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Friday, 25 December 2015

Honey, I Froze Le Corbusier

It has to be the revelation of the year century. On a scale to be rivalled by Dan Brown novels set in St. Peter's Basilica. For around 100 years ago, a man called Peter Behrens was hired by a German engineering company to the position of 'Articstic Consultant'. Alongside the logotype and corporate identity, Behrens designed the firm's iconic turbine factory in Berlin, and also a significant number of it's products. Peter Behrens is considered to be the world's first industrial designer. The savvy German engineering company that hired him was AEG.

So that puts AEG at the very top of the design family tree. Neat. They make well engineered home appliances [Ultraloft's new shiny fridge freezer, pictured] and consumer electronics. Having something with the AEG moniker around the Ultraloft gives me a warm comfortable feeling of buying in to that design pedigree. That was until, I did a little more research and fell backwards out of my [EA105] chair.

You may want to anchor yourself to the floor... It wasn't just Behrens, father of industrial design that worked for AEG. Miles van der Rohe, creator of the iconic Barcelona chair worked for Behrens at AEG. Walter Gropius too, later to become the first director of the Bauhaus worked for AEG. And the revelation that sent me plummeting, sternforemost to the floor, is that, the being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, principal object of faith and worship at Design Trawler, Le Corbusier, worked alongside Behrens, Gropius, and Mies at AEG.

The three letters AEG aren't just a nod toward innovative German engineering. They represent a perfect storm; a fantasy dream team of everything design, and architecture, and efficiency should be. And is.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Foothills of Mount Fuji

As the seasons begin to change, I begin also, to turn my attentions to the next room renovation in Ultraloft. The guest bathroom will be a light, clean, and natural space inspired by the paired back Japanese aesthetic... Primarily, so that I can install a Toto washlet, and surprise guests with a high-tech toilet.

Until the buldozers and pricey porcelain arrive however, I'm evoking an eastern spirit with these wall mounted planters. Selecting fern, pine and bamboo as suitably reflective of the zen-line shrubbery likely to line the foothills of Mount Fuji, the boxes from Concoral also double up as shelves; perfect for Marks & Web mandarin salts, and metallic flames from Tom Dixon.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Calling Time on Taxidermy

Monochromatic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld famously said that "trendy is the last stage before tacky". Well, taxidermy has certainly been trendy for a while, and whatever your opinion of plywood deer heads on gastropub walls, this homage from Maison & Objet in Paris made me chuckle.

Perfectly straddling the lines between trendy and tacky, the Jean Paul Gaultier inspired mâché walrus bust is topped off with a kitch cap from the French Naval Marines [complete with obligatory red pom pom]. Mounted on an equally J.P.G. striped background, I'm not sure it'll be featuring in forthcoming artist's Barbican retrospective. That said, animal forms have an enduring and iconic place in design. So, is taxidermy dead? By definition, it always was. And it isn't going anywhere soon.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Design Downtime - The Marvel in Morocco

Don't be fooled, Design Trawling is not for the faint hearted. Sure, the relentless circling the globe in the search of meticulously crafted artifacts sounds like fun. Buckling-up in your usual seat with a copy of the weekend FT and chalice of fizz during take-off, only to louche around luxury accommodations in locations with corresponding Wallpaper* guides seems like a hoot. But it's not. Honestly.

Every armchair, every streetlamp, every window frame, doorknob and bedside alarm clock; it's all design; and it's all fair game for Design Trawler. Food critics work when they're examining towers of wild venison and polka-dots of berry jus. Film enthusiasts cast their verdict on the basis of a few hours of explosions, wide-angle shots and [if they're lucky] subtitles and moody music. But for a Design Trawler, short of confining ones self to a white room with no windows [it has been suggested], there is little respite or sanctuary. Well, there is one. It's called Amanjena.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Every Dog Has Its Day

If the battle of Trafalgar taught us anything, it's that podiums for displaying ever changing whimsical works of contemporary art are of pivotal importance to the nation. This applies in equal measure indoors, and particularly where Ultralofts are concerned [the tall, black and shiny variety are recommended]

Introducing the First Plinth! A space to precariously perch a seasonally curated selection of fine design finds from Design Trawler. Glossy and substantial podiums instantly elevate anything placed on them to artefactual superstardom and encourage a gallery-like rotation of environment. As for the honour of the first exhibit; it has to be Jeff the Balloon dog; the subject of Design Trawler's first article back in 2010.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Nose to Tail Lighting

The dilemma with taxidermy, is that some people, find the idea of mounting a zebra head on the wall a little inappropriate, no matter how marvellous it looks. Putting the entire animal on display would, of course, be fine, but not everybody has the space for a monochromatic horse in the living room.

I spotted the most remarkable solution in Paris. Using two cleverly positioned ceiling spotlights, the body of said equine appears in shadow as if by magic. A dramatic feature that'll be sure to keep your vegan friends associates happy. Pair with floor lamps by Dutch design house Mooi.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Bottega Ikea Leather Weave

I know I give Ikea a hard time when it comes to their disposable art decorations, but every now and again the purveyor of plywood picture frames comes up trumps. These woven stoage boxes, with elegant loop handle and silver stud punch way above their £10 price tag.

A nod to the signature intrecciato woven leather of Itallian couture house Bottega Veneta, the Bladis box could sit quite happily alongside Veneta's £200 pencil holders, £300 tissue boxes and £400 picture frames [or Montecristo 'A' cigars]. Ideal for storing the neatly stacked piles of cash you've just saved.

Friday, 16 October 2015

A Shovel a Day...

There are few occasions where being on the receiving end of a shovel represents an auspicious start to your day [unless you're an animal awaiting feed, or have a penchant for cinematic murders and forestry].

Putting my homicidal tendencies Japanese rice keeper to better use as a breakfast keep, this cast steel Westmark spade from the Conran Shop dispenses the perfect serving of ante meridiem feed with a satisfyingly utilitarian aesthetic. Available in a variety of sizes for every appetite.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Guggenheim Museum of Culinary Design

This morning, somewhat dreary eyed, I carried myself to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Nothing unusual there. Opening the cupboard to grab a bowl for my Cartier Crunch [again, nothing unusual], in a moment of surreal [but probably unusual] consideration, I stopped and thought to myself... 

"Why do I have a scale model of the Guggenhein Muesum where the bowls should be?"

Well, they say that the mind works best in the morning, but I think I accidentally just busted one of the greatest architects of all time. Frank Lloyd Wright clearly had a fondness for design in the mornings... and white kitchenware, which, is of course expected mandated for all great designers.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Prophecy of Pattern at Topps Boutique

As housing markets continue to heat up, as predicted, bold patterns and grand materials are now the indicators of hot property. Gone are the traditional associations of tile being little more than a functional necessity of bathrooms. What started with the 'metro tile' absolutely owning kitchen renovations post 2010 [the bubble will burst]... is graduating to both contemporary, almost 'graphically designed' pigmented designs in cement [pictured] and more subtle, purposefully mismatched mosaics like the excellent Batik and La Dolce Vita ranges from Topps Boutique.

The new format of especially curated high street stores bring the best of this brave new world of ceramics out of dusty retail park locations, and will quite probably ruin your plans for anything hardwood, glass splashbacked, or "white and as cheap as possible" for the visitors loo. Thankfully.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Edison was not a Hipster

Edison style filament bulbs have been big business in Hoxton coffee shops, vintage boutiques and retro gastro pubs for a while now. While they draw attention to the design of the light source, unlike the very contemporary Plumen bulb the Edison bulb struggles to find a home in more refined environments.

Until now. New York based furniture and lighting designer Sergio Orozco has created a smart wall fitting that, rather than making the Edison bulb a retro pastiche, takes advantage of it's warm hues and recognisable design. The bevelled chrome 'halo' frames the bulb and creates a theatrical statement for hallways... and your IMAX Private Theatre.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Contemporary Classicism in Paris

Next up on the Ultraloft Inspiration tour is the home of couture fashion, classical architecture and a nonchalant design dialogue that's as elegant as the residents of it's perfectly planned streets. Paris.

With the Ritz being closed for renovations and not wanting to stray far from the eponymous Place Vendôme, Design Trawler checked in to the Royal Suite at the Westin Paris. Recently refreshed by Sybille de Margerie [who also worked on the Mandarin Oriental and the Louvre Hotel], the suite defines contemporary classicism. Rotating the formal seating area through 45 degrees and the palette of contemporary taupe, plum and geometric metalics gives the living room a 'modern luxe' timelessness.

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Design Diet

If you're not on a diet of Indonesian berries harvested under a full moon by civet cats, then you're probably subjecting your black Hyundaicard to eyewatering personal training fees this new year. Ever the pragmatist, Design Trawler offers up a diet that is sure to get your mind and body in shape.

For just over a thousand coins [no, not penny variety] this WaterRower in black American Walnut from the Conran Shop is all you need... well, apart from the optional laptop stand, said laptop and some Porsche Design apparel. With it's smooth-as-silk operation, circular water drum and satisfying 'splash' with every stroke; when the design is right, working out becomes a delight not a chore.

Whoever said you can't check Bloomberg or take that important video conference whilst pretending to be on the Thames in your navy blues?

Friday, 14 August 2015

Triple Glazed Provocation

Sometimes you see something that needs a second take. Other times, the impact of a first impression blows away the need for even a second glance. That's the effect of graphic artist Patrick Thomas's brilliant target prints. Thomas screenprints a fluro heart over discarded Braundruck shooting range targets - playfully, poignantly, and perhaps alarmingly, marrying the two iconic forms together.

Using a canvas that has been pierced by a bullet creates a work that is violent and thought provoking. Framing it required equal levels of consideration. Mounting the print between two sheets of glass allows it to float; fragile, it's captured and suspended in time and space. A third pane of glazing with a mount and gunmetal frame completes the metaphor.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Introducing Ultraloft

If you don't like something; you can either stay well back and find something you do like, or stick around and be part of the solution. Well, it seems unlikely that newbuild developers and buy-to-let speculators are going to disappear anytime soon. Fifty shades of trade matt white, laminate oak and halogen spots remain de rigueur and, that's just not on. Something needs to be done. Well, something other than lambasting offending developers at prestigious award ceremonies.

Introducing Ultraloft by Design Trawler. With the Man Cave sold [to a delightful young lady as it would turn out], and despite my severe allergy to newbuilds, the latest chapter of design transformation enlightenment begins today. Taking on a generic London newbuild [pictured], Design Trawler will, over the course of the coming months, document its rise from magnolia mediocrity to design super-stardom.

Sourcing the very best in design and design thinking from Sweden to Seoul, being part of the solution is the objective. With more space will come some great new furniture, technology, art and innovative materials. From old friends such as the penny floor, to long held design desires [secret door in a bookcase anyone?], think of it as Design Trawler 2.0 - Because newbuild is no excuse!

Friday, 31 July 2015

Contemporary Arabesque in 2014

It's a new year, which can only mean new trends, new textures, and new tastes. Dishing up the veritable feast of design in 2014, Design Trawler puts forward the prediction of what's going to be shaping the popular discerning aesthetic this year.

Last year the chips were stacked on deep textures, reflective fabrics, and warmer metals such as copper and brass. This looks set to continue [ex. copper], but as the world grows achingly bored of recession-induced restraint, materials and design are going to become richer and more confident.

Pattern will be at the forefront and the Middle East is showing increasing signs of maturity in this space. Contemporary geometrics in warm silvers and golds [like the pictured lattice doors at I. M. Pei's breathtaking Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar] sit beautifully against the vanguard of old money materials such as marble and lacquer. Similarly, 3D printing will drive a thirst for this intricate detail, but in a more organic form long championed by Zaha Hadid and Karim Rashid.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Design Hurricane - Toronto's William Ashley

Trawling recently in Toronto, I stumbled across deluxe design store William Ashley. Spotting a quirky hurricane lamp in the unassuming window, the pictured flame holder features a carved acacia-wood base and domed glass shade reminiscent of a mushroom-cup [I'll take two of those please].

And it's perhaps pertinent that the hurricane lamp was on display up front, as William Ashley is an inexplicable and never ending cave of delights that needs to be explored. Baccarat crystal in every shape and size, mind blowing Brazilian chrome barware from Riva, and $20,000 candelabras.

Alongside fine personalised stationary from Crane & Co. sits Lalique, Kate Spade and Alessi. It's the sort of store worthy of being delivered with a big bow; as the complete gift registry for the next Royal wedding.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Lexon Flow - An Audio Carriage

The boys at Lexon continue to impress with their well turned out portable tuners. Brother to the previously featured Mini Dolemen, and still giving Uncle Bose a run for it's money in the design department, Lexon's Flow radio is brilliantly designed by Philip Wong. With it's glassy casing and clean, uncluttered narrative, the Flow would look superb on a mantle a'la carriage for the New Year.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Goose Down Forts in Duck Egg Blue

More alphabet inspired design cues, this time from the Middle East. Of particular interest in Doha's Cool Corner Suite is this headboard, or rather lack of one. Instead of being fixed to the bed, or protruding from the wall, the headboard is recessed in a gently curving cocoon of pale ivory and duck egg blue leather.

In retrospect it works brilliantly. Rather than shunting the bed out in to the middle of the bedroom, providing ample access to masked assailants and kidnappers [Design Trawler takes his night time security very seriously], the 'anti-headboard' gives the bed a reassuring 'design hug' and creates a wrap around, fort-like personal space that negates the need for dozens of goose-down castle walls.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Turning Walls Upside Down

Back in the days before Eames recliners and under floor heating, man had the clever idea of surrounding himself with walls. Clever because walls protected him from wind and sabre-tooth tigers, and especially clever because several thousand years later they provide ample opportunity for hanging Damien Hists, erecting great shelves filled with books and installing roaring fireplaces.

So walls are great, but unless you live in the Barcelona Pavilion, they also have a pesky tendency to block out light. But what if rather than blocking out the light, walls provided a internal source of light? That's the approach rAndom International have done with guest rooms at the W Taipei. Backlighting the very fabric of a room is blissfully simple and something I'd love to see upscaled in the design of an entire home.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Smart Toilets - Bottom of UK's List

Regular visitors to Japan will be familiar with the discretely positioned control panels in water closets across the country. While in the UK we're wirelessly streaming music around the house, operating heating from tablet and opening curtains with smartphones... we happily endure chilly loo seats.

But it's not for Japan's want of trying. Premier league toilet seat manufacturer Toto has had it's showroom in London's Clerkenwell for some years now, and even Samsung offer a remote control heating, washing and drying solution for under £200 (wireless streaming is of course, um, entirely optional).

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Mr Loewy's Office Express

Google's ubiquitous home page 'doodles' have many incarnations; but one that stopped me in my tracks (literally) was this month's homage to the a father of industrial design, Raymond Loewy. The search giant's moniker has been morphed in to an achingly attractive streamline-moderne locomotive reminiscent of Mr Loewy's Pennsylvania Railroad S1.

From transport [the iconic blue and white livery of Air Force One] to tableware [Le Creuset's Coquelle casserole dishes], Loewy's influence was impressive and still making it's mark. This handsome office tidy from Troika spotted in Moscow's Tsvetnow Central Market being case in point.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

That Trawler in the Window

London isn't known for its high-rise residential living. If you're not in the Shard's £50m penthouse, or perched high up in the Barbican's brutalist towers you're unlikely to have a Manhattan view. But for said tower-happy capitals, built-in daybeds like the one pictured here at the W Taipei are a sure win.

Snuggling up to a pane of glass on the 30th floor with a copy of Monocle magazine and the changing lights of the city on your shoulder is quite something. The oriental style window platform comes closest to beating a classic Eames lounger and a fireplace for ultimate comfort in consuming design tomes.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Design in Doha - World Cup Fever

With Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, Design Trawler thought it only prudent to fly in to Doha to check out the local design scene. Avoiding the obvious comparisons to other Gulf nations and a penchant for the diamond clad, gold plated and designer-trimmed, Doha is dabbling in design.

Lead by the W Hotel, and Dubai-based interiors store The One, football fever is very much on the cards. This suitably themed leather-clad coffee table sits alongside a similarly, um, forward expression of Premier League brand affiliation - because what footballer wouldn't want a Gucci stripe armchair?

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Article #200 - The Straw Donkey

When your Dad is Sir Norman Foster, and your husband, the former editor of Esquire and Wallpaper* Magazines, it's likely you'll have some wise things to say about design. India Knight, doesn't disappoint.

Speaking about how design has become democratised [first brought to my attention by BMW designer Chris Bangle], and echoing Sir David Tang's bashing of "overly done interior-designed numbers", Knight brilliantly speaks of 'straw donkies'; the things we display in our homes that we love. Freed of the tyranny of 'ghastly good taste', we're confident to design for a taste that is uniquely ours.

A fitting manifesto, and for Design Trawler's 200th article, something which I continue to believe in. For as 'tasteful' as show homes and hotel suites are, the very best interiors are the ones with the confidence to be original. Read the full article below...

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Bull Market Reflections

While cost-conscious consumers have been spurred on by the 'innocent smoothie' approach to quiet design and paired-down home crafts, the ultra wealthy have been charting new territories with taller, bigger and more innovative interiors than ever before. True of Moscow, like many global capitals, this Minotaur Mirror sits in the city's excellent DesignBoom store.

With the head of a bull, and body of... whoever happens to be gazing in to it, the functional/sculptural work is similar to the superb mirrored sculptures by Chelsea based artist Arran Gregory.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Havana Inspired Home Fragrance

I'll always remember the time I was at an 'open day' at London's Jermyn Street. From shirts to cigars, local stores were showcasing the best of London's fine handmade crafts. In the Davidoff shop on the corner of St. James, a father and his two young children were leaning over a Cuban craftsman rolling tobacco leaves in to perfect torpedoes. All three gazed over the man, with the father pointing to the perfectly cut cigars in formation; "look how they're all exactly the same size" - the delightful young daughter perfectly quipping "Daddy, this shop smells like you when you come back from London!"

Priceless. And if ever you wish to accentuate your home with the fragrance of Havana's finest, Boticario de Havana Fragrancia de Casa by Archipelago is the scent to go for. While not exactly the scent of 'Daddy ex London', think coffee, jojoba and tobacco flower with extracts of orange, sugar cane & pineapple.

Friday, 27 March 2015

The Penny Floor that Started a Craze

In 2011, I posted an article about how I glued 7,500 one penny coins to my kitchen floor. I never imagined the impact that the penny floor would have. I didnt' even coin the term 'penny floor' [excuse the pun!] - But if I had a penny for the number of links, pins, posts and times I've been introduced as the guy who covered his floor in 1p coins, well, I could probably do several more penny floors! [2p floor anybody?]

I've had questions on how it was done; including one from a prominent architecture firm with a penchant for picked cucumbers; seen a bizarre range of templates and tutorials on the subject, and been asked how it has coped with daily wear and tear [fine actually, and it hasn't turned green!]

Celebrating Design Trawler's launch on Pinterest, you can now view the original images from the famous penny floor in high resolution, along with one or two more from the present day. Stay tuned for the real how to guide - from preparing your floor through to sourcing, laying and protecting your pennies.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Design as Metaphor - Yachtside

We can't be lounging poolside or by the Wallypower all the time -  but the innovative hand blown shade of Shikai Tseng and Hansei Chen's Ripple Lamp recreates the magical reflections conjured by the vida del mar on your mantle. Spotted at London Design week and manufactured by Austrian firm Lobmeyer.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Gallerie Gastronomique - Open Shelving

You know the situation. You pop down to your locally curated food store for the weekly shop, and spend £100 on four types of single estate olive oil in interesting glass bottles, several jars of preserve with typographic white labels and a tube of goodness-knows-what because it's covered in Japanese kanji.

But that's fine, because to paraphrase the rules for living by Unhappy Hipsters "It is better to focus on the pure joy of being close to high design than to [buy food that you can actually eat]". Just so long as you have open kitchen storage to display your collection of contemporary Nicolas Vahe condiments [pictured]

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Popeworthy Suite Design

The Bristol Hotel's 92m² Deluxe Suite in Warsaw is the sort of suite you'd want to marry. While the Versailles-like Paderewski Suite makes a great one night stand stay (if you're fond of Louis IXV furniture), the design elements of it's little cousin should feature in any apartment worth it's designer [bath] salt.

Take the living room - The desk behind the sofa allows you to glance up from your affairs and keep an eye on BBC News on TV, your guests by the fireplace, and staff entering through the impressive double doors. Very Feng-Shui. It's got a wrap-around balcony that'd make the Pope jealous and an excellent system of 'break glass in emergency' connecting bedrooms... in case you have an emergency visit from said Pontiff.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

U+ Suspend Clock by Alan Wisniewski

I've always loved contemporary artist/taxidermist Polly Morgan's sculptures. Some feature birds with a delicate balloon suspended in a glass dome. These domes are an iconic way of drawing attention to precious objects, and the fragility of the whole ensemble creates a museum-like artefact to behold.

Alan Wisniewski has got it perfectly right with his Suspend Clock for Umbra's premium U+ Studio Collection. The walnut clock face cleverly floats in mid air, it's contour perfectly matching the dome around it. Like Polly's balloons, the effect is fragile and mesmerising. Time captured and suspended.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

RIP Amex Centurion - The Hyundaicard Black

It's time to retire your American Express Centurion card. I never thought I'd say it, but the gilded frame has had its day. When you're in the mood to acquire serious design you need an equally seriously payment method [sadly, this is one occasion when Design Trawler favourite Ozwald Boateng is a little low brow]

Hyundaicard have been designing and exhibiting designer plastic metal in Korea since 2003. Each card is designed to perfection but it's the top tier that stands apart. The top offering, 'The Black' is, like the Centurion, made of metal, but eschews decoration in favour of enigmatic iconigraphy.

Such is the strengths of the Hyundaicard design, that Mastercard have been convinced to move their logo to the rear of the card, as not to upset the subtle dimple on the card's bottom right corner. Limited to 2,000 global VIP's [each getting access to a dedicated 'clubhouse' in downton Seoul], our man at Hyundai informs us that Design Hero Tyler Brûlé get's on particularly well with the Korean invitation committee.

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Private Members Club Lamp

I first saw the Taccia lamp, perched on the riveted aluminium bar at the subterranean City-boy hangout and private members club, Eight Moorgate in London. Since then, the bar and the lamp have become firm favourites with both, again, influencing what good looks like on Design Trawler.

Designed by the Castiglioni brothers for Flos in 1962, the Taccia marries an extruded black aluminium 'gear' shaped body with hand blown 'searchlight' powder-coated difuser. Unless it's nickel-plated and zapon-varnished [like the base of the Taccia] any other table lamp is not worth discussing.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Roadster Sofas from Bark

If ever man tried to create a formula for successful design, the elements of black walnut, fine leather and architectural curves would be essential. The achingly smart Kustom Armchair by Bark Furniture is an automatic 'yes' and features an exaggerated 'roadster' silhouette that'd compliment your E-Type nicely.

Curiously, the dramatic sloping profile is superbly comfortable and far easier to get out of than the scalloped shaped sides may suggest. Made to order in a range of sizes and fabrics from Bute in Scotland.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Hotrod for High-Octane Sencha

Looking at this diamond bevelled detailing, you'd be forgiven for thinking Design Trawler has taken a trip to the workshop of Enzo Ferrari. Indeed the jewel-like finishing is illuminated in rosso red from within it's polished chrome body. It's not to be found in a high-spec garage, but rather, the kitted out kitchen.

Original 'boiling water tap' firm Quooker, has engineered a child-proof push and turn mechanism for it's Fusion and Nordic taps worthy of old man Enzo himself. The only tap with a patented vacuum system of storing water above 100°c, Quooker delivers on demand torque steam for high-octane sencha.
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