Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Guest Blogger: Jo Casley of furniture & design website,

This week marks the end of London Design Festival 2011, bringing to a close a smorgasbord of design delights, with almost 300 different events taking place across the capital.

The Festival is always a fun and inspiring – if hectic – fortnight, and this year it was especially interesting to see London’s design highlights through the eyes of a group of American design and style bloggers, here as part of ‘BlogTour 2011’ – the first cultural exchange of bloggers between the UK and US.

I had the priviledge working with Modenus who organized BlogTour 2011 on the London itinerary – and boy, did we squeeze a lot in! Here are a few highlights.

Textile Field by French designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec at the V&A museum is a creative and beautiful installation in the gallery’s Raphael Cartoons room. The gigantic upholstered boards reflect the Raphael canvas’ colours, and encourage visitors to view the wonderful paintings from a totally new perspective – sitting or lying down. It’s immersive and a very comfortable way to view art! (See it at the V&A until October 20th).

Image credit: Textile Field via Creative Review 

Also at the V&A, a real highlight for me was the interactive Beyond The Valley takeover in the Clore study, where visitors could experience the digitally printed wallpapers and fabrics, and design their own on special iPads.

Image Credit: Anna Zeuner at Arts Thread blog

Designersblock offered a rare chance to see inside a fascinating London building, the Farmiloe building in Clerkenwell. Originally a Victorian bathroom warehouse, it used to be the most heavily reinforced building in the city! A great place to see energetic student design. is the site set up by Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane-Fox of fame. It aims to make home design easy by giving visitors the chance to visualise new furniture in their homes and the opportunity to compare and shop for products online.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Why Bloggers Rule the Roost - our latest blog for The Huffington Post UK

In The Times' Saturday magazine last weekend, new fashion editor, Laura Craik squeezed into a designer dress, climbed into a pair of towering high heels and took centre stage in her own feature. These days, she said, fashion editors don't have much choice but to get in front of the camera and model the products themselves and this is thanks largely to fashion bloggers, who, "without a budget, created their own visual content" and made their blogs "all the more compelling for it."

Editors and traditional publishing outlets have been trying to harness the power of the blog for a while now - by forcing their writers to step into the limelight, by launching their own blogs and by inviting bloggers to write for them - but brands too are actively courting bloggers in their attempt to extend and add value to their publicity.

To read the full blog, visit The Huffington Post. And do feel free to share the article on your social media pages, or use the comments section to give your own views on the subject.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Guest Blogger: Clare Macnaughton - A Modern Military Mother

When I met my RAF pilot husband, nicknamed Hagar the Horrible, for his Viking warrior status, he was a vibrant, bouncy energetic shade of yellow. I was deep shade blue as I had broken my leg and couldn’t walk. He burst into my life, loudly declared “hello, dream date”, swept me off my feet and we rode off into the sunset. Over time and evolution, rank, role, combat and age Hagar lost his colourful brightness and moved into an intransigent black and white.

First, because I loved him so, I tried to be a bit of black and white, but it was too rigid for me, so then I adopted a steely shade of grey. Eventually, I could bear it no longer and I went for pink and green, sometimes red, sometimes purple, turquoise and yellows. I wanted to roll myself in colour and tiptoe barefoot through the tulips. I couldn’t live with black and white anymore.

The difficulty with black and white is that the military precision is such that it doesn’t allow for flaws, fun and chaos. It’s very restrictive and our two children, our son, The Grenade, aged 8 (nicknamed so because when he younger he could destroy a room in 20 seconds) and The Menace, our daughter, aged 3 (called this because she quietly goes about her business silently creating disaster in her wake) can’t breathe in the rigidity of Hagar’s need for order, structure, command and control.

It’s harder when he returns from war because the war is run like a well-oiled machine. The focus is time, precision, prepping, delivery and execution – everyone know their place and their role.

Hagar returns; he is tired and angry. He doesn’t even know he is angry. He thinks it’s ok to shout but we don’t shout in anger here. We have been rolling in sunshine, colour and laughter, while he sweltered in the darkness. I give him a spoon; a wooden spoon and I take him to a light room for him to breathe out the dark smoke and breathe in the white light.

Life is complex, post war and we watch out for loud bangs and tired, grumpy Hagars. We try and bring him back down to earth with beauty and life. Meanwhile the battle continues on. Peace and love.

Clare Macnaughton is a Modern Military Mother, juggling a busy career as a writer and marketing consultant with a husband serving in the RAF and two small children.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Guest Blogger: James York, founder of Blokely

Never before has the average man had access to, let alone needed, so much lifestyle information. But if 'knowledge is power', why are the majority of male-centric publication's readerships falling like dodos off a cliff?

One could make assumptions about the proliferation of the internet or boldly claim that men 'just don't buy magazines anymore'. But it might be that they simply don't relate to what they are being presented with. Put simply, their personal aspirations are not congruent with the market model in which the word ‘aspiration’ has been synonymous with the content.

Aspiration doesn't require economic value to play a part and, instead of reinforcing male self-confidence and virtues, it has latterly, and inadvertently, threatened to turn the masses into expensive-shoe chasing, self-conscious paranoids. It's interesting to see men rebelling against what risks becoming a contrived consumption-driven paradigm. They are defiantly showing that, whilst all life's frills have a rightful place at the table - few put them at the head of it all.

 Modern men have become cynics, impervious to these expensive and colourful lifestyle peacocks that dance in front of them so blatantly. And while they still buy clothes and shaving products, try to find wives and lovers and watch movies, more of the same unattainable, aspirational content is the last thing they require.

Let's take a step back and get back to value-adding practicality - the flint-like tools of male lifestyle. Afterall, the pace of falling readership in the magazine world runs in parallel to the fortunes of Western economies over the last ten years. Perhaps the market needs to reflect that? Be ready for the next boom and bust. There is a remodelling of collective identity taking place in reaction to the new realities of modern digital life. It's a measured approach to consumption and the choices available. Now, the ambition is to be secure and avoid repeating the mistaken attitudes that got the economies of the West into such a pickle in the first place.

James York is the founder and editor of men's lifestyle online magazine Blokely.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Our first blog for the Huffington Post

Our first blog for the Huffington Post UK, written by The Good Web Guide's editor, Emily Jenkinson, has just been published.

The blog, which looks at the rise of video broadcasting online and how this is threatening the written word, is the first in what will become a monthly blog spot on the Huffington Post UK in which Emily will look at online trends and news stories.

Do feel free to share the article on your social media pages, or use the comments section to give your own views on the subject.