In talk with J Mayer H’s Jürgen Mayer

Back in June carmaker Audi sponsored a group of progressive architects from around the world to conceive of a cityscape for 2030 where urban planning, building design, wireless digital technology and vehicle design work together for sustainable mobility. Berlin practice J Mayer H has won the Audi Urban Future Awards for his clever and practical vision for such a utopia. In this 2030 urban setting, founder Jürgen Mayer has concentrated on utilising digital technology to... Read More

Emerging designers at LDF 2010

Product design students at London’s Royal College of Art are being trained to transform their innovative design proposals into commercially viable solutions. The Design Products Collection, launched at the London Design Festival in September, is a new initiative by the RCA’s Design Products department to help students create products intended for serial production. The inaugural edition – to be exhibited next at the 2011 Milan Furniture Fair – includes... Read More

London Design Festival 2010

London came alive in September with the London Design Festival – the annual event seeing new and established designers showcase their work around the capital city. The exhibits ranged from discarded picture frames draped elegantly over the V&A steps, to a plaster cast bench inspired by the museum’s impressive Cast Court collection, and robots tracing messages in beams light over Trafalgar Square. Stuart Haygarth’s installation, featuring discarded off cuts of colourful... Read More

The Makropulos Case

‘The 337 year old beauty had no heart anymore.” So wrote the Czech composer Leos Janácek on 28 December 1922 to Kamilia Strösslová, a married woman with whom he was passionately involved in a one-sided love affair. He was 68 and she was 31. The unrequited love inspired the most amazing flowering of music from the old man including the operas Katya Kabanova, the cunning little vixen and the Makropulos case to which he refers in the letter quoted above. It was to be... Read More

Book review: Reinventing the automobile

We live in exciting times. The world is moving towards mass urbanisation, the countryside is being swallowed up by sprawling cities creating vast mega-cities – a recent UN report suggesting that over 70% of the world’s population will inhabit these dense urban landscapes by 2050. Mobility, it seems, is still stuck in the era of the ‘horseless carriage’. The template is essentially that of the Ford Model T, which was good for the first 100 years of the automobile, but... Read More

Fiona Banner: Brutal seduction

Fiona Banner’s work for Tate Britain’s 2010 Duveens Commission plays on situation and scale – neo-classical gallery space strikingly juxtaposed with two decommissioned fighter jets. Harrier is streamlined avian form playing martyr to deadly function – a trussed trophy reworked with hand painted feather markings mimicking its namesake; Jaguar lies upturned on the floor like a toy cast aside by its young owner – a polished mirror surface tying the audience... Read More

Alice Neel: Saving portraiture

The summer saw one of the first major exhibitions of influential American 20th century painter Alice Neel (1900-1984) at London’s Whitechapel Gallery. At a time when Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Pop Art were all the rage amongst contemporary artists in New York, Neel painted portraits. She painted New York’s celebrated artists and writers including Andy Warhol, Frank O’Hara, Meyer Shapiro and Linda Nochlin. She also painted her friends, and family and her... Read More

Nouvel in New York

In Manhattan it’s sometimes difficult to imagine how a new building can truly impress – it’s certainly no easy task competing with oldies like the Empire State or new towers like the Beekman. But nestled in the very western corner where Chelsea meets the Meatpacking District is Jean Nouvel’s latest offering – 100 11 Avenue. The 23-storey residential tower sits alongside the Chelsea Piers and the Hudson River, and easily holds its own beside Frank Gehry’s... Read More

Social art: The Dream Factory

Should creativity be socially responsible? The Dream Factory thinks so. The collection of pioneering artists, musicians, designers, filmmakers, thinkers and social entrepreneurs believe that you can impact on the world by enhancing communities and raising social consciousness through creativity. Sponsored by Japanese carmaker Honda, the collective was born in May with an initial exhibition held at The Dray Walk Gallery on London’s Brick Lane. The exhibition will progress... Read More

Frank Stephenson discusses McLaren 12C

Few contemporary car designers boast a resume as impressive as Frank Stephenson’s.  Since graduating in vehicle design from the prestigious Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena, he has designed the first generation 2001 Mini, BMW X5, Maserati MC12, Ferrari F430 and Fiat 500. Stephenson took on the position of styling director at McLaren Automotive in 2008. The first road car designed for the new company, the MP4-12C, was already underway when he joined, but he has... Read More