Tag Archives: neighbourhoods

best of british

2 Apr

On the weekend we had the pleasure of a parent of the His and Hers in town visiting. As a bit of back story, this particular parent, who resides in deepest darkest Devon (and has never lived in the big smoke), somehow seems to know and have her finger on the pulse of everything that’s achingly cool in the city.

So whereas most children may dread the arrival of their parents for a weekend, we look at it as an opportunity to raise our “cool” stakes amongst our peers.

We were informed that this weekend’s agenda was to begin with a stroll down the recently re-opened Exhibition Road to take in the latest example of shared space urban planning, as well one their favourite art deco buildings in the city.

Our destination was the V&A for the opening day (our guide thought it had been open for weeks) of the British Design 1948 – 2012 exhibition.

But before we had even got in the door our eyes were being opened with more facts from our London oracle. The photo below is of the wall on the Exhibition Road side of the V&A, which to this day still has multiple and considerable shrapnel scars from the Second World War. Quite a frank reminder of how the war affected some of our greatest buildings.

As for the exhibition itself, the word I’d best use to describe it is ambitious. Covering a huge range of styles, influences and designers, it was always going to be difficult to do justice to all of the eras covered.

It felt as though some eras went into quite some detail (the Fifties in particular), then others were skirted over in a slightly haphazard fashion.

However, the surprise for me was fashion design, in particular the dress below by Alexander McQueen from his Horns of Plenty collection in 2009.

Copyright: Alexander McQueen

Being aware of his importance in the fashion world, but never having really seen or paid that much attention to his work, seeing this dress up close and understanding its design direction was an eye opener. The example above was inspired by the houndstooth pattern often used by Chanel and Dior, and up close you really see the flow of the concentric patterns expand and change across the dress into magpies circling. I couldn’t help but be reminded of MC Escher.

In a Jubilee and Olympic year this exhibition is definitely worth visiting just to understand how the period after the war (the Olympics and Festival of Britain) kick-started modern design in the UK. With some great talks also coming up too, including such design luminaries as Paul Smith, David Bailey and John Hegarty, go make yourself feel proud to be British.