Wednesday, 30 September 2009

London Design Week Top Five : SCUBA at Shelf


One of Curious Eyes' rituals is a Sunday jaunt. We start at the bottom of Kingsland Road, meander around Columbia Road, then head on down Brick Lane, taking a detour along Cheshire Street, usually ending up around Spitalfields.

Cheshire Street houses some of our favorite shops especially secondhand, sorry I mean Vintage clothes shops. There are also some great independents such as Labour and Wait, and Shelf.
This cute mini exhibition is being held during design week, at Shelf, a shop that loves a still life display as much as we do.


As part of this year's design festival, Shelf treated us to an exhibition of the mini paintings of 'Sandra and Crockett United Business of Art'. The story goes that Sandra Wang and Crockett Bodelson met, fell in love and moved into a pink truck, and that they now drive it around California stopping to make their tiny paintings as they go.



They use recycled materials as their 'canvas' and subjects that can roughly be described as urban folk imagery. Theirs is an imaginary world, showing anything from a mountain in a teacup, floating space vehicles, or bold geometric patterned fruit. Although they have exhibited in New York, San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia, Barcelona and Tokyo, this is their first time showing in London.


Shelf, 40 Cheshire Street, London E2 6EH, Open Friday 1-6 Saturday 1-6 Sunday 11-6

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

London Design Week Top Five: miller goodman


You know that feeling that you have when you find the most fantastic kid's toy? The way that your brain immediately runs through its mental rolodex, desperately trying to think of someone 'age appropriate' to buy it for. So that you once you have given it to them, you can immediately steal it and play with it yourself?

That's exactly the feeling that miller goodman's wooden toys give us.

Like all great toys - they are as simple as can be. The ShapeMaker is a set of 25 wooden blocks that can be arranged or rearranged to make countless different faces. Or animals. Or birds. Or...well, check out this little video and you'll see what we mean.


Their new toy - Playshapes take the concept to a more free-form place. Wooden pieces of different sizes and shapes work together to allow creativity to blossom.


We're not sure what we like better, the fact that the possibilities are endless - or that everything created looks like something out of a mid-century modern illustration.


If they ever start manufacturing the jumbo size ones, we'll be first in line. Whether we know a kid who wants it or not.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

London Design Week Top Five : Benjaminhubertstudio


Last year Benjamin Hubert won the 100% Design/Blueprint Award for 'most promising designer 2008' In the since his feet have obviously not touched the ground ! At 100% this year he presented 8 new products in materials including concrete, cork, wood, clay, metal, ceramics and plastic. Our absolute fave were the Labware lamps, although truthfully any one of his designs would be at welcome in the Curious Eye home.


This year he has won our award for most stimulating designer at 100%, though the competition was not incredibly strong, he would have won even on a classic year.


Waste no time in checking his website your home is in need of at least one of his products benjaminhubertstudio

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Illustrated Book of the Week : Children as Artists




This King Penguin book was published in 1944, and the retro style adds a layer that to todays eyes, means that what was then seen as childlike naivity looks sophisticated.
The paintings in this book are a delight, any one of them could claim a place in The Curious Eyes' gallery!





Thursday, 17 September 2009

The Simple Joys of Daily Life


These positively zinging paintings are a sure-fire guarantee, to blow any hints of oncoming Autumn depression right out the window. My friend Zahia discovered the work of Fatiha Edahhriz about a year ago in the souk of Taroudant, in southern Morocco. One painting stood out amongst a collection of rather more conventional Moroccan scenes. It turned out that Fatias’ husband had exhibited one of his wives paintings with his own. Zahia asked if she could see more and was invited home to meet Fatiha.



She is a young housewife, with a daughter and son to take care of, so painting is confined to evenings and whilst the kids are at school. It was as she watched her husband paint that Fatiha, began to feel the irresistible desire to have a go herself. Hussein encouraged his wife and within no time her own style bloomed.


If you ask her what she paints Fatiha will tell you ‘ Beauty, it’s beauty that I want to paint’ Each painting becomes another child, she is sad when it leaves home, but each departure leaves space for a new creation.


Fatihas paintings are a joy, the simple colourful events of everyday life in Morocco are the raw material she transforms into her highly decorative tableaux. Weddings, births, baptisms, the bread sellers, the water carriers all serve as inspiration.


Zahia has brought Fatihas’ painting to a Parisian audience and already many of her friends (myself included) has fallen under her charm and felt compelled to purchase.

A selection of them are on sale at Zahia Hebbirs’ new gallery 12 : Passage Thièrè, Paris 75011. Tel 00 33 (0)6 16 39 63 10, email:

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Rabari Tribeswoman


When I went out to visit some Gujarat villages on the festival of Lord Krishnas' birthday, some of the most fascinating people I met were from the Rabari caste. These proud people were originally nomadic, though most are now settled .


Before the 2001 earthquake many of their houses were finely decorated, this is one of the few that has remained intact. Sadly when reconstructing these traditional decorations have not been used


They are well known for their embroidery skills, as displayed here, this is this ladies' own creation. There are many stages in its development, first the yarn is spun from their own sheep, then woven, then it is tie dyed, as many as 3 or 4 times to get coloured dots. Last of all comes the magnificent bold embroidery


The day after visiting this inspiring lady , one of her neighbours bought me a selection of her headscarves saying she wanted to sell them as having lost her husband, she could no longer wear them. How could I resist, after much deliberation, I opted for the one I found the most beautiful. Very much like the one pictured here.


for more infomation on the Rabaris of Kutch

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Lapin & Me - A Particular Taste


Here at The Curious Eye, we're very fussy. We don't like people with too much good taste (as they're generally rather boring). We don't like people with too much bad taste (because vulgarity only goes so far). What we like most is finding people who have particular taste.


Which is why we were very happy to discover Lapin & Me, just off Colombia Rd in Ezra Street. The minute you walk in, you can see that someone with very distinctive style has created the space. In theory it's a kids shop - but I have a strong feeling that there will be just as many adults who appreciate the merchandise as their children. 


The whole space feels like a tribute to sixties graphics, french retro style and a touch of japanese kookiness. One corner displays Little Golden Books, another homes a wild selection of vintage dolls, and there are toys and clothes that manage to be cute without being cloying. Somehow it manages to be both quirky and chic at the same time - quite an accomplishment.


How appropriate that the owner is called Madeleine - a name that takes me back to Bagpuss and childhood dreams of magical toys. Lapin & Me is highly recommended for the next time your inner child needs a treat. 


Lapin & Me , 14 Ezra Street, E2 7RH  www.lapin&

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Errol Pires and Strange Allure of the Camel Harness


A couple of weeks ago I was visiting the beautiful campus of the National institute of Design, Ahmedabad, Locally known as NID. When a man came rushing over to my guide and I, insisting that we visit his office. I have to say that I am very glad I took up his offer, the wonderfully cool air conditioned office, was unlike any office of a member of staff in a design institution, that I had ever seen before. It was more of a artists studio full of inspiring images, yarns and threads many of which were interlaced to create beautiful textiles.


The gentleman’s' name is Errol Pires and he is a faculty member at NID , he explained that he has been working on this special technique of braiding yarn which is known as split ply-split braiding, for about 25 years. The skill is mainly used by the camel traders of Rajasthan, from whom Errol learnt the craft. He has however turned it into an artistic pursuit, and as these photos show used it to create many a beautiful textile !



For more examples of Errols' work check out