August 2008


I love the garden that Kazuyuki Ishihara designed for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. The Japanese roof top garden features green walls and water features. He designed it as an escape for urbanists to retreat to relax in and heal their hearts. http://www.rhs.org.uk/CHELSEA/2008/urban/midori-no-tobira.asp

I heard industrial designer Oki Sato from the Japanese architecture firm Nendo being interviewed recently. He was commissioned by Italian industrial manufacturer, Cappellini, to design a rug for its original carpet collection. He designed “Lucky” a playful rug of clover. He even created a surprise with this rug by hiding one four-leaf clover within it. 
http://www.nendo.jp/en/works/detail.php?y=2008&t=120

Although I’m a hardened Blackberry/laptop user, I’ve been hankering for the days of old when I used a typewriter. One of my favourites was the IBM “golf ball” or the Selectric http://www-07.ibm.com/au/70years/more_detail/1962.html Released in the 1960s and still used in my school in the 1980s, it was a clunky electric typewriter with a dome-like font ball that spun around when you hit the typewriter keys. It was my first real introduction to fonts as you could interchange the “golf ball” mid-document and use a different font.

From a design perspective, I covet the 1960s red Olivetti Valentine typewriter. Not only for its sleek design with handy carry case but when you typed on it you had to practically smack the letters to get the keys to lift up and tap the paper – you really felt like you were typing.

I once lived in Japan and one of the signs that summer had arrived was a changing of noren over shophouse entrances. A noren is a fine dividing curtain that is hung outside a store or restaurant to show that it’s open for business, it is removed again at night. The noren may have the store’s logo dyed on it, a shape or insect such as a dragonfly.

One of the my favourite colours is indigo and you can see beautiful examples of indigo in noren, often weathered and worn overtime and developing a lovely patina entwined with the threads. It’s a very down to earth colour that you see complemented with white especially when it’s used in porcelain. There’s a great indigo dyer in Kyoto who uses natural indigo. http://web.kyoto-inet.or.jp/people/utsuki/index.html

Plastisock is a Swedish designer of toddler gear. They’ve created non-gender specific prints with great colour combinations including white circus animals on a purple background with green trim, and blue and turquoise fish prints. I really like this green & orange peace symbol bodysuit. Worth visiting at Nordic Kids: http://www.nordickids.co.uk/acatalog/plastisock.html

During the week I saw a photo that momentarily took my breath away. It was Susan Hill’s “Mud Maid” – a stone sculpture covered in moss and vines that looks like a modern version of a reclining buddha. The sculpture is delicately sprawled within the estate of the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornall, England. The estate is 400 years old and up until recent times the gardens were neglected, until a hurricane devasted the gardens and inspired locals brought them back to life. http://www.heligan.com/flash_index.html

I recently visited Hong Kong and did my ritual visit to GOD (Goods of Desire) and Muji. GOD is a quirky cross between Ikea, Top Shop mixed in with retro Shanghainese style. There is always something to surprise you. http://www.goodsofdesire.com/

At Muji, the budget Japanese homewares and fashion store, they have a clothing range called Labo: clean lines, basic styles, muted colours – more expensive than their standard fare but definitely worth checking out.

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