Left hand: Everything Tastes Better with Cat Hair In It coffee mug. Right hand: Pro-Stock Lite Louisville Slugger. Soundscape: Mary Anne Hobbs. Your scribe is ready to open the vault door of the COVER blog archive and flip on the squirrel cage lightbulb. Unauthorised link bait and spam jink like cockroaches. Your scribe is on a mission. Time to tidy. (cont)

Coffee mug, David Bowie and architecture books on The Scribe's desk

Coffee mug, David Bowie V&A and architecture books on The Scribe’s desk

When the sun goes down “smash some windows, make some noise” sings Bowie in the background. Fortunately your scribe is wielding the bat with caution and the vault is windowless, rather the vault crawl reveals COVER favourites from the past like Chevalier Masson’s dérapage contrôlé. CM’s monochrome digital line print on sheer curtains appears to be out of production, but your scribe votes for the line to be brought back. As it’s snowing in London (coldest Spring in fifty years) your scribe covets Chevalier’s Warp fingerless mittens, the better to grip mug and bat, thank you very much. (cont)

Warp fingerless mittens by Chevalier Masson. col. navy - photo:photo: Filip Vanzieleghem Photo: Filip Vanzieleghem

Warp fingerless mittens by Chevalier Masson.100% wool, merinos/mohair.
Photo: Filip Vanzieleghem

Next up in the vault crawl greatest hits is Chae Young Kim. No words needed. Just admire the Knits Unraveled room-set for Lane Crawford. Your scribe spent rather too much time in Lane Crawford on previous visits to Hong Kong, and were she in possession of an AMEX Platinum she would hoover up the lot. The store’s website describes Kim’s “Knitted Room” collection as the outcome of “2-D vector graphics” to “reinterpret the warmth of knitted threads”. It isn’t easy to translate hand-knits to flat graphics, but Kim excels.

Today’s vault crawl ends with Where Can I go?. Well out of the vault until next time, that’s where we go. Archive highlights project continues for the next two weeks. Stop by again soon. DJ

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First day of Spring 2013 is achieved, and now it’s almost time for sum, sum, summertime. Blazing glory is three months distant for northern climes, and yes London’s sufferance of summer gloom will likely continue, but nevertheless your scribe is thinking summer madras and madness. Fans of the American television series Mad Men will remember the eye popping splendour of Pete Campbell’s madras plaid suit. Too bold? Too bright? Too retro for now? Wrong. Madras has been a perennial US summer favourite since the Jazz Age (did fictional Jay Gatsby own Madras shorts? Likely), and its legacy is sterling. (Cont)

Osborne & Little Trapani Madras Spring 2013

Osborne & Little Trapani Madras Spring 2013

When Cole Porter sang “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” he meant folk like Elihu Yale, i.e. denizens of the Northern Hemisphere who become intoxicated by the Southern Hemisphere’s hot sun on tap. Said to be the first Yank to wear madras, Yale spent 27 years as Governor of the East India Company at Madras (now known as Chennai), India. Local fascination with Scottish tartans is said to be the source for Madras plaid designs. Maybe Yale’s Madras office was decorated with a forerunner print similar to the portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie in a tartan suit which by comparison makes Campbell’s Mad Men madras look rather conservative. (Cont)

Osborne & Little Trapani Madras

Osborne & Little Trapani Madras

Your scribe longs for barbecues with dads in chef hats and madras board shorts manning the poolside grill, but in lieu of that and in expectation of a damp squib London summer, your scribe suggests SAD sufferers, Mad Men fans and Madras aficionados buy Osborne & Little’s Trapani from the Lorca Silk Road Collection. A riff rather than a replica of traditional Madras plaid, Trapani’s colourways include pink and Indian sunshine yellow which will lift spirits in any hemisphere. Whatever the source, Madras has stayed the course through preppy Ivy League alignment, to parody in National Lampoon’s Animal House, to Andy Spade’s recent reinvention of the classic. And so too Osborne & Little’s Trapani is the bright note sun lovers can count on for Summer 2013. DJ

Osborne & Little Trapani

Osborne & Little Trapani fabric

Woven in linen and cotton Red Meander was designed by Anni Albers, famed alumnus of the Bauhaus in Germany and founding faculty member at the legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina. It was she who can be credited with developing and disseminating a revolution in 20th century contemporary textile design and production. But is Meander truly a meander or is it more mythical maze? (Cont)

Christopher Farr Rugs, Red Meander by Anni Albers. Weave raised Aubusson, handspun wool.

Christopher Farr, Red Meander by Anni Albers. Weave raised Aubusson, handspun wool.

The word meander calls to mind a loose, loopy gambol not a rectilinear purposeful path. Albers’ pattern recalls labyrinth floors like St Quentin, Chartres Cathedral or the infamous labyrinthos of Greek mythology.

Daedelus designed the labyrinth to cage King Minos’ stealth weapon – the “man-bull” Minotaur. At war with mainland Athens, the island King prevailed and demanded “tributes” of Athenian youth every nine years to feed the Minotaur. Enough was enough. Athens sent Theseus to Crete. He got lucky. It was un coup de foudre when the King’s daughter saw him. Betraying dad, she gave Theseus the secret directions to the heart of the labyrinth. “Forwards, down and never left or right”, and she gave him a ball of yarn to unroll as back-up “map”. Theseus killed the man-bull. Fair fight? No. Theseus had a sword. Poor Minotaur. Trapped his whole life in a maze, no friends, and infrequent feedings. Cruel. (Cont)

ancient graffiti

Pompeii labyrinth graffito 79 AD

Whatever Albers’ influence for Meander, it seems she may have inspired Keith Haring, or is it only your scribe who sees similarities between Meander and Haring’s hip hop graffiti?

Original Anni Albers rugs and textiles are found in private collections, museums and The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. Several exemplary contemporary dealers are authorised by the Foundation to sell renditions of Meander. Alan Cristea Gallery sells screenprints, and Christopher Farr sells the rug. Find Farr in London or better still, stop by COVER’s Forza Tappeti: The Rug Revolution exhibition at Edit during Milan Design Week next month to see Meander and more. DJ

Twelve years before Ulf Moritz was born there was a celebratory summer knees-up at the Bauhaus in Dessau. Georg Muche, Master and Head of Weaving was leaving for a post in Berin, and he and his wife El were guests of honour at a party held in their soon-to-be former home designed by Walter Gropius and furnished by Marcel Breuer.

Casmir by Ulf Moritz for Sahco

Casmir by Ulf Moritz for Sahco. Woven satin and velour ribbons furnishing textile.

A decade later Muche founded the Masters for Textile Art at the Textile Engineering School in Krefeld, and twenty years later a young Ulf Moritz and his mother wandered the halls during enrollment looking for the fashion studio. Instead they found the textile studio and Moritz became one of Muche’s most successful students. Moritz acknowledges the influence of the Bauhaus, but his work transcends the Bauhaus and is recognised as revelatory and innovative. His portfolio includes collections for Sahco Hesslein, and for those like your scribe who appreciate the Bauhaus legacy but prefer contemporary design, Ulf Moritz is the artist you seek. DJ

Tressa by Ulf Moritz for Sahco

Tressa furnishing textile by Ulf Moritz for Sahco Hesslein

Baby it’s cold outside. Named after the Roman god of war, the month of March made its namesake proud this week with an unexpected catapult of siege snow across southern Britain. But icy temperatures aren’t just for outside. If you work at Facebook HQ it’s “wintry” inside too.

FB’s founding father keeps the office thermostat at °F 59 (°C 15), which sounds quite balmy to the hardy folk at COVER HQ, but is apparently too cold for FB folk. Your scribe suggests Zuckerberg get on the dog and bone and order FilzFelt’s toasty Puritan plain but Pantone pretty thick wool felt rugs and felt wall covers.

If photos are accurate FB staff suffer from more than cold. The interior design looks more CAFO feed lot than social media Mount Olympus. FilzFelt floors, walls, screens and some natty felt cubes will soften FB’s corporate clink look. A beautified interior and the illusion, if not the reality, of warmth means the big kahuna can keep the thermostat snugly on “cold”. DJ

FitzFelt

FitzFelt CNC cut, hand-stitched, 100% wool felt rug. FilzFelt client: Hacin + Associates

Yesterday’s highway led to the press preview for the V&A exhibition Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars, but hours later the byway landed your scribe in Goa. Googling for information on English traders, your scribe chanced across a print from Jan Huygen van Linschoten’s Itinerario (1596) detailing his stay (1583-1588) in the Portuguese colony of Goa on the Indian subcontinent. The print is full of action, but it’s the row of houses in the background that holds a nugget of information for textile buffs and fans of line drying.

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Itinerario, Jan Huygen van Linschoten. John Carter Brown Library, Brown University

The upper windows of each house have what appear to be shallow balconies. But are they balconies or rather clever drying racks? Rugs or textiles hang from the floors of three balconies at the left of the print (click to enlarge images). The image suggests that rather than solid slabs, the floors were an open series of horizontal poles creating the architectural version of modern airing/drying racks. A rather elegant and tidy solution to the pell-mell of clotheslines. DJ (see addendum below)

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(Detail) Itinerario, Jan Huygen van Linschoten. John Carter Brown Library, Brown University

ADDENDUM

Your scribe welcomes input and a devoted reader (*mum*) offers her view on the laundry rack theory. She suggests

“if these were primarily laundry drying racks then I would expect to see articles of clothing such as we saw in Spain on clotheslines strung between buildings. But no. What I see in Goa are bed quilts put out for airing in the manner of the Japanese, which custom is adhered to even today in Japan, I believe.”

Your scribe agrees. Goa residents – especially those facing a major public square – would not hang wet clothing at the front of the property for aesthetic, propriety, and practical (dripping water) reasons. So yes, learned mum is correct. These are airing racks for decorative bedding or rugs but not laundry racks. DJ

Over the river, and through the woods, but your scribe isn’t going to grandma’s house. A visit to the British Museum’s African Textiles Today requires perseverance to cross multiple galleries, wend through crowds, until Gallery 90 is reached by fleet feet up four flights. Don’t be flummoxed by In Search of Classical Greece, cross through this exhibition to discover the African textiles exhibition tucked at the back. It’s not big, but it’s bold, bright and informative. And for your scribe it posed a question. Was Roy Lichtenstein influenced by African design?

Samakaka printed cotton, Angola, early 21st century

Samakaka printed cotton, Angola, early 21st century, photograph courtesy of and copyright The Trustees of the British Museum

Concurrent with the British Museum’s African Textiles exhibition is Tate Modern’s blockbuster Lichtenstein exhibition. Pop art’s pow hit the public in 1962. Lichtenstein, Warhol, Wesselmann, Indiana and Rosenquist all had one-man shows. Lichtenstein famously used newspaper comic strips as his compositional and narrative framework although he was also influenced to a lesser degree by other media.

African textiles & Roy Lichtenstein

Comparison of modern African textiles with Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art oeuvre

Have critics considered whether Lichtenstein, like Picasso et al, was influenced by Africa, particularly African textiles? The term “radical chic” arrived in 1970 when Tom Wolfe used it in his New York magazine feature Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s to describe the interaction of above Houston Street denizens like conductor Leonard Bernstein with those who lived below Houston (Greenwich Village etc). Did Lichtenstein similarly seek inspiration or kudos from African motifs as secondary supplement to his adaptations of American mass media? Whether yes or no, the compilation image above shows the visual relationship between the two. Your scribe suggests readers cross the Thames both ways to see Lichtenstein on the south bank and African art on the north, and judge for yourselves. DJ

Better to seek forgiveness than ask permission is a useful guiding principle for those who have a cunning plan but problematic superiors. Seeking forgiveness isn’t just for usual suspect rogue operators. Ramón Mor, padre at L’Hospitalet de Llobregat near Barcelona, had a cunning plan early last year to paint a wall at his church. Artist selection required the Archbishop’s permission. But the priest took a punt. He didn’t ask permission. He commissioned Rudi and his Madrileño amigo House to paint the blank apse of Santa Eulàlia. Rudi and House use aerosols. They are escritores de grafitis. Graffiti artists. Which explains why Padre Mor didn’t seek permission.

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detail of apse at Santa Eulàlia de Provençana painted by Rudi and House. Photograph by Joan Pau Inarejos

Santa Eulàlia de Provençana was built in the mid-1950s in a neo-Romanesque style to complement the adjacent thousand year old Romanesque church L’Hospitalet. The priest asked the artists to adapt their style to Catalan Romanesque. Flat colour, monumentality, lined, planar faces and rigid expressions.

The Virgin and Child are central, flanked by the patron saint of Santa Eulàlia and a family to symbolize the working-class neighborhood of L’Hospitalet. Of particular interest to COVER is the inter-generational family. A woman hands a thimble to a young boy. According to reporter Gerry Hadden the woman is House’s grandmother who was “a keen seamstress” (does this mean the boy is House?)

ABC España’s video of the artists, and the accompanying report ends with Rudi emphasising their painting is not street art. “Graffiti is a style” he says, “this is a wall decoration made with spray, but not in the style of graffiti.” His statement underscores why Padre Mor kept quiet. He knew art should be judged by results rather than tools. DJ

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detail of apse at Santa Eulàlia de Provençana painted by Rudi and House. Photograph by Joan Pau Inarejos

Humans since 1982 are a Stockholm-based design group. Their studio name is based on their date of birth, which causes your scribe to ask what were they before 1982? Too imponderable for a short essay. More ponderable is 1982 is the year famed Swedish photographer Dawid (Björn Dawidsson) began his tonal black & white series Arbetsnamn Skulptur, allowing your scribe to declare 1982 as an auspicious year in which to be born. Design Days Dubai have commissioned Human Since 1982 to create a special project – A Million Years – for the main entrance of the second edition of the Dubai fair (18 – 21 March 2013).


A Million Times
is 288 single clocks arrayed in 12 rows. The hands move in apparent random fashion until a readable pattern appears and it becomes apparent the installation is carefully orchestrated with an unseen conductor directing the ensemble. Engineered by David Cox, the customised software is conducted via iPad. A still on the Victor Hunt website demonstrates how the work can take on the look of a cross-stitch canvas.

Clocks are often associated with the Latin phrase tempis fugit. Colloquial American English for the phrase is “time’s a wasting”, and it is. Book your ticket to Dubai now. Time – and Design Days Dubai – wait for no man. DJ

Raw-Edges say “picnic in an enchanted forest”, your scribe envisions Moomins in a Finnish forest. Either way it means one thing. The talented folk at Raw-Edges have done it again. Commissioned by Kvadrat to design the firm’s stand at the 2013 Stockholm Furniture Fair the Raw-Edges Design Studio duo created a massive construction of Dinesen Douglas Fir and 1,500 “sleeves” sewn from twenty different Kvadrat textiles.

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Raw-Edges Design Studio for Kvadrat, Stockholm Furniture Fair 2013

Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay describe the concept as “wooden cabin, soft roof tiles, fish skin and picnic under a weeping willow, all mixed in a massive pot with Kvadrat swatches. Served within a commercial fair with our aspiration to create a bit of relaxing surreal situation but very warm welcoming.” Unmentioned elsewhere, press images from Raw-Edges refer to the strips as “sleeves”. Inspection reveals tail end corners are stitched together inviting the further fantasy that with a bit of counter luck to “chance would be a fine thing”, your scribe would slip her arms through multiple sleeves and quickly disappear to enjoy Kvadrat fabric swatches while supping a private picnic.

For readers unfamiliar with Moomins, the title refers to a cell in Moomin on the Riviera (1955). Delighted to be in a suite in The Grand Hotel, MoominMamma exclaims how nice it is to live in your house. Equally so with Kvadrat fabrics. It’s nice to live in a home that has them. DJ

Moomin