Author Archives: anne-fay

Shiny things

An occasional round up of interestingness.


Forget gesture tech, think touch tech. Disney (of all people) have developed Touché, a touch-based sensory platform. It works thanks to capacitive sensing, in which an electrical signal passing through the object changes when touched by a conductive material, such as a human finger. The researchers say Touché could be used to create smart doorknobs that unlock when grasped in a certain way or allow tables and chairs to sense the position of people using them. It could also let you control your phone by touching your fingers together or tapping your palm. Aside from the potential within Disney’s entertainment space for touch-based immersive experiences, could this usher in the era of touching as a layer of communication?


We recently wrote about how the consumer Centre of Gravity is shifting towards emerging economies and taking the design vernacular with it. We first noted this shift in luxury retail, but now the car market is starting to turn its attention away from the West. And with good reason. U.S. light-vehicle sales peaked at almost 17 million a year in 2005. As of 2009, China is the world’s largest light-vehicle market (sales in 2012 are estimated at more than 18 million, compared with about 14.5 million for the U.S.), and the fastest-growing. Covering the Beijing International Auto show recently, the Wall Street Journal’s Dan Neil informed his readers, ‘As a journalist, I am sometimes called upon to deliver bad news, so brace yourself: You no longer live in the center of the Car Universe’.

To meet burgeoning demand, Western car marques are producing models adjusted for the Chinese luxury consumer. Amongst some of the more obvious (and possibly patronising) design cues — there are a lot of dragons — are some lovely intuitive ideas which may well start to appeal outside of China. For example, Audi displayed an A6 with integrated teacup warmers and seat massage units – extras possibly now coming to a Mini Coupé near you.

Courtney Loves

The original riot grrrl has an art exhibition to promote and so did a tell-all diet interview with New York magazine. A choice snippet is below but really you should just read the whole thing.

‘Right now I’m 125 pounds and five foot, eleven inches, but my “rock weight” was 160. I think I’m a sexy beast at 160, but Gwyneth is the one who told me that if you want to act, and I do want to get back to acting, “You are your own advertisement.”‘



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Happy Birthday Dalston Superstore

How time flies when you’re having fun…

Outside Dalston SuperstoreSeems like only yesterday that still-coolest-venue-on-the-block Dalston Superstore opened its doors for business. In fact, we were there a few days before those doors were even screwed on properly… downstairs at the pre-pre-launch party. We were convinced then — and time has proven us right — that Superstore was more than a little special. Our photo, above, showing amongst other early birds, BST Co-editor Anne-Fay and friend Tom Hopes, even ended up in a Vogue Italia spread on new cool London…

So… Happy Birthday, Superstore!

Read the interview we ran with Superstore founder Dan Beaumont back in 2009, and the feature-ette that Superstore ran on BST’s very own Darrell Berry, earlier this year…

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It’s not about us, anymore…

Louis Vuitton

We are all familiar with terms like BRIC and N11 and aware of the burgeoning middle-classes being created in China and India. But something outside of the purely socio-economic is happening. And it is happening to us, here in the so-called ‘developed’ markets. These developing economies are creating what — from a deliberately Western-centric perspective — we are terming a COGShift. This Centre of Gravity Shift is seeing brands and companies move their focus from Western markets to those of the developing world.

As part of its focus on emerging economies, WPP already has more than 28,000 employees in the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, a larger presence than that in the U.S. or U.K. According to the Boston Consulting Group, China is poised to account for 30 percent of the global fashion market’s growth in the next five years. And in 2009, whilst working for LSN: Global, we observed a blingamalism design trend that is becoming ever more pronounced.

A radical reading of this is that we — the Western consumer — no longer matter. We are – to use fashion parlance – so over. And what does that mean for a society defined by consumerism? We’re about to find out.

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Rinsing Out Fascism

In our censorious times, it’s nice to see a bit of good old-fashioned subversion.

These t-shirts handed out at a neo-Nazi concert challenge the wearers’ politics by changing message in the wash. The campaign was conceived by Exit, an organisation which encourages individuals to leave the far right in Germany. The message reads: ‘If your t-shirt can do it, you can do it too — we’ll help you get away from right-wing extremism.’ According to Bernd Wagner of Exit, the t-shirts not only reached some 250 of their intended target but simulated debate and conversation within both the far right movement and German society at large. Result.

Via The Next Web.

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Raw Muscle: Premier

A glimpse into the hyper masculine world of extreme body building.

Film maker and friend of BST, Lea Gratch, will be premiering her latest work — Raw Muscle — in situ at Muscleworks Gym in East London this Wednesday.

The film is an in-depth look at the subculture of body building and follows on from Lea’s earlier documentary about the Hells Angels’ annual Bull Dog Bash. Doors open at 7.30pm.

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Vanishing Point

‘Spotting’ youth trends rubs them out.

Christiane F is a David Bowie-soundtracked ’70s film about a young girl’s descent into heroin addiction. The film — if you haven’t seen it — is a bit of a morality tale but worthy of note for the fantastic scene where Christiane and her friends go rollicking through a subway to the sounds of ‘Heroes’ (from 6:58).

I often refer back to this clip when thinking about ‘youth culture’ and what that label really means. This is a little glimpse of what being young feels like. It’s a clip about being reckless and guileless and joyful and living in the absolute now. At 36, I know that I am officially old because I’ve started to think that teenagers now a) all dress the same b) are obviously nowhere near as cool as teenagers from ‘my time’. I am, of course, wrong on both counts. Because I’m no longer there.

We’ve written here before about how the internet and specifically social media has enabled young people to ‘remove’ themselves from the mainstream. Traditionally, young people have done this through tribes and youth movements – be it the heroin-based club scene in Christiane F or Emo. And there is an ocean of thinking about how this links back to identity and belonging and so on. But it is the act of removal that so-called trend-spotters and yoof culture analysts always seem to miss.

As an adult, you’re not supposed to be able to see or read some aspects of youth culture. Like a teenager refusing to friend her mum on Facebook, if you’ve been allowed in you’re probably not seeing the genuine article. Likewise, identifying and labelling youth trends damns them to page 8 of the Sunday Times Style — and what fresh hell is that?

Full disclosure: I used to work at The Future Laboratory as a trends analyst. That’s analyst *not* spotter.

With thanks to Jess, for reminding me.

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Japan Textures

Tokyo, Kyoto, Takayama.

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Future PR

Selling cars with superlatives.

By 2020, nobody shall be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo.

It sounds fantastical but — according to Volvo — it’s true. According to the Volvo site:

This statement from 2008 clearly formulates a long-term vision to create cars that will not crash. Volvo Cars’ strategy to achieve Vision 2020 includes cooperating with social partners, integrating preventative and protective safety systems into the car and, in particular, to better understands people in traffic situations. Driver behaviour is a contributing factor in over 90 percent of all accidents.

“The goal is unique in that Volvo Cars has designated a year and is showing a social responsibility that also extends to people in other vehicles and pedestrians,” says Anders Eugensson, safety expert at Volvo Cars. ”We are very clear about the fact that our cars should not negatively affect other people at the moment of an accident. In addition, no unprotected roadusers should be seriously injured or killed.”
Whilst other car companies have also hit on the potential of future tech for safety, no one brand has been so bold as to turn it into a PR-able brand story. Which is what Vision 2020 is. And — vitally — it’s entirely credible.

According to Ed Kim, an analyst at automotive research firm AutoPacific, the zero-fatality goal is achievable. Within the next ten years, the confluence of safety technologies such as road sign recognition, pedestrian detection and autonomous car controls will produce far safer cars. Vision 2020 is a Utopian vision which suggests that the auto wreck – that horror symbol of the 20th Century – could be consigned to the past. A vision that Volvo now has the potential to own.

Story stolen with glee from Slashdot.

Image: Car Crash by Andy Warhol.
This post originally appeared on Anne-Fay’s work blog: Noise.

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James Unsworth’s warped reptiles.

Those suffering from hipster fatigue should visit Five Hundred Dollars for a reminder of why Hackney became so hip in the first place. James Unsworth‘s show is a return to form for East London art, a scene otherwise awash with indulgence and ketamine. Go see.

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