Architecture

Piercefield House, Wye Valley, by Sir John Soane

18 Sep , 2013  

Piercefield House by Sir John Soane, Monmouthshire

John Martin, The Wye Valley, from Wyndcliffe towards Chepstow 1844

“I am more and more con­vinced that it is far the most beau­tiful place I ever saw”, is what bot­anist and explorer Joseph Banks said about Piercefield Park and he’d cer­tainly been around a bit. Piercefield Park estate over­looks the glor­ious Wye Valley, Wales, and pre­vious owners had begun to turn it into the pic­tur­esque land­scape of national repute which had so impressed Banks. It’s cur­rent owner is Arena Racing Company, run by the Reuben brothers. Ruined and for­gotten in a field next to the Chepstow race­course is Piercefield House, one of Sir John Soane’s earliest pro­jects, which he built between 1785–93 when his archi­tec­tural career was just taking off.

Piercefield House by Sir John Soane, Monmouthshire

John Soane had returned from his momentous Grand Tour of Italy and Sicily in 1780 and made his first fal­tering steps to becoming one of England’s most influ­en­tial archi­tects. Piercefield was bought by banker George Smith in 1784–5 from Valentine Morris, who had laid out the Piercefield Walks, and Smith com­mis­sioned the young John Soane to rebuild the existing house in grand neo-classical style. Two years after recon­struc­tion had begun and with the main struc­ture largely com­pleted, Smith was bank­rupted and sur­rendered the estate to his cred­itors. At this stage building work to a reduced design had begun at Piercefield and a letter from the clerk of works to Soane (14 January 1793) states that the ‘the Roof will be on next week for slaters to begin slating’. Construction work pre­sum­ably con­tinued for a brief while so that the roof would have been com­pleted and Soane’s elev­a­tion for the entrance front was cer­tainly built and exists in a ruined state today (* Soane Drawings). More…

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Entertainment

All At Sea: Rumpus Party Onboard MS Stubnitz

6 Mar , 2013  

A sea creature at Rumpus on MS Stubnitz

So, my beau­ties, there we were, on the deck of the MS Stubnitz, late of Hamburg, now come to Canary Wharf, the icy air seeking out our exposed flesh, sur­rounded by all manner of weird creatures, some with the smell of seamen about them, but many from Worlds strange and unfathom­able. We found ourselves in the midst of a great rumpus of noise and com­mo­tion, at once assailed and bewildered by the des­perate voyage now embarked.

3 mermaids at Rumpus party aboard MS Stubnitz

Gentle reader, we saw three genuine mer­maids, sirens of legend and lore, their tails flecked with the col­ours of the deep, their heads and breasts home to corals and anemones of every kind. They sang too, in slight Estuary tones, but pass­able non­ethe­less for they must have rehearsed it under water. More…

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Entertainment

A Fine Affair: The Black Cat Cabaret at Café de Paris

5 Mar , 2013  

The Black Cat Cabaret

While Boom Boom is on vaca­tion, Café de Paris has been taken over by this new pro­duc­tion fea­turing some BB mem­bers. Last Friday saw the final show for the Black Cat’s opening cast, so I went along to see them off.
The Black Cat Cabaret

The fluted columns and velvet-lined interior of the Café de Paris evoke the days of Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong and Noël Coward, a sym­path­etic envir­on­ment for the Black Cat Cabaret. Front man Dusty Limits, in Montmartre mode, does his irre­press­ible best as ‘Maître des Cérémonies’ for a slightly naughty but mainly nice lineup of London’s estab­lished cab­aret acts. More…

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Travel

L’Oasi del Riccio restaurant, Puglia [review]

23 Dec , 2012  

L'Oasi del Riccio, Puglia - signpost

It was in the middle of nowhere, a dusty track off the coast road from Torre Canne heading up to Savelletri, a few large tents stuck together and a portacabin. L’Oasi del Riccio wasn’t pretty, it didn’t have a view to die for nor did it offer a fine dining exper­i­ence. Hell, it didn’t offer solid walls. But who cares? It cooked me the freshest sea­food in an unpre­ten­tious Pugliese style and served it straight to my plastic table parked next to an azure sea.

Starters

L'Oasi del Riccio, Puglia - swordfish and squid

Raw squid was del­icate, sweet, good tex­ture and tasted very fresh. Good sword­fish carpaccio, meaty fla­vour, lots of olive oil. More…

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Architecture

Famous Architects Dressed as their Buildings, 1931

8 Dec , 2012  

New York’s most famous archi­tects dressed up at the 1931 Beaux-Arts cos­tume ball, Paris, as the build­ings they designed.

From left to right: A Stewart Walker as the Fuller Building, Leonard Schultze as the Waldorf-Astoria, Ely Jacques Kahn as the Squibb Building, William Van Alen as the Chrysler, Ralph walker as 1 Wall Street, D.E.Ward as the Metropolitan Tower and Joseph H. Freelander as the Museum of New York.

(from Chas Hutton via SwissMiss) More back­ground at The New York Times.

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Design

Lee Broom talks at Pecha Kucha for LDF2012 [podcast]

26 Sep , 2012  

sprks120921-4496-Lee-Broom

British interior and product designer Lee Broom has has designed over 40 bar and res­taurant interiors across the UK, has won a whole bunch of awards, and The Times called him ‘The pin-up of British man­u­fac­turing’ not too long after he formed his own com­pany in 2008. So, without fur­ther ado, here is the talk with the slides that he presented at PK9:

Lee Broom at Pecha Kucha London [podcast-slideshow-YouTube present­a­tion] More…

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Design,Event

Designersblock show at Southbank for London Design Festival 2012

21 Sep , 2012  

Piers Roberts at Designersblock 2012, Southbank Centre, London

Designersblock 2012 is hap­pening right now, under­neath the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, until this Sunday 23rd September. These are my iPhone photos. (This page is in pro­gress until I get quotes from the designers. If you know any of them, tell them to email me!)

More…

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Design,Event

Backstage with designersblock at London Design Festival 2012

20 Sep , 2012  

Backstage with designersblock at LDF2012

Designersblock is about to cel­eb­rate turning 15 years old at London Design Festival 2012 with a birthday party in a little-used space under­neath the Queen Elizabeth Hall and sundry other corners of the Southbank com­plex, including the Royal Festival Hall shop.

You are all invited.

Rory Dodd: ‘I always liked the Southbank; it’s a real cross­roads kind of place. It’s got Londoners and it’s got tour­ists. It’s busy, mul­ti­cul­tural, with a really wide mix of cul­tures and ages coming here or passing through.’ More…

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Art,Design

Thomas Heatherwick talks at the Gobal Design Forum [podcast]

19 Sep , 2012  

Thomas Heatherwick talks about the process of designing the Olympic cauldron, a New Bus for London, and the Shanghai Expo Seed Cathedral

Thomas Heatherwick and his team of archi­tects, designers and makers work from a studio in King’s Cross, just down the road from this year’s Global Design Forum for London Design Festival 2012. Here he talks about about the pro­cess of cre­ating, designing and then executing three large scale pro­jects: the Olympic cauldron, a New Bus for London, and the Shanghai Expo Seed Cathedral. More…

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