Sunday, April 27, 2008

Easter eggs inspiration: Franc Grom

Catholic Easter is long gone but the Orthodox is now, so some inspiration for this year's eggs comes from Slovenia: Franc Grom patiently drills the egg shells with an electric boring tool, making them more beautiful than any Fabergé egg out there.

Usually he needs 2,500 to 3,000 holes to create one egg but once he pierced 17,000 holes in one! He is inspired by traditional Slovenian designs.

Making eggs look like lace is his speciality, they look so delicate and fragile one is afraid of touching them. His intricate work has been published in National Geographic and many internet websites.

I cannot imagine his frustration if an egg breaks while he is working on it...

So, anyone care to try this at home?

Via momeld.

Happy Orthodox Easter to all my friends!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring flowers : an inspiration

Being surrounded by flowers (live ones, not in vases) has always been necessary for me, ever since I was a small boy. My happiest times at my dad's paternal home was being in the garden, playing with mud and watering the plants, watching the various flowers my grandma grew on soil or in pots blossom, making our world even more beautiful.

One of the more then ten blooms of my rose bush!

Even though I live in an apartment, I am lucky enough to have a big veranda, which of course I filled with many pots soon after moving in. And now that the spring is in full force, I am surrounded by blooming flowers every day of the year almost (except the bleakest winter periods)

One of my numerous yellow calendulas (dimorphotheca)

A rose bush, a peony, daisies, lilies in various types, a bougainvillea, dahlias (a big and a small one), passion flower, a hydrangea, a camellia, a Japanese maple (Acer Japonicum, my pride and joy), strawberries (yummy!), chilli peppers, jasmine, honey suckle, cestrum (or lady of the night if you prefer - the Hindu name even more poetic: Raat ki Rani, which means queen of the night), wandering Jews (not Silver ones I'm afraid Mr. Dustroad!) or telegraph poles as they call them in Greece, gladiolus (gladius means sword in latin), plumed cockscombs, ranunculuses, begonia and many more... phew! Enjoy the photos of my flowers as an inspiration for spring! And remember: it helps the environment too!

My pink ranunculus plant in full bloom

My red ranunculus

My acer japonicus

One of my strawberry plants before their transplant into a single big rectangular pot.

A single fuchsia dancing in the wind...

Another calendula

I will be posting again with more flowers as they bloom and grace my veranda with their colours and perfumes. I hope I made some of you go out and start planting more!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Design Obsessions

My dearest friend Meniek invited me to write down my obsessions, hoping to make me admit things that would embarrass me. Well, since this is (mainly) a blog dedicated to all aspects of design, I decided to make this post about my design obsessions. So here they are, in no particular order:

1. Colour: Green, especially lime green, is an obsession for at least five years now. My kitchen (see the previous post for a photograph, you can see the green wall of my kitchen behind the shoes) and bedroom walls, various home objects, many of my clothes - latest acquisition are my All Star shoes (Chucks) in army green.

2. The Eames lounge chair - I posted before about this, it will haunt me until I get my hands on one (maybe even after I ever do).

3. 50's & 60's Scandinavian furniture - the absolute must for a well designed space. Timeless, elegant, simple, comfortable. What more can one ask for?

4. Alexander McQueen - for me the best fashion designer working today. I wait breathlessly for each new collection of his. The rest of the pack follows.

5. Calvin Klein ads, shot by Bruce Weber. The best ones out there since the late 70s.

6. Christy Turlington - my inspiration and favourite model.

7. Bottega Veneta - Tomas Meier is doing amazing things with this label, from bags to dresses to anything: the modern classics.

8. Sterling silver rings for men - best hand decoration out there.

9. Steven Klein. I do not think I have seen any photos taken by him that I did not like. Ever.

Vogue cover - Christy Turlington by Steven Klein

W photo shoot - David Beckham by Steven Klein

10. Dave McKean. The best illustrator out there. Period.

11. Frank Lloyd Wright. Most of his work is still relevant, his buildings are still talked about, the Guggenheim in NY is still the most beautiful museum out there.

12. Karim Rashid - I'm obsessed with his choice of colours, materials, organic forms. And of course his chess and backgammon sets are gracing my home (along with his dish rack!)

13. Eiko Ishioka. The genius of set and costume design. Her work is rare and exquisite, blending ancient Japanese tradition with modern sensibilities and historical references. You all remember her costumes for Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula.

14. Apple products. Enough said.

15. Fabien Baron. Master art director, he has worked for so many iconic brands that you get dizzy just reading his cv.

Harper's Bazzar layout

Harper's Bazzar layout

Prada men's perfume - bottle designed by Fabien Baron

16. Marimekko bags. I own one. Sadly only one.

17. Versace from early 80s till early 90s. Everyone wanted to dress and be like the models in his ads (male or female).

18. Texture in fabrics. I love rugged, torn, fuzzy, intricate woven fabrics for clothing and furniture alike.

19. Modern design. Need I say Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe once more?

20. Photographers David Seidner and Herb Ritts. They are no longer with us, but their images are for me unforgettable. David made his subjects look as if they posed for Sergeant, while Herb made his look like Olympian Gods.

The Miller Sisters by David Seidner for Vanity Fair 1995

Fashion photograph by David Seidner

Versace ad - Christy Turlington by Herb Ritts

Record sleeve - Olivia Newton-John by Herb Ritts

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Blogger game: favourite pair of shoes!

After Dr. mad's invitation, I am posting a photo of my favourite pair of shoes: my Adidas Stan Smith in white leather, with green trim. I bought them last fall, and have been wearing them since then at all my social engagements (or most anyway). They go well with everything, fit almost any style of dress (from super casual to sportive to more dressed up) and are very comfortable, elegant and, yes, now a classic since they have been produced since 1965.

My Stan Smith pair

The Stan Smith was introduced in 1965 as the first all-leather tennis shoe. It was originally endorsed by Robert Haillet. In 1971 it was renamed after tennis great Stan Smith. Since then it has become one of the best selling shoes of all time, having sold over 30 million pairs. Adidas writes in their website:

The Adidas Stan Smith with green trim.

As part of the Tournament Edition, this is a 1-to-1 reintroduction of the Stan Smith originally introduced in 1977. The original version was a slight variation of the Haillet shoe, with Stan's signature on the side - the Stan Smith tongue logo became an icon all on its own over time. Featuring super-soft leathers, sophisticated perforated leather lining and laser etching sign off on the tongue, this is presented in a variation of the iconic Adidas white/green tennis colourway.

Stan Smith was the world's No. 1 ranked tennis player in 1972. During his long career, Smith won 39 singles titles and 61 doubles crowns. He was one of a long list of Tennis Players to endorse Adidas products, including Ilie Nastase and Rod Laver whose named model shoes are also currently available, and Ivan Lendl who has yet to have his shoe re-issued.

Stan Smith in Wimbledon in 1970

What is the main reason behind the Stan Smith's enduring popularity? I think it is the stylishness and cool, clean and understated design, especially in its original white leather lace-up form. They look good and sporty without making the wearer look sloppy. The Adidas branding is minimal (always a good thing), with the Trefoil logo on the top of the heel section and on the tongue, and the ubiquitous three stripes in the form of punched ventilation holes on the side of the shoe, instead of coloured stripes as in most of their shoes. Minimal is good, no? Also, the pricing is good, compared with modern designs that are here today, gone tomorrow.

Over the years, Adidas has changed the form the shoe took, introducing different coloured leather, velcro 'strap-over' models, a version with the Trefoil logo on the side in place of the stripes, and a version in nubuck. Many of these variations are available today, but the original classic design is still far and away the best. Why mess with a classic?

The black Stan Smith in Adidas' USA catalogue

And of course one of my all-time favourite on-screen characters wears - what else? - Stan Smiths. In Blade Runner, Rick Deckard wears a black boot design of the shoes, with the logo erased, one of the many retrofit examples of design one can find in that film. Fans of the film still argue if it is indeed Stan Smiths or Officials (worn by NBA referees back in the 80s) but I do like to believe they are the one and only Stan Smith!

Deckard in trouble - you can see the shoes here.

The closest look one can get of the shoes in the film - to me they do look like Stan Smiths. And yes, that's the famous origami animal he is picking up.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Giganto Books at Comicdom Athens

Comicdom Athens is an annual Comics show-convention. This year it takes place on the 5th and 6th of April, at the Hellenic-American Union's main building, at Massalias 22 st., in Athens. It will be a weekend filled with comics, featuring original art exhibitions, awards, screenings, workshops, a charity sketch event, bazaar, and international guests!

The official Comicdom poster designed by Tassos Papaioannou

One of the publishers participating at the event is Giganto Books. They have their 5th anniversary this year, and to celebrate, they will present five new comics editions at their stand there, located on the ground floor. They will also have all their old titles on sale at 50% - that's neat! The Giganto Books stand will be designed by their artists and will be given away in parts at the end of the show to those who care (I want a piece for me too!).

Print advertisments for Giganto Books

A few words about Giganto Books: Tassos Papaioannou is the man behind the label - he created it in 2003 (He also designed this year's poster for Comicdom and will show some original art at the venue). It specializes in publishing comics by Greek and foreign artists. So far they have published the following titles : Subart Comics (anthology, #1-3), Generator: Victor Van Dread (by Vassilis Lolos), Mistress (comics anthology by Greek women artists), Fanzine (Program for the shows of Phebos Delivorias and Zac Stefanou), Populart (by Tassos Papaioannou, #1-2 + special), Tourta (cake) (by Ilias Kyriazis and Tassos Papaioannou), Rozblack (Pinkblack) (by Ege + Firzb, #1), Common Comics (by Panayiotis Pantazis, #1-3), Blast Comics (comics anthology with artists from Greece, USA and Turkey), Krak Komiks (by Tassos Maragkos, #1-2), KuroShiro (by Taxi, volume.1), Noisebook (by Anastasis Tsiatsios) and Now! (by Panagiotis Pantazis and Tassos Papaioannou.

First look of two of the new editions! Looking good!

Tassos Papaioannou was born in 1978 in Athens. He studied marketing and graphic design (last one with a three-year scholarship). He was awarded first prize at the category «New Talents» at the 1st Greek Comics Competition organized by Eleftherotypia newspaper - "9" magazine- in collaboration with ΑΚΤΟ and since then he has been publishing regularly his comics at "9" ("One cigarette time" together with Ilias Kyriazis etc) and participates in exhibitions and festivals for comics in Greece and abroad (1st Script prize in 2004 at Belgrade). In 2003 he started Giganto Books. Since January 2006 eh had been drawing "Mixtape" comic strip (full page) for Sonik music magazine, a collaboration that just ended its course. From February 2007 he has been writing for comics at Velvet Velvet. Last year he was included into Taschen's "Ιllustration now! Ωol.2" book, one of the few Greek illustrators to do that.

He is part of the poor designers family, who in 2006 won the Evge prize for general category, for the pdf online poor magazine.

Since february 2007 his illustrations are exclusively represented by Smart Magna agency.

Here are the five new titles:

1. Common Comics #3 by Panayiotis Pantazis

48 pages, 6,5 €
Dim: 17 x 24 cm

What to say about Pan Pan, as he likes to be called - maybe to remind us of the ancient Greek deity? ;-) Third issue for “Common Comics” by Panayiotis Pantazis, it includes a one-off story titled GONG: separated in 4 parts («Today's Day», «Glorious Days», «Glorious Night» και «The Next Day from a Glorious Night») GONG describes the chronicle of a teenage love between a Greek guy and a Polish girl.

Panayiotis Pantazis is best known from his comics series ”re/stor.diaries” published within the pages of the «9» comics anthology of Eleftherotypia newspaper (he has also published many other stories in 9). He has also participated in various shows related to comics and art (Babel Festival at Technopolis, Athens Voice Covers Show at Benaki Museum etc).
The #1 Common Comics issue was published in February 2007 and #2 in June 2007 (both from Giganto Books).
Other comic-books still in circulation are «Now!» (Giganto Books) in collaboration with Tassos Papaioannou, and «Lynch» (ΚΨΜ publishing) in collaboration with Giorgos Gousis, Michalis Dialynas, Taxi and Anastasis Tsiatsios.
He is also prolific in music - you can listen his tracks in his Myspace profile.

2. Krak Komiks #2 by Tassos Maragkos (Tasmar)

32 pages, 5,5 €
Dim: 17 x 24 cm

Second issue from Giganto Books for Krak Komiks by Tasmar. Within its 32 pages one can find: the 24-page second part of the "Hard Rock" series (the adventures of Markos, Gogos, Judy and the rest of the heroes continue in absolute “hard rock” attitude) and many one-page comics with «Hard Rock» heroes but also K.omista (and his brain-f.....g comics). It ends with the hot story «Greek Comics Wonderworld», about, what else, the Greek comics scene.
Tassos Maragkos was born in Syros, in 1977 and has studied graphic arts. he has worked as a graphic artist and as a sketcher. For the last 8 years he has been creating comics. his work has been published in 9 magazine, Gallera magazine, free press magazine Bang, comics magazine Happy Revolver, Uncovered City newspaper, independent comics imprints Pick Your Sin, Red Dot Comix, Sapilla and in various anthologies. From 2004 up to 2006 he self-publishes bigBANG! which was awarded best Greek independent comics imprint for 2005 and 2006. For the last two years he has been living in Thessaloniki (just because it's beautiful!). Visit his personal blog to learn more news about his work!

3. KuroShiro (Volume.1 | 2004-2008) by Taxis

80 pages, 8,5 €
Dim: 17 x 24 cm

First collaboration for Taxis and Giganto Books. Volume.1 of «KuroShiro» has 2 parts:
In the first one, you can find all the Taxis' stories published in Babel magazine from 2005-2008 but also 4 stories published for the very first time (1 older and 3 brand new). In the second part you will find a 25page sketchbook by the artist, rich with finished illustration works as well as drafts.

Taxis was born in 1983. He has graduated from the School of Arts in Athens. He occupies himself with comics and graffiti since 1998 takes part in European graffiti festivals since 2004. He was awarded in the young talents contest of 9 magazine (Eleftherotypia newspaper, 2002) and also in the 1st Patras contest in 2006.
He was director of photography for the film Mia Roz Paramana (One Pink Safety Pin) by N. Pomonis, distinguished at the 47th Thessaloniki Film Festival (Digitalwave competition, 2006), and also collaborated in the film Roz (Pink) by Alexandros Voulgaris (do I see an obsession with everything pink here?).

Since 2005 he has been published in Babel magazine. He has also worked for Cinema magazine and Lifo free press. Recently, along with Panayiotis Pantazis, Giorgos Gousis, Michalis Dialynas and Anastasis Tsiatsios, he sketched “Lynch” (ΚΨΜ publications). You can also see his work in the street art book «…sto dromo» (in the street).
He has participated in many team exhibitions in Athens and abroad: International Babel festival (Athens), “7PLY Project” (Athens), “ReMAP K.M.” within the 1st Athens Biennale, 3rd Komikazen internazionale del fumetto di realta (Ravenna, Italy), "Labyrinths” comics and contemporary aspects of visual arts (Beijing 2008).

4. Noisebook by Anastasis Tsiatsios

80 pages, 9,5 €
Dim: 13 x 17 cm

First collaboration for Anastasis Tsiatsios and Giganto Books but also the first art-book for the publishing house, «Noisebook» is 80 pages full of illustrations and is separated in 2, half sketched in black & white, half sketched with red detailing. Caustic, dirty, full of juxtapositions, it was made to provoke the reader to come into terms with his own nature.

Anastasis Tsiatsios is alive and kicking!

5. Tora! (now!) by Panayiotis Pantazis + Tassos Papaioannou

32 pages, 4,5 €
Dim: 10 x 14 cm

Comic-book «Tora!» (now) is the first collaboration for Panayiotis Pantazis and Tassos Papaioannou. The two artists transfer their existence onto paper (each one sketches himself) and, starting with a chat in MSN messenger, try to find answers in the questions troubling them.

Panayiotis Pantazis was born in 1982 in Athens, where he is living –with a six year break- his now.
Tassos Papaioannou was born in 1978 in Athens and was always waiting for now to come.

Here are the flyers for the Giganto new publications, created by Tassos Papaioannou:

So this weekend, go by Comicdom and see these guys, buy their stuff and enjoy yourselves!