SUPERSTRUCTURES: The new architecture 1960-1990

03.04.2018 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

The phrase ‘high-tech’ makes most of us think about phones, computers or intelligent dishwashers. But it’s one that makes some architects gasp with indignation. This year the Sainsbury Centre celebrates its 40th anniversary with “Superstructures: The new architecture 1960–90”. An exhibition that picks apart the architectural movement behind the centre itself and examines the controversial label of ‘high-tech’ against the wider architectural canon.

‘High-tech’ architecture was championed by legendary British architects Norman Foster (the designer behind the Sainsbury Centre) and Richard Rogers (Centre Pompidou), amongst others. This group of architects found ideas of adaptable, expandable and mobile buildings exciting. They were interested in pragmatic solutions, and inspired by earlier architectural ideas and innovations like Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes and Jéan Proves demountable house.

Current day Sainsbury Centre 2009 | Photo:© Sainsbury Centre, Pete Huggins

The high-tech style managed to blend post-war 60s utopian ideas with 19th, and early 20th century ideas about adapted architecture – a mixture that resulted in expressive and very characteristic buildings. It was a  technologically focused – one might even say obsessed – development from modernism.

Talking via a malfunctioning, ironically un-high-tech Skype connection, Twin chatted with curators of the exhibition Jane Pavitt and Abraham Thomas. An era of optimistic architecture that looked to engineering and technology for new possibilities certainly seems resonant in 2018.

Sainsbury Centre construction 1975 – 1978 | Photo: © Foster + Partners, Alan Howard

Could you begin by telling me a little bit about the exhibition?

Jane Pavitt: The exhibition is about this crux in late modernism, the term often used in association with it is high-tech. We have taken a rather interesting positioning I suppose…  In the exhibition we show the long history of association between technology, engineering and architecture. It starts with the the Sainsbury Centre, a superstructure that is, in a sense, an enormous shed. It’s complex, beautiful, precisely engineered, but still kind of like a shed.

We used this building to explain the high-tech approach to architecture. Then we look at ground structures like the Crystal Palace, and through to the modern experiments by Prouvé and Buckminster Fuller. Finally we look at the generation of architects that we are focused on. The first part of the exhibition tell the pre-history, then we get to high-tech it self.  

Abraham Thomas: Should I go back to high-tech?

Jane: Yes, I see that she’s dying to hear about it.

Abraham: One of the things that we wrestled with as curators is using the phrase high-tech without actually using the phrase high-tech. The term is very divisive, a bit like postmodernism. Many of the practitioners of postmodernism hate that label. Jane curated the big postmodernism exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum so she has been through this.

Jane: [laughs] The toxic term.

Ben Johnson, Inmos Central Spine, 1985Acrylic on canvas | © Ben Johnson

Abraham: We had to be conscious to the fact that many of these leading architects absolutely reject the term high-tech. It is reasonable to an extent, they reject it simply being a style. What we are trying to say is that it was more than a style. It was a sort of ethos, a movement. But it is a convenient term, it refers to the idea of influence of technology. In a way it is valid. But we also sort of pick it apart, don’t we?

Jane: We wanted to make it very clear that it’s certainly not a style label, although it’s often used like that. These buildings are stylistically very different. The architects reached different types of solutions, but they all share a set of principles. The Sainsbury Centre and the Pompidou Centre are totally different solutions to the same set of ideas and concerns. They respond to their sites, position and purpose in different ways. On the other hand, we felt as curators, and historians, that if there is a term that has some currency historically – it is a frequently used label in architectural history – then this is the right time to kind of, as Abraham says, pick it apart and attempt a much more nuanced understanding.

Do you think there is another term that could work better?

Jane: Architecture of advanced engineering is a good description. That’s what they are concerned with, testing the limits of certain kind of building methods. If you think of high-tech as a process, rather than a style, that’s quite a useful way of approaching it. I would say that it’s a type of technological modernism.

But people like labels, don’t they? Like art deco. Everybody has contested the meaning of art deco, but it is still a very powerful term. Postmodernism is a term that makes people angry [laughs] but it persists. Rather than abandon the label all together, we wanted to unpack and position it. These buildings share certain things about advanced engineering and precision engineering, but they can also be simple solutions.

To take an example: we have reconstructed a section of Michael and Patty Hopkins house in the exhibition. It is not high-tech in that sense. It is appropriate technology. They liked the idea of using pre-fabricated components and cost effective materials that could be assembled simply, cheaply, effectively with a powerful aesthetic.

ZipUp HouseDetail colour presentation competition model, scale 1:20 | Photo: © Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Eamonn O’Mahony

Abraham: There are a number of examples of high-tech buildings with ideas from other explicitly progressive technological contexts. For example, here at the Sainsbury Centre, Foster created a double skinned wall which allows a lot of the servicing and utilities to be packed away, resulting in this sleek exterior surface and an uninterrupted interior space well suited for an exhibition layout. That idea came from Foster’s observations of a passenger aircraft, were you have a sort of false elevated floor where all the services can be packed underneath.

Jane: There is this section in the exhibition where we have some of the original cladding from the Sainsbury Centre next to a part from a [Citroën] 2CV van. Those ribbed aluminium panels that slot into a car are remarkably like the panels that clad this building. The term high-tech is a bit forbidding, but these buildings have almost the childhood appeal of assembling models.

Abraham: Jane’s point immediately makes me think of this amazing object in the exhibition, a project called Tomigaya. It is a mixed use, residential and cultural space in Tokyo, and the model is made from Meccano. It’s a slightly lighthearted moment in the exhibition. The model of Tomigaya encapsulates a rare notion of simplicity, an understanding of how buildings are put together. It makes it very accessible.

Crystal Palace details of bracing between columns | Photo: © Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851

What drew you to this project at first?

Jane: The Sainsbury is one of Britain’s best postwar buildings and it is extraordinarily powerful. It attracted a huge amount of controversy, admiration and criticism at the time it opened. It’s been fascinating to re-examine that. This group of architects are among the most prominent in the world and produce buildings in all typologies: office buildings, factory buildings, buildings for culture, domestic projects, airports, stations. In London, especially in transit, we all move through these buildings. You probably could encounter a Foster, Rogers, a Grimshaw building within any square mile of central London.

Abraham: I went through Heathrow today and the Rogers’ Terminal 5 has a lot of expressive engineering.

What would you say was most challenging with this exhibition? There are so many different aspects to it.

Abraham: I think it’s always tricky when you’re a temporary guardian of someone’s legacy. These are all very successful architects now, huge international names.

Jean Prouvé House, France | Photo: © Galerie Patrick Seguin and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

And still alive!

Abraham: Yes they are all still alive! You’ve got to be really careful with how you present that legacy. That is always the case when you’re working with any contemporary artist or architect, but I think that is particularly the case here.

One of the hardest things was to ensure that we were sensitive to their legacies, but also created a new narrative. Since the mid 80s there have been shows on these key British architects – Jane and I didn’t want to do another “Best of British Architects” exhibition.  

Jane: It’s not a biography show. Architecture exhibitions are difficult. A lot of visitors may not be familiar with reading architectural plans and some of the buildings will be unfamiliar to them. We wanted to explain how buildings worked and how they were made. We’ve just come back from installing two giant wooden carved prototypes of the steel joints from Waterloo International Station. They are about a meter or so high, but fantastic objects. Like pieces of sculpture.The process of construction is fascinating for people of all ages, we are just trying to emphasise that.

SUPERSTRUCTURES: The New Architecture 1960 – 1990 is on at The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts 24 March – 2 September 2018

Feature image credit: Century Tower, Japan | Photo: © Foster + Partners, Saturo Mishima

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Meet the finalists of LOEWE Craft Prize 2018

28.02.2018 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

The Loewe Craft Prize will take place in May of this year, and already there’s a buzz around the finalists. Comprising of 30 artists from 17 countries around the world, the shortlist celebrates creativity and innovation in craft. A reflection of the diverse talents working at the moment.

Creative director of LOEWE Jonathan Anderson conceived the award to champion creativity. A part of an ongoing commitment to locate LOEWE within a wider cultural context. Speaking ahead of the second year of the awards, the designer commented: ‘Craft is the essence of LOEWE. As a house, we are about craft in the purest sense of the word. That is where our modernity lies, and it will always be relevant.’

The full list of nominees, along with examples of their work, are below.

Paul Adie (United Kingdom)

Paul Adie searching for solid ground III

Gunilla Maria Åkesson (Sweden)

Gunilla Maria Aakesson

ARKO (Japan)

Arko Asako Sato

Yeonsoon Chang (Republic of Korea)

Chang Yeonsoon, MatrixIII Time, Space, Human.

Min Chen (China)

Chen Min

Hae Cho Chung (Republic of Korea)

Hae Cho Chung

Steffen Dam (Denmark)

Stefan Dam

Sam Tho Duong (Germany)

Sam Tho Duong

Sara Gackowska (Poland)

Sara Gackowska

Ann van Hoey (Belgium)

Ann Van Hoey: 2017. The Earthenware Ferrari

Joe Hogan (Ireland)

Joe Hogan

Marie Janssen (Austria)

Marie Janssen

Joonyong Kim (Republic of Korea)

Joonyong Kim

Christopher Kurtz (United States)

Christopher Kurtz

Takuro Kuwata (Japan)

Takuro Kuwata

Jennifer Lee (United Kingdom)

Jennifer Lee

Deirdre McLoughlin (Ireland)

Deirdre McLoughlin

Richard McVetis (United Kingdom)

Richard McVetis

Simone Pheulpin (France)

Simone Pheulpin

Irina Razumovskaya (Russian Federation)

Irina Rezumovskaya

Aneta Regel (United Kingdom)

Aneta Regel

Ryuhei Sako (Japan)

Ryuhei Sako

Rita Soto (Chile)

Rita Soto

Laurenz Stockner (Italy)

Laurenz Stockner

Wycliffe Stutchbury (United Kingdom)

Wycliffe Stutchbury

Mercedes Vicente (Spain)

Mercedes Vicente

Julian Watts (United States)

Julian Watts

Takeshi Yasuda (United Kingdom)

Takeshi Yasuda

Ashley YK Yeo (Singapore)

Ashley YK Yeo

Shohei Yokoyama (Japan)

Shohei Yokoyama

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Joy Bc’s Hotline Bling

13.11.2016 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

South London based jewellery designer Joy BC specialises in creating bespoke designs that embody both the anthropological and physiological sides of jewellery. Her work spans a range of themes, from ideas around protecting people while travelling; to remembering the dead; to celebrating love to more simple examination of form. Her aim is to use jewellery to engender conversation, imbuing fine jewellery with new and heightened significance. Ahead of her workshops at Draw Haus, Twin caught up with Joy BC to discuss the possibilities of silver and her collaborative ethos. 

How did you become interested in jewellery?

It started with a ring which was made by one of my ancestors in Italy. It resembles a futurist sculpture. My mother use to wear it on special occasions and I found it hypnotic. I drew comparisons between the form and feeling that that ring gave me to those within Brancusi’s pieces and Barbara Hepworth’s. Otto Kunzli, a jewellery artist who made a necklace made from divorcees’ wedding bands, which subsequently became an emotionally laden piece, and thus un-wearable, really excited me in how powerful jewellery can be.

What are you influenced and inspired by?

A variety of things. Sometimes it’s simply the materials, and their intrinsic beauty.

Why is important to use jewellery as a tool for engendering conversation?

Jewellery travels with with you – lives with you and speaks for you. Without words it can convey messages or feelings. A huge Hellenistic marble sculpture which conveys strength (Nike at the lure, for example) isn’t something that you can strap to your body – but a boobies ring which encourages discussion on the natural way of breast feeding, or female nudity – literally ‘freeing the nipple’ – is something that  you can. The ‘listening aids’ I make are to encourage people to be better listeners, something we could all benefit from. Especially myself! I talk way too much; it’s the Italian in me! In fact I’m currently wearing my ‘I’m all ears’ piece, which is made of 47 tiny ears in precious silver and gold, while I listen to the news of the news.

amended prints buddy brooke 02

What are the limitations of working with silver? And do you have a favourite material to work with?

Limitations? I’ve never thought of the limitations of silver, only the possibilities. It oxidises, which gold doesn’t. However I like that – I often use a chemical to speed up the oxidisation process to create a dark blue black patina on some of my work.  I don’t have a favourite material, but I have to say, 18ct yellow gold is delicious. I also love wax – especially the type I used in Tokyo which was made of beeswax and cedar resin. They use that combination to make traditional Kenji Stamps (then cast into bronze). And it smells beautiful.

amended prints buddy brooke 02

What do you hope to achieve through your workshops at Draw Haus?

I hope people really enjoy themselves, and help people making something that they feel proud of. Whether it’s a playful experiment or precise present for himself or herself or someone they care about. It’s always fascinating to see what pieces people make.

Draw Haus Creative Workshops: Jewellery Making with Joy BC will take place on 17th November. Buy tickets here.

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Rosh Mahtani x Anna Quan

25.10.2016 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Rosh Mahtani, founder and designer of London based jewellery label Alighieri, has collaborated with Ozzie designer Anna Quan which sees them together explore the boundary between jewellery and ready to wear. Their collaborative collection includes jewellery intertwined with a shirt, shirtdress and palazzo trousers along with a selection of jewellery by Alighieri for Anna Quan. We caught up with Rosh to discover more about this collaboration.

Tell us how you started off in industry?

I studied French and Italian literature at university – my final year was focused on Dante Alighieri, and the Divine Comedy. After I graduated, I knew I wanted to do something creative; I felt a little bit lost, and kept reading the text. I couldn’t help but imagine the characters, the feelings and descriptions in golden objects; that’s when I started making one piece of jewellery for each one of Dante’s 100 poems. Creating Alighieri was a way to pursue photography, writing, and designing alongside business and strategy.

Why Dante?

So many reasons! His work is so visual, firstly; he was the first person to portray Hell, Purgatory and Paradise in such a human way. But more that, his journey is so universal, it really captured me. It begins with him, lost in the middle of a dark wood. His fears, his anger at being exiled from Florence, his love for an idealised woman (Beatrice) are at the crux of his work, and I suppose I wanted to translate these feelings in my own way, as they were so relatable to me.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

I call my pieces Modern Heirlooms, because I love creating imperfect objects that tell a story. Imperfection and vulnerability are at the heart of the aesthetic, and that’s why I like to shoot the imagery using film. It’s all about the happy accidents; I work very much on intuition.

How did the collaboration with Anna Quan come about?

Anna is based in Australia and we were following each other’s work over Instagram for a quite while, we swapped an earring for a crisp white shirt over the ocean, and we met last Christmas, when I was on a bit of a disastrous road-trip in Australia! We had breakfast in Sydney, and talked about giant golden buttons on her perfectly tailored shirts, and billowing trousers. It happened really organically.

160623_Anna Quan_Campaign0962_R

Why do you think the partnership works?

We have quite a similar aesthetic in some ways, and a genuine obsession with each other’s work. I live in oversized white shirts and tailored trousers. It’s also a great juxtaposition because Anna’s designs are so perfectly executed, the tailoring is immaculate, and it was fun to have that as a canvas to add a scraggy and imperfect detail. We work really well together (often over 3am Whatsapp conversations!) We’ll think of an idea and just get the ball rolling. DHL plays their part too!

What qualities do you admire about her?

Besides her obvious talent for creating clothing that makes you feel really special, the giant oversized cuffs, for instance, I really admire her work ethic. She never stops, and is also incredibly grounded and modest. She’s a very savvy businesswoman which is really inspiring to be around.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’d like to keep growing Alighieri as a brand; it’s been the best and most rewarding ride, and I’d like to create more than just jewellery, as I think of Alighieri as a way to tell stories. If I can keep doing what I’m doing now on a bigger scale, with a bigger team, I would be very happy!

www.alighieri.co.uk

 

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Q&A with Jewellery Designer Rachel Boston

30.09.2014 | Fashion | BY:

London born and based jewellery designer Rachel Boston showed her first fine jewellery collection at London Fashion Week. Full of beautifully wrought, geometric pieces, the items in the collection have the potential to become treasured heirlooms. Twin chats to the New Designer of the Year nominee.

When did you decide you wanted to go into jewellery design?
I knew that I wanted to design jewellery from very early on. I always liked working with my hands so would use my parent’s toolbox and take apart my sister’s jewellery and put it back together in different ways – which I’m sure she didn’t enjoy too much. I then started basing all my projects in my Design and Technology class around jewellery so that I could build up my portfolio and work towards getting in to a jewellery course at university, which I did.

Why did you decide to study at the Gemological Institute in New York rather than stay in the UK?
I grew up in London and also stayed here for university at Central Saint Martins, so really felt like I needed to experience what it was like to live somewhere else, even for a short while. New York has always had such an allure to it for me that when I found out they did the course there it seemed crazy not grab the opportunity. It was the best decision I ever made. I met so many amazing people on the course from all over the world but also met my boyfriend whilst living out there and we’ve been doing long distance for almost 3 years now, which seems crazy to most people but works really well for us.

You showed your first fine jewellery collection at LFW; why did you decide to move into fine jewellery?
Making jewellery that wasn’t trend based and seasonal has always been very important to me. I’ve wanted to create pieces that could be worn forever and passed on as gifts to others so I decided it was necessary that the materials reflected this also. The price point is higher because it’s 18ct gold now instead of plated, but you have the reassurance that these are pieces that will not tarnish, the gold will not fade and you can theoretically pass these onto your grandchildren and they will stay in good condition. The history and the meaning that is given to jewellery and how people become attached to it is one of the reasons I fell in love with it in the first place, so making fine jewellery has happened very naturally.

Do you craft each piece by hand yourself?
I do. As of right now every piece is made in my studio off Hatton Garden (London’s jewellery district) and all the materials are sourced locally. As the business keeps growing this won’t be feasible for me making every piece as it’s a huge amount of work but I’d like to keep it in the studio and based in the UK as I’m a big supporter for British craftsmanship.

What is your favourite piece so far?
It changes all the time but from the new fine collection I think the Jera ear cuffs or the hinged Dagaz ring. The hinged ring is really comfortable and I barely notice I’m wearing it so it’s a great statement piece you can wear everyday. I love the Jera earrings because they fit the ear really nicely and I have the white sapphires specially cut here in London so I they’re very special because it’s such an unusual cut to have.

What is your favourite item of jewellery? Earrings, necklaces, bracelets or rings?
With me more is always more so I like layering necklaces, playing with different lengths and piling rings on for more of a statement. I tend to dress quite casually for the studio, generally just jeans, plain tee and a leather jacket so I love wearing a lot of rings to create more of a statement.

What are the key jewellery trends coming up for SS15?
The market is definitely leaning more towards fine jewellery these days, which I’m really happy about. I think people are starting to realise how much better it is to invest in one significant piece then spending lots of little bits of money on high street jewellery which falls apart so quickly.

What are your plans for your brand – where will you be this time next year?
I’m doing a lot more bespoke engagement ring work which I adore doing. It’s a huge honour to be asked to create someone’s ring that they intend to wear forever and I love working with couples to create something unique, so I definitely would like to do more of that. Otherwise I want the brand to keep growing both in the UK market and internationally and at some point open a small store in London.

What would your advice be to someone who wants to go into jewellery design?
I think it’s important to learn patience and how to figure out your own path and style. I definitely think you have to build a strong foundation on the technical side as well and not just fob it off and give everything to someone else to do for you, you don’t learn that way and you don’t end up pushing yourself.

Who is your ultimate jewellery/fashion inspiration?
Most of my favourite fashion muses are from bygone eras but I love the androgynous style of my heroines like Patti Smith and Joan Jett; they exude this amazingly powerful energy and are such strong women so anything they wear looks automatically cool.

rachelboston.co.uk

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Bright Young Things

06.02.2012 | Blog , Culture | BY:

If London is known for anything as a fashion capital, it’s nurturing and supporting a hotbed of creative talents all across the design spectrum.

For a second year running, Selfridges has selected its Bright Young Things. The project allows 15 newcomers from the worlds of fashion, art, design and food talents to create a window display for its Oxford and Duke Street stores.

With participants this year including womenswear designer/illustrator and CSM graduate Sorcha O’ Raghallaigh, who specialises in intricate metallic coloured and lace designs (Lady Gaga is a fan)  and designer Maarten van der Horst, who gave a new and fashionable life to the otherwise dreaded Hawaiian prints, it’s a testament to the design talents that the Big Smoke has to offer.

For those more interested in non-fashion creativity, interior designer duo Tinker & Tailor have created a Twitter-friendly interactive space, while coffee connoisseur Jack Coleman made his own personal ode to the art of the brewing and roasting.

There’s never been a better reason to stop and take a closer look. Rush hour crowds notwithstanding.

Bright Young Things is on until February 29.
selfridges.com

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The Kingmakers

04.11.2009 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Staffed by five friends who met in the silk-screening studio at HAW Hamburg art college, Kingdrips opened their gallery-cum-skateshop-cum-graphic design offices in their small one room basement space back in December last year. The guys are the height of skater-boy cool but the highlights of the shop are Maren Szeymies’s masterfully hand-stitched hooded sweatsuit dresses, and super-soft organic cotton T-shirts which provide the canvas for slinky line drawings of irate chihuahuas, taggers, kittens, kissing couples and seagulls.

www.kingdrips.de

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