T is for Tiles

I’ve just returned from an Easter break on a little tour of the homeland, Portugal, where in between mouthfuls of pastries and other local delicacies I came up for air to stroll and take in the sights. The best thing about the trip was that there was no agenda, we took each day as it came which really allowed me to pay attention to the little details that are often overlooked. One of the highlights was definitely a few days in Lisbon where I fell in love with so many different patterns and colours of the tiles that wrap the buildings.

Colourful Old Portuguese Tiles

In Portugal, azulejos are found on the interior and exterior of churches, palaces, ordinary houses and even train stations. They constitute a major aspect of Portuguese architecture as they are applied on walls, floors and even ceilings. They were not only used as an ornamental art form, but also had a specific functional capacity like temperature control of homes. Many azulejos also chronicle major historical and cultural aspects of Portuguese history. Now, It’s not that I’ve not noticed the tiles before, but perhaps as I had more time on my hands it allowed to really appreciate what a beautiful part of the culture they are.

The art was introduced to Portugal, via Spain, by the Moors and the craft is still in use in the Arab world. The word azulejo is derived from the Arabic word الزليج (al zulayj): zellige, meaning “polished stone”. This origin explains the unmistakable Arab influences in many tiles: interlocking curvilinear, geometric or floral motifs. (Wikipedia)

These pics are some shots I took in Lisbon, They’re so pretty that I’m definitely going to look into having some of my own one day to serve, not only for nostalgic purposes, but also as a feature for a home away from home.


Graphic Mayhem

After a bit of sun worshiping on the South bank this weekend, the beau and I decided to head over to Somerset house and check out the new Pick Me Up, the UK’s first annual graphic art fair. We’ve been looking at a lot of graphic art lately as we’ve been keen to put up some interesting prints in our new home, so, the event seemed the perfect opportunity to check out some new talent and original work.

“Pick Me Up Selects is an exhibition of 20 international rising stars of the graphic arts world specially selected by an industry panel. Each artist will be producing new, exclusive work to see and buy” – Somerset House

Illustration of Girl Holding Paper Chain

Although not all the artwork was to my taste it was really interesting to see how the style of works varied between nations. My favourite artists were Paul X. Johnson, Kristjana S Williams, Martin Nicolausson and Sarah Maycock who’s Bear painting below was my most desired.

Big Brown Bear Illustration

Amusingly, on reading an interview with Sarah on It’s Nice That when asked if her portfolio was on fire and she could only save one piece/project to salvage, which would she choose and why? Sarah replied “It’s too big to fit in my actual portfolio, but it would have to be the Bear painting I made for my final exhibition. I stood/sat/lay/crawled on the paper to paint him, so he and I are quite intimate now.”

I obviously wouldn’t have taken away her bear from her but I did walk away with a cheeky print copy!

Looking around the exhibition you really do get a craving to be creative so the gallery wisely invited the most innovative graphic art collectives, galleries and organisations to design site-specific spaces to exhibit, make and sell artworks, offering visitors a chance to experience a behind-the-scenes studio atmosphere.

I had never been to the contemporary graphic art fair before but will not hesitate to go again next Spring when the show returns for its fourth year. I think the gallery has done well to host a dynamic line up of established artists whilst also providing a platform for emerging artists too. So, if you get a chance the exhibition is still on until the 1st of April, go on, be cultural!

(Images: We Hold Secrets by Niki Pilkington & Bear Illustration by Sarah Maycock)

The Starbucks Cave

Following on from the theme of geometry last week I just had to share a quick post I found on Fine Composition this morning regarding a very special looking Starbucks. I wish I could enjoy a caramel macchiato at this establishment but, alas, I would have to go all the way to Japan to enjoy these gorgeous surroundings.

Wooden Architectural Starbucks Coffee Location

“The location of this Starbucks is somehow characteristic, as it stands on the main approach to the Dazaifu Tenmangu, one of the most major shrines in Japan. Established in 919 A.D., the shrine has been worshiped as “the God for Examination,” and receives about 2 million visitors a year who wish their success. Along the main path to the shrine, there are traditional Japanese buildings in one or two stories. The project aimed to make a structure that harmonizes with such town scape, using a unique system of weaving thin woods diagonally.” – Kengo Kuma & Associates


Total length of the sticks used in the build reached as far as 4.4km! Kengo Kuma & Associates used a diagonal weaving technique in order to bring in a sense of direction and fluidity.

Its quite clear that Starbucks don’t really need to do much to get customers through their doors but it would be nice to be drawn in to your local chain with as stunning interior architecture such as this. Here’s hoping Starbucks invest and bring a similar magic to a store near you!

If you would like to read more on the project please visit the Kengo Kuma & Associates website for details.