England

The Grower

Yesterday morning we dropped into London Bridge’s Borough Market to pick up a few things for the weekend. The market has been gradually expanding into new areas as the local phase of the Crossrail project nears completion. It’s become such a beautiful market, each stall now finally has the space to display their products without compromise. While Borough Market has become quite touristy and, some say, overpriced over the years, it’s still one of the most enjoyable food markets in London.

We ate delicious garlic prawn wraps from Appleby’s fish restaurant and filled our bag with Chorizo sausage, strawberries, raspberries and avocados. My own favourite purchase was refillable bottles of red from Borough Wines. They have a fantastic concept where you buy the empty bottle for £2.50 and fill or refill it yourself for £5 a time. I’m no expert, but this wine tastes far better than anything I buy at Sainsbury’s for the same price; so fresh and so fruity, it’s like blackcurrant jam! Borough Market is full of people passionate about a specialist niche of produce. Fitz for example is where you can find the most incredible French pate and terrines from France but actually Noel Fitzjohn himself makes the most beautiful mustards. And if the season is right I can definitely recommend his beautiful, fresh homegrown horseradish sauce.

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Art / Design, Travel

Melbourne Street Canvas

There are endless endless websites, tumblr pages and blogs these days to get your ‘design inspiration’ but nothing can beat travel to refresh, recharge and to spark creative ideas when working on new design projects. I have held back sharing these particular photographs until now because this is the set that feels like it might be the starting point for the work we’ll start shortly for our new client in Australia.

You may look at these and just see battered cars and vandalised walls; so do I. But I also see a rich warm colour palette; colours I never thought of combining before. I see a variety and balance of textures and materials, I see geometry and pattern, Australian humour, I can see the beginnings of something unique. These images are the seeds that will hopefully grow into a plant that I never knew existed. When I look at these, I can’t wait to make the first mark on that blank canvas…

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Travel

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Our final day in Australia, was the first day of winter (!) and overnight there had been an incredible thunderstorm. Although the ground was wet, I was lucky, and so relieved that the rain had stopped.

Melbourne is such a beautiful city and actually really walkable. I walked from one side all the way to the other in my final few hours, and was lucky to catch these birds hopping around a tray left on a table outside McDonalds.

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Travel

Beyond Distance

One of the places I always figured I would never make it to, was Australia. I had always thought that if I had money enough to travel that distance, I would always choose a place with a more ‘unusual’ or ‘alien’ culture to my own; I guess that says something about my personal curiosity. It isn’t that I have no interest in Australia, quite the opposite, I just always thought it was out of my reach and of course, there could never be the chance to travel that far with work. Would there?

Well yes actually. On quite short notice, that’s exactly what happened. The chance to meet a new client and potentially kick off a new project with a brand all the way over in Melbourne; I jumped at the chance.

We had just four and a half days in the city and only half of one day was free to explore. By the end of that fourth day I was thinking that although we had had some amazing food and met some wonderful people, the city lacked a buzz and energy but when I walked the city alone, I found all the things I had thought were lacking. Below are a handful of random pictures I took whilst rushing through the city. More to follow…

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Japan, Travel

Shuiro

I have long been curious as to why Japanese architecture blends so well with nature aesthetically and how such a striking red colour can stand out so much yet seem somehow so harmonious in natural green surroundings. My simplistic view of the architecture is that any traditional building style evolved over hundreds of years is designed with a deep understanding of climate; in Japan traditional structures remain cool despite extreme summer heat for example. So certainly, there are calculated, physical reasons why a Japanese building connects with its environment.

The colour is more complex I think, perhaps it has something to do with complimentary colour theory, green being opposite to red etc… That particular Japanese shade of red, 朱色 shuiro (vermilion), blends especially well with nature though; why is that? Shuiro is obtained from safflower which is also used as an inexpensive alternative to saffron in cooking. This natural dye was used extensively in the Heian period (794-1185), not surprisingly then, Heian Jingu in Kyoto uses this colour for all main shrine buildings. This is maybe a bad example since the shrine in now in the centre of the city (!), but when I show you more pictures later of other shrines deeper in forests, you may see what I mean. Perhaps simply the fact that this colour is found naturally allows it to sit so comfortably with the green of trees. What do you think?

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Art / Design, Travel

Post No Bills

I loved the layering of these posters. I noticed them bending and curling away from a wall in Mitte, buckling under their own weight. Clearly the B&B show is simply the latest in a long string of events going on in this fantastic city, it will undoubtably be pasted over and covered by the next cool thing as soon as it closes on Friday.

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Art / Design

Kusama Yayoi

A retrospective international tour of Kusama Yayoi’s paintings and sculpture left the Victoria-Miro gallery today but I was lucky enough to rush around the gallery 15 minutes before it closed last night.

It’s been a while since we saw her work but next to our bed is a tiny yellow pumpkin model from Naoshima, Japan. Seeing the real thing once again was like meeting an old friend. This whole colourful show really cheered me up; yeah I guess I’m pretty simple.

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