Monday, February 27, 2012

Hockney: The Art of Seeing

I thoroughly, thoroughly recommend that you watch the Hockney documentary which aired on BBC2 this evening. He is so articulate, so self-knowing and so inspired by change of all kinds, that it really was a revelation.

In one part of the programme, Hockney talks about how memory affects how we see the world. That no two people can ever look at the same thing in the same way. And, in that sense, we are all alone. But, while even he laughs slightly at his bleak philosophy, there is something magical about that idea. How boring would this world be if we all looked and saw in the same way?

It feels somewhat trite to say, but Instagram is confirmation of this beautiful aloneness we all experience. The ease and speed of the platform allows us all to share what we each are noticing in the world; the little things which prick our memories and emanate with individual meaning. On a larger, more artistic way, this is precisely the mentality Hockney seems to be both reflecting and encouraging in his RA show. The eighteen screen, moving image landscape allows each viewer to focus on what they are drawn to, not what the artist intends.

Whether it be time shifting the seasons, or providing the passage for technological progress, Hockney's embrace of it is a lesson for us all.

David Hockney: The Art of Seeing

Monday, February 20, 2012

The rise and rise of the social media audience

First they were ignored. Then they were the enemy. Then they were tolerated. Then they were given first look via Twitter. Now they get a formal invitation.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Divorce Decor

What is this about? A new interior design specialism focuses on an emerging breed of client, the divorced man. According to a piece on the New York Times, divorcees are looking to create homes "fit for a family" but that also "appeals to dates". Apparently "a very large television" and the "persistent problem" of exposed wiring are key considerations for today's post-marriage singles. Niche interiors company, Sexy Bachelor Pad claim to bring "a sense of playfulness, humor, & down-to-earth communication to what has the tendency to feel overwhelming and stressful to most men". Loosely translated, the implication is that that black satin sheets are out, 500-thread count waffle bedding is in.

This is white people problem solving at its best. Identify a latent need, and commercialise the hell out of it. Time was that first wives had only to worry that the 'other woman' was a pert blonde who graduated in the same decade as the kids. Now, it's the ex-director of design and brand experience for W Hotels who's the major threat. Susan Manrao works her decorative magic through "vignettes" and "whimsical details" to ensure her gentlemen clients avoid the hermit existence of a man cave, and instead feel confident breaking in the Sabatier knife collection over some porcini mushrooms, while their dates admire the exposed brickwork.

Evidently, frisky divorcees are too preoccupied with the transformative power of an A.P.C linen blend blazer and splashing out on leather iPad covers to bother with such mundane issues as "procuring art" and "reallocating space". Le sigh.

Photos courtesy of The Sartorialist

Saturday, February 04, 2012

"Do something first. Then talk about it"

I just watched a Style Forum Special on Tom Ford twice. Having spent the first time crawling around on the floor lusting after Tom “three baths a day” Ford, the second time through I was actually able to focus on what the man was saying. And he’s pretty bloody on it.


Tom Ford - the man, the creator, the brand - has always been up there with Perrier on my list of most favourite brands ever. But the purchase of a Tom Ford lipstick cemented his position at the top. I’m becoming far too long in the tooth to get evangelical about branding, and Selfridges in the Sales is enough to murder anyone’s sense of “brand experience”. So I wasn’t holding out much hope when I elbowed my way through to the concession. But there, laid out like gilt-edged weaponry, was the most incredible, brand-led packaging I’ve ever seen. The bustling crowd faded away, the orange-tinted sales assistant disappeared, and the bright shopping lights dimmed to a sexy flicker - I was in Tom Ford world.

In the film, Tom explains where the brand story emanates from. He says, “You have to look inside yourself… You start to develop a vocabulary that is a personality. And the brand then takes on a personality based on your personality”. And man, is it one dashing personality - sultry, meticulous, and unarguably gorgeous. It’s a brand personality so astoundingly charming, so memorable, that it has to power to filter down through the couture collection, through the pret-a-porter collection, through the accessories, through the cosmetics and, finally, through to packaging. Never before have I seen a cardboard lipstick box so loaded with meaning, suggestion and story.

It’s not just rock hard branding that infuses Tom Ford products, stores and packaging with that heady scent of je ne sais quoi, however. Dissecting his working practices, Tom reveals, “The clues for everything that's going to come next are here now. And either you're a sleuth and you're thinking about it cerebrally or you feel it. There are no right or wrong answers - it's intuitive”. This “intuition” was there when he transformed Gucci in the nineties, and YSL in the noughties, and it’s here now too in the thousand-doller suits and in this little lipstick box. Knife-sharp lines in a world of soft curves, real attitude in a sea of subtlety.