Friday, 26 August 2011

Lille next weekend


Next weekend is the grande braderie de Lille , I'm going to be in Paris so I'll be heading up by train, it's only and hour away, also about and hour from London by Eurostar. Ever since last year I have been dreaming about this work bench I saw there ! it would have been perfect for my new kitchen. Even if by some weird stroke of luck I find it again this year I still wont be able to take it home on the train !


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Illustrated Book Of The Week : Shop America


If you put all my favorite things into a pot, stirred them up and made them into a book. You might well get this.


Shops! America!! Mid Century Design!!! Who could ask for anything more?


Shop America is a large format collection of 'style suggestions' for shop design from the Thirties and Forties. Idealised images of dream stores from one of the most romantic eras of design in the Twentieth Century.


Everything from sporting good shops and pharmacies


to cosmetic stores and opticians


The use of colour is particularly inspiring - just look at the tones suggested for a supermarket (Much as I love Waitrose, this is far more alluring, isn't it?)


And the illustrations are incredibly stylish - even the sweetshops have a hint of 30's pulp fiction..


Others are straight out of classic film noir. I could swear that this woman is about to pull a revolver out of her purse and shoot the other chick dead. I've watched enough Joan Crawford films to know, eyebrows like that can only mean one thing...



Shop America: Mid-Century Storefront Design, 1938-1950 Edited by Jim Heimann, with an essay by Steven Heller is available from Taschen Books

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


It's amazing how really inspiring exhibitions just keep on, well, inspiring.

It's been nearly eighteen months since I saw the van Doesburg exhibition at the Tate Modern (I've already written about it here) - but I'm still feeling the after effects today. A couple of new acquisitions have brought it back to mind.

Like this.


Which really makes me think about some of the less well known artists that were shown. I'd never heard of Ilya Bolotowsky before, but his use of colour is very exciting. Paintings like this one take the classic forms of 'De Stijl', but elevate them with a very sensual ,stimulating palette


This blanket has an equally compelling colour range. Lilac, yellow and two tones of brown? Very unusual. The man I bought it from claimed it was Scandinavian, but I think it's probably a classic American camp blanket. Wherever it's from, it's a beauty.


Then there's this little darling.


Which totally reminds me of some of van Doesburgs archectural projects, like his design for the cinema and dance hall at, L'Aubette in Strasbourg.




It's actually a card table that has had lino inset into it. I've never been much of a fan of lino - as it has too many bad connotations of damp loos and shabby kitchens circa 1974 - but I may have to rethink that. The work on this table makes me want to start creating 30's inspiring patchwork lino floors in my bathroom, cubist lino-covered furniture, linoleum light fittings...


Stop! I'm getting carried away. I need to calm down and have a cup of tea.


I'm not sure that van Doesburg would approve of that pompom though...

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Madame Grès : Couture as Sculpture


Last weekend The Curious Eye made a little pilgrimage to the wonderful Madame Grès exhibition in Paris. This elegant artful mid century couturier has been overshadowed by many of her contemporaries, but this exhibition has launched her amazing creations back into the fashion headlines. Mounted in the museum which houses the sculptures of Antoine Bourdelle, the choice of venue takes an already stunning collection of dresses to the next dimension .













Hurry if you want to catch this delightful show. It has been extended till the end of August.
Musee Bourdelle

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

A Malarky on Redchurch Street


A Sunday stroll in the east end now obliges a swagger down Redchurch Street, especially when, as was the case a few weeks ago this provides an opportunity to dip into the last days of the sales. Although there was not much remaining a few super-discounted items were purchased, but far more exciting was the discovery of this sumptuous piece of wall are signed Malarky .










Malarks' blog

Friday, 5 August 2011


As devoted readers of this blog will know, if there's one place in London that regularly inspires us at The Curious Eye, it's Spitalfield's Antique Market. For a unique mixture of eccentric junk, unlikely treasures and interesting characters, it just can't be beat.

Are you one of those unfortunate people who cannot make it to the market every week- perhaps through misplaced priorities (work commitments, demanding small children, lack of geographic proximity, etc)?

If so - do not fear. All is not lost. The magic of the internet can provide you with a soupcon of the Spitalfields experience - as an increasing number of the traders at the market have their own blogs.

'Little' Jo Waterhouse is an excellent example. An unashamed lover of decorative junk of the finest sort (and sometimes of the crudest sort), her blog celebrates her fancies in a thoroughly charming and engaging way. From strange festivals in sheds to peculiar characters she comes across - "Toot as in Foot" chronicles them all. We particularly enjoyed seeing her extensive collection of Constance Spry style vases, and were rather jealous of them.


Jo also gets full marks for living on a narrowboat while sporting the surname 'Waterhouse'. Well played, young lady.

Another envy inducing blog comes from the ever excellent David White - whose business 'Ragtop Vintage', is probably the best place in London to source antique American menswear. His blog of the same name is full of inspiring pictures of people looking cooler than you ever will, wearing clothes you can only dream of. Interspersed with this celebration of American style are some great shots of Dave's star finds. A very hard blog to look at without wanting to throw all your existing clothes away and wear only classic US workwear from now on.


If the allure of 1950's Americana is not your thing - perhaps we can interest you in a more idyllic, throughly British lifestyle? If you buy something from Andrews of Arcadia, you're not just buying some vintage fishing gear, you're buying a quiet morning by a dawn lit river or a calm moment of contemplation deep in our great countryside. The blog itself reflects everything that is good and proper in this nation of ours. Makes us want to eat a Ploughman's lunch just looking at it.


Barry 7 - (No relation to Joe 90, apparently) - is a scholar and a gentleman, who manages to find objects that are interesting, confusing, bemusing - or ideally all three. His tumblr feed, "Seven's Yard" shows a good selection of the strange and wonderful things he regularly comes across.


And finally - talking about strange and wonderful - our dear friend Stephen Sorrell indulges his absurdist streak on a regular basis as the founder,publisher, editor, copywriter, cub photographer and tea lady of "The Bognor Bugle". A man of excellent taste, profound knowledge, good character and great wisdom, Steve displays absolutely none of these qualities on his blog, which takes whimsy to a whole new level. Recommended for when you just want to read something really silly (and see the odd bit of fabulous junk, when he pulls himself together).


Spitalfields Antiques Market runs every Thursday from 10am - 4pm

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Monastic Fantastic

The other day, a good friend of mine described some of my recent purchases as 'monastic' - and I was delighted. As every good modernist knows, if form follows function, then monks are probably the most modern thinkers in the world. These guys make the Shakers look like they're overdoing it a little. If it weren't for those ridiculous haircuts, they would be the last word in chic.


Minimalism is something of a dirty word right now - a throwback to the Nineties when it suddenly seemed like a great idea to live in a grey concrete box, with just a futon mattress and a single perfect feather suspended from the ceiling as decoration.

Still, there's still something very appealing about a spartan aesthetic, and a simple white vessel never loses it's poetic charm. I'm not going to start writing a haiku any time soon, but I'm sure you know what I mean.


This enamel coffee cup is a great example. Simple design, elegant use of material and perfect proportions.


As is this cutlery drainer. A little more soulful than something plastic from Ikea.

And the ceramic bowl at the top of this post? Well, if it seems a little sparse for your liking - a few nectarines take it from Norman Monastery, to Provencal Farmhouse in no time at all.