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


The guardian reports on a group of squatters who have taken up residence in one of London’s poshest postcodes. The group – an art collective who call themselves Da! moved into the property a month ago and so far have heard nothing from the owners, although that may change after tonight when the group turn the house into an art installation – with mandatory opening party!

Behind the white pillars and imposing wooden door of the grade II-listed residence, the 30-plus rooms are now scattered with sleeping bags, grubby mattresses, rucksacks spilling over with clothes and endless half-finished art installations. While their neighbours’ walls are lined with priceless paintings, No 18 now exhibits a room full of tree branches and another with a pink baby bath above which dangle test tubes filled with capers. Spooky foetuses line one fireplace.

The group are seasoned squatters. Over the past few years, they have enjoyed some impressive central London addresses – including two on Kensington High Street. But their latest home is “by far the most grandiose”, said Stephanie Smith, 21, one of the group, under a chandelier in the downstairs drawing room.

…tonight the squat is hosting a party. From 7pm to 11pm, the Da! gang will be projecting images on to each of the 19 windows at the front of the squat. “It’s going to look like a doll’s house,” said Smith, “and there is going to be a harpist and a cellist and performance artists.”

If you want to get involved, head on down to 18 Upper Grosvenor Street tonight!

£6m house, 30 rooms, one careful anarchist collective: inside Britain’s poshest squat

Filed under: creative ideas, worth seeing, , ,


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,


londonwordfestivalLaunched last night, the inaugural London Word Festival offers three weeks of evenings celebrating poetry, prose, music and comedy, with events devoted to lectures that are sung, the best in hip-hop poetry, “univocalism” (the art of writing poetry using only one vowel), comedian story-telling, and poetry and jazz mash-ups. With the recent success of spoken word events such as Book Slam, Fitzrovia Radio Hour and the B Club, Londoners are clearly enjoying a resurgence of live literary events- helped along by the addition of a healthy dose of alcohol. As testament to this, the 15 events during the festival are spread over eight East End clubs, bars and trendy venues including traditional Victorian music hall Hoxton Hall, über-trendy Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, and celeb hang-out the George Tavern.

According to the Times:

‘The venues suit the material. You won’t find superannuated politicians or puffed-up chefs here. Instead the festival celebrates “Generation Txt”: the twentysomething poets, novelists and playwrights who draw as much inspiration from the gritty realities and illicit joys of the modern city as Wordsworth did from daffodils or Herman Melville from whales. In one typical gathering, for instance, the 22-year-old Richard Milward will be reading from Apples, his brilliantly gross transposition of the Adam-and-Eve story to a Middlesbrough housing estate; while the young American author Joshua Ferris offers an extract from his savage satire of office life in Chicago, Then We Came to the End.

Two things appeal. The first is that this is a festival bold enough to place writers on the same bill as comedians, rappers and jazzers, and confident enough to expect those writers to be just as entertaining. And the second is that the very existence of a lit-fest run by and for people under 35 refutes the notion that the well-crafted written word is dead, or at least withering into terminal paralysis in a world dominated by blaring images and thudding rock beats.

What’s clear is that both fiction and poetry are undergoing a renaissance among the young. But it’s a renaissance rooted in clubs and the internet, rather than in staid publishing conglomerates. That’s great.’

London Word Festival

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


The Shop at Bluebird has donated a section of its floor space to the Digital Wellbeing Showroom, a new kind of retail environment for digital lifestyle products and services,launched as part of London Design Week.

I went along to see what exciting new things I could find, and was lucky enough to get a guided tour from Alexander Grünsteidl, one half of Digital Wellbeing Labs. He explained that the idea behind the concept was to create a technological reflection of fashion trends for an integrated lifestyle, and therefore the whole showroom will change its collection every two months with the first installation being ‘Black and White’ in a reflection of current fashions.

With a history in product design, marketing, branding and anthropology between them, Alexander and his partner Priya Prakash have recognised that the downfall of many products comes from problems within the retail experience and so are working on how to remedy this and get people intrigued and excited by electronic products by prototyping different in-store models to help grow interest and understanding through honesty and interaction. They are also passionate about helping graduate designers engage with buyers in a commercial gallery space and so are offering these products alongside those from industry names such as Philips, Hulger and Marcel Wanders.


The result is an amazing array of new technologies, home accessories, and products that cross the line into art pieces, all of which are arranged in a communicative way that involves the buyer. Personal favourites from our visit were the Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus by Plumb Design, Intempo DAB radio with interchangable artwork fascias, cable jewllery by Bless, and SMS cross-
stitched message samplers by Kate Pemberton, and that’s being selective- any of their wares would fit happily in my office!! The next showroom, due to open in November, is entitled ‘Into the Woods’ and encompasses the relationship between technology and organic lifestyles- so look out for wooden computers and much more.Img_0670_1

Digital Wellbeing Labs
The Shop at Bluebird

nb- Digital Wellbeing Labs are also working with Digital Plumbers, a company that will install and integrate any equipment to enable your digital lifestyle throughout your home in an easy to use format, a clever addition to the showroom and one we can forsee receiving a lot of business.

Filed under: products with a purpose, worth seeing, , ,


As part of the London Design Festival 2006 those creative thinkers at Beyond the Valley (the showcase store set up by St Martins graduates last year) have created Wunderville, described as ‘a twisted Victorian sideshow of oddities for your viewing pleasure’ shown across four locations around Carnaby Street. Alongside some bizarre creations such as Freak Peepshow, Cakes of the Damned, Cabinets of Curious Creatures, and Dusty Wolf’s Answers from the Beyond were a range of appropriately fitting products and art installations including chandelier shaped wall-mounted mirrors, victorian recipe soaps, and my personal favourite- magical hybrid animal prints. A great way of creating a buzz around the store whilst promoting a range of design talents, we thoroughly enjoyed our outing and suggest anyone who is in the area to check it out

  • Beyond the Valley
  • Filed under: worth seeing, ,


    A new exhibition has just opened at the Museum at FIT, looking at the influence of armor and other military styles on fashion. Ok, sounds pretty unexciting, but more than just chain mail and uniforms the curators have looked at female power through clothing, dividing the exhibition into four sections-

    -‘The Weaponized Woman’ featuring warrior-like fashions by Boudicca, JPG, Versace and Yamamoto,
    -‘The Hard Body’ which looks at moulded forms on the catwalk including pieces by Issey Miyake, Thierry Mugler and Hussein Chalayan,
    -‘Officers, Not Gentlemen’ showing how military uniforms are used in contemporary fashion,
    -‘Skin2: Weapons of Seduction’ which explores the allure of lingerie

    Power through clothing seems a prevalent topic at the moment, and as more stylish women take prime positions in male-dominated environments (Segolene Royal, Zaha Hadid), designers are producing clothes that harness ‘the spirit of warrior women’ (think of the last collections by Marios Schwab or Viktor and Rolf, and the recent return to animal prints). This is one trend that is set to continue- men had better watch out!!

  • FIT press release
  • Filed under: Uncategorized, worth seeing, , , ,


    Earlier this week I visited the Natural History Museum’s exhibition in partnership with Cape Farewell; ‘a free, contemporary art exhibition designed to deepen our understanding of climate change’. The exhibition offered an array of interesting interpretations, most notably Michele Noach’s contour ‘Contextascope’, David Buckland’s ice texts, and Anthony Gormley’s ice-cast ‘Marker One’- although ‘Stranded’, the crystal-encrusted whale skeleton by Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey makes the loudest statement, showing the impact of climate change in endangering species in a hauntingly beautiful way.

  • exhibition info
  • The best part of the exhibition for me though, was the Ideas Tank computer screen where you could find information on a wide array of practical solutions and positive approaches for encorporating the idea of sustainability into your life, and then email yourself any that you wanted more information on. Here are some of the interesting ideas on offer-

    -CarbonNeutral Flight Calculator
    Return flights to Paris for £3.20? Well that’s the cost of the offset anyway. The CarbonNeutral Flight Calculator measures your flight emissions, then works out how much you need to spend to ‘neutralise’ them. The money you spend goes towards community projects that save exactly the same amount of carbon dioxide.

  • carbon neutral flight calculator
  • -Sustrans
    It’s easy to focus on the problems created by increased car use, instead Sustrans provides creative, imaginative and practical solutions, aiming to change the way we travel by increasing the amount people walk and cycle. Use the interactive map to discover cycle routes near you and what you’ll see along the way. Disused railway lines, canal towpaths, riversides and parks – the National Cycle Network offers 16,000 miles of signed cycle routes throughout the UK, putting almost 75 per cent of the UK population within two miles of the network.

  • sustrans
  • -Buy Nothing Day-
    Participate by not participating. Buy Nothing Day is a personal 24-hour experiment, a challenge simply not to buy anything. Founded 14 years ago by ex-advertising executive Kalle Lasn, and propelled into a global protest movement via the Internet, Buy Nothing Day is celebrated in more than 65 countries by millions of people, each celebrating this anti-holiday in their own way. Concerned with sustainability and the political implications of our culture of over-consumption, it has inspired some seriously provocative and interesting actions

  • buy nothing day
  • buy nothing day UK
  • -Home-brewed fuel-
    ‘Today, 42-year-old Steele is one of Britain’s growing brigade of biodiesel fans. His red Volvo, a familiar sight in Manchester, runs on fuel brewed in his garden from oil he obtains from local kebab and fish-and-chip shops. “The beauty is that organic-origin oil has as much specific energy as oil of mineral origin and there is enough renewable energy for our needs,” said Steele, who whips up 250-litre (66-gallon) batches of diesel with an apparatus he perfected over the years. Advocates say biodiesel is the solution to fuel shortages, pollution, global warming and farming problems

  • more info
  • Filed under: evironmental insights, worth seeing, , ,


    I’ve always been a big fan of Transport for London’s Platform for Art program, and love seeing the new installations- it brightens up a dull journey when you pull into one if these station-cum-galleries, especially when what you see is as colourful and vibrant as the newest addition to Gloucester Rd- Chiho Aoshima’s ‘City Glow, Mountain Whisper’

    According to tfl ” ‘City Glow, Mountain Whisper’ shows a timeless world created by contemporary technology. It suggests a utopian vision of the earth in which the past and future have collided and the boundaries between organic creatures and inanimate things have broken down. It alludes to the results of genetic, technological and environmental developments. A hybrid of the human, the animal, the plant and the man-made is proposed, and life is literally breathed into each building and mountain.”

    The work expands along the whole platform, evolving along the way and enticing you to follow it- the only problem is you wish the trains would stop going past and ruining your view!

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  • Filed under: Uncategorized, worth seeing,