letter from london | june 2012

courtesy of vitorio benedetti

by Melanie Nelson

The Jubilee and the weather dominated June. Unseasonal baking heat (for London) immediately followed by the misery of cold and rain just in time for the country’s biggest party since the last one. The main beneficiaries, being the purveyors of flags and bunting. I shall be happy if I never ever see another Union Jack, highly unlikely as we are about to host the world’s greatest sporting bonanza, bringing with it a plethora of unrelated cultural events to big up Britannia. I will miss most but hope to catch a few.

And back to more mundane events. Popped in to the Serpentine again, on my habitual wanderings to view TO THE LIGHT, a major exhibition of the work of Yoko Ono.

Quite liked the wishing tree where visitors had to hang their dearest wish on a tree. Amongst the wishes for world peace there were a few gems such as “I wish my husband would like my Dog.” Her newly launched project could also be interesting…

People from cities and countries around the world will be able to freely upload and send their smiles by mobile phone and computer to the world and it’s people. Each time we add our smiles to #smilesfilm, we are creating our future, together. Give us your smile! I love you! 

The poems are OK but most of the art leaves me cold. Pictures of hairy bottoms and videos of Yoko Ono blinking just don’t do it!

I was more satisfied after making the effort to go to Masterpiece 2012 in Chelsea. Only launched in 2010, it is now surely becoming an important cultural event for the International set. Some of it is just a bit too rich. But there is also an amazing selection of art and design. It is particularly good to see a trend towards the commissioning and sponsoring of 21st century design, as galleries either run out or get bored with the 20th century classics.

Didn’t realize I was particularly interested in boys toys but loved Shaw Harley–Davidson and their classic bikes. Also a big fan of the Abell twins of Based Upon who are making themselves a name in metal artworks and furniture, not least as they come from my home town.

One of the 2012 cultural Olympiad exhibitions championing British design is Designing the Extraordinary  at the V&A,  an exhibition of Heatherwick Studio‘s work, pushing out an extraordinary range of product. Good to see such a mix of disciplines, experimentation and exploration of form and materials. The Shanghai Pavilion looks quite interesting and the spinning chairs were good fun. Unfortunately, some of the project,s particularly the architecture and bridges, should remain on the drawing board. What happened to “less is more”?

Amongst other stuff happening in June, a cable car designed and built by Mace (amongst others) “Emirates Air Line” 1.1 km long and capable of carrying 2,500 people over the Thames was opened recently. Where did that come from?

Melanie Nelson is the co-founder of Addison Nelson Design and AND Furniture.  She is based in London working on a diverse range of exclusive private and commercial interiors in South East Asia and Europe.


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