New books celebrate the Bauhaus centenary and its legacy

I attended an art and design foundation course much like the famous Vorkurs run by Josef Albers and László Moholy-Nagy, a year-long requirement for all new Bauhaus students before they could progress to study in a specific workshop. In a similar way to how the Bauhauslers ran the famous art school a century ago, mine was a place that taught experimentation and encouraged abstraction,... Read More

Barbican’s Modern Couples explores art, intimacy and the avant-garde

‘Some women fight and others do not,’ observes Joan Didion in her The White Album. ‘Like so many guerrillas in the wars between sexes, Georgia O’Keeffe seems to have been equipped early with an immutable sense of who she was and a fairly clear understanding that she would be required to prove it,’ the American author writes of the great American painter. Much like... Read More

London Design Festival highlights at the V&A

The London creative season is in full swing with London Design Biennale at Somerset House and London Design Festival spread to almost every corner of this great city. The hub at the V&A is possibly the best place to get a feel for the more conceptual work. The festival is celebrating its sixteenth birthday as well as its tenth year collaborating with the museum. For... Read More

Tehran, Esfahan, Kashan – a road trip in picture

The road connecting Tehran to Esfahan cuts through the arid Dasht-e Kavir. We drive for hours in silence absorbing its raw beauty. The contrast on entering Esfahan is enormous. The former capital under the Safavids instantly seduces with its delicate poetic charm, rich architectural heritage and leafy boulevards. As does neighbouring Kashan, the kings’ vacation spot, where... Read More

Designed in the USSR: 1950-1989

Soviet design at its peak between 1950 to 1989 was dynamic, different and complex. On the one side were consumer and domestic products for daily use. Then there was a rather more controlled side to design directed by the state which impacted on advertising, film posters and educational literature. The Soviet Union’s isolation helped create a bit of a design bubble, yet... Read More

Design Museum presents the rebel couturier Azzedine Alaïa

‘I make clothes, women make fashion,’ said Azzedine Alaïa famously. He was the fashion world’s outsider, the rebel couturier, some would argue the last real couturier for he made everything himself and to perfection. Alaïa oversaw the construction of each and every one of his commissioned garments. He was highly skilled as a designer and technician, and he would almost... Read More

Design exhibition: The Future Starts Here

‘The future is up for grabs,’ according to Rory Hyde, co-curator of The Future Starts Here, an upcoming exhibition at London’s V&A which sets out to explore the power of design to shape the world of tomorrow. ‘This is not a speculative show,’ he warns me at the preview this morning. Rather this exhibition, which has taken two years to research – working with... Read More

Writers, their styles and what their clothes say

I have fully immersed myself in the brilliant world of the original punk poet Patti Smith. Having devoured Smith’s biographical M Train, I immediately moved onto her first novel Just Kids, consumed to the soundtrack of the 1975 debut album Horses. In both, Patti references her beatnik look, a look she has maintained with just a few modifications. Smith took to writing after... Read More

Exhibition – Opera: Passion, Power and Politics

Opera requires gauze to be wrapped around the imagination. It is hoped that the power of music and that most versatile of all instruments, the human voice, helped along by the magic of lighting and design could help penetrate that gauze. So, it was with some trepidation that I went along to the preview of ‘Opera: Passion, Power and Politics’ at the Victoria and Albert museum... Read More

Highlights of London Design Festival 2017

The creative industries are worth close to £90bn a year to the economy, offering some three million jobs here. It is a ‘serious, big, wealth-earning and reputation-enhancing’ sector, Sir John Sorrell told the Financial Times this weekend. These numbers came back to me as the London Design Festival (16-24 September) kicked off bringing colour and creativity to pockets of... Read More