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Sunday, 31 October 2010


I ABSOLUTELY love these images from the COS autumn/winter '10 collection campaign. The styling is fantastic, bringing to the fore what COS does best: great tailoring with a twist.

Clean and crisp, with a splash of ingenuity and bags of character, if I wasn't already pledging my allegiance to this brand then these images have certainly secured my admiration.

Browse the website for not only more campaign photos but key looks, an online magazine and 'things' that they like. (And you may just discover where I came across Soojin Kang's chairs...)

Thursday, 28 October 2010

profile: Soojin Kang

SOOJIN Kang views today's culture of mass production and disposable fashion as deeply problematic. Her suggestion is that we consider our basic needs against our possessions and use the materials already within our means wisely and beautifully. One of her outcomes has been a collection of 'dressed furniture'.

Kang's sensitive approach has resulted in pieces that - through the use of traditional crafts - have been rejuvenated, yet still retain their original identity. These suede covered chairs are particular favourites of mine. And her jewellery is pretty interesting too. Take the bracelet below: antique chain and plastic is combined to create, in Kang's words, designs that are both 'unique and meaningful'. Visit her site for more information and images.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

on my plate: Crab and Sweetcorn Chowder

WHEN I find myself at a loose end at work I am free to browse the vast realms of the Internet to  my heart's content. What I have discovered is that my heart is consistently drawn to doing nothing more than reading about food. Reviews, blogs, recipes; all of these I can peruse for hours, vicariously living the life of both food critic and chef.

Most worrying is possibly the amount of time I can spend simply reading recipes, making note of those in particular that - if I could spend my days endlessly pottering in the kitchen - I would certainly try out. And so, after book marking yet another mouthwatering dish I decided that enough is enough, I have to actually start making something from the tome of ideas I'm acquiring. The result: 'on my plate', a weekly post on my exploits in the kitchen testing out potential gastronomical delights. (With no doubt some disasters along the way.)

This week: Crab and Sweetcorn Chowder, recipe courtesy of Rosie Lovell. I'd come across it just as the weather was turning down the ice-cold road to winter and some warming comfort food was in order. Minimal adjustments were made to the ingredient list: a decrease in the amount of coconut milk, an increase in the amount of corn and crab, and one addition in the form of lime juice squeezed over the top to serve.

The result was incredibly pleasing. Rarely for me does a new recipe come together first time as I will always find niggling faults that could be improved upon. But in this instance there was nothing that  I would change. The crunch of the corn and green beans ensured that the chowder's potato and crab did not simply result in a mouthful of mush. The shredded ginger and chilli gave a pleasant heat, complimenting the smoothness of the coconut perfectly. And the tang of the lime balanced well with the sweetness of the corn. Finally, the toasted sesame oil turned out to be an imperitive element in creating real depth to the overall flavour of the soup. I have a feeling that this may become a staple in my diet over the coming months - I already can't wait to eat it again!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

the temptation of st tony

SUNDAY I went to the cinema. As part of the BFI London Film Festival I saw Estonian writer/director Veiko Ounpuu's second feature film, The Temptation of St Tony. Having booked the tickets long enough ago for me to have forgotten about them, my friend and I went in clueless as to any details regarding the film. At most I could inform her that according to the BFI this was the type of film 'from which cults are born'.

And so, all possible preconceptions aside we observed the opening scene unfurl in grainy black & white, to the accompaniment of a shaky band. We laughed out load at the dead pan reaction of the characters to the startling incident that ensued. And then puzzled as to which country the film was set in upon hearing the alien language that sporadically escaped their lips. On reflection perhaps this was the best way in which to encounter the film, as inevitably it would catch you off guard at each turn anyway. 

As if in a trance, one is confronted with the increasingly surreal incidents that are encountered by Tony, a middle-aged man who has reached a crisis point, the result of which is the loss of his job, his family, and a grasp of reality itself.

Visually the film excites. Beautifully shot in black and white this format serves not only to reflect how grey and desolate Tony's surroundings can at times be, but also impressively heightens the viewer's perception of the events themselves. Variety was the key. At times the camera would pan calmly over a scene allowing you to absorb every minute detail, and at others one was bombarded with the abstract or the bizarre.

However most memorable for me was the use of sound. Speech was not of utmost importance within this film. ( NB. At this point I must criticise the subtitles, for I am sure that due to the infrequency of them what words were spoken were of significance, yet many of them were lost on us due to their disappearance against pale backgrounds. ) Instead, The Temptation of St Tony masterfully enveloped you in an intensely emotional experience. Through the use of music, 'white noise' and ambiguous sound it exquisitely influenced the way in which one interacted with that which was on screen.

When watching this film I believe you should simply empty your mind and let the film be your guide; for just when you think you have successfully grappled with that which has gone before you, yet more absurd and disturbing events will unfold. Not one to see for the 'story' as such, this is more of an adventure, certainly leaving an imprint on the consciousness that made exiting the cinema and entering the world of reality a slightly uncanny experience in itself.  

The Temptation of St Tony skillfully takes the viewer on a journey from the mundane to the alluring to the repulsive. The contrasts render you transfixed and, in a way, exhausted. A great balancing act of the comical and the unsettling. I am now intrigued to see what Ounpuu will conjure up next; though first off I plan to watch his previous offering 'Autumn Ball'.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

morning entertainment

 New Jersey viewed from Manhattan - 2004

SO the world of 9 to 5 living has finally encroached upon my life. Fortunately, it is yet to become the mundane nightmare I was in fear of. However early mornings are still impossibly hard, and although the daily walk to the bus stop does much for pulling me out of my slumber, I recently found myself reminiscing over the morning walks I used to have when working in Manhattan. They worked wonders for awakening the brain, and even threw in a bit of entertainment along the way...

First off there was the news-stand lady on the corner of 8th and 33rd, with possibly the loudest voice in existence proclaiming the day's headlines. Then the scrum at the local deli for a bagel, followed by the friendliest vendor in town who without fail delivered your iced-coffee with a chat and a smile. And to top off proceedings there were the hello's and good morning's from those I passed on the street, which despite their possible ulterior motives were always administered with sincerity and good grace.

Then there were the slightly more trying situations, that were both disturbing and absurdly amusing. For example:  passing by a homeless guy who had left all modesty aside and chosen to  idly urinate upon Broadway's bustling pavement, whilst lying on his side, and sipping on a bottle of beer. Or, encountering a gentleman strolling down the street talking on his mobile - as  of course many do - whose 'normality' was interspersed with extreme swearing at the top of his voice whilst knocking over trash cans, only to sweetly return to a conversation of "so anyway, how are you...?"

Snap back to reality.

My current walk to the bus stop if far from entertaining. Highlight of the morning: a friendly bus driver; but only if I'm lucky.

Monday, 11 October 2010

hembakat är bäst

'HOMEMADE is best' according to Ikea. Well it would be for them wouldn't it. But despite the various possible gripes one may have against this Swedish giant - crowds, canteen-style food, the need for that illusive allen key - it can't be denied that they have triumphed with their new cook book. 

The above images are not examples of rationing, nor are they minimalist compositions by a contemporary artist. Instead they are the beautifully styled images of the ingredients required for making traditional Swedish cakes and biscuits from Ikea's 'Hembakat ar Bast'. Each geometric deconstruction of the ingredients is then followed by an image of the finished product. The book was created by Forsman & Bodenfors, and according to them it is 'the perfect way to ensure a connection between IKEAS kitchen appliances and one of the best things you can do in a kitchen: baking.' The good news is that it is free. The bad news is that you can only pick it up in Sweden.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

the chin chin laboratorists

ALWAYS a fan of the weird and wonderful when it comes to food, I was extremely excited to hear that Europe now has its first nitro ice-cream parlour...and it's in London! I haven't yet had the chance to investigate it for myself but, if the note on The Chin Chin Laboratorists website urging customers to avoid queues by visiting on weekdays is anything to go by, it sounds like it may just be a success.

There are many images online that will no doubt entice customers to want to experience first hand the fantastical creation of their nitro ice-cream (£3.95 for a serving with topping), however what has captured my attention are the flavours. Alongside two staples, a weekly special is announced each Tuesday via Twitter. (Warning: do not view their Twitter page when hungry - your tummy will grumble and you will salivate.) Flavours range from the subtle to slightly bizarre, below are a few examples:

- Lychee and Rosewater
- Buttered Popcorn with Sea Salted Caramel and Cinamon Sugar
- Coffee and Cardamom
- Saffron and Toasted Sesame
- Penut Butter with Raspberry Coulis and Crispy Streaky Bacon

I am gutted that I hadn't discovered this establishment in time to sample the Coffee and Cardamom ice-cream, one of my favourite flavour combinations of the moment. Instead I will just keep watch as to what they come up with next. And make a mad dash in the direction of Camden when a new flavour jumps out at me (I'll be running fast as their latest special - Sour Apple Crumble - sold out on its first day).

Monday, 4 October 2010

most wanted: Hakaan's coat

a/w 2010
ALMOST certainly out of my league in terms of price, but most definitely up there on my wish list, is this amazing coat by 'it' designer of the moment Hakaan. It may look a tad on the ostentatious side - and unashamedly combine two of this season's key trends - but as a statement piece that's its prerogative.

Possibly not something to be worn on a regular basis, I would love to at least try it on. Just once. And if like me, you are keen to explore this and more of Hakaan's garments for the season then head to Harvey Nichols, his exclusive stockist in the UK.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

sleeping out of the box

IN my opinion good design has as much - if not more - to do with ergonomics and effective function as it does with aesthetics. It always comes as a disappointment when that cosy looking sofa turns out to be a back-breaker, or if that beautiful coffee cup is impossible to grasp when filled with piping-hot liquid. And yet, aesthetics are important. And of course must be appealing. 

When designing, one should endeavour to extend that moment of joy experienced when presented with a visual delight right through to its utilisation - be the function practical or conceptual. Sleeping Out of the Box appears to be giving up-and-coming designers the opportunity to prove that they can do this. Therefore providing a platform from which they may to form a solid reputation.  

This Dutch guesthouse is offering you the chance to: 'explore the unknown designers, experience their designs, make memories, fall asleep to the sounds of the city of Ghent'. By this they mean that every three months a new young designer is invited to set the tone of The Studio accommodation, whilst above it in The Flat,  Maison Caro is also joined by 'friends' on a regular basis. As a result, the guests are able to not only admire their stylish surroundings but also interact with them - putting new design approaches to the test. In effect a type of 'try before you buy' concept. A brilliant idea and no doubt a potentially lucrative one for the designers themselves.

I discovered Sleeping Out of the Box on Pauline Egge's Petite Passport, one of my favourite blogs of the moment. Whether you're looking for inspiration on where to eat/sleep/drink for your next trip abroad, or simply indulging in fantasies of globetrotting, this is a blog in which you can lose yourself. The places featured range from luxury hotels, quirky shops, various eateries, hidden bars and exhibitions, each chosen for their design credentials. Not all have been personally tried and tested, which provides a perfect excuse to pack your bags and find out for yourself...