To Paris with the office, partners and kids. About 170 of us.
I love Paris, and looking out from our hotel bedroom window, you’d think nothing ever changes here.
None the less, I’m as happy watching the characters of Paris life as I am looking at the buildings.
Two highlights: talking to a smoking portrait artist in brown cord jacket and burgundy roll neck, outside the Pompidou. A Presidential candidate canvassing the Sunday morning Metro goers at Place d’Italie. Street life.
This is Second Home, in my second home.
It describes it’s self as a ‘carefully curated community’, and a ‘creative accelerator’. It’s certainly an interesting environment to do some sketching in.
A leaving do for Andrew, Massimo and Cheng, all returning to further their education. This is Massimo’s third leaving do. I pretend to be upset but I’m mostly glad they want to come back.
“Any story told long enough becomes a tragedy” said Alice Fraser at the start of her emotional ‘comedy’ The Resistance.
I’ve fallen out of the habit of keeping the sketch diary up to date, the online version anyway. I’ve kept the sketch books just the same but painting the six portraits I did recently used up all my spare time. Then I cycled across France.
I had an idea that I’d go back and colour up the old sketches and up load them all here: do a catch up blog. But of course I won’t. The thing about a diary is that the keeper is only interested in recording today, not writing up the past.
… and fascinating presentations: this one by Lara Feigel on her book ‘The Bitter Taste of Victory’…
…and this one on Women in Architecture and women in HTA. In the non architectural areas of our business: planning, graphics, sustainability and landscape design the genders are balanced throughout the grades. In architecture they aren’t. Something to sort.
We spend a lot of time in each others’ company so it’s nice to draw them from time to time, just to see them in a different way.
Over the last year, we’ve had Mike Hopkins coming in to train our management team in a few useful techniques. We’re a business run by designers so it’s good to hear how the professionals do it. Contrary to popular perception (big egos/ sensitive souls) designers don’t really need to be treated all that carefully but they are good at questioning the conventional route. Mike has a straightforward style, telling our creative team what he thinks, and this is going down well.
Getting a great guided tour around the first bespoke build-to-rent building in the UK, for be:here.
Fraser and Isla have expertise too. Here they are showing two year old Ellan some advanced present unwrapping skills.
A man in a stripy jersey watching his kid at swimming lessons.
Julie watching the tennis and working out how we’ll get the boiler fixed. We moved into a house in the winter and the boiler burst. It now appears this happens to pretty much everyone.
Maybe the 25% of the population who’d consider buying a new house have got it right?
Fraser is learning to play tennis. I drew Isla watching him, then she drew him, and titled it.
At an office CPD, on lighting. Not a bad one. You learn more, obviously, from seeing the things skilled designers (and their visionary clients) have actually built than you do from watching Powerpoint.
Edinburgh has an extensive stock of ageing bungalows with big back gardens and they’re gradually being bought up by young families. A roster of talented local architects can transform them by taking a bit of back garden and building the kind of bright and open living space people are after these days. Few are as lofty and light as friends Asa & Daniel’s one, by David Blaikie.
Innes (and me), learning to be gardeners.
Talking to the PRS Forum about the differences between placemaking for Private Rent and placemaking for sale. There are more than you’d think, so I had to be selective in my ten minute slot. I listened hard to the session before, trying to work out what the most relevant things were to talk about. I noted down “the IRR will ring the bell at 7” but mostly so I can ask my more financially fluent colleagues what that means.
The London Sketch Club was founded in 1898 by a few prosperous illustrators of the day. It’s been on the go since and I enjoyed some dining and sketching in their fantastic first floor studio on Dilke Street in Chelsea.It’s a club open only to those who make their living from drawing. And you have to be invited. Surrounded by silhouettes of past members, their beautiful works, and the items that make a studio a studio, I gave a talk on what I enjoy about sketching.
The rich history of the place makes for a great atmosphere and hopefully I can go back to do some life drawing one Tuesday night. Many thanks to the London Society for the invitation to talk, and the sketch club for hosting.
At the launch event for Cycle to MIPIM 2016.
1450 km from London to Cannes in five days. All for good cause: children’s charity Coram. It’s in March, so bring on some Scottish winter training on the bike.
Next step, a housing tour.
Normally I focus quite hard on these, but they’ve traced the line of the old wall in corten steel and placed plaques that describe the fate of former Berliners. It’s hard to look up when these stories are beneath your feet. The houses and flats are interesting, but it’s the waves of tumultuous recent history that grabs my attention.
The history gets in everywhere over here. We ate together in Café Einstein, an 1880’s renaissance style villa that survived over 300 bombing raids in the second war. I was disappointed to find that it had no real link to Einstein, rather it’s claim to fame centres around links to Nazi Joseph Goebbels. He died near here in 1945.
This is Jean Prouve’s Cite chair in the hotel lobby. Jean Prouve: designer, engineer, craftsman, teacher and French Resistance fighter.
In café Krone, near the flea market. There’s lot’s of history and much of it is traumatic, but for the time being this seems to have resulted in a very pleasant place to be.