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August 12, 2014

Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage

The Late Artist's Seaside Arcadia is Our Final Great Garden

“Paradise haunts gardens and it haunts mine,” wrote the late painter, filmmaker, theater designer and author Derek Jarman. His vast garden was established in 1986 on the bleak British landscape of Dungeness, Kent around an old tar-painted fisherman’s cottage, neighboring a nuclear power station. “It becomes part of the landscape and the wildness becomes part of the garden,” says the director and narrator of the last in our Great Gardens series, Howard Sooley. A photographer, gardener, and Jarman’s dear friend, Sooley first started visiting Prospect Cottage in the late 1980s. Together, they went on to produce a record of how the garden evolved, Derek Jarman’s Garden—the last book Jarman ever wrote. “My favorite thing that I ever planted there was a perfect circle of foxgloves from scattering seed collected near the power station,” he adds. “But above all I love that, visually, the garden doesn’t end.” The keen plantsman still tends to the garden along with Jarman’s partner Keith Collins, who lives at the cottage. Beauty punctuates the sparseness with sea kale, wild red poppies, and fiendishly blue cornflowers. Beachcombed metal sculptures, stone circles, and wind-twisted wood mark the framework for the various areas, while poet John Donne’s “The Sunne Rising” adorns one of the cottage walls.—Lee C. Wallick 

“The Sunne Rising” (abridged) by John Donne (1633)

Busie old foole, unruly Sunne,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windowes, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motion lovers’ seasons run?
Sawcy pedantique wretch, goe chide
Late schoole boyes and sowre prentices,
Goe tell Court-huntsmen, that the King will ride,
Call countrey ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clyme,
Nor houres, dayes, moneths, which are the rags of time…
Thou sunne art halfe as happy as wee,
In that the world’s contracted thus.
Thine age askes ease, and since thy duties bee
To warme the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy centre is, these walls thy spheare.

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The Bouroullecs: A Sketchbook History

Fifteen Years of Drawing and a Show at Les Arts Décoratifs

One of the most illustrious fraternal teams in the design world, the Bouroullec brothers are known for their colorful, organic textile shapes and structures. Key works, including the 2008 Vegetal chair, are shown here in their early stages as drawings in a selection curated by the duo exclusively for NOWNESS. Hailing from the northern tip of Brittany, France, the brothers’ curriculum vitae reads like a Who’s Who of the design world, making products for the likes of Danish textile firm Kvadrat, Cappellini and more recently Vitra during the 2013 Clerkenwell Design Week, London. Celebrating their collaboration with a bound volume of sketches, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec: Drawing, the duo have also put together Momentané, a massive retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. In a riot of iridescent color and natural shape and form, the pieces cover some 1,000 square meters of the historic museum that was founded in the early 20th Century and celebrates all aspects of French design. “It’s incredible to see all our work in one place and notice how it has developed,” says Erwan. “The way the show presents design is direct, not jokey, heavy or hard to understand, and I’m happy that our work comes across in this way.”

Are you happy about the evolution of your designs over the years?
Erwan Bouroullec:
I don’t know if I’m happy with it, because that would suggest I have nothing left to learn. What I am happy with is the increasing accessibility of our design—it works with people who don’t have a design background or culture, but it also works with those who are really passionate about design. 

How do you make objects that connect with the user or viewer?
EB: I think on one hand we are dealing with machines and creating an object with the materials available, and on the other we have to deal with function. When we create a sofa, we are dealing with fabric, and a character must emerge from this material. You then have to consider its function and the human need for comfort, which is a strong factor. There is a hidden culture for understanding design which we all somehow possess but aren’t fully aware of.

Do you share taste as siblings?
If we were each in a separate room and you asked us to choose our favourite of five different products, we’d probably answer the same. I think you learn that in your childhood: the color schemes of your past, the way your parents decorated their house, the furniture in your school—every year you take in information and build an aesthetic. 

What are you working towards as a designer?
One of my principal goals is to transform reality and enliven the mundane. I like to make things come alive, or indeed make them useful. It’s about working on projects easy enough for you, me or anybody else to understand.

Momentané runs until September 1 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

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E.V. Day: SNAP!

The New York Artist Straps Down Da Monsta at the Philip Johnson Glass House

E.V. Day envelops Philip Johnson’s jagged Neo-Expressionist building Da Monsta in kinky red rope for new work, “SNAP!” The first site-specific exhibition to be held at the acclaimed spot is captured by the New York-based photographer Vincent Dilio, revealing pop-savvy concepts that punch a striking metaphysical hole in the bucolic Connecticut landscape. It had already been Johnson’s take that “the building is alive,” and with the exterior evocative of a spider’s web and the interior’s ambient purring chambers filled with a feline-inspired tension, it seems to be living up to its billing. NOWNESS spoke to the prolific sculptor, whose work is housed in permanent collections at The Whitney and the Smithsonian Collection, about her creative processes and her muse, the city of Los Angeles. 

What was your key inspiration for this work? 
E.V. Day: It began with the building itself, whose very name implies a narrative—a monster! I wanted to address it as a living creature, a wild one that swallows you through its entrance and induces vertigo because there are no right angles in the structure. I wanted to play with that energy using taut lines, fishnet stockings, and suspension.

Tell us about the purring chambers. 
Philip Johnson would reportedly pat Da Monsta on its right side like a horse each morning. After spending several weeks with the building, I began to feel an affection for it as a character, as opposed to it simply being a building with character. I wanted the sound and the vibration of the purring under its floor to enhance its ‘creature-ness.’ When you sit in the installation and feel the purr, the beast is sleeping and you feel safe. At least for a moment.

As a New Yorker, how have you developed such an affinity with Los Angeles?
The compression of NYC grips you like Spanx—it definitely feels spring-loaded here. However, I have pined for LA since I lived there for two years in the early 90s. LA, as the manufacturing center of pop culture and its inherent bounty of problematic social, political, and environmental issues works as an eruption of active content for my art. 

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