Wednesday, 26 December 2007

I'm learning some javascript! Woo! This site is really good - it has examples and you can try things out.
when my sister was small she couldn't say peacock so she called them teapots :D

Friday, 21 December 2007


In preparation for Samsonite project, I'm thinking about travel. For now, my own everyday travelling to and from work.


Walking through the park, I see squirrels. Silence and peace, sometimes broken by my noisy head singing loudly inside. Train to Finsbury Park and tube to Leicester Square absorbed in a book. Weave down Charing Cross Road.


Walk down Charing Cross Road with a friend from work. Say Bye. Go down steps of Leicester Square tube. Anger descends. Strong desires to kick the back of peoples knees and push them down escalators. I just want to go home!!! Waiting waiting. Read all the way to Wood Green. And wait wait wait for a 329 bus. Read on bus. Walk home in dark and quiet. Pass the park. It's beautiful. Notice something new each day. Home.

I will be taking photos once I'm sorted out with camera :) That's my general everyday storyline for my journey. I want to note down the details, the beautiful things I notice. The stories I consume. I get shitloads of reading done. I get to read 2 hours a day. That's the good thing about public transport, I'm not driving!

Tord Boontje

Tord Boontje is obviously a big influence for me. I just got his book :) and it has made me feel happier about design. Good stuff. Especially this quote:

"I believe that if we see design as a way of shaping the future of our world, it should be as exciting and thrilling as a great film or book. At the same time, it should communicate not only who we are, but also how we would ideally like our world to be."

This is how I want to design.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Finally finished this. I was really enjoying this on a book loan from work, but then there was a stock take, so I only just got back to it. About 2 months later - and I wasn't fussed which possibly says something about it. It is good though. Its Germany World War 2, the story, narrated by death, of a young german girl who steals books, her relationship with her family and the jew they hide in their basement and how important words are. Being narrated by death feels gimmicky and the story doesn't quite ring true for me because of this. But the ending traumatised me and I cried. So it was good. And the mother, Rosa was such a good character. I love her. I like the book for her. She was a hard, angry, aggressive bitch but so full of love and tenderness :( sadness and weeping

More thoughts on contrast

It can be so hard to contrast things sometimes, I put things together and all I can see is similarity. Suppose there was a gothic cathedral and a skyscraper next to each other. Contrast of old and new. But they are both buildings. Ok, lets swap the skyscraper for a lion. Hmm the lion has a tawny brick like colour. And so on...though...skyscraper and lion works I think.
That said, I like lion and gothic cathedral best. And it does contrast. There's no need for complete contrast :)

I think what part of my problem has been is that I'm not happy with my story. It's boring and obviously moral based. And my last story was something I was really proud of and I haven't felt that at all with this story - I churned it out and stuck with it. The page above is the only page I'd say I liked. Storywise. The imagery is alright it's the story I hate. But I've gone so far down this theme now...and I tried reworking the story already. I'm not sure if I should continue for now, or just do a new story.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Contrast is essential :D
Life is contrast and about contrast. You can't have happy without sad. There's no beauty without ugly. No innocence without something to be innocent of. Putting opposites together emphasizes their qualities. And conveys more at once. Emotionally and physically. Yay!

Monday, 26 November 2007

Sampling - Acrylic and Wool

Playing with layering, light, shadow and illustration :) I'm pretty pleased with where my experimentation took me. It's not what I imagined...but I think I like it.
Now I'd like to really push the storytelling aspect.

Kiyoshi Nakashima

Kiyoshi Nakashima is an artist local to where my mum's aunt lives in Japan (So my memory says). He paints beautiful pictures of Japanese landscapes and young children playing in them. Often the children are sad or crying. I love them because they are melancholy and beautiful.

Josef Frank

I heart Josef Frank's designs - they are so joyful and have a sort of innocence. Bright and beautiful. See more on the Svenskt Tenn website.

E.W.Moore & Son

Joy. I just found this site of vintage wallpaper :D Delicious. I was looking through my old journals of stuff-that-i-like, and found an old elle deco cutting...looked it up and mmm.

If I told you once

This is one of my favourite book covers ever. It's so gorgeous and simple. There is clear gloss print of snowflakes and text all over it too that you only see at certain angles! :) Book is pretty good too, like a fairy tale and also real. Enchanted reality! And the grotesque. There's a part where a woman has many husbands who all die, turns out it's because she tests them by going away and telling them not to go in a certain room, but they do and inside is a stunning girl fast asleep...but it's a doll with a mighty metal jaw of teeth between its legs.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Shawn Lovell has made my dream bed.

I want this bed. This is The bed. The bed of dreams. My bedroom shall be like a forest and this shall be my bed. Shawn Lovell...please make one for me!

Glee! I just found The Black Rabbit! Mmmmm wool. Mmmmm animals. Mmmm child-like.

Sophie Dahl

I've borrowed a new book from work. Playing with the Grown-Ups by Sophie Dahl. I'm very excited because I adored The Man with the Dancing Eyes (Click to see gorgeous animations of the illustrations!) :D and this new one is a proper book..I mean like dancing eyes was a picture book. So I shall experience more of her writing. Sigh....dancing eyes was so lovely, so quirky and innocent. And the illustrations too :)
You totally can judge books by the cover....
After reading - No you can't. The book is irritating and bland.


There suddenly seems to be many light based alarm clocks! least 2. :) Maybe it's just I'm noticing because I'm thinking along the same lines. First Phillips Wake-Up light and now Lumie have one too and it's both dusk and dawn! With a 30 day trial...I'm very tempted. I am totally suckered into this idea especially after all my sleep/light research. I'm imaging waking up naturally feeling refreshed because my body chemicals are doing the right thing according to the light :) yay! £60 though...

Iknow my project isn't 'real'. And I'm not really about to start manufacturing bed curve sleep/wake lights but I can't stop thinking - imagine how much it would cost!!! All that perspex and laser cutting and felt....not to mention the actual making and getting it working and set up. It'd be very beautiful but utterly unaffordable and ridiculously unneccesary luxury. But so pretty. And I'd love to see it for real, and sleep beneath it.

Julian Trevelyan

I love love Julian Trevelyan's child-like prints. They're so beautiful and innocent! Just so lovely :D

lego ducks swimming on plastic

The other day I left for work in the cold and dark. It smelt so wintry and wet and it reminds me of a christmas evening walk when I was small. I'd been given lego and me and my dad made ducks out of two yellow bricks and made them swim on the plastic film window on the packaging. Then we went for a walk saw real ducks. I love this springs to mind as soon as winter comes and I smell cold streets. I think a lego duck story would be nice...

i am legend

On Friday I bought I am Legend by Richard Matheson for a friend, then read it on my tube journey back. It's really good. It's about how everyone in the world has turned into a vampire except this one guy and how he fights for survival all alone in the world. Obviously I read it too quickly, but I still got a vivid sense of the book. The emptiness, the dust, the feeling of disease. Oh god the pain! His wife and child...
I love the ending. It's perfect. Even though I was thinking back on it as I walked home today and got confused about something (re-read neccesary but have now given the book) but yes. Perfect ending.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

boyfriends that cook are best

I watched a bit of that program about Pugin while I ate my tea this evening. I can't believe he designed the house of lords at 25! It showed his house in Kent too and it had awesome dramatic wallpaper :) My housemate Sam and I wonder if we can visit his house....

... you CAN! Click the link for info and pictures of delicious wallpaper.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Tell us a story, grandpa bear!

Having to spend 2 and a half hours, 6 days a week commuting, I get quite alot of reading done! I've been greedily reading lots of childrens books from the library...I'd forgotten how good they are! 2 recent reads are The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale and The Dream Merchant by Isabel Hoving.

Goose Girl is based on a Grimm fairytale, which I didn't find out till later but it is very like a hearty satisfying fairytale - same charm and satisfaction but a whole book full :D Involving a princess forced to trade places with her maid while travelling to another country to marry a prince she's never met, becomes a goose girl and a stronger person and of course everything turns out well :) yay. She's the sort of awkward character I'm not usually a fan of (like the nameless heroine of Rebecca by Du Maurier) but I liked her and
I liked the way she grew as a person. And talked to geese :)

Dream Merchant is very kids fantasy, the sort of thing that could be a cbbc show (not that theres anything wrong with that). Kids having adventures in fantasy worlds. Theres a big corporation that wants more customers so they want to sell people things in the past so they send these kids into dream worlds to try to find out how to travel in time...then the kids get stuck in the dreamworld and need to complete a quest to get back to reality. I wasn't too sure at first...but the kids are likeable (even if their talents are excessive) and the quest is exciting, entertaining and I like letting my thoughts drift back to it. In a way it reminds me of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. His book goes forward in time and back again - different stories and characters interlinked like a russian doll. Dream Merchant is one story but the constant time change (every time they fall asleep time goes back 300 years) and the different places they travel to bring Cloud Atlas to mind.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Nebula and Phillip Delamore

Phillips Nebula Project

I've been researching light...and the Phillips Nebula Project is very similar to my project. I'm making bed lighting to soothe people to sleep - dimming like dusk. Nebula is interactive though, people can project any computer image or message on to the ceiling, they can scan anything in.

Emotionally durable design - it can change continually and personally.

My design falls down in that respect. However I do intend mine to be a beautiful, well made piece of functional bed-decoration. The dimming light should be a part of the users bed-time routine. In being a beautiful, comforting, daily part of the users life I hope it would not be gotten rid of. Anyhow, I will be thinking of ways my design could be interactive.

Also went to talk by Phillip Delamore - designer/researcher at LCF - about Digital Futures.

Similar to Cradle to Cradle he spoke about how our vision of the future hasn't changed since the 50's - but he sees a soft, organic, furry future.

One of his projects was an enormous repeat print, so big that no two garments had the same patterning - mass individualisation - meeting individual needs on a production level. Other examples were moving prints projected on to garments, photographs were taken and the customer chose from the stills which print they actually wanted.

Computers can simulate how a real product will behave, where it's weak points are etc. Can simulate the individual (bodymetrics/avatars) and these can be used for product development and seeing how clothes look on a person. The longer things are kept digital before being made real the less waste there will be. There is even research being done in to virtual touch! It reminds me of The Matrix.

Second life - virtual life, real business takes place in this virtual world.

If individuals begin designing for themselves everyone is a designer - perhaps the designers role will change - designing ways to design?

A digital future could be emotionally durable as it makes individual needs easy to meet on an industrial scale. It also cuts down on material waste. We wouldn't want to lose the creativity of doing things by hand though. Although much of my work is digital, I'm aware that digital work has a very different quality to hand-crafted.

Thinking back to Cradle to Cradle - does it mean we should eventually lose our history? There's alot of amazing design that is cradle to grave - I keep thinking about this and then realising it's silly - we will probably never acheive a completly cradle to cradle system, and the cradle to grave stuff is stuck here - it's not going to degrade, that's the whole problem. But. . .I can't stop confusing myself thinking about it.

Interactive Design

Phillips - Nebula

Philip Delamore

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Cradle to Cradle and Emotionally Durable Design

I put aside the fiction for a couple of weeks and read these inspiring books. Worthwhile.

Cradle to Cradle is so positive! It's easy to understand, conjuring images of houses that are like trees, abundance that goes back to the earth, in a circle - the way that nature works. Everything is stepped out manageably and I find myself feeling all is not lost, people are creative enough change the way things are designed. The writers present several case studies of companies they had worked with - a company that made upholstery fabric - their effluent ended up cleaner than the water going in! And the book itself is not paper, but a sort of plastic that in recycling won't lose any quality.

A quote I like that may inspire future stories (relating to chemicals that are emitted from everyday materials):

"So be careful - you might un-intentionally be eating your appliances."

Emotionally Durable Design seems to aimed at Industrial designers really but the gist of it is that products need to have an emotional connection with the user to lengthen the life of the product. Todays culture is so disposable with many products being designed with built in obsolecense. People throw things away and buy things on a whim, slaves to trends. I think it's important for surface decoration (which is what I do) to take emotional connection into account too.

At the end of each chapter important concepts are listed, followed by suggestions for designers. Very useful. Despite this, while I believe I understood what the book was saying, I'm not certain how I would go about putting it into action. There weren't really any examples, possibly because there aren't yet any products really connect emotionally with the user. Also much of it related to industrial design as I said before. I probably need to look over the book again.

I think Linda Florence is an example of a designer who works on making surface decoration more emotionally durable. She has printed wallpapers/flooring using inks that gradually rub away to reveal a new design underneath. This kind of slow interaction draws out the life of the product.

Linda Florence
Cradle to Cradle
Emotionally Durable Design

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Rob Ryan

Met my old friend Zac yesterday for his last day in London and went to see the Rob Ryan exhibition at the Rebecca Hossack gallery. It's to go with his lovely new book which I am buying as soon as possible. The gallery is lovely, bright and airy with a tiny twisty staircase leading upstairs. It was bigger than I had expected the window was decorated too :D

Rob Ryan does beautiful intricate hand cut sillouette drawings, much imagery of nature, people (and lots of ladders) with text, very romantic and lonely. But believing in love. A contemporary fairytale?

Scan of Rob Ryan postcard sold at exhibition

It appeals very much to my love of the decorative and my though I don't like to admit it, romantic nature. In ways it it is similar to my work - it's intricate, illustrative and centres around people and emotions. But Rob Ryan's work has a more crafted, drawn and personal feel. It is as if the artwork is his diary and the feelings portrayed are his feelings. My work is less honest in that way. Although I draw, it is on the computer and has a less drawn feel, and is more simplistic. Also my stories never admit to being about me even if they are. I think this is a valid way of working and I like that some people see my work as humourous while others see more to it.

Page from my current storybook

I'll be keeping an eye on what's going on at the Rebecca Hossack gallery from now on as it's a really nice space and an interesting gallery with a strong focus on aboriginal art. I saw a beautiful book they were selling called The Night life of Trees by Bhajju Shyam, Ram Singh Urveti and Durga Bai. Really decorative yet simple prints of the spirits in the trees after dark. I think I might have to buy this book too as it is gorgeous. And as an excuse my current story involves a tree with a spirit!

Page from The Night Life of Trees

Afterwards Zac and I had lunch at Pure California, I recommend it. It does really good fresh smoothies, you can build your own salad, they only use natural ingredients and best of all they use free range meat. This is important as since I read Planet Chicken by Hattie Ellis I've decided against eating chicken that's not free range. But I won't go into that. (though I will link the book, it's good, however if I were to criticise I'd say the argument was one sided and I'd like to see more of what battery farmers had to say in their defence)

Friday, 26 October 2007

Ever and Again - Experimental recycled Textiles

I just caught this exhibition before it finished yesterday at Chelsea College of Art and Design and I'm glad I did! It is the work of TED designers and some guest designers creating new textile products from old ones, giving things new and increased value.

I particularly like:

Rebecca Earley's heat printed shirts, old shirts freshly printed with gardening inspired prints. floral but modern, intended for wearing in the garden, growing your own food.

Emma Neubergs plastic bag/packaging laminated skirts. They are bright, fun, and make a statement by twisting the slogans. It is almost storytelling.

Kathryn Round and Charlotte Mann's work, printing photographs of old clothes on organic fabric, to keep the memory of well loved clothes. I hate getting rid of things so I have piles of useless things. Clothes that don't fit or that have no armpits or something. So I love this idea that I could still wear something that is really too old or doesn't fit. I don't know that this is recyling so much though. Is printing on organic fabric, a photograph of something old not a bit of a tenuous link? I guess it means the actual item can then go to someone who it does fit. Or also, it means the item has served another purpose even though it's part is soon over.

Gary Page's dress that goes through 3 redesigns to freshen it up and lengthen its life. It starts as a plain organic cotton dress. Then it is indigo dyed and ruffled. Then it is printed by Rob Ryan (Yay!) and finally its restyled and sparkled. The owner sends the dress to get redesigned when ever they feel it is time. This is a lovely way to lengthen the life of a product. In a way interactive. After being with a dress through 4 incarnations I can see a person being emotionally attached to the dress and less likely to throw it away.

What is a Textile? What is Innovation? What is Textiles Future?

Christine Borland - Bullet Proof Breath - Glass and Spidersilk

Do-Ho Suh - Sheer Fabric House

Kyoko Kumai - Woven Steel

Teppo Asikainen - Cloud Chamber

Almira Sadar and Marija Jenko - Snow Queen - Relief Moulded Felt

Clare Goddard - Preservation - Industrially coated petal fabric

William Morris - Chrysanthemum Wallpaper 1877

E.V.Day - Transporter - 2000 - Sequin dress shredded and suspended between mirrors

Noh Robe Detail - Japan - Gold leaf and embroidery

Tyrolean look cotton scarf

Weaving on a vertical loom in Cameroon using fibres extracted from fronds of raphia palm

Textiles appeal to senses and emotion.
Innovation improves life.
Future Textiles should appeal to senses and emotions while improving life.