A new house for the Design Museum in London

If you had the opportunity to walk near Holland Park, you probably are familiar with the location where the Commonwealth Institute used to be: a Grade II listed building dating back to the 1960s. The building was designed by Robert Matthew/Sir Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners, architects, and engineered by AJ & JD Harris, of Harris & Sutherland.

The building is the new house for the Design Museum. The museum was founded in 1989, originally located by the River Thames near Tower Bridge in London, and recently relocated to Kensington opening its doors on November 24th, 2016. The museum covers product, industrial, graphic, fashion and architectural design. The new location also houses the Swarovski Foundation Centre for Learning, 202-seat Bakala Auditorium and a dedicated gallery to display its permanent collection, accessible free of charge.

I recently visited the museum and had the opportunity to attend the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition currently being shown. The exhibition showcases designs produced over the previous twelve months worldwide.The entries are nominated by a number of internationally respected design experts a, falling into the seven categories of Architecture, Transport, Graphics, Interactive, Product, Furniture and Fashion. Since 2015 there have been six categories: architecture, fashion, graphics, digital, product and transport. Beazley Insurance came on board as exhibition sponsor in 2016.

I was very pleased to see at least two entries from Mexico. One of them is the work of the mexican Alejandro Magallanes for the Almadía publishing house, a small but innovative publisher based in Oaxaca, Mexico. I highly recommend reading the post in Yorokobu entitled “Las portadas exquisitas de Alejandro Magallanes”.

Name: Almadía book covers design
Designers: Alejandro Magallanes
Paragraph description:
The front covers for the Almadia book series was conceived when Magallanes looked into the archives and origins of the Almadia publishing house. Creating a bold design, the covers add an element of craftsmanship whilst providing an object that the reader would like to behold.

The other entry from Mexico was Yakampot, a fashion brand that aims to become an international name while embracing the cultural heritage of the country’s womenswear.

Also notable are the entries from Jonathan Barnbrook for the design of David Bowie’s last album “Blackstar”, as well as the Space Cup that enables astronauts to drink from a cup rather than a straw, developed on the International Space Station. The cup was a result of addressing the microgravity effects faced by fluids while at zero-gravity. The project “Capillary Effects of Drinking in the Microgravity Environment” (Capillary Beverage) studied the process of drinking from specially designed Space Cups that use fluid dynamics to mimic the effect of gravity.

Designers: Jonathan Barnbrook
One line description:
The album cover uses the Unicode Blackstar symbol creating a simplicity to the design allowing the music to be the focus and the creation of an identity that is easy to identify and share.
Paragraph description:
The album cover uses the Unicode Blackstar symbol creating a simplicity to the design allowing the music to be the focus and the creation of an identity that is easy to identify and share. Designed using open source elements, the artwork for the album became open sourced itself following Bowie’s death enabling fans to engage, interact and use it.

Name: Space Cup
Mark Weislogel: Innovator (IRPI LLC/Portland State University)
Andrew Wollman: Designer (IRPI LLC)
John Graf: Co-Investigator (NASA Johnson Space Center)
Donald Pettit: NASA Astronaut Innovator (NASA Johnson Space Center) Ryan Jenson: Sponsor (IRPI LLC)
One line description:
Using capillary forces to replace the role of gravity, the Space Cup enables astronauts to drink from a cup rather than a straw and was developed on the International Space Station.
Paragraph description:
The Space Cup was designed and developed using scientific results of experiments conducted aboard the International Space Station. The cup is designed to exploit passive capillary forces to replace the role of gravity in an earth-like drinking experience, but in the low-gravity environment of space. Sealed drink bags are normally sipped through a straw to avoid spilling in space. The Space Cup however uses surface tension, fluid wetting properties, and a unique shape to drive the liquid toward the astronaut’s mouth while drinking.

Ballet Folklórico de México in London

What do I think when I hear the name “Ballet Folklórico de México“? Well, I think of colourful clothes, big smiles, joyful music and great “zapateado”. I also think of Sunday TV and weirdly enough, school. I do remember the end-of-year festivals at school, when señorita Caballero would choreograph some traditional dances for us.


BalletFolklorico_DancerI was thus very pleased to see in the Guardian Weekend, that Ballet Folklórico was coming to London, and that it would be the first time in 20 years that they would be in the British Isles. I had never seen them live, so it was a great opportunity to do so, and boy was I pleased to have done so!

They had their show at the London Coliseum, the home of the English National Opera, and it was a great venue to hear some well-known songs. I was expecting great dancers, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear live music from start to finish.


The programme was divided into 9 distinct parts, going from Mariachis to pre-hispanic dances and indeed a lot of zapateado:

  • Los Matachines: as many cultural expressions in Mexico, La Danza de los Matachines (also known as “Moros y Cristianos”) is a clear mix of European and pre-hispanic influences. It is a popular dance in religious festivals in the North of the Country. The interpretation presented in London was simply superb.


  • Guerrero-Guerrero: The name of one of the Mexican independence heroes; one of the states in the country is named after him and perhaps best known for places such as Acapulco. The company presented three parts here Solo de Mariquita, Las Amarillas and El Gusto.
  • Mexican Revolution: There is no November 20th parade in Mexico without the mention of Adelita and Las Soldaderas. This makes reference to the brave women who joined the fight during the Mexican Revolution in 1910. I really liked the reference to the railways as an important means of transport for los revolucionarios. BalletFolklorico_Adelita
  • Charrería: Sometimes dubbed the “Mexican National Sport”, Charrerías incorporate equestrian competitions and demonstrations, specific costumes and horse/cattle trappings, music, and food. I was truly amazed by the lasso skill of the main Charro who never stopped dancing.
  • Fiesta en Tlacotalpan: Tlacotalpan is a town inthe state of Veracruz. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and the Ballet Folklóriko celebrated the traditional 2nd February Candelaria party with a Carnival. It was great to see real mojigangas on the stage. Even La Bamba made an appearance!
  • Los Quetzales: A quetzal is a magnificent bird with beautiful plumage. And with just a few movements, I felt transported to Puebla de los Ángeles. Great headwear and lots of colour!BalletFolklorico_Quetzales
  • Danzón and Jarana: Once again the mixing of cultures in Mexico brings a fantastic result and in this case Europe, Africa and the Caribbean give us dances such as Danzón and Jarana, from Veracruz to Yucatán.BalletFolklorico_Jarana
  • Danza del Venado: And from the South of the country, to the Sonora Dessert in the North. La Danza del Venado (or dance of the deer) is a visceral performance representing the hunt of a the deer by the Yaquis. Truly magical performance!
  • Jalisco: If Mexico is known for anything in particular, it would definitely have to be for teh recognisable sombreros, and Mariachi music from Jalisco. How did I enjoy the Jarabe Tapatío, La Negra and Viva México.

What a great way to finish a fantastic performance. People could not be stopped from joining in from their seats. I am truly glad that I had a chance to join la fiesta while El Ballet Folklórico de México came to visit London. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did!


One more year in Pictures – Project 365

This is the 2013-2014 instalment of the Project 365. I can’t believe it has been three years of this already. I hope you enjoy!

Here is a link and you can find a video below:

Project 365 – 2013/2014

[shashin type=”album” id=”2″ size=”small” crop=”n” columns=”max” caption=”y” order=”date” position=”center”]

Pina, simply delightful

Pina Bausch

If you are interested in dance and all things dance related, then you might be familiar with Pina’s work. Philipinne Bausch is one of the most influential  choreographers the World has ever seen. Her Tanztheater has become synonym of German expressionist dance.

Bausch passed away in June 2009, at the time when Wim Wenders was about to start filming the great film that opened up earlier this year. Wim Wenders is a very eclectic filmmaker, his creations go from “Wings of Desire” to “Buena Vista Social Club” and “Paris, Texas”, and the addition of “Pina” to this list is just great. The film is shot in 3D, and unlike in a number of so-called blockbusters, it does make absolute sense to use the media in this case. 3D allows the viewer to immerse themselves in the world of the dancers, to see them in their element and perceive things that otherwise they would not be able to experience.

The dirt and brutality of The Rite of Spring and  the hilarity of Kontakthof are brought to life before the eyes of cinema goers in a fresh and new way. For me there were two moments that really took my breath away. One was the performance of Café Müller, a seminal piece that encapsulates Angst, passion, confusion and control. In particular that moment when two of the dancers come to hug each other, while a third one forces them over and over again to take a pose in which he carries her in his arms, a battle that the controlling rational mind can only loose against the visceral one. The second moment was the absolutely phenomenal treat of one of the dancers entering the monorail in Wuppertal and attacks without mercy a white pillow while making hilarious sounds effects as if she were a robot.

The film is definitely a tribute to Pina Bausch and the testimonials that the dancers give (portraits with voiceovers) let you get a glimpse to the everyday work with Pina the choreographer, Pina de human being. “Keep searching” she recommended to one of the dancers, although it was not obvious  to search for what or where… Such is life I suppose.

I could continue trying to explain why I liked this film so much (the music is just great for example), but I would not make it justice. I can only recommend (urge) that you watch it. Pina is just simply delightful.


Café Müller:


The Rite of Spring:


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Sir Isaac Newton (p. II) – Quantum Tunnel Podcast

Front cover of "Philosophiae naturalis pr...
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You can download this podcast in iTunesFeedburner.

In the previous episode we talked about Sir Isaac Newton being one of the most influential scientist of all times. We mentioned how in 1669 Newton had what can only be described as a genius burst and made some very important discoveries; however he was not always interested in making his discoveries known by publishing them.

Encouraged by criticisms from Robert Hooke, and diplomatically soothed by Edmund Halley, Newton turned his mind to write his greatest work, the Principia. The Principia was written in 18 incredible months of total concentration, and when it was published in 1687 it was immediately recognised as one of the supreme achievements of the human mind. In it he laid down the basic principles of theoretical mechanics and fluid dynamics; gave the first mathematical treatment of wave motion; deduced Kepler’s laws from the inverse square law of gravitation, and explained the orbits of comets; calculated the masses of the Earth, the Sun and the planets with satellites; accounted for the flattened shape of the Earth, and used this to explain the precession of the equinoxes; and founded the theory of tides.

In his dynamics and celestial mechanics Newton achieved the victory for which Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo had prepared the way. This victory was so complete that the work of the greatest scientists in these fields over the next two centuries amounted to little more than footnotes to his colossal synthesis.

After the mighty surge of genius that went into the creation of the Principia, Newton again turned away from science. In 1696 he left Cambridge for London to become Warden and later Master of the Mint, and during the reminder of his long life he entered a little into society and even began to enjoy his unique position at the pinnacle of scientific fame. These changes in his interest and surrounding did not reflect any decrease in his unrivalled intellectual powers. For example, late one afternoon at the end of a hard day at the Mint, he learned of Johann Bernoulli’s brachistochorne problem – posed as a challenge “to the most acute mathematicians of the entire world” – and solved it that evening before going to bed.

Newton has always been considered and described as the ultimate rationalist, as the embodiment of the Age of Reason. It is perhaps more accurate to think of him in medieval terms – as a consecrated, solitary, intuitive mystic for whom science and mathematics were means of reading the riddle of the Universe.


World’s smallest farmers

Researchers from Rice University in Houston., Texas reported in ScienceNOW the discovery of what can be described as the world’s smallest farmer- an amoeba that picks up bacteria, carries them to a new location and the harvest them like a crop.

T.Rex bites back at claims it was a scavenger

After much wrangling between palaeontologists over the predatory nature of Tyrannosaurus Rex. The latest findings point back towards the creature being a fearsome hunter rather than a pitiful scavenger as was suggested by some. The latest research from the Zoological Society of London has added more weight to the predator argument because the sheer number of smaller carnivorous scavengers around in the late Cretaceous period in North America would have sniffed out the carcasses of fallen creatures much quicker than the T.Rex would have, leaving hunting live food as the only option to sustain the animal.

Amazon dam gets the go-ahead

The ‘green’ light has been signalled for the commencement of the construction of the world’s third largest dam in Brazil. Situated on a tributary of the Amazon River, the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant will need 588 acres of land to be cleared and 190 sq. miles of land to be flooded. The impact of this could threaten the survival of indigenous groups and make up to 50,000 people homeless.

Kilogram adjustment controversy

During a conference at the Royal Society in London on 24–25 January 2011, Richard Davis, the former head of the mass division at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sèvres, France, suggested a workaround that would allow a long-planned redefinition of the kilogram to move forward. According to his plan, the results of two types of experiments that don’t quite agree would be averaged, and the mean would be used to set the new standard.

Since 1889, the kilogram has been defined as the mass of a cylinder made of platinum and iridium that is locked in a vault at the France. The plan has been to replace the cylinder with a kilogram defined in terms of a fundamental constant. Scientist have used mainly two methods to achieve this. One is the “Watt balance” where the kilogram is defined in terms of Planck’s constant. The second method consists on counting the atoms in a sphere of crystalline silicon. We covered this in a previous episode of the podcast. In this case the kilogram is related to Avogadro’s constant. All in all, scientists are hopeful that the results of these two approaches can be reconciled in time for the General Conference on Weights and Measures in 2015.

RS President hits out at mistrust of science

Sir Paul Maxime Nurse, FRS (born 25 January 19...
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Sir Paul Nurse, the new President of the Royal Society has outlined his concerns over the levels of personal vilification and distrust shown towards.

He is now urging scientists to take on the critics who cast doubt on their research on topics ranging from climate change to GM crops. Rather than retreating to their ivory towers, they need to speak directly to the people who pay their wages.

Visceral: The Living Art Experiment

The exhibition  where the artworks are created from living tissue is being shown in the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin. The idea is to bring together science and fine art while provoking scientific and ethical questions about modern biotechnology. The exhibition was brought to Dublin by SymbioticA, the centre of excellence in biological arts at the University of Western Australia. Its lab encourages artists to come into a fully functional biological lab and find interesting ways to incorporate what they see into their works of art.

Visceral runs until February 25th, 2011

Visceral 1 Visceral 2 Visceral 3 Visceral 4

10 Years of the Tate Modern

This month it is ten years since Tate Modern first opened its doors. I do remember it very well as it was one of the things that I was really looking forward to visit, as those were the first few months that I had been in this fantastic place called London.

As an adopted Londoner, I do feel very proud of thes magnificent exhibition space and I have seen many of the events that have taken place there: Rothko, Dali, Kahlo, Matisse, etc, etc, etc.

I do love the view as you approach the Tate from the Millenium Bridge and that is even before you have seen the great pieces that are housed in the building. Once inside, the vast space of the world-famous Turbine Hall is able to truly take your breathe away, specially if happen to be there when some of those well-renowned Unilever exhibitions are awaiting. Let’s take for example Louise Bourgeois’s towers (I Do, I Undo, I Redo, 2000; and the spider), Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project (pictured below) in 2003 or Rachel Whiteread’sEmbankment (2005) – yes the giant sugar lupms!

Now that its first decade is over, it is by no means the end of the projects that the Tate has under its sleeve. There are plans for an extension in 2012. The new extension has been desinged by Herzog and de Meuron will rise from behind the power station and I can’t wait to see the end result.

So, if next weekend you are looking for something interesting to do in London, please consider visiting this fantastic place. You will surely have a great time.

Oh and don’t forget to have a look at the fantastic view from the restaurant at the very top floor.

Regeneration: Turbine Hall in 1994 and (right) during Olafur Eliasson’s “The Weather Project”, 2003-04 (Photo: Tate Photography Marcus Leith/Andrew Dunkley)


“Hate is…” the Tube

“Hate is…” the tube

Living in London is quite a terrific experience. It is certainly a place that offers an incredible number of things to do. From galleries to theatres, films to street performances, Thai to Brazilian food, museums to markets… it is only a matter of making a decision and heading to the selected place. It sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? Hold on a second!!! Is it not a little bit too expensive to do all these things? Don’t you have to put up with minor details, like the (sometimes) dreadful weather, American tourists, or simply getting to the place you want to go to?

Well, I am not going to analyse every single thing that you have to “tolerate”, I really wouldn’t have the energy. I have already discussed the reaction that “wet socks” have on me. Who knows… I might try the other subjects some other time. At the moment I want to concentrate in one particular issue: the tube. And before I continue let me just put this word in context for those of you that are not familiar with the term. The tube is the way Londoners refer to the underground system or  (in American English) the so-called subway. Please do bear in mind that the latter means a completely different thing in the UK… OK! Let us go back to the subject. I am aware that talking about the zillions of little topics that could be discussed about the tube, would take more than a small piece of text and the last thing I want to do is to kill you of boredom. So I have decided to tell you about something that really has been getting on my nerves lately: the ghastly, abominable “Love is…” campaign in the tube.

You might remember those horrid cartoons created by Kim Casali created in the ’70s. They basically picture this ridiculous naked couple with round faces and cheesy phrases describing what love is supposed to be: “Love is… when you are the centre of attraction”, “Love is… welcoming her mom in a week’s visit”, “Love is… ” rubbish. The worst thing is that these appalling pieces of culture were actually all over the world, translated into several languages and, now, even used to “encourage customers to behave more considerately towards each other and also to have more respect for their surroundings” in the bloody tube.

Looking at the images that they decided to use for the campaign, the only thing that comes to my mind is: “Why on Earth did they think that’s going to encourage people to behave more considerately? They just make me cry, they are ludicrous!”. Besides that, if you pay a bit more attention to what they show, it is always the bloke the one that is doing something wrong. From my point of view, she must suffer real hysteria; just look at her face. On the other hand he is more relaxed, and tries to enjoy his journey: both being important qualities to endure a tube trip, specially if you are unlucky enough to be in the district line or even worse the circle line…  I am entirely sure they could have hired the services of very talented graphic designers, with good and fresh ideas for the campaign to be a success.

Anyway, fortunately enough I don’t have to use the tube that much, but I can’t wait for the ads to disappear from every tube station. By the way I am also sending one of the cartoons (one would help me to make my point, more would be like torture), so that you can see them with your own eyes (in case you don’t believe me).


(Written: Feb 2002)