Sophisticated sales: Quai 417 A retail concept: Montreal, Canada.

shop installation

Photos: Guillaume Pelletier.

Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate Modern in London, defined art as existing solely for its own purpose. I paraphrase slightly as I do not remember the exact quotation, but the point is his definition suggests art is not there to sell stuff.

I invite you to consider Serota’s notion in the form of this clothes boutique in Montreal, Canada. The space was designed by Saucier + Perrotte Architect and is a refurbishment of some old warehouse space. In that sense it is unremarkable and similar retail environments can be seen in edgy, fashionable districts of London, Berlin and New York. But taken as a whole the the project aims to draw in the work of various artists treating the store as an art space.

It is selling, there is no doubt about that, but is it art? Read more

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Living in the cloud: The Cloud House by McBride Charles Ryan

Perspective of the house

Photos: McBride Charles Ryan.

The fantasy of living in the clouds got a little nearer for a lucky family in Melbourne, Australia when McBride Charles Ryan extended their old house. The original building is something over a hundred years old and has had several extensions and alterations but nothing like this before. Read more

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Reputation in resonance: Kingston Business School, London by Hawkins Brown.

front elevation

Photos: Hufton + Crow.

When Kingston University wanted a new teaching building for their Faculty of Business and Law, they drafted in Hawkings Brown who gave them a timeless, understated building, whose very appearance seems to resonate with the discrete manner of business people and lawyers that populate the business districts London.

The building is designed ‘in the round’ with entrances in each of its elevations. At its core is a dramatic top-lit atrium that becomes a hub for social interacting and learning. Off the hub are smaller more intimate ‘laptop bars’ resembling lounges or perhaps coffee shops. Read more

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A vision of austerity: A David Bomberg Legacy – The Sarah Rose Collection at The Borough Road Gallery.

Vision of Ezekiel by David Bomberg

The relationship of skirt length to a nation’s economic prosperity is well documented by anthropologists such as Desmond Morris. The more prosperous the nation is feeling, the higher the hemline tends to rise.

The relationship of economics and design is manifest in other ways too. In times of austerity such as as the current time in Britain, designers look to moments of historic economic austerity for inspiration. In Britain, design from the 1930’s through the Second World War and up to about 1960, has been of particular interest.

David Bomberg (1890–1957) was an artist and teacher working throughout this period and who was at his most influential in the late 1940s and early 1050s. Teaching at what is now the London Southbank University he gathered around him artists that came to have a major influence on the direction of British art. The first of these groupings was known as the Borough Group (1946-51) and latterly, Borough Bottega (1953-55). Read more

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Britain from Above: Historical images of Britain.

Tower Bridge 1922 : English Heritage NMR

Aerofilms was the agency that took aerial photographs of Britain before Google. It operated from 1919 to 2006 and over that period built-up an amazing archive. Recently the archive was purchased by English Heritage and and been digitized and put online.

You can see the archive at: Britain from Above. Read more

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