29 September, 2013

the serene visions of Martin Stranka

Martin Stranka is a self-taught professional photographer, born 1984, in the Czech Republic. Stranka's distinctive vision of photography is etched as a unique space located in a balance and serenity, while his sophisticated and rewarding images exist in that narrow window of a few seconds between dreaming and awakening. During the last three years he has won over 40 major international photography awards while his solo and group exhibitions have been seen from South and North America, through Europe, all the way to Asia. The work of  Martin Stranka is indeed notable since it always conveys emotion, that sometimes borders on minimalism, sometimes more sophisticated, other times dark and brooding, but always kept extremely balanced.

SuitSupply and the old Masters

SuitSupply is a men’s fashion brand founded in 2000 by Fokke de Jong in Amsterdam, that now has 44 stores in 10 different countries. SuitSupply products are made using Italian fabrics from the Biella region. Their garments are made using traditional methods of craftsmanship, meaning the inside of the garment, the "structure" that gives it form, is made of cotton reinforced with horse and camel hair, resulting in a natural tailored fit. SuitSupply is well known for their photography and campaigns. To celebrate the reopening of the Dutch National Gallery, SuitSupply and Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum have formed a collaboration for a unique campaign series that will span two seasons. The rich colors and textures go beautifully with the classic paintings from old masters, merging styles and clothing with the art background and era. See the complete series featured here.

Asalto Festival in Zaragoza

The “Asalto” is the International Urban Art Festival that since 2005 and for several months hits the streets of the old town of Zaragoza with avant-garde artistic proposals, participatory and impressive works developed by urban artists and artistic groups of the national and international scene. It is therefore a global interaction with the city, both urban and social, that year after year attracts artists and groups and citizens and tourists.

As a concept it is a unique artistic and creative experience because the entire creative process and its execution is performed in the city of Zaragoza, being its streets the best workshop, the best canvas and the best gallery.

Asalto has become a festival that aims to explore, discover or rediscover the urban space through artistic activities, actions and different urban experiences to transform the public space into a participatory, colorful, friendly and culturally open and active scenario. Over the years, Festival Asalto has acquired a notorious weight in the cultural program of Zaragoza being one of the few proposals that prevails over time. Asalto is the oldest urban art festival of Spain.

Festival Asalto understands urban art as a game in which pedestrian is invited to participate in some way. From this point of view, anything goes: graffiti, intervention, performance, digital crafts, photography, murals, stencils, stickers, sculpture, architecture, design …

Gjelina in Los Angeles

Located in the hustle and bustle of Venice, Gjelina is a beautiful restaurant and serves up delicious American Nouveau fare. The space is enormous, with the main dining room that includes two communal tables, a charming outside patio with a fire pit for those chilly winter nights, and smaller semi-private rooms, lit by a wine bottle chandelier. The wooden walls and ceilings in the dining rooms add an air of warmth to the space, and the floor to ceiling wine shelves show off the restaurant’s arsenal of wine. [1]

For the last five years, chef Travis Lett, has helped steer the success that is Gjelina: a constant swirl of diners who spill onto the Abbot Kinney Boulevard sidewalk waiting for a turn to eat in the open-all-day, brick-floored, Edison-bulb-accented restaurant. They come for his thin-crusted pizzas from the wood-burning oven, straight-from-the-farm vegetables such as roasted okra or grilled kale, and plates of rustic chickpea stew or stuffed eggplant or pork meatballs ; food that's seemingly simple but made exactingly. At the heart of Gjelina is a kitchen staff that has grown from about 10 to nearly 50 people, cranking out a menu of several dozen dishes for which they make each component down to the crème fraîche and grainy mustard: ricotta, sauerkraut, knife-cut buckwheat pasta, guanciale, merguez sausage.... It takes three days to make the pizza, starting with the dough's pre-ferment. On any given Saturday, from morning to night, 1,000 people will have filled the 100-seat restaurant. The Gjelina Take Away (or GTA), is a next-door annex that has Lett baking breads, jarring pickles and curing meats for what he envisions as a neighborhood deli selling "everyday stuff" ; pizza, antipasti, sandwiches. [2]

Read some reviews here and here. Gjelina take away, see more pictures here.

28 September, 2013

the Spartathlon ultramarathon race

Spartathlon is one of the most difficult as well as the most historical ultra-distance running races in the world. It takes place in September of every year in Greece and follows the route of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long distance runner, who in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent from Athens to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. The runners must finish this gruelling race of 246 kilometers in no more than 36 hours. This year, 337 athletes from whom 304 are men and 33 women, from 35 countries will participate in this unique event. The race starts on Friday 27th of September under the Parthenon in Athens.

The battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., one of the most famous battles in world history, constituted a landmark and a starting point in the history of civilization. The triumph of the genius of Miltiades and the self-denial of his soldiers made the hordes of Persians flee and rescued Athens and Hellenism from the utmost danger of subjugation to the barbarian invaders. The effects of the victory at Marathon continue to influence the present. It was the first victory against the planned domination of "Asianization" over Europe and an event with momentous significance. Because of this victory, Athens was able to achieve a great deal and bequeath the benefits of its knowledge, arts and virtue to mankind. Two and a half thousand years after that historical battle, a sports event, inseparably related to it, was born in Greece.

Spartathlon is the event that brings this deed to attention today by drawing a legend out of the depths of history. The idea for its creation is belongs to John Foden, a British RAF Wing Commander. As a lover of Greece and student of ancient Greek history, Foden stopped his reading of Herodotus' narration regarding Pheidippides, puzzled and wondering if a modern man could cover the distance from Athens to Sparta, i.e. 250 kms, within 36 hours. He thought that the only way to find out was to try to run the historical course since he himself was a long-distance runner. Thus, he and four other colleagues from the RAF came to Athens in the autumn of 1982 and planned the run as closely as possible to Herodotus' description. On 8th October they started their adventure to see whether their speculations could be verified. On 9th October, the next day, John Foden arrived in Sparta in front of the statue of Leonidas having run for 36 hours. His colleague, John Scholten, had arrived half an hour earlier and finally, John McCarthy got to the finish line in less than 40 hours. The British team proved Herodotus was right! A man is really able to cover 250 km in two days.

Described as the world's most grueling race, the Spartathlon runs over rough tracks and muddy paths (often it rains during the race), crosses vineyards and olive groves, climbs steep hillsides and, most challenging of all, takes the runners on the 1,200 meter ascent and descent of Mount Parthenio in the dead of night. This is the mountain, covered with rocks and bushes, on which it is said Pheidippides met the god Pan. In 2,500 years man has had no impact at all. There is still no pathway over the mountain that is swept by strong winds with temperatures as low as 4°C. The ascent is marked out by a trail of battery-driven colored flashing lights and its challenge is a trial for human stamina and mental strength. Over the mountain the last sections are no less energy sapping and exhausting for the runners as they follow a road that winds up and down hills before descending into Sparta. Even the finest athletes start hallucinating as they cover these final stages. Having lost all sense of time and reality, they are "on automatic" as they push their weary bodies on towards the finishing line at the statue of Leonidas. At most, only about a third of the runners who leave Athens end the course in Sparta. The prize for athletes who finish in Sparta, in front of the statue of Leonidas, is an olive branch and water from the river Eurotas.

Further reading :
“The changing Spartathlon”, a retrospective from John Foden including many details from the actual pioneering race, available here.
“Rune Larsson’s advice to Spartathlon runners”, after 10 completed races, available here.

25 September, 2013

Another Country furniture

English furniture company Another Country launched their inaugural collection at The Tramshed as part of the 2010 London Design Festival. The first series featured ten wooden items, including stools, tables and benches, made at the firm's workshop in Dorset, UK. In their own words : “Another Country makes contemporary craft furniture. Our designs are archetypal, calling on the familiar and unpretentious forms of British Country kitchen style, Shaker, traditional Scandinavian and Japanese woodwork. It is the spirit and functionality of these honest forms of furniture that Another Country endeavours to re-interpret for a modern customer.”

The second collection from Another Country remains true to the design values they introduced with the first series of solid wood furniture. These are similarly functional, timeless and versatile designs. However, the forms and the material palette for this series is very different: The clean-cut, angular forms of Series Two were inspired by the no-nonsense style of Japanese and Scandinavian furniture and the pale woods favoured in contemporary Belgian craft production.

In this year’s Design Junction we witness the launch of Series Three, the latest collection of designs inspired by Edwardian workshop furniture, and a new textiles range; Soft Series, which includes cushions and throws. Another Country has applied its extensive knowledge of producing craft-inspired contemporary objects to create a series of Beech and Oak furniture that is their most functional to-date. The tables, stools, benches and desk that make up the Series Three collection is intended to be the perfect marriage of traditional craft construction and contemporary form. Watch the videos that follow, to take a glimpse into the company’s manufacturing procedures.

Ginger and Fig of South Africa

Ginger and Fig is an eatery based in Brooklyn, Pretoria, South Africa. After 10 years in IT, Zane Figueiredo made a radical career shift to pursue his lifelong dream. He went back to school and studied full time at Prue Leith Chefs academy where he graduated with distinction. He then honed his skills working in Cape Town for a year. Returning home to Pretoria he decided to open Ginger and Fig.

Ginger and Fig is an artisanal eatery serving homemade, preservative free, freshly baked, free range and organic foods (where possible) and of course great coffee. Read some reviews here and here.

MISS’OPO bar, guesthouse, shop and restaurant in one

MISS’OPO is a Guest House located in the historic area of the city of Porto, with two three-room studio flats and four two-room studio flats, with a café / bar and a shop / newsagent. This is a cultural tourism project, strongly directed to the dynamics of certain more traditional values, and mostly to the promotion of all the most contemporary movement of the city of Porto, and making it known to the public. This identity is a reflex of the personality of the promoters of the project, who, joining experiences, give birth to a Porto girl, who works to show her house, her city, and some of the people who make the city a special place.

On paper Miss'Opo is a Guest House. In the flesh however, it's even more, it’s a stylish and creatively functional building full of personality. It includes some stunning multi-functioning spaces such as two three-room studio flats and four two-room studio flats and  a chic cafe bar and a shop which through their overall fresh design, have more than met the ambitious aim of really embracing the creative city called home. Miss'Opo truly welcomes cultural tourism and showcases Porto's ability to encourage collaboration between locals and visitors, all within one uniquely designed building. [1]

In their own words : “We believe that a house is what you feel, what you listen to, and learn in it and, therefore, we don’t want to be stagnant. Our biggest aim is to give more dynamics to our space as much as possible, working in partnership with galleries, artists and cultural institutions. Besides the lodging, we have a coffee shop /newsagent / bar zone, where you can have breakfast, snacks and light meals, as well as listen to good music and be updated with the most charismatic publishing in Portugal. The bar programme is to be eclectic according to the new trends. Workshops and exhibitions will be in our priority list, bringing tourists close to the city contemporariness.”

welcome dear reader.


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