Back in July Alistair took part in the Dunwich Dynamo, the fantastic annual 116 mile all-night bike ride from London to the Suffolk coast, starting at London Fields around 8pm, and ending on the beach at Dunwich in the early hours of the following morning.
Alistair has written up his experience of the trip for the third issue of gorgeous cycling magazine The Ride Journal, to accompany a beautiful series of images by photographer Joe McGorty.
Here's an excerpt from the piece:
"Almost imperceptibly though, the group began to stir. Helmets were tightened. Route sheets pocketed. Watches checked. Clusters of riders rose to pick up their bikes, transforming into a loose pack with a single fixed purpose: to ride right through the night.
As the pinks and reds of a setting sun gave way to the deeper hues of night, we gently paced our way out of the tight bright urban sprawl into the space and calm of the countryside. Up ahead, the column of cyclists formed a shifting string of blinking red lights, stretched out along the road, twisting lithely like a living organism next to the stationary lights of the queuing traffic. It was a fantastic sight."
To celebrate the launch of the third issue of the magazine, Joe and The Ride Journal, in collaboration with Exhibit X, are hosting 116 to Sea, an exhibition of the photographs at the Pebbledash Gallery in Stoke Newington, running from 7 - 13 November, with a private view on Friday 6 November.
We trekked across London on Friday and Saturday checking out various bits and bobs at the London Design Festival: we'll post a few highlights on here in the coming days, and thought we'd kick off with our favourite find at 100% Design.
Lost Values, the brainchild of creative director Elena Corchero, was showing as part of Jorg & Olif's Bike Feature. Ditching the standard lycra/tech feeling of most cycling garms, the lovely Lost Values team had created the Reflective Lace range, a selection of hand-woven high-visibility products for cyclists. Under standard lighting conditions the clothes look completely normal, but hit them with some car headlights (or a flashgun), and the reflective threads leap out at you. Check it out with the shoelaces in the two shots below, where the one on the left is shot without flash, and the one on the right with flash.
Lost Values picked up a Blueprint Best Use of Materials award for their work, richly deserved, particularly considering the focus they're placing on ethical and local manufacture. We particularly loved the scarf they'd created, and can't wait for their stuff to be available on the high street - we can imagine them hooking up with the likes of Howies, Swrve or Rapha to do some really interesting stuff.
It's always great when you get to see some top-notch graduate work. Recent Leeds Metropolitan graduate Christopher Goodwin dropped by the studio this morning to show us his portfolio, and it's full of really great stuff.
He's been doing some work with Dust in Sheffield recently, and is now looking about for his next gig, so if you're hunting for some hot new talent, drop him an email.
Well, heck, the BBC's gone and done it again: it's created one of those programmes that makes you rejoice the very fact that the corporation exists.
Lost Land of the Volcano is a three-part nature documentary that follows an international team of scientists, film-makers and cavers as they explore the jungle islands of Papua New Guinea hoping to find and document rare and endangered animals, and perhaps even discover some new species.
The film-making is breathtaking, but it's the sense of discovery, of pure scientific awe, that really blows you away. In the final episode, in the extinct volcano Mount Bosavi (on the island of New Guinea), they even discover two new species of mammal.
And, brilliantly, the BBC has even seen fit to upload the PDF of the final report made by Dr George McGavin (the show's bug expert) about the trip - here's its summary:
"An international team of scientists and filmmakers spent six weeks in the forests in and around Mount Bosavi in the Southern Highland Province of Papua New Guinea. In the course of the expedition, it is estimated that at least forty new species were collected. These include at least sixteen new species of frog, two new species of lizards, three new species of fish, one new species of bat and an undescribed, endemic subspecies of the Silky Cuscus were documented. Another mammal and the largest new species of animal discovered during the trip, was a Woolly Giant-rat, found in the forest inside the crater of Mount Bosavi. In addition there are undoubtedly many new species of insects and spiders represented in the material collected. Our findings show that Mount Bosavi and the surrounding area is unusually rich, especially in local and regional endemic species. It is therefore vitally important for conservation organisations and the government of Papua New Guinea to work in partnership with local landowners to ensure that the forests of Mount Bosavi are incorporated into Papua New Guinea’s protected area network as soon as possible."
Great stuff eh? Makes you glad to pay the licence fee.
UK folk can watch the show on the BBC's iPlayer, and there's more info about the show on this Out of the Wild page.
Ah, so this is good - on Saturday the folks at the Art Car Boot Fair will be selling their wares at their 'Bootique' at The Dock, the 'emporium of creative talent' curated by Tom Dixon over at Portobello Dock.
"The Art Car Bootique will distill the Art Car Boot Fair’s winning combination of fine art art and high end frivolity into a ‘best of the boot fair’ event ... all manner of artworks, artwares and services direct from artworld luminaries and emerging talents including Sir Peter Blake, Nick Reynolds, Ian Monroe, Pure Evil, Gavin Turk, Pretty Taxing, the House of Fairytales, Scrawl Collective and Stuart Semple. Fine art, street art, limited edition prints, cool sculptures, art for kids and live while-you-wait portrait painting plus lots of arty entertainments."
The bootique will be open on Saturday 26 from noon till 6pm (possibly from 10am - the site mentions both times). The Dock is open from 10am-6pm daily this week, until 8pm today, and until 4pm on Sunday.
Sometimes, every now and then, London is just the perfect place to be. We noticed this yet again when we jumped on our bike on Sunday to take a quick tour of a few of the first events of the London Design Festival. It was one of those days where it felt like the capital city was truly alive.
Over at the V&A, we checked out the Wallpaper* Chair Arch (above), Martino Gamper's re-interpretation of an arch made of chairs for Queen Victoria in 1877; and also checked out the Telling Tales show, which is a tasty little show featuring furniture, lighting and ceramics all 'inspired by the spirit of story-telling', and includes Lux Merx's brilliant Damned.MGX chandelier (below). Definitely worth a look.
Just around the corner from there we dropped in to catch up with Max Fraser at his pop-up store for the London Design Guide; which features a lovely living-room space designed by Sigmar. Drop in and have a chat with Max, and get a free drink if you buy a copy of the guide.
We then pedaled over to Trafalgar Square, on the way cycling past Boris Johnson, Chris Hoyle, Kelly Brook, and a man riding a piano; who were out promoting the Mayor of London's Skyride.
The square is playing host to the large installation The Tournament, by Jaime Hayon: it's an oversized chess set with bespoke pieces designed by Hayon. It was drawing a lot of interest from the crowd, and seemed like a good way to get the general public involved with the festival.
Just across the square Antony Gormley's One And Other installation / public performance piece was still going on - we were initially hugely sceptical about this work, and to tell the truth, as a piece of art experienced in Trafalgar Square, it's really limited. But it comes alive when you visit the website, which adds much needed depth to the individuals who take up space on the plinth, as well as gluing them together as a single unit, and in so doing creates a contemporary portrait of the country. While we were watching we saw a girl indulging in a bit of Alice in Wonderland fun, and a woman who, thanks to the website, we now know is a senior lecturer in fine art.
From there we nipped across the river to the Size + Matter installations outside the Royal Festival Hall, though they were both rather disappointing: Marc Newson'sSupercell, and Shigeru Ban'sPaper Monument. Both use materials interesting ways, but they don't go much further than that. The whole of the Southbank Centre excels at getting people involved with things (particularly the fantastic space outside the National Theatre), and these two installations stood apart like aloof outsiders - a bit of a missed opportunity. We found ourselves much more interested in the recently painted & numbered stairways:
All in all though a great day, and a fine start to festival. (More pics on Alistair's LDF09 Flickr set.)
We've been working with specialist print company Benwells for over six years, and really value their knowledge and expertise. They're the go-to guys for embossing and foil-blocking, with decades of experience and a fantastic eye for detail; and they're also pretty damn hot when it comes to traditional litho printing. So we were well chuffed when they recently asked us to create a new identity for them, partly to bring them up to date, and partly because they were shortening their name from the existing 'Benwell Sebard'.
By way of research, we spent a few days loitering around their factory floor, taking as many reference shots as possible, and generally getting in the way.
We figured that it would be great if their stationery and printed collateral could feature all three of their specialisms: embossing, foil-blocking and printing. So, based on our research shots, we created a blind-embossed logo-mark (using the same die-making equipment that is used for braille) and a foil-blocked tagline; both of which are then complemented by printed elements of the identity.
One of our favourite bits of the identity is the A5 mailer that they use to send out printed samples, consisting of a cardboard outer that is silk-screened in green on the inside (and smells gorgeous and printy as a result), and which contains a crisp white box that holds their (lovely) samples.
More typographic goodness during the London Design Festival! The folks at writers' group 26 have just dropped us a line to let us know that they're putting on a show called 26 Exchanges during the festival.
The exhibition is an interactive typographic installation showcasing the results of the Free the Word! project earlier in the year. It promises to be an interesting show, designed by Harry Pearce from Pentagram and Simon Sankarraya at Allofus, and featuring an accompanying book designed by David Carroll & Co.
The show runs from 9.30 - 5.30, Monday 21 to Friday 25 September, at the Royal Academy of Engineering, 3 Carlton House Terrace (behind the ICA).
The show is the design version of The Apprentice, with Philippe Starck hamming it up as a gallic Sir Allan.
In the first episode we were introduced to the group of 12 British wannabe product designers*, who applied to the the show in the hope of winning a six month placement at Starck's design group. They were whisked off to Paris, where their first challenge was to scour a supermarket in search of examples of good and bad product design.
Starck held up an army jeep as an example of really great design, "its the only vehicle which have the elegance of intelligence, because it's not driven by marketing, it's driven by function". Which is fair enough, but more than a tad ironic coming from the man whose most famous product is the almost entirely non-functional Juicy Salif lemon-squeezer (below). He went on to lament the fact that designers are churning out too many unnecessary products... a case of the designer pot calling the kettle charcoal-grey?
Still, it's always good to see design getting an airing during prime-time. And Starck is at least entertaining. But what did you make of the programme? Answers on an inflatable postcard, or chuck us a comment just below.
More info on the show here, and it runs for another five episodes, and you can catch it on iPlayer too.
*What's the right group noun for that? A CAD of designers? A sketch of designers?)