Welcome to Neighbor at Play

Art, music, design, culture... This new section is an outlet for sharing with you interesting tibits of all kinds of things that we enjoy or find interesting and inspiring to our creative processes every day. We hope you will enjoy them too.

Maeda Moves Me
23 Dec 2005

Excerpts from the motion paintings Interruptions (left) and Linear Way (right), © John Maeda

Kelvin says:

I first came across the work of John Maeda when I was a multimedia designer struggling to make sense of Director and HTML during the dotcom years. His hefty tome Maeda @ Media was NOT a bible of any kind to me, but was instead a physical encapsulation of his attempts to meld the coldly logical realms of computer technology with the heart of humanistic expression. In his hands, information comes to life. Whether the result is truly 'art' is a moot point, much as the current debate regarding today's highly evolved and highly involving computer and console games. All I know is: Maeda's work had the ability to touch something childlike within me, to excite my curiosity and make me want to explore, interact with and appreciate what this new medium had to offer. Every now and then, I still open Maeda @ Media and find inspiration within. It is a book I am glad to own and equally glad to have given as a gift to friends.

If anyone has the opportunity, do not miss his current dual-themed exhibition in France: Nature + Eye'm Hungry, now on till 19 Feb 2006 at The Fondation Cartier. Or if you desire to own a really cool piece of media magic, check out Colorcalm's byDesign, a DVD containing imagery and music by Maeda, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Peter Savile and more... put it on a projector and chill down for the holidays!

Exhibition info gleaned from the superb Design Observer. Visit simplicity - Maeda's MIT Media Laboratory blog.

The Sound of One Particular Snowflake
25 Nov 2005

Kelvin says:

I know it's been awhile since we last shared something good with you, so here's an update with a treat at the end of it!

This time, I'd like to introduce you to the uniquely enthralling music of the Cranes. If you haven't heard of them, it's no wonder because this genre-defying group led by the brother-sister duo of Jim and Alison Shaw aren't exactly glory hounds. Rather, they have been producing a steady stream of consciousness altering music since 1989, conjuring moods that range from the sweetly menacing to outright trippy. I first heard Alison's signature vocals on a sampler cassette from waaay back. I wasn't a fan then, but the sound was definitely imprinted in my mind – so much so, that when I heard a much newer track in 2002, I knew right away who whose music it was, even if I didn't know it was from their album Future Songs. What it did do was to inspire me to hunt down their entire catalogue and 'rediscover' a true musical treasure trove.

I was really happy to learn of their newest album Particles & Waves being released this year, but also quickly dismayed when it wasn't available in most major music stores here in Singapore. I had been lucky previously at Borders, which stocked a couple of older releases, but not Particles & Waves, apparently. In the end, it was Amazon.com to the rescue and for the last two work-crazy months, the studio has been enjoying the Cranes' latest efforts immensely. As a fan who might not have the chance of seeing the band perform live, the DVD bonus was very much appreciated.

I'll leave it to far more eloquent reviewers to enunciate the finer points of the album. Suffice it to say, I'm totally smitten! (Hearing the track Astronauts, an ambient-crazy friend said it sounded more refreshing than Brian Eno.) Having gotten permission from Alison, I now include one track from the album to share with you, I hope you will enjoy it...

Streams (160 kbps MP3, 5.4 MB) from Particles & Waves.
Written by A. Shaw/J. Shaw. Published by Mute Song Ltd 2005. © 2005 Dadaphonic Recordings. Reproduced with permission (Thank you!).

Learn more about Cranes at www.dadaphonic.com
Particles & Waves is available from Amazon and most online music stores.

NOT TO BE TAKEN seriously
25 Nov 2005
Can't bear to open your semi-legendary Mark Farrow-designed 12-'tablet' limited edition of Spiritualized®'s Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space? How about something in a similar vein but a lot less pricey and all the more consumable? We're talking Bloomsberry & Co.'s Chocolate Artistry series of confectionery with designs by NZ's Out Of The Blue. No, we haven't taken a bite out of our bars yet, but with up to 70% cocoa content in the dark variety, they can't be that bad. Around $10 a bar at Tangs Basement (near the little noticed staircase, not the food stands).
T-time with Victor-Schechter
31 Aug 2005

© 2005 victor-schechter. All rights reserved.

Yeow Yeong says:

Not another designer t-shirt!? Well yes and no. Started by Kaik’o Victor and Asha Schechter – and showing their second collection now – these tees are collaborations with artists of different disciplines, based on themes like “Dream Houses” and “Heroes, Villians”, with each artist responding to these concepts.

Though artist/designer tees are nothing new, these somehow have a very real and basic feel to them... almost stripped of all fancies. What’s presented is sincere and natural. Maybe that’s what appealed to me: the undesigned and non-jazzed-up look.


We love Eames!
31 Aug 2005

© From the book “100 Masterpieces from the Vitra Design Museum Collection”

Most of us have either seen or sat on one of Eames' chairs before, even if we didn't know who designed them. And one of the most significant ones is the Wire Chair, as seen in above (left)in the famous photograph by Charles Eames himself. The technical innovation to produce the chair was so unique that it was awarded a patent, the first for a mechanical solution for furniture.

Most people would think that the famous Diamond Chair (right) was by Eames as well, but the designer was actually Harry Bertoia, who once worked at Eames Office. Disappointed that his contribution was not recognised, he left Eames Office to design his own furniture. A year after Eames’ wire chair made its debut, Harry Bertoia launched the Diamond chair under the Knoll company. This was followed by a lawsuit between Herman Miller (who represented Eames) and Knoll. Verdict: Charles & Ray Eames were awarded intellectual ownership of the copyright.

Mingei & Sori Yanagi
22 July 2005

Images © Casa Brutus 2003
If you enjoy simple, unadorned aesthetics and honest, utilitarian designs, then you might already be familiar with the Japanese theory of Mingei. Roughly translated as “folk craft”, Mingei was first put forward by Soetsu Yanagi in the 1920’s – a philosophy that eschews egoistic niceties like maker’s marks, focusing instead on creating inexpensive, purposeful and well-crafted wares for everyday use. With Mingei, there is never any showiness or 'peculiar' designs that shock the senses.

Quite aptly, Sori Yanagi (90 this year) carries on his father's vision today as the president for the Nippon Mingei-kan (Japan Folk Crafts Museum). And while Mingei may proscribe putting a signature to a finished piece, you might say his vast body of work bears a definite stamp of his creative convictions. He was an early champion of ‘blank’ or unadorned tableware (rejected by stores but became best sellers by word-of-mouth), and his charmingly elegant Butterfly stool and Elephant Leg stool from the 50’s are fine examples of truly beautiful and longlived designs. Both are still in demand today and being reproduced for sale, although at what we can only call slightly ironic prices – about US$499 for a maple Butterfly stool – not exactly ‘affordable for the masses’!

Still, there is much to be admired. In ‘SORI YANAGI A DESIGNER’, Casa Brutus’ excellent Extra Issue from 2003, the man gives a bit of thoughtful advice for young designers: “We must try not to produce waste that pollutes the natural environment. I sometimes feel pessimistic at the thought of the ocean floor being a cemetery for dead designs.” Indeed.

Lynch's new digital ‘Empire’
22 July 2005

Image © Dave Nagel

Now here's a man who “likes to remember things the way I see them; not necessarily as they happened.” His first film, the eerie black and white Eraserhead was a favourite of Stanley Kubrick's, and took him all of 5 years to complete, during which lead actor Jack Nance loyally kept his crazy hairdo, even when Lynch was penniless and had to stop filming for months. Some of our favourite Lynchian moments:

- The amazing ‘Baby’ from Eraserhead – till today, nobody knows how Lynch made it; he won't tell!
- The images of shifting sands and water ripples in Dune – his disasterous adaptation of the SF epic.
Isabella Rosellini's confrontation and dark seduction of Kyle MacLachlan in Blue Velvet.
- Twin Peaks’ Man from Another Place.
- Patricia Arquette as blonde Alice making her entrance to Lou Reed's ‘This Magic Moment’.

- Rebekka Del Rio's haunting performance in Mulholland Drive... Silencio.

News is, Lynch has been quietly making his next film ‘Inland Empire’ for the last 2 years. Possibly a continuation of his earlier project with Jeremy Irons, ‘The Green Room in Lodz’, which was shot on location in Poland, ‘Empire’ will also star Laura Dern, Justin Theroux and Harry Dean Stanton. What is it about? “It's about a woman in trouble and it's a mystery.” Hmm...

Another interesting nugget – if you've read ‘Lynch on Lynch’, where the man spills the beans about his creative processes, you may have been under the impression that he was deeply devoted to analogue methods. As he tells it, the inability to have total control over a medium, be it paint, film (or a film's script), means there are more chances for happy accidents. However, for ‘Inland Empire’, Lynch has happily embraced the DV format, waxing lyrical about the amazing possibilities in shooting and post-production... A remarkable turn-around from his self-declared hatred for AVID non-linear editing!

Hopefully, this doesn't mean the end of Lynchian dream-making and merely the start of cut-and-paste recurrency. We'll know when he reveals ‘Empire’ at Cannes next year.

Source: www.lynchnet.com

Yusuke Asana
29 June 2005

Used with permission.

His compositions takes you through a scintillating soundscape built up through meticulous layers of poly-rhythmic cycles. Just when you think you've arrived, the layers drop off one by one to reveal the quiet details you might have missed along the way. Simultaneous tension and relaxation; perfect soundtrack for thinking. Rain Shower from his 2002 album Kupu Kupu is one of our favourites. Learn more about the man and his works on asana's web (in Japanese).

Beyond Dior: Kris Van Assche
29 June 2005

© Yoshio Kato / HUGE & www.krisvanassche.com

Yeow Yeong says:

"After a six-year stint as assistant to Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme (a period politely described as 'a tad suffocating'), Kris has made a superb Paris debut this year for his own label, sporting extremely controlled lines with seemingly effortless silhouettes and natural, understated detailing. Although his collection has yet to make it to our shores (hint hint, Club21... Or anyone!), from what I can see on his official website, I think his works will very soon be something that I look forward to every season!

For all those with Jill Sanders, Helmut Lang and Balenciaga on their fav lists, Kris Van Assche is the man to follow. Look out for his next show for Spring/Summer 2006:

Saturday July 2, 2005
Elysium Montmartre
72 Bld Rochechouart
75018 Paris

Light me up, Serge
29 June 2005

© Guéridon

“Ugly”,  “Hmm...”, "So beautiful!" — Just some of the varied reactions from friends who have seen the lamps by Serge Mouille. For us, they are true classics from 1953 that have deftly captured the look and aesthetics of a bygone era. In today's sleek and modern homes, their mismatched look further enhances their charm and eclecticism.

Besides the homes of some well-to-do architects and collectors, perhaps the only other place you can see a Serge Mouille lampshade up close would be at the Paul & Joe boutique at Wisma Atria. Its interior design was conceptualized by Colucci Design and the lamps specially imported from Japan through Idée.

If the hefty price tag doesn't deter you, try the official US distributors Guéridon, who will be able to ship the lamps straight to your door.

Arigato Roboto
29 June 2005

© 2005 Tim Brisko

Kelvin says:

"Fans of Japanese robot toys are drawn by the colourful graphics and zany designs, attention to details, mechanical ingenuity and sometimes, even by the element of absurdity (Gold Lightan comes to mind). And while venerable guides like THE CHOGOKIN and Green Arrow Grafitti #13 have been indispensable to collectors over the years, equivalent books in English have been rarer than the semi-mythical Garada K7 Jumbo Machinder. This July, Nihongo-handicapped fans will have cause to celebrate with the publication of SUPER #1 ROBOT, which covers a selection of robotic treasures from 1972 - 1982.

In the words of Matthew Alt (long-time contributor to Toybox DX), the project spanned about 2 years from proposal to realisation. While he did the research and interviews in Tokyo, where he is based, co-author and editor Robert Duban and photographer Tim Brisko hunted for rare specimens and struggled to "wrassle" items into shape to be captured for posterity at Tim's studio in Texas. The team scored a real coup when Matt managed to secure an afterword for the book by none other than Japanese toy legend Saburo Ishizuki, one of the pioneers at the now defunct Ark and Bullmark companies from the 70's.

Even if "Chogokin", "Shogun Warriors" or "Godaikin" don't mean anything to you, the sheer beauty of the images in this collection is reason enough to own a copy. For samples from the book, please visit Tim Brisko's official site, or order yours from Amazon."

P.S. When Kelvin isn't busy writing ads and design proposals, he sometimes reviews vintage and contemporary Japanese toys at Toybox DX under the name of "drifand".

We love Caetano Veloso
13 June 2005

© Miguel Rio Branco

The legendary Brazilian songwriter/composer has just concluded a series of concerts in Japan with all 6 shows in Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and Tokyo fully sold-out. Some of us who were privileged to attend his closing show in Tokyo were swept away by his magical voice, showmanship, as well as his legendary band conducted by the maestro Jaques Morelenbaum.

With over 40 albums to-date, picking just one to introduce to friends can be a little daunting, but if you’re into live recordings, do consider “Noites Do Norte Ao Vivo” (also available in DVD). To learn more, visit: www.caetanoveloso.com.br or check out his book “Tropical Truth – A Story of Music and Revolution”, available at Books Kinokuniya and other good bookshops .

Ryuko Tsushin: Current yet offbeat
13 June 2005

© Infas Publications

Larry says: "Ryuko Tsushin is truly one of my favourite magazines, but incredibly, Kinokuniya Singapore only brings in about 1 or 2 copies every month! Founded in 1966 by the legendary Hanae Mori, the magazine recently commemorated its 500th issue with a five-day retrospective exhibition at the Wacoal Art Center in Tokyo, featuring one-of-a-kind creations by 50 fashion designers from around the world.I especially like it for focusing on subjects not usually covered in other fashion and lifestyle mags. It was from Ryuko Tsushin that I learned about exciting up-and-coming designers and labels like Yab-Yum, and the range of topics covers everything from fashion to flowers, obscure music albums, books and more.My biggest surprise came in September 2002 when Ryuko Tsushin unveiled a major change to its masthead and overall design by award winning Art Director, Kazunari Hattori. He seemed to have captured the beauty of “just-as-it-is-ness” – design that has a child-like innocence and spontaneity, but underlined with a touch of class as only few can achieve.

Sadly, as of April 2005, they’ve reverted to their previous masthead and design grid, which in my view, is less charming and edgy."

Above all, Victor & Rolf
13 June 2005

© www.wwd.com

Now here's a store to literally turn your world upside-down! “To give customers a new perspective", Viktor & Rolf's first signature store in Milan by architect Siebe Tettero features an upside-down decor with oak parquet on the ceiling and chandeliers sprouting out of the floor. Even the TV set showing V&R's runway show is inverted, held in a white cabinet modeled after an 18th-century Swedish tiled stove.

When V&R approached him with their need to "twist the classic," Tettero decided to revisit the neoclassical style, which he described as being the most "recognizable and familiar" aesthetic. Besides having all the designers’ products "under" one roof, the boutique will also offer some of V&R's runway "couture" pieces as well as with other special designs. Sources: Iconique and wwd.

© 2005 Neighbor.