Saturday, 30 May 2009

Illustrated Book of the Week - Blackstock's Collections


Subtitled drawings of an artistic savant , this book presents over a hundred examples of the extraordinary work of Gregory L Blackstock. He is autisitic and an artistic savant throughout his life he has obsessively cataloged all that crosses his path. His visual lists can include anything from wasps to emergency vehicles. He has never received any artistic training, yet his renderings clearly and beguilingly show subtle differences and similarities – enabling the viewer to see, for example, the distinctive features of a Dolly Varden, a Pacific Coast Steelhead Cutthroat and forteen other types of trout !




The book is published by Princetown Architectural Press

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Big Knitting

We at The Curious Eye have always been big fans of knitting. And having discovered these extra-extra-large needles, we're now big fans of Big Knitting. A hefty 120cm long, they're mostly used as visual aids to help teach basic techniques, but we think that they offer some very exciting possibilities for creativity.


You could create massively outsized mohair jumpers, for an exaggerated punk/goth look, or create enormous cable-knit socks that could work as sleeping bags, or knit together lengths of rope or cable to create exciting textural furnishing fabrics.

Best of all - the very act of knitting with them is enormously physical and great upper body exercise. You could knit yourself a natty workout outfit, whilst actually giving yourself a great work out. 

Maybe knits-ercise could be the next big thing - all we need to do is combine it with a spinning class that allows you to actually spin wool and we're in business...

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Innocent Days of 70's Youth

I'm often amazed by how sentimental we can be about our childhoods. For me, aesthetically speaking, being brought up in the '70s must have been a pretty grim experience. Nylon slacks, bowl haircuts, flares and platforms - all completely irredeemable. It's a miracle I turned out to have such exceptionally good taste.


Despite the gory truth, there's something so sweetly innocent about these vintage 70's birthday cards, I can't help but love them. Camping, fancy dress, water-skiing,  - it's an idealised view of a 70's British childhood, right down to saying your prayers at night (with Fido by your side) and wearing a bright orange turtleneck. 


How much do you want to bet that he's playing Kumbaya?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Illustrated Book of the Week - The Circus


Up 'til now, we haven’t  included ‘mainstream’ publications in our illustrated book of the week section, but this tome published by Taschen in unmissable! Firstly it is the largest book I’ve ever bought, a veritable coffee table in itself. I am in the process of looking for design inspiration for Chickensheds’ Christmas production of Pinocchio, and wanted to use the circus as a starting point. Several of the Charing Cross dealers told me of this volume published by Taschen, and when I came across it in Libertys I saw immediately that it had all the design inspiration I would be needing. The book is simply sumptuous, the photos and illustrations are amazing, the layout is gorgeous. It comes in its own cardboard carry box, which is a necessity considering the size and weight of it. It was hard to pick out pages but I think you will see from the images below what I mean.









Saturday, 16 May 2009

Salone Del Mobili - Craft Punk


Craft was surely one of the leitmotifs of this years Salone, but when Fendi linked it with Punk all preconceptions were turned upside down. Firstly, installed in the entry courtyard, was my friend Tomas Gabzdil Libertinys' welding installation. Over the period of the exhibit a welder gradually built up a vast bowl as a huge lathe turned around and layers and layers of weld were applied. A discrete sign informed us that the welders protective clothing was in fact made by Fendi! This made a dramatic welcome to the event.

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Then, once inside the vast hanger like volume of the Spazio Fendi, we found the workshops of a group of artisans. Sarah Becker was working on her 'rebuild' project (above) She had come up with a desirable collection of bags and accessories, with leftover scraps from the Fendi production line.

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Simon Hasan also using Fendi Scraps (above and below) was boiling pieces of leather, that were wrapped around forms to create a series of vases and receptacles. The smooth hardened forms were ethereal and curiously aesthetically pleasing.

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Thursday, 14 May 2009

Speaking about Bespoke- Clara Vuletich


'Bespoke' is one of my favorite words. I fantasise about having suits made for me at Saville Row, shoes created on personalised lasts, and shirts hand tailored by Milanese craftsmen. I dream of having furniture crafted by artisans especially with me in mind, enjoying every meal from hand-made porcelain, sleeping on linens embellished by lace commissioned from ancient Belgian nuns. Really - is that too much to ask?

Perhaps I can start gently with the work of our friend Clara Vuletich. Trained as a textile designer, Clara has turned her skills to making bespoke wallpaper. Every piece of work is site-specific and designed with the owner's need in mind. She's been known to create whole walls of delicate decoupaged florals, or to block print directly onto surfaces to make areas entirely unique.

We particularly liked her new 'Bauhaus' inspired work that she's showing at The Papered Parlour in Clapham. The combination of angular modernist precision with a more random hand-crafted feel is extremely pleasing. Great to see someone take a historical style and update it with their own personal take.

More of Clara's work can be found at

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Salone Del Mobile - Dimorestudio


This was one of my favorite exhibits during the fair, The apartment, hidden in a stairway of the courtyard of the Boffi showroom, was spectacular. I would have moved in straight away. The shade of blue painted on the walls was divine, as was the mixture of new design and vintage pieces. I think we can say it is all very Curious Eye. I havn't been able to find out much about these guys but everyone says what the do is great and that they have the best taste. So what more can I say but ENJOY!






Sunday, 10 May 2009

Illustrated Book Of The Week -Frederick's of Hollywood Catalogue (1968)


Before Heidi Klum strutted down the catwalk in 7 foot wings and a g-string for Victoria's Secret, before Kate Moss posed as a burlesque dancer for Agent Provocateur - there was only one place to buy sexy lingerie - Frederick's of Hollywood.

Founded in 1946 by the inventor of the push-up bra, Frederick Mellinger, Frederick's was the saucy little secret under many a housewife's daywear. Glamourised by its celebrity clientele, it offered underwear that was racy, seductive and unapologetically naughty, allowing women to get in touch with their inner Bettie Page (and forget their outer Doris Day). At its peak, Frederick's distributed more than 50 milllion catalogues per year.


This fine example is from 1968. '68 was a turbulent time in America: the Vietnam war was in full swing, the civil rights movement was causing riots in the streets, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated and Nixon was elected. The Beatles produced the White Album, and Hair hit Broadway.


Apparently Frederick's  was profoundly unaffected by the revolutions going on around them - Woodstock was less than a year away, and they were showing us opera length gloves and up-dos. Twiggy was a superstar, but they offered seven different ways of padding one's derriere to achieve a womanly curve - for example:


Despite seeming anachronistic, even for its own time. The style of the catalogues and charm of their products still holds true. After all, who doesn't love a lilac transparent peignoir with a maribou trim?


Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Chickenshed on tour - As the Mother of a Brown Boy


This could seem like another piece of shameless self promotion but I promise it's well worth it . If any of you are in London this week or next . This piece of dance theatre that I designed 2 years ago is on in Tottenham tomorrow and Friday then at the Cochrane in Holborn, next Wednesday to Saturday, before visiting Oxford and Birmingham in the coming weeks. As the Mother of a Brown Boy played to rave reviews and packed houses at the Edinburgh festival 2 summers ago, and is now touring before we take our new production Crime of the Century to this summers' festival! You may be aware of Chickensheds' ground breaking work, but it really does have to be experienced to realise how amazing it really is. If you possibly can I urge you to see it.


Monday, 4 May 2009

STH - Putting The Graphic in Pornographic


Porn Mags aren't usually very aesthetically pleasing. They can be invaluable for retro style tips (handlebar moustaches and terry toweling shorts, anyone?), and if you're a big Jeff Koons fan, you might find something artistic in their super saturated tawdriness, but when people talk about 'graphic' pornography they're usually not discussing the designer's layout skills.

These copies of cult gay porn zine STH (or "Straight To Hell", as it formally known) buck that trend. Subtitled variously as "The Manhattan Review Of Unnatural Acts, The American Journal Of Cocksucking And Current Affairs, The US Chronicle Of Crimes Against Nature, The New York Review Of Cocksucking, The American Journal Of Revenge Therapy and The American Journal Of Dicklicking" - STH was founded in 1973 by "Reverend" Boyd Macdonald - its simple mission: to share dirty and depraved true life stories of gay sexual experiences. 

Like the work of Robert Mapplethorpe and Kenneth Anger, STH plays with the line between filth and art - articles by William S Burroughs sit happily alongside highly descriptive passages about truckers engaging in watersports. Gore Vidal was a fan, and Mapplethorpe himself contributed images to the magazine - but there's nothing highbrow about its contents - it's pure, unadulterated smut.


The covers of these issues, from the mid-Eighties, perfectly illustrate the magazine's high/low mix. They seem to be equally influenced by Russian Constructivism and the 'vice cards' that advertise prostitutes services in phone booths. Whether it's art or pornography (or something in between) - it's extremely stylish.

I'm glad to report that STH is still going, after 35 years - it is now available at all good bookstores, or via its website

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Illustrated Book of the Week - Refresh to Death


Our illustrated book this week come from our new friend Andy Beach, I met him last week at the show that he was co-hosting with Apartamento Magazine; The Everyday Life Objects Shop. If you are a regular viewer of The Curious Eye you'll probably know Andy's blog Reference Library too. This illustrated 'zine' was produced for Reference Library by Andy Rementer, and charts Andys' ebay obsession.The witty cartoons strike a chord with all us obsessive collectors and Ebayers !





Saturday, 2 May 2009

Salone Del Mobile : Moroso

A hot african wind was blowing though the furniture fair this year and it was eminating from Moroso's showroom in Via Pontaccio ! This was the most vibrant stimulating heart warming show in town.


Moroso classics were covered in african wax prints, last years coloured woven string chairs were expanded upon, Fabulous photos were displayed as were exciting artworks by African artists.



The whole showroom throbbed with colour and energy, Patricia Moroso explained "Our intention is to showcase the creativity of a few of the great artists and exponents of contemporary African culture...
...because looking at Africa through the eyes of contemporary art, photography, architecture and design is perhaps the most appropriate way of approaching this vast, powerful continent, so creatively rich and diverse that today it is still one of western modernity's greatest sources of inspiration". We can't agree more.