studio am

design musings, articles and projects by An Michiels

stephen jones/momu antwerp

Another Christmas break, another visit to Antwerp. This time around I went to see Stephen Jones – The Accent of Fashion in the MOMU Fashion Museum. A lot has been written about it already, but I can only confirm that it is very much worth visiting, even if hats are not your dada.

The exhibition design was conceived by Geert Bruloot, who owns the largest collection of Jones’ hats and who established Antwerp’s most famous fashion shop ‘Louis’ back in 1986. The show has been split up in four themes, each represented by an impressive blown up version of a key hat and mixed with bold fashion by designers Jones collaborated with throughout his career. His work looks finely crafted and sophisticated but it is light at the same time with the occasional hilarious touch. Would you prefer some egg and bacon on your hat, or maybe a creation with deconstructed barbie dolls? On until the 13th of February.

Can I just mention how much I appreciated that photography was allowed at the MOMU. It is great to be able to spread the word about inspiring exhibitions, even if it is on a small scale. I was at the Design Museum in London a while ago and was told off for taking photos – with my phone – of their current Fashion Illustration exhibition. Such a missed opportunity for them. They are probably contemplating how to implement new media from higher up while the power really lies with passionate visitors themselves … free advertising guys?! Right, that’s off my chest!

Stephen Jones 01
Stephen Jones 02
Stephen Jones & Walter
Stephen Jones 03

1. Stephen Jones 2. Science theme/Blow Up of ‘Soho’ 3. Image of fez for Jean Paul Gaultier 1984
4. Adventure theme/Blow Up of ‘London’ 5. Adventure theme /’Eggs&Bacon’ & ‘French Onion Soup’
6-7. Science theme/Stephen Jones & Walter Van Beirendonck
8. Rococo theme/Stephen Jones for Comme des Garçons 9. Glamour theme/’In Private’ & ‘Myra’ 10. Glamour theme/photoprint diadem ‘Ecstacy’ in foreground

Photos by An Michiels.

photography/guy bourdin/madrid

Don’t underestimate the power of advertising on the tube.  While visiting Madrid last weekend in a desperate attempt to soak up some sun before we head into winter, I came across a poster for a Guy Bourdin exhibition that proved well worth visiting.  Always nice to stumble upon things that are a bit off the beaten track too, this show took place in a beautiful water works tower near the Ríos Rosas tube station.  The exact name of the place is Sala de Exposiciones Del Canal Isabel II de la Comunidad de Madrid and the exhibition runs until the 14th of November.  Make sure you take some form of ID as it is within some city council grounds with quite tight security.

The show was curated by Nicolle Meyer – muse and model of Bourdin in the late 70’s – for the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2003 and has toured the world since. Apart from his striking photographs, storyboard style sketches, poems and magazines have been included.  If you don’t know Bourdin’s work yet, check it out here. He managed to work as a fashion photographer for French Vogue for over 30 years, from the mid 50’s to the late 80’s.  It is remarkable that – apart from the odd 70’s prop – the images in the show don’t look dated at all. It’s pretty clear that the David Lachapelles of this world admire him too: it’s loud, surreal and seductive.  A winner I’d say!

Guy Bourdin

artfeelers/jonathan wateridge

Whenever I have the intention to check out some of the East End galleries on my doorstep, it inevitably turns into a social event – read drinking cheap beers on Vyner Street on the first Thursday of the month.  This time around I decided to spend some quality gallery time and joined the Artfeelers Tour.  Claire Flannery’s no nonsense approach – insights in contemporary art understandable for all, no overkill and a perfectly timed pub break – worked well.  End of the day it is a Saturday afternoon event and not a highbrow insiders club. The tour includes introductions from the actual gallerists or curators and encourages to chat with fellow Artfeelers, in my case Betsy-from-New-York and Leonardo-the-Italian-painter (no not that Leonardo).  We dropped by Hales Gallery in the Tea Building to check out the work of contemporary ceramic artist Richard Slee, followed by Kaleid Edition‘s exhibition on fine artists’ books, then off to Kemistry‘s show on Zero Per Zero’s graphic design series called ‘City Railway Systems’ and finally All Visual Arts‘ show on Jonathan Wateridge’s intriguing work at the Tramshed on Rivington Street.

See some images of Jonathan Wateridge’s ‘Another Place’ below.  On photo the work might look photorealistic, but it actually has very painterly qualities, which is worth checking out.  It is a series of seven large oil paintings (2.8x4m!) depicting scenes from the production and narrative of a fictional American film that is centred on an unseen catastropic event.   The ‘actors’ in the scenes are Wateridge’s friends and the virtual 1:1 scale seems to invite you to step into the painting, only if you dare.  Very loaded, weird and wonderful.

Jonathan Wateridge Another Place

Jonathan Wateridge ‘Another Place’.  Image by All Visual Arts

Artfeelers Tour 01

Curators talk at the Jonathan Wateridge Show  –  Claire Flannery (Artfeelers) & Leonardo Magnani

film/carless LA

After a month long trip to Shanghai to work on a Kingston University x British Council project on the legacy of the Expo, I am back in lalalondonland!  With the expo theme ‘Better city, Better life’ still ringing in my head, I came across Ross Ching‘s time lapse film on a ‘carless’ LA.  He pictured the unimaginable, quite surreal indeed!


art/chiharu shiota/haunch of venison

If you happen to hang out in central London one of these days, pop by the Haunch of Venison gallery and check out Chiharu Shiota‘s intriguing immersive installations.  They were a nice surprise afer visiting the Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts around the corner.   The lack of blockbuster queues at the Haunch of Venison and the possibility to get close to the work without having tons of audioguide-clad zombies breathing down your neck were a real treat!

No queues for Shiota’s show yet, but her CV is impressive enough anyway, with recent shows in the Hayward Gallery in London (part of the Walking in My Mind exhibition), the Moskou Biennale and recent shows in the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa among others.  The current show exists of two site specific installations and a room with a series of her smaller ‘boxed’ thread works.  ‘One Place’ was made from 400 windows from demolition sites in East Berlin and is a metaphor for an opening and a barrier at the same time.  They give evidence of a claustrophobic experience that East Berliners endured through the Wall for almost 30 years.  The second installation ‘During Sleep’ is a black string installation that has a bed trapped in its impenetrable nets.  It plays with dreams and anxiety and has an eerie atmosphere that works very well when you’re the only visitor in the room.  The show is on until the 27th of March and is worth the detour.

Chiharu Shiota One Place

Chiharu Shiota During Sleep

Chiharu Shiota’s site specific installations ‘One Place’ and ‘During Sleep’ at the Haunch of Venison.
Photos: An Michiels

And if you did manage to bag tickets for Vincent in the Royal Academy, just go for it and brave the crowds!   You will get rewarded with the chance to witness his intelligence and drive, look beyond the cliché of the one-eared madman and get an insight in his broad range of influences – from Japanese block prints to Dickens’ literature.

art/michael johansson

I came across Michael Johansson’s work Ghost II while browsing on, an interesting blog with words and visuals by Folkert & Atley.  Worth visiting for a virtual stroll in the park, but beware it might turn into a lengthy walk cause there’s a lot of nice stuff on it!


Michael Johansson, Ghost II Installation in Galleri Arnstedt, Sweden (2009).

I got interested in Johansson’s installations and found loads more on his website.  I particularly like the Strings Attached series which shows his fascination with model kits and everyday objects.



Michael Johansson, Strings Attached series:  TOYS’R’US (2006), Kitchen Assembly (2008) & Some Assembly Required (2007).

MJ: ‘Fascinated by assembling objects from model kits as a child, Michael Johansson transforms everyday objects into models of themselves. Taking away their original purpose, the life-size kits hold a commentary on today’s ways of living. In his first piece from the series, TOYS’R’US, a boat and related equipment are joined together in a welded metal frame. Everything is painted in a unifying plastic layer to resemble the surface of a model kit. The piece was created for the Besökarna exhibition in the western harbour of Malmö, an area developed as a demonstration project to provide a model for future cities. Today, many years later, the area still feels like a model. The artificial atmosphere awaits to break loose from its surrounding plastic frame. The boat which floated in the harbour for one month was a reflection on the utopian developments.

Moving to a more domestic realm in Engine Bought Separately a selection from mid-20th century housewife appliances are taken apart, sorted, and reassembled into an equally outdated boydream aesthetics. These two worlds are merged together and the objects are frozen in their new shape – while their function is displayed, the functionality is taken away.

Reversing the steps in the line of production, in Some Assembly Required, parts from bikes and scooters are turned back into a space of imagination and spin concepts such as size and belonging. The title of the series taken from a commonly found phrase on the boxes for model kits, reminding buyers of their participatory role, points out to the role expected from the audience in finding references and therefore giving shape and meaning to the works.’

art/hoet bekaert gallery/ghent

Jan Hoet Jr. and Delphine Bekaert’s gallery rocks!  They have been supporting young contemporary artists for several years now. Since 2005 they occupy an interesting space in the centre of Ghent (Belgium), a classic white cube gallery with a twist.  At the rear of the space you’ll find a big open kitchen, where their opening brunches are being held.  The kitchen seems to be a great gathering space that takes the edge off the seriousness of a traditional gallery.  I felt pretty temped to make myself a coffee!

The have quite a few big spatial works on display in ‘A show 2010’.  The staircase to nowhere by Hannes van Severen and a mirror piece by Joris van de Moortel caught my eye.  This show runs until the 28th of February and the next one with works of Kelly Schacht is opening on the 21st of March.

You can check Hoet Bekaert out on the Armory Show in NYC this March and on fairs like Art Brussels and Frieze London later in the year or just hop over to the lively city of Ghent, which offers medieval architecture, canals and the fantastic SMAK contemporary art museum amongst others.  Hoet Bekaert has two beautiful rooms available above the gallery for those who want an alternative to a hotel – see details on ‘sweet dreams’ section of their website.  Great idea, this is not just a static gallery space, it has life revolving
around it.

Hoet Bekaert two

Work by Joris van de Moortel / Hannes Van Severen

Hoet Bekaert

Work by Kelly Schacht / Hoet Bekaert Gallery Kitchen
Courtesy Hoet Bekaert Gallery
All photos: An Michiels

archi/art/kolumba cologne

I had the chance to visit the Kolumba museum – the art museum of the archbishopric of Cologne – a few weeks ago.  Initially I just wanted to check out Peter Zumthor’s architecture, which proved impossible!  This museum is an amazing Gesamtkunstwerk in its own right, throwing archeology, architecture, design and art from the late antiquity to the present in the mix.

The lower, partially perforated shell of the building holds an excavation site and the former sacristy of St. Kolumba Church.  A permanent sound installation (Bill Fontana/Pigeon Soundings) mixed with city sounds that can be heard through the perforated walls create an intriguing acoustic soundscape that blurs the physical boundaries of the site. The upper floors house the actual museum, with a great variety of spaces including a beautifully paneled reading room and huge windows tying it back to its central Cologne surroundings.  This exhibition just demands attention and succeeds brilliantly in mixing historic religious artefacts with contemporary art, very refreshing to see this happening within a ‘religious’ museum.   I did not expect to find a Crucifix and work by Joseph Beuys in one room!

The current ‘Bequest’ show will run until the 30th of August 2010 and is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.


Photos: Kolumba’s perforated facade (2007) / Madonna and Child Cologne (ca 1650) + Stefan Wewerka Chair Sculpture (1969)  / Stefan Wewerka Table 75º (2003)

fashion/af vandevorst guerilla shop

Braved the ice cold Antwerp weather last weekend to check out the sales and popped by the AF Vandevorst guerilla shop ‘Aktion I’.

The shop is unmistakable AF, with its antique hospital beds and its trademark austere, military look.
Apart from the military hospital look there are witty touches like the massive dumpster in which you can drop your old clothes.
A.F.’s women’s collection, ‘Nightfall’ lingerie and ‘Fetish’ footwear are on sale, as well as the new A. Friend jersey collection.
Aktion I will have a busy traveling schedule, every three months AF Vandevorst will set up shop in a variety of unique places in different cities.

Aktion I – AF Vandevorst
29/31 Volkstraat, 2000 Antwerp – Belgium
Open : Thursday – Monday 12:00-20:00 until the 31st of March 2010

Great sales all over Antwerp and cool new shops, this new concept store RA13 is also worth checking out.

AF Guerilla Store 01

AF Guerilla Store

an archi/melody lane interior

studio-am just finished this interior alteration at a townhouse in Melody Lane in Highbury, London, with Ham Builders.

The wall you are looking at used to be a mezzanine with a plasterboard balustrade at the edge, open to the ground floor and the triple height void at the centre of the house.  The client wished to extend the mezzanine and infill the balustrade wall, mainly for acoustic reasons.

Instead of closing off the room, we decided to keep a visual link with the ground floor by providing a frameless glass window and a framed sliding glass door.  The sliding glass door allows for privacy if closed and for verbal communication with the ground floor if opened.  The proportions of the timber frame match those of the existing slot window to the corridor and attempt to form a coherent design matching the new with the old.  Quite extensive structural work – seen the small size of the job – had to be done with the help of Fluid Structure Engineers to extend the mezzanine.

Thanks Niamh & Richard for the nice commission, Rachel (Fluid) for the calcs and Clinton Ham (Ham Builders) for the fab detailing!

Melody Lane view

Melody Lane detail

design/richard shed studio for shoreditch trust

Richard Shed Studio recently finished a commissioned  project for the Shoreditch Trust in East London. They designed and fabricated chairs, armchairs, tables and cabinets for their Eco-Conference facility.

Shed & Co put the final touches on the furniture in the office that they share with some Belgian friends of mine and turned the place into a fabulous ‘tafel-land’ with about 60 chairs and tables.

Richard Shed:  “The design of the collection references both traditional wood working methods and modern detailing achieved by calculated digital manufacturing.  The chairs are milled from solid ash.  The back rests are rolled metal parts clad in a thick, warm natural felt. All metal details, fixtures and fittings are powder coated in a striking sulphur yellow.  The entire commission was produced in our East London workshops and where possible we worked with local suppliers and manufacturers, using natural materials from sustainable sources.”

richard shed studio

Photo Credit: Richard Shed Studio

art/xavier veilhan in versailles

For two more weeks, Xavier Veilhan’s work will be on display in and around the Palace of Versailles.

I only discovered this exhibition on a visit last weekend, it is definitely worth the detour if you are planning some Christmas shopping in Paris. The clash between the Baroque buildings and the contemporary art is interesting and causes an amusing confusion with some visitors, although this display is nowhere as confronting as the previous display of Jeff Koons‘ work.
There is a whole range of pieces, including a dynamic abstraction of a carriage and horses welcoming visitors at the forecourt and a hilarious Yuri Gagarin, depicted as a fallen king.  The astronaut has literally dropped from the sky. ‘Les Architectes’ is a series of abstracted sculptures of famous contemporary architects. They have been put on pedestals, literally and figuratively consolidating their iconic status. You might have spotted Veilhan’s Tadao Ando and Norman Foster in a shocking blue version at the Perotin Gallery Stand of the Frieze Art Fair earlier this year.

It is amazing that Versailles is staging these interventions and allow visitors to rediscover this iconic place with a contemporary touch.

The exhibition closes at the 13th of December.


Veilhan Les architectes

Xavier Veilhan’s ‘Le Gisant, Youri Gagarine’ and ‘Les Architectes’.  Photos by An Michiels.

event/art barter london

Art Barter – the platform for free exhange between artists and the public – is holding an art-swapping event from the 27th to the 29th of November. Usual suspects like Gary Hume, Tracy Emin and Gavin Turk are amongst the artists who have work on offer, as well as a list of bright young things.

In curator Lauren Jones’ words:
“We want to make art available to a more diverse crowd, not just people with disposable income. ArtBarter is the perfect setting to make this happen, whilst also providing a fun way to get people involved with the arts.”

Great concept! The event will be held at the Rag Factory in east London, the former studio of Tracey Emin and Gary Hume. Sponsor Green&Black’s will be showcasing a piece of ‘Chocol’art’ made by Sir Peter Blake.

Don’t forget to bring something. Who knows, you might be able to swap your fancy bike, web design skills or hairdressing talent for a piece of art!

Art Barter

design/greece is for lovers

Nice weekend read:  link to the Sightunseen blog which has a post on the witty Greek design trio Greece is for lovers.  Their work is based on Greek cliches.  The skateboard below put a smile on my post-Friday-night-hangover face!

Sightunseen: ‘The idea behind their products is to reflect an outsider’s naive perspective on Greece, perpetuated by tourism campaigns like “Greece Is For Lovers” in the ’70s and “Build Your Myth” in recent years.’

greece is for lovers

Work by Greece is for Lovers: Athens antennae & Gladiator skateboard for Greek Skateboard company Propaganda.

art/england & co

If you are crazy about maps – it definitely runs in my family – pop down to the England & Co gallery on Westbourne Grove, London.   Their ‘The map is not the territory – Revisited’ show runs until the 28th of November and includes cartographic and map related artworks by Chris Kenny, Jason Wallis-Johnson and Grayson Perry amongst others.

Jason Wallis-Johnson’s ‘Manhattan, Seismic Shift’ tryptich turns NYC in an urban mountain resort.   That’s my kind of winter wonderland!

Jason Wallis-Johnson

design/tom foulsham/minnie weisz gallery

Title: Tom Foulsham – The table that can tell stories and other contraptions
Location: 123 Pancras Road London NW1 1UN
Link out: Click here

Date: 13th November – 5th December 2009 : Visit the show and talk to the artist : Thursdays + Fridays 1pm-7pm Saturdays 10am-6.30pm weekly.
RSVP essential – see link out

Tom Foulsham

Info by gallery: An intriguing insight into the workings of mechanisms, everyday science and the interaction and play between machine and spectator.
A first UK solo show of Tom Foulsham’s machines and an insight into his process.
Tom Foulsham born in 1981 studied Architecture at the Bartlett and was an architectural assistant at Arad Associates.
He went on to study Design Products MA at the Royal College of Art, graduating this summer 2009, under the tutorledge of Ron Arad.
He exhibited his ‘ Balancing Shelves’ at Pecha Kucha ICA in 2007.
He showed his ‘ Candle Balance’ as part of the V&A group exhibition ‘In Praise of Shadows’ in September 2009

design/moritz waldemeyer’s laser love

The PechaKucha circus halted in London last Monday and brought a varied – to say the least – bunch of speakers to the stage.  Great concept, speakers get to show 20 slides at a speed of 20 seconds per slide.  Mix this with a friendly atmosphere and cold beer and you have a pleasant night out!

Moritz Waldemeyer’s presentation is online now and worth checking out. His work is a fusion of technology, art, fashion and design. He talked us through projects for clients ranging from the Flos/Starck/Baccarat/Jenny Holzer combo to Wallpaper and U2.  He also worked with A listers Ron Arad and Zaha Hadid and worked on those great mechanical dresses for Hussein Chalayan in 2006.  Find out more on his website.

Moritz Waldemeyer for Wallpaper

Scoop!  This is “Home Disco” a brand new project that will be featured in the next Wallpaper Magazine.

Moritz Waldemeyer Flos:U2

Flos/Starck/Baccarat/Jenny Holzer collaboration and Stage Jacket for Mr. Bono.

PechaKucha in the words of founder Mark Dytham (of Klein-Dytham Architects):

PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.  It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of “chit chat”, it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It’s a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace.

photo/martian art

These stunning images are not dreamed up by some photoshopping whizzkid, they are actual NASA photos from Mars.  Stunning landscapes. You can find more information and an amazing set of 34 photos (including exact Google Mars locations!) on The Big Picture:

“Since 2006, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been orbiting Mars, currently circling approximately 300 km (187 mi) above the Martian surface. On board the MRO is HiRISE, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera, which has been photographing the planet for several years now at resolutions as fine as mere inches per pixel.”

martin landscape nasa

martian landscapes nasa

via todayandtomorrow

photo/spring in new york

Frédéric Lebain – once-upon-a-time chef turned professional photographer – shot ‘Un printemps a New York’ the first time around last Spring. He printed posters of his details of mundane New York views and then returned to the same spot to place the original shots within a larger frame of the same view. Makes for subtly surreal photos in which visible helping hands or feet underline his unbrushed style.
Check the whole series of photos here.



photo credit: fred lebain
via designboom

one minute sculptures/wurm&schiffer

Ever witty Erwin Wurm is at it again with his ‘one minute sculptures’.  This time with Claudia Schiffer and a set of everyday objects in the lead roles.

These photos are part of a spread called ‘Kunst Pausen’ that Wurm shot for the November issue of German Vogue.

If you happen to be in Brussels, the ‘Erwin Wurm, Desperate Philosophers’ exhibition in the Xavier Hufkens Gallery is opening today at 6 pm.
Read more about it on Utopia Parkway.