Monthly Archives: May 2014

Crazy for Clerkenwell

Posted on May 27, 2014 by Liz

WIN certainly were busy last week – along with the rest of the design world we’re sure! Following May Design came the incredible Clerkenwell Design Week, celebrating its fifth birthday in inimitable style. We were delighted to be invited to the press breakfast, where we quickly fuelled up on coffee and croissants before sprinting across Farringdon to visit the multiple Exhibition areas playing host to countless talented designers and creatives. From industry favourites and big name brands to quirky start-ups and fresh faces, all definitely impressed with innovative designs, inspiring ideas and a clear passion for their industry (and all very willing to talk to us about this passion, which was great!)

We were guided through the various areas by the lovely Elspeth Rae, Marketing Manager at Clerkenwell, with boundless enthusiasm and energy. Design Factory, Platform and Detail were outstanding as always, and new for 2014 came Additions, a wonderful collection of small design items and accessories, particularly enjoyable for stationary enthusiasts such as myself. The installations truly wowed and the overall programme of talks, exhibitions and workshops was a captivating affair. With cocktails around every corner, what’s not to love about this exceptional, dynamic and super fun event?!

First, as usual, some quick personal snaps of the event before our top product picks.

Our tour guide for the morning!

Studio Weave‘s Smith Pavilion, hosting craft workshops at Clerkenwell

Lianne Russ and Phil Henshaw of Russ + Henshaw in front of their ‘Tile Mile’ installation

The impressive Johnson Tiles Wall Mural

Sean Dare of Brighton based Dare Studio

The incredible Jaguar and Foscarini installation

Amazing (and much needed) coffee outside Design Factory

Now onto what you’ve all been waiting for: The World Interiors News Product Picks – Top 20! (In no particular order I might add).

Beautiful sofas and textiles by A Rum Fellow

Colourful table cloths by newcomers Toghal

Last Stools by Max Lamb for Discipline

The Hive Lamps by Angus Matchett for Dare Studio

The Vertebra Chair by the chair ltd

Vessel F by Samuel Wilkinson for Decode

The Draft Mobile Writing Board by Daniel Lavonius Jarefeldt and Josef Zetterman for Abstracta

The Tyneside Lounger by David Irwin for deadgood

The lamp everyone was talking about, designed by Paul Smith for Anglepoise

The SPOKES lanterns by Vicente Garcia Jimenez & Cinzia Cumini for Foscarini

The simple & stylish Plan Desk by James Tattersall

We hope you love these amazing products as much as we do and also that you got to pay a visit to one of our favourite design events on the interiors calendar (other than our own, of course!). Clerkenwell, we’ll see you again next year.

WIN Loves: May Design Series

Posted on May 21, 2014 by Liz

May Design Series returned to London’s ExCeL this year, with almost 400 brands on display plus countless wonderful guest speakers holding thought-provoking seminars. WIN had a great time this year, meeting with old friends, making new contacts and seeing the amazing products on show. We were also spoiled in the press room with tasty treats and drinks, air conditioning and general kindness from the amazing press and marketing team – thanks guys! The whole space looked awesome thanks to the design expertise of Ab Rogers, who gave a great talk on the use of colour while we were there (hint – he likes it bright). To add to the fun, we bid on one of the gorgeous chairs in the Out of the Dark silent auction. All were upholstered by some fantastic bloggers using salvaged materials, so here’s hoping we win! Here’s a few quick personal snaps before we move onto our product highlights.

Gorgeous space, curated by Ab Rogers

The animated and charming Ab Rogers himself, mid-speech

Beautiful ceramics from Flux, which we blogged on earlier this year

At the iGuzzini stand, winners of last year’s WIN Awards for best Lighting Product

The only chair you’ll ever need: the Flag Halyard by Hans J. Wegner at the PP Møbler stand

Onto our favourite products at May Design. We were particularly impressed by some of the incredible lighting on display, as well as some fantastic options for storage in the home that hide your clutter but also function as a gorgeous statement piece. Fun, quirky and colourful ruled this year and we were big fans!

Playful Circus Lighting by Corinna Warm for Innermost

Pops of colour on these Zazzeri taps, also an entry into the WIN Awards this year!

Side Coffee Table from Santarossa

Bold lamps from Enigma Lighting

Shabby chic cabinets from Bluebone

Beautiful up-cycled pieces by Out of the Dark

The perfect kitchen from The Myers Touch

Stunning glass lamps by Ebb & Flow

Innovative modular shelving by Made In Ratio

We can’t wait for next year, and hope that everyone else had a great few days at the show!

The Business of Art: Interview with acrylicize

Posted on May 16, 2014 by Liz

Hard work, positivity, believing in what you do – and a little more hard work on top – can definitely get you far. The proof is in the pudding with acrylicize, a boutique art and design studio headed up by James Burke and Paul Arad. Founded in 2003 as a result of Burke’s final year University show, the company have gone from strength to strength creating bespoke artwork and schemes for a whole host of companies, including big names like Heinz, The Office Group and Deloitte. Injecting personality into offices, stadiums, public spaces and even residential homes, the pair have created an innovative and inspiring business brand, unlike anything we at WIN have seen before.

We speak to James to find out more about acrylicize and its foundations and developments, how they approach new work, favourite projects and clients and business tips for aspiring entrepreneurs…

Paul and James, Founders of acrylicize

Firstly I’d like to say thank you for taking some time out to talk to WIN about acrylicize, it’s a pleasure to feature you on our blog. acrylicize has been described as a mix between design studio and art consultancy, how would you best describe the company to those first hearing about it?

We believe art should be accessible to as many people as possible so we are on a mission to make work that sits predominately outside the gallery space. We develop custom art works, from on-off pieces to entire art schemes. The key difference is that everything is by commission and is developed to respond to the person, company, brand or space we are working with. We call it ‘Customism’. We mix art, design, interior design, architectural features and graphics all together and what comes out is acrylicize. We’re proud that we can’t be pigeonholed – it means that we are doing things differently.

James, you first met Paul at Manchester Metropolitan University some years ago. Were you both studying on the same course? And have you always been friends?

I was at Manchester Metropolitan University studying contemporary arts while Paul was studying textile management. I had started experimenting with art on acrylic as an innovative canvas and decided to pursue this idea for my final year project.  Paul was also on the cusp of graduating; we were both very inspired by the idea of doing something for ourselves, and all that energy we had at university really inspired us to go for it.

Qubic Tax, acrylicize

I can only imagine! So where did the idea of acrylicize first come about? During University, or afterwards?

acrylicize started as my degree project. I was exploring the public’s perception of contemporary and conceptual art. I wanted to develop something that could be appreciated by a wide spectrum of people who weren’t involved in the art establishment so looked at doing something new with the simple ‘picture on the wall’ concept. The idea of acrylicize was to update the traditional canvas and develop a contemporary alternative using modern materials and technology. That’s where the use of acrylic came in and with it the name acrylicize.

How did you initially set up the business? What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome these?

For my final show at university, I displayed my acrylic art pieces with ornamental price tags designed to make a comment on Art as commodity and unintentionally sold every piece. I was always interested in building a brand around the work and just because my course finished I wasn’t ready for the project to end – really it was just the beginning. Paul then jumped on board with his sales skills and we essentially worked our arses off! It was actually one of the most exciting times of the whole last 10 years as everything was so new and exciting; we believed that anything was possible and it’s on those beliefs that we moved forward.

One of the main obstacles when starting any business from scratch is not having any previous work to show for ourselves. Looking back I think it was actually one of our biggest assets as we weren’t in any way conditioned by industry practices and as such just did whatever felt right, using our instinct and intuition to help make decisions. This freedom is one of the main factors in us staying true to ourselves and creating something genuinely unique.

In terms of a challenge, one of the most important things has always been to challenge ourselves to keep creating and evolving. This is how the idea of ‘Customism’ came about, creating completely unique, narrative-driven art concepts and installations for interior spaces, be it offices, hospitals or stadia. These projects took on different forms and utilised a whole host of materials and techniques.

Interiors Group, acrylicize

You began producing unique acrylic art, and now offer bespoke art installations, commissions, architectural features, interior graphics and exhibitions for businesses. What is your process when approaching a new project and seeing it through to completion?

With each project we take on, we put a huge amount of effort into the initial research. We focus on embracing the personality of a space and try to find a story to tell. Once we have this we have the essence of the work and we can then think about execution and how the story can be brought to life. These initial idea phases are done as a group in-house with everyone pitching in ideas, thoughts and suggestions etc. We have internal ‘stretch sessions’ where we challenge each other creatively, with individual and team tasks. This can involve everything from collecting train tickets for an afternoon at Paddington Station, to each going out to the supermarket to buy Heinz beans and experimenting at home.

We operate as artists, looking for the opportunity to try something new with every new commission. From the client’s perspective, they know never to expect the same thing twice.

Do you have specific creative individuals in the industry you go to for design ideas? Or is the work mostly done in-house?

Most of the work is done in-house at our Shoreditch studio. However, one thing we’re big advocates of at acrylicize is collaboration. We have a strong theme of collaboration and love working with other people to realise ideas.

On a recent project for long-term collaborators The Office Group, we teamed up with graphic designer Alex Fowkes. We had been admiring his work for Sony Music so dropped him a line and asked him to join us for The Office Group project at 7 Stratford Place, a Georgian townhouse that had a lot of cool history that we wanted to convey through our art. Alex was up for the project so we worked together on what is one of our favourite pieces to date.

The Office Group, 7 Stratford Place, acrylicize

How do you feel your work affects office spaces? Are there better levels of productivity for example?

Art has often been confined to the gallery space and we’re really interested in the opportunity to engage with artwork in any walk of life. The workspace is one of the places you spend the longest at, so why shouldn’t you have the ability to engage with art there? We live in such a visual society and we believe art can help to stimulate people. People also appreciate the idea that who they work for has invested in the space, creating an environment that makes you happy, a bit more vibrant and a bit more energetic. That goes a long way.

Research by Dr Craig Knight, from the psychology department at the University of Exeter, has shown that staff work 15 per cent more efficiently in an office decorated with art and plants. When staff decorated their own office space, productivity increased by 30 per cent.

You also work on residential, public and healthcare projects. Is the process very similar? And which do you prefer working on?

Sometimes more professional research is required, especially when working within healthcare. It’s always really rewarding working in this sphere as you know that work is doing something to help people who are in need of feeling better.

Heinz R&D HQ, Wall 57, acrylicize

You’ve worked with a variety of brands, including some huge names – Hilton, Emirates, Harrods, BBC to name just a few. Which has been the most enjoyable for you so far?

All have been great projects. Heinz was particular awesome it was a glorious story to bring to life and a huge project for us as a company. We got to travel to the Netherlands to create a feature wall that stands in the reception of their European Innovation Centre, where all the R&D happens. It was an honour to be a part of Heinz history.

And the most challenging?

When Newcastle-based accountants Qubic Tax came to us wanting to inspire their staff, we had a challenge on our hands. Lets face it Tax can be quite a dry subject and no one particularly loves the fact that they have to pay tax. Our solution was to create a canvas of over 1,200 LEGO figures, each one representing a tax-paying vocation. We were trying to make something that is genuinely quite hard and dislikeable into something that will put a smile on your face. We looked at tax and we really wanted to humanise it as much as we could. The use of Lego was used to soften that experience and tap into the child in you.

Heathrow T3, acrylicize

What are the most valuable lessons you have learnt from setting up your own business? Any advice for aspiring young entrepreneurs?

We put endless effort into making contacts, picking up the Yellow Pages and calling everybody, absolutely anybody, who may have been remotely interested in what we were doing. It’s all about action and the very act of doing something as simple as speaking to people has a knock-on effect.

For young entrepreneurs who are finding their feet, starting their own businesses, two principal themes have been very successful to us personally. The first one is a positive step. Take a step somewhere even if you are not sure which direction you’re going in. Don’t worry about that. The important thing is to be proactive, get off the couch and just take the first step to start you on your path and journey.

The second theme is belief. Have belief in yourself. Have belief in what you are offering and have belief in the people you are working with. Positive energy and belief are the two key drivers that we embrace and push forward every day.

Wembley Stadium , acrylicize

You seem to be constantly evolving and developing, so what is next for acrylicize?

We are really interested in the idea of community and collaboration and bridging the gap between great creative talent and opportunities to make a living doing what you love. We have some big plans in the department. On top of this we are developing some great projects as part of acrylicize and are about to release two short films about our recent installations that have just been completed.

And when you’re not busy installing monsters into the Headquarters of Mind Candy or injecting some fun into a tax office with Lego pieces, what else do you enjoy doing? Where would we find you on a typical weekend?

Paul and I both have young children so we are spending a lot of time with all the amazing things that come with that. I am also a keen drummer and graffiti artist and like to indulge in both these areas regularly. It’s all about balance and doing lots of what you enjoy.

Final question – what is your own office space like – just curious!

We’ve got a great space in Shoreditch, just off Redchurch Street. It’s got relics of all our projects and is a really bright, open space with huge floor to ceiling windows. We moved east two years ago, from our original studio in Harrow. The team had grown and we were keen to soak up the creativity of the melting pot that is east London at the current time. The energy is great, it’s a vibrant part of town filled with artists, designers and people doing their thing, creating a constantly evolving landscape on an almost daily basis. It suits what we do very well and we wanted to leave our mark.

The Office Group, 7 Stratford Place, acrylicize

Wheat is Wheat is… Wheat?

Posted on May 13, 2014 by Liz

It is clear that artist and designer Peddy Mergui has a desire to challenge the status quo in his creations, partly stemming from growing up amongst various cultures, in Morocco, Israel and Japan. He’s worked on a multitude of advertising campaigns and has helped to create brands worldwide, which only makes his latest venture all the more interesting.

Flour by Prada, Peddy Mergui

Wheat is Wheat is Wheat is Mergui’s first solo exhibition, about to open in San Francisco. In this series, he has taken the packaging of basic commodities (eggs, milk, butter, oil) and introduced high end brand names (think Gucci and Versace) into their labelling, providing them with a new identifying element. The resulting products are definitely food for thought as it were. Both individually and collectively, the striking images within the exhibition allow for open dialogue on consumer culture, ethical boundaries and the design world.

The connection between packaging and products is recognisable in modern culture, although not often logical. What would it mean to eat Tiffany&Co yoghurt or to make your morning coffee with Cartier coffee beans? Mergui’s pairings are playful and even amusing; drawing the viewer in and simultaneously challenging them with a provocative undertone. What kind of challenges do designers face in terms of economic interest versus integrity? As consumers, do we inadvertently support unethical conditions? Do we perceive certain brands as meaning we belong to a certain type of group, as a certain type of person?

Salami by Louis Vuitton, Peddy Mergui

Mergui found: “The interesting part is that most viewers tell me they see something they want in the exhibition. Why? Not for the playfulness of it, but for what it makes them feel. The Seduction presents us with a mirror to ourselves.”

iMilk by Apple, Peddy Mergui

Wheat is Wheat is Wheat definitely poses more questions than it answers and this is the most enjoyable aspect of the exhibition. It is a truly eye opening series that will inspire debate – and make you question your purchases on your next shopping trip!

Eggs by Versace, Peddy Mergui

What’s on at The Saatchi

Posted on May 8, 2014 by Liz

We truly love The Saatchi Gallery here at WIN – it’s a spectacular venue that shares thought provoking and inspiring contemporary art with the world, a global meeting place for all who visit and accessible for anyone and everyone as all exhibitions are free! We are extremely lucky as it is also where we will be holding our World Interiors News Annual Awards Dinner later this year, following the success of last year’s event (we can’t wait!). So what’s been going on at The Saatchi so far this year?

Kostas Agiannitis – Lifestyle. Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery

Firstly, an exciting partnership with Google+ has allowed for motion photography to be introduced as an art form for everyone. As technology continues to develop, photographers from all backgrounds are embracing new ways to tell their stories. Motion photography is a new trend that used to require special tools and know-how, but Google+ have simplified the process, allowing users to effortlessly and automatically animate a series of still photographs and turn them in to motion photography.

Matthew Clarke – Night. Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery

In recognition of the exciting potential of this new technology came the Motion Photography Prize, inviting photographers all over the world to celebrate this new creative art form, the first global entry competition of its kind. This was judged by an amazing panel of forward-thinkers including film director Baz Luhrmann and artists Shezad Dawood and Cindy Sherman. The competition was tough, with over 4,000 entries from 52 countries, but an overall winner was recently announced. Christina Rinaldi, with her black and white motion photograph of a New York window cleaner, has won a once-in-a-lifetime trip with a photographer or film-maker as her mentor. Her entry, along with those of the five other finalists, plus the shortlist of 54 motion photographs is now on exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery until 24 May and will also be featured online at Saatchi Art.

Christina Rinaldi – Urban. Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery

Another fantastic exhibition that is currently on display until 31 August, is Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America. Taking its title from the prehistoric landmass that conjoined Africa and Latin America, this major survey reunites the two former sister continents by bringing together the work of 16 of their contemporary artists. The exhibition celebrates and explores the parallels between their distinctly diverse cultures and creative practices, as they begin to receive recognition in the increasingly globalised art world.

Aboudia – Enfants dans la rue 2, 2013. © Aboudia, 2013. Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery

The artists in Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America, respond to present day complexities in diverse and innovative ways. Years of colonial rule, rapid urban expansion, migration and political and economic unrest remain subjects for many of the artists whose reflections on the richness of their environment translate into an intense visual experience. The full scope of work on display in this exhibition, which includes new painting, photography, installation and sculpture, encapsulates this sense of diversity – a bubbling energy surfacing in the two great continents that were once Pangaea.

Rafael Gómezbarros – Casa Tomada, 2013. © Sam Drake, 2014. Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery.

Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America features work by Aboudia, Leonce Agbodjélou, Fredy Alzate, Antonio Malta Campos, Rafael Gómezbarros, David Koloane, José Lerma, Mário Macilau, Ibrahim Mahama, Dillon Marsh, Jose Carlos Martinat, Vincent Michea, Oscar Murillo, Alejandra Prieto Boris Nzebo, Christian Rosa. A stand out piece is definitely Gómezbarros’ Casa Tomada, with giant ants that address issues of diaspora and internal displacement suffered in Colombia for several decades due to the armed conflict wreaking havoc on the country. Aboudia’s vast canvases are also striking, occupied by a multitude of characters displaying menacing weapons, a record of the sudden escalation of violence following electoral chaos in the city of Abidjan in 2011.

Vincent Michea – Before the Bigger Splash, 2012. © Vincent Michea, 2012. Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery.

With all this on and more, it’s quite simple really – get yourself down to The Saatchi as soon as you can to experience some amazing art!