Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Lernert & Sander

Love these guys, they bring something amazingly unique and fresh to their short videos.
The continuity is precise, their formula is to use colour to focus eye by creating a canvas of items coloured identically with the protagonist piece to be of a contrasting colour. Cleverly their underlying concept is to in effect play on the emotional response of the viewer.

The 'Chocolate Bunny' reminds me of a real life production of Andy Riley's 'Bunny Suicide' books (see previous post) mixed with the childhood memories of Watership Down, Donny Darko and the confusion of Cadbury's purple which those of us who love chocolate have come to associate with enjoyment, warmth and safety.
The soundtrack is a creepy repetitive piano track accompanied by childlike vocals written by Nathan Larson which takes the video to the next level and encapsulates an almost haunting atmosphere of solitude.

In the last two years the two have collaborated on videoclips, short art movies and various television programs with their ‘Chocolate Bunny’ (see video above) becoming an instant internet hit in 2007 and as a result has been shown at the Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Chicago Motion Graphic Festival, Lumeneclipse (US), Resfest and Cinedkid.

Below is another series of short videos titled 'Revenge'

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

KOZ Architects

The design of this school is quite frankly gorgeous. Toys and childhood play culminated in this imagination extravaganza were the guidance to this recently completed children's recreation and sports centre in Saint-Cloud, a wealthy community located in the metropolitan area of Paris (approx 6 miles from the city centre)

Designed by Paris-based KOZ Architects, the 1,600 square-meter facility is an unexpected addition to the area using vivacious colours both inside and out - It's like walking in to a Uniqlo clothes shop!

KOZ Architects have an amazing portfolio packed full of contemporary cutting edge designs. Pépinière d'entreprises à Amiens is fantastic, as is Pépinière d'entreprises à Chaumont.

Wake Me Up At...

"I Saw It First"
have produced stickers which prey on the kindness of those in the vicinity to wake you up at your Tube station and save you waking up at completely the wrong end of the line.

Quite a quirky idea however sadly, as sometimes experienced, tube traveling is a solitary method of transportation, no one dare make eye-contact or heaven forbid approach someone and make small talk. In effect, these stickers may be a waste of your £4.

Love the little diagrams on the back of the packet though (image above). Perhaps worth purchasing just for that. Stumbling on to the tube, dreaming of juicy kebabs, wiping away the dribble as you exit. Funny stuff.

Certainly these stickers are a little more realistic than the Japanese subway sleep mask which didn't work and when you see the video, you'll realise why! The passengers let the poor guy sleep on, never waking him. At least these stickers will look a little less weird.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Woman as Design - Stephen Bayley

Putting aside the fact that I am in fact female, Stephen Bayley's account of 'Woman as Design' is expressed in such a patronising and flawed manner. The back cover blurb states, "Stephen Bayley discusses how the female body works as a sign, a a designed object." Anyone else find that a tad offensive?

Bayley explores the female body and its relationship to design by addressing feminine curves, proportions, fissures and orifices and insisting that they have acted as inspiration over centuries for designers, architects and even car-makers.

BBC Radio 4 - Stephen Bayley and Vicky Richardson (the editor of the architecture and design magazine Blueprint) join Jenni Murray to discuss the arguments.

My favourite quote from this interview asks as the opening line of debate: "has he reclaimed images of the female body, or produced a coffee table playground for perverts?".

Bayley insists that his intention for the book did not diffuse from a sexist gorilla point of view but in fact a 'romantic appreciation as a robust heterosexual'
Vicky Richardson in turn addresses the uneasy first response that a book of this calibre stands to break the rules of political correction and that the feminsts amongst us will no doubt hold serious issues with the content.

The language is a confusing mixture of medical literal description with pornographic insinuations, even though he appreciates Andrea Dworkin's stance as a radical feminist, the imagery used could be described, out of art circles, as semi-pornographic.

How influential is the female form in ever day...?
Bayley seems to see sex everywhere and in everything, somewhere in the literature he refers to the number 3 rotated 90 degrees as a reflection of the female form. As he discusses, female symbolism is in architecture, and uses Vitruvius as an example, even pointing out the theory of antiquarians in that the initial plans of the Christian church revolve around the diagram of the female reproductive system; the porch as the entrance, the nave as the birth channel and the apse as the womb.

The human form is of course central to design as design is essentially created for humans and the argument that artists have long used the female form as a basis is a little narrow minded in my opinion as La Corbusier, Leonardo Da Vinci used humans as starting points but not necessarily and specifically the female form.
The overall theme is that the female form is perfection and modern product design cannot replicate the magnificence of it, he even questions: 'Could a modern day designer handle the complex area between a woman's legs...?' The innuendo is of course intentional.
This is a strong movement in design biomimicry, as human beings we can never come close to the perfection of nature which is becoming a huge issue as we try to improve on nature itself.

The female form isn't flawless and perfect so I find it tricky to comprehend Bayley's arguement that the childbirth, sex, urination and varying amount of wobbly bits is perfect design.

Post feminist awareness allows the once perceived wickedness of men objectifying the human form to be dull and Bayley arrogantly states that as a society we are now sophisticated in our interpretation of women and so not a bad thing in this day and age. Generously he devotes 10 lines at the front of the book to significant female artists such as Frida Kahlo and Paula Rego.

The image that provoked the most reaction (the shock image) was the juxtaposition between the Ford Edsel motor car (see right) and the vagina which pretty much sums up the basis of this argument.
Although the images are lavish and the high production finish of the book is quite sublime, the juxtaposition between the images and female form undermines the humanity of great art and just sees sex.

To close this review and sum up the general reaction I received from this book I'll leave it up to Stephen Bayley to articulate this:
'It was
Simone De Beauvoir (reputation as key figure in feminist awareness) who pointed out that Brigitte Bardot has had as much positive influence on the French economy as the Renault cars.'

Friday, 25 September 2009

100% Design

Earls Court London showcased a fantastic array of the UK's leading architecture and design; everything for the modern building and interior.
100% Design London features world-class interiors show 100% Design, innovative and sustainable architectural products event 100% Detail, cutting-edge materials exhibition 100% Materials and emerging talent showcase 100% Futures.

Apologies for yellow tinted images, was the best my phone could take!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Andrew van der Merwe

Andrew van der Merwe, calligrapher and letterer from Cape Town, creates the most precise forms of sand lettering - they really are beautiful.

"Scratching in the sand with a stick, however, has proved less than satisfactory because it
makes more of a mess than a mark. This has led me, over the past seven years, to develop various instruments which mark the sand in less messy ways, and ultimately to a kind of scoop which leaves neat V-cut letters of the sort one gets in stone carving."

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Staple Design NY

This is Jeff Staple at Staple Design New York talking a little bit about the company, himself, inspiration and the Kia Soul Collective.

With regards to the car design, the concept is commendable where it relates back to Predator with the notion of camouflage, however the end design is disappointing - It's actually the most conspicuous car I've ever seen!

Jeff Ng' (aka JeffStaple) career progression is note worthy. College, to internship, to big break - it's the pattern every young designer wishes to emulate.

Staying very firmly grounded to the values in which the Staple brand was created–sticking to the basic necessities needed in life, Staple Design has also created design work for Burton Snowboards, Converse, The Gap, HBO, Housing Works, Levi’s, LVMH, New Balance, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Nike, NYC&Co., Puma, Timberland, Uniqlo and more.
Eleven years since Jeff received his first T-shirt order, with an international following and a high respect from his peers, Jeffstaple himself, has become a brand.

Monday, 21 September 2009

The London Design Festival

I do love this time of year in London - Art show after art show after art show.
The London Design Festival is the UK’s biggest annual celebration of design made up of a range of design disciplines. The wide array of new ideas and activities which have made each Festival dynamic, different and uniquely London - supported by the government and leading well known businesses, the Festival offers a platform for the best design talent.

Goldsmiths : Make Believe
Goldsmiths, University of London have put on an exciting and innovative showcase of emerging design talent titled 'Make Believe' including the majority of projects from the Design Master programmes; MA Critical Practice, MA Design Future, MRes in Design and the MA Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship alongside work from third year BA/BSc Computing & Interaction Design students.

"Paint has the potential to create worlds of make believe. Design has the potential to create worlds for us to believe in."

The work focused on the socio-cultural issues through a lens using developed and practiced means which in turn became the paint in which designers create the worlds for us to believe in.

It was hosted by Kinnarps at Covent garden and was open from 19 - 27 September

Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design
'Up All Night' was the annual showcase of post graduate work from Saint Martins and to be completely honest I was a little disappointed.

The design outcomes are wide and varied and explore elements of sensory and problem solving design, ranging from chocolate switches and flocked tiles to photographic Trompe L'oeil wallpapers.

Clearly accomplished young designers yet it was all very surreal and the purpose was very difficult to comprehend.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Kazuki Takamatsu

I've always had a fascination in Japanese art, their culture and philosophy and wish to one day visit the country itself once the pennies have accumulated.
The interest culminated from devoting a vast quantity of my youth to the Final Fantasy games, the computer graphics I can only describe as being lush - the multitude of vibrant colours are quite frankly beautiful and the textures silky smooth.
(Final Fantasy X:
See the image on the left).

As an art student my focal point henceforth shifted from pencils to a want to emulate such art on a computer.

The heart of this account is not however Japan, nor Final Fantasy or my own history but an artist I recently came across who encapsulates everything I love and then some.

Kazuki Takamatsu creates works which your natural reaction will say 'are digitally painted'..if you do, you'd be completely wrong. He uses gouache, hand painted, monochromed based
usually depicting a young female character, buildings, plants etc giving a real sense of surrealism and astonishing depth.
He's taken the path that contemporary artists have discovered and reverses it somewhat. To me it's as if he's in a world where computers existed before traditional art and he's moved forward to replicate a digital creation via traditional methods.

Whilst visually unique, on closer analysis the theme of his works are melancholic and depict a sense of despair as you can see in the image above titled:
"Without Even Knowing What It Is I Should Be After".

Quite ghostly, the hands reaching out, the mass of dismembered bodies gathered for warmth or's open to interpretation.
That head just floating at the bottom of the image with the hand resting on it is unsettling.
Kazuki manages to pack in an enormous amount of atmosphere.

Some of his works are actually quite violent with the use of weaponry and figures pleading for their lives. Sections of limbs missing, possibly a method to avert the eye to key components of the art, a solid figure would have a completely different effect but this use of the negative space allows the viewer to take in more detail.

Certainly visit the website. It's all in Japanese but his gallery is worth a look...or two.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Heart of Design

If you're a lover of architecture set your eyes on this beauty!

It is in fact the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and this is the new section completed back in March this year by CPG Consultants.

The roof is covered with green turf to blend in with the environment and act as a recreational area, much like we use the grassy areas in our own university or Hyde Park for instance. The roof is so unique, it flows elegantly down to ground level making easy access and putting to use the space available.

Technically revolutionary as the turf insulates the building, collecting rainwater to irrigate
itself and the surrounding landscape and what's more is that the the glass facade provides an astonishing amount of daylight for studios and lecture theatres whilst simultaneiousy cutting off the heat.

As an outer structure the curves create a form similar to that of an atrium in the heart forming the concept that this design building is the heart of the university.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

The Mouse is Mightier Than The Pencil...?

The subject matter of my dissertation revolves
quite heavily around the use of computers within the school environment, specifically primary.

It’s quite extraordinary how far school’s have developed in the way of introducing technology to aid and progress the potential of these kids.

As I recall my primary school experience, there was one computer between three or four classrooms. Now the incorporation of Nintendo DS, state of the art digital cameras and Macs in the curriculum, which you’ll see in the video, are becoming a staple part of primary school life and transforming education completely.
For the better is debatable, but certainly the Shropshire school kids have benefitted enormously and really prepared and given them a head start for secondary school.

So. Is this the end of jotter books and poster paints…?

What is stressed by the headteacher Mr A. Davis, is the word balance. Allowing the children to use traditional media in lower primary and in a sense weaning them away as they approach key stage 2. My own opinion and that of the research I’ve been carrying out is that traditional media and technology should be taught hand in hand and that one should not eliminate the other. It’s impressive to have the facilities to take advantage of technology yet I feel it’s still necessary to incorporate traditional media, e.g. scanning a hand-drawn image and finalising it on the computer.

Environmentally friendly…

Certainly eliminates the necessity to use paper for writing etc which is a huge plus, however it also removes the hands on portfolio that you build up over your school life. Yes it’s available on a CD, yet can you imagine at the age of 19/20 finding your hidden year 5 art projects on a CD? You can’t flick through the pages, you have to take the laborious task of cleaning the disk and then slapping it in an available computer only to find that the disk is scratched…or unreadable for whatever reason.

It’s a tricky concept to grasp being an 80’s baby and all, I can’t imagine that my year 4 Lowry sketches would have the same visual effect computer drawn. This is art, where shading and texture are necessary in a sketch. The same effect cannot be duplicated on a computer, it can be closely emulated using wireframes, shading etc but it’s still a 2D creation. There’s no charcoal smell or pencil scratching sound, the sense you have is purely visual which is the basis for my reasoning that computers cannot replace traditional methods and a balance should exist within primary school education.

Not every school has these facilities…

Which disrupts development across the board. This is perhaps irrelevant to my argument, but needs to be said that all schools should have access to the same facilities for equality’s sake.

Your job…

This is always the case. Our generation have made the older generations really knuckle down and advance from their initial traditional methods to computer based production in order to sustain their career role. This is the age we live in where technology is constantly improving and as a result we have to keep on jogging to stay in the loop.

The primary education curriculum incorporating ICT to such an advanced stage, to me, is quite scary. These kids are utilizing the equipment and producing work to a standard I could quite confidently say wasn’t expected in my year 11; Granted it was at least 5 years ago, yet still a massive leap.

When these children are leaving university, pursuing a career in graphic design, web development, copy-writing, whatever it is that you do…better keep on your toes as they are going to be hot to trot.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


This is a great idea and works really well.

What I really love about it is that it really enforces the capabilities of online expression; a community, bringing together an accumulation of different outputs which result in harmony. It's about being part of something collaborative, and you the user are able to control it.

The fantastic Kutiman Thru-You created something similar, different but along the same lines.

Great Lies to Tell Small Kids

Absolutely adore the Andy Riley 'Bunny Suicide' books - I even have the postcard boxset!
A year ago I was given his newest edition titled 'Great Lies to Tell Small Kids' and ridiculously enough it has been sat sandwiched between Philip Pullmans' 'Northern Lights' and a Tim Burton biography ever since. Tragic I know.
After a quick dusting, low and behold the magic of his illustrations was uncovered and I haven't been able to put it down.

What I didn't know was that Andy Riley has contributed to some fantastic television series; 'Smack The Pony', 'Black Books', 'Trigger Happy TV' and 'Spitting Image'.

It's dark humour at its best. Those of you who won't enjoy it or understand the concept, you'll have to excuse my twisted humour.
I can't help but express giddy excitement when showing someone the sketches as I wait in anticipation for their response; Good or bad - The response will always be priceless.

Be sure to check out his website: here

Monday, 14 September 2009

Social Media Perspective

Returning to familiar ground, previously seen in Munckin-Factory's initial post; Social Media For Social Good, here are a few interesting facts to dip in to your coffee this bright yet very cloudy Monday Morning.

Firstly the official definition of 'social media' is "an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio" - Wikipedia.
In other words, it's a way to describe the billions of conversation that people are having online every day.

The Facts*
  • 13 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 100,000,000 YouTube videos viewed every day
  • 13,000,000 - the number of articles on Wikipedia
  • 3,600,000,000 photos archives on as of June 2009. Roughly one photo per every two people on the planet!
  • 3,000,000 Tweets per day on Twitter
  • 1382% - the monthly growth rate of Twitter users from Jan-Feb 2009
  • If Facebook were a country, it would be the 8th most populated in the world - just ahead of Japan.
*Facts acquired via a Design Week supplement.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Product trickery

So there I am carrying out the weekly shop at Sainsbury's, perusing through the spice section in search of ground cinnamon that will be joining an array of ingredients later on that day - baking session. Debating whether to purchase the well known Schwartz brand, or indeed Sainsbury's own make.

Sainsbury's Ground Cinnamon: £0.79/unit......£0.17/10g

Schwartz Ground Cinnamon: £1.40/unit..........£0.42/10g

It was at this pinnacle point in the short story that a lady working in this section approached me and brashly stated - 'I used to work at the Schwartz factory and the spice in that Schwartz bottle is the same as the spice in that Sainsbury's bottle. They're identical. Schwartz handle Sainsbury's spices, they just slap on a different label and charge less.'.......I made a hmmming sound......'So buy Sainsbury's' she continued.

How has this become morally allowed...charging someone far more...just for a label? Fashion. Computers. Food. It exists in everything. Such greed.

The more I witness branding in this context, the more I dislike it. Branding to manipulate people in to forking out extortionate prices for an item of the same calibre less than half the price sitting right next to it.
I wonder if the fat-cats sitting in their watchtowers snigger down on our capitalist society, rubbing their hands together and planning their next move in an almost Mr Burns from the Simpsons type manner.