Monday, 31 August 2009

Nicholson Street Mall, Melbourne

I first spotted this scheme in the recent edition of Topos, the funky european design magazine, and wasn't entirely sure if I liked it. Since then it seems to have grown on me. So much so that I've been happily putting images of it into a presentation, and promising clients that I'll make their prison look just like it!

Yes it's brash (it is in Australia), but I also think it's colourful, fun and the perfect response to a dowdy, tired looking part of town. While it makes a bold statement, with the jagged yellow paving slashing through it, it's clear that the individual spaces within it are well thought out and have a nice human scale, which is unusual in such a highly stylised design. I also like the fact that no two elements within the scheme are entirely alike.

The designers of the scheme were landscape architects from Hassell, and in 2008 it recieved an AILA award.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Inspiration - Charles Rennie Mackintosh Watercolours

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was one of my earliest inspirations as a designer, and I was pleased when I read that his design for Glasgow School of Art had been voted the "Stirling of Stirling's" (or best building of all the buildings voted best building):

However, it seems to me that while his buildings are admired and people now have pencil cases and coffee mugs with his designs on (what is it with stained glass too?), his painting is overlooked. I absolutely love the watercolours he produced later in his life, so thought I should post a few on here.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Blowing my own trumpet - On a Lagoon Garden

For some reason, I thought it would be fun to post some old images of my University work. I designed a garden based on Paul Klee's painting, "City on a Lagoon" and subsequently posted a few images up on a hastily put together website.

It's all a little bit amateurish, but I should point out that the 3D renders were very cutting edge for 1997. Enjoy!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Cycle Stands

Cycle stands are invariably pretty boring. The Sheffield stand (see above) is pretty universally used, and while there are other designs for cycle stands, they're not particularly exciting either. Hence, I was interested to see that David Byrne (yes, him out of the Talking Heads) has produced some arty, cycle stands to try and get people riiding their bikes in New York. I think they're pretty cool.

I like the way he's themed them according to where they are. Hence the dollar sign is on Wall Street, the shoe is on a shopping street and rather unsurprisingly, the coffee mug is outside a coffee shop. It's quite an interesting idea and has had me wondering how you could do something similar in the UK: Crown shaped stands outside Buckingham Palace. A pint glass outside a pub. A cycle stand shaped like a small child outside a school...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Billy Bollard

I’ve been mildly obsessed with ‘Billy Bollard’, ever since I heard that Marshall's had produced an impact-resistant, plastic post, shaped like a small child. We actually tried to order one as a sample in our office, and I was bitterly disappointed when it never turned up (did they think we were taking the piss?). Suffice to say that I've been hoping to come across one on my travels.

Hence it was pleasant surprise, when I spotted some on a detour to work last week. A whole bunch of Billy and Belinda Bollards have been installed outside Avenue Road School in Clarendon Park, Leicester. In reality, they're even more bizarre than I expected. Being so much smaller than real children is a little bit jarring - I found myself wondering if I'd accidentally eaten some sort of psychotropic plant!

The idea (and I can nearly see what they're getting at), is that drivers see the "school children" and unconsciously slow down and drive more carefully. Supposedly thinking, "I'd better watch out for those children at the edge of the road." Unfortunately, I think it's more likely that drivers will think think they've inadvertently fallen asleep at the wheel, and are now having a macabre nightmare.

Don't look in the eyes! They'll turn you into Ferrocast, imitation cast-iron!!!

They just look sinister to me. I found myself imaging an evil partnership between the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Dr. Gunther Von Hagens; enticing under-sized orphans off the street and into their caravan with offers of Sunny Delight and Haribo's, before whisking them off to their factory to turn them into shrunken, plasticised half-child/half-bollard hybrids.

"My friend Gunther will give you all the candy you ever need! Ha ha ha!!!"

Or maybe it's like an episode of Doctor Who; the Billy Bollards are quietly positioning themselves around our cities, before they eventually rise up and conquor the world!

"You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?"

I like how they've done an asian version of Billy Bollard, seeing as how we're in Leicester (Billy being the original boy and Belinder the girl that followed). How about Billvinder?!?

I'd be interested to hear what other people think of Billy Bollard.