Monday, September 28, 2015

Branding at the Design Museum

What branding is saying to us
Following an MBA dissertation I put together around TV channel identities  Branding has been a subject of real interest to me and I was pleased to see that the Design Museum has a small temporary exhibition (until October 4th) and its impact on modern marketing.
The years whizz by as do the logos

It was also good to see how Advertising appropriates and creates acceptance to edgy messages (think Punk and  for quoting desirable/coveted  objects it's Rap).

Nice one Lippincot

An example too is made of Ché and how his image has been appropriated by the very system he sought to overthrow.

But the thing product branding is saying so often to the modern culpable consumer is of course 'Like Me'

Thursday, September 24, 2015

London Design Festival Walk - thanks Disegno

Yesterday I took up the opportunity to participate in a London Design Festival Walk organised by Disegno and supported by Camper - it made for a fantastic afternoon across Southwark's vibrant creatives.

Stop 1: Studio Octopi

A glimpse into the Octopi

We started at a small boutique architectural firm called Studio Octopi - the company is heavily involved in projects that revitalise waterside areas and has spent some time on feasibility and design for a floating Lido in the Thames. We had a short talk from one of the partners who showed great enthusiasm for the area as well as projects around the world that have brought the pleasure of a more natural swimming experience to cities.

The route of the walk

Stop 2: Bompas & Parr

After a short walk and getting slightly puzzled by the street numbering in Rushworth Street we arrived at a very different bunch of creatives at Bompas and Parr who worked with food and drink companies to create some incredible experiences, experiences that create a stir and reaction - wrong footing preconceived idea about companies  and their  products.
Not exotic - the current premises 

The company at first sounded like a couple of kids following their crazy dream but the office belied this idea with  a group of people at keyboards and phones hard at it and as explanations were given it was clear they knew a lot about their niche  (they've even got their own bar)- seems they'll be moving soon as the building (which looked modern to me) is going to be knocked down and redeveloped.

Some of the past glories from previous commissions were on show






Stop 3: Ilse Crawford

Stop number 3 was at what had been Ilse Crawford's HQ  for a number of years (as well as her living space) but had now reverted to being a mainly personal space for Ilse  as well as a meeting/conference  room at the top of the building.
The building of  Ilse

Ilse was an engaging speaker who spoke warmly of Ikea

Ilse has an impressive portfolio and showed her commitment and love of Design by the way she spoke as well as the artifacts scattered across her environment - nice hospitality too with hot beverages and cakes aplenty.
Design was all around.

Cork a great natural  material

Ilse has been involved with Ikea and spoke warmly of the collaboration and her admiration for what Ikea  has achieved and the corporate values they hold.
The view across London from Ilse's bolthole

An inspirational library

Ilse's premises have great views and her/Ikea's corked furniture was much in evidence.

Stop 4: Zandra Rhodes

The workshop's next door
The visit to Zandra Rhodes London workshop  was in many ways the most magical - of all the places we visited it was the most traditional and craft based premises, almost Dickensian, just 5 people working an a totally crazy layout making things with very few nods to computers and high tech.
Traditional skills in evidence

Much looked haphazard

As with the rest of our visits the people were incredibly charming and happy to answer questions and provide explanations.

Our hosts went to great trouble to explain and illuminate the process to us all

Brand Zandra is a big business but the woman who heads it up showed her character (even though absent in America where she spends most of her time).
In the USA but strangely here too
and from old collections hanging

The craft was explained to us and we had a rare glimpse into planet Zandra at the top of the building full of amazing artefacts and with a rooftop garden.

A small Russian man?

An inspirational mirror of a giant and...

The Workshop is next to the Fashion and Textile Museum of the creation of which she was instrumental.
The table view at the top of the building


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Open House London - #2, Ealing houses

As I mentioned there's more than one thread to the OPEN House London project and on Sunday we took the opportunity to have a look at two of the local houses that were participating - the first was a family home in South Ealing that had been described in the Open House guide as ..

Subterranean Light - a house of Tiers

Already extended into the loft and the rear of the house (with an nice airy kitchen) this project involved excavation within (largely) the garden - the architect from KSKa  (who had handled the brief) explained that this meant that neighbours were kept on side as undermining foundations was less of an issue than for some downward extensions.

The 4 levels the house now occupies
The view out from the 'cellar extension' (hot tub on left)

What was impressive with this addition was that light had been maximised and the space was far from as far from a dark cellar as you can imagine.

having an Architect run the short tour meant that the detailed questions could be answered and explanation of how the doors and   roof-lights were handled was literally 'illuminating' - really good to see how the project had been handled as a whole with the outside space (including hot tub) working as an integrated whole.

A Polish Palace

The second home we visited on Sunday was an amazing 'statement' house -hidden away on a 'normal' road is a Palace built to honour a promise from a six-year old boy to his grandmother.
In some ways it looks and feels like a half full size model of a Palace

This Polish Prince and Ealing resident behind it  really is quite a character when not challenging Nigel Farage to a duel he's created this palace as  he promised.

Gold and Mirrors

The guide who showed us around was at pains to explain how  he felt that the project was not beyond criticism, it did deserve some credit in reaching a compromise between modern living and the style captured (a sort of mini  temple of Versailles) .

One of the resplendent bedrooms 

A room for Dining

A Studied man

Napoleons is honoured

I had mixed feelings certainly it's a bold project but it feels a little like a scale model and some things, like the ceiling heights and width of staircase did not feel a 100% on the money but great chance to see what could be described as a modern folly.

The top of the house has a walkway and balcony

Monday, September 21, 2015

Open City & Open House, London #1 Ealing Common Walk

One of the guides on the 'mic'
Every year there's an event called Open City run in London - it's about broadly speaking our environment and seems to be getting more and more popular.

Their are a number of threads that run through the scheme, there's public buildings that are opened up, individual properties and walks.

The newest part of Ealing Common
On Saturday we took part in a walk organised by the Ealing Common Society, a group formed a few years back to fight plans to lose the Common to  a six lane highway, fortunately they won the battle but remain as lobbyists to ensure that the green space is maintained and valued.

The walk started at the newest part of Ealing Common, a small-ish piece of land bartered in a deal with the London Mayor that allowed land to be freed up to accommodate new rail bridges in Ealing.

The tour was incredibly well managed with a group who were obviously knowledgeable and able to handle microphone duties in explaining the history.
The former Dairy farm

Ealing Common was in days gone by in the countryside and as you'd imagine an area of common rural land where animals would graze.

The first revelation was that until as recently as 1950 a farm (Hanger Hill dairy) was run in the vicinity and fresh milk from it sold in Ealing's town centre .
 [In fact there's more about the Farm and the tour outlined here. ]

As  transport links improved and the urban population grew along with regular train services the urbanisation  began to have an effect and commuters and a  burgeoning middle class began to establish itself around the common - Gothic Victorian 'Villas' were built along with other amenities including churches.

The plaque on the vicarage to multiple winner Dorothea

The group at St Matthew's Church - Red Basilica

After the farm we moved down to a church which reflects Ealing today - the church is used by both local worshippers and an Indian Christian group, it was for some time used also by the polish community and has the current longest serving  Church of England vicar (50 years in post) - it also has been home to one of Britain's greatest tennis players (Dorothea Lambert Chambers a 7 times winner of the Wimbledon ladies singles).

Not Churchill but a crossing

The walk along the common included several buildings of interest including the enigmatically named 'Churchill Crossing' minimal Churchill connections but used for TV drama 'externals'  that included William and Mary.

Also near the common was a WW II intelligence (secret)  facility.

There are some fine houses on the common including what was once the home of a key figure in Ealing Film History Sir Michael Balcon (rather interestingly the Grandfather of actor Daniel Day-Lewis)  
A birthday work for 100 years

The tour ended at the All Saints Church in Elm Avenue- the church looks older than it is being built at the start of the 20th century (1905)but it's history goes back to the only assassination (so far) of a British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval - quite a story here too.

Spencer Perceval Well preserved

One of the most interesting artefacts we saw in the church was the Death mask of Spencer Perceval made at the time of his death.

Really enjoyed this walk in History 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

45 at Ealing Cinema on The Green

On Friday we took a trip to Ealing Green to see if the mobile cinema was any sort of substitute for the real thing - fortunately we weren't too disappointed - people there were friendly and efficient and as it wasn't actually full (it holds 100 at a bit of a squeeze) we were able to find seats that gave a good view and didn't (hopefully) get in other cinema goers way. I suppose in reality many multiplex theatre/studios  are around about the 1,00 capacity anyway.

Like a real Cinema only smaller

The price is pretty much the same as other London cinemas ((£10 per seat) and the films are a mixture of current and classics - well enough projected and adequate sound.

The film we chose was a rather understated Brit Flick (a Film4 job) called 45 years, it's about greying angst and the laughs are pretty limited.

It is though   rather well acted by Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling in the main roles.

What I found especially  impressive was the apparent low levels of lighting used (it had the feel of film but don't know if it was 'electronic' or film - lloking it up seems it's 35mm film and  the  cinematographer on the film was Lol Crawley)

I also liked the way the interiors had been shot, all adding to a slightly claustrophobic feel which mirrored the protagonists relationship.

The venue from outside

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Watching 'The Clock (Hunted).. and More Camper stuff (London Shops)

The State and it's responsibilities

There's been quite a lot of coverage about Ahmed's clock - the suspect device that's secured the young Ahmed  an invitation to America's White House - well I can understand that but we do live in dangerous times.

The responsibility of the nation state is to make sure that the citizen is safe and doing this is not a zero sum gain - it's also (I recognise) not something that the USA alone struggles to do.

Listening to the Reunion on BBC radio 4 yesterday from the comfort of my bath I felt an uneasy chill (no the water wasn't getting cold) - the show was all about the Birmingham Six and their wrongful incarceration - this is something from the UK's pretty recent history and it's horrifying.

There are few who come out of the story well apart from Chris Mullins and the families of those who were tortured and held for crimes they did not commit.

There is some comfort to know that many of us are now more questioning of the state and the powers it wields - imagine now the most highly respected judge (Denning at the time) said (from Wikipedia on Denning)

Just consider the course of events if their action were to proceed to trial ... If the six men failed it would mean that much time and money and worry would have been expended by many people to no good purpose. If they won, it would mean that the police were guilty of perjury; that they were guilty of violence and threats; that the confessions were involuntary and improperly admitted in evidence; and that the convictions were erroneous. ... That was such an appalling vista that every sensible person would say, "It cannot be right that these actions should go any further.

Now I saw Denning around this time at a function within Cambridge University, I was sufficiently ignorant (and young) to know little of him but later found that he was incredibly venerated - on this occasion he was very wrong.

So this gets me wondering about how my Irish/Irish descended schoolmates felt and were treated at the time - they were to an extent, I'm sure tarred with a wholly inappropriate brush - and is this happening now to many  associated (for whatever reason)  with the Muslim faith?

Which brings me to Hunted the Channel 4 TV programme  looking (entertainingly) at the powers of the state to pursue agendas that are questionable but sometimes (?) necessary - if you watch it for the fun of the chase or the questions it raises it's well done.


Camper Shops London..

Out and about took in visits to a couple of Camper stores in London -nice shops and some nice shoes but they're overpriced many at £135 a pair.

Staff very helpful in finding out the name of the designer of that shop (it was Tokyujin Yoshioka)

Regent Street shop

Oxford street shop  - nice but pricey.








Thursday, September 17, 2015

A life on foot -Design Museum Tour -more preparation

It's been interesting (and diverting) to do some more preparation for a personalised Design Museum -Life on Foot highlights tour:
A striking exhibition

I'm hoping to be able to communicate my own take on the concept which will include something about  the History of being on Foot, some of The Art that's reflective of the activity and the business side of things in respect of Spanish company  Camper.


My 'angle' here was partially triggered from hearing (on the radio I think) that until around 200 years ago shoes were made with a single 'last' (i.e. there was no difference between left and right shoes) - looking further into it I found too that shoes specifically for women did not become an item in Europe  until the 18th century.

I also found some other  great shoe facts here  from Albert Tu (and here's his rather foot-icentric Flickr account) .

Tu who is part of CasualMaxx shoes  has some great photo's of footwear the 'rat slippers' being rather special and here's one of his shoe facts

Six-inch-high heels were worn by the upper classes in seventeenth-century Europe. Two servants, one on either side, were needed to hold up the person wearing the high heels.
Triggers for discussion


The walking side of the project lead me to look at writers - Will Self in particular who is a great walker who brings it into some of his work  (who mentions the situation-ists too) and British artist Richard Long  who has made many works that have drawn inspiration from his walking.


The exhibition is about both Camper shoes and walking and for the Camper side of things I want to be able to talk about production, marketing and the Camper brand.

Other points of interest (I hope) to include around this are items on the design of some of the Camper stores by Japanese design guru Oki Sato who studied architecture and now has his own design outfit called Nendo - Oki talks about the New York store in 5th Avenue and how he used models of shoes to help acoustically improve the customer experience and how he sees it  furthering the brand.

Sato has worked on several of the shops in key Cities including Moscow and Tokyo - Camper are fortunate that as a private 'family' company they are able to make decisions that are not purely short term financially driven ones - it even carries over into their advertising.
An example of the risk the company can take in its advertising