Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Helvetica documentary clip - Experimental Jetset

helvetica - the movie

Helvetica is an independent feature-length film about a font. Helvetica, derived from Helvetia, the Latin name for Switzerland, was originally developed in 1957 by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann for the Haas Type Foundry in Switzerland. In 1961 it had begun being marketed internationally by Haas’ German parent companies Stempel and Linotype. Helvetica instantly struck a chord with designers and advertising agencies alike and rapidly began to dominate the typographic landscape. This mass appeal and proliferation was further cemented in 1984 when home computers such as the Apple Mactintosh included it on their systems.

The film hops around from the United States to England, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium and back again showing us just how dominating the font is in all these cityscapes while simultaneously interviewing a tremendous cast of the most influential designers of this century. Such superstars of the graphic design world including Wim Crouwel, Neville Brody, Massimo Vignelli, Rick Poynor, Erik Spiekermann, Stefan Sagmeister, David Carson, Experimental Jetset, to name just a few.

Love or hate the font, it’s incredible just how many companies have embraced Helvetica as part of their own corporate identity, cities and countries into their visual communication systems. Helvetcia’s mark on our global visual culture will endure for a while yet.
Helvetica celebrates it's 50th birthday this year and shows no signs of retiring just yet.

The film was conceived and directed by Gary Hutswit of New York who’s awareness of the font’s saturation in his and million’s of other people’s day-to-day lives left him asking “why?”.
More about the film, director, the typeface, and future screenings on their site helveticafilm.com.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Imagining it would be a testing one’s concentration (screening at Kriterion late last Friday night after a few drinks) I soon found myself wide awake and fascinated. It features a nice mix of the grandfather’s of modern design, the hero’s I grew up with at Art School and those that are leading the way forward. Although I would have liked to see a few more women featured (I think there was only two), it was a pretty stimulating star-studded cast and I just loved seeing and hearing from all these names I know so well.

Whatever you’re opinion of the font itself, if you’re a designer or consumer, you must see this documentary.

Exhibition: 50 Years of Helvetica, April 6, 2007–March 31, 2008 MOMA, 11 West 53 Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, NYC, USA.
Book: Lars Mueller is a Helvetica devotee. He has published a book, Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface.

Monday, 18 June 2007

justin timberlake

JT, Timbers, Justy-babes, The Trousersnake, or just plain Justin Timberlake, whatever you want to call him the man rocks!
I hardly knew anything of his music, and half went along for a joke. But I'm deadly serious now! Totally converted. Big thank you to Cheryl, Kimia, Shannon, Luisa and Marcia - girls, it was a brilliant show! Thank you!

Monday, 11 June 2007

masterchef - steven wallis

When my friend Sam came back from a recent trip to London and told us she's accosted the UKs Masterchef 2007 on the streets my friends and I were giddy with celebrity excitement. Now, one may expect a tale of chance celebrity encounter might ordinarily end there, or at most with a trophy photograph. But our Samantha is no ordinary girl, and so the tale did not. Miss Sam invited Mr Wallis to Amsterdam and so this fine weekend, come he did. She then enticed him further to cook for not only herself but ten of her friends (the cheek!), and wow, cook he most certainly did.
I met Steven and Sam at Amsterdam's Noordermarkt, a biological market in the heart of one of the Jordaan. There Steven found everything he needed for his gourmet feast. He also discovered some never-before-seen items such as iced krauw (to me it tastes like a plump-leaved seaweed, very salty, watery, cleansing and crunchy - delish), and not only green snow peas, but blond and purple coloured ones, too. Sam I were inspired, and swore to investigate weekly its delights and never to take our market for granted again!The meal itself, was stunning, but it's not my place to share the Chef's secrets. If you're lucky they might turn up on The Urban Foodie's blog. Suffice to say, it was a beautifully gezellig atmosphere. The room only ever falling silent at short intervals as the next offering of gastronomical delights was served up and then swiftly devoured.
Ok, I have to share a just little... All I'll say is that I swear the layered lavender meringue - topped with fresh seasonal berries, chocolate and lavender syrup - positively evaporated as soon as the plate hit the table! Ohhhh... So fabulous!

And the man himself? I hear you ask. What can I say? Steven is vibrant, energetic, fresh and downright good fun - just like the food he cooks. A more warm, open and giving person you'll be hard pushed to meet, and he's sexy to boot!
As if it wasn't bad enough being on holiday and cooking for all of us, he had the constant clicking of a half a dozen cameras documenting every pinch of salt and drop of oil. Yet he remained cool, calm and collected and was an absolute darling. Ah, a true celebrity loves his fans, and Steven remained ever so gracious.

I do hope to see more you, Steven, you promised you'd be back and there'll be a very angry mob in Amsterdam if you're not! So, thank you Steven, and of course the divine Miss Sam for a weekend to remember. It was noiyce, different, yeah, uneweswal! Lel x
PS. And don't forget, Sharron, it's 'CARdonnay', not 'Chardonney'. The 'H' is silent.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

this is sasek

I was first introduced to the work of author-illustrator Miroslav Sasek while visiting my friend Holly, and it was truly love at first sight. He's produced and incredibly beautiful series of books called This Is, books about cities and countries around the globe intended for children, but were reveered by child and adult alike. In this series Sasek marries stunning cityscapes with his unique eye for architectural composition with the hum-drum of daily life and inner workings of a city. Lucky cities featured include New York, San Franisco, London, Paris, Venice and many more - 18 books in total. They capture the magic and charm of each city and at the same time are a wonderful historical refernce of life around the world in the 1960's. And it does this in a very literal way, feeding you facts and statistic of each location; This is New York: 'One of the tallest buildings in the world - the Empire State Building'. The series are steadily being re-printed and I love the fact that the publishers have not altered these facts and stats in the book, but have added an appendix with fresh information; 'In 1960 the tallest building in the world was the Empire State Building. Today it is the Twin Petronas Towers in Malaysia'. Fantastic!

So who was Miroslav Sasek? Sadly, very little is known of Sasek. He was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1916. He trained as an architect (which goes a long way to explain the dominating presence of buildings and cityscapes in his books), but he also studies at the l'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.

You can find his books online and in all good bookshops for approx USD$17.95 / €13.20.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007


I have a t-shirt with a black+white graphic of a tie and shirt pocket complete with pens on it I bought in Shanghai which I just love. So when I saw I saw this tourist camera tee I couldn’t resist. With the tourists beginning to swarm Amsterdam now on masse I can now get a fix of Oz if ever I'm homesick by simply blending into a passing pack of roaming Aussies. With a tee like this I'm sure the possibilities for fun and mischief are endless.
€35.00 from & Klevering, Haalemmerstraat, Amsterdam.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

ij hallen

Just a short skip across the waves by ferry from Amsterdam's Central Station and I arrived in what I can only describe as flea market heaven. Ij Hallen claims 700 stalls in the summer (and that's no exaggeration) filled to the brim of goodies. I spent four hours there with a friend running around finding treasure at every turn.
First among the finds of the day were these children's learners. These books are from mostly from the late 50s, with the exception of the cutting edge 'Meneer Computer' learner from 69. I think the graphics are just beautiful.

And here are a few ceramic items found, and vases bought. It was a good day for vases! My vintage vase collection has now doubled.
A small glimpse of the madness that is Ij Hallen...