Tuesday, 4 October 2011


I just saw a Sharon Stone movie called Scissors. I love Sharon and it's its cool(ish) movie and all - basically a possibly schizophrenic Stone is caught between a rock (her hunky neighbour and his pervy twin), a hard place (her pervy, maybe, shrink), and a really hard place (repressed childhood memories of a pervy man with a thing for ginger chin-beards, glove puppets and er, little girls), but design-wise there's not much going on. 
Initially the most interesting thing appears to be the production company's cryptic-yet-denotes-power Gold Pyramid & Tiger(?) logo:
The logo actually hints at the design later to come, when Stone is lured to a mysteriously abandoned apartment:
The apartment is decked out in a Post-Modern style, but is a lot more muted than the brighter tones seen earlier in the 80s. The terracotta/gold/peach, white & blue colours, alongside quirky features like tables moulded to resemble material-covered Roman columns, lend a slight Mediterranean feel (they also had Wi-Fi in 1990... who knew!)

Stuck for days, she attempts to escape but the gold Egyptian-style doors are locked...
...all the Post-Modern furniture is bolted down...
...and the Deco-style phone is dead!
Nothing in the Deco-style bathroom either:
 ...and when the weird lighting system kicks in...
...the Modernist Mobile/Sculpture is no help.
 It all freaks her out and she crashes out on the 1930s Constructivist floor.
 Then a load of shit goes down involving the ginger chin-beard dude, a talking raven and Stone doing an 'is she/isn't she insane' routine. Check the picture below and maybe you can decide, either way I think the door's cool.

Friday, 23 September 2011


I was lucky enough to attend the Press View of the V&A's new exhibition 'Postmodernism: Style & Subversion 1970-90'. Aside from some amazing mini-Danish pastries laid on, the exhibition itself was also pretty good too. When I say pretty good, I actually mean it was pretty much everything I love about being alive all condensed into one (large) space. So yeah, it was actually amazing.
I was going to post some pictures on here but the guy next to me got in some serious hot water for snapping in there, so I'll just provide other pictures of some of the things on display in the show....

...well, apart from this one, largely because it's not an actual display piece, also because it's slightly illegible and most importantly, it demonstrates wallpaper with the 'Bacterio' pattern designed by Italian supremo, Ettore Sottsass.

Sottsass was a highly respected Italian designer for Olivetti, who at a relatively late age, sensed the Punk spirit in the air and decided to rebel against the increasingly staid and dull modern design of the 70s (well, have you ever been in a Danish furniture purist's shop? yawn!). He formed a collective of New Wave designers dubbed 'Memphis' and, launching in Milan 1981, they set out the template for the 80s - irreverent retro-futuristic designs that referenced high and low art from 30s Deco to the 50s Atomic and beyond. It was completely impractical but who cares because it looked amazing (oh, and they didn't do brown).

Unsurprisingly I'm a huge fan of Memphis, and plan to feature more of their stuff in a forthcoming post. However, at this particular exhibition they have a whole room dedicated to Memphis that features the likes of LA designer (and my favourite of their crew) Peter Shire's 'Bel Air' armchair:

Also included is Michele De Lucchi's prototype models for Girmi homeware products. Why these never went into production is beyond me:

last but not least, Sotsass' own iconic 'Casablanca' sideboard makes an appearance:
there is even an amazing rare photo of a pre-Chanel Karl Lagerfeld in his 1981 Monte Carlo apartment, which he had decorated exclusively with Memphis (as you do).

Aside form bonkers 1980s furniture the exhibition also features fantastic architecture by the Vegas-inspired Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown and Charles Moore's highly controversial 'Piazza d'Italia' in New Orleans which managed to piss off every purist by essentially being a giant camp stage set combining the classical with lots of neon (and a fountain in the shape of Italy for good measure):
The Art featured tended to reveal the Dystopian clash of glamour and despair within Postmodernism. A favourite of mine is Rem Koolhaas'  'Delirious New York' from 1976:
Delirious New York Book 
Ron Arad's 'Concrete Stereo' 1983 also continues this apocalyptic vision:
there's so much more in the show from ceramics and jewellery to a final section on pop culture including original outfits from Annie Lennox, Klaus Nomi and they even have Rachel from Blade Runner's stunning dress suit!
I can't tell which I love more, the designs themselves or the fact that almost everything in the exhibition was (and often still is) reviled by authenticity obsessed purists. I think I'll have to go again to decide.

Postmodernism: Style & Subversion: 1970-90 opens at the V&A, September 24 and runs until 8 January 2012.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Ebay find.

So...after the little fashion diversion, we're back to furniture and here's a selection of iconic pieces currently found on eBay. This time more Mid-Century Modern than the 80s Post-Modern stuff I've been hyping of late.

Although described as 60s/70s in the auction, I'd place this more in the late 50s/early 60s. It perfectly suits 1950's Tola (African Mahogany) furniture which I love so much because they just ebonised everything for a touch of Noir-ish glamour:

1950s G-Plan Tola Cabinet & Bedside Table (courtesy of HW Furniture Archive).

Also on a similar tip is this late 50s Sofa and matching chairs. Geometric and angular, they feature original charcoal and grey fabric in a typically 'New Wave' abstract pattern.The castors are listed as being 'easily removable', something I'd personally do like, immediately:


Thursday, 28 July 2011


One of the most exciting developments in London's underground over the last few years is both the emergence of fledgling label LONG CLOTHING and the re-emergence of classic London label, BOY. The former, with its B&W T-Shirts and hoodies boasting iconic and irreverent geometric graphics, has breathed fresh air into a stale scene. Rather like the latter's effect some generations before. So it's no surprise that the two labels have formed an alliance that has resulted joint collections, designs and now, the launch of the official BOY website.

Recently London's End End has seen the rise of a style I've dubbed 'Modern Noir' which seems to marry the stylings of 1930s/Bauhaus (design) with 1980s/Bauhaus (the band). A key element of this look has been the geometric (and triangle-heavy!) graphics utilised by such labels as LONG.

 LONG T Shirt for BOY

1930s Bauhaus influenced BOY TV advert

Although launching as a Punk label in the 70s, it was in the 1980s that BOY became an international ambassador for cutting edge London style with it's use of  bold, often cheekily imperial, graphic imagery. The New Romantic kids had moved on, and along with Ray Petri's Buffalo movement, they embraced a super-fresh look that screamed 'POWER!': playfully toying with brazen sexuality and bold, almost Olympian, imagery...all set to an Acid House & New Beat soundtrack. 

Now, having laid low for about a decade, BOY have recently begun their return, operating out of the  shop/borderline squat christened 'SICK' in the depths of Redchurch Street, Shoreditch. It was there where I had a long chat with label founder Stephane Raynor. He recounted the early days sparring with Westwood on the King's Road, dressing Spandau Ballet, opening the first boutique in Ibiza, the chaos of the late 80s when every pop star worth their salt literally begged for BOY clothes and the small matter of declining an offer of a very large sum for the label by one Philip Green of Top Shop...

With the distinctive BOY logo once again appearing in ever more pop videos and fashion shoots, it appears that the return of the BOY empire and it's ensuing chaos is now inevitable, about time too!    

Fonteyn DJ's at the Official launch of www.leavetheboyalone.com at Cafe De Paris, London, July 29 

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Miami Vice Decor.

So, it was only a matter of time before I broached my love of the 1980s cop series. Set in Art Deco heaven (aka Miami), director Michael Mann had a stylistic vision that was ruthlessly pursued on the show. My least favourite colours in the world are 1) BROWN and 2) ORANGE, and during this period Mann officially banned these and any other 'earth tones' from ever appearing anywhere on screen. Instead a 'Pastel Noir' aesthetic was upheld at all times, resulting in totally iconic settings like the home of an evil video artist in this 1987 episode 'Death and The Lady'.

Mann's signature logo here totally evokes 1950s Atomic Age style (another of my favourite design eras), but with the neon factor slightly raised. The villain's apartment, with it's Salmon Pink Deco-inspired chair & chaise (possibly by Memphis Design) and abstract rug, is seen here from above in both day & night shots and from afar with various neon lights highlighting separate areas.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Domino (1988)

I've been trying to find this 1988 Italian Noir movie for years. I've finally tracked it down and although it leaves a bit to be desired on the plotline front, it looks amazing. It was directed by Ivana Massetti, an Italian director of pop videos & commercials...and it shows. It features the statuesque Brigette Nielsen who plays a video director living in a dark Art Deco apartment with a bejeweled tortoise and a black mannequin 'bodyguard'. 

This scene depicts her awesome apartment:

Some key stills: