Fresh perspectives as Volvo challenges photographer to use the car as camera

I love driving, sitting behind the wheel engaged in my personal thoughts, dreams and life, planning grand projects and picturing past memories, listening to my tunes as the world dances by. You feel protected from the outside world inside the cocoon of the motor car yet are very much connected. There are interactions and engagements, especially in a city like London, but there... Read More

The new V&A Exhibition Road Quarter in picture

Last night saw the opening of V&A Exhibition Road Quarter – the much-anticipated new addition to my favourite London gallery. The work of Amanda Levete and her architecture practice AL_A, it includes a dramatic entrance onto Exhibition Road, and an impressive courtyard that celebrates the V&A’s storied past. New spaces for exhibitions include the Sainsbury... Read More

Serpentine Pavilion 2017 by African architect Francis Kéré

This is Diébédo Francis Kéré’s gentle architectural installation for the annual Serpentine Pavilion project. It will sit here on the lawns of Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park in London until October encouraging the public to enter, sit, read, eat, interact. The 2017 Pavilion is a far cry from last year’s jazzy unzipped wall of cold, hard-edged metallic boxes by Bjarke Ingels.... Read More

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