So I’ve been a little busy..I bought my very own vintage industrial sewing machine and have found production to be about a 999% faster and easier. And thus I bring to you the first taste of Spring – Pre-disastered. This is a reference to a movie ‘The World According to Garp’. Basically it means I take skins that are imperfect and celebrate the fact that they already disastered, there is nothing left to ruin. Some will have minor holes or scuffs that will not compromise structural strength but add and create a new idea of beauty. For a clutz such as myself, this is pretty much the perfect scenario – last week at Brunch I jumped the last step going down the stairs and hit the lowered ceiling with my forehead – since I can’t seem to get through a week without disastering myself or something around me. Check it and buy it here or here. Stay tuned, more genius bags and accessories to come in this range.
Monthly Archives: March 2009
How much do you adore Facebook, I mean really you can admit it. Aside from all the front page changes and learning your best friend has been fired through her status update it is the quickest way to spread news both good and bad. I checked out this article from a friend of mine linked that The Guardian reported back in February. With the downturn in shopping as we all find ways to save pennies and spend smarter it’s inevitable that the retail market goes through a kind of survival of the fittest evolution. Leaving empty store fronts and tumble weeds in it’s wake. One solution to give at least meager rent and occupation is allowing artists and small business entrepreneurs who likely wouldn’t be able to afford the usual set up to take over and regenerate dead spaces.
Full article below. What do you think of this and who would be interested to approach local business organizations to duplicate this in their communities?
Robert Booth – The Guardian
To most, the ring of hammer on nail as shop windows are boarded up on Britain’s struggling high streets can only mean unemployment and decline. But for a growing band of optimists, it heralds a golden opportunity.
Artists and curators have begun colonising “slack space” freed up by the recession and are transforming vacant shops into “creative squats”, galleries and studios.
Former branches of shops including Woolworths and Carphone Warehouse, as well as independent stores, have been colonised to house community cafes and performance art events and promote the work of local artists.
The slack space movement has echoes in previous slumps when many now successful architects, magazine publishers and artists moved into vacant premises. There is certainly room for creativity again. One in six shops will be vacant by the end of the year, according to the data company Experian. It predicts that 72,000 retail outlets could close during 2009, more than doubling the number of empty units to 135,000 in the UK.
In a struggling 1970s shopping centre in Margate, local artists have been allowed to take over about a dozen recently closed stores that sold everything from computer games to fruit and vegetables.
Justin Mitchell and Emily Firmin, who inherited her craft skills from her father Peter Firmin, the creator of Bagpuss, are planning to open a papier-mache workshop in a disused greengrocer’s shop. They will produce works in front of shoppers to brighten up other disused shop fronts.
“We are coating the windows with vinyl in bright seaside colours and there will be an aperture in the middle revealing a box in which will be a model suggesting what a shop could become,” said Heather Sawney, arts development director at Thanet district council. “There might be a giant lobster to suggest a fishmonger or a huge muffin suggesting a cake shop. We are trying to stimulate people’s imagination because in these tough economic times things can become a bit dreary.”
“Rather than letting lots of pound shops appear, we are encouraging people to start up businesses,” said Firmin. “We know recessions are awful but can be a good time for artists as creative ideas start appearing while otherwise redundant people are sitting at home fiddling and doing creative stuff.”
In Dursley, Gloucestershire, artists have colonised a parade of disused shops where they sell their paintings, photographs and ceramics. The flaking window frames of a closed skateboard shop, photography shop and an upholsterer have been repainted and the displays given over to a rotating gallery of 20 artists.
“This part of Dursley has been run down for a long time so moving in here has been a fantastic thing,” said Gillie Harris, a painter and textile artist who is occupying the defunct photography shop. “Those of us involved think it could be repeated across England and Wales where the recession is hitting their market towns.”
Karen Hillyard, the project co-ordinator, said: “By showcasing local artists we help the regeneration of the town [and] at the same time give the appearance of productivity. There is nothing more dreary than walking through a town with a desolate feel.”
The idea of creative reuse of Britain’s high street failures is spreading. Ted Cantle, executive chairman of the Institute of Community Cohesion, which advises the government, has called for the conversion of vacant Woolworths stores across the country into modern market halls, populated by farmers’ outlets and local businesses. Cantle said it would return vibrancy to struggling town centres in a downturn that he described as an opportunity to loosen the stranglehold of national and multinational brands.
“I’d like to see more local shops and services operating in the high street so there would be more differentiation, say, between Southampton and Sunderland,” he said. “The first occupants could be the local farmers who presently have to contend with all weathers on windswept car parks. They could share refrigeration, storage, cash handling and marketing, gaining a prominent daily foothold in the high street, benefiting from the economies of scale.”
The branch of Woolworths in Stroud, Gloucestershire, which closed its doors on 6 January, is about to be turned over to artists after the council gained temporary permission to bring it back to life. The town centre manager, Vicky Hancock, plans to hand over the windows to artists. In Dorchester, Claire Robertson, a former Woolworths manager, has spotted a commercial opportunity and is planning to reopen the store as Wellworths, selling pick ‘n’ mix sweets, toys, home and kitchen items and textiles. She believes she will turn over £2m a year and hopes it will earn the nickname Wellies.
There are likely to be many opportunities to bring new life to old Woolworths stores. Sources close to the deal to dispose of the 800 shops believe up to 200 may not find a tenant within two years.
“Slack space” caused by business closures during recessions has provided a foothold for numerous successful businesses. Neal’s Yard Remedies, the cosmetics company which now operates across the US and Japan as well as in the UK was established by Romy Fraser in a disused warehouse in Covent Garden, central London, in 1981.
Three years earlier in Bath at the end of the recession of the mid-1970s, a group of architects moved into a recently closed greengrocer’s shop before buying the whole building for just £10,000. The firm, now called Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, last year won the Stirling prize for the best new building by a British architect.
The Roundhouse in Camden, north London, became a thriving cultural venue in the 1960s and 1970s from the hulk of a disused railway shed, while in Manchester in the early 1980s young entrepreneur Tom Bloxham set up a T-shirt business in Affleck’s Palace, a fashion market in a disused building in the city’s Northern Quarter. He is now the chairman of Urban Splash, a property development firm which had a £57m turnover in 2007.
Every now and again you find a designer who is doing some seriously original and interesting designs. I don’t know about you but the last time I was wearing a necklace of human hair or earrings of pony tail was probably…never. Rackk and Ruin also does a mean blog here, which you need to follow as well. To get your own piece of R & R shop here.
The onset of Spring in New York is heralded not so much by daffodils or tulips but by the presence of models wondering the streets. These genetically bless creatures with impossibly long limbs, swinging shiny hair and skin dermatologists dream about materialize on subways and sidewalks for Fashion Week in NYC. I worked the back end pouring wine at a couple of events giving me the side curtain view like a peeking child.
One of the smaller shows was Bodkin. The event was held at the Horticultural Society Offices, tying in perfectly their commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly fashion. From underneath the Fig Tree I got a great site line of what Fall/Winter 09/10 will see you and I wearing. With a relaxed atmosphere of music playing and yours truly pouring pinot gris, it felt more like a house party somewhere off of the L train. The crowd were cool kids no doubt from L.E.S or BK. The collection was definitely geared toward this crowd – rompers, micro dresses, skin tight leggings – overall extremely wearable. With the likes of Lykke Li vamping it up in their gears, count me in.