Radical Essex: A complex county of raw beauty and modernism

‘Essex is neither part of East Anglia, nor one of the Home Counties; it contains both radical and conservative elements, and is therefore open to all possibilities,’ writes architectural critic Ken Worpole in Radical Essex. Sitting on the edge of east London, a rural refuge for much of the cockney diaspora, it certainly gets its fair share of crude stereotyping, and mockery – think The Only Way is Essex, spray tans and excessive... Read More

SOS Brutalism explores the radical movement

Simple block shapes made of raw concrete – this is how brutalism has come to be defined. Yet behind these concrete buildings – some poetic and sculptural – lay a movement with strong principles. New brutalism was controversial the moment it emerged on the architectural scene in the 1950s. It deliberately set out to be hard edged and radical. Progressive social ideals informed much of its thinking. Ironically brutalist building design is... Read More

Richard Rogers reflects on his life in architecture

‘A Place for All People’ begins in July of 1971. Narrated by Richard Rogers, it is a passionate tale of a young British architect and his friend and colleague Renzo Piano, and their sheer surprise at winning the Centre Pompidou  competition with their brilliantly left-field entry which had at its heart Rogers’ philosophy of adaptability, affordability and colour. It lit up and brought cultural life to an otherwise run-down Paris neighbourhood.... 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 reading Little Women and, like many of us, Louisa May Alcott’s tomboy... Read More

La Vita Campari tells the story of Campari

Davide Campari was a fascinating character. In the early years of the 20th century the company heir set out to explore the potentials of art and ideas in creating a strong, global brand. Eschewing conventions, he joined Milan’s artistic circles, becoming intimately linked with the avant-garde who helped create product design such as the brilliant Campari Soda bottle, daring poster art and advertising – design that were hugely radical... Read More

Exploring the dark, cute and magical world of Yuko Higuchi

‘Magical Colouring Museum’ is a beautifully-illustrated picture book of sorts – cute, dark, surreal, funny, frightening at times. ‘Cats and Other Creatures’ features 24 stand-alone illustrations. Published by Laurence King, together they explore the imaginative world of the celebrated, cult Tokyo artist Yuko Higuchi. Higuchi is the voice behind the kawaii trend, sketching whimsical illustrations of anthropomorphised characters... Read More

New book documents the history of type

Type has existed since the dawn of printing. Wood was used as a material for some larger fonts during the nineteenth-century, but in general fonts would be cast in lead alloys. The mechanisation of typesetting in the 1890s allowed for continuous casting, which remained widespread until the 1970s. Since, digital type has been the more dominant form. A new book by Laurence King The Visual History of Type is exploring the history from its advent... Read More

The Zen Calligraphy of Thich Nhat Hanh

‘In my calligraphy there is ink, tea, breathing, mindfulness, and concentration,’ observes Thich Nhat Hanh. ‘Writing calligraphy is a practice of meditation. I write the words or sentences that can remind people about the practice,’ notes the prolific author, poet, teacher, scholar, peace activist, Buddhist monk and calligrapher. Martin Luther King Jr. called him ‘an apostle of peace and non-violence’ when nominating him for the Nobel... Read More

Book review: Lucy Williams

Lucy Williams takes mid-twentieth-century Modernist architecture as her inspiration to create softly shaded, intricate collages. Working with mixed media, the artist turns these often cold and brutal constructions into warm, human spaces. Even though they remain unoccupied, we can almost feel the presence of people in these diverse settings that include housing projects, government buildings, department stores and swimming pools. ‘I am interested... Read More

100 Ways to Create a Great Ad…

… and a 100 Ideas That Changed the Web Two new books landed on our doorstep the other day: 100 Ways to Create a Great Ad and 100 Ideas that Changed the Web. As their names suggest, they act as introductions as well as excellent reference books for creatives involved in these areas. As we all know, a great ad – well in print format anyway – is basically the marriage of clever copywriting with strong visuals. Here author, Tim Collins,... Read More

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