Richard Rogers @ Royal Academy of Art

Richard Rogers RA Inside Out“, I meant to visit this exhibition ages ago.
I was thinking about visiting it when Hubbie was away in Italy. Why I didn’t? I can’t remember.
Anyway, the urge was quietly nagging inside me. So, the injury stopped me from knitting, I thought ‘What could be any better excuse to see the exhibition?’

The summer was still lingering in London.
The sun had long lost the intensity of the last heat wave.
Still, Central London basked in a golden tint of the afternoon sun under the cloudless sky…

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In the courtyard at Royal Academy of Art, a 1:1 scale model of Sir Rogers’s prefabricated structure was exhibited…

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Comparing with traditional constuction methods, Sir Rogers’s system takes less time and money to erect. Definitely, it is one of the solutions for the permanent shortage of affordable housings. I would love to see this joyfully coloured houses start to sprout all over Britain.

The actual exhibition was housed in Burlington Gardens which used to be Museum of Mankind until 1997.

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In the first room, a calm voice of Sir Rogers greets the visitors…

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I saw him once at Victoria & Albert Museum.
He was sitting in the garden, reading a newspaper.  I remembered how he appeared striking in his trademark fuchsia pink shirt. With his deeply tanned face and silvery hair, he looked just wonderful.

I paid homage to Sir Rogers in my own way…

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By wearing a pair of Monkee Genes in fuchsia pink.

The second & third rooms were comprised with his past projects both at home and abroad…

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It may sound inappropriate but his buildings are FUN.
The colours and forms, they are uplifting and elating. It’s certainly unconventional yet it acts like vitamins which inject energy into its surrounding area.

Some traditionalists harbour hostility towards modern architecture.
Most famously, Prince Charles and Sir Rogers were at loggerheads over the modern buildings in London in the mid 80’s. And in their arguments, they both scored a valid point.
London’s cityscape reflects the richness of the history which both the Londoners and tourists admire and enjoy everyday. At the same time, the change of modern lifestyle demands a new kind of environment – a large open plan office space with ‘floor to ceiling’ glazing is a typical example.
As long as aesthetically pleasing, I think they can live side by side without morphing into each other. The contrast between the old and new architecture will be stimulating and even beneficial if it is done sympathetically to each other.

Beautifully inked line-drawings on the wall brought back the memory of my student days…

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It was a pre-CAD time. And all of the drawings were drawn with draft pens in various sizes. The thickness of the line represented the distance from the viewer. I loved the subtlety if not the delicacy of the method.

Another thing I enjoyed was the models on display…

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Lowering myself and peeping into it through the ground level helped me to imagine how dramatic it would be if I were there in person.

The fourth room was filled with LEGOs…

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Don’t they look great?
Along the Thames, colourful skyscrapers thrusting towards the sky…

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A full of imagination & unhindered creativity. That’s what we need.

The last time I touched LEGO was a light year ago…

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Playing shouldn’t be a self-conscious thing.
However, I found myself being hesitant. How was I like when I was young and playing with LEGO?
Being spontaneous didn’t come very easy.
How boring being a grown-up is!

The last exhibit I saw was a model of Centre Georges Pompidou

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I took my mom and aunt there in 1995.
My mom asked me innocently if the building was still under construction. Oh, bless her…

The exhibition wasn’t just showing architectural artefacts…

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The newspaper clippings as well as the correspondence Sir Rogers exchanged with the past governments & opposition politicians were accompanying the exhibits which helped the visitors to examine the projects broadly and deepen the understanding.

After the exhibition, I sat at the cafe outside…

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A slice of praline cake & decaf latte to refuel my depleted brain cells…

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About the issue of modernist vs traditionalist, I am still ambivalent.
I hope this exhibition will be a catalyst to start a frank discussion about this rather thorny topic.
After all, we want a happy city in which EVERY ONE can thrive and live in harmony…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Ilia Lips

While I was attending my beauty regime – wiping the face with toner & slapping on some moisturizer, I felt a pain on the T-zone, an area above between the eyebrows.
Is this an omen of a painful pimple?! You know, one of those troublesome spots caused by pesky bacterial infection, which takes ages to clear and may even require a help of antibiotic.
Then, I remembered the incident which occurred a week ago that I banged my forehead fairly hard on the worktop while picking up a yarn from the floor. Horray, it won’t be a spot!
But what about a short-term memory lapse? Oh well, it comes from my mom’s side…

Recently, I have added another lipstick by Ilia to my collection.
The latest arrival is Funnel of Love.

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From left to right, Dizzy, Shell Shock, Funnel of Love and Balmy Days.
Dizzy & Shell Shock are tinted lip conditioners. Funnel of Love is a lipstick. And Balmy days is a lip balm.

My first Ilia was a tube of Shell Shock. I was pleasantly surprised by the vibrancy of the hue. And as a lip conditioner, it glided smoothly on the lips. The texture was moisturising and comfortable also.
The second one was Dizzy.
I was looking for something not pink nor beige. The colour was tangerine orange and less in your face than Shell Shock. I found it was versatile and natural.

Then, I was intrigued by Ilia lipsticks.
What is the difference between the lip conditioners and the lipstick?
I ordered a tube of Funnel of Love through Naturisimo.

To be 100% honest, I was rather disappointed with the lipstick.
First of all, it was not very moisturising. The texture, when it was glided on the lips, was similar to any “long-lasting” lipsticks on the market – very dry & mat.
The lips should be well-conditioned before the application, otherwise it wouldn’t roll on smoothly. My lips were in fairly good condition as I had been looking after them with a lip balms more than a few times a day. Yet, the lipstick didn’t feel comfortable on my lips.
Another thing I noticed was the appearance of my lips with the lipstick on.
The texture was caky. It accentuated the fine lines and it was not very attractive.
Unless the lips were very taut & plump, this lipstick would not be suitable, I thought.

The actual colour was beige pink which was close to my own lip colour.
Also, it was a very good match with a MAKE UP FOR EVER’s aqua lip liner #01.

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I decided to test the long-wearability of the lipstick by having a noodle lunch at Itsu, Lower Regent Street…

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After finishing a bowl of vegetable dumpling udon noodle soup, I checked my lips in the mirror.
Hmmm… Some lipstick seemed to have survived. So, I concluded that it performed reasonably well.

My verdict for Ilia’s lipstick  – not suitable for my lips.
I preferred the comfort of their tinted lip conditioners.
Next time, I may order Blossom Lady or In Paradise since they are similar to Funnel of Love colourwise.

I shall continue to buy Ilia products because they are made with up to 85% certified organic ingredients.
Especially, anything to do with lips, I would rather wear products less harmful since the ingredients inevitably enter into my system through my mouth.
I hope Ilia will expand from lipsticks and mascara to a broader product range in near future as I want to be truly beautiful inside out…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Hard time @ Hardware store

Oh no, a magnetic catch on the cupboard door has just fell apart.
After more than 10 years of service, it gave in finally…

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We bought our present apartment as a shell in 2001.
The reason why we wanted the place  was because of the ceiling height – over 3.5m.  Especially for Hubbie, who was significantly taller than the average Brits, this apartment was a dream came true. I remembered his exclamation, ‘This is it!’ By the way, we viewed more than 40 lofts / warehouse conversions by then. And I was just happy and relieved that the search was finally over.

However, everything comes with the pro’s and the con’s.
Because of the ceiling height, all furnitures except loose ones, such as sofas and tables, had to be custom-made.
For the cupboard which separated the vestibule, I wanted it to resemble a monolith…

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The cupboard is accessible from the vestibule, by the way…

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The side, facing the living / dining area is clad with shuttering plywood panels.
Shuttering plywood is an inexpensive building material and is chiefly used for putting up a temporary enclosure around construction sites.

The prominent grains of the plywood always fascinated me. In my eyes, they appeared organic as well as artificial.
On its own, they were beautiful. So I was determined to utilise them somehow when I had any opportunity.
And the opportunity arrived when I was designing the cupboard.

I discussed with the carpenter how the colour of the panels could be darkened without losing the grain. He suggested that it could be lightly sanded and stained, instead of applying emulsion.
Once the panels were dry, they were varnished…

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The process has brought out the subtle irregularity of the plane which can be seen when the light hits the surface.
The light vanishes all the colour except the texture of the grain…

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The graduation of black hues reminds me beautiful zen gardens of Kyoto.
I am very glad that I manage to highlight a beauty out of ordinary / normally-ignored objects.

Now, let’s get back to my present problem – a magnetic catch!
Where from can I get it?
Hardware shops are hard to find around me nowadays.

I remember there used to be a large builders shop on the north end of Tottenham Court Road which I frequented during my time in UCL. The shop was fairly large for the Central London average and stuffed with power tools and bits & pieces for building trade.
As any architectural student, I had assignments in UCL’s basement workshop a few times per semester. One of the tasks was a shopping trip with my own shopping list, hunting for suitable materials.
I was blissfully ignorant then and must have been a pain to deal with.
8 out of 10 times, I ended up coming back from the shop with useless rubbish.
I can still visualise it like yesterday – the tutor  tut-tutted me, his eyes rolling while me, red-faced, wishing to be somewhere else…
I was brought up in the country where consumers were king  & customer was always right, therefore, I didn’t understand or agree with their ‘Let’s them learn the lesson in a harder way’ kind of attitude. It may have been because they were a bunch of misogynist or practical jokers or both, I had no idea.
Still, the shop assistants were there to advise me, instead of knocking their heads off with a hollering laughter after I innocently left the shop, thanking their so called ‘help’…

BTW, the hardware shop was replaced by a smart eatery along Itsu and Pret a Manger while I was unaware.
One thing I am alarmed in Central London nowadays is the amount of food related business occupying every street.
How many sandwich bars or coffee places do we need?! Especially those chains, such as Costa, Starbucks, Nero’s, Pret a Manger, EAT, etc, they are just ubiquitous.
This phenomenon is a definite threat to the identity of each London street.
Traditionally, Tottenham Court Road, notably the south end of it, was a must area to hunt for electrical & computer goods. But the street no longer has enough electrical shops to claim as such.
Or how about Charling Cross Street?
The street was lined with secondhand bookstores in all sizes when I first arrived to this city two decades ago. Now, those treasure troves are replaced with cake shops and cafes. Rubbing salt in a wound, TK.Maxx occupies the address which used to be a large bookstore. How sad…
Call in Mary Portas or anyone! We must stop this decharacterization of Central London street by high-street chain giants. Even that ‘slippery’ hardware store on Tottenham Court Road, it was adding some sort of flavour / character to the area, no matter how sour it was…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

The Routine

In the morning, Mr.B has a routine.
He has to climb up on my lap and practises a nap before moving on to the Strawberry HQ or a Cath Kidson dog bed under the table for another kip…

 

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Some busy mornings interfere the routine and I have to deny his persistent request to be picked up – a furious scratching on my shins.
Once he realises that it’s not gonna happen, he retreats to one of the dens and sulks for a long time.

One late morning, Mr. B emerges from the SBHQ after a self-imposed exile…

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Please, Mr.Hermit Crab, please snap out of  your sour mood…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Scrawling…

Frustratingly, my wrists, especially my left, are still out of action.
On the ligament which runs from my palm to elbow, the pain is most acute – a searing kind of twinge.
This is not the first time the injuries interrupted my knitting.
I ignored the plea from my overworked hands before. And I ended up paying for it dearly – a handsome sum of £500 was spent on osteopathic treatments. Ouch! I learnt the virtue of being not so hasty thereafter…

So today, I was sorting out notes & scribbles which I had been accumulating during the last few projects.

I wish if I could say that I am a meticulous note-taker. Sadly, I am not.
The scribbles I create are nightmare to decrypt, even for me!
The manner of my handwriting is so throwaway and careless. It appals me.

Anyway, I thought that I’d better organise piles of the Post It notes and record them while my memory was still fresh…

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You see, my writing is worse than child’s.

My late father was an amazing note-taker.
His diaries were filled with utmost care. And his handwriting so precise and delicate. It was almost to the point of being slightly feminine. Every letter was penned in between an equal spacing. Not even one letter was breaking the uniformity of the appearance by being too large or small. It was like he harnessed each letter in a perfect invisible square. How he came to log his diary in this manner, no one knew.
Anyway, it was a great shame that I didn’t inherit his dexterity.
I shake my head with despair every time I have to write birthday cards or Christmas cards…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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