Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945

THE Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945 exhibition at the Barbican explores the post war housing of Japan, some of the most ground breaking and modern architecture in the world. As well a full size reconstruction of Moriyama House by Ryue Nishizawa that visitors can walk around, the exhibition also features a Japanese tea house and garden designed by Terunobu Fujimori for visitors to enjoy.

The exhibition explores the styles and trends throughout the eras from the 60's modular bubble houses to the future of Japanese architecture covering some big design issues such as sustainability and making structures resilient to earthquakes.

As a designer I found it interesting to explore another design discipline and see how their industry is changing and moving forward in the future. It's a great exhibition as not only do you learn lots but it allows you to interact and experience the environment first hand. The attention to detail was incredible and it really fells like you have been transported to another culture. I won't give too much away but here's a few of my pictures from my visit. L

The exhibition runs at the Barbican Art Gallery until 25th June. For more info and tickets click here.

WOMEN: New Portraits Annie Leibovitz

The Rolling Stones © Annie Leibovitz / Rolling Stone Magazine

The Rolling Stones
© Annie Leibovitz / Rolling Stone Magazine

Dancers Yuan Yuan & Vadim Solomakha © Annie Leibovitz

Dancers Yuan Yuan & Vadim Solomakha
© Annie Leibovitz

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and North West photographed for  Vogue  © Annie Leibovitz / Vogue

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and North West photographed for Vogue
© Annie Leibovitz / Vogue

Misty Copeland © Annie Leibovitz

Misty Copeland
© Annie Leibovitz

PHOTOGRAPHY is a skill and interest I'm really trying to develop and improve on. Recently I've been researching into different photographers and art directors to understand how to create images that sucessfully communicate to the audience. When I heard the legendary portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz was exhibiting WOMEN: New Portraits at Wapping Hydrolic Power Station in London I was intrigued to go along and see some of her images first hand.

Wapping Hydraulic Power Station has a great feel for an exhibition space, as you enter your lead down a steep staircase into a high open space. Around the edges were large 3 screens, 2 playing loops of Annie's most iconic images and the third one with a static image of the Queen. A large seated area was positioned in the centre of the space where visitors could relax and watch the images on screen.

It was memorising to see some of Annie's most iconic images at such a large scale. I instantly recognised many of the images from the covers of magazines such as Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Vogue as well as campaigns for huge brands like Prada. It was a great way to appreciate just how versatile her portfolio is and how in every different portrait she manages to convey a different story and atmosphere.

To me the really interesting part of the exhibition was the collection of prints from the Women: New Portraits Collection. This is some of her most recent work and includes images for the 2016 Pirelli Calendar, the Adele photoshoot for Vogue and the infamous Vanity Fair cover of Caitlin Jenner. There was also a collection of books full of her images that visitors could look through at their own leisure.

There is no denying the Annie Leibovitz is an amazing photographer. Her portfolio absolutely stunning and all her images are so powerful and thought provoking. The large screens are a great way of showing such a big collection of work, although part of me thinks that they lose a little bit of the magic that a print has and the designer in me would have appreciated a few more physical prints in the collection.

In summary the exhibition was well worth a visit and really inspired me to take a bit of time to really look at an image and think about the overall story its communicating. A skill which I can use not only in my own photography work but when selecting images for use in designs.  L

Showgirls showing the transformation in and out of costume.

Showgirls showing the transformation in and out of costume.

The before and after tranformation of a Showgirl. © Annie Leibovitz

The before and after tranformation of a Showgirl.
© Annie Leibovitz

Caitlin Jenner photographed for the cover of  Vanity Fair  © Annie Leibovitz / Vanity Fair

Caitlin Jenner photographed for the cover of Vanity Fair
© Annie Leibovitz / Vanity Fair

Amy Schumer for the 2016  Pirelli   Calendar  © Annie Leibovitz

Amy Schumer for the 2016 Pirelli  Calendar
© Annie Leibovitz

Adele photographed for  Vogue  © Annie Leibovitz / Vogue

Adele photographed for Vogue
© Annie Leibovitz / Vogue

CHANEL Mademoiselle Privé

My favourite part of the exhibition was the vitual tour through Coco Chanel's French couture house.

My favourite part of the exhibition was the vitual tour through Coco Chanel's French couture house.

ANYONE who knows me knows I love fashion. So last year when I heard about the CHANEL Mademoiselle Privé exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea I had to go and visit.

Coco Chanel was a strong, influential woman. Some of her signature designs included tailoring, the 'little black dress' and the iconic quilted handbags. Today Chanel's designs are lead by creative director Karl Lagerfeld. Chanel represents luxury, elegance and celebration of the female form.

On entering the exhibition visitors were encouraged to download the exhibitions app using the galleries wifi. Visitors were lead through a virtual tour of Chanel's couture house where beautiful illustrations were brought to life through the app. I think what struck me most about this digital approach to an exhibition is that it showed how the brand is really thinking of how it can move its traditional image into the digital age.

The CHANEL No5 room

The CHANEL No5 room

The rest of the exhibition was a real multi-dimensional experience. There was a room set up like the atelier where visitors could walk through a maze of fabrics draped from the ceiling, touching the different textures whilst gaining a sense of the artisan work room environment. Another room was set up as futuristic fragrance lab, where visitors could discover the individual scents that make up the brands signature fragrance Chanel No5. An indoor garden based on the gardens at Coco Chanel's home took up a double story space filling the room with beautiful geometric designs (and a lovely aroma).

Upstairs there was a room filled with beautiful couture dresses lit from inside so you really could appreciate the detailing of each garment. An area of the exhibition was dedicated to the famous Chanel costume jewellery and diamond room where you could see the jewellery that many stars have modelled on the red carpet.

In one room there was a short film which showed a sketch between Karl Lagerfeld and Coco Chanel (portrayed by an actress). The story behind it was that the ghost of Coco was looking at what Karl had done since he'd taken over, with him explaining some of his designs. It was done in a very humorous way but it did underline the message of how his vision has been built on Chanel's original designs and values.

Overall I was really surprised by the exhibition, I went there with no great expectations other than to admire some of Chanel's couture garments up close. However, I went away with a real feel for Chanel's heritage and the direction they're moving in. It was nice to see such an iconic brand move away from the traditional exhibition and try something more digital and interactive to capture the creativity of the subject .

For now the free tote might be closest I'll get to owning a Chanel handbag but I've come away really thinking about how the fashion industry is moving forward and embracing modern technology. Moving digital doesn't mean loosing the traditional values of a brand, in fact it can really enhance the overall message. L

Peaceful indoor geometric garden, with real scented hedges... It smelt amazing!

Peaceful indoor geometric garden, with real scented hedges... It smelt amazing!

Diamonds

Diamonds

Fashion passes, style remains.
— Coco Chanel

Some of my favourite couture dresses from the exhibition. The dresses were lit internally which showed the tiniest detailing.