It’s been three years since Secret 7″ arrived in the capital, inviting creatives from across the globe to design record sleeves for songs by well-known musicians. But there’s more to this project than just a very cool collaboration of art forms; it’s an open brief for a collective of renowned and budding artists to let their imagination run wild with some of the biggest songs in the world as their inspiration, while it also offers a clever way for art and music lovers to lend their support to a charitable cause. The 700 sleeves are sold at the end of the exhibition, with all proceeds going to the Nordoff Robbins charity which offers musical therapy to vulnerable children and adults. And with contributors including Yoko Ono, Martin Parr and Sir Peter Blake creating their interpretation of hits by The Chemical Brothers, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Maccabees, Peter Gabriel, The Rolling Stones, St. Vincent and The Underworld this year, the £50-a-pop sleeves are well worth the investment. Check out this show before it wraps up on the 3rd of May – the sale takes place on Bank Holiday Monday, but for more information visit www.secret-7.com. Click here to check out a photogallery of our recent visit!
It’s fair to say that the world’s digital explosion in the last 40 years has been something like a phenomenon. Rapid, progressive and artistic all at the same time, we’ve seen it stretch across many facets of life and industries – and this generous show at the Barbican does its best to present as much of this under one roof. Visitors are first met by retro games and inventions in the Digital Archaeology section. As the unmistakable ching-ching-ching of Sonic the Hedgehog collecting coins in the legendary platform game resonates around the room, there’s a chance to play Pong and Super Mario Bros and see the first website by Tim Berners-Lee. Walk further into the exhibition and you notice greater nods to technology in music (musos can feast their eyes on a Linn LM-1 drum machine), education (remember Speak & Spell?) film (Inception and Gravity get a look-in) and home computing, with screens showcasing old-school browsers like Netscape while you can see the development of Apple computers back when the corporation had a rainbow logo, and later spread some colour to the bulbous iMac G3.
And that’s just the beginning. You’ll spend hours admiring and playing with creative art as you experience commissioned works from a range of digital filmmakers, technicians, artists, fashion designers and musicians including willi.am. A graphic of the pop star towers over visitors like a modern day Pharoah in the State of Play section, watching you as you move and belting out a new track – autotuned, naturally – that he penned exclusively for the show. It’s kind of freaky but still impressive, like the rest of this mighty project that presents digital technology to creative extremes you simply couldn’t make up. And yet incredibly, some very clever people did. On until 14th September. For tickets, visit the website. Digital Revolution Trailer from Barbican Centre on Vimeo.
Though October has just begun, we’re already looking forward to the 22nd, when the Barbican launches a massive new show revealing the playful collision between the pop art tradition and world of design. Pop Art Design is a comprehensive collection of artworks which make those bold statements the legendary genre was best known for when it emerged 50 years ago – so there’s the provocative commentary on the cult of celebrity and consumerism, but it all goes beyond graphics and paintings to feature some of the designs, objects, architecture and interiors inspired by the movement.
There’s over 200 works from 70 iconic and lesser known artists and designers including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Achille Castiglioni, and alongside the exhibition will be events, talks, tours, workshops and film screenings, all running up until February 2014. For more info, visit: www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery/event-detail.asp?ID=14797
Personally I blame the Shard, that’s what started this obsession with things in London being high and tall. There’s no more mere five storey buildings for us – if you don’t have to crane your neck to look at its very top, it’s just not getting built in the capital anymore. While not quite skyscraper status, the Endless Stair installation – with its 187 steps – will allow visitors to climb up towards the sky and provide a new viewing platform and feature in London’s attractions. The 436 metre interactive structure is made of a series of 20 interlocking staircases, inspired by drawings of M.C. Escher which is clearly evident when viewing the structure. From photos the piece slightly resembles a children’s jungle playground frame with visitors navigating the steps which turn up and down, left, right and everywhere testing our visual and physical perceptions. Located just outside the famous riverbank art space of the Tate Modern the new installation is being raved as one of the landmark and pivotal pieces from this year’s London Design Festival and was designed by architectural firm dRMM.Endless Stair can accommodate a maximum of 93 people at a time so arrive early or be prepared for queues. (Words: Lucy Palmer) On until 10th October 2013, admission is free. For more info, visit www.londondesignfestival.com/endless-stair
With some many events taking place at this year’s London Design Festival, where do you begin? Try the Design Junction – a hub of inspiration, new ideas and over 100 international design brands showcasing all that’s exciting and innovative in design and culture.
Spread across three floors of a vast 1960s sorting office, you’ll find a wide variety of items from mid-century modern furniture to vintage design classics, fashion to fine jewellery, glassware to ceramics, books, lighting and more. Leading designers and critics will also be engaging in talks and debates covering a wide variety of topics including 21st Century design and its future giving you the chance to share your own opinions.
Further installations in the impressive building include a series of interactive Flash Factories, where the processes of industrial production will be brought to life courtesy of some of the world’s leading design manufacturers including leading furniture designers Thonet. And Art and design collective The Decorators will be producing a hand-built cinema structure to host talks and film screenings entitled ‘Architecture to watch films by’ where the relationship between film and architecture can be examined.
There’s plenty of space to rest your feet, shop and eat with gelato from Gelupo, fresh seasonal British food from Canteen and the best quality coffee and snacks from Soho staple Fernandez & Wells. And in the evening, Design Junction will become the late night destination of choice with live DJs celebrating the best of design and culture, attributes at the heart of London life. (Words: Lucy Palmer)
Open Thursday 20 September 10am-7pm, Friday 21 September & Saturday 22 September
10am-6pm, Sunday 23 September 10am-5pm. Visit www.thedesignjunction.co.uk for further info.