Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Design

Monday September 22 2014

Chippendale most of us have heard of.  But Rannie?  Who is, or was, Rannie?  Exactly.

Seven years ago now, I wrote a Samizdata piece about two-man teams.  It still, I think, reads well, and it contained the following assertions:

Even when a single creative genius seems to stand in isolated splendour, more often than not it turns out that there was or is a backroom toiler seeing to the money, minding the shop, cleaning up the mess, lining up the required resources, publishing and/or editing what the Great Man has merely written, quietly eliminating the blunders of, or, not infrequently, actually doing the work only fantasised and announced by, the Great Man. Time and again, the famous period of apparently individual creativity coincides precisely with the time when that anonymous partner was also but less obtrusively beavering away, contributing crucially to the outcome, and often crucially saying boo to the goose when the goose laid a duff egg. If deprived, for some reason, of his back-up man, the Lone Genius falls silent, or mysteriously fails at everything else he attempts. ...

Now read this, from At Home, the Bill Bryson book I am currently reading.  On pages 234-5, concerning Thomas Chippendale, the noted furniture maker, Bryson writes:

He was an outstanding furniture maker but hopeless at running a business, a deficiency that became acutely evident upon the death of his business partner, James Rannie, in 1766. Rannie was the brains of the operation and without him Chippendale lurched from crisis to crisis for the rest of his life.  All this was painfully ironic, for as he struggled to pay his men and keep himself out of a debtor’s cell, Chippendale was producing items of the highest quality for some of England’s richest households, and working closely with the leading architects and designers - Robert Adam, James Wyatt, Sir William Chambers and others. Yet his personal trajectory was relentlessly downwards.

It was not an easy age in which to do business.  Customers were routinely slow in paying. Chippendale had to threaten David Garrick, the actor and impresario, with legal action for chronic unpaid bills, and stopped work at Nostell Priory, a stately home in Yorkshire, when the debt there reached £6,838 - a whopping liability. ‘I have not a single guinea to pay my men with tomorrow: he wrote in despair at one point. It is clear that Chippendale spent much of his life in a froth of anxiety, scarcely for a moment enjoying any sense of security at all.  At his death in 1779, his personal worth had sunk to just £28 2s 9d - not enough to buy a modest piece of ormolu from his own showrooms. ...

Rannie did not make the actual furniture, but he was essential to Chippendale in exactly the sort of way I describe.

It feels good to be so right.

Sunday September 21 2014

Just to drive the point home that not all the photos of mine that I show here were taken several weeks or even months ago, here is yet another which I took (just like the previous two in the previous two postings) today:

image

My picture is somewhat cropped.  Her hair somewhat less so.

Thursday September 18 2014

Alert readers of this blog will long have known that I have a soft spot for interesting vehicles, often because they are old.  (In general, the aesthetic nature of cars and of our response to cars interests me more and more.)

So, here is an amusing matching pair of vehicles:

image image

The full size Mini was photoed not far from my friend Perry‘s home.  The mini Mini was, as you can probably see for yourself, in a tourist crap shop window.  Only the two white stripes on the bonnet of the mini Mini spoil the identicalness.

Tuesday September 16 2014

We have most of us seen these tiny little cars they make nowadays, which are about half the length of regular cars.  A seemingly obvious usefulness of such vehicles, aside from them using half the metal and less money and power to make them and move them, is that they can be parked at ninety degrees to regular parking, which does away with the need for all that “parking” and doubles (and more) the amount of space available for everyone to park in.

But you seldom see such cars actually parked liked that, and when you do …:

image

… (as I did about a week ago near to where I live) you realise that this is actually a much more complicated arrangement than it might at first appear to be.

Suppose you see a half-parking-space, between two other cars, and you park your half-car in that space, at ninety degrees to those two cars.

You just might be making it impossible for one or even both of those cars to get out, unless you do first.  I mean, maybe the car beyond the half-car above can get out.  Maybe those two cars are cooperatively parked, so to speak, with both vehiclese arriving and leaving at the same time.  But maybe the bigger car arrived first and will want to leave first, and was relying on being able to move backwards to get out, in which case …

Which actually makes me think this was cooperative parking, by the two vehicles in concert.  Otherwise there would be just too much potential grief involved.

I can’t think, off hand, of an easy way to sort all this out.  So, just as well it’s not my job to worry about such things.

There is also the fact that the half-car in my picture, isn’t actually quite a half-car, more like a two-fifths- or three-quarters-car, and it sticks out annoyingly.  This doesn’t matter much in a big wide road like the one shown, but in other roads it might matter a lot.

Monday September 15 2014

I want one:

image

Dawkins just couldn’t handle www.dezeen.com, so today I had fun looking back through the last few days (with many more days yet to be looked at).  This cried out to be immortalised on BrianMicklethwaitDotCom.

Sunday September 14 2014

Yes, you read that right.  Sunday.  I am celebrating the fact that I now have a Proper Computer (a temporary arrangement called Godo) at my command by doing more than one posting here today.  There may (although I promise nothing) be even more than two.  The thing is, during the Time of Dawkins, I accumulated lots of interesting little titbits which it was too bothersome to be bothering with, but which I now want (as they say in California and now regrettably everywhere else (see also the even more vomit-inducing “reach out”, which means pestering by telephone)) to “share” with you.

So, first up, this luxurious Rolls Royce, from the time when us Brits were in charge of how they looked:

image

As it says just above the roof, photoed in Lower Marsh, on Sept 1st.

Round headlights, but … four of them!  This car dates from the days when the only way to jazz up car headlights was to have two of them side by side.  How impossibly glamorous is that?!?!  I seem to recall that the puppet woman who presided over International Rescue on the telly had a pink roller, with the same kind of headlights.  Lady Penelope?  Yes.  Follow that link, and you will be reminded that Lady P’s roller had two sets of three headlights.  Only a billionaire, or millionaire as they used to be called, could afford that kind of headlight array.  (To say nothing of those doubled-up front wheels.)

(And it is so great that I am now back to hunting things like that down in about fifteen seconds.  There is nothing like deprivation to make you grateful for large mercies.)

But Lady Penelope missed a trick.  Her imaginary roller didn’t have a brush to clean its headlights, but some real rollers did!  You will see what I am talking about if you take a closer look at this:

image

Yes, a sort of elongated rich person shaving brush, to keep those lights clean!

You didn’t get those on Morris Marinas.

Sunday August 31 2014

The weather in London today was particularly fine.  The light was bright and washed clean by recent rain, and the atmosphere was neither too hot nor too humid.  There was bright blue sky, but there were also plenty of clouds.  I had a bank to visit and electrical items to obtain, all doable on Sunday if you are in Tottenham Court Road, and then I and my companion went south towards the river.

I photoed tourist stuff, hereinafter termed touristuff.  I love to photo touristuff.  It changes from year to year, and it is arranged in hightly photogenic clumps such as you could never enjoy if you merely bought a single touristuff item:

image image

Those queens seem now to be very popular, but popes less so.  But those decapitated lady bottle openers are a new siting, for me.  It’s amazing what can look sexy, even after being guillotined.

I photoed books, under Waterloo Bridge.  Books in large and sunlit clumps, and particular books, with particular titles:

image image

It seems that the Conan The Barbarian books were written not by just the one writer, but by a team of writers.  I did not know this.  I wonder how that was organised.

I photoed Art.  I photoed a lady all in white, photoing Art under the Queen Elizabeth Hall.  That’s if you reckon middle of the range graffiti to be Art.  Is this a possible future for brutalist architecture?  Painting such concrete relics would surely make sense.

And I photoed people sitting on Art, in the form of giant green chairs, next to the Imax Cinema roundabout near Waterloo station

image image

Apparently these big green chairs used to be down in that strange circle of pedestrian space that surrounds the bottom of the Imax Cinema, inside the roundabout.

If my walkabout this afternoon is anything to go by, Art is becoming less about Deep Significance (of the sort that has to be explained with Art Bollocks essays next to the Deeply Significant Art), and more about fun.  Bring it on.

And bring on the day when they have exhibitions of Touristuff in Tate Modern.  I hardly ever go inside Tate Modern, but I bet that would be more fun than what they put there now.  And it might also be more Significant.

Sunday August 24 2014

One of these (which was one of these):

image

The economics of car ownership is interesting.  On the face of it, I might be the sort of person who would get a really small car (even if not this exact one).  But the way I (and many others?) see it is: If I go to the bother of getting a car, and finding somewhere to park it, and a way of insuring it, and of protecting it from burglars and vandals, I might as well spend a bit more and get a proper car.  You either buy a car, of the sort that can do all the things proper cars do, like transport another four people, transport bits of furniture, drive to Scotland or Paris or some such place, impress rather than amuse friends and enemies, and so forth.  Or, you don’t.

You don’t buy a bit of car.

The only exception is if your entire country has only just started buying cars, in which case even a bit of car is worth having.  Especially if, for the time being, that’s all you can get

Bond car
God was overheating and now needs radical transplant surgery (and Dawkins now has to do my email)
A swimming pool in a skyscraper
My week in Brittany 2: A crane holding a bridge at Canning Town!
ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
Man 3D-prints Thing in his back garden
A Sunday ramble
Round headlights equals an old car
The River Thames carpet
Sacred architecture and profane roof clutter - a speculation
Self-healing concrete
Bombardier Embrio
New London bridge competition
My favourite Tour de France in London photo
Colossal fun
Robyn Vinter is wrong about Google Glass
Will England get lucky?
Vespa GS in Lower Marsh
The Not-V2 at London Bridge Station
3D printed structural joints and another Gormley man
Compact Cats buried under London’s poshest homes
Tricycles
Tower Bridge before it got covered in stone
Chinos?
Stones created from layers of old paint from car factories
The Dragon Bridge of Da Nang
Leaf Cycle
Me and the first cranes at London Gateway last September
Organised water
Moving picture
Looking good for the telephone box smartphone
Old bus No 2
Hao Ruan and LYCS Architecture are now world famous
Jiaozhou Bay Bridge (aka Spaghetti Junction on Sea)
Red arrow?
Ten years ago today
Vauxhall bus station now – and when it was being constructed
Feline ephemera
Don’t judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
A quota post (with a quota link to a post about a post about a quota photo) and another quota photo
Vladivostock from above
When Open Symbol attacks!
Faberge - Brutalism
Seven London bridges from the ME Hotel Radio Bar
Photoing the A380 from above – from the ground
Big Thing news from New York and London - and a picture of climate alarmism losing
Sandcastles that will live for ever
The Tate Modern extension nears completion
Slightly wider tube trains
How hydrogen bombs work
Quota crane and quota plane
3D printer sighted!
Model Big Things
Scott Wiener on pizza boxes
In which I continue to seek a satisfactory sofa
Mercedes-Benz W123
Big Things and small things
Movable bridges
London Postcode Puzzle
La Porte des Indes
Gloomy Earl’s Court picture
Michael Jennings photos the bridges of Porto
Crows nest made of coat hangers
Conquer the Pillars of Islam
Dezeen continues to delight
Rob Fisher on old things not looking old
Proposed new footbridges for London and for Changsha
Sperm Bike
Halloween is near!
Otherwise blogging (and a Burgess Park butterfly)
Corrie Chipps pictures the Zimbabwe inflation
Bad and good in bad weather
Earn yourself fifty quid by finding me a suitable sofa
Huge semi-submersible ships
Art gallery made of scaffolding
Chess set made of London’s Big Things
London Gateway from above
Rob Fisher on the 3D printing future
A day in and around Olympicland with Goddaughter One
Quota photo of a bucket of plastic crocodiles in an otherwise deserted shop window in Oxford Street
Bridges for animals
New apostrophe-shaped footbridge in Hull
Views from Kings College
Blank-faced tower – crazy hairdo
An old Mini and a new Mini
Rooftops
Savoy cat
Spot the Samsung connection
Stairs Thing outside St Paul’s
Cassette iPhone photographer
Wedding photography (4): Preparations
Remembering a warmer day
A mannequin in Tachbrook Street sheds light on the nature of perception
Lunch at Gessler at Daquise
Four crane photos
Michael Jennings - pictures of globalisation
Classical CDs from Gramex
At the bottom of the Shard
Monopoly Cat replaces Monopoly Iron
Skull made of skulls in gift shop street
Big London Things with clutter in the foreground
XXL?
A new crane has already arrived
Is Samizdata in danger of becoming a photo-blog?
Another thing I’d rather photo than own
Croydon cats
An afternoon in Croydon
Here are (a lot) more photos that I took on March 27th
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom internet headline of the day
Click to see the big picture
The Bezier Building and a hideous advertising erection at the Old Street Roundabout
Millbank Tower with street light
A memorable scoreboard surrounded by empty seats
Cheese or font?
Black Katz
Bomber Command Memorial pictures
Another excellent spot to photo London from
Crane and plane
Only railings
No Misc April – Misc May
Misc March
London bridge photos
Changing views from the Monument
The Big Olympic Thing from nearer
Bollards
A happy British Summer Time to all my readers
A Happy Christmas to all those still reading this
Space launch monster
Ancient and modern (but mostly ancient) cars in Regent Street yesterday
Transport photos
NFL fans and their name-and-number shirts in Trafalgar Square on Saturday
The Jobs difference
Notes to self but not to you
The Wheel reflected in a cheeseburger advert
Choosing a Clean Food Outlet in Lawas is as easy as ABC
Health and safety on a mountain in Borneo
The Royal Victoria Dock is not (but looks like) a transporter bridge
Misspelt (correction: Italian) signs of the times
On the superfluity of the Paddington Basin rolling bridge
Strange footbridge over brick wall
Rally Against Debt signs
Brainwave-controlled cat ears for humans created by Japanese Neurowear
Nil scrap value
Do not climb on the Thing!
The wedding lingers on
Another pub
The Armstrong Gun
Signs from the Frenchosphere
After the wedding
Even the Goodyear Blimp is now obsessed with safety
Big crane
And there was you thinking you were immortal
Someone doesn’t understand what I mean by roof clutter
Rugby shirts on drugs
Another Assembly of Men
The Big Dig and some smaller digging
Kyrgyzstan cemetery and awesome frogs
Signs - all in my bit of one railway carriage
Mmmmm … scaffolding!
New bridge in Melbourne
If you can’t beat them hire them
Raptor not being very stealthy
Old school advertising has its uses
Soviet health and safety posters
More signage
Giant bull held up by scaffolding
Bouncing bombs and spinning cricket balls
A Spanish high speed train bridge and a Spanish aqueduct
Lancaster
Cool sculpture
Jobs departs from Apple (again)
October 2007 conversation about modern architecture with Patrick Crozier
Marmite spoons!
Dawkins does better sound than God ever did
The new mainframe
A laptop but not in my lap
From pop to purrfume
Trust drunk and disorderly
The Brusio spiral viaduct also looks like a toy train layout
Arecibo Radio Telescope
Giant Jesuses
Adverts on taxis and cars
Sunset in Oxford Street
Rockets are a great improvement on balloons
Sexy architecture
Happy hundredth
Mmmmm … bookshelves!
Farnborough (4): Cat on teeshirt - insect on cat’s nose
Lynxes and an A380
Taranis
Exploitation?
Pink railway clutter
Big box computers versus laptops
Three Gorges Dam picture
Chair that unrolls into the exactly correct shape
More photos from last week
One child poster
Rubbish bridge in Shangai
Glass is now very strong
Car in in front of sloping houses
A good bit about the future of art galleries and how to rescue good bits
Airplanes converted into architecture
Apple keyboard remains excellent – iPhone software not so excellent
Six lions on a white Mercedes bonnet
Quota cat rubber
Cranes
Separating the men from the toys - the future of warfare and of sport?
Beyond iPad (and a picture that goes beyond this posting)
Two red cats
Quota bridge
Reds against Blues in Munich
Osprey pictures
London cricket roof clutter
Short posting (with short photo) about SpaceShipTwo
The Min-Kyu Choi folding three point plug
Strange purple cat with four eyes
Am I interested in dredgers?
Luxembourg church in hill and Luxembourg footbridge
Strange bridge
Apple mobile phones are very profitable but Nokia mobile phones are not very profitable
The decor in Peter Jones - and where in London can I find a small ice-cube-making machine?
Death to all who try to tiptoe past our guards while wearing giant baby costumes!
Today I bought an Apple Mac keyboard …
The Labour Party finally agrees on a new Prime Minister to replace Gordon Brown
Dripping table
Of lists and distant totally photorealistic skyscrapers
Pull Tab
Computer coffee table
Magic bottle that makes dirty water drinkable
The Wheel through some Art
Thinking thin at the top
The latest Canon DSLR comes without a twiddly screen
Inappropriate?
The Vita-Mix 5000 at the Veggie Show
A photo of the Samsung NC10 and the original Asus Eee-PC next to each other
PurseBook
Wheel etc.
Hotelicopter
Redesigned Bishop
Unamazing photo of amazing road
Olympus E-620
SwivelCam
Sailing photos – and another bridge for the collection
OLED TV - very thin and detailed but not very big and not ready yet unless you’re stupidly rich
SDXC
Generational taste in furniture
Random links
Making the new look and feel like the old
Evening Standard hand-done billboards go printed shock
Power
Englefield Green Xmas decor
Another antique
Old postage stamps
More Englefield Green strangeness
Jesus above the keyboard instead of beyond it
Big clocks
Not Billion Monkeys!
Linkin Park - one leg short of libertarian
Gadget gold
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
A movie staircase and a window
Sheep under wolf’s clothing
JD gets PTD
Redirect to a piece on Samizdata about a camera
Inamo
Redirect
The uses of Jesus
More sticking up stuff
City of London lumps and a south London spike
Profundity and silliness
My watch has to tell me the date as well as the time
Jellennium Bridge
Punk surveillance cameras
Craziness done with austerity
Ken Livingstone was beaten by the billboards!
Floppy road bridge where the cars nearly get wet
Narrow bridge
Catbrella
“I’ll build it with explosive bolts connecting the wings to the fuselage …”
Clarkson on Sarah Jessica Parker
The new Lowe look
What’s this for?
“If only it were true …”
The original Burtynsky Nanpu bridge picture
PID strikes Guido
Roger Scruton on Prince Charles’s new town
Flickring and Googling for the AMGEN bridge
Those were the days and these are no longer the days
Wired bridges
A sculptural suggestion
Malaysian footbridge for everyone except … gephyrophobiacs?
Giant table football table and hamster powered cars
Church covered in church pictures
The Messina Suspension Bridge is on again
“Better value on goods and services across a wide range of categories …”
My Wheel’s bigger than your Wheel
Big Bens - Wheels - Big Ben teapots - telephone box teapots
Wedding rings that join together with telephone plugs
Dasubee toilet scrubbing robot
Classic car thinness
Coffee House struggles with Permanent Italics Disease
Instapundit succumbs to PID
Big, Bigger, Biggest - starring Heathrow Terminal 5
Flat pictures for flat screens
Signs of civilisation
She learned to knit her before she learned to spell her
Toshiba’s violin playing robot
Ursa major
Making the Mississippi Delta make more land
Bookcase staircase many books electric book manybooks.net
At Bethnal Green railway station
Eee PC and Brahms CDs
Flat viaduct and spiral bridge
The great DVD packaging clearout
The petty cash effect cuts in for Linux
Linux versus Windows - the bigger tiny laptop breakout
Thin camera picture
Bristol footbridge photo
Engadget suffers from intermittent giant text disease
Thin Canadian bridge
Underground art
The bridge that was going to make Westminster a fine city and London a desert
Digital Camera Review error
Tinsley Viaduct
The A380 bulge
Fourteen British viaducts
Manhole cover cats and Angel of the North shelves?
Architecture talk
A picture of a Wheel seen through a field of corn
Samsung SPH-P9200
Cat power!
Short posting with short photograph
The blue and gray men are slaughtering the gray and blue men
Another angle on pylons
Back from the dead and soon to be duplicated
Revised logo
Old cranes - new cranes
Small and cheap
Ugly logo(s)
Fujitsu Lifebook
Assorted London quota photos
PG tips
A movie about a typeface
Plastic that conducts heat better
Footbridge in the dark and cricket
Smallest mobile keyboard yet?
Susie Bubble turns shopping into a job with her blog
Halo over Oxford Circus
Amazing map of amazing new Moscow bridge
Shame you can’t do this kind of thing here
New Moscow road bridge
Pylons
Umbrellas and other gadgets
Will twentieth century aerial warfare be repeated by toys?
New footbridge in Edinburgh
Bollocks to the fashists
The Nanpu bridge approaches
Diamond Synchrotron
Robot car park in New York
Other people’s photos (6): More bridges
Weird loudspeakers
The Dyson DC14
Other people’s photos (2): New architecture in Hamburg
A good new mobile computer - but still too pricey
Billion Monkeys and people waving blue things!
Pictures of the world for the world
Happy day after Christmas Day
Happy Christmas Day
Haircuts before and after
ASUS R2U-BH040T
Cranes and street lamps and mp3s
Pictures of and from Albert Bridge
On sail in two weeks
The world now needs bad taste iPod docks
Top tips from Viz
Airship over the Wheel
Tech talk mp3 with Michael Jennings
Two sunset photos
Grassy car with blog
Cute jewelry and ideologically induced woe
Cute Brazilian car
A digital SLR that a Billion Monkey could lift!
Patrick Crozier talks with me about Japan
Is this to stop pigeons or bulb stealers?
Adriana tours her own back yard
Getting that roof clutter onto my computer
I also miss Transport Blog
Clutter
Presumably the noise is not a problem
Chrysler 300C with bling
Evening sun on the Wheel
The Hungerford footbridges
Skill and Post-Skill
Blue balls – kaleideskopes – etc.
Holocaust museum repeated as fashion?
The Falkirk Wheel
Those little big things that you hate
HMS Funny Looking
A kink in the Range Rover grill
The Tate Modern end of the Millennium Bridge
Double brolly
Aussie pub window and Aussia Billion Monkey
The evening sun through the windows of the Albert
Rolls Royces
Hundred dollar laptop
Digital preservation
Tourist traps – foregrounds – cranes