design

Patchwork: Gee’s Bend

After all the fuss about the glorious 1950s abstract paintings was waning, someone got around to recognising the same style in patchwork quilts made by black ladies in Alabama, at Gee’s Bend, for basic human survival.

 

These quilts are perfect material to cover in this blog – they were made for real life, to keep out the cold in uninsulated buildings; they were made from scraps and offcuts; they were made in the small amount of time women had from family and farming duties.  But they were made bold and beautiful and not prissied up.

One of the favourite books I have is a large format (almost impossible to shelve) book of their designs: “Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt” edited by Paul Arnett.  I just opened it to take some snaps to show what I meant – but I think that’s going to have to be a separate blog post.

 

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Poetry Pilgrimage: Little Sparta

Two days ago, I went to Little Sparta, Scottish home of poet Ian Hamilton Finlay – whose garden contains words set in stone, playful and very often anti-war symbols – a place of imagination with 300 word/art works.

“The garden functions as a political statement…. it suggests that as it is possible to transform this hillside into a garden, so it is possible for man to transform the world or society.  It is an example of action and that’s very important to me.”

Ian Hamilton Finlay (in conversation with Melvyn Bragg, 1983

A theme which Ian brings into the conversation is how gardens have become a place for (more…)

Pouffe! Household furniture thing of beauty

You can have the world at your feet….. or take the weight of the world off your feet… with this pouffe.

Hot air balloons, butterflies and rivers are just some of the intricate patterns on this pouffe designed by Kristjana Williams.

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Picture from maker’s website: https://www.kristjanaswilliams.com

One of her largest scale commissions was a theatrical light projection for the Rio Olympics – for the beach fronted hotel Belmond Copacabana Palace.  Inspired by mapmaking and butterflies, it raised a spontaneous “wow” of delight and applause.  Before it appeared, there were butterfly balloons and kites given out on the beach.  (see a glimpse of it in this brief and beautiful one minute video).

Inside the hotel also contained more of her work, behind the reception desk and concierge desk:

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If you’d like to see more of Kritjana’s work – or even, buy some – her website is:

https://www.kristjanaswilliams.com/

 

 

 

Scandinavian home craft

Lotta Jansdotter has a worldwide reputation for handprinting patterns which are used on textiles, notebooks and household interiors.

“Can’t find what you want?  Make it!  Don’t know how?  Learn it!” is how her website describes her pragmatic approach, much of her printing based on simple potato cut prints, in repeating patterns.

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Her fabrics are stocked by Windham Fabrics but you can learn the techniques of (more…)

Keep CALMomile and Carry On

Hot news expected from Buckingham Palace? – simply a retirement announcement – no problem.  Sit down and have a cuppa.

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Christopher Dresser design – V&A

Can you date the design of this British made teapot?

Perhaps surprisingly, it is over 130 years old – from the Victorian era.

Christopher Dresser designed it in 1879.  It was a prototype and was purchased by the London design museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, in 2006.

 

Here is his design for a toast rack – so startling and yet functional that, 100 years after his death, Alessi made it and it is still available on their online website: £135.

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Photo by V&A

Good design keeps going.  And, of course, the tradition of tea and toast sails on, regardless.

Getting Mentors – don’t ask!

Here’s a great piece of lifetime advice (among many) by Pentagram partner, Michael Beirut:

“People always want to look for mentors – then they say “Will you be my mentor?” Do NOT do that.  You don’t need their permission you don’t need to tell them they’re your mentor.”

“Anyone you know could be your mentor – you just need to start listening, be curious and paying attention.  You don’t even need to meet the person – a TED talks person could be your mentor – you can have as many as you want – I’ve had hundreds of mentors – it’s free for the taking – just don’t tell them, that’s all!