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Thursday, 12 October 2017

Destination Dubai - Armani Hotel is a Triumph

I learnt an important lesson recently in Dubai. In a place well known for it's debaucherous design and decoration, there is a property that is spectacularly significant. You know the building; the Burj Khalifa. It is the world's tallest building with 163 floors, and on par perhaps only with the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab, when it comes to impressive architectural icons.

Both burjān [plural for burj, don't you know] mark an important maturing of the region's design vernacular from the ostentatious, sometimes post-modern, to the elegant and iconic. I remember visiting the Burj Al Arab when it first opened in 1999, and gawked at the ostentatious interiors that seemed so at odds with the sweeping minimalist exterior form.

When I heard that that the Burj Khalifa was to feature an Armani Hotel, my heart sank a little. 'Here we go again', I thought. It's going to be an exercise in radical over-the-topness appealing to little other than those with a penchant for coordinating gold plated Bugatti Veyron's with gold plated bathroom taps - another opportunity missed for design in Dubai.

Design Trawler checked-in to the Armani Hotel Duabi - and couldn't have been more wrong...

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

BMW's Precision & Poetry in Motion

With over 300 events taking place as part of this year's London Design Festival, there is no getting away from the scale and brilliance of the capital's most important week for design. Nothing emphasised this more than the opening reception held, as always at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Raphael Gallery showcases Raphael's seven surviving tapestry designs commissioned by Pope Leo X for the Sistine Chapel. In to this celestial space, Adrian van Hooydonk, Director of Design for BMW Group [and apparent advocate for using a pencil a fashion accessory; check out his pocket] introduces us to Ed Barber and Jay Osgerby's awe-inspiring 'Precision & Poetry in Motion'. Two gigantic chrome aerofoils that slowly and independently rotate in the cathedral like hall.

Reflecting, distorting, and almost brushing the priceless artworks owned by the Queen [and also the heads of the guests beneath it!], the superstructure was assembled entirely on site and precariously swings from a superstructure that seems too dainty to support it. Make no mistake, if BMW's name wasn't firmly attached to the project I wouldn't have have stood anywhere near the gigantic flattening irons of doom; no matter how much the Belle Epoque flowed. Without doubt however one of the finest things I've seen in a museum since Brancusi's Bird in Space landed at the V&A in 2003. See it. See it *right* now.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Digital Damien is Picture Perfect

The argument typically goes like this. "It's a bunch of coloured spots on a canvas, I could do that!". "Yes, but you didn't". Argument over. A brief history of the art critique of the world's richest living artist, Damien Hirst then. His work is brilliant because it is simple, [usually] original, and provocative.

I was most pleased therefore when it struck me, in an equally simple and brilliant moment of inspiration, that Hirst's pickled shark, or rather, 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living' is perfectly suited to feature as digital art spanning three monitors in the study.

Unlike a digital print, mounted on canvas, or even aluminium, the TFT's emit a vivid light that renders the life aquatic just as it would on exhibition in the Saatchi Gallery. At night, the cool illumination is spectacular, so much so, that I'm considering upscaling the concept using much larger LCD televisions...
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