Radical design: Creatives at the frontline for change

Bertolt Brecht wrote: ‘Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.’ I grew up surrounded by politics. Raised in Iran at the height of its turbulent years, it was impossible not to be. Later, as an adolescent cocooned in the sanctuary of Europe, I rejected it all for I saw my life in the creative world where politics, seemingly, had... Read More

Utopian visions: SO-IL’s MINI Living at Salone del Mobile

In 2011, the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto built a house in central Tokyo designed to break with the traditional codes of living. His House NA challenges ideas of comfort and of privacy – the lightweight living hubs stack one on top of another to be inhabited privately or collectively, and are exposed to the busy surrounding city. House NA is meant to be provocative,... Read More

Minimalist, utopian, playful: The Japanese House

‘Life can’t be contained within a single slot. People’s sense of living expands beyond it, effectively erasing all borders,’ says Ryue Nishizawa. I’m thinking of this as I roam around the life-size model of the Pritzker-prize winning SANAA architect’s Moriyama House. Built in Tokyo twelve years ago, it is a kind of living organism, working on the concept... Read More

Can cultural spaces and galleries be landscapes of ideas?

I have strong views on the vital role of the visual arts and culture to help shape society and vice versa. My thoughts are that a degree of social engagement is necessary, especially in these volatile times. Without which these are just decoration, an ego massage, or worse strictly commercial enterprises. This applies as much to architecture and design as it does to the fine... Read More

Diébédo Francis Kéré wins Serpentine Pavilion 2017 project

A pavilion that mimics a grand tree and offers a spectacular waterfall has won the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion project. The Serpentine Gallery’s artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist and CEO Yana Peel have named architect Diébédo Francis Kéré the latest designer for the annual project. The award-winning architect, who leads Kéré Architecture in Berlin, will bring his... Read More

The young, spirited voices changing darkness into light

This weekend over 600 cities around the world took to the streets to protest against the aggressively nationalist and populist politics that has found its voice so explicitly in Donald Trump and his blatantly deluded supporters. Organised to coincide with his first day as US president, the Women’s March has got to be one of the most spontaneous and spirited demonstrations... Read More

2016: Dark politics, sad losses, creative moments

It certainly has been an eventful year. The more liberal minded of us have been shaken by recent politics – by the rise of populism and support for fascist leaders around the world. This has been a year when research and fact checking, intellectual debate, clear thought, the truth have been brushed aside, ridiculed even, to be replaced by pure fiction. It’s been a year when... Read More

Exploring the narrative of shopping

I try to shop locally, favouring smaller groceries, the butchers and fishmonger, fruit and veg markets, the independent bookstore and the few boutiques in my neighbourhood who support smaller designers. It involves a little more effort trekking from shop to shop and navigating crowded markets in the rain, but the experience is hugely rewarding. Each one of these establishments... Read More

The new Design Museum opens in Kensington

‘Design is about optimism,’ offers sir Terence Conran, ‘and this friendly space is full of surprises. It is about love rather than fear. I hope we can educate and inspire generations to come,’ says the founder of the Design Museum. Heartfelt words in these politically dark times. We are being treated to a preview of the museum’s much anticipated new premise in Kensington,... Read More

Residents: Inside the iconic Barbican estate

The Barbican, that twentieth century utopian vision, and one of the most documented housing projects in the world, is taking us for an intimate tour. A select group of its residence are letting us glimpse into their homes and hear their thoughts – all of which is documented in an intriguing new book Residents: Inside the Iconic Barbican Estate. #gallery-18 { margin:... Read More