Thomas Curley and his team were over the moon, when they won the Bafta for Production Sound Mixing for Whiplash, already anticipating going to the Academy Awards a few weeks later. But despite the hype, the praise and critical acclaim, as part of the crew, you may dream of it, but you don't really think 'this one is going to win an Oscar'.
For the production sound team and Curley this dream was made reality at the 87th Academy Awards, when Whiplash bagged three Oscars, including Best Sound Mixing.
We meet Thomas the day after winning the Bafta in his hotel room in Covent Garden, central London. He's in surprisingly good shape, considering having received his first major prize the night before, then having "been dragged to some after party to celebrate".
"When I took the job of sound production for Whiplash, everyone called me crazy," he admits. And reading through the script and coming across more and more scenes involving music, drumming, yelling, thrown objects and dialogue, all at the same time, these sceptics may not have been too off. The film is a mix of band rehearsals, performances and solos of highly complicated jazz pieces, so it's not surprising that it was a huge challenge to do the script justice with the sound.
"Early on in the film, when he [Fletcher] first introduces Andrew to the class [...] we had to have the right piece of music queued up, our playback guy had to change tunes in a very short amount of time, all the while I'm mixing in drumming and dialogue," Curley describes handling one of the more challenging scenes.
He studied engineering, film and video production before graduating with a BA in Film Studies at the University of Buffalo. After a few years of broadcast engineering for Fox and NBC affiliates, and a bit of production assistant work, he found his calling in sound production, while working on Dreamworks' "The Time Machine" in Troy, NY. Six months later, Curley moved to Los Angeles and started Curley Sound with his Brother.
The offer for Whiplash came through a friend of his, and it seemed to be over before it really started, with production only lasting 19 days. For Curley as the on-set production sound mixer, these were intense 19 days to say the least.
Perhaps due to the nature of the subject, J.K. Simmons comedic talents didn't find much opportunity on set, apart from the time when he was told to slap Miles Teller round the face, which according to Curley "he took great pleasure in".
We're celebrating the technical skills that go into the production of a film, that may occasionally stay in the shade of actors' performances during award season. While Thomas Curley was the one to take home a trophy, these nominees also had very interesting production anecdotes to share.
Weta's senior digital effects supervisor Joe Letteri, nominated for Best Visual Effects for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director Michael Lennox, on Boogaloo & Graham, nominated for Best Live Action Short
Producer David Rosier on Wim Wender's The Salt of the Earth, nominated for Best Documentary
Perfection, excellence and beauty -- you won't find many creative people who don't seek these ideals in their work, from the surliest, most DIY of DIY bands to the most unashamedly elitist luxury car manufacturers. They are subjective ideals of course, but for Masam, a fledgling Paris-based design studio of already impeccable pedigree, these are the foundations of their creativity, the driving force.
Masam is renowned paper artist Marianne Guély (her skills have previously been called upon by brands such as Dior, Louis Vuitton and Toyota) and Lebanese architect Said Njeim. The pair met at an architect's dinner, bonding over a love of travel and artisanal production.
"When we met the idea was to make the prolongation [sic] of the story of Studio Marianne Guély -- Masam," says Guély. They apply her paper-folding techniques to various materials including leather and alabaster, across lighting, jewellery and stationery. "We wanted to show we are coming from two different worlds," says Njeim.
Their creative collaboration is also visible in the studio itself. The space on Rue de Provence in central Paris used to be a map store, a destination for travel fiends to come to and find inspiration and information. When taking over the space, Njeim felt it necessary to add the Masam touch. He took out an entire wall and exposed beautiful dark wooden beams, which make the studio space both more open and inviting.
Having premiered their debut collection at 100% Design in London in 2014 to great acclaim, the pair continue in their quest for perfection. Says Njeim: "I like perfection, I like excellence, I like beauty, and that is what we try to do with paper and the other materials."
Text by Tom Jenkins for Crane.tv
It all stems from a fascination with our relationship to movement. As we sit in the waiting room downstairs in Siobhan Davies Studios near Elephant & Castle in Southeast London, we can hear workshops underway in the studios upstairs; the Studios simultaneously act as an exhibition space.
When Siobhan Davies CBE took her first steps on the dance stage at 17, no one assumed that the art student had never danced before. Through friends she became part of a dance movement spearheaded by the late dance philanthropist Robin Howard CBE, and after only a few months she starred in one of his first works, 1968's Transit. Two years later she started choreographing and ultimately joined the London Contemporary Dance Theatre.
"I didn't have a dance language embedded in me, which is the thing that I would naturally use," says Davies now. "I've always felt that I need to re-find the language for the moment, for the time, for my age, for my experience, for and with the people I am working with."
But the lack of a classical education was more freeing than restrictive, allowing her to perform and choreograph however she saw fit. This ultimately led to what some would call a career change roughly 10 years ago. Her decision not to perform in theatres anymore wasn't down to her no longer admiring the craft and tradition, but came as a natural progression out of the desire to develop and nourish more personal relationships with dancers. Imagining a fresh, constantly investigative place for the art, where dancers can be "injected with energy", Siobhan Davies Studios was born.
"I have the privilege and the excitement of this kind of relationship, between an artist and myself," she says.
After so many decades in the dance world, it was time to explore new projects, like last year's Human- Nature: Art, Horticulture and Choreography, harnessing the potential of growth in every possible way. "I find that the form of garden, the form of growth, the form of season, the form of time passing, all has relevance."
Moving image was another new venture. Davies and filmmaker David Hinton created All This Can Happen in 2012, a film based on Robert Walser's 1917 novella The Walk constructed entirely from archive photographs and footage from the early days of cinema. The novella follows a pauper poet on a walk though his town while he's feeling melancholic and annoyed about certain customs of modern life and is praising nature's blissfulness.
After the success of this first project, she partnered with Hinton for a second time. They are currently working on a new film installation work, to be shown in the summer of 2015 - no doubt focusing on a shared fascination with our relationship to movement.
In the modern city, space, as any over zealous estate agent will gleefully tell you, is at a premium. As city-dwellers fight for living space in the heart of the metropolis, pleading not to be put out to pasture in the suburbs - what a terrifying word that can be to some - they are also demanding an immediate environment full of public and green space; aesthetically pleasing as well as close to great transport links and amenities. Human beings, particularly urbanites, are a demanding bunch.
Perhaps the answer is under our noses, or more accurately, under our feet. James Ramsey of the New York-based Raad Studio has hit upon a novel way of repurposing abandoned spaces, starting with an old trolley depot below the streets of Manhattan's Lower East Side that looks like a set from a Saw film. The project is titled the Lowline and is scheduled for completion in 2018. The idea is to channel sunlight from street level, illuminating the space below and providing natural light for photosynthesis, so plants can grow, creating "basically a cave with a science fiction garden".
Ramsey explains: "As [cities] get more crowded we have to start getting a bit scrappy about how we can claim space we can use for public or green space. The basic idea of the Lowline is to use advanced solar technologies to harbour sunlight, send it down, almost like plumbing or irrigation, and redistribute that light... transforming this abandoned space into something for the public
Here's the science bit: the proposed solar technology of the Lowline involves the creation of a remote skylight, whereby sunlight passes through a glass shield above a parabolic collector, is reflected and gathered at one focal point, and directed underground. Sunlight is transmitted onto a reflective surface on the distributor dish underground, transmitting that sunlight into the space.
Right... Ramsey admits he's struggled to identify exactly what has captured the public's imagination about the project. Could it be the cutting-edge green technology, or an element of DIY urban renewal (that's DIY in the loosest possible sense)? Perhaps it's the undeniable romance of discovering a secret space in a bustling and saturated city like New York?
James, it's quite simple: it's a really good idea.
''Röyksopp'' is Norwegian for mushroom cloud -- the result of an atomic blast.
It all started when two boys, with a shared passion for electronic music, met at a young age. Svei Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland were 12 and 13 years old when they first started making music together.
Having grown up and spent their childhood in Tromsø, the magnificently untouched scenery of Northern Norway is often referenced as one of their main inspirations.
Since 1998, when Röyksopp was officially formed, they have been nominated twice for a Grammy and have won at the Spelleman Awards, the most prestigious ceremony in Norwegian music, an impressive seven times.
Their distinct instrumental electronic sound began to receive international recognition through their songs being used by T-Mobile in a UK television advert, as well as their collaborations with artists such as Swedish export Robyn. Besides producing, collaborating and their elaborate concert performances, Röyksopp have also put their remixing skills to good use. Roots Manuva, The Streets and Coldplay are amongst those who have had some Norwegian electronica added to their sound.
The latest and reportedly final album, 'The Inevitable End', may have fans thinking it's a farewell from the duo, but fear not, Svei and Tobjørn explain they are simply breaking with the traditional system of releasing music on LPs. For all we know, this could mean even more Röyksopp in the future.
Three young women gesticulate towards a camera, rapping a cappella in Portuguese, so in their element they don't notice the hundreds of eyes on them following their every step, hanging on their every word, in admiration of their raw confidence. While most won't understand them, their message could not be clearer:
We are women, we speak our minds and we will sing and dance wherever we want.
Who is this trio who've been making so much noise on the international scene? Crane.tv met Alice, Mariana and Jennifer, aka Pearls Negras, a female rap group from Brazil on the London-leg of their first European tour.
At first glance, the hard beats seem to be in direct contrast to their appearance. But they are, in fact, the perfect match. Their sound is trap-intense and base-heavy, the lyrics sometimes beyond their age, their look daring, confident and sensual. With a clear idea of who they are and what they stand for, they defy prejudice within seconds of being on stage.
Inspired by their north American idols, such as Nicki Minaj, Ciara and Drake, they got involved in a youth programme a few years ago, taking their first steps in performing at the Nós do Morro theatre company and school under the instruction of Jecki Brown, who is now their music producer.
All three grew up in the Vidigal favela of Rio de Janeiro, in a country perhaps better known for traditional genres such as Funk, Samba or Pagode. Pearls Negras are trailblazing female rap in Latin America, something that's widely missing in the southern hemisphere.
Long gone are the days where women were merely background accessories to rap videos. "Women can handle rap too, we're standing up for women's power." We're certainly glad they're doing so in our hemisphere as well. Welcome to modern Hip Hop.
Bill McMullen has been involved in some pretty cool stuff in his time.
The artist/graphic designer started out making flyers for bands during his college days. After moving to New York from San Diego, he landed a coveted job as an art director at the legendary Def Jam, creating iconic artwork for some of the label's biggest records, working closely with the Beastie Boys.
The next logical step says McMullen, was to start making objects -- toys that aren't necessarily meant to be played with but can still be admired for their inventive nods to popular culture. Examples include a doll based on Christopher Walken's character in King of New York and the AD-AT, a hybrid of the Adidas shell toe and the Imperial Walker from The Empire Strikes Back.
McMullen: "I'm the type of the guy that does not open their toy. I don't need to articulate a toy and have fun with it. The packaging and the presentation... that's the whole thing for me. I always want to make something that's complete as it is. I do think, 'what would I do with this thing if I had it?' I'd probably put it on my shelf with the other objects... alongside an old pair of binoculars."
See what we mean? But even McMullen isn't cool enough to predict the future. "I'm not really sure where all this is going, but it's a really great trip," he says.
In the West it can certainly feel like street art has become so ubiquitous as to have come to, rightly or wrongly, something of a dead end. But in China, where at present there is no specific law against street art, the genre is little understood. Witness the puzzled looks Beijing-based artist Robbbb receives when pasting his creations on walls and ruins across this rapidly evolving city.
Robbbb has been an active street artist since 2011 and believes ruins "mark the development of a city. Since the Olympics in 2008... a lot of culture and landscape has been destroyed. My works co-exist with the ruins and old structures. They disappear when the ruins disappear, therefore my works are part of the ruins and vice versa."
He documents his temporary works, many of which focus on social problems linked to Beijing's extraordinary development, using photos and video. However, he doesn't expect to be as free to use the city as a canvas as he is for too much longer. As Western culture floods China, it's only a matter of time before the authorities pick up on the subversive element of street art and attempt to suppress it.
"The major difference with street art in China and in foreign countries lies in whether or not people understand what you're doing," reflects Robbbb. "Ruins are temporary, so are my works, but I hope they'll leave some marks in Beijing's history."
Despite the festive season coming around again every year and there being countless occasions throughout the year to dress up and attend great parties, it does seem like party season always tends to sneak up on you and catch you in a moment of unpreparedness.
Sequins, fur, short, long,...
Gaetano Pesce, like his ideas, is well travelled. Born in Italy in 1939, the architect and designer has, over a career spanning four decades, conceived public and private projects in the US, Europe, Latin America and Asia. He's also taught in France, Italy, Brazil and Hong Kong and has had homes in London, Venice, Helsinki and Paris.
Since 1980 however, he's been based in New York City, so it seemed only natural that Pesce should put forward, in 2002, a proposal for the World Trade Center rebuilding project. Pesce's twin towers were to be supported by a heart-shaped structure, picking up on the famous t-shirt motif associated with the city. It conveys Pesce's love of his adopted hometown.
"The two towers were more important than the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of this city," he says in thick Italian tones. "It was my duty." It remained unbuilt of course, but for Pesce, modernism is less a style than a method for interpreting the present and hinting at a future in which individuality is preserved and celebrated: "Art is an expression of reality," he says.
Pesce sees architecture as "king or queen of the arts" and says humour is vital: "I try to express the spirit of the place. To be always serious, like most architects are, is very boring. I like to see people express themselves without barriers."
But it's curiosity that drives him. "Curiosity brings you to discovery and when you discover you are able to make innovation," [sic] he says. "I'm always discovering things because reality is continuing to provoke us... the importance is to pay attention."
The world was a different place in 1999. New York was a different place. But one constant in the city has been Beats in Space, Tim Sweeney's weekly mix of eclectic house, disco, hip-hop, techno and dance floor friendly anthems, broadcast through WNYU. The show has been on air every Tuesday night from 10.30pm to 1am since its debut. That's 15 years without missing a week. It's all for the love of music.
"I don't get paid doing the radio show, but I love learning about music," Sweeney says. "I love having these guests on, hearing what they play. I just have a really good time with it. It's college radio anyway so I can do what I want and I love that freedom."
In an attempt to connect with the show's global audience, Sweeney established a hotline on which listeners could leave messages for him and his guests. However, a man calling himself Victor from Washington Heights, a potentially unstable character that veers between utter contempt for "little Timmy" and the show, and adulation, has now largely hijacked it.
"They did start freaking me out at the very beginning," says Sweeney of the over 600 messages from Victor he has saved, which are now available online. "If I play disco or anything with other languages he gets more angry than you need to be. He's definitely a patriot. When he loves the show he says that he's having a house party with hundreds of people... I feel like [the show] is really a failure if he likes it because it means I didn't play enough different music."
Will Sweeney be spending New Year's Eve 2014 in the company of his biggest fan then? "No, he's never invited me to a house party," he says.
Yung Gleesh is not about to provide anyone with a step-by-step guide to success. "There aren't steps that you can follow to get where I got. I can't break it down," he drawls in a thick, smoky twang. "I can tell you my story, but it's damn sure not going to work for the next man."
Success is something the rapper from Washington, D.C., is quickly becoming accustomed to, following a series of wildly popular mixtapes and collaborations with Chief Keef, A$AP Rocky and Gucci Mane. His latest, Cleansides Finest 3, is 18 tracks of rough and ready hip-hop incorporating Gleesh's own unique slang and swagger.
"It ain't hip-hop, it ain't rap, it ain't pop, it ain't classic, it ain't bass... it's shitbag music, for people who can relate to me and what I'm talking about," he says.
Gleesh hasn't always been so self-deprecating about his music. As a teenager he was a member of TOB, a legendary group on the Go Go scene, the city's unique, funk inspired party music -- think DJ Kool's "Let Me Clear My Throat." "We were the Jackson Five of Go Go," he says now.
Taking Crane on a drive through his nation's capital, where the awkward juxtaposition of politics, power and poverty is all too apparent, Gleesh's motivations soon become clear.
"Pennsylvania Avenue, that thing goes through the 'hood and to the White House. You see a big difference... I'm making music to feed my family... I'm trying to turn art into paper [money]."
Vito Acconci is a restless soul. The New Yorker started out as a poet, writer and editor in the late 1960s, before turning to performance and video art. His most notorious work, 'Seedbed', involved him lying under a large ramp at the Sonnabend Gallery and masturbating for up to eight hours a day, whilst expressing fantasies about the people walking overhead through a loudspeaker.
Later, Acconci became disillusioned with what he perceived to be art's lack of standing in the real world and began, via permanent sculpture and installation, to explore architecture. "I always wanted art to have something to do with the world, but I don't know if it really can," he says. "[But] there isn't any place you can be where you aren't in the middle of architecture."
Acconci Studio was established in 1988 with a focus on integrating private and public space. To date, completed projects or those under construction in Acconci's idiosyncratic style include 'Swarm Street' in Indianapolis - an interactive tunnel embedded with a thousand LED lights - and 'A Building up in the Trees' (2005) in Anyang, South Korea.
However, Acconci freely admits a mere 10 percent of his proposals are ever realized: "I don't know if I can say our goal is to have built projects. If that is our goal then we've failed. But I think what unbuildable stuff leads to is a possible re-examination, not so much of the past, but of what's to come."
Acconci has also built a significant academic career and has taught at some of America's most prestigious institutions, including Yale and California Institute of the Arts. He is currently based at Brooklyn College.
Self-proclaimed cycling aficionado Peter Murray has a thing or two to say about London's infrastructure, a city that's widely known to be not particularly cyclist-friendly. With his lifelong experience in architecture and as chairman of New London Architecture, he was one of three chosen experts to make it onto mayor Boris Johnson's design advisory board, alongside Roger Hawkins of Hawkins/Brown and Sunand Prasad of Penoyre & Prasad. All have been assigned one of London's boroughs, where they will provide design advice for the proposed projects bringing safe cycling to the UK's capital.
Enfield, Kingston and Waltham Forest received the so-called mini-Holland status, each having been granted £30m for changes.
The plaza outside Kingston station will be transformed and new high-quality cycling routes will be introduced, potentially with a new cycling boardwalk along the river.
Enfield town centre will be redesigned with segregated superhighways throughout, as well as three cycle hubs delivered across the borough and the addition of new Greenway routes.
Waltham Forest will see a semi-segregated Superhighway route along Lea Bridge Road developed as well as a range of measures focused on improving cycling in residential areas and creating cycle friendly, low-traffic neighborhoods.
Peter Murray is more than qualified to offer his professional opinion on making London a more cycle-friendly city, the avid cyclist goes nowhere without his two-wheeled companion, the Brompton.
"My favourite part of cycling in London is cycling on a road with the 94 Bus," he says.
Alongside Roger Hawkins and a group of around 30 friends, Murray rode across the US, from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place, UK. During this month-long adventure they looked at how major US cities are addressing certain challenges cycling communities face in dense urban areas, and experienced the country from a two-wheeled perspective.
The most memorable revelation happened on Times Square, where they learned that one weekend, local government decided to paint cyclist lanes on the roads as a test. On Monday morning, New Yorkers welcomed this change and the test lanes were turned into permanent ones. It could be as easy as that.
For Murray however, change is not only down to carefully designed infrastructure and road construction, but has to begin with the mindset of all road users.
"Consideration between road users is a key part of creating better cities," he says. "For the past half century we bowed down to the god of the motor car and have destroyed great city centres right across the UK. That now is in reverse, there are fewer cars coming into cities, some roads during rush hour, 70 percent of vehicles on the road are cyclists, the car should no longer be king on the road."
Respect amongst road users in the UK and in London in particular will be essential to improving life on the roads in the future, for cyclists and drivers alike, and will also be the key to the success of the proposed changes in infrastructure.
In a busy former industrial space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Oliver Ackermann and friends are busy putting the finishing touches to another batch of handmade guitar effects pedals. Under the banner of Death by Audio, these are the kinds of pedals that cause neighbours to fall out. The name should be taken literally too, at least in terms of the equipment you're plugging into.
"We create really crazy sounds that people wouldn't be able to get anywhere else, because we build things that are maybe illegal for the electronics market," admits Ackermann. "A lot of the effects we build are potentially harmful to people's amplifiers -- that opens up this world of creating sounds where you can take it to places that other people wouldn't normally go."
Ackermann regularly goes to those places with his band A Place to Bury Strangers. As well as creating effects pedals for sale, the Death by Audio workshop also produces sound equipment and stage props for the band -- "the loudest band in New York, or some baloney." The space doubles as a recording/rehearsal studio cum arts venue, though Vice are soon to commandeer the building according to reports.
Death by Audio is a live/work space for Ackermann. He found the building on Craigslist and was instantly smitten, but others took more convincing. "It was totally raw," he says. "A month and a half in we still didn't have hot water and people were sleeping on the cement floor. Some people moved out... it's worth it if you're willing to dive in."
For Ackermann, every day is a small act of rebellion: "I feel like everything I've aspired to do is anti what my parents would want me to do. I guess I'm still trying to rebel."
Perhaps it's just me, but every year with the winter season approaching and the hunt for a pair of boots beginning, I am stuck deciding what to go for. New cuts, new lengths, new shapes and a whole lot of choice.
YOU magazine's fashion editor Amy E Williams is discussing new and returning boot trends this Autumn, with tips and tricks on how to style your favorite Chelsea boots with the latest fashion, what to remember when trying out a new cut like the midi boot and how to work a splash of colour into your outfit. It's time to let your boots do the walking as well as the talking.
With the darker and colder days glooming, it's normal to not want to let go of Summer, of the warmth, the brightness and the colors. It just so happens that one trend this Fall season will allow you to do just that: Color Blocking.
Color blocking is the combination of strong colors in a garment or an outfit. The trend has seen somewhat of a revival since its first appearance in the 60s, later again in the 80s as well as in more recent years. It's a reoccurring trend that is here to stay. Luckily designers, despite continuously going back to the basic techniques, have always managed to create exciting modern styles that that reflect personal styles and current times.
As it's sometimes not the easiest trend to pull off successfully, but Sasha Wilkins, editor of Liberty London Girl is an expert in what color blocking entail, how to combine neon tones and what to remember when incorporating this look into your wardrobe.
There are different ways of working the trend, of course, depending on how comfortable one is sporting all the bright colors of the pallet. One option is to go monochromatic, focusing on one strong color throughout the entire outfit, such as the red scuba dress. Sasha decided to paired it with a statement necklace, lilac gloves and some simple black boots.
To make life a lot easier, there are also statement pieces with color blocking already incorporated. In standalone looks like this, the designer has done all the work for you, you just need to wear it.
Complementary colors are opposite each other on a basic color wheel. Combining these colors will make you stand out, but it's up to you how far you want to take the trend.
For quite some time now, fashion bloggers have been well en route to becoming Fashion's loudest voices when it comes to bringing trends to the people. The American force behind UK favourite Fashion Foie Gras, Emily Johnston is an expert when it comes to identifying emerging trends translating from the catwalks into everyday life and high street fashion retailers, like traditional British Marks & Spencer.
With party season fast approaching, the questions for tips and tricks around what outfit to choose become louder by the day. We caught up with Emily, to talk new trends, unusual cuts, faux fur and a lot of sequins. A regular at the Fashion Shows for years now, Emily rightly takes a stand when it comes to new trends: "I always fully support trying everything you can about a trend and then finding what works exactly for you. I love the idea of combining textures and having a little bit more fun with fashion," she says hinting at a selection of oversized faux fur coats on the rail.
Despite modern glamour having been described as a take on the slightly darker, more mysterious goth look, the touch of elegance that has been added to the statement pieces of the collections are worthy of being given a chance this season, despite perhaps being out of the comfort zone, according to Emily: "It's all about opulence in your closet."
London's favourite king of sequins, Designer Ashish, has been spearheading this trend from his beginnings. With retail windows now bursting with sequins and embellishments, faux fur, armoury accessories and metallic colours, it seems the high street brands have finally caught up with the high end designers, just in time for party season.
When a young artist and a collector are in conversation, it's usually about one thing: art. Neïl Beloufa and Theo Danjuma are no exception. French-Algerian artist Beloufa works across a range of different mediums, usually incorporating video and sculpture, while London collector Theo Danjuma set up his family's art collection focusing on contemporary African artists. Having met at a show in New York a few years ago, both have stayed in touch, primarily through Theo initially following and eventually collecting Neïl's work.
This year's Frieze in London was a benchmark for both young men. Beloufa had his first major UK exhibition, Counting on People, at the ICA, while Danjuma exhibited his collection for the first time under the theme One Man's Trash.
Beloufa's work is regarded as socially critical, investigating an audiences' conventional relationship with the digital screen and other information systems. He plays with the theme of rationalisation versus love and is intent on exploring affect in certain situations.
It's architecture, meets cinema, meets sculpture.
Despite being permanently part of the Danjuma collection, Theo admits that Beloufa's work is at the other end of the spectrum. To him it's "work you have to spend time with, think about, give something to."
Beloufa's Vintage Series from 2013 is of particular interest to the collector, especially because of the way it was created. The artist carves shapes out of walls of MDF, medium-density fibreboard made from of broken down wood residuals and pressed and burned into fibres. It's not immediately obvious to the viewer what lengths the artist has gone to in order to create the work. "It was one of the hardest things I've ever [done] in my life. MDF is glue, you're [...] just burning glue, I think I've lost five years of my life."
What is special about Beloufa's work is that it reflects his thought processes with restrictions on the possible audience, which to him is the only way of making original work. "Some artists are really good at it, at talking to an audience, and that's when we know the work is bad, [...] or you realise talking about the work is more interesting than looking at it." If they are willing to spend some time with the work, immerse themselves in it, they may discover some truth about how people spend time with each other and engage in a digital age.
What constitutes good design? "Imagination, originality, creativity, time and passion." So says Zeev Aram, founder of London design Mecca Aram Store, and he should know. Since opening his first showroom on the King's Road in 1964 Aram has been at the forefront of design retail in the UK, seducing the British public with the impeccable aesthetics of designers such as Eileen Gray, Breuer and Le Corbusier, amongst others. At 82, Aram is unwavering in his commitment to high quality contemporary furniture and lighting.
"Design is a very important thing. Although we do take it slightly whimsically and light-heartedly, I take design very seriously, because it affects our lives everyday," he says. "It can be enlightening, pleasurable or just mundane. You can sit on a rock and it's okay, but it's much nicer to sit on an Eileen gray chair."
The London that greeted Aram on his arrival from Israel in 1957 was virtually a design wasteland. Whilst working for several architects in those early days, including the Brutalist Ernö Goldfinger, he began to notice an alarming trend amongst the well-heeled clientele: "There was this anomaly," he says now. "People were driving cars, they had televisions but when they went home they wanted reproduction antiques, which to my mind was complete nonsense. I decided to try my best to bring furniture to the public that was contemporary, correct for the time."
That was 50 years ago and the Aram Store can now be found in 20,000 sq ft of elegantly curated space in Covent Garden, with a gallery attached. But Aram's passion for emerging talent and appreciation of a well-designed object is undiminished by time, though through experience he as learnt to be cautious.
"It can be a dustbin, a paper cup in a coffee shop - if it's well designed, it gives me pleasure. [But] one has to be very careful when pronouncing future stars, classics, and future classics - 'future classics' is the most ridiculous phrase I've ever heard. You or me as the buyer or detector, have to be able to look through, like mining gold in water to find the little nuggets."
Thankfully, Zeev Aram has been uncovering design gold for nearly half a century now.