January = Creative Time

So, here we are in January scuttering back to work but oddly enough it’s one of my favourite months. Being the first month of a brand new year, January gives me renewed focus and an excuse to try out new techniques (in other words a month where I feel no guilt about spending more time on creative projects and less time on administrative and business tasks!)

clay men by Lawrence Epps

Clay Commuting Men by Lawrence Epps

For those of us living in Edinburgh, another bonus about January is that the National Galleries of Scotland  mount a beautiful Turner exhibition. The extensive collection of paintings was bequeathed to the Gallery with instructions that they must be ‘exhibited to the public all at one time, free of charge, during the month of January’ and this has been faithfully adhered to for over 100 years.

As its normally abstract expressionism that inspires me, I find visiting the Turner exhibition each year a great way of shifting my ‘normal’ way of thinking to considering other ideas.

Butting blocks of solid flat colour against each other is something I will never tire of as the energy that is created between two sparring colours or indeed the harmonious marriage of related colours discovering each other is an infinite source of enjoyment for me. However, the pure romanticism of the Turner paintings with their semi-transparent colour washes capturing stunning moods across the paper, or as Johannes Itten described as “a psychio-expressive medium to lend mood to a landscape” made me think about translucent colours and colour gradation.

air colour gradation

As you know, colour gradation has been a popular trend over the last year and  Danish brand Hay have designed stunning textiles using this technique. You will probably have noticed shop windows filled with clothes in colour gradations and teenagers adorning ‘dip dyed’ hair.

Shop window, London So with this in mind and with the plan to have some textiles woven by one of our  fabulous mills in Scotland (and there are many with incredible craft men and woman producing staggeringly high quality textiles), I am currently working on designs with gradients punctuated by solid beams of colour. It’s early days and I am still at a messy creative stage in the process but that’s what January is all about.

My etsy shop is now up and running as is unifiedspace on facebook and pinterest and I have an alternative blog, nikispace, for those short on time and  just looking for a picture rather than words – I told you I was having fun in January!

Photo taken in the Rolf Sachs 'Journey of an Ink Drop' exhibition

Photo taken in the Rolf Sachs ‘Journey of an Ink Drop’ exhibition

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London Design Festival – Trend Two and Three

I mentioned in my last post that I could see three distinct trends emerge from  London Design Festival – a colour, a shape and a material  – so here are the final two trends that I promised.

Looking at form, many designs were oval, circular with marine like quality, almost ethereal and organic looking.

To further soften the shapes, some of the designs were finished in a soft rubberised, ultra matt finish which blurred the edges into a soft and tactile product.

In my mind, the best product from the entire festival, which slots into this circular trend, was the M lamp designed by David Irwin for Juniper. Irwin was inspired by British 19th century miner’s lamps such as the Georgie, Davy and Carbide lamps. Pared down, simple and practical, the M lamp is a wireless (powered by a lithium iron phosphate rechargeable battery) easily transportable, beautiful object. I am certainly coveting one for a bedside lamp – it also dims – but I can visualise it in countless positions around my house.

As you will know, lace has been a dominant force in the design world recently and it’s a theme that is set to continue. It was evident that many designers have looked at the qualities of lace and have used other materials which are semi- transparent, cut-out, and mesh like.

The final theme was extremely prevalent – the use of pale timber. Having been to most of the venues in the festival I don’t recall seeing any dark woods at all. Pale oak, ash and birch were however almost exclusively pared with blocks of fresh vibrant colour whether painted like many of Lermont Hupton pieces or used with coloured felt like Barnby and Day‘s felt and ash stool.

Most of these trends rely on contrast – soft wool next to hard timber, a burst of urgent red in an otherwise white room, a gentle organic form giving a solid and practical solution. But the display of Mimicry chairs from the Japanese design studio Nendo in the Victoria and Albert’s tapestry room has left the longest impression with me due to its seemingly very stark contrast with its surrounding.

At first glance it looks to be in complete contrast to its surrounding – a modern, light, sharp design placed within a dimly lit room filled with ancient two dimensional soft tapestries. A total contrast surely? But no, the Mimicry was designed to mimic its surrounding. The huge frame rising from the chair I guess represents the shape of the massive tapestries, the seemingly never ending perspective again mimicking the almost life- like scenes depicted in the textiles or representing the endless corridors in the castles these tapestries are normally found in? The position of a chair to the side of the artwork exactly where an antique chair would be found next to a tapestry – there are probably more similarities, you may well spot some so let me know if you do. It took me a while to register this play on design but it reminded me to look carefully and think about what I see. Something Charles Eames asked his potential employees in interviews – ‘if you can see and you can think, I can work with you’

Borrowing Themes From The Catwalk

Just in case you thought I had abandoned ship, (I was just distracted by the Olympics and  The International Edinburgh Festival) I thought I would share my photographs from the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the de Young Museum, San Francisco taken in July.

As I am not a fashion writer, I will not attempt to elaborate on the various themes and ideas behind Jean Paul Gaultier’s designs over the decades apart from to say that he is highly influenced by his grandmother whom he idolised and her collection of cloths. His designs celebrate the female form, sometimes with humorous undertones but always in ways to project inherent powers and strengths he sees in women.

As we all know, interior trends are deeply entwined with fashion trends and while looking at Gaultier’s mannequins  (which incidentally and quite unnervingly start speaking when you approach them) I enjoyed visualising potential interior projects with the colours, forms and themes Gaultier uses in his spectacular designs.

I am thinking Nautical boathouse fused with the 2012 trend for lace detailing – something Scottish lace mill MYB Textiles has been at the forefront of.

And the opulent and dominant boudoir interior…

and the current paint trend for David Oliver’s metallic mix of gold and silver for which he coined the term ‘gilver’. Celebrating the ‘hedonistic exuberance of the 1920’s ….associated with drama, power and wealth…but equally it can be simple, understated and quietly bewitching’,  David Oliver from Paint & Paper, A Master Class in Colour and Light.

with a nod to the current native interior references,

and tribal chic a predominant interior trend in 2012 where skins have been used extensively over many forms of seating –  more frequently sheepskins and deer skins draped over classic mid twentieth century Scandinavian designs.

Okay, so my parallels are a little tenuous but nevertheless they are all themes which have played a part in recent interior projects including this next image fusing punk, biker -rock, street with tartan, probably more in bars than domestic interiors but a strong influence for sure.

Talking of trends and themes, the most talked about colour for Winter 2012/13 appears to be Ox Blood, not a description I hugely cherish, perhaps an earthy beetroot cordial sounds more appealing but as it’s colour combinations that interest me I am paring the Ox blood with some squid ink (!) and I can suddenly see how this rich palette could make a big impact this Autumn.