anna brones

writer + artist + activist

Posts Tagged ‘design

Eileen Gray

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“To create, one must first question everything.”

-Eileen Gray (1878-1976)

I didn’t know of designer and architect Eileen Gray until I saw a retrospective of her work at Centre Pompidou in Paris a few years ago, and I fell in love with her pieces and was inspired by her story.

Born in Ireland, Gray moved to Paris in 1902. There, she studied lacquerwork, designed furniture (her designs are still produced today) and became a major figure of the French Art Deco movement. “She dared to do things that no one did at that time,” Cloé Pitiot, curator of of the exhibition told the Wall Street Journal

It’s interesting to look at her work with that perspective, understanding that her furniture and designs were revolutionary at the time that she made them. And while such designs feel very modern today, think of how bold it was to create them in her day.

In 1929 when she was 51, Gray completed her first architectural work, the E.1027 house. The house is now considered a masterwork of modernist architecture, her furniture designs within it carrying equal importance.

The organisation of the house as a whole is then based on her studies of wind and sun, and on its position on a steep slope descending to the sea. The building is mostly white outside, its interior modulated with planes of slight pink or eau-de-nil, or a nocturnal blue or black. These colours are maritime, but subtly so, such as you might see in deep water, inside a seashell or after sunset. There is an acute awareness of surfaces, both inside and out, and their degrees of shine or roughness. On the back wall of the main living space, playfulness being part of her armoury, she placed a large nautical chart. This, she said, “evokes distant voyages and gives rise to reverie”. The Guardian

Of course, I was horrified when I learned how renowned architect Le Corbusier had defaced the interior of the house with erotic murals, stark contradictions to Gray’s subtle style. The reason for such destruction? Le Corbusier was reportedly shocked that such a beautiful building could have been designed by a woman, saying, “I admit the mural is not to enhance the wall, but on the contrary, a means to violently destroy [it].”

…one of his destructive paintings is applied directly to the hallway screen in E.1027. By his symbolic removal of Gray’s obstructions he rendered her complex house transparent, and with the erotic scenes he painted, he supplied the imagined objects of his desire.

Le Corbusier’s fascination did not stop here: he also built a little shack, his ‘cabanon’, perched like a voyeur’s eyrie above the villa. He spent the rest of his summers here, swimming every day below the cliffs, and that is where he died in 1965, overlooked by the house that had so obsessed him. Architectural Review

Le Corbusier of course remains in the architectural vernacular, known to even those outside his domain.

But Gray, like so many other women artists, slid into the shadows. Self-taught and working in a male dominated field didn’t make it easy within her profession; she existed in a domain where success meant being a chest-beating male. Gray herself admitted to the drawbacks of her own quiet nature: “I was not a pusher and maybe that’s the reason I did not get to the place I should have had.”

Fortunately, with the restoration of E.1027, and a renewed interest in her story, her work and spirit will not be lost. As Cathy Giangrande, development lead for Cap Moderne, the nonprofit association behind the restored E.1027, told Dezeen, “Certainly she deserves to be celebrated as one of the great pioneers of her time…”

To follow Gray’s line of thinking, to create we must question everything. We must question our own perceptions, our own assumptions. We must question the world as we know it, the status quo.

And when we question, we become empowered to challenge. After all, isn’t that what creating is all about?

This papercut and profile are a part of the Women’s Wisdom Project, a project focused on showcasing the wisdom of inspiring, insightful women by making 100 papercut portraits.

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Written by Anna Brones

January 11, 2019 at 05:00

Surprise Art

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I love making things. I also love giving art to people, and I believe that our world is better with more art in it.

I wanted to offer something for the upcoming holiday season, but I didn’t have the capacity to invest money in items like prints or calendars. Instead, I want to offer small pieces of original artwork for people to keep or give away.

But here’s the catch: you don’t know what you’re getting. This is surprise art!

Between now and December 5th I will be making a series of small papercuts. Each one will be matted and wrapped. Place an order and you receive one of these pieces, which I will be sending out in two installments. Because I wrap them immediately after making them, I don’t know who is getting what. Consider it “grab bag art,” like when you were a kid and bought one of those paper bags at the toy store and had no idea what would be inside.

Each piece is mounted in a 5×7″ black mat and ready for framing. You can buy it for yourself, or for a friend, and feel free to order as many as you want. Because it’s a surprise, they are priced a little lower than my original pieces, the intent being to provide affordable artwork to bring a little joy to you and anyone you want to gift it to.

You can order here.

Written by Anna Brones

October 16, 2018 at 08:39

Adventure Journals

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What inspires you to get out and adventure?

That was the driving question behind this collection of three Adventure Journals, a special, limited edition collaboration with my friends over at Wylder Goods. Inspired by the pursuit of adventure – whether it’s a bike ride, a cup of coffee brewed outside, or a night under the stars – these journals are there to accompany you and provide a home for your thoughts, musings and ponderings.

They each feature one of my papercuts, and are printed by Scout Books in Portland, Oregon.

What makes these special:

  • 100% recycled Kraft cover!
  • 100% recycle white interior paper!
  • 100% awesome!

You can snag them in my shop or over on Wylder Goods.

Written by Anna Brones

June 30, 2017 at 14:31

#mybodymychoice

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Stars, Stripes and Uterus, 5.5″x 8″ papercut © Anna Brones, 2016.

I made the above papercut in honor of women’s rights around the world, and if you are interested in showing your support of women’s rights, you can snag it as a coffee mug, t-shirt or print over on Society6.

Written by Anna Brones

October 6, 2016 at 12:18

What if Objects Were Designed to Last Instead of to Be Replaced?

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Planned obsolescence is something that I find infuriating. The idea that we design things to fall apart is absurd, especially when we consider the world of mass consumption, and mass waste, that we live in. These days it’s so easy to toss something broken and buy something new to replace it. But even worse; often if something is broken, you might not even be able to get it fixed at all.

I take a look at this topic in my latest piece for Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator, featuring a new smartphone – the Fairphone – that is designed in the complete opposite way of most of our technological devices: it’s designed to have a long life.

Our modern culture has become synonymous with throwaway culture; when something doesn’t work, things are cheap enough that it’s often less expensive for us to toss whatever doesn’t work and buy a new one. Of course, the real costs of getting rid of something and buying something new to replace it are externalized. The price it costs us to replace an object is often far under the real environmental and social cost of producing a new one.

Consider this: in 2010, Americans threw away around 310 million computers, monitors, TVs, and mobile phones. That makes for hundreds of thousands of phones thrown away on a daily basis. When it came to smartphones, only about 11% of those that were disposed of were recycled, leading to a significant amount of e-waste. Certainly there is a part of that number comes from a desire to just have something new, but another part of it comes from being forced to throw something away because it’s just not possible to fix.

In its second iteration, the Fairphone is said to be “designed to change the way products are made.” This isn’t just a new phone design; this is a design challenge to other industries, asking them to step it up and think smarter about design. Besides just design, Fairphone is rethinking the entire economic model that most businesses base their practices.

Read the full piece here.

Image: Fairphone

Written by Anna Brones

July 30, 2015 at 12:12

For a Love of Bikes and Books

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Bike_Book_Ends

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.”

–Marcel Proust

I would add that many of those magic childhood days were also spent on a bicycle. Books help us explore the world, and bicycles do too. Reading a book is a solitary activity, and while cycling is often done with friends, for me there is a pull to those rides when it is just you, the pedals, the road and your imagination. Your mind can wander to new places, see new things. Just like reading. No wonder those childhood days, full of freedom and exploration were so magical.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Anna Brones

June 1, 2015 at 19:02

New Designs: Upcycled Bike Tube Earrings

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Excited about these new bike tube earring designs – you can snag a pair as one of the Culinary Cyclist Kickstarter rewards (my new book) before June 23, 2013!

Written by Anna Brones

June 20, 2013 at 07:07