Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Retail Really Can Be Theatre

Us customers are so demanding these days aren't we?  The stores go to extreme lengths just to impress us in the hope that we get so caught up in the 'store experience' that we forget that our credit cards are nearly maxed out and we buy that fringed suede handbag that we fall in love with but definitely don't need.  I know you do it too!

I love a beautiful store and I admit that I can get a little bit caught up in it all so I can't imagine what might happen if I visited this Urban Outfitters store in Stockholm right now.  Not only are the products enticing enough (check out their online store, they are on sale!) but the store itself is quite amazing.  It's in an old movie theater building with much of the features retained such as the chandeliers, marble pillars and a detailed art deco ceiling. They really know how to put on a show for us!  With online stores competing for our business stores on the high streets must provide an environment to engage the senses and really entice us in.  It's tough out there.

CEO Glen T. Senk once told Fast Company magazine: “The store is a various sensorial experience. It has a smell. It’s very tactile. We’re very careful about what music we play. We also focus on display and concentrate on narrative.”
All the stores in the Urban Outfitters portfolio have a wonderful flow to them. Fast Company commented that “it’s hard to tell where the merchandise ends and the display begins.”

Photos from Flickr and Inside Retail

Monday, 27 June 2011


Um, like, WOW!!!  This guy is seriously out of control.  This is amazing.  I should so be in Paris right now to see this latest work by Anish Kapoor.  But I'm not, I'm sitting on my sofa in my tracksuit pants watching Offspring.  Anyway, I should be in Paris.

There are so many things I love about this monumental sculpture, the sheer scale of it for one is quite amazing and how the spherical blobs follow the curved steel domed structure of the Grand Palais.  The solid smooth aubergine form contrasts dramatically against the light and decorative art nouveau steel structure.  It's a sculpture inside an amazing building that can be experienced from all around it and also from the inside with the steel palace ceiling visible through the red rubber skin.  I love that it is so accessible, both the cost (5 euro) and also as a contemporary work of art that people of all generations have been fascinated by and drawn to.

I am in awe of it's technical achievement, is it such a perfect smooth shape.  What is holding it up, how did it get inside the space, I mean it's seriously monumental.  So amazing.

From Dezeen:
The artist describes the work he is creating for MONUMENTA as follows: “A single object, a single form, a single colour.” “My ambition”, he adds, “is to create a space within a space that responds to the height and luminosity of the Nave at the Grand Palais.  Visitors will be invited to walk inside the work, to immerse themselves in colour, and it will, I hope, be a contemplative and poetic experience.”

A technical, poetic challenge unparalleled in the history of sculpture, this work questions what we think we know about art, our body, our most intimate experiences and our origins.

The photos are amazing (by Stefan Tuchila) however I would of loved to experience this work for real.   I've been lucky to see some of Anish Kapoor's work in Berlin and Kanazawa and they were pretty big but seem tiny in comparison to this.  Just another work to cement Kapoor as a genius in contemporary art.

Anish Kapoor at the Grand Palais
Leviathan from 11th May to 23rd June 2011

Friday, 24 June 2011

Glamorous Girls

I am pretty much blown away by these simply stunning artworks.  I love it how the faces emerge from the watercolour and ink.  The colours melt and bleed into each other and drip to create a merging of something abstract and at the same time pictorial.  That's what I love about them.  The seemingly random effects with the precise parts that form the beautiful and emotive faces.  They are so expressive and glamorous.

These are by Swedish artist Stina Persson.  She works with a few different mediums including watercolour, handwritten, cut paper, acrylic and ink and also incorporates photos. 

Poppytalk interviewd Stina back here:
Is it from pictures you study, do you draw using models, or if you could explain your creative process?

I have both travelled extensively and lived for several years in Italy. For some reason Sicily's mix of beauty, saints and corruption triggers my imagination. Then a book of Italian names that a friend gave me when I was expecting my first child got that imagination going. Women wearing names like Immacolata, Crocefissa, Annunziata -- all southern names, all sweet to the point of sickliness -- simply needed to have their portraits painted.

When starting on a piece I use picture reference to get structure and pose. But they take on a life of their own almost as soon as the ink touches the paper.
You use use mixed media with your work. If you could in a way take us through that. For instance, the type of paper and paints used in these latest pieces?

I found a pad of glossy tissue paper the art store and added that to some of the pieces (I use ink for my drawings). I really liked the result and went back to the store to get some more. Of course I had found a pad that had been lying there since the 70s and neither they nor the manufacturer had more. So I had to rethink and really start being creative, I guess. In the end I used all kinds of paper, everything from golden foil to mexican "papel picado" to give these dark girls some color and to add another dimension. And yes, I used parchment cake rounds to create the Sicilian lace head pieces I adore!
Creating these collages were almost a sculptural process and something I would like to bring into my commercial work. I'm not sure how much use I will get from the cake rounds though...
I love these images of her studio also from Poppytalk

Monday, 20 June 2011

Pillar of Salt

I literally go past Pillar of Salt everyday on my way to work and I have been meaning to go there for ages as I thought it looked so cute.  So last week I finally did and I was not disappointed!  I liked the interior with the exposed brick and white metro tiles but it was the courtyard that set it apart.  It has a surprising outdoor space which I must keep in mind for the warmer months.  The interior is by Techne and the renovations were extensive, I can't even remember what was there before.  I like the layering of the new cafe insertion into the old shell, in my mind it's nicely done.

Very smart little cafe and the service was great and the food delicious.  It has that kind of feel that is instantly your little local cafe.  If you're around Church Street check it out, it's right next door to Royal Saxon.

541 Church St
Richmond 3121
p: 9421 1550
Photos by Lauren Macer on iphone

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Little Osaka Field Trip

Graf Osaka Store
Graf restaurant
 Osaka 64 Hostel, yes this is a hostel - we really loved it, super cute place to stay in Osaka.
D&D Department Dining (table top photo by Andy)
We spent only one night in Osaka which was a shame, but it's just impossible to fit it all in, you know?  But we managed to see some great stuff and I'll be back one day.  We walked around through cute streets and a few parks until we found D&D Department Dining, a really cute place with great coffee and cool people.  Another great place is Graf which I've already talked about here.
We picked up a beautiful little guidebook 'Osaka Field Trips' from our hostel and I couldn't recommend it more.  It's seriously the most beautifully designed guidebook ever.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Burch & Purchese

It's about time I told you of this amazing sweet studio on Chapel Street.  I took these photos a few weeks ago, perhaps I wanted to keep it to myself for a while - so greedy!  Burch & Purchese is such a special little shop, it's really gorgeous and I generally love being surrounded by cakes and chocolate.  Wow, where to begin?  The cakes and sweets are all made in the studio which is visible from the shop.  You can see the chefs mixing up potions right in front of you!  You can even select from the 300 ingredients on the 'interactive flavor wall' and they can customize something special for you.  How seriously cool is that!

I personally have not seen such beautiful and original cakes before, and believe me, I have seen my fair share of cakes.  Not only are the flavors amazing (roast pumkin, milk chocolate, maple syrup, bacon cake, yes bacon.  Yes all on one cake) they are spectacularly perfect works of art.  

The interior is entirely covered in cork, the walls, ceiling and joinery is all cork and I adore it.  So clever!  It was selected so that items can be pinned off the wall so that the space can be easily changed and remain fresh.   In my mind it's the perfect backdrop to all of that chocolately goodness.  Apparently the design is by some up-and-comers (I forgot the name so please let me know).  Really inspired stuff.

Burch & Purchese are British duo Ian Burch and Darren Purchese, they are totally inspiring and pushing the limits whilst creating some original and memorable food.  Thank you!

The store is at the end of Chapel street between Toorak Road and Alexander Ave which is getting really interesting with the new Vogue Centre across the street.  Big change is happening here!

I challenge you to walk out empty handed.  I bought a jar of half raspberry jam/ chocolate hazelnut.  Let me tell you, it's delicious.

Where: 647 Chapel St, South Yarra
Tue-Sun 10am-6.30pm
(03) 9827 7060

Photos by Lauren Macer on iphone.


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