We made our way up to Newcastle last weekend to check out the fantastic Design Event festival, and found some really tasty stuff.
Up first, at the Design Event Mart at BALTIC, was recent graduate Sarah Sheehan's stunningly lovely Lost for Words jewellery collection (above). Each piece featured text from a book, and the books themselves were then lasercut and used as packaging for the pieces. Sarah doesn't have a site up yet, but you can contact her via email.
Over at Electrik Sheep, Eelus had created a fantastically dark show, and we particularly loved the triptych of Splasher, Swinger and Skipper (above). The show stays up until 1 November.
Meanwhile, the [re]design gang had moved their Lighten Up show from the relatively restrained surroundings of London's 100% Design to the incredible space inside the Tyne Bridge's North Tower, and the show looked fantastic there.
If you're a graphic designer, it's more than likely that you've considered getting a tattoo at some point. And not some swirly 'tribal' thing either. Something really unique. After all, if you make your trade playing with image and text, at some point you're going to think about putting one or the other on your body.
But being the total perfectionist that you are, you're going to think really long and hard about what exactly goes on there. (Earlier this year, Ben over at Noisy Decent Graphics posted an interesting chart about what sort of tattoos designers tend to get, and the reasons they might have for not getting them: 'couldn't choose a design' being the most common reason.) And you're going to want it to look absolutely perfect. It's not like you can get a wet-proof done first. Once it's on, it's on (or at least until you save the cash up for a bit of laser action).
So we figured it might be good to group together as many images as we could of graphic design style tattoos. To kick things off we've created the Graphic Ink Flickr group, and done a bit of a hunt round Flickr for the kinds of tattoos designers have already got. There's eighty or so tasty bits of ink in the group so far, but we're hungry for more. So if you've got a tattoo that fits the bill, submit it to the group, or drop it to us here.
And you might also want to check out Ina Saltz's rather lovely Body Type, which also features Shelley Jackson's wonderful Skin project, (which is still looking for 695 more participants willing to get a word inked on their body).
Ina Saltz has been in touch to let us know that Volume 2 of Body Type is underway at the moment. She's got a bit of space left in it, so if you've got a fantastic typographic tattoo, she'd love to see it. Check out the Body Type website, or drop her a shot of your ink via email. (The picture needs to be in .jpg format, no larger than 1MB. Write a message about your tattoo, where & when you got it and why; and what it means to you. Include your contact information and a little background about yourself.)
Amsterdam: Tulips, bikes, canals, dope, prostitutes in windows, lots more bikes. And heck, a wealth of simply fantastic design.
We nipped over to the capital of the Netherlands this weekend to check out the city's design scene, and particularly to take a gander at Experimentadesign, the Lisbon based design festival that's taking place in Amsterdam for the first time this year.
Urban Play comes in two parts: the first part is an exhibition that showcases the work of a variety of artists and designers who are injecting a bit of fun back into the city. The selection of artists is great, and we particularly dug the work by Zurich's Windowzoo (above), and Montreal's Roadsworth (more on him in a later post). The show mainly uses short films to present each designer's work, which is good as far as it goes - it would have been brilliant to see more actual examples. But that's a minor grumble about a great show.
The second part of the exhibition is a series of interventions alongside Amsterdam's IJ Riverfront by twelve designers, including Stefan Sagmeister. Unfortunately, his incredibly beautiful piece, Obesessions make my life worse and my work better, made of 300,000 eurocent coins, got cleaned away within hours of being created, by a rather overzealous local police force (and a distinct lack of clear communication).
Back in town, the Sunday Adventure Club (above) is a wonderfully playful lo-fi exhibition, showcasing "citizens who through their personal passions have initiated activities in public space", carving out spaces for play in the dense urban landscape. We particularly like the take-away instruction sheets for creating all kinds of fun stuff, from Seed Bombs to Match Rockets.
Meanwhile, Come to my place is a great show that has invited designers from eight cities around the world to create room-sets filled which "exemplify the way in which the global citizen defines their individuality by making a personal choice from the vast resources of the design industry and the shop around the corner". Good stuff.
Away from Experimentadesign, we checked out a bunch of exhibitions and design stores.
Unfortunately Amsterdam's home for modern art, the Stedelijk Museum, is closed at the moment, having left its temporary digs at the Post CS Building in anticipation of setting up home in its newly renovated original building at the end of 2009. In the meantime they've got a series of temporary shows happening as part of their Stedelijk in the City project (check the site for details); as well as regular shows at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (SMBA). We checked out the latest show by Marijn Van Kreij, who creates brilliant hand rendered textual pieces (above).
We also checked out a couple of photography shows. Over at the rather wonderful Foam (Fotografiemusuem Amsterdam) there were a selection of shows, including the incredible Hyena & Other Men series (below) from Pieter Hugo, which is running until 2 November. The images have been doing the rounds on the web, but seeing them full size is just incredible. They're stunningly beautiful.
Just along the road from Foam you'll find Huis Marseille, Amsterdam's self-proclaimed first photography museum, currently showing Cy Twombly's dry prints (until 23 November).
Of course, it's not just about looking at lovely stuff, it's about taking it home too, and Amsterdam's packed full of delicious design stores.
We made our way first to the daddy of the bunch, the Droog store, which features a range of limited edition pieces (like the Crystal Virus from Pieke Bergmans, above), as well as a bunch of more affordable but equally imaginative products.
But, we were far more impressed by the simply wonderful Frozen Fountain, which is just dripping with every manner of design loveliness, including the Zeppelin chandelier from Flos (below). It's our new favourite shop.
We also loved the Nijhof & Lee bookstore (a bit like the UK's Magma, but with more old books); Wonderwood, which stocks, well, furniture made of wood; and the lovely De Weldaad, which is packed with antiques and "architectural artefacts". They even had a bottle-drying rack (below), just like the one what Duchamp made famous.
For the fashionistas, there's a wealth of second-hand clothing stores, or if you're looking for something a little more contemporary, check out Concrete and SPRMRKT, both achingly hip.
In the Memory Cloud, text messages from members of the public are being projected as serif type onto plumes of smoke in Trafalgar Square. It's all the work of brothers Stephen and Theodore Spyropoulos, from experimental architecture and design practice Minimaforms; arranged through the ICA.
The installation has been running for the past couple of nights, and you've got one more night to check it out: from 7pm until 9.30pm, Friday 10 October.
If you use ffffound.com, you'll recognise the shot above, which is the work of paste-up supremo JR; and if you live in London, you will probably have seen more of his stuff adorning walls across town last June, including a huge shot of actor / film-maker Ladj Ly on the outside of the Tate Modern.
JR is back in town thanks to the fantastic Lazarides Gallery, with a brilliant new show exhibiting work from his ongoing 28 Millimetres: Women project. The exhibition comes in three parts: a video installation at the Charing Cross Road gallery, a series of artworks at the Greek Street gallery, and a series of full size paste-ups along Manette Street, which runs between the galleries.
The work all comes from his time spent in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, particularly in the favela Morro da Providencia, which "has a recent history of murders of innocent people by the war between local corrupted army and drug dealers". JR filmed and photographed the women of the favela "for whom crime, violent loss of loved ones and arbitrary repression are part of everyday life"; he then pasted their faces, particularly their eyes, onto the walls of the favela. The effect is strikingly beautiful, but also politically powerful. These are no longer a silent, faceless community. They are here, and they are watching.
The 16 minute video installation at Charing Cross Road is a beautiful document of the project, a timelapse gallivant through the favela, showing the paste-ups being installed, and featuring all the women involved. It's incredibly beautiful; and it's a testament to JR that his work is never patronising or sentimental, but instead is engaging and uplifting.
The paste-ups on Manette Street feature some of the shots from Providencia, and each one has a phone number attached to it that you can call to hear their individual story. The Greek Street gallery features a selection of smaller, more intimate works using the images from the project. They're all wonderful.
The show runs until 14 November, and there should be a book coming out to go with it any day now.
It's a fantastic show, featuring a few site specific installations, and a host of new canvases based on Spiderman and Superman comics, all D*Faced. The entire show had pretty much sold (since this was the opening, we're guessing through some private collectors) which isn't bad going.
The show looks at the decades after the Second World War, when the two super powers were locked in a constant battle of one-upmanship. Not content with just having bigger and better missiles, they tried to outdo each other in every area - leading to an explosion of fantastic art and design. As the blurb from the show points out "Modern life after 1945 seemed to promise both utopia and catastrophe".
The major strength of the exhibition is its sheer breadth. It pulls in Dieter Rams's beautiful designs for Braun (which still exert a powerful influence on the some modern day classics); paintings by Gerhard Richter, Robert Rauschenberg and Richard Hamilton; Archigram's Walking Cities; Otl Aicher's lecture posters; as well as bits from Eames, Corbusier, and Buckminster Fuller. Deeply brilliant.
The show runs until 11 January, but heck, why wait?
Hot on the heels of the gargantuan (and slightly overwhelming) London Design Festival comes the far more intimate and friendly northern version, Design Event, which gets busy from 9 to 26 October 2008.
We nipped up there this summer to get a feel for the city, and had a grand old time – read all about it on our Design Guide to Newcastle.
The full line up for the festival has just been released. Helpfully, Newcastle is the perfect size for walking round, and you can wander from show to show in minutes – so we thought we'd create a walking tour for your pleasure and perambulation.
This year's event is arranged around the theme of Northern Design, looking right across Northern Europe to see what's cooking from BALTIC to the Baltic states.
First up, there's a trio of shows at King's House, just near the station, all running from 10-25 October.
Hidden in Plain View is a group show from designers across Northern Europe, who've looked at the tradition of steganography (the art and science of writing hidden messages) which is apparently traditionally popular on Scandinavian postcards, and they've created their own selection of postcards for viewers to decipher.
Staying at King's House, the folks from If you could have put together a showcase of the latest raw design talent spilling out of Sunderland, Teeside and Northumbria Universities, exhibiting alongside some ex-students who've gone on to make it big. They're all confronting the question: If you could do anything in the North, what would it be?
Just up the short walk away you'll find the fantastic Electrik Sheep shop and gallery, which will be showing a stack of new work from Eelus (above). If you're up in that part of town already, the show opens on Thursday 2 October at 6pm.
Sticking with the illustration vibe, across toward the centre of town is the Tradition show from the Lobster Foundation, featuring work from ten of the bestest designers and illustrators kicking around in Scandinavia, including the ever wonderful Stina Persson (above).
Heading south from there, the Designed & Made Gallery is putting on show called MadeNorth, looking at cultural similarities and differences between Scandinavia and north-eastern England.
Keep going south to catch the fantastic Lighten Up show from the folks at [re]design, fresh from its success at the 100% Design. There are some delicious bits in the collection, and they're exhibiting in the Tyne Bridge Tower, so it should be fantastic. And keep an eye out for more sustainable lighting cleverness from the folks at We Make, with their Beryl and Friends collection of lights popping up round town.
Nip along the river past the Gateshead Millennium Bridge to Baltic, where you'll find the Design Event Mart, selling a vast selection of work from the brightest and the best of the local talent, including Alex Underwood's brilliant Speaker Buddies, fresh from their trip down to the London Design Festival (and yep, we've shown you them before, but come on, they're great!)
They've led us a merry modern dance, which even took us via the classified ads of a London newspaper. Sometimes it felt like we were getting warm, but more often it felt like we were getting cold. But they made us smile in the process, so we're not gonna get too grumpy.
We could tell you who they are and what it's all about, but if you're still caught up in the game, it would rather spoil things.
And we're looking forward to seeing what happens next - we've fallen under their sphere of influence, and heck, we like it.
One of our favourite contemporary artists, Paul Insect, has a new site-specific show, Poison, opening at a former bath house somewhere in the Kings Cross area of London on 12 September. The show will feature "twelve skeletal bunny girl sculptures" (that's Miss August pictured above), and a series of new paintings and prints. The exact location of the show will be announced on the Lazarides site on 11 September.
Insect's last show, Bullion, was bought up in its entirety when Damien Hirst pulled a Saatchi and nabbed the lot for his 'Murder Me' collection; so this should be one worth keeping an eye on.