You ever have one of those days where aimless meandering leads you to find untold and unexpected riches?
We were out and about in the London Fields area on Saturday, and had exactly that sort of experience when we stumbled across the brilliant and wonderful The Dog & Wardrobe.
It's a little shop that only opens on Saturdays, from 10 to 5 (though you can visit by appointment during the week) and is crammed full with vintage and contemporary furniture and curios, as well as contemporary art and fashion. You could pick up an old canvas backpack, a Decemberists screenprint, a vintage animal skull, a retro tricycle, and... well, the list goes on and on. It's one of those shops you just want to hug.
The stock changes constantly, so there's always something new to check out. And the owners of the store, Vishal Gohel and Jane Money also offer a full spec design service.
Just before Christmas we made our way over to Paris for a spot of culture and shopping. We didn't get around to half the stuff we had planned, but we thought we'd offer up some highlights here, as well as a few links to other places to check out for inspiration if you're planning a trip.
We took the Eurostar from the recently re-opened London St Pancras. We weren't actually all that impressed with the new station - the boarding procedure forces you to wait in a cramped area under the platforms rather than up in the station itself, which feels like a really missed opportunity. But at least the train is greener than taking the plane.
Our favourite shop was Le Petit Atelier de Paris, which is an utterly wonderful combination of shop and workshop, featuring a fine collection of ceramics and other products. We picked up a ceramic alphabet, and were deeply tempted by a post-modern interpretation of a dog kennel.
We also shopped at Les Archives de la Presse, a bonkers shop stacked to the rafters with old magazines and journals, as well as the odd poster or two; at Colette, a high-concept design and fashion store, which veered a little too close to achingly-hip for our tastes; and at the brilliant I love my blender, a warm and friendly bookstore in Le Marais.
After all that, we stopped off for a bite too eat at the lovely Le Loir dans Le Theiere, a charmingly boho cafe with a speciality in huge and gorgeous desserts.
We then moved on to a spot of art.
First we headed over to the Palais de Tokyo , which houses an exhibition space, a product design store, and a great bookshop. Just next door we checked out the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, which has a remarkably good modern art collection, though it feels slightly eclipsed by the groovier one at the Centre Pompidou, where we saw a fantastic Richard Rogers exhibition. More on that later.
Things we noticed about Paris:
The Parisians just love to smoke while they eat and drink. But as of yesterday, they're not allowed to.
It's really quite expensive.
A croque monsieur is one of the finest dishes known to man.
Make Your Own Path is a limited edition of 90 prints, featuring letterpressed woodblock text printed on top of paper cut from Wilson's collection of antique maps; and they're utterly delicious.
They're selling fast, so if you'd like one, you might want to get over there sharpish...
So, this year's Santa's Ghetto has moved a bit beyond the confines of Soho. And beyond the confines of London in fact. Truth be told, it's not even in Europe:
"This year we've moved out of Oxford Street into a former chicken shop on Manger Square in Bethlehem opposite the Church of the Nativity (where Santa Claus was actually born)."
Banksy's Dove painting (above) is apparently still at customs in Tel Aviv, but they're hoping to set it free in time for the show.
They'll be opening an online shop shortly, in case you can't make the trip out there (though there are travel tips on the site), and they've also been doing a bit of local decorating on the West Bank Wall and surrounding area.
You wait ages for a good street art show to come along, and then they all pitch up at once.
It sounds like a stormer of a show, featuring Eine, D*Face, Sickboy, Kid Acne and Pure Evil amongst others, and runs at Studio 95 at Brick Lane from December 6th to 10th.
Read more about it in this Independent article.
Seems like every Christmas there are more and more opportunities to spend your money on yummy graphics.
Coming up in just a week's time, Pictures on Walls' Santa's Ghetto opens its doors once again, selling a selection of limited edition prints by Banksy and friends. Though with Banksy's recent transition from underground spraypainter to overground art-commodity, it'll be interesting to see if he's still playing with the other kids...
No word yet on the location of the store - last year it squatted on Oxford Street, which meant big queues, and didn't feel quite right. Or perhaps felt perfect. We couldn't make up our minds. Anyway, stay tuned for more news as and when. UPDATE: See here.
If that's all a bit street for you, then you can head over to the more genteel surroundings of Somerset House for the Design Grotto, where designers and illustrators will be offering all manner of festive goodness, including a limited edition set of Christmas postcards in aid of the Rainbow Children's Trust. We're guessing it will be a bit like the V&A Summer Fete. But inside. At Christmas. It runs on Saturday 15 December (6pm - 11pm) and Sunday 16 December (11am - 6pm), in the Portico Rooms.
Right, here's the third and final part of our list of the Best Presents a Designer Could Hope For at Christmas. And just in case you want to send this on to someone, perhaps with a gentle nudge, we've created a page with the whole list on it - you'll find it just here.
#13 A tasty print from Nelly Duff
Nelly Duff is a gallery on Columbia Road, selling a fantastic range of prints from the likes of Eine, Shepard Fairey, Faile and Insect. We particularly like this one, Bunny Fingers, by Pure Evil. It's spray painted by hand, and you'll have to move fast if you want one, it's a strictly limited edition of 20. £250 unframed.
#14 A typographic top from Veer
We've got a bit of a soft spot for image and type library Veer. There's something groovy about the way they do things, and their website just works really well. (Many of the other type foundries could take a tip or two...) They also sell a lot of great merchandise, including this little number. They call it a 'lightweight jogging jacket', we call it 'a top'. And before you get too excited, this one's for US citizens only, so if you don't live stateside, you'll have to find someone over there to get it for you. But come on, it's a piece of clothing about kerning. You know you want it. $69.
#15 A Pantone mug
For people who know that using the PMS isn't something that only women can do once a month. Which one would you go for: Red 186C, Pink 239C, Royal Blue 286C, Lime Green 388C, Pale Blue 549C, Lilac 2583C, Olive Green 5757C, Black 4C, Orange 012C, Process YellowC? Or heck, why get all hung up on making a choice, why not get the whole set? (Perfect for those Monday morning Work in Progress meetings.) And, we were just thinking, if you've got a client whose identity features any of these Pantone colours, they'd make a rather perfect present for them... like Royal Blue 286C for the Institute of Education? £7.99 each, or £79.99 for the whole set.
#16 Some recycled letters from RE
You can't really go wrong with 3D letterforms. These chunky ones are great (as long as you don't want W, X and Z, which aren't available). They're made from recycled card, and stand 28cm high. £14 each.
#17 A stylish bit of tableware from People Will Always Need Plates
# 18 Friendship with the St Bride Library
Give a little back why don't you? Become a Friend of the St Bride Library for one year, and you get newsletters and discount admission to their lectures and annual conference. You will also receive copies of Ultrabold, the Library‘s journal. All that for £30, and you'll be helping to sustain the world's foremost printing and graphic arts library. Good on you.
And that's your lot - here's hoping you have a fantastic Christmas.
Well, if it isn't just a huge weekend for getting a fix of furniture fun.
Having already posted about the Mid Century Modern show in Dulwich, we've just been sent the utterly delicious catalogue for the Modernism from a California collection auction at Christie's on Sunday, and it's a compendium of wonders.
How's about an Eames RAR Rocking Chair? Or four photos of Eames chairs, estimated at the same price as one chair? Or five original De Stijl posters by William Sandberg for a Gerrit Rietveld exhibition? A collection of eighty luggage labels from the USA circa 1920? A Theo van Doesburg lithograph? A pair of Frank Gehry's corrugated cardboard Wiggle chairs? Or perhaps a collection of twenty four microphones (pictured above)?
You know in the Simpsons when Homer tips his head back and drools if anyone mentions doughnuts? That's us right now.