Thursday, 31 July 2008

Mitsuru Koga

These tiny scuptures made from beach pebbles by Mitsuru Koga leave me speechless, so I'll leave it up to the artist to talk about them:
As the way the waves abrade stones I scrape them with careful attention.
(Rubbing with the sandblast or on the sand and stone, etc)
I add special care to natural objects with the hope that the artificial process counterpoints the naturalness more.
Vice versa the process seems to me to search for the position of human beings in nature.
By the person's existance nature comes out, and as the person's existance comes out naturally.
It is always continuous discovery and surprise.
I wish to create an intermediate bridge between nature and human beings.
-Mitsuru Koga

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Report from NYC: Dutch Osborne and Elodie Blanchard

Two weeks ago I wrote about a design gallery and store in Brooklyn called Spring. This week, I want to give you a close-up of some of the fabulous designers they represent.

This unusal alphabet poster, called ABC Photogram, by Dutch Osborne caught my eye. Co-owner Anna Cosentino tells me it is sold exclusively at Spring, but lucky for you it is also available in their online store.

ABC Photogram was the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) winner in the category of typography in 2005. Here are some close-ups:

C is for chain, D is for dinosaur, E is for earrings... see if you can help me figure the other ones out.

Osborne experimented with found objects - bits and bobs from mechanical parts to toys - whose shadows he captured using photograms. He limited himself to using objects whose size he would not have to manipulate, so that the final image is the exact dimension of the original piece.

That's quite a feat when you realize he had to find 26 shapes that would work well together on one large sheet of paper.

Brooklyn-based textile artist Elodie Blanchard also uses text in her designs. Her Top Searches in Google News cushions are a witty comment on how much the Internet has invaded our living spaces. The cushion above shows the top Googles results for 2007. All the pillows are made in signed, limited editions of 250, and are available in Elodie's etsy store.
I guess its no surprise who tops 2006's list (above), but I'm a little put out to discover that my crush on Orlando Bloom is shared with half of America.

According to Google, in 2005 (above) Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction was more of a media event than Hurricane Katrina. Go figure.

Blanchard's Favorite Dog cushions capture the silhouettes of the top 20 most popular breeds in America. Here is the dachshund, but lovers of the chihuahua, pug and labrador retriever will be happy to know those are available too.
There is much more where these great finds came from, so watch this space. I'll be back next week with more ingenious designs from NYC.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Issue 56 - Love Story

Ardent Cape Town shoppers will doubtless remember the beautiful Green Point shop Wallflower, famous for its interesting finds and impeccible styling.

While the shop is no longer there, Stefan Blom, the brains behind Wallflower, continues the outpouring of style in his own home. Here are the out-takes from the Love Story on pages 104 - 111 of Issue 56. Keep an eye out for the texts used in almost every room. About the words, Stefan says, "My home offers glimpses of my present throughts, but also speaks of my past".

Production: Lauren Shantall
Photographs: Micky Hoyle

Monday, 28 July 2008

Issue 56 - Heritage Counsel

It's a brand new week, and still there's more to share from the brand new issue of Elle Deco SA!

Today, we're looking at the out-takes from pages 72 - 81, showing an apartment in the glorious Mutual Heights building in central Cape Town.

Mutual Heights is an Art Deco gem that originally housed the offices of Old Mutual insurance, and after standing empty for a few years, it was renovated for residential apartments.
Now the high ceilings, prismatic windows, grand entrance and old world detailing makes it a landmark address of in the Mother City. (Photos above from the Mutual Heights website)
This apartment is a pied a terre in the city, occasionally rented out to style-seeking visitors. Interior designer Camilla Fraser was commissioned to undertake the aesthetic overhaul.

High volume ceilings and windows meant that blinds and curtains needed special attention, as they take up so much of the visual space.
Deco touches, like this drinks trolley, link the past to the present.
Philippe Starke's Louis Ghost chairs at the dining room table add a playful touch to the serious air of luxury, as does the laser cut wooden chandelier by Mila.
Drawings of Cape flora by local artist Kurt Pio grace either side of the highly symmetrical central living area.

Production: Lauren Shantall
Photos: Mark Williams

Friday, 25 July 2008

Report from NYC: That 'New Yorker' cover

America is in a tizzy over this week's New Yorker cover depicting Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, as a pair of rabid radicals. The press and blogosphere have a lot to say about it too (read New Yorker editor David Remnick's response here, in an interview with The Huffington Post).

The Obama cover is a political detour on my original plan to share with you the ways this weekly magazine captures a quintessential New York flavour. It flaunts its intellectual prowess in some of the best (albeit very long-form) journalism in the country. It's relentless (how on earth do they put one of these out every week? I can't even find the time to clear them away from my coffee table). It has good looks AND brains (witness the parade of provocative covers, below), and provides weekly fodder for the chattering classes, as well as a litmus test for intellectuals on the dating circuit.

The New Yorker is not the kind of magazine you flip through. It's a magazine you actually read. I discovered this for the first time when I moved here seven years ago. Leafing through a copy to kill some time, I was utterly disappointed. Where were the pictures? The glossy ads? It felt like some vision of olde New York where men wore seersucker suits and bow ties (actually, some men here still do). The magazine's dandyish monocled mascot, Eustace Tilley, only reinforced this idea. He appears every week at the top of the 'Talk of the Town' section - a round-up of the week's news.

Every now and again Eustace's iconic image appears on the cover (this one is by Irvin Rea).

Tradition seems to be the New Yorker's backbone, but it isn't afraid of reinvention - as in these contemporary takes on Eustace.

Reading the magazine is like getting an informal education, thanks to articles about subjects such as contemporary architecture in Beijing and Danish efforts to cut carbon emissions.

New Yorker covers often riff on New York icons:

Bright Idea by Bob Staake (above) trumpets the growing popularity of energy-saving lightbulbs.

I love the abstract pattern of this Urban Landscape by Kim DeMarco (above), humanised by the lone figure in the centre reading at an illuminated window.

Big City Thrills by Adrian Tomine (above) shows another reader oblivious to the world around her ... I think I'm getting the hint.

Sometimes the covers are seasonal:

Autumn Tales by Benoit van Innes (above) - wow, how many magazines do you know of that can depict the act of reading in so many creative ways?

Cooling Off by Barry Blitt (above)

Santa's Little Schleppers by Bob Staake (above) - only a magazine published in New York could use a familiar Yiddish-ism to describe a Christmas scene.

It's famous for its cartoons of course - and its my personal opinion that you should be wary of anyone who doesn't admit to reading the cartoons first. The New Yorker website has a number of very entertaining online-only features - like the Cartoon Lounge, where its cartoonists chuck around funny ideas and crazy notions.

You can listen to the writers talking about their features and how they went about reporting their stories, and watch videos from this year's New Yorker Conference (featuring people like author Malcolm Gladwell and Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem) and the New Yorker Festival, where artists such as Icelandic band Sigur Ros and Salman Rushdie discuss their work.

There are also loads of fabulous slide shows, including a portfolio of images from the Buckminster Fuller exhibit at the Whitney Museum of Modern art and the recent retrospective of Martin Puryear at MoMA.

Mostly what I enjoy about the New Yorker is its use of diverse talents - the tremendous pool of creative energy concentrated in this tiny sliver of an island - to depict a broad range of human experience, as in this cover, Style Sheet by Ivan Brunetti (above), one of my personal favorites.

I'll be back with more musings on design from New York next week, Wednesday!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Issue 56 - Editor's selection

Elle Decoration SA editor, Karen Roos, was recently at the Milan Furniture Fair. On page 13 of Issue 46, Karen has made a selection of her favourites from the Fair. Here's a bit more about each of these:
Karen enjoyed the natural inspiration evoked by Mann Singh's silvered brass Kachnar III bowl for Driade .

Philippe Starke's quilted leather Monseigneur sofa , also for Driade, has front legs of stainless steel, and back legs of dark wood, reducing, as Karen says, "a cumbersome Chesterfield into a reduced, modern marvel".

Another chair that caught Karen's eye is the perfectly formed JJ small armchair by Anonio Citterio, manufactured by B&B Italia.

The Sibal table, designed by Carlo Colombo for Cappellini is bigger than it looks, but the elegant chromed legs and chamfered edges of the wood top give it a light-as-air aspect.

And I've saved my favourite of Karen's choices for last: it's Tom Dixon's brand new Mirror Ball on Stand. Ball-shaped lights are firmly clamped to a central steel rod, in a sculptural lighting tree standing almost 2m tall! If you ask me, it's enough to get any party on the go.

More images coming from Issue 56 tomorrow. Keep 'em peeled!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Report from NYC: postponed

I've no doubt that Kelly Berman's Wednesday reports from NYC have earned her lots of fans, so I hope you're not too disappointed by having to wait until Friday for this week's report, while I keep filling you in on what's in the new issue of Elle Deco SA.

Issue 56 - Greys Anatomy

Dave Southwood's pictures that accompany the story about the magnificent beachside Grey House in Salt Rock on pages 82 - 89 are a feast of architectural detail, but here on the blog we have a few more intimate spaces to show you.

This weekend house's exterior is a hybrid of traditional East Coast clapboard beach house and something a lot more forthright and modern. Reflecting this, Interdeco's Andrew Irving has put together an interior that is a mix of Durban colonial, and something with a lot more daring and dash.

The client wanted the same palette through the whole house, and so the black, white and chocolate scheme, with outrageous dashes of yellow is followed in all the rooms.
Production: Lauren Shantall
Photos: Dave Southwood

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Issue 56 - In the Details

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a stylist's house must be like? Well, pages 90 - 97 of the Issue 56 gives us a delicious peek into uber stylist and our Joburg Bureau Chief, Kerstin Eser's lovely home.

Here are some additional pics from the shoot, showing more of the magical nooks and crannys spotted by photographer Nadette Clare-Talbot chez Kerstin.

Kirten's house is full of treasures, like her daughter's first pair of ballet shoes, sweetly displayed in a glass bowl.

This little still-life in one of the kitchen windows demands a moment's attention. Kerstin has painted this wall in Plascon's charcoal, to which she added a dash of green, creating a mutable shade that changes in the light.

The top of a hallway cupboard is another opportunity for a still life of ordinary objects to be made extraordinary.

And taking it easy in this busy house of perpetual creative motion, quirky handmade dolls and toys, including one by Jesse Breytenbach, rest up on vintage linen.

Production: Kerstin Eser
Photographs: Nadette Clare-Talbot

Monday, 21 July 2008

New issue out now!

There's a brand new issue of Elle Decoration on the shelves today, with a big focus on kitchens. My copy is waiting on my rug, with a cup of tea getting cold as I write this post!

You don't have a copy yet? Then rush out and get your hands on one, or click here to get in touch with us about taking out a subscription. Then keep checking in all week as we show you all the little extras that we didn't manage to squeeze into our 168 glossy pages.

Watch this space...