The Art Deco treasure house you never knew was there: Freemasons’ Hall

Freemason's Hall

I bet you’ve walked past Freemasons’ Hall on Great Queen Street, just round the corner from the Opera House in Covent Garden, a million times and never thought of going inside. I certainly hadn’t. It’s the headquarters of a bizarre secret society open only to men, so why would I want to go in there? Because it has some of the most spectacular Art Deco interiors in the country, that’s why.  Continue reading

Eltham Palace – Art Deco Heaven

Eltham PalaceEltham Palace, in South London, isn‘t a palace at all (well, except for a small bit of it). It’s a house, built in 1933 by Stephen Courtauld ( younger brother of Samuel Courtauld who founded the Courtauld Institute) and his wife, Virginia. They were both Art Deco fanatics and the house they built is a masterpiece of Art Deco design. It’s now been beautifully restored by English Heritage. Continue reading

Tokyo Imagine at Tent 2014

Tokyo Imagine Tent is one of the annual set pieces of the London Design Festival. Located in the Old Truman Brewery in Hanbury Street, it showcases designers from around the world. In previous years I’ve discovered Mashiko Pottery and textile crafts there. But this year it’s different. There’s a whole section called Tokyo Imagine which features young digital media artists (I’m not sure I’d call them designers exactly) working with new technology, showcased alongside traditional artefacts. It’s refreshing and, judging by the crowds, I wasn’t the only one who found it exciting.  Continue reading

Japanese wedding envelopes in Stoke Newington

Japanese envelopes London Design Festival venues come in all shapes and sizes, from the V&A, through the big set pieces like Tent in the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, down to little one-off shows in out of the way places, like the one I went to earlier this week. Though I’m not sure that Stoke Newington aficionados will forgive me for calling their beloved Stokey ‘out of the way.’ But it is a 73 bus ride away from the centre, so going there takes a little more effort.  I’m glad to say the effort paid off.  Continue reading

Simplified Beauty at the London Design Festival

Mashiko Pottery I love the London Design Festival. it runs for a week (or so) every September and showcases an incredible variety of design talent all across London in what it calls Design Quarters. I spent the first day in the Shoreditch Design Quarter visiting Simplified Beauty at SCP on Curtain Street. It featured a number of modern Japanese designers, including my all-time favourite, Mashiko Potteries. Continue reading

The new Serpentine Sackler Gallery

Serpentine Sackler GalleryLike the title says, this post is supposed to be about Yannick’s and my visit to the new Serpentine Sackler Gallery in Kensington Gardens. And it is, really. It’s just that some cherry blossom, yuzu meringue tart, Mashiko Pottery (see the Japanese connection there?) and the Albert Memorial have crept in too. Continue reading

Handkerchiefs for Tohoku

Daiwa Yasashii HankachiIt’s two years now since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku in North East Japan claimed over 18,000 lives and left many more injured and homeless. The people of Tohoku are rebuilding their shattered lives and to help them, particularly the children, many of whom were left orphaned, graphic designers from the Japan Graphic Designers Association have collaborated with children in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima to create beautiful handkerchiefs which are exhibited and sold to raise money for schools in the area. Some of the handkerchiefs are now on display in London.

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Tent at the London Design Festival

Furukawa Yosuke Syoten

The trouble with the London Design Festival is that there’s so much on in such a short time. That’s why I’m still playing catch up with today’s post about Tent which Yannick and I visited last week. Along with Superbrands at the same venue, Tent is one of the main hubs of the festival, showing forty established brands and more than two hundred independent designers over four days in Hanbury St, near Spitalfields Market. Continue reading

Shiro Kuramata’s furniture designs at Aram Store

Shiro KuramataRemember this wavy chest of drawers? The one that makes you feel like you’re seeing it through rippling water or after a few too many drinks? Shiro Kuramata designed it, and a lot of other iconic furniture of the late twentieth century, influencing a whole raft of European designers along the way. Now you have the chance to see what made his designs so special in a rare exhibition of his work at the Aram Store on Drury Lane. Continue reading

Zen cycles in Shoreditch – tokyobike

tokyobike windowOn the corner of Tabernacle St in Shoreditch, where it meets Old St, just down from what is now known as Silicon Roundabout, there is a cycle shop with a zen-like air of peace and tranquility called tokyobike. It’s easy to spot from the casually precise row of coloured bikes lined up outside. Continue reading