Rediscovering an Indoor Walk

The tunnels and covered walkways were born during the French Revolution and they experienced a period of flowering until the First World War. These “roads in a road” increased their splendor, and thanks to them the cities became centers of trade and were inspiring greatest architectural achievements. The presence of theaters from the early days, in more than one arcade wordwide, is no accidental detail, for the arcades themselves created a new form of spectacle. Idling, window-shopping and observing became an art form, summed up in the French verb “flâner”, meaning to stroll, which, with its derivatives “flâneur” (stroller) and “flânerie” (the activity of strolling), became inextricably bound with this special form of urban space. 
The gallery is a structure, which in many parts of Europe helped make alive the city centers. Having emerged as attractive places in which it’s hard not to come in contact with other people, even the most lonely person felt inexplicable attraction for having to go walking through these places, amid a flurry of passers-by and an endless parade of shops.

During the last century of history emerged also objections and criticism against this new urban spatial system. The German philosopher and writer Walter Benjamin wrote from 1927 to 1940 The Arcades Project (in German, Das Passagen-Werk), his last giant masterpiece as an effort to represent and to critique the bourgeois experience of nineteenth-century history and as an allegory of the new modern age.
 But, in spite of Benjamin’s social investigation – where he labeled the passages in a negative way – the gallery is in general loved and located in the most crucial place of the city. And it doesn’t matter how you call it: gallery, store, pass, stoa, colonnade, corridor or arcade. 
Whether you go in a hurry or not, the tunnel should be fun, but its use has lost importance for the hundreds of malls in every city.

As a recent example one could look at “The Allen Lambert Galleria” – a 6-storey pedestrian avenue designed by Santiago Calatrava in Toronto, Canada – an attempt to build an arcade in a modern city center, to give people a new covered shopping street. The construction has a very futuristic architectural form that goes back to the Gothic cathedrals, and it becomes at the same time, in a symbolic way, the cathedral of shopping. Today, as the German architectural historian J.F. Geist wrote, “we are living in a time when the arcade is seen not only as a historical object but also as a contemporary possibility” and there are so many examples that could be restored and revitalized to ensure that the gallery will become again, a special stop-in-transit to experience the city.

Giulio Ghirardi 
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Labels and Names

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The eternal words of Shakespeare’s Juliet can unintentionally be used as an introduction to the discussion about brand collaborations, ever more common among many famous designers. Karl Lagerfeld and Shu Uemura, Marc Jacobs and Coca Cola, Lancôme and Alber Elbaz, Isabel Marant and H&M are just few collaborations, but the list certainly doesn’t end there nor does the popularity they’ve gained. For when a famous name in fashion is lending talent and brand visibility to another, it is almost always met with open arms among the big public. In relation to the increasing popularity and demand of individual style this can however seem somewhat odd. How can an individual style be kept if it constantly wants to be in connection with someone else’s name? Especially when the lower prices make it even more appealing to the masses.

Naturally there can be many answers to this. From one point of view the product is often being presented as a limited or special edition and therefore exudes a form of exclusivity, something that is highly in association with individuality. From another, since the fascination of labels was put into high gear during the 1990s, many of the consumers of these collaborations may be themselves some kind of products of that era, creating an explanation for their subconscious desire to purchase.

More can certainly be said and everyone surely has their own opinion on this. We may acknowledge that by purchasing a designer label in collaboration with someone, we are not becoming one with the designer as an individual. The words of Juliet still apply here; the names of designers may appear to be of importance but if the physical outcome doesn’t fit with our perception and desire for it, it won’t help promoting a personality or a style. Just because someone has the possibility to purchase certain labels, it won’t give him or her a “sweeter smell”. The smell is nothing more than a fleeting moment of glitz and glam which is up to the consumer to sustain.

Victoria Edman 
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3D Printed Gun and the Ethic of Design Production

When last year an essay published in The Economist described the evolution of 3D printers as the beginning of the third industrial revolution, most designers were already thinking about how this technology might be formally exploited. Hence, a myriad of 3D printed furniture marched out, displaying all the wonderful stylistic and formal quirks allowed by this production technique. The second issue soon discussed in design circles concerned the economic value of the new technology and how design objects would be bought and consumed in the near future. From tiny do-it-yourself 3D printers that allowed you to produce anything you wanted at your house to online projects like OpenDesk that store technical drawings for neat chairs, tables and shelves, design world seemed concerned about how far our imagination might go in coming up with objects we would be able to produce at home.

But last week’s acquisition by Victoria and Albert Museum in London shows deeper implications of these new means of production. As part of their Design Fund acquisition, the curators of the museum have decided to add a 3D printed gun to their collection. In fact, in comparison to The Liberator gun, other objects added to the collection this year – which include Formafantasma‘s Botanica collection, The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites, Ear Chairs by Studio Makking & Bey and the George chest of drawers by Gareth Neal – seem innocuous and almost dull.

The Liberator gun was developed and assembled earlier this year by Cody Wilson, a Texas-based law student, through the use of separate printed components entirely made of ABS plastic, with the exception of a metal nail used as a firing pin. While the technical drawings of the project were taken off the internet, The Liberator project nevertheless poses urgent moral and ethical questions about the use of technology in everyday life. In fact, Kieran Long, V&A’s senior curator discusses that “so far people have focused on the ability to print out things at home, such as toys, but this seems to be only part of it. In my view, the gun blew all that away. It showed the fuller implications of the dissemination of the means of production. Everybody is now potentially a manufacturer.” And while the ability to design, produce and build objects by ourselves appears liberating, hopefully this project will show the design world it should finally start being more concerned about issues that go far, far beyond the poetics of form, colour and structure.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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London Fashion Week: Paul Smith SS14

Backstage of Paul Smith by Luca Campri 
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Mounir Fatmi | Witnesses Are Accomplices

Mounir Fatmi (b. 1970, lives and works between Paris and Tangier) is a well-known Moroccan-born artist who exploits film, drawing, painting, sculpture, installation and linguistic games – pushing the boundaries of all these media – to investigate and underline geopolitical, socio-economical and cultural dividers in different contexts. Thanks to the use of an extremely direct and visual language, along with a strong ironic tension and dark humor, Fatmi explores the complexity of both western and eastern worlds, pointing out their respective belief structures and ideologies. Working on the issues of identity and alterity, he refers to the worldwide current events, making use of traditional and contemporary symbols of religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) and power systems to reveal their fallacies and stereotypes. As an exercise of free thinking, the works by Fatmi frankly present to the viewers some selected objects, which embody and help to create metaphors of people’s doubts, fears, prejudices, or easily of their awareness, leading the viewers to a deeper reflection: jumping poles, horse jumping hurdles, books, VHS Cassettes, unwound films and intertwined cables are just some of the devices that recur in Fatmi’s works.

In Pique-nique sous embargo (Picnic under embargo, 2003) the artist seems to give birth to a place of encounter, apparently recreational, which conveys instead political and humane themes (as suggested by the title) the viewers are encouraged to think about; while in Save Manhattan 01 (2004), he re-creates Manhattan’s pre-9/11 skyline through the use of religious books – reflecting their silhouettes as shadows on the wall –, all published after September 11th with the exception of the two volumes of the Koran that emblematically stand for the Twin towers.

The electric chair of Gardons Espoir (Keeping Faith, 2007), made of VHS cassettes that design a minimal and optical composition, is in dialogue with the Warhol’s famous namesake, provocative work, generating ambiguity – the centre gets lost –, and recalling our ambivalent relation with death: fear and obsessive fascination. Arabian and Western culture meet in Maximum Sensation (2010) where fifty skateboards were covered with Islamic prayer rugs representing cultural hybridity that he personally experienced, but with a kind of blasphemy. Among the numerous works, which are worth to be considered, we cannot avoid mentioning Les Printemps Perdus (The Lost Spring, April 2011), an extremely essential and poetic installation consisting of the 22 flags of the Arab League placed against the wall. All the flags are sustained by poles except from the Tunisian and Egyptian ones that are on two brooms, referring to the revolts and the falls of Ben Ali and Mubarak; events seen as “domestic works” through which sweeping up the dirt, cleaning the context to renovate and restore: “Who’s next? Where else needs to be swept clean? Where is the rubbish hidden?”. Evil is contemporary and everywhere, even close to you, just remember to face it now and then.

The works by Mounir Fatmi are currently on view at: Palais des Evêques (thru 11th November); The Mediterranean Biennale (thru 30th September); MAC (thru 20th October); MAXXI (thru 29th September); Keitelman Gallery (thru 31st October); Art International Istanbul (thru 18th September), and more has to come.

Monica Lombardi 
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Robert Mapplethorpe: Fashion Show

Robert Mapplethorpe is one of those photographers who has really defined an era. Back in the New York of 70s and 80s, he portrayed the beauty of the subversive and scandal by shooting people like Grace Jones, Andy Warhol and Patti Smith. A special exhibition at London’s Alison Jacques gallery has started on 11th September and focuses on a different angle of his art, especially tracing his relationship with the fashion system. By working for Vogue Paris and Vogue Italia, he loved to take pictures of real identities, including the fetish and the sexual side of them. His life was all about glamour and beauty but never in a corny way.

“Robert Mapplethorpe: Fashion Show” has been organized and co-curated by his very first lover, the model David Croland, who wants to showcase more about Mapplethorpe’s personality and interests. For this reason, Croland himself has prepared a commentary to describe who Robert Mapplethorpe really was and what he was actually trying to demonstrate with his job.

This is a perfect – and rare – occasion to discover an iconic artist from a different point of view. There is also a special book “Mapplethorpe Polaroids”, edited by Sylvia Woolf and published by Prestel, that is currently available at libraries in UK and US.

The show will last until 5th October.

Francesca Crippa – Images © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by Permission. Courtesy The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, New York and Alison Jacques Gallery, London. Silver Gelatin prints: Paris Fashion / Dovanna, 1984, Italian Vogue, 1984, French Vogue, 1986, Melody / Shoe, 1987. 
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Tracks for the Weekend

John Talabot & Pional – Destiny (Dubtool Version)
After releasing one of the best electronic albums of 2012, Fin, the Spanish producer continues working with his Spanish counterpart Pional, who was also featured on Fin, to create equally awesome House-influenced electronica.

Jon Hopkins – Breath This Air feat. Purity Ring
Melodic electronic producer Jon Hopkins releases a remake of “Breath This Air”, from his recent album Immunity, featuring a truly beautiful vocal by Purity Ring, making the track a much softer yet still quite intense aural experience.

Planningtorock – Think That Thought
Berlin-based music producer, video director and founder of the new record label Human Level, Planningtorock has just released a new album, Have It All, full of quirky sounding electronic, yet kind of retroish songs just like this.

Factory Floor – Turn it Up
DFA-signed Factory Floor from London gives us a sample from the debut album which was released on September 9.

Gramme – Too High (The 2 Bears Remix)
Last but not least, The 2 Bear’s recent disco remix of “Gramme’s Too High” is bound to get you moving. The track is also available for free download.

Andreas Stylianou 
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New York Fashion Week SS14

Autumn may be fast approaching but the fashion industry is focusing on what to wear in Spring/Summer 2014. This past week America’s finest have presented their views. Here are some key trends spotted in the city that never sleeps.

As expected, the most popular color of the season is white, worn from H to T or paired
with a black shoe. As seen amongst others at Diane von Furstenberg, BCBG Max Azria and Reed Krakoff.


Organza, mesh or anything else that is sheer. The cut out trend and cropped top have received a partner in crime in a sheer overlay. Several designers showcased a desire to give the illusion of covering up and give a twist to the geometrical minimalism.


Botanical and pinstripe. Think floral water paintings and/or classic menswear pinstripe which is a continuation from the fall season. Playful use of the stripe shirt – on top as well as bottom – could be viewed in many forms at Altuzarra.


The fur wrap is not just limited to colder seasons. It has now also a place in the summer wardrobe thanks to Michael Kors. Another unexpected accessory was the fanny pack. At Tory Burch it was seen swinging from the models’ hips in a hard case leather form in tone with their modernized 60s look.


The rear window seems to be focused on two eras: the 50s and 60s. Many interestingly shaped dresses walked the runway in combination with voluminous coats and small hats, as well as with a few A-lines, they created almost an escapism to yesteryears.

Hitchcock’s leading ladies – like Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren – should in other words be kept in your inspiration folder. In contrast the embrace of menswear for women is also a trend being kept. Underwear as outerwear was used to update the menswear trend in a “conservative” way at Alexander Wang and a daring 80s way at Rodarte.

Googler’s guide for inspiration:

Philip Lim – Look 25 (White cropped top with purple printed skirt)
Lacoste – Look 18 (Peach colored dress) 
Vera Wang – Look 9 (Black sheer long sleeved top with black skirt)
Narciso Rodriguez – look 14 (black skirt with white part sheer top)

Tory Burch – Look 9 and 20 (Fanny Pack)

Badgley Mischka – Look 8 ( “open” peplum top with hat and skirt)
Alexander Wang – Look 12 (blue pinstripe shirt with pinstripe underwear) 
Rodarte – Look 12 (Vest and Jacket with animal print briefs)

BCBG Max Azria – Look 11 (white cropped top with white Suit pants)
Prabal Gurung – Look 3 (White sleeveless shirt with white skirt)

Victoria Edman 
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XORKO Festival 2013

Xorko (pronounced Hor-ko, meaning ‘village’ in Greek Cypriot) is a collaborative art movement that emerged out of an awkward Skype meeting between two friends. Their shared concern for social and cultural issues facing the island of Cyprus opened up a dialogue that has been organically growing into a community (composed of artists, designers, art curators, historians, anthropologists, sociologists, writers, poets and of course musicians) ever since. Their intention: to change things. The old local coffee shop culture that was so prevalent in Cypriot everyday life in the past – along with the values that came with it, such as dialogue, common good and community – has unfortunately been withering for the past two decades under overbearing hordes of swanky cafés, global fast food chains and glitzy brands.

This is the second year Xorko Festival is taking place. As in last year, the location is Arminou, a tiny old village (with a population of no more than 30) in the Paphos district of Cyprus. The Xorko crew has had to approach and propose their plans to the town people and ‘muhtar’ (community president) with great care. There’s always the danger that such undertakings may result in a ‘takeover’, since such small villages aren’t used to the idea of thousands of people swarming in for a two-day festival. However, one of the very purposes of the festival is to celebrate and learn from old village life, and therefore the profits made from the festival were donated back to the village.

The festival lineup was large and varied. The bold folk hymns of Monsieur Doumani (‘The System’) and the enchantingly sensual gypsy-jazz tunes of Sandy Brour (‘έβρεχε χθές’) opened up the two nights. The Bass Stage kicked off with urban dance hymns by Dj Zen and hip-hop guru Dj Mike Wildcut. Tomash Ghz captivated everyone with deep melodious beats using his self-constructed midi controller, followed by Sobamonk’s electro-percussive crispiness.

The Black Post Project – a live project by Xorko-duet Nico Stephou and Evagoras Bek – playfully combined improvised techno kicks with multifaceted guitar. Mohama Tayalof then picked things up with lucid layers of textures mashed up with thoughtfully crafted beats. Alex Tomb finished things off the first night with an incredibly atmospheric no-bullshit set, absorbing the crowds until 8am. The second night was ignited by the festive afro-funk beats of Cotsios O Pikatillis, followed by Glasgow-based Alex Mackay, who flirted with a pop break-beat techno-grit sensation. The crowds went berserk for Meskalido’s outlandish Balkan electro. Dj Magos played a selection of precious funk vinyl. Franko introduced dark electro dub-techno, picked up by Dimikan, who took it darker and louder. And finally, Raw Silver, a founding member of Xorko, took the stage with a deeply industrial unforgettable set that felt like it contained a message, and that message was good.

About a month ago, a few weeks before the festival, a meeting about the purpose and vision of Xorko took place. About fifteen members of the crew were present, sitting in a circle, passing around a wonky laptop, collectively writing the Xorko manifesto. Surprisingly, the general consensus amongst them was one of frustration. They could have easily just been patting each other on the back, having fun, and focusing on the hype and anticipated success of the festival. Instead, they were intensely debating what Xorko stood for and how it could be more socio-culturally effective in Cyprus. They were far from satisfied, admitting that Xorko was still a project unborn. Their ambition saw the festival as only one part of their overall vision, with interactive websites, publications, happenings and many other exciting plans to come. It was this fervid dissatisfied thirst, this stubborn rejection to take anything for granted, that signalled a movement that was rising.

Peter Eramian, Images Peter Eramian & portrait of Demetris Taliotis by Unmask Productions 
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Visiting Villa Sucota

On a sunny afternoon it still feels like summer in the north of Italy. Como, where one would feel the holiday mood all the year around, is famous for silk and textiles industries. On the shores of the lake, only 50 km away from Milan, we are about to enter the courtyard of Villa Sucota. The historical villa built in the middle of nineteenth century is nowadays well known in the world of culture as Fondazione Antonio Ratti.

Welcomed by the curator Francina Chiara, we are brought to visit a rare fabrics exhibition, a collection of ancient textiles. Collected by Antonio Ratti throughout his life with passion and accuracy – an exhibition on rotation is hosted in two rooms on the ground floor. Archive that consist of more than three thousand single textile items and more than two thousand pattern books was gathered over a period of forty years. The Museum of Textiles (Studio Museo del Tessuto) organizes not only exhibitions and lectures but also holds the Advanced course in Textile Design – a course for young talents from around the world.

Climbing up to the next floors we pass by the offices of administration and arrive to a cosy library with a “postcard view” over the lake. Open to public since few years it holds more than five thousand volumes specialized in textiles, fashion, visual arts and crafts. The purpose of the foundation is to promote the initiative and studies of artistic, cultural and technological interests not only in the field of textile production but also in contemporary art. Many events are hosted by the foundation like advanced courses in visual arts, exhibitions and lectures.

A great source of inspiration not only for textile designers but everyone interested in fashion and its history – the collection’s database is available for everyone on the foundation website.

Agota Lukytė – A part of the images from Giovanna Silva 
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