Monday, 2 March 2015

Tales from the street- Copenhagen

When we left Edinburgh, boarding our flight to Copenhagen for the weekend, we were sure that we would have a good time and we were not disappointed.

Arriving into Copenhagen we were both amazed at how quick the flight had been, arriving an impressive 45 minutes early.  Although we had a short wait for a friend arriving on a different flight  we were quite happy to sit in the terminal and people watch.   

For those of you that have travelled to Copenhagen before I am sure that you were as easily impressed as we were with the ease of getting into the City Centre.  After a mere 2 minute wait we were on the Metro line and headed for our apartment for the weekend.  The M2 metro line will take you into Nørreport station in around 15 minutes.  It had to be one of the quickest and easiest transitions from airport to city centre that I have ever experienced.  Watch out for the automatic doors though, we nearly had a very hair raising experience. 

Situated in Nørrebro, a multi-cultural area that may be tainted by the riots that having taken place there during the past two decades, our apartment was a warm, cosy and perfectly sized haven against the cold.  Nørrebro is shedding its reputation and has some fantastic gems, including Jægersborggade which has lovely little restaurants, shops and bars, including our favourite Grød.  

We spent the rainy Friday wandering to find the Design Museum that we had read about.  Looking on our map and heading that way, we stopped for a bit of shopping at HAY house.  HAY is the wonderful Danish designer that is know for their range of stationary that seems to be all over the U.K at the moment.  HAY house is split over two levels and has a vast range including furniture, stationary, homeware and more.  With relaxed staff and great merchandising, it is easy to spend a lot of time here.  

Keir in HAY House

The view from HAY house

After a quick lunch break, we continued on our path and discovered David Risley gallery, situated on Bredgade, just across the road from the Design Museum.  David Risley was founded in London in 2003 and relocated to Copenhagen in 2009.  The gallery also has a small shop, The Gutter, that sells music created by artists.  We visited during Absence (Looking for Hammershøi), a group exhibition that had works from Frank Ammerlaan, Spencer Anthony, David Hockney, Francesca Woodman and more.  

Absence (Looking for Hammershøi)- David Risley Gallery

Now it is time to reveal the mistake that we made.  Copenhagen has two dedicated spaces for design, The Danish Museum of Art and Design that we visited, and the Dansk Design Centre, which we didn’t visit but were meant to.  Blame it on the cold, travel excitement or silliness.  The Danish Museum of Art and Design, also situated on Bredgade is worth a visit even if the entry price is a little steep.  Situated in the former King Frederick’s Hospital, the building was renovated during the 1920’s to suit museum purposes by the architects Ivar Bentsen and Kaare Klint.

I have to admit that I was a little underwhelmed by the museum.  Although they have a fantastic collection of Danish design pieces and the curation is very good, there was far too much space dedicated to the current exhibition “Century of the Child”.  If you plan to visit I would advise arriving in the morning or early afternoon as you can spend a couple of hours here and the shop and cafe are both great.

Oinc! Oinc!- Chalkboard in the Century of the Child exhibition

Here we are! Those stickers were our tickets for the Design Museum!

We spent Saturday walking from Nørrebro to the Statens Museum for Kunst.  Housed in a fantastic (although slightly leaking) building, free(!) and a welcome break from the rain the museum houses a range of art including Danish and Nordic art from 1750-1900, French Art from 1900-1930 and Danish and International Art from 1900 onwards.  Well worth a visit, even if it is just to people watch from the bridges that connect the old museum to the new extension.

Inside the Statens Museum for Kunst

For those of you that are lovers of porridge, no trip to the Danish capital would be complete without a visit to Grød!  Translating as “porridge”, Grød has three locations within the city, but it was the one closest to us on Jægersborggade that we visited (twice).  Heed our warning and go early as this branch is small and can fill up quickly.  The interior is simple, with low hanging lights and wooden tables and stools.  The menu is split into porridge for the morning and risottos for the afternoon.  Grød also has some options for those that are not porridge fans but I would suggest trying something as the dishes are unlike any porridge you get in the U.K.  Porridge is made with either milk and water, soy milk or milk and carrot juice.  Toppings include fennel sugar, banana, pear, hazelnuts, homemade caramel sauce and even more.  Absolutely delicious.  Do pay the extra for a large portion though as the normal portion size may be a little small for most people. 

Our breakfast choices. 

Low hanging lights in Grød

Sunday was spent as Sunday should be, wandering and relaxed, taking in the sights that we had missed and finally clicking the location of everything into place.  

Delicious Flødeboller with a surprise centre.

Now it would be a travesty to visit Denmark and not try smørrebrød, the Danish open sandwich.  Luckily we stumbled across a little stand in the Torvehallerne, next to Nørreport station.  Housing over 60 stands (including Grød) there is a lot to choose from.  We sat on high stools, shared some herring smørrebrød and a potato one and chatted with the waiter.

Potato Smørrebrød

I would suggest a trip to Copenhagen later in the year to take full advantage of walking around the city, there is no real need to travel by bus or metro as the city can be easily navigated by foot and you can always rent a bike and join the locals if you are in a rush.  Take in the atmosphere, the relaxed and ridiculously friendly nature of the locals.  Remember that eating out can be expensive and we found that coffee is quite a bit more than what we were used to.  Don’t let this put you off though, I came back already planning the next trip and even researching moving there.

Friday, 30 January 2015

On Music

Minimalism applies not only to fashion, architecture or interior design, it also applies to music.  There are some wonderful composers that we listen to who have chosen a minimalist approach to music.  One of these is Ludovico Einaudi, an Italian composer, whose work is well known worldwide.  Einuadi’s appeal lies in his approach to music, which to my non-musical ear seems to be deprived of excessive colouring, filled with pleasant repetitions and subtle twists of action.  I especially adore his piano solos. 

Have a listen here.

Keir is fond of Yann Tiersen, best know for his soundtrack for the film Amélie.  

Keir has recently discovered K.Leimer, the Canadian born, Seattle based ambient music maker.  Leimer’s work is full of enchantment, with sonic manipulations, the use of tape loops and wonderful experimentation (or so Keir tells me).  Keir is currently making his way through Leimer’s back catalogue.  Have a look out for Leimer's work online.  Spotify and Youtube have a small selection mostly of his most recent works.  His newest album, The Grey Catalog, is a good introduction.  

Thursday, 29 January 2015

On Art History

A review of Tom Nichols’ Renaissance Art (Oneworld Publications April 1, 2010)

Everyones path is different, some know straight away what they want to study and do in life, for others it might be a longer process.  However, as long as there is a process it is not wasted time.  Personally I knew what I wanted to study, but it was not an option at that time, so I graduated with a different degree.  I then started a second degree in Law as, for a short while, I forgot my passion towards art history.  Now that my second degree is nearly over I must admit to myself that I want to keep on studying and this time I should do what I wanted to do in the first place.  The key is learn from the experiences and not to give up.

To refresh my knowledge in art's history I reached for Renaissance Art by Tom Nichols, a reader in History of Art at The University of Glasgow.  Now that I want to apply for a Postgraduate degree I have to research and refresh my knowledge and as I have a love for the Renaissance, this seems as good a place as any to start.

This little book is utterly informative, not ignorant in its context but fascinating and interesting.  It is divided into sub-chapters which are very short, that give a little breath between each chapter, a moment for contemplating the previous text.  The language used is well explained so that the reader does not feel lost in the amount of the professional terminology.  I believe that it is a read for anyone, artists, professionals, students, and even those who have no interest of pursuing art history other than a hobby.

The only minor fault I can find is that there are not enough illustrations and, unfortunately to understand some of the mentioned context one has to reach for other books or an internet search.  However, for the wealth of information that Nichols provides, it is a very small quibble to have.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Nature in Art

Architecture rests in space, only the most skilful and sensitive architects are able to understand those relations between nature and a building.  This post will be one of the series of architecture related posts, as I collect material on Peter Zumthor, one of the few who understands the need for the bond with nature.  Swiss seem to respect the surrounding the exteriority and assimilate with the outside, does this mean they think outside the box? I would say no.  I think through respect of what we already have and understanding of the scenery in which a project is to be based, the final result cannot go wrong.  Only poorly educated architects do not consider the surrounding, and portray only a shell of what is needed, an empty shell of their own souls.  So many went wrong, but…wait, there is hope, as long there are few who do understand the necessity of combining natural with man-made.  The complete symbiosis is never possible, but all those attempts are for a reason, to create true and beautiful objects and buildings which will serve centuries and will stand as marks of our times. 
As it happened we explored in person projects of someone distinctively different form Zumthor, someone whose relation to nature was far more literal, organic and visible.  Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the most recognised Scottish, Art Nouveau architect and artist, the range of disciplines he got involved in is impressive.  His drawings and ornamentation of the monumental works create a Mackintosh Style.  Organic lines, oval shapes, softness and pastel shading only a few attributes of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  Especially interesting is The House for an Art Lover, a building which is irregular in its form, one cannot draw an imaginary line suggesting a middle, and relating to symmetry.  Each side of the House for an Art Lover is different, a lot of soft and curved lines run along and surprise spectator who cannot believe that there is no ‘middle'.  Each element is beautifully composed and refers to the wonders of nature, one can see it as a rock formation, or an irregular tree, as if the building itself is condensed within the surrounding park and the garden. 

The Oval Room- House for an Art Lover
Image via Pinterest

Mackintosh's original plans for House for an Art Lover
Image via Pinterest

Inside of the House is as, if not more inspiring.  My favourite was The Oval Room, which in the past was designed to be a drawing room.  There is a wide window that allows a lot of light into this little space and a beautifully tiled fireplace.  The whole space seems unified and peaceful. The interior is full of contrasts, such as The Hall and Dining Room which are clad in dark wood with heavy dimmed light.  This contradicts the white interiors of The Oval Room and The Music Room, which are clad in white painted wood with lots of natural light.  To go further, The Oval Room with its minimal design clashes with the organic forms of the Music Room that is strongly decorated in organic, repetitive forms.  The House in my view is an unforgettable experience, it is a must to see inside as the architect never stops to surprise us.  There is everything there minimalism, maximalism, lightness, heaviness, darkness and brightness, organic forms and references to nature that make you feel as if you are in a different world.  This is a rare experience and a chance to touch a piece of history of the Art Nouveau era.  Mackintosh is to Scotland as Gaudi is to Spain, and I only wish his work was better taken care for as the Tea Rooms designed by him lost its freshness and it is difficult not to worry when you pass.  It is the most important matter to love and care for the national inheritance as Glasgow without the Tea Rooms and Mac Building would never be the same again.

Last thing to note is my humble opinion on the plans of rebuilding Mac Building's Library.  I dare say that no one is able to copy what was lost in the fire, a modern element should be introduced instead, something not clashing but educating and reminding of the lost past.  I wish it could happen but I fear that kitsch replacements and imitations will be introduced.  Having been shown the level of craftsmanship now on offer, it is fair to say that no one should be allowed to imitate the old Master, clearly for lack of appropriate skills in modern times and  a vast danger of being laughed at in the end. 

Thursday, 8 January 2015


Seascape Hiroshi Sugimoto

This year, the only resolution that I decided to force onto myself is to transform my life into a way that I could claim I live minimally.  Therefore, I had to consider what does minimal living might mean to me, what rules should I follow and in what areas of my life should I be incredibly strict.  I decided on two main points;
1. I should focus on buying less. 
2. I should do a clear out and take note of what I already have.

I have many more things that I want to alter during the next year, my job, finishing my studies, better time management.  However, these are things that I am sure a lot of people would like to alter.  This year I will focus on being minimal in the material sense, by clearing out my drawers, shelves and wardrobe(s).  I will focus on maximising productivity, up my pace to reach my goals and fulfil my ambitions.

Approaching Shadow 1954- Fan Ho

Dior Homme Demi-Measure 2012 Fall/Winter Lookbook
Image via Pinterest

There are lots of articles online about living a minimalist lifestyle.  Here are a selection for you to have a look at;

Here are some of my thoughts on why being minimal is important;
Minimal is lighter.
Minimal is less but of good quality so that whatever you posses can last you years.
Minimal is to take care of your possessions.
Minimal will make you feel lighter.
Minimalism is clarity.
A minimal life will help me to understand what my priorities are.

Minimalism is for the benefit of the future, the environment, and family.  It is to teach future generations to desire other things than material objects and to respect possession, to love what we have and where we are. I have been observing people who are inspired by this movement and it feels like this is the right time to try and to clear my mind. 

Image via Pinterest

Friday, 17 October 2014

For a while now we have neglected this blog as we are in the process of organising a little adventure for ourselves, a small bookshop that will be located in Glasgow. We have been looking for stock, telling people about our idea, searching for a suitable space and gathering design inspiration. We have been preparing ourselves for the opening of something special, a place where people can gather and exchange ideas, learn new skills and also learn from others. It is hugely ambitious and risky, but if one will not try, one will never know. It is better to fail in trying to achieve a dream, than just to dream. 

We wanted to share some images that lately we have found to be very inspiring.

The Row Spring/Summer 2015 
Image via

Maison Martin Margiela Autumn/Winter 2012/13 
Image via

Het Kasteel by HVDN, The Netherlands

Image via

Morphologies of verticality 1

Libensky/Brychtova-  Arcus, 1992-93
Image via flickr

Liu Wei- Density 2014
Image via Frameweb

Concrete House in Mexico
Image via

Image via royalmarigold VSCO

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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

On Fashion

On Fashion

I have many art posts in my files started but not completed, waiting to be edited, but now something lighter, a short thought on fashion and a couple of rules which I always follow. 

Firstly, I have a limited range of colours that I wear as I do not feel good in bright colours.   I tend to stick religiously to black, all shades of greys, nearly all shades of blues and whites. The only pattern is stripes.  I do have some (very little) of other colours but these are remains of the past.  Sticking to certain colours limits what I can buy, and leaves less room for mistakes.  My only weakness is red shoes, I adore red shoes.  Another rule is that if I do not like one element of a piece for example ugly buttons, or bright underlay, I do not buy it,  even if the rest of a piece is perfect I leave it for someone else.  Another simple rule is that if I am not sure of something, it means I do not want it.   It saves a lot of money, and once I am sure I know I look and feel good I can afford something of a better quality. 

Finally, simplicity, less is more, and I mean shape and form, simple cuts, topped up with interesting textures and fabrics, this is what I love.  Here are some examples of what I enjoy looking at and what falls under my aesthetical sense. Clothing from The Row is something one can aspire to, to find and combine those textures and shades, like on Whistler's portraits. This delicate play of nude and lilac shades and contrasting fabrics, simply perfection. 

Image via Harpers Bazaar

I'm not afraid to be a bit boyish, to wear one pieces or tailored trousers.  This is a dream example by Yohji Yamamoto

Image via A'bout 

Look at those beautiful folds of slightly creased fabric, with a hidden pocket, simple minimal and classy.  I try to look in fashion for what I look for in art, design, even literature.  I wish for everything that surrounds me to be of a high quality (which does not necessarily mean expensive) and to follow my ideas on aesthetics and beauty. Those minute details around us make a vast difference to the final outcome of a bigger picture of the surrounding world. 

Very short today, but usually my thoughts are quick, as there are so many of them.