Sunday, 29 May 2011

Cant believe it! So excited - I thought I found an organic fresh foods delivery service last year, but it turned out to be in Moscow, Idaho. Then just found one here. I was following up a reference to an american guy called Jay Close who is making his own cheese on a farm not far from Moscow and that led to Lavka Fresh Food from Local Farmers (image from their website). Haven't tried it yet as I am back in London next week... but then...

border guards day

So, each sector of the army has its own celebratory day every year - well the Day of the Border Guards was this week (starting quite politely in this photo) but has extended over the weekend into a city full of young men in states of considerable drunkenness, offering many types of manly displays, excessive humour, more drinking and lots of laying about in a stupor.  If you want to see how things go, check out these photos.

And I don't know why it reminded me, but the Aeroexpress train has been running a brilliant ad recently, from a website called - subtly -

Thursday, 26 May 2011

domestic interiors of the Soviet 70s

There is also lots of very contemporary design work at ARCHMoscow, enough to make the small stand showing photographs and furniture from Moscow 70s domestic interiors (real flats - still unchanged) feel quite eccentric. So, of course, I loved it. Partly because it reflects the Soviet standard furniture sets that I have in my own flat here (and which remain ubiquitous in older apartments) and partly because it shows a kind of careful celebration of, and obsessive interest in, both the previous and continuing lives of Moscow residents.

Moscow's own Ideal Home show

The time has come around again for ARCHMoscow, Russia's answer to the English Ideal Home show, which runs until the 29th May. It brings together a trade show full of gold taps, shiny materials and novelty gadgets with displays by contemporary architects and designers; all spread across several floors of the Central House of Artists and is a great way to catch up on contemporary design trends here, both of the bling variety and of avant-garde tendencies.

The thing I still can't get  used to is that many emerging designers seem to be making work that refers back very deliberately to the Soviet past - a little ironic, a little nostalgic, but also steeped in historical references rather than modernist ones. Post-modernism may have gone the way of all things elsewhere, but here it seems a very alive force, with many young architects insisting on directly reflecting both their pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary heritage.

But whilst I don't understand this work (or even like it much) I think it is too easily dismissed or ignored by the rest of Europe. These are potentially truly new and inventive developments - circling around a kind of radical historicism -  which is remaining invisible to international cultural debate, precisely because  'looking backwards' is currently completely out-of-fashion elsewhere.

Sunday, 22 May 2011


So - at last - I have visited IKEA Moscow - a task I have tried to put off as long as possible. As you might expect it is exactly like IKEAs everywhere, just with variations in prices. I managed to only buy a few things, which was a first, but did end up with a huge bag of swedish meat balls, as one does. Telling you about this because otherwise I have just been a deeply boring working person with very little to report since I got back from my travels.

Note to self; now the sun is shining here it is time to get out more...

Monday, 9 May 2011

Greetings from Miami

So it is 7.30 in the morning and I am standing in line waiting for the Apple Store Miami to open, hoping to get one of their - very few - new iPads (my only excuse being jet-lag, meaning I have been up since 5.00 am anyway, so I might as well be here). And of course, there are two Russians behind me and we get to talk about national queuing characteristics.

 This is a conversation I had recently with an Italian colleague in Moscow; he summed up Italian queuing as basically an intensive funneling effect. The British and the Americans queue - I think - in a similar way; relatively orderly lines but a lot of tutting and discussions based on what the queue is doing/who is pushing in/ why are we queuing anyway, Apple do this on purpose just to command product loyalty, etc.

Russian queues, from my experience, are more complicated, a kind of amalgam of both the above methods. People bunch up rather than form a line; yet there is a clear idea of order. People often ask who is the last in line, so they know who to follow. Which makes it particularly incomprehensible if you don't speak the language.