Ré I stopped off at Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny, about an hour from Paris. Monet and his family settled in the small village of Giverny in 1883, it became the place where he would create his most famous work: a series of 250 oil paintings depicting the garden’s water lilies. The house is now open to the public while the garden is packed to the rafters with climbing roses and coloured banks of poppies and hollyhocks. It is evident Monet didn’t like organised or contained gardens, he married flowers according to their colour and left them to grow freely. “All my money goes into my garden,” he said. Ten years after his arrival in Giverny, Monet bought a piece of land neighbouring his garden and created a small pond, which was later enlarged to the size seen today. It is inspired by Japanese gardens and features tumbling wisteria, weeping willows, a bamboo wood and his famous water lilies. On the day we went the sun was out and so …


Minka Inhouse by Fran Aldea

Minka Inhouse is a collection of ceramics and knitted products designed by Chilean designer Fran Aldea and produced by local craftsmen and women in Santiago. I was delighted when her email popped into my inbox, it’s a fascinating project. After studying design at university, Fran became frustrated working in various retail stores so turned her hands to handcrafted products. She quit her job and started searching for talented local craftsmen that could teach and help her to work with two of her favourite materials: ceramic and wool. She says: It didn’t take me long to realize that retail companies have destroyed almost all of our domestic manufacturing. Today just about everything we consume in our country is mass-produced overseas. After a long search I met amazing people that were still in love with their work no matter the adversity. This is how I came up with this project, Minka Inhouse. Minka is a native word used to describe a collective work with a social purpose and benefit for the community. Fran has set up a kickstarter …


Serpentine pavilion 2014 by Smiljan Radić

Each year, just in time for the sunny weather, the lawn in front of the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Hyde Park is transformed by a temporary pavilion designed by a well-known architect. Last year there was Sou Fujimoto’s ethereal climbing frame, the year before a dug-out cork pit by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, and other years saw pavilions by names such as Rem Koolhaas, Jean Nouvel and Zaha Hadid. This year’s iteration is by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, it’s a curvaceous structure of fibreglass sitting atop a Stonehenge-like array of boulders. Inside it feels like a protective cocoon, with light coming through the translucent shell and cut-outs to the landscape beyond. It opens to the public on Thursday (26th June) and is usually one of the most popular art/architecture events in the city over the summer, there’s a cafe inside and people usually spill out onto the grass around. Find out more details on how to visit here.    All images my own


Travel: Île de Ré

Travel guide: Île de Ré. It was holiday time for me last week, when I jetted (or should I say drove, through the beautiful countryside of Normandy, Picardie and the Loire) off to the sunny island of Île de Ré, just off the coast of La Rochelle. Île de Ré is a stunning 30km-long island– completely unspoilt– with picturesque harbours, fields of cornflowers, wild hollyhocks and Farrow & Ball-inspired shuttered houses. In fact, the main town of Saint Martin de Re is a Unesco World Heritage site and the shutters can be painted one of 16 shades, limited to the palette of blue and green. There wasn’t even any seagulls! We set up camp in La Flotte, a short cycle ride from Saint Martin, in an old shabby-chic chateau. The place had a garden for breakfast and a swimming pool that we had to ourselves for the whole trip (Unfortunately the owners have put the house on the market, but if you want to have a sneaky peek, check it out here).    We went to Saint Martin …

Mae Engelgeer Studio 7

ISH by Mae Engelgeer Studio

Mae Engelgeer is a textile designer based in The Netherlands. Her studio is located in the city centre of Amsterdam looking out over the canals near Kadijksplein. The ISH collection, shown here, is a line of mohair, merino wool and cotton blankets as well as cotton and linen tea towels that feature a zig-zag, folk-inspired pattern. The collection was developed and produced at the TextileLab in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Her website says: “She likes to design colorful and eye catching products which are like a piece of art in any interior. More and more she is asked for her graphic style, feeling with color and ‘festi’ dessins by other parties.” Images: Mae Engelgeer Studio


I wish I lived here: bringing the outside in

When you live in city like I do, often with no outdoor space or garden, it can sometimes be hard to replicate the natural world you find in bountiful supply in the countryside (I’m thinking dangling foxgloves outside windows, buzzing bees drunk on nectar and trails of wisteria around a front door) . This home in the Swedish city of Gothenburg has done a perfect job of bringing the outside in; floral wallpaper captures the essence of the English, in this case Swedish countryside (I particularly like the Josef Frank ‘paradise’ wallpaper in the hallway), while house plants are dotted about the rooms to give a green backdrop. Images: Stadshem


Pierre Charpin at Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation

French furniture designer Pierre Charpin has transformed Appartement No 50, an almost completely preserved apartment in its 1952 state, at Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in Marseille, France (I also wrote about it last year when Konstantin Grcic furnished the same apartment). Classified as a ‘historic monument’ in 1995, it opens each summer during which a few of the most talented international designers are invited to furnish it. This year Charpin has mounted large drawings on the wall and added objects by Jasper Morrison, Konstantin Grcic and Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec. The result very much fits in with the original features by Charlotte Perriand and Corbusier and the primary colour scheme of the apartment. For more details on how to visit, see:     All photographs courtesy Philippe Savoir & Fondation Le Corbusier/ ADAGP 2014

Installation view of Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2014 c. Benedict Johnson

Stop Look Listen: Three things to do this week

I’m here in sunny France on a well-deserved summer holiday, I’ve got my Breton stripes on and the Rosé on ice! I’m spending a few days in Normandy and a few days on the island of Ile de Re off La Rochelle. (keep an eye out for a post next week on my travels, including Monet’s beautiful gardens in Giverny or keep in touch on Instagram). So while I’m sitting by the pool here’s three things to do in Londontown… STOP What: Summer Exhibition Where: Royal Academy, London When: Until August 17 The Royal Academy summer exhibition is must-see in the British art calendar. It’s an open entry exhibition meaning you get work from both amateurs and the great Royal Academicians, my favourites are the small rooms on the side packed full to the rafters with prints, paintings and sketches. This year artist Cornelia Parker has curated a black and white room, while work from new RAs Thomas Heatherwick and Bob & Roberta Smith is also on display. (images above: Benedict Johnson courtesy Royal Academy) …