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ListenUp: The Mixtape Project

For London Design Festival 2014, designers like Tom Dixon and Industrial Facility made playlists for #SuperStimuli

by CH Editors in Listen Up on 21 September 2014

LDF 2014, London Design Festival 2014, Faye Toogood, Industrial Facility, Mixtapes, Playlists, Spotify, Tom Dixon, Gary Card

For this year's London Design Festival, the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch played host to four different designer installations for "Super Stimuli," a show curated by biannual magazine Modern Design Review (check out our Instagram of Michael Marriot's lamp). Right next to the Ace, new vinyl-only store Sister Ray offered a musical accompaniment to "Super Stimuli" with The Mixtape Project, which showed off playlists created by 15 London designers and studios. Throughout the week, we Tweeted some highlights from the extensive list, which can be perused on Spotify (save for some songs that aren't available on the platform).

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Egyptian Lover: Freak-A-Holic

Set designer Gary Card opted for what is a certifiable deep cut with Egyptian Lover's 1986 electro-dance jam "Freak-A-Holic." (The song was originally intended for the soundtrack to Prince's "Purple Rain.") The LA-based Egyptian Lover (born Greg Broussard) packs his video for the song with all good things '80s: big hair, lots of gold rings, back-up dancers and an endless number of kitschy ancient Egyptian props (aside from the colorful blown-up balloons) that are—to bring things full circle—worthy of one of Card's more cartoonish sets.

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Destroy All Monsters: Child of the Night

Design studio Industrial Facility, who works closely with brands like Muji and Herman Miller, prefer old school simplicity and anonymity to designer stardom. For their mixtape, founders Sam Hecht and Kim Colin selected a disc's worth of songs from Detroit "anti-rock" band Destroy All Monsters (which included contemporary artist Mike Kelley as a member, who Colin later worked with for his piece "Educational Complex"). DAM only officially put out a one-hour cassette of their recordings, but Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore later released a box-set of their early music in 1994. "Child of the Night," a lo-fi, stripped down spoken word lullaby is a good track to ease into the journey.

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Max Normal: Good Old Fashion Loving

Many people don't know that before Die Antwoord, there was Max Normal. "Good Old Fashion Loving" is one of the more toned-down tracks from the experimental hip-hop South African four-piece, giving off some Nujabes vibes. This tune was selected by furniture designer Faye Toogood, who's been a regular collaborator with Opening Ceremony and other fashion brands like Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. She's got a quite diverse playlist, meshing together tracks from Nirvana and Portishead to Montreal electronic musician Valentin Stip and even a gospel song from LaShun Pace.

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Dusty Springfield & Burt Bacharach: A House Is Not A Home

"A chair is still a chair, even when there's no one sitting there..." This 1964 ballad, written for Dionne Warwick and sung live in a duet by singer-songwriter Burt Bacharach and Dusty Springfield, is the perfect classic song befitting the classy items by London brand Minimalux (founded by Mark Holmes from Established and Sons). Their beautiful, polished items are just as timeless as the rest of their song selection, which ranges from film composer Ennio Morricone's "Giocoso Gioioso" to Chopin's "Raindrop Prelude."

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The Kinks: Waterloo Sunset

British designer (and now influential powerhouse) Tom Dixon used to be a touring musician, playing bass guitar for a band called Funkapolitan—which even led to an appearance on Top of the Pops. Dixon's mixtape was by far the most representative of old-school east London vibes, featuring the likes of Buzzcocks to Roxy Music to James Blake. We settled with jamming out to The Kinks' 1967 beautifully touching single "Waterloo Sunset."

ListenUp is a Cool Hunting series published every Sunday that takes a deeper look at the music we tweeted throughout the week. Often we'll include a musician or notable fan's personal favorite in a song or album dubbed #PrivateJam.

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Link About It: This Week's Picks

Tomas Maier's desk, posterior portraits and a museum for worthless but sentimental objects in this week's look at the web

by CH Editors in Link About It on 20 September 2014

Art, Museums, NY Times, NYC, News, Photography, SF, Exhibitions, Films, Websites

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1. Tuchus Acceptance

Last week Vogue caught onto the (not exactly new) butt phenomenon and declared we are currently living in the "official era of the big booty." Yet between all the Photoshopping, implants and photos of Kim Kardashian's enviable tuchus, it's easy to forget that they come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Refinery29 celebrated all butts from the "round booty to the pancake-ier shape" to the "cellulite, stretch marks and age spots" by photographing (with no Photoshop) 30 women's derrieres and asking them how they feel about their behinds—a playful and still admirable move in the battle against body-shaming.

2. The Desk of Tomas Maier

Bottega Veneta's celebrated Creative Director Tomas Maier keeps his primary office in NYC rather than Milan. The latest video in a NY Times fashion series documenting the creative spaces of designers narrows in on Maier's two desks and everything you can find on them. The location is noticeably void of personal objects and clutter, but what happens to be there does define what the brand will be putting out next.

3. Edward Snowden as Citizen Four

Filmmaker Laura Poitras was already many years into making a film on life and national security in post-9/11 America when she was contacted by an anonymous whistleblower going by the name Citizen Four. This individual turned out to be none other than Edward Snowden. After repeat meetings with him in Hong Kong, and an international blow-up that would soon occur and sweep the media, Poitras created CITIZENFOUR, a film making its debut at this year's New York Film Festival. While the highly anticipated documentary is guaranteed to be controversial, it will also certainly shed new light on Snowden and the system surrounding us all.

4. Alison Bechdel's Genius Grant

In 1985, cartoonist Alison Bechdel created a film formula (now known as the Bechdel Test) in her comic "Dykes to Watch Out For." Her three questions to each movie—Does it have two female characters? Who talk to each other? About something other than a man?—have altered the way films are viewed and made. Films that pass the test are said to be more successful than those that fail—just another way in which a concept originally known in feminist circles has made its way to the mass psyche. And now, 29 years later, she has been awarded a grant (known as the "genius" grant) by the MacArthur Foundation—an organization that "supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world."

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5. Postcards for Ants

Cape Town-based artist Lorraine Loots started a year-long project, titled "365 Postcards for Ants," for which she painted a miniature picture every day. Any subject is possible—from a vintage Yashica-D camera to a saxophone—and the beauty is in their immaculate details, while the wonder is in their teeny, tiny size.

6. MIT Media Lab Gets Fit

Cutting-edge research laboratory (and experimental playground) MIT Media Lab will be adding health and well-being to their areas of interest. With help from a $1 million grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, MIT Media Lab has launched a wellness initiative that will explore the relationship between technology, the workplace and health. Hopefully they'll start by tackling bad posture and repetitive strain injury caused by time spent in front of computers and smartphones.

7. Museum of Important Shit

Packrat or not, each of us owns useless objects of immense sentimental value that would be devastating to lose. Whether it's the ticket stub from your first concert or a postcard from a past relationship, these things matter. Artist Nick Cave agrees. His upcoming exhibition will include user-submitted photos of such items, alongside those selected by celebrity curators, all inside the Museum of Important Shit.

8. Rickshaw Bagworks Reflective Backpack

We've long been impressed by San Francisco's Rickshaw Bagworks. And now, thanks to their reflective material-woven backpack, the fandom is growing stronger. The tweed textile is woven with rugged reflective yarn, making riders more visible on their bike. Safe-cycling couldn't be easier.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.

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Designing Polska at Tent London

Our interview with the show's curator on the current boom of Polish design and where it's headed next

by Cajsa Carlson in Design on 19 September 2014

Design, Designers, LDF 2014, London, London Design Festival 2014, Poland, Tent London

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At Tent London, part of London Design Festival, some of the most interesting spaces to visit for design-hungry visitors are the country pavilions, delivering an overview of what the creative talents in each place are working on right now. Among them are 100% Norway (which we covered last month), and our new favorite Designing Polska, which offers an extensive look at the best graphic designers and illustrators in Poland. The space showcases new graphic design in prints and books, as well as clothes and crockery, and gives an exciting insight into Poland's relatively unknown, yet thriving design scene.

In a time when digital design and publications are increasingly permeating everyday life, it’s intriguing to see how the printed word (and graphics) are still king in Poland. Some of the most eye-catching pieces at Designing Polska can be found in the selection of books on display,while illustrators Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński’s wonderful Maps books for kids are more than capable of drawing any child (and adult) away from the internet.

Though the scene may not receive immense coverage, many of Designing Polska’s contributors also have successful international careers, including the show’s curator Olka Osadzinska, who has worked with Reebok and Absolut, among others. CH spoke with Osadzinska to get the lowdown on the flourishing Polish design industry and to find out what we can expect from the country in the future.

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Why do you think there are so many talented graphic designers coming out of Poland at the moment?

The scene is really booming and there is so much creative talent there—and so much to be designed. Everything you see in the streets of Warsaw right now has been designed in the last three years—new cafes, new stores, new brands. You have all the articles about Poland’s blooming economy and exactly the same thing is happening in design and illustration.

How did you choose which designers to show at London Design Festival?

We brought 10 graphic designers, five illustrators and five children’s illustrators, but we could have brought 50. It was difficult for me to choose who to show, but we really wanted to consider the fact that we’re showing at Tent London, which is very design-orientated but also very commercial in a way. We wanted to show these illustrators and designers because they focus on design and work closely with artists; they set up exhibitions and design brand identities. We thought that displaying their work might not only create more fans of Polish design, but that it could also help the designers find potential partners for future collaborations.

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Do you feel that Polish designers have started to reach a more international audience lately?

I think so. Many of the ones we’re showing are working internationally, and we’re not even including many who are more well-known abroad, because they are not designing that much stuff in Poland. Most of the designers working in Poland have foreign clients, but they are extremely shy when it comes to showcasing their work abroad. That’s why I’m so proud of this exhibition, because we can show how amazing their work is.

Do you think that the graphic design scene will continue to grow and expand in Poland?

We have a very solid group right now, and I don’t see why new designers wouldn’t emerge, but we're also facing the same problem as every other market. You have lots of talented kids who are eager to work, but they’re on Tumblr and Pinterest and they basically all do the same stuff. So I would say that what we have now is a very unique scene, with people who worked their way through different influences, pre-internet. The designers we’re showing here are between [ages] 26 and 40, and probably started Googling things and researching things when they had already shaped visually. The ones that have a really unique style have mastered it over time.

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Is there a thread to the work, something that is representative of Polish design?

I think Polish graphic designers are similar to Swiss—you can see the Swiss influence in many portfolios. The design is heavily rooted in typography and very solid, “modern” graphic design. At the same time, Polish art schools are traditional when it comes to crafts and actually creating things with your hands, so they mix illustrations, paint, collages—it’s all handmade. So I would say it’s a combination of Swiss design and more traditional, paint-like, fine art work. We had amazing graphic designers in the '50s, '60s and '70s, and Polish designers today are very aware of the history of Polish design. I think one of the biggest influences on the designers is the period between the two World Wars—that was when Warsaw was booming and the Polish economy was growing, like it is now.

"Designing Polska” is currently on show at Tent London as part of London Design Festival until 21 September 2014.

Images courtesy of Designing Polska

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