Category Archives: Design

Reading in Public


Does anyone know why we go to cafés to read? Reading is arguably a private affair; one that requires concentration and a fair amount of time. Unless you have a soap-box from which to megaphone your manifesto, reading in public is generally a quiet pastime and some might even say, an anti-social one. In Vienna, a city dedicated to the art of whiling away hours of your life drinking beverages, reading in public is no new trend. In Alt Wiener-style establishments, regulars are brought their coffee and their favourite newspaper bound between two wooden splints. Public private reading is not just accepted in these ornate coffee-houses, it is encouraged. Have a cuppa, sit a while and read in peace.

In many modern cafés you will find that newspapers have been replaced by magazines and tabloids. The truly on-trend café however, not only upgrades you from smut to classic literature but offers you the option of buying the reading material you see. Café Phil is one such trendy hipster locale. You are invited into their exposed concrete space to sit as long as you like, drink ‘homemade’ beverages (100% fairtrade, of course) and gaze at their rows of contemporary and classic tomes every time you look up from your Macbook. You can buy some of the motley artistically random collection of furniture and furnishings just in case you felt the need to reconstruct a perfect reading area. What you can’t recreate at home is the quiet hum of conversation of other ‘organic’ people and background music that isn’t distracting because you don’t know the artists.

This schizophrenic place jumps from café to bar to counselling centre to bookshop to restaurant to chair village to retro-ville in a matter of seconds. I love sipping my way through a good book but I’m not sure I could in such a self-conscious manner. Reading to me, is absorbing another’s words, engrossing yourself in a written world to make you completely unaware of your surroundings. When I entered this carefully curated area I felt an instant urge to resist the indie being stamped on me but I soon found myself thumbing through books that looked cool enough to read in public and even ended up researching retro-bikes on my way home. Reading in public can do that to you.

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Making Waves

My family had its first summer holiday somewhere new this year. I had my fair share of memorable summers when I was younger but I just realised that we, as a family, always spent our together-vacations with more family. Visiting my grandmother in school-breaks was always a highlight and I never found myself wanting more. The annual reunions featuring various aunts and uncles, loved/hated cousins and old friends of my parents will always be precious to me. Until I left my parents’ home for university, I never thought about having a say in our holiday plans.

As my social circle grew, my list of holiday destinations grew. Over time, I began to stray from my parents’ pattern of going somewhere with familiar people. I started adventuring and leaving familiarity behind. Being a student on a fairly limited budget however, these experiments were few and far between. Now that my immediate family are scattered across the globe, we look forward to weddings, business-trips and other official reasons to swing by homebase. This is great but it also means that we are hardly ever in one place at the same time.

This year, a seed that was placed many years ago, grew into a plan that brought us together from distant shores. We did reconvene briefly at headquarters but in an attempt to give my parents’ a break from hosting, we moved on to a new location. A house in the middle of the North Yorkshire Moors that accommodated all 14 of us with enough plumbing to go around. To have a decent bathroom/toilet to person ratio on the British Isles is no small matter. It was sheer luxury.

One of our adventure days out took us to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North East Coast of England. Apart from being a quaint old town with good fish’n’chips, it boasts the highest seawall in Britain. A walkway that runs along the top of this incredible fortress allows you to look at your own mortality. The waves that crash into this wall and slap back into new ones create such a fearsome sound and spray that you can’t help but clutch the handrail for comfort at first. Who needs a fast car when you have colliding waves? Free thrills.

Talking about making waves, how do you like my new blog theme? Leave a comment so I know what you like and what you would like to see more. I’m bracing myself for the waves crashing back!


The Three-Pointed Star

ImageIf you ever happen to be in Stuttgart, go to the Mercedes-Benz Museum. It is so worth it. I was tagging along on a trip some friends organised for us, trying to hide a complete lack of interest and a fair amount of skepticism. The moment we pulled up outside the building however, all doubts vanished and I knew it was going to be great if only from an architectural point of view. How low were my expectations!

This museum oozes class, style and sheer brilliance. An audio tour walks you through a largely industrial space in an intuitive and organic way. It shows you how funny-looking, elaborate contraptions became the incredible engines that are housed in beautiful vehicles today. It relates every invention, complication and solution to events in history as you spiral down slowly from one level to another, guiding your eyes to yet another fascinating detail of this company’s legacy.

The three-pointed star signifying Daimler’s vision of motorisation “on land, on water and in the air” now symbolises luxury, class and design across the world. I had previously thought that Mercedes made cars and maybe a few articulated trucks but I was wrong. It is amazing how effectively this museum does some PR for the name in a variety of fields. Take music, for example. Mercedes-Benz have been compiling mixed tapes for a while now, introducing yours truly to some emerging artists over the years. For someone who doesn’t pay attention to the charts, this has been a massive cool-bonus.

If you cannot make it to Stuttgart to see their other services to mankind for yourself, watch this PR-video starring a strange lady and a British narrator. If your appetite is still not satisfied, you can read more about the drama behind the brand ‘Mercedes’ here.

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