Decorations in the park (the
Noorderplantsoen), during the ten days that the annual Noorderzon Performing
Arts Festival is held are often refreshingly original, and in some cases thought
provoking for the viewer. Summer 2012, saw the inclusion of an unusual
collection of birds throughout the park: outlines of over 30 familiar species
native to the area, and they were constructed from detailed, three-layered laser
cutouts of mirror. Each was mounted on heavy iron bases by metal nuts and bolts
and displayed at intervals throughout the park; one could spy a kingfisher hanging
from a pole, a heron balanced on a branch staring intently into the distance, or
groups of birds standing in the water’s shallows.
A promotional postcard from the festival,
which turned out to be a pitch to the CBK (Centrum Beeldende Kunst) to realize
the project, led my curiosity to contact interior designer, Carolijn Slottje.
Carolijn told me that apart from the
obvious decorative aspect, the thinking behind this project was to make people
aware just how many bird species are resident in the Noorderplantsoen, and what
effect the presence of a festival can have on the indigenous flora and fauna.
I met her at her studio, in part of an enormous,
high-ceilinged old school premises destined for demolition, and run by the
anti-squat organization, Carex. It is here that she has all the room necessary
to work on the five or so projects that she completes per year; either under
her own name, or as part of the collaborative label (with Eileen Blackmore, Martijn Westphal):
Young and Hanson. We ascend a series of bright red wooden stairs to the
slightly warmer, large-windowed, mezzanine area of the studio, and sit in the
sun, with large glass beakers of hot amber-coloured tea.
A graduate of Minerva, Carolijn has had a
great deal of interest surrounding her work, beginning with her graduation
project: Capilliar. This organically
formed and ‘intelligent’ display structure has exhibited in Berlin, been
written about on blogs, and drawn attention from museums for its originality. Looking
like a magnified cross section of blood vessels and arteries on a glass slide under
a microscope, and constructed from a series of adjustable rubber membrane cells,
plastic straws, and with grey plastic tubes as inner display areas, this book
case can be adapted to fit any space.
I ask Carolijn where she gets her
inspiration from. It seems that her design philosophy and approach comes from
her interest in natural structures, the stories contained within patterning,
sustainability and fair trade. Finding inspiration in the mechanical working of
things, for example bionics, she then figures out how she can translate this
for human use. Or from nature: the already documented information on how a leaf
unfurls, or the resistance of a riverbed. Knowledge gained from the former has already
been applied to the technology of how a satellite opens in outer space. The
natural world for her is inspirational through its planned chaos: “If you fill
a pot with stones, whether big or small, they will naturally fall to
accommodate each other within the pot, and find their own level.”
It can take up to a year before Carolijn
can finally launch a new product on the market. Not only does the designed
object have to be able to exist in its surroundings, but there is the question
of feasibility; materials have to be costed, the end design has to be tested
for safety, and then there is the question as to whether there is a market for
Although her income could do with a boost, Carolijn
is just able to survive from her work: commissioned interior projects, and the
creation of small saleable objects. For example, her fabulous up-cycled Zaanse clocks
as bird houses – traditional old style Dutch clocks, with new life blasted into
them. Plus of course, products from the design collective: Young and Hanson, in
house at Vos Interieur.
For the future, her objective is not so
much about making a name for herself, but to maybe work for Ikea or Hema, producing
products with the underlying philosophy of them being financially accessible
and attractive to all. Also, she would like to use her knowledge for the design
of a “good chair for a well-known label.”
If you’d like more information about
Carolijn’s work: www.carolijnslottje.com. Or call her: here.
As a follow up to my last post on edible packaging, it seems that Brazilian-based fast-food chain Bob's has replaced its plastic burger wrappings with edible ones - Way to go! - I wonder what it tastes like? Via: DesignTaxi
“Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread. Without it, it’s flat.” - Carmen McRae There's nothing more disappointing, whilst on the run, than grabbing 'a-sandwich-to-go' only to find that the bread is less than acceptable. The momentary illusion of a tasty sandwich, created by the attractive packaging, its filling promising satiation, is immediately dashed by the first bite; the filling runs off in terror, the bread shrinks into a glutinous lump and then proceeds to stick to the roof of one's mouth. Swallow, and it dawns on me that this 'bread' has only just started its journey, and has a long way to go... Ugh! It is with this in mind that I rejoice at the movement of the real bread movement, where the baking of bread is artful - the use of the best organic ingredients, perfect preparation, and the pimping of the worn out old homely-style bakery establishment to one befitting the sale of real bread.
"What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul"- Yiddish proverb
This afternoon, a particularly blustery and grey Sunday, I took off on my Vespa and joined 15 other people curious to learn the art of soap making. Held at the Connect International office, by Stephanie Fermor from Toastie Studio, & Thomas Poortman
During the three hour workshop, we learnt the techniques necessary to create four different kinds of soap. Apart from using different shaped molds, we also 'flavoured' them from a selection of delicious scented oils, such as: chocolate, vanilla, orange, cappuccino, passion fruit and banana, to mention a few.
The bars of soap could either be clear (like glass), or we could stir in water-based colourings along with curls of soap (created with the use of a cheese slice), brightly coloured plastic fish, or in the case of the exfoliating soap - oatmeal. For each soap we had to work quickly, because once the melted soap mixture left the bain marie, it immediately started to solidify. At the end of the workshop, our four different soap bar designs included: a clear bar with aforementioned brightly coloured plastic fish swimming around inside, a realistic looking ice lolly on wooden stick, a funky cup cake and a square oatmeal bar. And once the soap had finally cooled enough to be removed from their prospective molds, each was individually wrapped - perfectly packaged for Christmas presents.
Interested in making your own soap? Supplies can be ordered from: Soap Queen & You Wish. (Links courtesy of Stephanie)
For a peek at my creations made during the workshop...
Enormous replicas of high-heeled shoes made from shiny pots and pans by Paris-born, Lisborn-based artist: Joana Vasconcelos. These stunning pieces of footwear are part of an installation called 'Shoes', which have traveled the world. Beautiful in their conception, they are also a comment on the persisting traditional double role that womankind continues to lead, in a modern day world. Via: DesignTaxi
Just had to share these amazingly lifelike and original toys created by Russian based artist, Santaniel. Made from a combination of fimo clay, fabric fur and wire, but they almost seem to be alive! For more: here
Forced to Fly is a useful anthology, offering practical information on living abroad, including invaluable tips, groups to join, and a variety of websites to consult, between its covers. Aiming to give moral support and advice for those considering a move abroad - how to survive, and ultimately enjoy it. This, the second issue, also includes an extensive collection of short stories, contributed by a total of 40 expatriates, as a result of a call-up and final selection by Jo Parfitt. All of the authors, have lived or continue to live abroad. Their stories highlight experiences, both good and bad: stories which are insightful, often highly amusing and cover a wide gamut of emotions that we can all relate to. Stories which are oftentimes hilarious, sometimes thought provoking and now and again downright frustrating. Forced to Fly (Summertime Publishing), is the second book where I have participated in its re-issue. This time, however, I not have only been instrumental in the re-vamp of the internal text, but also a series of 50 black and white illustrations, to accompany and enhance the various sections, and collection of short stories throughout the book.
So... for your OWN copy of Forced to Fly, why not pay a visit to Amazon, where you can purchase it: for Kindle or as a paperback . And... once you are in possession of your own copy, you will discover that one of the short stories is mine!
It is a series of brightly
coloured cards depicting a variety of animals, which have been attracting my
attention for a while. Each has its own story, and is illustrated to
incorporate realism, in the accuracy of their detailed rendering, plus a hint
of the world of cartoon in their personification. Although frogs seem to be in
the majority, it is the card with a bird wearing a top hat tilted at a rakish
angle, that becomes the deciding factor in my contacting the artist; beady
eyes, long pointy beak and an intense stare invite the viewer to choose one of
the three upturned cups on the table in front of the bird, in a gamble, to
reveal what’s hiding underneath.
These are the creations of artist Jasper
Oostland who lives and works in Groningen. I arrive at his house on a rare
sunny day in June; a house filled with large windows, which results in an
overall bright, airy feel, and is the perfect residence for an artist. With his
studio situated in the attic, we head upstairs. White walls, windows on two
sides, jars filled with brushes awaiting action, and enormous pots of acrylic
paint stand resolutely on a table. Nearby, is an easel with his latest work in
progress; there’s a lot of bright pink happening in this work, and from the
outlines I can just make out a car and a flamingo. The easel has an ingenious
feature - the addition of a rotary centre. This allows the current work to be
turned a full 360 degrees, allowing complete ease of access to the entire
picture whilst it is worked upon.
A former student of the art school,
Minerva, in Groningen, Jasper studied illustration with an emphasis on
technique. Studying the use of light, its source and application, is an
important part in creating the 3-D realism of the animals. To my question about
his colour usage, he says it is something that he uses intuitively. Each work
starts with a wash of background colour upon which the animals are brought to
life through a series of painted layers progressing from dark to light. As he talks
he passes me an amazingly detailed picture of a large grey rhino, standing
wistfully next to a delicate pink rose in a glass vase. The equally bright pink
background is one of his experiments; in this case how to make pink work on
pink. Other little tricks and details he puts in his work are expressly done to
leave something for the viewer to discover.
The abundance of frogs in his work, often
in everyday situations, leads me to ask firstly, if he is the frog, and
secondly, if the variety of situations the frog finds himself in, is maybe a
tongue in cheek social comment. To the former he says he is not as far as he is
aware the frog, although sometimes according to his girlfriend, he can have a particular
stance or expression that reminds her of a frog. As for a deep and meaningful
message or social comment, he says there isn’t one, he likes frogs, and in
particular tree frogs because they have a lot of character; they have great
hands with padded fingers that can hold things and expressive eyes.
When it comes to inspiration he researches
photos in books or images from the Internet, for the accurate depiction he
needs. As for what comes first, it is more or less spontaneous - sometimes it’s
the animal and sometimes the object. Ideas also come from association or a
particular pose, and these are worked out further in a sketchbook.
These days it is very important for artists
to be active with self-promotion if they want public attention. Jasper seems to
have this under control: he has an up to date website; makes use of social
media (find him on Facebook); exhibits regularly; sells work online – both
originals and giclées; uses Chat Roulette, a website where you can watch
him paint live. Also, by every exhibition he places a large pile of cards
depicting one of his works and including his contact details. As he says:
“People keep them and pin them up.” This continual visibility has led to 20% of
his work being commission based, and, as a result he finds himself in the
enviable position of having enough work for a year.
When asked if he has any dreams for the
future, he says that at the moment he is quite happy with the status quo, but
maybe a book, a little more structured organization of his business as a whole,
and, as the father of two young daughters under five, a little more sleep
wouldn’t go amiss.
Sick of leaving the house forgetting to check the weather forecast and getting a drenching?
Well, designer Nathan Brunstein may have come up with a solution that is both handy and edible. Introducing the ‘Jamy Toaster’ — capable of predicting the weather—thanks to an inbuilt barometer and thermometer.
Put a piece of bread into the toaster, and when it's done, it will pop up with the day's forecast 'printed' onto it.
The male, blue-footed boobies are particularly proud of their feet and show them off during mating rituals. Apparently, the bluer they are the more attractive they are to the opposite sex! Boobies can be found on the western coasts of Central and South America, and in particular on The Galápagos Islands. Via: Wild for Wildlife & Nature
Spotted flying around in the skies of South America, is the Venezuelan poodle moth. A very strange creature, and nobody seems to know much about it.
According to Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker (also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world). He believes this to be legitimate: "Furry, white, long-eyelash-bedecked insect that's so strange it couldn't possibly exist in real life and yet somehow it does? Definitely."
Absolutely love this, and it's definitely going on my wish list... A self sustaining floating island, designed by Michele Puzzolante. This solar floating resort is: hotel, yacht, submarine (sleeping six), has an underwater observation room, a jacuzzi and photovoltaic thin-film skin panels, which if implemented properly, could produce a third of the worlds energy by 2060. That aside, the development of clean solar energy technologies combined with the vast electrical energy created by the power of the sun, could translate into an unlimited, non-polluting energy for the future. It could also be part of the solution to our current problem of global warming as well as other environmental issues. Via Inhabitat