Angry Iron, Charterhouse Street
Noticed this rather disgruntled iron looking at me mid-afternoon today.
After a good deal of hunting around for a new purse I discovered a friend was already making exactly what I had been looking for with a beautiful twist. Since the zip on my very first purse had broken I have been after a strong, simple, and ideally a leather purse. (I have had other purses in between, but in the last year reverted to my original purse for its simplicity.)
Code name Zippy Lovelock makes beautifully thougthful purses (and bags) from old leather scraps, lined with old mens shirts and other colourful fabircs offcuts. There is even a neat tuck in the shirt to separate a bank card from coins and protect the magnetic strip. Whatsmore, if I break the zip I know where to go for a repair.
Je suis un arossoir
I had read that Jasper Morrison had converted part of his studio on Kingsland Road in London into a shop, so popped in today on my way home to shelter from the rain and check it out.
I was comforted to find in the far corner of the shop a familiar watering can - the same watering can I chose to use when making Je ne suis pas un arossoir two years ago; Watering Can Number 9 to be precise (pictured above). All of the objects in Jasper Mossison’s small shop have been selcted for their super normal quality and were formally exhibted in the Super Normal exhibition in 2007. Only a handful of the objects are designed by Morrison, with the large magority produced by anonymous designers. For me Super Normal acknowledges humble design optimums and serves as a highly refined reminder of why we create objects. Given the current state of the planet and it’s people, this is at last, gradually becoming a serious consideration for deisgners and their consumers, who might start to feel contente I chose Watering Can Number 9, after much thought and disucssion, as an architype watering can. I was seeking the super normal quality that would silently engage without a word. For this reason I was even compelled to remove the number 9 and zig zag relief and apply a bright grass green finish colour. Maybe now I should find out a bit more on Watering Can Number 9’s own history before I go changing the story. RESPECT YOUR ELDERS. Watering Can Number 9 is officially super normal.
Have you visited the Union Chapel in Islington?
Shroud in scaffold outside, you might have never noticed the Union Chapel which makes only a modest impact on the London skyline and Islington’s busy Upper Street. But once inside, without fail people are easily overwhelmed by the sancturay and sense of calm which prevails. Every detail and corner of this building has an honest and unassuming beauty which feels like a rare find nowadays. The charm of the Union Chapel will only grow on you the more you visit. Don’t take my word for it, go and see for yourself.
Tinderbox: take only what you need
A tinderbox is a small container containing flint, firesteel, and tinder (typically charcloth, but possibly a small quantity of dry, finely-divided fibrous matter such as straw), used together to help kindle a fire. (Wikipedia)
Tinderbox is also a cafe is Islington, London, containing the ingredients to make a good hot drink. Interesting how the small sign on the wall asking customers to be frugal with their hot drink additives also resonates with the respect that must have been associated with the cafe’s namesake. A tenuous connection but it made me think. (Apologies for the poor quality photo, but you can go for a cuppa and see for yourself).
The Bigger Picture
You can google The Bigger Picture or New Economics Foundation to find out more about this event, but for me as a volunteer usher on the stairwell, the main thing that stuck in my head and distracted me for alot of the day was the paint pealing off the wall. The building the event was housed in was not a welcoming community or conference centre or something of that ilk, it seemed almost to be literally falling down and boarded up in places; on the face of it, it was almost an ironic contradiction to the talks of change and new futures going on inside. With the long view it was not though. The layers of paint were so interesting, untouched and appealing. Much more so than if I had been standing opposite a white painted wall with signs in helvetica. I think we must not forget how much we enjoy discovering things for ourselves, reading stories, finding out secrets and making our own decisions. There is a temptation with making improvements to discard the past and any sense of individual human connection. Other buildings I have visited which appear to be resepcted for what they are include Wilton’s Music Hall and Union Chapel.
Jair Straschnow’s bamboo furniture pieces have been on display in the UK for the first time over the last six weeks in the Aram Gallery. Grassworks is tucked away on the top of the Aram Store in London’s Theatreland.
know where your money goes
This is an enlightened online customer service tool bought to you by a truly radical bank. Harnessing the framework of Google maps, Triodos Bank’s new online tool allows you to literally see where your money goes in the world, giving you the power of judgment on your savings and investments.
Triodos Bank has recently been awarded the title of the Financial Times Sustainable Bank of the Year 2009, and rightly so I think. They are pioneering a genuinely transparent model of banking, which strictly only finances companies, institutions and projects that benefit people and the environment. This latest online tool reminds me of the ideas discussed at the Greengaged Cooportunity workshop day. It is exciting to see that this area of thinking is already an accessible reality.
Work Hard and Be Kind to people
The words that graphic design studio IMAGIST London work by. I was lucky enough to do a placement with them over the summer where among other kind things they did for me, they have lent me a few books from their shelf. I am new to the rules of graphic design and typography so I am very gratful of the chance to share their books and keep learning.
A couple of other kind and forward thinking companies who understand the importance of sharing knowledge and books are howies who also have bookshelves in their shops, and 72 Rivington Street in London, whose library I have recently joined.
By the way, One Red Paperclip is not a zen guide to stationary items for designers but after reading I definately want to take a leaf out of that book.
Why do people try to keep reinventing the wheel when it comes to the issue of future modes of trasportation? Its not big and its not clever. I doubt that making ever shinier versions of the electric or hybrid car is never going to offset the melting of the ice caps.
Since the advent of green issues in consumer society, electric vehicles have always been subject to ridicule in the shadow of their fosil fuel counterparts, in spite of their commercial success or failure, from the GWiz to the C5. Yet, contemporary big name designers including Tom Dixon and Marc Newson continue to contribute to the morphed assortment of stylised boxes on wheels branded as the future of transport design. Electric cars might have in fact already had their hay day back in 1912 when they outsold petrol models in America for all the same reasons as we sing their praises today (except CO2 emissions): quiet, smooth ride, no gear shift, no unpleasant smells.
Perhaps then it is time to think outside the box. Literally. Transport design has never been product design issue; it is a challenge that requires creative thinking and an understanding of the scale and context of the people and places involved. The London Underground opened in 1863, born before the Ford Model T, still expanding and evolving today and will arguably outlive the motorcar altogether. Thankfully there are some pragmatic and enlightened thinkers out there who are up to speed. One inspired project by Exploration Architecture is illustrated by the Carfree London Overground Map (above), which proposes to pedestrianise and link up all of London’s parks and open spaces with with greenways and cycle routes. There are also some radical ideas to get you on your bike, including cycle stations and fan-assisted cycle tubes which provide shelter from the rain, protection from traffic and tail winds of up to 10mph.
I don’t believe that cars belong in cities. With more than half the world’s population now in urban areas, I think they are a totally inappropriate mode of transport for such a dense concentration of people and services.
Architect Michael Pawlyn, of Exploration Architecture, is one of the most optimistic, convincing and intelligent speakers I have heard talk about a real future for our civilization on this planet, with ideas and solutions to match. Listen to him here.
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