Category Archives: Design

Try to Look Away


Found on the Web. Source unknown and unfindable, which is just as well, because the person who created this is probably capable of highjacking the mind of anyone who views their work.

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Jane Austen in Your Pocket

The Bank of England released the new £10 note today, featuring an image of Jane Austen and of her Pride and Prejudice heroine, Elizabeth Bennett. But Austen fans—and there are reported to be several—are not all pleased.

Some object to the Austen quotation cited on the note: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” A fine sentiment, but delivered, in the book, by the snobbish and superficial Caroline Bingley, who didn’t believe it for a minute. She was just using it to ensnare Mr Darcy.

Given how obsessed many of Austen’s characters are with money and the status it confers, one would think the designers could come up with a more appropriate, finance-related quote for a banknote. I’ve certainly plagiarized borrowed “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” often enough, although, now that I think about it, that line is probably too sexist and too damn heterocentric to be acceptable in the 21st century.

And then there’s a problem with the depiction of Jane Austen. It’s based on a portrait painted years after Austen’s death.

The Sunday Times quotes Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces and author of the book Jane Austen at Home:

“It’s an author publicity portrait painted after she died in which she’s been given the Georgian equivalent of an airbrushing — she’s been subtly ‘improved.’

“Jane had a much sharper face — some might call it sour.”

On the left, a portrait of Austen by her sister, Cassandra. On the right, the image on the banknote.

On the left, a portrait of Austen by her sister, Cassandra. On the right, the image on the banknote.

I think she might have a point.

Still, it’s pleasant to see a nation’s writers and painters celebrated on its currency—the new £20 note, to be released in 2020, will feature J.M.W. Turner—instead of the usual dead politicians. I wouldn’t want it to happen here in the US, though. With the current sad state of American civilization, it’s all too easy to imagine the government replacing Lincoln on the $5 bill with a picture of Ayn Rand‎.

The Arab Hall in Lord Leighton’s House

“Of all the Arab Halls in all the towns in all the world…”

…this is my favorite.

I’ve spent hours in this room, in what was once the Holland Park home of Sir Frederic Leighton. The house is a museum now—I’ve posted about the current Alma-Tadema exhibition, which is taking place there—and I visit it whenever I’m in London, which is never often enough.

And now you can visit too, in a way. I’ve just found some gorgeous 360-degrees panoramic views of many of the rooms in the Leighton House Museum.

Clicking this link will take you to the museum’s Reception area.  From there, you can travel directly to the Arab Hall, or take a narrated tour through the rest of the house.

It’s a great place to visit, and I’d really love to live there.

Cute Video of the Day, 1 August 2017 — In a Heartbeat

In a Heartbeat, an animated short created by Beth David and Esteban Bravo as their senior thesis at the Ringling College of Art and Design, was posted on YouTube yesterday. In its first day online, it has reached 3.5 million views.

As MTV News describes it, “In a Heartbeat follows a closeted boy named Sherwin whose heart literally pops out of his chest to chase after the boy of his dreams, Jonathan. At the risk of being outed by his own heart, Sherwin must track down his heart before it reveals to his crush how he really feels. There’s no dialogue in the four-minute short, but that doesn’t matter. The raw emotion of Sherwin’s struggle bursts off the screen.”

Stranger Things Season 2 — Comic-Con “Thriller” Trailer

The 2017 Comic-Con International ends today, and, as always, the event was packed with teasers, trailers, and sneak peaks. Among he most anticipated was this trailer for the second season of Stranger Things.

It doesn’t disappoint.

We’re back in the 80s again, a year after the action of last summer’s breakout hit.

Arcades! Dragon’s Lair! Reagan/Bush! Winona Ryder! Ghostbusters! Thriller! Shorts that were actually, you know, short.

It even has Memphis sheets!*

Sequels are always tricky. Can the Stranger Things recapture the charm and magic of the original?

We’ll find out on 27 October 2017, when Netflix will make the whole series available for streaming.


To Be Stuck Here Inside of Mobile, with These Memphis Sheets Again

*Well, sort of. The sheets you can see at the 3:03 mark are certainly reminiscent of the Memphis designs that were ubiquitous in the mid-80s, but I don’t think they’re the original item. This is just another subtle Stranger Things 80s homage.

You can see real Memphis sheets on Grady’s bed at the beginning of this scene from 1985’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. (AKA the gay one.)

Memphis,” btw, doesn’t have anything to do with the city in Egypt. It was the name of a Milan design group, and had a style that heavily influenced New Wave graphics. Apparently, it’s making a comeback this year.

Being able to spread important, potentially life-changing information like this is what makes blogging so rewarding.

The Vivien Leigh Collection — Movie Auction of the Year

Vivien Leigh won Academy Awards for playing Scarlett O’Hara and Blanche DuBois, two of the all-time great women’s movie roles.

Now, 50 years after her death, what remains of her estate is being offered at auction by Sotheby’s London. The full auction catalogue has not yet been posted, but you can see a small sample at the auction site.

From the press release: “Passed down through Vivien’s family, the collection comprises paintings, jewellery, couture, books, furniture, porcelain, objets d’art and further items celebrating all aspects of her life, from the pre-war years in London, to Hollywood and beyond, up to her death in 1967. Myriad pieces drawn from the city and country homes Vivien shared with her husband Laurence Oliver [sic] will give a new perspective on Vivien, from her appreciation of art and patronage of Modern British artists, to her passion for books and fondness for entertaining and interior design.”

Included in the sale will be Vivien Leigh’s personal copy of Gone with the Wind, given to her by the author Margaret Mitchell.


As Blanche DuBois, Leigh puts her faith in the kindness of strangers in A Streetcar Named Desire.

As Scarlett O’Hara, Leigh rises from despair in Gone with the Wind.


The auction for “Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection” will take place on 26 Sep 2017 at Sotheby’s London.

The Game of Thrones Pop-Up Bar Is Open for Business

Drink Company, the people behind Washington’s hugely successful “Miracle on Seventh Street” Christmas Pop-Up Bar, are at it again.  And who can blame them, when this Spring’s even more successful Cherry Blossom PUB had customers waiting in line for up to three hours to get in.

It’s going to be worse this Summer.

The 2016 Christmas Pop-Up Bar contained a salute to last year’s breakout Netflix hit, Stranger Things, which, as you can see by the pictures at the above link, included an alphabet wall, erratically strung Christmas lights, and a shrine to Stranger Things fan favourite Barb.

Now let’s think. What TV show will everybody in the known universe be obsessed with in Summer of 2017?

No, not that—the Impeachment trial isn’t until next year. Guess again. (Hint: Check the title of this item.)

The masks in the Hall of Faces are plaster casts of the faces of Game of Thrones PUB staff and friends.

Guests can occupy the Iron Throne itself, but only for as long as it takes to get a quick photo. Sort of like visiting a department store Santa Claus when you were young.

The bar under the Weirwood Tree serves drinks with GoT-related names like “The North Remembers” and “The Lannisters Send Their Regards”. I suspect the biggest hit will be a tequila and grapefruit tonic called “Shame”. Whenever it’s served, the costumed bartenders will ring a bell and shout “Shame”.

The Game of Thrones PUB opened this week, and will run until the last episode of this year’s series, which ends on 27 August 2017. The bars will close at 7PM every Sunday night, so customers and staff can watch GoT at home.

All photos found on the Net.