Design

V & A Exhibition – Revolution: Records and rebels 1966 – 70

Saturday 11th September – Revolution: Records and Rebels 1966 – 70

At the Victoria and Albert Museum

This most eagerly anticipated of exhibitions has been on the radar for anyone with even the most passing of interests in the 1960’s counter-culture movement for some months now. These monumental events that are covered within this exhibition, all seemed to occur or explode, as the case may be – concurrently, all over the world. And all of this was happening in which must seem like medieval times to folk of a certain age, who have never lived in an age before mobile phones and the internet.

The exhibition itself was two years in the making, and to have the extra financial clout (sponsorship) of the Levi brand on board – the signs are good, even before you start on your excursion into what is an Aladdin’s cave of ultra rare artifacts & memorabilia from 1966 – 70.

On entering the exhibition, you’re given a head-set – which is all part of getting your mind and soul in the correct frame-of-mind. So while your eyes are busy eating-up all the scrumptious feasts on display, your ears are also being fed a constant menu of your favourite music!

The exhibition itself is set out in a considered and chronological order. Which I personally appreciate, as I am a guy who likes to have his record collection, book collection and clothing organised into considered groups!

I don’t really want to give the game away, (which in essence makes doing a review – redundant) as I strongly feel that the individual needs to experience this most incredible of collections for oneself. I will promise that you will be welcomed by the most amazing of visual surprises throughout your visit.

My personal passion lies within the music and fashion of the counter-culture movement, which just seemed to appear, just-like-magic – and on a daily basis, throughout this era! And much of it is now just an arm’s length away from
your eyes!

What made the whole experience so much more special for myself, was the more serious subjects that really influenced the whole counter-culture movement and were all represented within this exhibition. From Pete Seeger’s guitar (with the ultimate proto slogan that has never been bettered) right through to the race and gay right activist movements. And too many more to mention – that all need to be experienced on your visit.

When my group of friends finally left the exhibition, we were met by a member of staff who was quite astonished that we had spent 210 minutes within the exhibition. And chose to mention that we’d by far spent the most time within the exhibition. (It’s only been open a week, so I not too proud of that fact) Well, I am planning a return visit in the coming months and I predict a new record being set…


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Peter Feely

Married to Susie, both actively involved in the UK 60s scene for many years. My personal interest in 1960s culture goes back over 30 years, with my main two passions being music and fashion, both in equal measure. I run my own menswear label – ‘Perfumed Garden’ clothing, catering for the discerning dandy male - in addition to sourcing and selling vintage mens’ gear, with a particular interest in those hard-to-find jackets and shoes! I also run the Facebook group, ‘Psychedelic Clothing for Men: Then and Now’, with 2200+ members. Although I have no formal training in the fashion industry, what I do possess is a real passion, and through the years I have gained valuable knowledge of many areas of mens’ fashion from the mid to late 1960s. I’m also a musician and have played in many bands in my younger years. I’m an avid collector of music and music-related paraphernalia. I started running my own club nights back in the mid-1990s, and at present I run a psychedelic night in Derby – ‘The Perfumed Garden Of Musical Delights’. Through this I also get to DJ at many exciting events up and down the country

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September 27, 2016 By : Category : Articles Arts Design Fashion Front Page Inspiration Style Tags:, , , ,
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Dandylife Clothing

Shop Name: Dandylife Clothing
Headquarters: London, UK
Style: 60s clothing and accessories, opening hours: None, we are online based only, address: www.dandylifeclothing.com

01. What, who and where was your initial spark ignited for the world of fashion?

Both Iride and I (Attila) have been wearing vintage clothes for many years, since we were both teenagers and although we got into it in very different ways, for both of us it was all about the music we were into. Iride started collecting mostly 50s clothing and later on developed an interest for a much wider range of styles all the way from the 1930s to the 70s. I was a ‘full-on Mod’ at age 15 and my style continued to evolve as I got older. I became especially interested in 60s Dandy and Psychedelic fashion, which is what we focused on at Velvet Illusion, at least for the menswear range. I have since become very interested in other decades, specially the 1930s, although 60s and early 70s are still my favorites.

02. Did you have a formal education in fashion: Did you go to a college or follow an apprenticeship? If not, how did you learn to design clothing?

I studied Psychology of Advertising and Visual Arts at the University of Vienna and got an apprenticeship at Zur Brieftaube (now Paul & Shark) which was a renowned Viennese tailoring boutique that specialised in high-end fashion since 1860. But I learned most of what I know about design during my time at Velvet Illusion. It is a very complicated process but I really enjoy it. The industry has changed quite a lot in the last decade so the last year since we started DandyLife has been a massive learning curve for me and even more so for Iride, who had never worked in design before. She has been collecting vintage for many years so she knows a lot about fabrics, cuts and the details that make vintage clothing so special so her input is very important, especially for women’s wear.

03. What was your involvement with Velvet Illusion?

After I finished my studies we bought an old clothing factory in Vienna between a few friends. It came with a massive stock of original 60s and 70s trousers and fabrics that we sold at flea markets. With the money that we made we began to produce our own line at the factory and eventually came up with the first Velvet Illusion mail order catalogues. We then decided to move to London and start-up the Velvet Illusion shop in Camden and then the one in Kensington. There were many of us working at Velvet Illusion, all extremely creative people and I think it was that combination of skills and talents that made Velvet Illusion so great. We all multi-tasked and ended up doing all sorts of things from designing, to selling, marketing etc. depending of what was needed. I was one of the directors so in a way I was responsible for overseeing many aspects of the business. It was an incredibly busy and crazy time but I really loved it and still today I am amazed when I look back and think of what we managed to do at VI between all of us.

04. Can you tell us something about what you did, once Velvet Illusion folded?

Velvet Illusion closed down quite suddenly which was very upsetting for all of us. I went on to get a job and then managed to get back to Camden Market and started selling music merchandise at the store that I am still running. I had a small label for a while but I think that I did not have the time and drive to take on a project such as Velvet Illusion again, at least not for a while. I think that I was exhausted after the whole Velvet Illusion adventure and I needed to do something new and to take the time to travel, see friends and follow other interests like photography for example.

05. Dandylife: Why have you decided to have another crack in the fashion industry – and who are your target clientele?

It has been a long time since Velvet Illusion closed down and I started to feel that it was the right time for me to try to get back to it and do what I really enjoy doing and to use all the experience that I have. Also it had been a long time dream of Iride’s to have a fashion label. It all happened quite quickly since we started talking about it more seriously. We made a plan and managed to get some funding to start-up and we have not stopped working on it since. Our first collection brought back some of the old Velvet Illusion designs so in a way we were hoping to attract a similar crowd. We will start adding on new styles gradually and hopefully menswear very soon. We are quite keen on making a basic range of those things that have become very hard to find and that any 60s lover needs in their everyday wardrobes. It would be very important for us to have the support of the 60s underground scene so that’s our biggest hope but at the same time we know the potential that well-made 60s fashion can have commercially so we hope to also find new followers. However, obviously we want to stay true to the fashion that we love and care so much about.

06. Do you personally source your fabrics, and what kind of fabrics can we expect to see in the future?

Fabrics are key to us and our designing process and we chose them personally for all our designs. Unfortunately we cannot use vintage fabrics for large-scale productions but we try really hard to match modern fabrics to suit our styles. At the same time have to be mindful of costs and the importance of having cuts that can suit a wide range of customers that are mostly ordering online and without the possibility of trying things on or altering garments, as people used to do back in the day.

07.  Have you got a top-three designers who have helped to inspire your clothing for Dandylife?

This is a very hard question for us to answer as we love and take inspiration from so many designers but also from individual vintage pieces from unknown designer and labels. The current collection has a very Space Age and Op-Art influence so we could name Courreges, Cardin and John Kloss for example. Moving forward we will also look at other styles and inspirations and we can mention some of the old London boutiques such as Granny Takes a Trip, Quorum, Take 6, Biba but the list is endless.

08. What is your personal favourite decade for fashion or can you narrow it down to a specific time-frame?

Our favourite time is the mid and late 1960s and early 70s, at least when it comes to designing for DandyLife. But we must mention other eras that were also influential in late 60s fashion, especially 20s-30s, and that will definitely inspire some of our prints, details and artwork. But we think that all decades have amazing styles and details which we could incorporate into the core 60s look that we are trying to reproduce. We would like to have our own take on 60s clothing and not only copy what others did back then. A lot of designers in the 60s were also into vintage clothing at the time and that shows in their own individual take on fashion, even as part of a bigger movement or general feel. But we know that’s not an easy task and will surely take some time to get there!

09. Are there any contemporary designers or fashion outlets that you recognise and enjoy today?

There are many 60s style labels today that deserve all our respect. We don’t want to come up with a list and risk leaving anyone out but I suppose if we had to mention only one it would be your label Peter, The Perfumed Garden, which is just incredible. We apologise if this sounds patronising considering that you are interviewing us today! lol

10. Can you single out one fashion icon from the past or present who has inspired your passion for design?

This is going to sound very weird but it’s the truth! As a child we didn’t have access to new films or TV programs in Hungary so we used to watch mainly old (very old!) movies, which was all the TV stations could afford to show at the time. I have to say that I was completely mesmerized by Rodolfo Valentino even though at the time I did not understand anything about fashion or what ‘Dandy’ meant. And I think that stuck with me even though I got into 60s fashion later on. Also I have to mention my idol and friend Sky Saxon.

And for Iride it’s got to be Elvis. She started her interest in vintage clothing through 50s fashion and he was one of the most creative and revolutionary personalities during that time so he was probably her first big influence.

11. If you could own one garment from the past or present – what would that garment be?

The double-breasted coat that Max Schreck wore in the 1922 Nosferatu!

12. Where can we find you and order a Dandylife garment?

You can buy our line on our website www.dandyliclothing.com or via the Collectif website and stores: www.collectif.co.uk
If you want to know if there are any stores that stock our products near you (whether in the UK or abroad) please contact us at info@dandylifeclothing.com
Main Site: www.dandylifeclothing.com

Social Networks:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DandyLifeclothing
Instagram: www.instagram.com/dandylife_clothing

Special announcements/sales/promotions – We are going to be offering a DandyLife contest and price soon through the New Untouchables website so please keep checking back!


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Peter Feely

Married to Susie, both actively involved in the UK 60s scene for many years. My personal interest in 1960s culture goes back over 30 years, with my main two passions being music and fashion, both in equal measure. I run my own menswear label – ‘Perfumed Garden’ clothing, catering for the discerning dandy male - in addition to sourcing and selling vintage mens’ gear, with a particular interest in those hard-to-find jackets and shoes! I also run the Facebook group, ‘Psychedelic Clothing for Men: Then and Now’, with 2200+ members. Although I have no formal training in the fashion industry, what I do possess is a real passion, and through the years I have gained valuable knowledge of many areas of mens’ fashion from the mid to late 1960s. I’m also a musician and have played in many bands in my younger years. I’m an avid collector of music and music-related paraphernalia. I started running my own club nights back in the mid-1990s, and at present I run a psychedelic night in Derby – ‘The Perfumed Garden Of Musical Delights’. Through this I also get to DJ at many exciting events up and down the country

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March 2, 2016 By : Category : Design Fashion Front Page Interviews Style Tags:,
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The Futuro House

Matti Suuronen (June 14, 1933 – April 16, 2013) was a Finnish architect who is probably now best known for making the Futuro and the Venturo ‘space-age’ style houses or modular pods.

The original design saw the structure embrace a ‘space travel’ feel, and was composed from fiberglass-reinforced polyester plastic, polyester-polyurethane, and poly (methylmethacrylate), measuring 13 feet (4 metres) high and 26 feet (8 metres) in diameter.

Suuronen made novel and intelligent use of the newer emerging crop of materials such as polyester resin, fiberglass, and acrylic windows for use in several civil structures. A key factor in his design ethos was creating pre-fabricated elements that would or could, later be assembled into more complete structures, with an often modular theme.

To make the Futuro easy to transport, each unit consisted of 16 main elements that were bolted together to form the floor and the main roof. It could be quickly be constructed on site, or dismantled and reassembled elsewhere, in just a few days, or even airlifted in one piece by helicopter to a chosen location. Four robust concrete sittings were all that were required as ground-works, so the project be placed almost anywhere. Due to the integrated polyurethane insulation and electric heating system, the house could be heated to a comfortable temperature in only thirty minutes.

It was therefore ideal as a proto-modern cutting edge ski lodge and or holiday chalet with an eye-catching difference and a cutting-edge style.

One of the sadder facets to this great design story, is that actually less than 100 were originally made and it is estimated that today around 50-60 of the original Futuro homes now survive, owned mostly by private individuals. The early 70s saw a huge hike in Petroleum and Oil based products and thus once cheap materials of this nature were suddenly vastly more prohibitive. This lead to the end of production by 1976. There are also alternative theories however that several other factors conspired against their success. Watch this video to see this line of thought!

Suuronen also designed petrol stations, kiosks, detached and terraced houses as well as public buildings during his long career.

Matti

Suuronen was married to pianist Sirkku Suuronen and the couple had three children. Suuronen died peacefully in his homeland in Espoo, Finland on 16 April 2013. He was 79 years old. He lived to see his rule-breaking designs installed in several leading key Museums around the world. They still draw gasps of amazement and provide continued inspiration today all these years later. Despite attempts to create a viable on-going Business based around the concept of Futuro Housing in places even such as the USA, the project has to be seen as somewhat of a failure, in that it was seen as slightly ‘kitsch and freakish’ and out of step with what people actually would be prepared to purchase in sufficient numbers to make it all work out effectively. With todays demand for style and ergonomic well thought out design, there are plenty of designers attempting to develop space-saving, affordable, low-cost housing pods based on this original idea. That is a something of a victory of sorts. Time will tell, no doubt how this plays out.

As part of the  Le Beat Bespoké 11 event this Easter in London, the New Untouchables invited Darren Russell (a much respected photographer) to form a shoot with some great models and clothes supplied by Atilla and the folks at www.dandylifeclothing.com along to London’s very own Futuro house (which you can visit as part of the LBB Weekend) being a freshly restored 1972 Futuro House project in London which displays a stunning new vision for futuristic living and still looks wonderfully futuristic today. Our video shows a Time-lapse shot during installation of Futuro House at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London 16-19th August 2015

See the finished Futuro inside and outside at www.futurohouse.co.uk and discover how you can visit this historic piece of architecture and design during its current landing.

Film Shot and edited by Edward Fox www.edarthurfox.com.


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Pip! Pip! Are the Creative Business Engine behind various music based organisations of the cool underground variety. Providing angst, confusion, bewilderment and annoyance in equal amounts. We design/host/manage great sites like this one! Why not hire us one day soon?

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February 11, 2016 By : Category : Articles Design Front Page Inspiration Objects Tags:, , ,
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Catherine Croft Interview

This entry is part of 8 in the series Movers and Shakers

Catherine Croft, Director Twentieth Century Society

Thanks for chatting to us Catherine, how long have you been involved in the society and what is your background: planning, law, architecture or enthusiast?

I’ve been involved since about 1990, shortly after I finished my architecture degree. Initially just as a member, then as a Trustee, then running the Casework Committee and becoming Vice Chair—finally I ended up as Director in 2002. But I have also done other things at the same time. I studied Material Culture and Historic Building Conservation, after the architecture, so I’ve got a pretty varied background. Anyone who is interested in C20 Architecture is welcome to belong. Some members are incredibly knowledgeable, some join because they want to know more, we pitch our events and publications so that you don’t need to be an expert, you just need to be keen.

When did what we call ’20th-Century’ design begin in your view?

That’s a difficult question (and I also get asked “when does Modern Architecture start”). The pragmatic answer is that we cover everything from 1914 onwards, as the Victorian Society covers the Edwardian period. We certainly don’t stop at 2000, and expect to be seeing a C21st building listed soon.

In your opinion how long do we have at present to list and conserve the best of 20th Century Britain, it feels like this is a critical time? Buildings are getting to an age when they require attention?

It certainly does feel like a critical time, and it’s for all the reasons you suggest. Also some building types of which there are lots of great C20 examples are disproportionately threatened because of specific social and economic pressures. For instance, the smoking ban and rise of coffee shops means that pubs are going bust, and spending cuts mean libraries are closing (Local councils in London are heading for a 70% budget cut between 2010 and 2020).

How do you prioritise your objectives, there is a great deal of 20th Century architecture, how do you ‘pick your battles’?

We look at the quality of the building, and just how damaging and imminent the threat is. We also consider what broader arguments highlighting a specific case will enable us to support, and we make sure that we don’t duplicate anyone else’s efforts, but back local campaigns and work with others whenever possible.

What steps does the Society take to ensure that there is equality and regional balance in the projects it undertakes?

We get cases from all over the country referred to us by local planning departments (that’s a requirement of planning law, and very helpful), but we also rely on local members and supporters. Our network of Regional Groups helps.

It feels like London is at risk due to ravenous developers, but in other parts of Britain there may be less awareness of the value and appeal of older-modern buildings, whereas London is very ‘on trend’ with the mid-century kick. How do you manage regional activity and raise awareness in other parts of the UK?

There are details of the Regional Groups here: www.c20society.org.uk/regional-groups and we also try to make sure that we get both National press coverage and keep in contact with local press and radio. Projects like the 100 Buildings book and website www.c20society.org.uk/100-buildings also have a good range of buildings, and it’s been great to see it in bookshops all over the UK. We’d like to get our Magazine distributed more widely.

Many of those who read our blogs and follow the New Untouchables are, literally, obsessed with mid-century architecture and design. We’re also (relatively!) young ranging from 16-50, and from a wide range of backgrounds. What is the main benefit for the society by engaging with this group?

We want you to join us and increase our numbers! More C20 members means we have more leverage with local and national government, and is the best way to demonstrate that this is not just a niche interest, but a growing cultural phenomenon. We know that converts to more listings and more buildings saved.

Does the society have a view on some of the iconic music venues around the UK that are increasingly facing closure under pressure from development? This goes beyond structural integrity and into ‘use’ or ‘change of use’. Is this an area of concern that the Society would consider supporting, either directly or indirectly, now or in the future?

I guess our main focus is on the physical preservation of the buildings themselves, but particularly where there are complex interiors, change of use can be very damaging, and so we do sometimes get involved in supporting an existing use.

What countries in the world have similar organisations campaigning for 20th Century buildings and landscapes, and what nation has the most impressive 20th Century architecture, apart from the UK of course?

I don’t think anywhere has an organisation like us which campaigns for the whole breath of C20 building styles, but there are lots of branches of DoCoMoMo, specialising in Modern Movement buildings, and many flourishing Art Deco societies.

Many of the people who read the New Untouchables blogs and website describe themselves as ‘modernists’. An apparent contradiction in using this term is our fascination with the attention to detail and experimental optimism in music, clothes and architecture of the recent past. However, our salvation is, arguably, a determination to apply and adapt the exciting and stylish approach of the mid-century to the present day to make life more colourful and less predictable. What motivates you?

I like to think that we aim to make the future “more colourful and less predictable” (I like your choice of words there), by making sure that the best, and most interesting buildings of each decade do survive. We are motivated by that, and by our shared enjoyment of the imagination, diversity and attention to detail of the buildings themselves, and the complex stories they bear witness to.

What’s the best way for people to get involved if they want to help and support your work?

To join us, and come on our trips and get in involved in a Regional Group. If you’re not ready to commit quite yet, by signing up to our e-newsletter on the website.

 

*Scotch Martin is DJing in Germany on Saturday 14 Nov 2015 for Maik, who runs Skaturday Night, Am Förderturm 27, 46049 Oberhausen, Germany. He will be playing sets in both rooms, reggae and northern. INFO HERE

Then also at: Cello’s Coast to Coast on Saturday 17 Oct 2015 – with a full reggae/ska set.

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Scotch Martin

Since the local youth club in the early-eighties Martin’s been Djing with records of one sort or another. Spots at the CCI National Mod Rallies across Britain in the 80s were followed in 1990 by the first in a line of successful northern soul and mod clubs in Glasgow. With four others he started Goodfoot in 91, with Acid Jazz-influenced playlists of Blow Up in London, and Brighton Beach in Leeds. Goodfoot arguably paved the way for a new generation of mod-influenced clubs in Glasgow over the past 20 years. Living in London in the late 90s Martin DJ’d at neuvo-modernist clubs including Where’s Jude and Lordy Lord, as well as regularly spinning at Duffer of St. George parties and other happenings. A career highlight was supporting legendary organist, Jimmy Smith, as well as pulling off 10 consecutive club nights during the 1995 Glasgow Jazz Festival. By 2001, back in Glasgow, Caledoniasoul launched. A definitive milestone in the Scottish soul scene, the club ran for six years and brought Butch, Mick Smith, Mick H, Arthur Fenn, Mike Ritson, Dave Rimmer and Ady Croasdell to Scotland for the first time to experience the sweaty, full-on atmosphere for themselves. As a journalist Martin has always written about music. In 2004 he tracked down singer and organist, Bill Bush, whose soulful, jazzy rarity, I’m Waiting on Ronn, was hitting on the northern soul scene. After visiting Bill in the USA and interviewing him for Manifesto he brought the band over to perform in the UK, complete with Hammond B3, and has helped Bill profit for the first time from the 1968 b-side. Martin is married to Caroline, has two children, lives in the London suburbs. Still collecting after 30 years!

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September 23, 2015 By : Category : Design Front Page Inspiration Interviews Objects Style Tags:, , , ,
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20th Century Buy

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Movers and Shakers

Scotch Martin speaks to editor of MidCentury Magazine, Tabitha Teuma, to find out what makes MidCentury work, who buys it and how one lucky reader can win some goodies.

It’s a brave individual who launches a magazine these days, with circulation falling across the board as tablets and mobile technology change the way we access information and content. But this luxurious magazine is as suited to print as British R&B is to vinyl – and like a vintage 45, it even smells wonderful.

I’m amazed that I wasn’t aware of it until brought to my attention by a former work colleague and keen furniture collector. This is no flea-market guide book or junk shop Lonely Planet guide to old furniture. This is high-end, uber-design with exquisite taste but firmly rooted in genuine vintage designs.

The highlight of issue five, my review copy, is the feature on Fernley Hey, architect Peter Womersley’s amazing 1950s modernist house in Yorkshire. It looks so beautiful that it takes your breath away, filled as it is with original furniture, crockery and design of the highest quality. To borrow a MidCentury phrase, it’s ‘too much’.

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Interview

Tabitha, how long has MidCentury magazine been operating and what was the motivation for setting it up originally?

MidCentury was first published in May 2011. It came about through my interest in 1950s and ’60s furniture and architecture. Having edited an arts journal for a couple of years, I was looking to start my own magazine and I could see that, despite several US titles, there was no UK publication covering the subject. I’d go to furniture fairs in London and see an array of magazines from the States, with advertisements for New York dealers (that I certainly couldn’t get to) and articles on homes in California or Cincinnati, but with little mention of Modernist architecture in Britain or even Europe.

Since when has MidCentury design and architecture been taken seriously by the professionals and art dealers as opposed to the vintage collectors?

An increase in appreciation and popularity of MidCentury design means that ‘MidCentury’ has become a valued genre in its own right, earning itself a permanent place in the design canon of furniture and architecture. High-end auction houses have held 20th-Century furniture sales for many years now and MidCentury pieces are now far more prominent in the mid-range market, with antique dealers and antique fairs increasingly swapping their previously fashionable Georgian or Victorian pieces for 20th century items.

Many of the Untouchables readers have been collecting 50s, 60s and 70s furniture and ceramics since the 1980s, what type of items are the most sought after by high-end collectors today?

The rarer Scandinavian classics, by designers like Finn Juhl and Tapio Wirkkala for instance, never fail to achieve high prices in the auction house market. However, even within the lifetime of MidCentury magazine, some British manufacturers, like Robin Day furniture for Hille, Merrow Associates, Gordon Russell and Robert Heritage for Archie Shine, have become popular with collectors and prices have increased to reflect this. Furniture by French designer Jean Prouvé was never manufactured on the scale of some of the American and Scandinavian pieces, and now fetches top dollar as a combined result of rarity and desirability. Pieces by Italian designer Gio Ponti are increasingly rare and very sought after by high-end collectors.

What town or conurbation in the UK has the best 1960s and 70s houses in your opinion in terms of design and durability? And what’s the greatest surviving MidCentury home in the UK, in your opinion?

There are plenty of interesting MidCentury estates dotted around the country, but for me it’s the Dulwich Estate in South-east London that I’m most fond of. Designed by Architects Austin Vernon and Partners and built by Wates between 1957 and 1970, the estate displays an extraordinary range of property ‘types’, many of them experiments at the time: from flat-roofed ranch-style bungalows and copper-roofed ‘pepperpot’ homes to tile-clad townhouses and high-rise apartments. I am probably a bit biased, as I once lived there myself.

In terms of the best surviving example of a British MidCentury home, a few places spring to mind. There’s Farnley Hey, the 1954 house designed by Peter Womersley in Yorkshire, the David Shelley House from 1970 near Nottingham (both of which we’ve been lucky enough to photograph for features in MidCentury), plus of course The Homewood in Surrey, which is open to the public. Designed by Patrick Gwynne in 1937 it is owned by the National Trust – I’d recommend booking a visit.

What do you think are the overlooked items from the period 1950 – 1980 that will become collectable in the future, for those without large budgets to but designer vintage items?

A couple of years ago, I would have advised anyone wanting to make a canny investment to buy Dutch. The designs were far more pared down and utilitarian than even the Scandinavian counterparts, with more metal utilised than timber – in fact, I used to hear people liken the pieces to the sort of thing they’d come across in the school common room. Tastes have moved on however and the price of Dutch furniture has soared, so it may now be necessary to look further afield. Increasingly though, as the MidCentury aesthetic establishes itself as a distinct genre, people are coming to appreciate good quality pieces form the period, regardless of whether they have a name attached to them.  As prices increase, it’s noticeable that names and brands are becoming less important to buyers at a lower price-point – I think that in the future, the quality and aesthetic of a piece will be key and these factors should be considered when collecting today.

Finally, what makes a collectable piece and how important is condition?

I’d say that as long as a piece displays skilled workmanship and is constructed from quality materials, it can make for a savvy collectable. It’s difficult to articulate what it is that sets apart the furniture of the most celebrated designers – it may be a subtle curve to a chair leg, a tapered back rest or the sensitive juxtaposition of caning and teak.

Always try to seek an item in the best condition possible. Severe structural damage can be detrimental to value, but these are not new pieces: as with vintage fashion, vinyl records or classic cars, they have a history, and this should be celebrated.

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Nutsmag readers can enter a draw to win a copy of the current issue and a three-month subscription to the digital back catalogue (seven issues available currently via iTunes and Exact Editions) – these can be read on any tablet, smart phone or computer.

Using the subject line: ‘Sign me up to the MidCentury mailing list’ email editor@midcenturymagazine.com. This offer closes on Friday 31 October 2014 and the winner will be notified via the email supplied.

In joining the mailing list, you’ll be notified when new articles are posted on their website. There is no obligation and you can cancel your email alerts at any time using the same email with the subject line ‘Remove me from mailing list’.

Rules available on request. 

Photography ©Brotherton/Lock: www.brothertonlock.com &
Bruce Hemming Photography: www.bhphoto.biz


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Scotch Martin

Since the local youth club in the early-eighties Martin’s been Djing with records of one sort or another. Spots at the CCI National Mod Rallies across Britain in the 80s were followed in 1990 by the first in a line of successful northern soul and mod clubs in Glasgow. With four others he started Goodfoot in 91, with Acid Jazz-influenced playlists of Blow Up in London, and Brighton Beach in Leeds. Goodfoot arguably paved the way for a new generation of mod-influenced clubs in Glasgow over the past 20 years. Living in London in the late 90s Martin DJ’d at neuvo-modernist clubs including Where’s Jude and Lordy Lord, as well as regularly spinning at Duffer of St. George parties and other happenings. A career highlight was supporting legendary organist, Jimmy Smith, as well as pulling off 10 consecutive club nights during the 1995 Glasgow Jazz Festival. By 2001, back in Glasgow, Caledoniasoul launched. A definitive milestone in the Scottish soul scene, the club ran for six years and brought Butch, Mick Smith, Mick H, Arthur Fenn, Mike Ritson, Dave Rimmer and Ady Croasdell to Scotland for the first time to experience the sweaty, full-on atmosphere for themselves. As a journalist Martin has always written about music. In 2004 he tracked down singer and organist, Bill Bush, whose soulful, jazzy rarity, I’m Waiting on Ronn, was hitting on the northern soul scene. After visiting Bill in the USA and interviewing him for Manifesto he brought the band over to perform in the UK, complete with Hammond B3, and has helped Bill profit for the first time from the 1968 b-side. Martin is married to Caroline, has two children, lives in the London suburbs. Still collecting after 30 years!

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September 18, 2014 By : Category : Articles Design Front Page Inspiration Interviews Objects Style Tags:, , , ,
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Betty Beat 2 – Max Galli

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Betty Beat - Max Galli

‘Betty Beat Continues. Betty Beat is an extra terrestrial 18 year old girl who comes from Planet Kromos. The action is set in the 1967-1968 period, with loads of ‘Swingin’’ London imagery.

There will be many funny characters coming along as Betty lives her adventures on planet Earth!’ I hope you enjoy getting to know Betty Beat.

Max Galli – 2012


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Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue", "Misty Lane" and “EyePlug”). During the years he realized loads of illustrations, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European clubs and bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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May 22, 2012 By : Category : Comics Design Europe Front Page Literature Media Picks Scene Style Tags:
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The Future via flight, flotational device, or dancing feet – Via Uppers

‘Scientists from the RAND Corporation have created this model to illustrate how a “home computer” could look in the year 2004. However, the needed technology will not be economically feasible for the average home. Also the scientists readily admit that the computer will require not yet invented technology to actually work, but 50 years from now scientific progress is expected to solve these problems. With teletype interface and the Fortran language, the computer will be easy to use.’ [Popular Mechanics Magazine, 1954]

The year 2004 has come and gone. Where’s my steering wheel?! At least we have nutritional meals down to pocket-size packets if not in pill form, and monorail development is on the rise again.Virgin is on the good foot, grav-boots and all, for commercial space travel some time soon. Sub-stratosphere,Paul Moller and his team keep working on getting their sexy sky cars into your garage. I keep checking my Travel Editor’s inbox for a review from someone who’s had a test drive but I won’t hold my breath.

On the subject of breath, smoke ’em if you got ’em because it doesn’t say anywhere in the latest couple rounds of research from our old friends at Randwhat plans, if any, we should all be making for the kind of Jetsons-style get-ups that could allow us a steady supply of oxygen during our daily lives. Would I be able to remove the fishbowl to comb my hair or would nanobots comb it for me? I’m glad I don’t have to worry about it for now.

In our more immediate future, the prospect of discrete wearable computersmay be improved by such recent breakthroughs as those of a lab in Palo Alto called Nanosolar. I used to think the short-lived proliferation of paper suits and skirts the ‘Sixties enjoyed must have been pretty neat. Now I’m imagining changeable neckties and shirt cuffs made of solar paper used to power my mohair entertainment center.

I went and met with the company’s president yesterday and he said the lightweight nature of their major power supply material will be applied to huge rooftops rather than little wristwatches and such. However, he assured me there are other companies working on the so-called ’embedded’ market of laptop batteries and the like.

I still have my heart set on an invisible desktop-level system one would be free to move about in. We are already seeing signs of solutions to the principal interface design challenges of discrete wearable computing. One wants to see what one is doing while one controls one’s devices. An array of experimental developments move the optical part on top closer to something akin to a pair of Ray-bans, while developments at Apple may be paving the way to a better connection with the hands below. The popularity of the iPod has established our familiarity with a circular controller. I was wondering about the steering wheel and there it is! The latest, though it offers less control — shuffle only — has a controller the size of a jacket button. Do you see where I’m going with this idea? Give that little button the added dimension of command a rotating ring affords and you’ve got your James Bond suit.

Unfortunately, the same factor contributing to the likelihood of a need to wear fishbowls on our heads might interfere with important developments in bespoke CPU’s and that is the increasing scarcity of water. I might worry about electrocution if the circuits in my stitches have to share space with tiny tubes carrying recycled H2O. Fortunately, fashion is a fast-moving game and there may be no interference there at all, depending on how quickly or slowly the powers that be manage to destroy the delicate balance of Nature. Style is what’s important after all, and will probably win that race.

On the subject of water combined with style, the movie to see, if you haven’t already, is The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, if only for the soundtrack. If you have already seen it, see it again, if only for the astounding special effects wizardry provided by animation director Henry Selick. It’ll make you wish you could breathe underwater. Beyond the sea, but still on the silver screen, meanwhile, we have Kevin Spacey’s creative telling of the story of performer Bobby Darrin. Sadly, he is no more believable in the part than is another dedicated actor in another biopic, the new Scorsese picture. Leo DiCaprio hasn’t a pin on Howard Hughes. At least the focus on the all-around amazing pioneer is mainly on his innovations in the field of aviation, but I might have preferred to see two hours of the H-1 Racer in action. One thing we do learn from the film, in any case, is that production on the Hercules was stalled by Hughes’ indecision on the aircraft’s steering wheel so, there, you see, the steering wheel is important.

© Jonathan Ogilvy 2005 – 2012 [Published 31 January 2005]


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Pip! Pip! Are the Creative Business Engine behind various music based organisations of the cool underground variety. Providing angst, confusion, bewilderment and annoyance in equal amounts. We design/host/manage great sites like this one! Why not hire us one day soon?

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March 11, 2012 By : Category : Articles Design Front Page Inspiration Tags:, ,
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Alessi is More – design Italian style.

 

 

Does your attention to detail extend beyond your wardrobe, bookshelf and record collection? Then there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with Alessi. If not, read on and perhaps you´ll be persuaded to change your evil ways.

Being of a partially Mediterranean descent Alessi household goods have always been present in my life. Years of therapy have led me to believe that the Alessi octagonal coffee service could, sadly though indirectly, be named the chief instigator of one of my very bad habits: the Rewinding of Films whenever I see something clever and beautiful of design in them. And should you be partial to films from the 40.s to the 60.s there is quite a lot of rewinding to subject your poor friends and relations to. Not to mention the video of course, though this is really no excuse as that is the exact reason why some kind soul invented the Digitally Versatile Disc-system. You see now how everything falls into place don’t you?

History
The Alessi family hails from the Strona valley in Italy. During the 1700s, Italians from this region migrated as far as Germany to learn the pewter trade. Sometime during the turn of the century focus shifted from manufacturing household goods in pewter to brass, nickel, silver and soon stainless steel. The Strona valley collected several of these manufacturers with their workshops and factories around the Lake Orta. The region became the bustling centre of these activities and the evolution of the trade is, apparently, quite visible as most of the factories and workshops in the area remain intact.

The long history of Alessi is not only visible in the region that is the birthplace of the company, but also apparent in the long collaborations with many of their designers. Alessi design as we know it spans 8 decades and has incorporated design luminaries such as: Marco Zanuso (who anyone interested in Italian design will be familiar with), Michael GravesEttore SottsassAldo Rossi… the list could be made endless and one could not safely mention a few without embarrassingly omitting others (like all the in-house designers connected to the Alessi family).

One of the benchmark events in Alessi history was the war. With the demand for household goods in decline, the company shifted its down-to-earth traditional trade for the mass production of metal uniform details and aeronautical parts. In effect this change introduced a new material to the designers of Alessi: stainless steel. Alessi, led by the design vision ofCarlos Alessi (who was the first “real“ designer of the company and who would replace his father Giovanni Alessi as the head of the company in the fifties) realised the potential of this material and accurately predicted that it would soon replace silver, brass and chromed metals. With the investments made in the infrastructure for mass production the future had arrived in the shape of stainless steel products which where easier to mass produce and would soon bring Alessi design to a wider market.

With Carlo Alessi at the helm of the company and Ettore Alessi (Giovannis younger brother) supervising the technical aspects of production Alessi now began to open up to external designers. The concept of design was relatively new to the household goods market and Alessi was really the perfect example designing several projects where actual design was only tempered by the confines of technical considerations. This open minded attitude was also apparent in the company’s choice of designers as quite a few of these had gained their expertise in other fields of design and construction. Good examples are Ettore Sottsass and Aldo Rossi who are (or sadly, were in Aldo Rossis case) primarily architects. The company claims that working with designers with a background in architecture is easier than working with industrial designers, as the architects are more willing to delegate the technical execution to engineers and technical specialists, a sentiment that seems quite logical. This relaxed approach is beautifully apparent when you see one of the finished products.

Designers and Designs
Alessis output remains stupendously varied: some designs functional and with that air of familiarity that good design often has and some whimsical when functionalism has had to take second place to aesthetics. Coffee and tea-sets, several ranges of cutlery, ornamental ceramics, plastic containers, ashtrays and wine coolers… Alessi has tried its hands at so many areas of design and most often with success. A most obvious sign of success is of course that quite a few Alessi designs have been plagiarised.
A good starting point for someone unfamiliar with Alessi design is their coffee makers: functionality and design in a product that makes the mundane task of making espresso a pleasure to the eye as well as the palate.

My own personal favourite is Aldo Rossi’s “La Conica“, a tall espresso maker with a brass base: this product makes Rossi’s background in architecture obvious (On a more silly note: see the British film “Shopping“ where a Rossi-designed coffee maker is put to hilarious use over an open fire to make tea providing the only enjoyable moment in an otherwise dreary production) and was an evolution of his involvement in the Tea & Coffee Piazza (overseen by Alessandro Mendini), an Alessi project inviting architects to design their own takes on the tea and coffee set.

A few of Rossi’s great designs for Alessi are: the democratic aluminium “La Cupola coffee maker”, the “Il Conico” kettle and all the other products surrounding coffee drinking. In fact Rossi’s extensive research in the field has resulted in the “La Conica e alter caffettiere” book (1984).

And should you be one of those cretins who, much like I do, takes a cigarette with espresso, then why not rest your nasty cigarette butt on an Achilles Castiglione designed ashtray? The late Mr Castiglione may be known to you for various products such as for instance the “Rochchetto table” or the “Arco lamp”. No? Well then you should lend his Alessi smoking utensil an eye: great design and the dastardly clever spring construction allows for your guilty pleasure to never fall off the side and thus setting fire to someone important. And who knows, your display of taste might make the mother-in-law (or someone else you need to woe to your side) more tolerant to your nasty habit (mind you just your nicotine habit, not your habit of being mouthy and arrogant). Should this clever ruse for achieving “immediate son-in-law appreciation” or just plain appreciation fail, hastily replace the ashtray with some stainless steel wire baskets. Fill them with some biscotti or just something edible like fruit or bread and sit back and enjoy. In the case of this not working I am afraid setting fire to the person you’re trying to impress might be the only stratagem left to you as he/she won’t like the “Firenze”- clock (design by Mr Castiglione and older brother Pier) on the wall either. Nor your playful Stefano Pirovano designed watch.

So let’s not ponder the unpleasant things but rather just focus on what could best constitute your personal Alessi experience. A product you will probably have seen is the “Juicy salif” juicer by Philippe Starck (are you getting a certain War of the Worlds vibe from this one or have I had a drink too many?) To be honest I’ve only ever seen this product used as an ornament and never actually used in a kitchen. The container set series somewhat reminiscent of traditional Japanese containers are much more to my tastes and I am still fascinated by the cake server perhaps because of the fact that I am still not certain if it should be used for culinary delights, manly masonry or homicidal heroics… If you are a Philippe Starck fan already there are quite a few objects that might suit your fancy. Maybe even his prototype design for an Apriliascooter.

Whereas some of the Alessi output is clever but still restrained there are several ranges and products that are more, shall we say playful? You might have seen the anthropomorphic output largely popularised during the 80’s?

Tastes will vary but many of these objects still show the wide spectra of Alessi design. Philippe Starcks’ various works in plastic range from astonishing to unsettling. The “Dr Kiss” toothbrush, Mister MeuMeu cheese grater, “Les Ministres tray” and “Bertaa” kettle are all good examples of design that everyone might not like but will certainly have an opinion on.

Even if you are a fanatical follower of Krups or Gaggia it might be worth your while to have a look at Richard Sapper’s expert output for Alessi. His designs for automatic coffee makers boast functionality stemming from one of industrial design’s greats paired with the playful and sleek aesthetics fitting Alessi. The “9091” tea kettle stands in sharp contrast to the above mentioned techno-artifact with its simple and beautiful design and the costly detail of the whistle. It also makes for a great gift as most people boil water at some point in their lives.

Alessandro Mendini, another architect and former editor of architectural and design publications “Casabella, Modo and Domus” has been working with Alessi for a long time. The collaborative effort between Philips and Alessi to make kitchen appliances was based on his designs and would probably suit even the hardiest space cadet. The Anna G range of products is one of Alessi’s bestsellers and Mendini has also designed several extensions to the Alessi plant situated in Crusinallo. Mendini not only supplies design vision but also a lot of marketing clout as he is internationally employed as a consultant to give advice on brand and design identity strategies.

To get a different twist on Alessi products take a look at Michael Gravesdesigns. Not hugely different but certainly leaning more towards an American design flavour rather than the continental Graves first started working for Alessi in conjuncture with the “Tea & Coffee Piazza” and has worked on several projects since then. Graves items seem destined to land in the bosom of the nuclear family. Playful but down-to-earth design for objects you are going to use every day. The vibe from the fifties might just be in my head but this paired with excellent details and a no-nonsense approach to design strikes a very pleasing balance. The round stainless steel of “the Kettle with bird” paired with the polyamide handle makes it strict but still humane. The range developed from this item all feature the same riveting and style of handles. The breadbox and cheese board further promotes the style while still remaining playful and detailed.
Another interesting area, assuming you like a drink now and then, is the selection of products for the bar. The shaker and ice bucket designed during the late 50’s by (Luigi) Massoni and (Carlo) Mazzeri are prime examples of Alessi design at its best and are once again much used favourites of mine.

The shaker, with its neatness of design and discrete finish, is perfect for anything up to four cocktails (with a bit of effort and some goodwill) and lends itself perfectly for late night vulgar acrobatics courtesy of and inspired by Tom Cruise and that older chap with the wrinkles and accent. It has all the features one could expect of a shaker and is very easy to use. The ice bucket complements the shaker perfectly and it, if you are not an all-glass ice bucket person, makes a perfect centre piece on a stainless steel Alessi tray of your choice.
Complement these two items with the Boston range “Shaker” and Wine cooler designed by luminary Ettore Sottsass (with a bit of help from Alberto Gozzi, the Alessi “gastronomic” advisor) and you will be almost completely covered in matters of drinking.

And even though these items originate from different minds and have their obvious differences in design they go surprisingly well together.

The great Mr Sottsass, who quite probably has the most designs in the Alessi catalogue, has also designed an item anyone who has frequented some Italian restaurants, or any other restaurant for that matter, will at least be vaguely familiar with: the classic Alessi condiment set. Personally I find the larger set to be scaled for restaurants and such. It collects facilities for salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. This product is quite handy and something very much approaching an industrial standard. The smaller condiment set is slightly more discrete (but lacks the solution for the fluids) and would suit most any table and in addition the sugar bowl is an excellent design should you for some reason take sugar in your espresso.

There are also several products aimed towards the catering market. Functionalism and modular stainless steel designs are understandably key in these product ranges. But with a bit of effort and a lavishly expansive kitchen some of these might actually fit into a regular persons daily habits. In fact the pared down and trim designs necessary for this pragmatic market makes many of these products a restful and effective addition to the even the amateur kitchen.

Il Bagno
Should you not be satisfied with transforming just the kitchen and dining spaces into Alessi cityscapes you can further indulge yourself with the bathroom range: Il Bagno Alessi. Not to be confused with the various accessories for the bathroom (like toothbrushes, cups and floss dispensers) Alessi has produced, Il Bagno Alessi deals with the hardware. Things like bathtubs, faucets and wash basins. Things that really should look good and have pleasing forms as we inevitably use them each and every day.

The scope of the Alessi design vision will on paper at times seem daunting. The various products and designs might even seem erratic to the casual observer. Depending on which design era one might focus on a closer look will yield the most different results. Somewhere in there you will notice some sort of coherency. The fact that Alessi are reproducing a few Bauhaus designs and the various Alessi forums for young designers seems indicative of a larger view on industrial design. Or maybe it’s just respect for great design? Who knows?

© Jules Olivier 2003 – 2011
[Published 2 April 2003]

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Pip! Pip! Are the Creative Business Engine behind various music based organisations of the cool underground variety. Providing angst, confusion, bewilderment and annoyance in equal amounts. We design/host/manage great sites like this one! Why not hire us one day soon?

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January 26, 2012 By : Category : Articles Design Europe Front Page Objects Style Tags:, , , , ,
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