All the leaves are brown and the sky is definitely 50 shades of grey at the moment but that hasn’t stopped artist Baku Maeda bringing some sunshine to our day with his Leaf Beasts. Primarily made from magnolia leaves, these little creature creations definitely warm the cockles – a new leaf of live for these fallen fruits some might say.
Thanks Spoon & Tamago for sharing these.
I stumbled upon these fantastically fishy tea bags this week and I think they’re just great. Developed by the Taiwanese brand Charm Villa they add a little fun into teatime – just add water, let the tea diffuse once the bag has swam a couple of laps, and enjoy.
This week the National Air Traffic Control Services (NATS) released this time lapse video showing a typical day for UK airspace. Using actual flight records from over 6,000 flights, the hypnotically intricate and complex patterns are as impressive as they are beautiful – take a look below.
Abram Games was one of the most influential figures in 20th Graphic Design. In the centenary year of his birth, The Jewish Museum in London have opened the major exhibition ‘Designing the 10th Century’, exploring Games’ career and artistic process, all the way from his earliest artistic experiments through to his most celebrated commissions. Considered the foremost graphic designer of postwar Britain, Abram was awarded numerous prestigious public commissions over his 60 year career, including being appointed Official War Poster Artist during World War II and designing the first animated BBC ident. It’s an impressive career that’s all the more inspiring when seen together with personal artifacts from his family’s archive. I had the pleasure of catching up with the curator, Elizabeth Selby, to have a little chat about the show:
In one word can you sum up how you are feeling about the show?
How long was the show in the making?
It all started in 2013, and my involvement has been from January. When Jewish Museum integrated with the Military museum a conversation with Games’ children sewed the seed to curate an exhibition of his life works.
What was the big idea behind the show?
This year in the Centenary of his birth so it seems like a great time to do this. His Jewish background was very important to him so it seems like the perfect place to host this exhibition. As we had access to so many family photographs and stories, our idea was to keep this as very personal show.
How would you introduce the show to someone who knows nothing about Abram Games?
Even though you may not have heard of him, but you would definitely recognise his work. Historical changes are clearly represented through his work – it’s a great account of the 21st Century. For someone who doesn’t know much about design, you wouldn’t be put off. It’s so visually stimulating and more often than not the visitors leave with a huge smile upon their face.
How much involvement did his children have in the show?
A huge involvement, mainly his daughter Naomi. Her flat served as the main source of his work as most of his posters were stored there. Reading what she had written about her father also gave a huge insight into the man and helped us bring his works to life.
What have you learnt about the man, Abram Games during this process?
I have learnt a lot. That he was a true visionary, a purest in his approach and an independent thinker – no-one was doing what he was doing at the time.
What stands out to you as his major design achievement?
His war time work had a huge impact. He found the information diagram posters so visually unstimulating and he wanted to produce posters that affected the soldiers; it was a defining period for him – it transformed him.
How much did his Jewish heritage contribute to his work?
It is a huge part of the work he did. He contributed to Jewish causes throughout his life. The footage of Nazi atrocities in the Belsen Concentration Camp had a profound impact on him. He was a committed Jew who gave so much back to his community in North London: schools, synagogues.
If you could own one of his original poster, which one would it be?
One of my hobbies is knitting so perhaps the wartime poster “Please knit now”.
We had a brilliantly inspiring afternoon on a recent studio visit – followed by a few cheeky Camden pints. If you haven’t been down to see it, you simply must before it ends on 4th January 2015. Expect original posters, bold paintings, sketches and a captivating insight into a very talented man.
In wake of the sad news this week of Chris Bracey’s passing, we asked our own Rhian Brain to tell us a little about the time she had the pleasure of meeting the man they called The Master of Neon.
Portrait courtesy of Leo Marks
Last year I was lucky enough to spend some time at God’s Own Junkyard with ‘the master of neon’, Chris Bracey.
It’s an afternoon I will never forget. He was a remarkable man who created some truly fantastic works of art – I use the word ‘was’ because sadly Chris lost his battle with prostate cancer last week, aged 59.
They say you should never meet your heroes, but in this case I’m glad I ignored that advice. In the short amount of time I spent with him, he struck me as a genuine, humble and extremely witty man.
It goes without saying that he died at a relatively young age. There is no doubt in my mind that he had plenty more to give the world and it’s a tragedy we will no longer see the wonderful ideas that poured out of his mind. Thankfully his legacy will live on, passing the neon kingdom to his three sons.
You can visit Gods Own Junkyard which houses the biggest collection of neon outside of the US in the heart of Walthamstow. Inside, there is The Rolling Scones café, where you can enjoy a beer or cuppa and sit amongst the warm glow. I would definitely recommend a visit, it will brighten up your day.
Chris inspired me with his body of work, but more than that, he inspired me as a person. He will be missed and I hope wherever he is, it’s now glowing neon.
You can read the article Rhian wrote back in 2013 by clicking here.
3D Touchable Memories
Here is something to make you smile. Wouldn’t it be great to re-imagine a memory at the touch of your finger tips? It would be cool, right? Well, the creative agency LOLA thought that too and created the social experiment ‘Touchable Memories’ for the printing company Pirate3D, to promote their new product the Buccaneer printer. The Singapore based printing company took memorable photographs from five visually impaired persons and turned those photographs into 3D objects so the images could be experienced through the power of touch. The pioneering technology not only enables the blind to re-engage with a tangible memory but it also raises awareness of what technology can do to improve lives. It definitely gets the thumbs up from us. Watch the short film and hear their stories, courtesy of Marco Aslan.
And just like that, winter has truly arrived. It’s time put the soup on the hob to warm the cockles – and no bowl of soup is complete without a nice crusty bit of bread is it? And for Japanese artist and former baker Yukiko Morita no sideboard or poorly lit corner is complete without a bit of bread either. In fact, she loves bread so much that she decided to make a series of bread lamps – naturally. These quirky little carb burners are all made from real bread, with the additional ingredient of ‘LED, battery & more’ according to her website. Named Pampshades after the french word ‘Pan’ + ‘Lampshade’, Yukiko wanted to create something for like minded bread lovers – I think they are brilliant.
Colourful Portraits by Mahesh Balasubramanian
Although outside it maybe a little dull and rainy in London, that doesn’t mean we can’t add a little colour into our Friday and brighten up our day. Thank you Richard Rigby, who sent in Mahesh Balasubramanian’s brilliant photos this week. These vibrant portraits were taken on digital in India – do take a peek.
We never need an excuse to enjoy a Friday tipple, so when we do get an excuse we can be sure to pull out all the stops – and pull out the famous DB Reception Bar. Our dual purpose reception desk transforms into a swanky fully functioning bar within a matter of minutes, making the long walk to the pub for an after work beverage even shorter. To celebrate Halloween we ordered the ice, turned up the tunes, applied the face paint and opened up the bar for business. Serving creepy cocktails and plenty of treats, we dragged in all sorts of odd balls (and that was just the bar staff). I don’t know what was more terrifying – that lychee eye balls or the crowd?
For those of you whose theatrical appetite is peeked by Halloween you’ll be impressed by the ghoulish spectres and creatures of the night the Amsterdam studio managed to summon up for an evening frightful fun.
These beastly creations put us in mind of a Ray Bradbury poem which captured the mood of the night, however no matter how terrifying the spectres our minds have the power to create the ‘whirlwind of doom’ is a portent guaranteed to freeze the most heroic of creative hearts.
Crystal water turns to dark
Where ere it’s presence leaves it’s mark
And boiling currents pound like drums
When something wicked this way comes…
A presence dark invades the fair
And gives the horses ample scare
Chaos rains and panic fills the air
When something wicked this way comes…
Ill winds mark it’s fearsome flight,
And autumn branches creak with fright.
The landscape turns to ashen crumbs,
When something wicked this way comes…
Flowers bloom as black as night
Removing color from your sight
Nightmarish vines block your way
Thorns reach out to catch their prey
And by the pricking of your thumbs
Realize that their poison numbs
From frightful blooms, rank odors seep
Bats & beasties fly & creep
‘Cross this evil land, ill winds blow
Despite the darkness, mushrooms glow
All will rot & decompose
For something wicked this way grows…
Pictures by our very own Richard!
OK GO won’t let you down
Yes, I know it’s Halloween but before I show you anything spooky I have to share something show stopping-ly superb – and I’m not exaggerating. The band Ok Go are known for their marvelous music videos; the last one for their song ‘The Writing’s on the Wall’ has had over 11.5 million views on YouTube – and that’s a lot. So, you can imagine my excitement when their new video for the track ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ was released this week. Shot in Japan in one single take, it is seen to be believed. And the song ain’t half bad either – turn it up, go full screen and enjoy this exquisite display of perfectly timed magic. Very Cool.
With it being Halloween I thought it best to get in something creepy for this week’s Friday Favorites – and these are definitely pretty creepy. Have you ever thought what Hannibal Lecter would have looked like when he was a babe in arms? Well artist Alex Solis did and what he produced is great fun. His series ‘Baby Terrors’ looks at some of the most famous cult horror villains of our time and what they would have looked like when they were nippers. Half Muppet baby, half ‘there is 100% something not quite right’ – I think I’d pass on baby sitting. Take A look.
Now that’s what I call a Halloween pumpkin
It wouldn’t be Halloween without a nod to the pumpkin. If you think you’re a dab hand at carving … think again. Villafane Studios are a US based pumpkin carving studio that are a little more advanced than the standard triangle eyes and nose cut out. They can spend up to 12 hours on each design and they are truly spectacular. Founder Ray Villafane has been doing this since 2004 and it has been said that his goolish creations have even creeped their way it into the White House.
Creative business cards
For those of you that have seen the film American Psycho, you will know the importance of the business card – Off-white. Egg shell. Name centered. Embossed in black. For years, it has been the pocket sized marketing tool that connects people and businesses across the globe – and with so many about, it’s a pretty good idea to have one that gives a lasting impression. So if you’re in the need of some inspiration have a gander at Twisted Sifter’s collection of top creative business cards. They are brilliant. Just imagining whipping one of these out from your wallet.
3D Geometric Masks by Steve Wintercroft
With Halloween only a week away, you may need a little help picking a costume – don’t worry as there’s still time and this may be right up your street. Designer Steve Wintercroft was in the same predicament a few years back, when he didn’t have anything to wear for a Halloween party. Thankfully he didn’t opt for the loo roll Mummy option; he got crafty with some old cardboard, scissors and tape and produced a fox mask and now he sells all sorts of masks for you to make at home.
“I’ve drawn up the templates, written instructions and made them easy to follow. The goal is to create a set of masks that could be built by anyone using local materials removing the need for mass manufacturing or shipping and with the minimum environmental impact.” Steven Wintercroft
So if you’re into your arts and crafts why not give one a go – spooky.
Bookshop for the 21st Century
A good book is delicious food for the soul, so spending an afternoon in a good bookshop will definitely be a good helping of just that. After stumbling on this gem, if I had an afternoon free in São Paulo, I would definitely be heading straight to this bookshop designed by Studio MK27. It’s been designed to encourage customers to spend time with friends and create the perfect environment to read your purchases – and all next to beautiful walls clad in books. It’s super cool and anything that inspires more reading is definitely fine by me.
Amsterdam life usually involves water in some form, whether it’s an afternoon boating along the canals or just the normal Dutch rain! Luckily for us, the clouds held off on our Summer Away Day this year but that didn’t mean we wouldn’t get very wet!
We were sorted into our teams (water based residents including the Vikings, Dragon Boats and Venetians) and set about deciding names, stories and making props for our challenge. The mission: build a raft that can carry your team across the canal and stay dry doing it. Just 2 barrels, 6 planks of wood, 8 pieces of rope and 0 knowledge on raft building… challenge accepted.
We all got to work puzzling over the best way to use what we had been given (and a few pilfered extras), but it soon proved obvious that it was harder than we thought. Balance and floating were primary difficulties, partly due to the rafts capsizing and subsequently falling apart!
With all but one raft completely failing, we realised that the ‘staying dry’ part of the task was never going to happen. Some embraced the murky brown canal water and if you weren’t quite wet enough, water pistols were always on hand to soak a rival team.
Beers of course followed to warm up the sailors and toast the victorious, as well as Frank’s unforgettable Ice Bucket Challenge. We certainly worked up an appetite for the huge BBQ that we had at Roest (or Rust in English), the industrial and quirky event space complete with beach and retro caravans in the garden.
As day turned to night, drink tokens were swiftly spent on refreshing cocktails and the hippie atmosphere continued. While some attempted to play the piano in the bar, others made a 70’s revival relaxing in the caravans. As it started to get cold – it was September in Amsterdam after all – we gathered around the huge campfire soaking up the ‘gezellige’ atmosphere with warm memories to cherish for the impending winter.
Ralph Steadman illustrates Breaking Bad
British illustrator Ralph Steadman is no stranger to bringing troubled characters to life – his highly influential warped drawings famously provided the manic imagery for Hunter S Tompson’s writing. When you hear the names Walter White and Jessie Pinkman the phrase ‘troubled character’ definitely comes to mind, so it was utterly brilliant this week to see what Steadman made of these guys after he was commissioned to illustrate the cartoons for a limited edition Blue-ray release of Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad. I would not mess with these guys.
Timelapse in the Big Apple
Thanks Natasha for sharing this great video from Timelapse Media. After exploring New York City by taking thousands of photos, these guys produced this film and managed to capture the spirit and energy of the Big Apple in just two minutes, which is quite an achievement. Put your headphones on and enjoy – I can smell the hot dogs from here.
Penguin Drop Caps
Make some room on those bookshelves and take a look at this gorgeous book series from the typographic talents of Jessica Hische and Penguin Art Director Paul Buckley. The Penguin Drop Caps is made up of of twenty-six hardcover collectible literature editions and they’re are on sale now. The collection is a stunning rainbow spectrum from Austin to Zafon, each with an ornate drop cap lettering design – it all begins with a letter.
Take a look at the whole series here.