for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant


pink things

These amazing pictures are part of an ongoing series by Korean artist JeongMee Yoon, who since 2005 has been photographing girls and boys around the world surrounded by the pink and blue items they own as the topic for a thesis on gender sterotypes and global consumption. I’m pretty late to the party as the project has been in the press a fair bit, however it’s definitely still worth a mention – both for the subject and for the beauty of the images themselves. Currently on display in NYC, 2009 will see an exhibition of the images touring Beijing, several galleries in California, and the artist’s native Seoul.

blue stuff

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Filed under: arts & culture, worth seeing,


call cuttaIf I was in NYC right now I would be getting myself a ticket to this; an innovative theatre experience described as “an intercontinental phone play” which is showing as part of Under the Radar Festival 2009. The creators, Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi, and Daniel Wetzel of Rimini Protokoll, have collaborated with a call-center in Calcutta to produce a unique event, the outcome of which is an exclusive performance for each member of the audience. Sounds amazing.

From Rimini Protokoll’s website:

Imagine you are buying a ticket at the box office for an individual show on a specific day, but are not led to the auditorium of the theatre. Instead, you get the key for a room and a sketch of how to get there. It might be a room in the theatre, an office, or an apartment somewhere close by. You open the door and you find a phone ringing. You pick up the phone and a person with a strange accent strikes up a conversation with you. The person seems to know the room you are sitting in, even though he is about 10.000 km away. The voice belongs to a call centre agent from Calcutta, India. He and his colleagues usually sell credit cards and insurance on the phone to people on the other side of the globe or provide navigational help in cities that they have never been to themselves. But this time you are not supposed to buy anything. By now, you are standing at the window and your transcontinental conversation partner is pointing some curious people in the opposite building out to you. On the notebook desktop in your room images and videos are opening up out of nowhere. A story is about to develop and you realize that the call centre agent and you and your city are the very first protagonists of the plot.

Call Cutta in a Box – on till 18th Jan

Filed under: arts & culture, creative ideas, worth seeing


zoo 08


zoo3- 08


zoo5 -08



I’m posting this a little late and have no idea where I put my notes, so I can’t tell you much – but once again Zoo was a more impressive younger brother to Freize. Not that impressive though. Very few pieces really stood out- but here were my favourites. Once I find my notes i’ll add in the names and details!!

Filed under: arts & culture, exhibition reviews





Lin Tianmiso - Freize


timo nasseri

sterling ruby

freize 08

This year saw a more subued, much quieter Freize, with galleries playing it safe and promoting their big names rather than taking a chance on lesser-known artists. Understandable, as with the private view nowhere near as full as last year the gallerists were desperate to make sales and justify the amount spent on showing here! Nothing much to write home about though, a couple of funny pieces, one or two new names worth watching, and a lot of uninteresting noise.

Filed under: arts & culture, exhibition reviews



Yesterday saw an auction of Japanese art and design in London, held by Phillips de Pury & Company. Among the 195 lots sold was this Paper Tea House by Shigeru Ban, the master of architectural creations in paper. A stand-out piece among the paintings and figurines, and a surprising choice by the architect himself; forsaking his use of tubular cardboard construction for an interlocking square structure, it’s not often you can buy an starchitect-designed building- and take it away with you! This one however is only for indoor use, making it an art investment rather than a practical piece, as reflected in the closing price of £31,700.


From the auctioneer:

Phillips de Pury & Company is pleased to announce that it will be offering a important piece of architecture by one of the most celebrated architects working today, Shigeru Ban, in its forthcoming London sale, Kyobai: The Art and Culture of Japan.

A tea house, constructed of square paper tubes, is a structure designed for indoor use measuring just over 5 meters long. Housing a table and four stools, the house also features a waiting area with a bench in keeping with tea ceremony practice.

The architect’s ‘paper architecture’ comprises an ongoing series of structures using paper tubes as the main building material. Spanning a number of uses from multiple refugee housing solutions for disaster zones in Rwanda, Japan, India and Turkey to a collaboration with Frei Otto for the Japan Pavilion at the Hanover Expo in 2000 to his current satellite office that that sits on the roof of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the use of paper by Shigeru Ban has been a pivotal design solution with firm ethical footing.

Low-tech, adaptable and recyclable, the paper constructions address the current trend of high-tech, high-impact and unattainable design that has been so prevalent in the contemporary architecture. In addition, the use of the material presents, in each application, an engineering challenge that Shigeru Ban continually masters. His paper tube buildings have been admired for the ultimate breakaway from the confines of traditional materials to create light-filled, stimulating buildings with unsurpassed sophistication.

Paper tea house by Shigeru Ban will offered with pre-sale estimate of £20,000 – 30,000.

via Dezeen

Filed under: arts & culture,


Deisel wall

As the outdoor advertising backlash rages and cities look to ban billboards, Diesel are stepping up their outdoor art campaign with the launch this year of Diesel Wall in four new destinations: Manchester, Barcelona, Zurich and NY. An art competition on a monumental scale, the company offers budding artists and designers from all over the world the chance to exhibit their work on the side of buildings and giant walls in the city centers. Their manifesto states:

In any given moment in our daily lives we are bombarded by messages we didn’t ask to see. A never ending stream of mass produced cerebral pollution offering at absolute best nothing more than needless want. Diesel Wall was born out of a need to salvage what precious public space is left and to fill it with something worth saying. We will take your powers of disuasion; your ability to disrupt; incite; excite; inspire and intrigue; to make comment; to make beautiful; to make real; to make people think again.

The ultimate goal of Diesel Wall is to create a fusion between the private space of galleries/institutions and the open space of the city…to drive new direction in urban landscapes and recharge them with creativity.

Unlike other art competitions, this one focuses on creating site-specific art specifically for the chosen walls, all of which can be seen in their naked state on the website alongside background information, technical specifications and a location map. Designs can be submitted from 31st March and if you’re in Manchester or Manhattan watch out for the winning creations arriving in mid May.

Diesel Wall

Filed under: arts & culture, brand extensions,


London’s Serpentine Gallery has finally disclosed the name of the architect for this year’s Summer Pavilion. Following on from last year’s highly successful collaboration by Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen, Frank Gehry will be building his first ever structure in the UK, and keeping the collaboration in the family he will be working alongside his son, Samuel Gehry.

The gallery explains more about the intended structure:

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2008 will give London the first example of Frank Gehry’s spectacular architecture. The highly articulated structure – designed and engineered in collaboration with Arup – comprises large timber planks and multiple glass planes that soar and swoop at different angles to create a dramatic multi-dimensional space. Part-amphitheatre, part-promenade, these seemingly random elements will make a transformative place for reflection and relaxation by day, and discussion and performance by night.

Frank Gehry said: “The Pavilion is designed as a wooden timber structure that acts as an urban street running from the park to the existing Gallery. Inside the Pavilion, glass canopies are hung from the wooden structure to protect the interior from wind and rain and provide for shade during sunny days. The Pavilion is much like an amphitheatre, designed to serve as a place for live events, music, performance, discussion and debate. As the visitor walks through the Pavilion they have access to terraced seating on both sides of the urban street. In addition to the terraced seating there are five elevated seating pods, which are accessed around the perimeter of the Pavilion. These pods serve as visual markers enclosing the street and can be used as stages, private viewing platforms and dining areas.”

Serpentine Gallery Summer Pavilion

Filed under: arts & culture, worth seeing,


the public

The Public is a new creative centre designed by Alsop architects and due to open this summer – in West Bromwich. Not the first place you would expect to find one of Britain’s largest cultural buildings, the £40 million space encompassing a gallery, theatre, event space and cafe on the outskirts of Birmingham hopes that by becoming a creative landmark it will inspire the local community and encourage social and economic regeneration.

According to the architects:

The Public represents a radical gesture for community architecture, born from the conviction that architecture can be a catalyst for regeneration and renewal.

The scheme uses an ‘H’ frame which supports both roof and curtain wall, which is clad in black and pink sinusoidal steel. ‘Jelly Bean’ windows punctuate this wall, with pink glazing, and cluster around a ‘mother Jelly Bean’ window which marks and lights the main entrance. A pink glass skirt surrounds the box at ground level drawing the public into and through the space, reclaiming the ground plane.

Beyond the skirt two large zinc-clad sculptural elements, the ‘Rock’ and the ‘Sock’ and a third cushioned element, create an extraordinary spatial and visual experience. Linked by a snaking ramp and topped by a series of hung Lily Pads, the interior, whilst meeting the functional requirements of the building, enlivens the visitor experience with dramatic and exceptional interventions. These elements variously contain event spaces, workshop space, services, toilets and a gallery for local exhibitors.

The Public represents both a starting point and an opportunity for the people of West Bromwich, reinforcing the towns eroded sense of identity.

th public-alsop

Public Gallery

Filed under: arts & culture, creative ideas,



Madrid has unveiled it’s latest addition to the global arts scene in the form of the CaixaForum, a Herzog & de Meuron designed contemporary art museum housed in a converted 1899 power station. Costing $94m the museum was funded by the Caixa Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Spanish bank Caixa d’Estalvis, and one of its main functions will be to show selections from the Foundation’s own impressive collection of more than 700 works of art. The Art Newspaper reports on the impressive architecture:

The building—one of the city’s few remaining examples of historically significant industrial architecture—was acquired by the foundation in 2001. The 19th-century brick walls have been retained, but raised on piers so that visitors can walk underneath the building. There are two underground floors, while a two-floor attic storey of rusted iron surmounts the original building.

“The fact that its heavy mass is detached from the ground in apparent defiance of the laws of gravity is not a magic thing, given the possibilities of 21st-century technology,” says architect Jacques Herzog, “but a need to explore the limits of freedom. The CaixaForum has been conceived as an urban magnet, attracting not only art-lovers but all the people of Madrid and those from outside the city. We wanted to surprise. A building must be like a new outfit of clothes for the city—always a bit sexy.”

As striking as the architectural conversion is the 460 sq. m, 24-metre high vertical garden that takes up one wall of the square in front of the building. Comprising 15,000 plants of 250 different species, it has being designed by botanist Patrick Blanc.

“The garden is a dialogue with the Botanical Garden on the street and adjacent to the Prado,” says Herzog. “We love to make new things, to experiment with materials and create a very unusual encounter between the rough and the natural, the smooth and the artificial, to incorporate nature so there can be the smell of a garden where you would not expect it.”

The Art Newspaper: Madrid gets a new contemporary art museum- complete with vertical garden of 15,000 plants

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Last week thanks to PSFK I was among the lucky few invited for a preview tour of the soon-to-be-opened BA-only Terminal 5 at Heathrow, and the impressive art that has been commissioned for it. If size impresses you then the building itself- a £500mill creation by the Richard Rogers Partnership which we were told several times is ‘the largest freestanding building in UK’ with ‘5 floors each the size of over 5 football pitches’- is sure to wow.

The structure is not only sculpturally beautiful outside and in, but has also been constructed to make the most of its surroundings both environmentally and aesthetically. The liberal use of glass and steel maximises the natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting whilst offering captivating views of the runway to reignite the passion of the golden age of air travel, while attributes including rainwater harvesting and groundwater boreholes will supply 70% of the terminal’s water.

The tour started with an overwhelming amount of data on the new system that BA has put in place to “redefine the passengers’ journey”- including the removal of check-in desks that are replaced by supermarket style groups of self-service kiosks, each group accompanied by a “BA host to assist”. BA estimate that 80% of the T5 users will check-in online, and through their new system expect the whole experience from entering the building to getting through security to take a mere 10 minutes! Not what we experienced however, as journalists are obviously deemed high-risk and therefore we were all thoroughly searched by the very serious security personnel.

Doing their bit for healthy lifestyles, BA have banned “fast-food” from the terminal, so don’t expect a McDonalds or Burger King- however a huge range of healthier-option restaurants including Giraffe, Wagamama and Itsu are available- as is a less than healthy but obviously posh enough to be included Krispy Kreme outlet- and a rather poorly branded offshoot from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, inventively called ‘Plane Food’.


Past the plethora of designer retailers and the ‘largest Harrods outside of Knightsbridge’ we finally reached the escalators that whisk those fortunate fliers to the premier lounges that have apparently cost BA over £60million, and as we walked up the escalator had the pleasure of experiencing the first of the fantastic commissioned artworks- namely the beauty of The Cloud; a kinetic sculpture by design collective Troika which aims to evoke the sensation of elevation as you travel from below to above the clouds as in flight. The 3D structure is covered with over 5000 mechanical flipdots- a technology from the ‘70s still occasionally seen at old train stations- that have been programmed to create a constantly changing and flowing pattern, and amazing accompanying sound.


At the top of the escalator is Troika’s second installation, a 22m long art wall entitled All the time in the world. The wall; a digital world clock made of super-thin electroluminescent sheets, plays with the traditional notion of time zones by replacing the expected capital city locations with exotic and exciting places around the world including natural wonders, great lakes, ancient cities and dream islands. Both pieces elegantly play with technology to revive the excitement and imagination that the travel experience once offered.


Walking through to the First Class lounge, past a set of Front-design collective’s Horse lamps guarding the entrance you are confronted by the amazing Oak Seasons, six etched glass panels by Christopher Pearson. A textile designer turned digital artist, his admiration for William Morris is clearly evident in the incredibly delicately three-dimensionally laser etched screens depicting three seasons in the life of an Oak tree, with hidden details including a football replacing an acorn, a leaf imitating a roadmap of the UK and swig suspended from a branch injecting extra elements of English culture.

Across the corridor to the even more exclusive Concord lounge, the artist’s second commission is a tromp l’oeil relief of the traditional BA crest which has been digitized and transformed into an animated video installation on a 12 minute loop. Entitled Pegasus and the Winged Lion, the characters on the crest play on the idea of Britishness whilst adding subtle humour to the lounge; if you watch long enough you’ll see amongst other things the changing of the guard, a rather big rain cloud and some amazing eccentric inventions!


Other works commissioned include temporary screens by Oona Culley and Robert Orchardson, and Kidzones- an interactive children’s area by El Ultimo Grito, whilst works from BA’s impressive art collection are also dotted seemingly randomly around the lounges- including a Julian Opie found down a corridor, a Damian Hirst that we stumbled across in between two food service counters, and what is sure to be the most expensive art collection in a ladies loo.

All the art has been brilliantly chosen by Artwise Curators, and with previous BA commissions including the likes of Sol Lewitt, Andy Goldsworthy and Tord Boontje, these young artists (all coincidentally RCA graduates- BA supporting another British institution?) are in good company. However this phenomenal creativity is let down by the rather unexciting interior design which despite its obvious excessive price still manages to look decidedly boring and reminds you that despite being open-minded with their walls, BA has a long way to go to embed this thought process throughout.

The debate among us attendees though was why, given the chance to redesign the terminal experience, BA still chose to promote the elitist ideal of art only for the rich. Why were these pieces not available to view from the main concourse? Where were the installations for all? Well there is just one- a Langlands & Bell sculpture that stands on the walls on either side of the entrance to the terminal called Moving World and consists of two luminous arcs of neon signs that spell out airport codes from around the world. Cleverly playing on the language of codes- in travel, in art and in society today, the all-inclusive artwork was commissioned by BAA (not BA!) and is described as ‘a dynamic metaphor for the ever-intensifying network of global communication and exchange- the defining characteristic of our age’. I guess BA didn’t get that bit.

See more about the building at

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