Music

November 12 2006



There's a trend sweeping the UK that's so big, even British Vogue in their current December issue felt the need to dedicate a page to òThe Rave Revival", which as they put it, is all aboutòacid grooves and colors being back in the house". Most people are calling it òNu-Rave, and British bands such as Klaxons, Hadouken and Shitdisco are at the helm, powering the music and London club nights such as Anti-Family, Bosh! and NamaleeLovesPop that the fashion-followers feed off. 

However, there is one band at the moment who surpasses all of the above- their Nu-Rave sound, their gangsta style, and the blinding amount of neon and glitter they flash really are something to behold, and unusually enough they are not from England, but from Iceland - they're called Steed Lord. A true dance party act, they are equal parts gangsta, rave and glam. On their Myspace page they say their influences range from, 808 state, Prince, The Neptunes and genres such as ghetto tech and house, minimal electro, Chicago house, sensational 90's house music and the old-skool hardcore jungle massive.

They are absolutely a breath of fresh air, one of the highlights at the  Iceland Airwaves Festival that ran from October 18th-22nd (the festival is about new music, whether rock, pop or electronic, with international and Icelandic acts playing). Steed Lord are made up of M.E.G.A, Kali, Demo and A.C Bananas and during their performance at local Reykjavik club Pravda they packed the small venue to the rafters.



Their keyboardist, Demo, was reminiscent of a Batman baddie, just dipped into a pot of electric-pink paint. Someone in the crowd told me he's only 17 years old, which will explain why they referred to him as "the whiz kid" on stage.  M.E.G.A is the producer of the band and works at the controls at the back of the stage, although he had a stripe of pink painted over his face for good measure. A.C Bananas is a tattooed thug rapper who wore a black hoodie with 'Steed Lord' proudly emblazoned on the back in numerous day-glo colours, worn open with only gold chains adorning his bare chest. He had a fake diamond and gold grill over his teeth, with dramatic eye make up just visible from under his sunglasses, and a painful looking purple diamond, (their logo), tattooed right over his Adam's Apple. From the waist-down he looked very Nu-Rave - lycra black leggings with electric-pink shooting stars on them, the look was topped off with Nike Dunks, he looked like a total hard-nut, but also the sort of man that a fashion designer like Bernard Willhelm would lust over to use as a model in his Paris runway shows.  One of the most amusing moments was, when halfway through their act, a camp-as-you-like glittered male dancer appeared with a platter of gold chains for A.C to load up on. Done dead-pan and totally seriously, the crowd went wild, cheering and laughing as he loaded up his neck with gold of proportions that even Mr.T would have been proud of.

The hardness of A.C was counteracted by their female lead singer, (and star of the band), Kali who, resplendent as she was in an electric blue flower fairy top, neon leggings and peep-toe black high heeled boots, could give Kylie a run for her money in the 'petite, blonde and seriously sexy' stakes any day. However, it's her relaxed yet tough chick attitude with her mˆtley crew of band members on stage that clearly sets her apart from anything too poppy. This girl is street. Then there's her voice, which is incredible, at times sounding like Eartha Kitt as she purrs to the crowd "He's a very dirty mutha fucker" in the menacing electro 'Dirty Mutha' and in the uplifting sexy old-skool rave anthem 'You' she drove the crowd crazy when she started singing "Yooouuuu! Make me feel so good boy you're making me high! Yooouuuu!!! Make me feel so high, boy I feel so alive! Cos every time I'm near you I really wanna touch you and hear you say, you'll always be mine!

By the time she finished singing the atmosphere was charged with a sexy electricity, the crowd were sweating, salivating, grabbing each other and reaching out to this gorgeous chanteuse on stage and loving the feeling of the pounding baseline throbbing through them.

Hopefully they will start touring soon for sure cities such as Berlin, London, Paris (and maybe even New York) would just eat them up given half a neon-coloured chance. by Elizabeth McGrath

www.myspace.com/steedlord





Ads

November 2 2006




There's nothing like excessive exaggeration to push a product, like the latest ad for Norway's Alta Bike demonstrates so well. It's not the type of in your face advertising that demonstrates dicing, slicing, grating and peeling all with a free set of steak knives, its smarter and more aesthetically interesting than that. The Alta Bike is a unique bicycle created by a combination of graphic Bleed, furniture Norway Says and product designers Frost produkt from Norway. The bike has only one gear and focuses on developing the leg muscles. Advertising gurus at Shnel & Mynychuck have played on this point in a deliberately misleading yet humorous way. The Herculean legs, juxtaposed with the feather weight figures on this breed of exercise hybrid freaks is a stunning image that packs a witty punch. What makes this cool is that it's just as much about the ad, as it is the bike. by Billy T Visit Alta Bikes

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Transportation

November 1 2006



The Mini Mokes was perhaps the most loved sun buggy of the 60's, 70's and even the 80's. What sealed its success was the simple lack of doors. The convenience of jumping in and out of a car without opening doors and then the added bonus of driving around topless made it very appealing.

Today, riding on that success, Fiat have created the Fiat Jolly Panda. Although it sounds like a Japanese game show, this car is a successful remake of all the things that made the Moke a hit. The FJP was first launched over summer where it was used to ferry VIP's on the island of Capri.

With the interiors created by Italian design co. Paolo Lenti who specialize in the use of innovative fabrics, the FJP looks stylishly sixties from within.  On the outside, the car has been designed with nontoxic and UV ray resistant materials, centered around a simple structural design which makes the car appear almost seamless. It's simplicity is its beauty, with an added element of fun throughout the design. by Andy G

Kids

November 1 2006



Lets face it.  Being a hospitalized kid sucks. Apart from the obvious physical issues, the mental issues such as boredom can keep sick children feeling very low indeed. Design team, Jetske Verdonk, have come up with this simple and fun solution to trailing a drip frame around all day.

The Zieken+Huis is a drip-cum-tricycle which allows the pint-size patient to zip around the ward whilst remaining attached to their vital fluids and intravenous medication. In addition to this three wheeling wonder, the release of a curtain frame which drapes around the patient's bed has also been launched.

The frame allows 'get well' cards to be hung around it, acting as a decoration for the otherwise sterile looking beds. by Bill T

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House

October 30 2006


With suction cupped feet and a warm inner glow, these rechargeable , stick on anywhere lights are not only cool but rather handy. The lights are surrounded by a rubber outer shell which houses and protects the inner bulb.
Three suction cups at the base act as feet, allowing the bulb to be placed just about anywhere.

As they are battery operated and fully rechargeable, the bulbs are cordless  and can travel with you and take up new real estate in the most unusual places. They will be available to purchase from online store sometime in 2007. by Bill T



Lifestyle

October 22 2006


There's little left in life that hasn't had a style-makeover - even the most banal everyday, domestic items - with everything from can openers to wooden spoons designed with aesthetics in mind.  And now the last bastion of artless functionality, the humble band aid, has succumbed to the trend.

Superficial cuts and grazes are cause for glamor with Kiss Lips, Skulls & Cowboys, without doubt the coolest band aids you’ve ever seen. Camp as a pink tiara at Mardi Gras, the bright, glossy lip-shaped bandages come in a cute tin which includes a little novelty toy. Who said fun (oh, and bumps and bruises) were just for kids. They cost $16 and come with 15 per tin.

If your boo-boo needs more than a band aid, then you can't go past these stylish bandages in assorted colors. Complete with logo and clips, the bandage can compliment any outfit and steers away from the dramatic off white traditional bandage of the past.  by Lisa Evans



Design

October 22 2006


As yoga has become increasingly popular in recent years, the art is being practiced in often sterile and inappropriate places such as crowded gymnasiums and recreational halls thatlack the ambiance traditionally associated with the practice.
 
The Y + Yoga Centre in Shanghai appropriates the traditional settings for Yoga practice and fuses it with a modern, yet appropriate, setting. The center is nestled on the second floor of a building which houses a variety of shops and shares its space with a day spa.

Y+ creates an instant ambiance of tranquility through the use of delicately chosen colors in the entrance and main area of the facility. The choice of bronze walls and a combination of bright green and wood inside create a fresh and rejuvenating environment upon entry. The yoga centre comprises of three yoga rooms totaling 1200 meters squared, four massage rooms, a meditation room and a number of communal facilities including a shop and cafe.



The main yoga room is draped with dozens of ropes hanging from the ceiling, giving the room a modern art installation feel, blended with the tranquility of the gentle swaying of the ropes. Subtle leafy patterns decorate the two smaller yoga rooms further enhancing the peaceful ambience.
 
The key of creating a communal feel throughout all three separate yoga rooms is the inclusion of rounded openings in the walls . These circular openings, varying in size, allow participants and onlookers to indulge into a glimpse of what is happening in the next room, and connect by mentally transforming their individual experiences into a  group experience.
 
The Y + Yoga Centre brings Yoga back to it's origins whilst simultaneously adapting it to a modern environment through a subtle process. by Bill T
 

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Ads

October 14 2006



If Nike where to launch a safe sex campaign, this would be it. Photographer Simon Wakelin  came up with this smart concept image for Pony Sneakers which Pony rejected. (They didn't have the BALLS to use it) . The advertising project depicts an adonis champion standing to attention with his most valuable assets covered by his second most valuable assets. Sexy, striking and bold, if Nike decide to take this on, it will bring new meaning to the phrase JUST DO IT .
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Ads

October 5 2006



Pictures may tell a thousand words but a simple finger tells just one! This cocky ad campaign for Bentley tells it like it is, and as the visuals tell the story, we wont labor the point. Well done Bentley! by Bill T

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Kids

October 5 2006



Cool designs does not have to be limited to spaces used by adults as we see with these unique areas designed to enhance places of learning.

Forget the "concrete jungle" archetypal school, complete with bars on windows. This school's hallways (pictured above) have been inspired by the imaginary landscape of the Silver Dragon. This environment is created to read like a story book; the further you progress through the hallways, the higher your senses are delighted. With shimmering walls, glowing ceilings and a fantasy feel resonating throughout the architecture, the children engage on a higher social level within the school environment.



Traditionally, libraries also suffer from an image problem. Hordes of books coupled with the 'sshhhh' factor doesn't make for a very cool environment. By installing colorful interiors such as oversized book sleeves, a learning space such as the library is transformed into an area which kids see as cool, and therefore are inspired to read and learn.



A tree-inspired day care center is a far cry from fake grass enhanced playgrounds. The tree trunk is the very foundation of the center, and as such creates the security blanket for the entire structure. This center evokes a warmth which the youngsters respond to. Dream Blossoms grow out of the trunk and create sleeping areas for the habitants to snuggle and nap in. Above the blossoms sprawls the canopy of the



In Lego-bright contrast to the gloomy fate H.C. Andersen prescribed to his original Little Mermaid (that would be death, no less), today's blond little school-going Danes are encouraged to do the sort of things for which some of us got spanked.



Visual artists have created a school with fascinating interiors that feature high window seating for watching the world outside; green platforms with round, red holes where discussions can buzz and bubble, and large upholstered tubes where kids can hide with a good book or spend some time alone. You can do that at school? Unfortunately, only in Denmark.

Children's bookstores, on the other hand, have not suffered by the traditional libraries image problem. Generally, these stores are designed and merchandised to inspire children to enter and purchase.

The Kids Republic bookstore in Beijing (pic below) has taken that concept and run with it. Incorporating the core design elements of a kid's playground, these slipperyslide-inspired-shelves house books in an incredibly fun way. Breaking from the traditional table and chair reading areas, padded L shaped reading stools are used and enjoyed by tiny readers. Dull lighting is replaced by snakelike fittings that radiate a variety of colors whilst providing adequate light to read with.



The choices for kid friendly restaurants, where both parents and kids can enjoy a meal and an environment which caters to both are rare finds. McDonalds have probably lost count of how many times they have dialed 911 to have a parent rescued from inside a playground slippery tube where they have been stuck whilst attempting to get their child to come home.



In a beautiful Dutch village, 10 minutes out from Amsterdam's centre, a parents dream like, kid friendly restaurant exists.

Praq is a restaurant where parents, outerwear and even business people can enjoy a meal and co exist without complaint. Children feel the sense of independence by being seated in a kids area within moms view. There, they can play with giant puzzles, draw, and order from their very own menu whilst seated at their specially designed kids table. The secret to the restaurants success is the use of space.

Praq has been careful in separating these eating spaces whilst still allowing a parent to keep an eye on their child. The light spacious room creates the impression of separation, whilst keeping safety in mind. The children's food is so good, they don't need to promote it by adding in a free toy.



Traditional cooking schools have always looked like a giant classrooms full of mini kitchens. A kids cooking school in Japan has broken that mould by having design guru Moureaux create a studio space and new corporate identity for them.

The cooking school, which is set in the heart of a shopping area in the city of Kyoto, has created a space which eliminates the intimidation factor which students encounter when entering cooking schools. By seating the class amongst brightly colored decor and sleek table and chairs, the environment feels less like a class room. Here the kids can not only cook in the casual teaching environment, they can socialize and eat their homework too.



With U.K parents said to be lashing out a cool GBP 1 billion a year on kids birthday parties, its easy to see that the kids party industry is a gold mine. As children's taste develop, so too does their demand for the latest and greatest (think Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka). For some parents, the age old sleep over is being replaced by a girls night out at Alton Towers Hotel in th U.K.

The hotel has it's own children's Sleep over Suite, a theme room which caters for up to six sleeping princesses who can indulge in the ultimate girls slumber party. The sound proof room is perfect for 3am giggling fits and Justin Timberlake blearing throughout the night.

The suite is divided into two areas. The party area features an over the top entertainment system, karaoke machine ('I will Survive' - Chipmunk version) mini dance floor and a pink fridge filled with ice cream. The sleeping area boasts chill out beds which connect into one big bed for six occupants, a wall to wall mirrored bathroom which is flowing with pampering products from U.K's leading top brand superdrug (limitless branding opportunities here).

At £300 pounds per night (US $560), mom and dad have outsourced the kids birthday party and only have to worry about the drop off and pick up.



Offering a kid a lollypop to welcome them into hospital is so 1950's. Today, that sort of a deal just doesn't cut it.

Instead of bribery through confectionary, this children's hospital in London has reinvented the concept of infirmary and transformed it into inFUNery. Adorned with cheerful, gently winding hospital corridors which lead to wards which look more like kids bedrooms, the hospital has mapped out themes for each of the wards. From the Seashell Ward located on Beach level one, through to the Sky level, each kids ward uses decor and medical equipment that is colorful, creative looking and non threatening.

With a glass atrium dividing the hospital, patients from either side of the wards can look across to see an inviting garden filled with plants, trees and yes, Juggling clowns.

From cool schools to hip learning environments, kids design is forging ahead, meaning the next generation of adults will have been exposed to the elements of cool since childhood, creating adults with a hightened sense of good design. If you know of other interesting kids spaces, let us know. by Bill T

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