From Isaac Julien’s political, poetic and utterly gorgeous show at Tate Britain to the equally powerful Carrie Mae Weems survey at the Barbican, Tomás Saraceno spiders and other species awakening us to our connection to nature at the Serpentine Galleries in conversation with Lina Ghotmeh’s delicate timber Serpentine Pavilion, and Leonardo Drew’s explosive installation at Yorkshire Sculpture Park Chapel, there’s been no shortage of excellent art and design in London and beyond this summer season.
Artist Soheila Sokhanvari’s intricate miniatures of 27 feminist icons from pre-revolutionary (1979) Iran are painted in egg tempera onto calf vellum with a squirrel-hair brush, set against a hand-painted mural and to the soft sound of singers Googoosh & co. to form a hugely immersive site-specific installation at the Barbican’s Curve Gallery.
The Curve cocoons us in the world of these strong women of history: writers and poets, singers and actors.
The Bauhaus, 100 this year, has impacted tremendously on the creative world ideologically and aesthetically. It has transformed how we design our homes, the objects we choose to live with, and urban life. Yet, the 21st century is facing its own unique and hugely urgent challenges – globalisation, rapid urbanisation and rising environmental concerns. Cities are overcrowded, new buildings must meet stringent energy requirements and negotiate a myriad of planning regulations. They need to address their surroundings; form progressive narratives with history – hopefully. Contemporary urban architecture is, therefore, a complex jigsaw-puzzle with invention, innovation and imagination as critical as ever.
‘The Contemporary House’ takes on this very theme. Written by Jonathan Bell and Ellie Stathaki, both architectural critics and editors at Wallpaper* magazine, and published by Thames & Hudson, this is an insightful study of new city living. It is organised geographically as a way of understanding regional dialogues, and features seventy of the world’s most innovative, extreme and ingenious houses. The book reviews how modern residential design is integrated into the existing urban fabric for a fascinating insight into the variety of contemporary approaches to urban design.
Some of the traditional vernacular forms such as terraced homes, townhouses and isolated villas are being questioned today, as are the repercussions of the 20th century’s suburban sprawls and their poor land use. ‘The Contemporary House’ sees new philosophies of minimalism replacing some of the more indulgent structures of the past. For instance, it refers to a new shape called ‘the stack’ – one that is compact, space-conscious and insulated. Amidst the fear of homogenisation of cities, there is a tendency for more self-expression in the contemporary homes too. Most importantly, the 21st century is defined by the urgency for thinking sustainably and imaginatively in reusing resources.
As cities become ever-congested, as we face the challenges of an ageing population and mass migration, and as we work towards a sustainable future – architects, designers and urban planners will need to continue to expand on the principals laid out by the Bauhaus members one-hundred years ago. To quote the school’s founder, Walter Gropius, ‘To have the gift of imagination is more important than all technology.’
All images are under ©. In order of appearance: Lee-Chin Crystal at Royal Ontario Museum by Studio Daniel © Nikreates/Alamy Stock Photo; Amsterdam’s Inntel Hotel by WAM Architecten © Frans lemmens/Alamy Stock Photo; The Shard in London by Renzo Piano © CW Images/Alamy Stock Photo; Glenn Murcutt’s houses Sydney suburb © Paul Lovelace/Alamy Stock Photo; Via 57 West in Manhattan by BIG © imageBROKER/Alamy Stock Photo
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Paper is alive. Paper breathes. Paper is ever-evolving, changing conceptually and physically with time. Paper can be moulded, manipulated, sculpted. It can be decorative, functional, seductive, argumentative. It can even deceive. ‘Subtle: Delicate or Infinitesimal’ at Japan House London explores the possibilities of paper.
The show is curated and directed by Kenya Hara, the gallery’s global chief creative director and art director at Muji. The display is subtle, modest even, set within the building’s clean and clear deco beauty. It begs you to walk up, take an intimate look at these delicate objects and read the accompanying text which adds intrigue. For instance, the Origata Design Institute writes alongside its exhibit: ‘The act of folding paper – once you fold, you cannot return to the original state… but then you create structure and entrust your feelings onto paper.’
‘Subtle’ follows a successful run at Japan House’s other galleries in Los Angeles and São Paulo. The idea originates from the Takeo Paper Show, which began in Tokyo in 1965 as a way of engaging artists, challenging them to find new potentials for paper. Fifteen creatives living and working in Japan are on show here. They come from a diverse set of disciplines too – art, animation, architecture, fashion, graphic design and literature – each introducing their very own unique layer to this intriguing paper narrative. It reminds us of the value of the material, whilst highlighting the delicate craft of paper art in a modern light.
‘Subtle’ is at Japan House London until 24 December.
All images are © Jeremie Souteyrat, Japan House London.
The Speedtail is the latest car by McLaren Automotive. A nod to the iconic F1, this three-seater hyper gran turismo is a genuinely accomplished product, returning to the marque a sense of grace and beauty and allure of the automobiles of the past as it takes on the future