Recently in design Category

Several years ago, I visited the Warner Brother Studios on my birthday and found the exhibit on the graphic design of Harry Potter to be very interesting on the tour. I think that creating all of the graphic design (newspapers, advertising, packaging, and so on) for the Harry Potter world would have been one of my dream jobs. One wall was dedicated to exploring the graphic design that was created for the films. It appeared that those lucky to work in this area for the films did enjoy what they did. 


My next visit to Warner Brother Studios tour was last February, and a few new areas had been added to visit, including the new Platform 9 3/4 and train. Unfortunately, the wall and exhibition about the graphic design aspect had been removed. I did not see it in any other part of the tour.


I had hoped to include a piece about it in my blog, which was a bit more focused on design. However, I couldn't locate the photogrpahs and wanted to go back to take some more and read a bit more about it. Since it's not there, I couldn't. But, the story does not end here. Last summer, I went to see 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child', and Mina Lima were advertising a free exhibition focused on the design of 'Harry Potter'. I finally got to pay a visit last month.


To be honest, I was expecting it to be a little more like a museum with the graphic design exhibits at Warner Brother Studios to have moved here along with information about the pieces. However, there wasn't any information. Instead, the building was filled with graphic design from the films. (This was the same building used for the Cadbury Cream Egg Cafe pop-up last January.) These items were signed and framed, and others could be purchased. They included book covers, posters, newspapers, sweet and toy packaging, certificates, and so much more. The items ranged from the original 'Harry Potter' films to the new film 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'.


The graphic design and MinaLima shop has been opened by two designers (Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima) who worked together for the original films. Below are the photographs I took inside the shop and museum at the House of MinaLima.












Have you been to see the House of MinaLima yet?

The bloke and I visited The Royal Mint Experience yesterday and got to see and press our own one pound coin with the new design that will be circulated later in the year. The Royal Mint Experience only opened in May last year, so it's not even been open for tours for a year. I've previously done a tour of the US Mint in Colorado; there's also one in Philadelphia, PA. The experience is located at the site of the factory where all coins are made for UK circulation and for other countries. This post is about my experience.


We arrived for the first tour of the day and had a wander around the factory, which is located near Cardiff in Wales. The building looks new and has coin-coloured panels (gold/silver/copper) along the front. At the front is one of the Shaun the Sheep charity statues that The Royal Mint made; the Gromit that they made is inside the building.


Also inside the building is a classic MINI car covered with coins. 


We had a few minutes to wander around the shop before the tour began. We were then ushered into a room with a short introduction video before being taken to the factory building to be shown some equipment and demonstrated how coins are made using the various bits of machinery. We were not allowed to take photographs here or anywhere inside the factory; we were allowed to take photographs at the museum in the original building later. 

The coins are made of mixed metals, and we were shown how they were given their 'edge' to prevent them from sticking together. We were then shown how the coins were struck with the designs using the moulds. The machines pressing them work very quickly and press using two tonnes of weight. After the discussion, we could watch some of the workers making/inspecting the coins. We could see coins fall out of the machinery into large boxes. We had to look at this from a distance. 

After looking through a couple of these windows, we went into another room where a pressing machine was waiting for us. The workers were controlling this, and we paid to press our own new pound coin. The new pound coins are going to be circulated later in the year, and they have several sides and two-tone colour. The problem was that the old pound coin was easy to copy, and many of them are fake. Workers had the blanks (unpressed coins) and put them into the machine one-by-one while we pressed a button for the machine to press two tonnes of weight onto the coin. The new pound coins have to be pressed twice. 

The different colour of material 'locks' in together due to the rim created along the edging of the coins, so they are two separate pieces. This is how the two-pound coin is made as well.


After we struck the coin, we were ushered back into the original building where the tour resumed. This was the museum area, and it is self-guided. Photographs can be taken here. I have highlighted some of these bits below.

The first coint to be pressed at The Royal Mint (in the Tower of London) was the "Alfred the Great Silver Penny" (1). It was pressed at the time during Viking invasions. Isaac Newton was a warden at The Royal Mint for a few years, and he used science to make coins harder to be counterfeited. His name popped up in The Royal Mint Experience a few times, and we saw a medal produced with his likeness (2). The last coin to be pressed at The Royal Mint at Tower Hill before the factory moved to Wales was an image of the Tower Hill location (3), and it is on display. In 1934, Queen Mary had a tour of The Royal Mint when it was at Tower Hill, and she brought Elizabeth (now Queen) and her sister along. Their signatures are on display in the museum (4).

1) Alred the Great silver penny; 2) Isaac Newton medal; 3) the last coin to be struck at The Royal Mint at Tower Hill; 4) The Royal Mint visitor book signed by Queen Mary and daughters Elizabeth and Margaret Rose

In 1968, The Royal Mint moved to Llantrisant in Wales. The production of coins had outgrown London, so it was moved to Wales due to support by a Welsh Member of Parliament. The new factory was created because of the introduction of the currency system that is now in use (instead of the old decimal system). On its opening day, Queen Elizabeth pressed the first coin (5). A lot of marketing went into getting people familiar with the new currency system (6 and 8). This year, we have a new design for the pound coin, and the design was inspired by 12-year old student David Pearce. A model of it is on display (7). 

5) Queen Elizabeth pressed the first coin at Llantrisant; 6 and 8) Marketing to help with the new currency system; 7) The new one pound coin design

The Royal Mint also creates coins for other countries in the world, and we saw several of these on display. We also saw a coin that has been at the ocean for many years, sunk with a hoard of gold coins and recovered eventually. We also saw the moulds for the presses and learned about the oldest quality assurance in the history of the world: the gold and coin quality. This is conducted every year by the Goldsmith livery company. Samples of coins from all of the batches are kept for this process each year.

In addition to the coins, The Royal Mint Experience museum had a display dedicated to different medals, such as war and sporting medals. They made the medals for the Olympic Games in 2012.

2012 Olympic Medal

After the experience, we went across the road where there is a pub/hotel that were having a carvery. We were really impressed with the food, and the carvery was very popular with local people too.

Have you been to The Royal Mint Experience yet or seen the new one pound coin? You can still visit and press your own coin. (Note that I booked the experience myself, so this is not endorsed by The Royal Mint.)

Pantone® 2017 Colour of the Year

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The Pantone® "colour of the year" has been decided, and next year is all about PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery. This is a yellow-green shade that reminds me of spring, and it is a fresh and reviving colour that makes me feel optimistic and hopeful. According to Leatrice Eiseman, "Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the hope we collectively yearn for amid a complex social and political landscape. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate, revitalize and unite, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose." (1)

Image from Pantone®

Expect to see these colours used in the world of fashion, interior design, and other design over the next year. Some past 'colours of the year' are listed below.

2016: Serenity & Rose Quartz

2015: Marsala

2014: Radiant Orchid

2013: Emerald

2012: Tangerine Tango

2011: Honeysuckle

1) Pantone®. [8 December, 2016].

Holidays and Christmas Typography & Fonts

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Happy Holidays! This post features typography used during the holidays with samples on Christmas cards and other holiday advertisement. I've included a sample of the different holiday typography that can be used in various design projects. The selection of fonts includes vintage and modern pieces.


The typography used above includes: Dalle, Santa's Sleigh, Contribute, Faux Snow, Pacifico, Candy Cane, Lavanderia, Christmas Snow, Snow, Cocktail Bubbly, St. Nicholas, LP Snowflake, Frosty, Christmas Flakes, Angel Tears, Christmas Card, and Kingthings Christmas.




Here are a couple of links to photograph albums on Pinterest that include some examples that I have used above.

London Christmas Window Displays (2016)

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Each year over the holiday season, I enjoy visiting London to see the Christmas lights, the decorations, and the window displays. I posted a couple of weeks ago about London's Christmas Lights for 2016. This post is about London's Christmas window displays. I cover Fortnum & Mason, Liberty, John Lewis, and Selfridges. I don't often make it to Harrods to see their Christmas window displays. The clear winner this year was Liberty department store. 


Liberty Department Store's display this year featured "The Nutcracker". This type of window display was similar to the ones that I had previously seen on a visit to New York City, which I thought were done very well and had a very Christmasy theme. The pieces also moved with a man in a cape spinning around and a ballet dancer. There were also toy soldiers and mice that moved, and the mice fell down when 'shot' by the soldiers.



John Lewis's department store on Oxford Street used their theme with the woodland creatures and dog from the advertisement this year. The dog is above ground, looking into a hole, and most of the scenes take place underground with squirrels on moving trains full of gifts and hedgehogs and foxes with other gifts inside the underground tunnels.



Selfridges department store's window displays featured Santa and other costumed figures in different poses, such as on a ski lift, with a giant polar bear, in a hot tub, outside of a plane, and parachuting. In each display, Santa and the other characters are surrounded by gifts. In the large corner window, a giant item that looks like a Christmas cracker with a lot of sparks (made with neon lights) flying out of it is on display.




Fortnum & Mason's display featured characters, such as a wolf and turkey in festive poses. The wolf blows on a trumpet with sheep singing in chorus near him, and the turkey helps a characterised knife remove a cork from a bottle of bubbly. The windows on the side also feature their Christmas hampers. All of the pairings are unlikely as the characters join together for the festive season. The store used the tagline "together we're merrier" in order to bring people together after a difficult year.




Some of London's previous window displays are below:

2015 Christmas ligths and window displays

2014 Christmas window displays

2013 Christmas window displays

2012 Christmas lights and windows

2011 Selfridges Christmas window display

Advent Photographs in Numbers

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Today is the first of December. The countdown begins as the first day of advent. I've had a long and busy week, and I cannot wait to have a few days off later this month. I actually have had a migraine all day today. I am going to take a bath and go to bed early. (That's the plan, at least.) Over this year, I've been taking photographs of numbers from 1 to 25 to post a special "advent"-themed blog post with the photographs of different sets of numbers on signs, doors, shop windows, clocks, in street art, packaging, and anywhere else where I could find a number. My gallery of the advent is below.


























Which is your favourite? I can't believe that it will be December 25 in less than 25 days now. Enjoy the countdown.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

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I went to the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Chelsea Flower Show on Satrrday. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has been on my "London Bucket List" for a few years now, and I can now tick that off my list. The show is a popular event in London's calendar because it gets a lot of press, and the Queen, royal family, and celebrities visit nearly every year. (They visit the day before it is open to the general public.) The show is only on for a few days at the end of May each year and is held at the Royal Hospital Chelsea near Sloane Square. The show gardens are created the weekend before, and it is open to the general public on Tuesday. The final day of the show is on the Saturday when all of the plants are auctioned off at 4:00.

Royal Hospital Chelsea

I got up very early so that I could queue for the show to get in before it got too busy. Having never been before, I read tips online that mentioned seeing the show gardens first as they get busy later on. The night before, I looked at the guide and map and decided on a plan of action for seeing the show gardens. I'm glad that I followed this tip as I scrambled to see the show gardens, which did get busier as the time progressed, but I was able to see all of them. I've heard that some people do not get to see all of them because they can be several people deep later in the day.

Below are my photographs of many of the gardens at the show, including the prize won by each garden. In the prize category, Gold is top place; silver-gilt is second, and silver is third. 

M&G Garden - (Show Garden - Gold)

This garden was inspired by the designer's memory of ancient oak woodlands in Exmoor National Park (England) and includes 'forest' trails, wildflowers, and a pool of water. This garden won the 'Best Construction Award'.

LG Smart Garden (Show Garden - Silver-gilt)

There were a couple of gardens that I loved, and this was one of them. This garden advertises smart home technology but also brings it to the garden as well. I loved the pastel colours of the flowers, the minimal interior of the home, and the difference in textures with the furry skins on the back of the chairs. This seems to combine the home and garden together. The purple, white and green colour scheme seems to be popular this year.


Watahan East & West Garden (Show Garden - Silver)

The Watahan East & West Garden is created by Japanese designer Tea Yano, and it combines English and Japanese styles and plants. I liked the reflections in the pool.

St. John Hospice - A Modern Apothecary (Show Garden - Silver-gilt)

This was another one of my favourite gardens. This garden was inspired by doctors and care professionals when asked about improving health and the context of the healing power of plants based on the quote by Socrates "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." Plants that are known for their health benefits are included in the garden as well as a bench where one can sit and take in the aroma of lavender and other plants and watch the small fountain of water. The garden contains red-leaved herbs (Atriplex, Beta and Brassica) which contain anthocyanidins are known to relieve oxidative stress (stresses from toxins). Several of the plants in the garden can also be eaten.

The way plants clear toxins and freshens the air is very important to me. Studies have been shown that certain plants purify the air and get rid of toxins, and this is why house plants are important to remove toxins in plastics, furniture, products that we use, and vehicles. Since moving into a house in October and having more room, I have researched different house plants to buy to purify the air and to remove toxins and fumes from car pollution. Note that a lot of plants can be posionous to animals if eaten (cats are attracted to plants), but they can be placed up high on shelving where the animals cannot access them.



The Chelsea Barracks Garden (Show Garden - Gold)

This garden looks onto the Chelsea Barracks, so the garden was built to enhance the heritage and architecture of the building. Roses are prominent in the garden, and the bronze sculptures reference those who resided here.

Morgan Stanley Garden for Great Ormond Street Hospital (Show Garden - Gold)

This garden will be moved to the Great Ormond Street Hospital (a children's hospital) permanently after the show. It is a centrepiece for families and children to come to gather while the children have their treatment at the hospital. The building is inspired by Japanese architecture. I love the metalwork on the ceiling of the building, which reminds me of leaves and the reflections that this would create to feel outdoors around the foilage. White and pastel purple/blue flowers also feature in this garden.





Antithesis of Sarcophagi (Fresh Garden - Gold)

This granite cube has writing on one side and looks just like a solid cube of rock. However, there is a surprise inside. Visitors walk around the cube and discover small holes in the stone to look through. Inside the cube is a beautiful garden. This unique garden won the 'Best in Show' in the Fresh Garden category.


The 5000 Poppies Project

For Rememberance Day in Australia, 5000 poppies were knitted. It took three years to create the poppies, and many have been donated. This reminds me of the famous Poppies at the Tower exhibition in 2014. This is one of the most photographed pieces of the Flower Show this year, and it has received a lot of press.


Grand Mirror Form

This sculpture was inspired by folding paper several times to come up with different shapes and angular forms. 

The Husqvarna Garden (Show Garden - Silver-gilt)

This Australian garden offers reflection and relaxation. The sunken lawn areas and layered hedges make the garden feel more private. The garden uses a lot of deep purple/pink/red shades of flowers along with sage-green leaves and red ferns.



Vestra Wealth's Garden of Mindful Living (Show Garden - Gold)

This is a modern garden for a busy client inspired by the Far East and yoga. It combines views of the city with a garden space to enhance life's balance.

Brewin Dolphin Garden - Forever Freefolk (Show Garden - Silver)

The message of this garden encourages people to think about natural resources and threats of the environment. This garden contains many brightly-coloured flowers and brightly-coloured gravel instead of following a limited colour scheme.




The Telegraph Garden (Show Garden - Gold)

This garden won 'Best in Show' this year, and it is inspired by the landscape with the slabs of bronze representing mountains. 


Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden (Show Garden - Silver-gilt)

Mathematical patterns help to describe beauty and is commonly used in design, art, and music for composition. 


Royal Bank of Canada Garden (Show Garden - Silver-gilt)

This garden was inspired by a recent garden that the designer designed for the royal garden in Jordan. It contains scultped basalt pyramids and water reflections. The primary theme is the importance of water. The plants used are what can be found in Jordan and what suits the climate there.


L'Occitane Garden (Show Garden - Gold)

The brand is celebrating 40 years of its beauty and skincare products. The garden is inspired by its home in Provence, France and is made to look like the countryside of this area with lavender, cornflowers, poppies, and other flowers and plants found in this area.

Hartley Botanic Garden (Show Garden - Silver-gilt)

This garden has a glass house sitting on the water. The glass house contains carniverous plants, but the outside is decorated with pastel plants.

Cloudy Bay Garden (Show Garden - Silver-gilt)

This garden is simple, and the wooden frame suggests that there are no boundaries. 


God's Own Country - a Garden for Yorkshire (Show Garden - Silver)

This garden celebrates Yorkshire and its important gardens and heritage sites, including Yorkminster. The stained glass is a replica of Yorkminster, and it was created using methods from the 1400s. The garden contains flowers of multiple colours. Although I loved this garden and its multiple colours, I think it would have done better to plant flowers that complement the stained glass windows as I feel that they distract from it. There is a little too much going on. 

This garden won the BBC and RHS People's Choice award. 



Oh, and I noticed that these brown irises were in quite a few of the gardens on display. I've never seen a colour like this before.

The Harrods British Eccentrics Garden (Show Garden - Silver-gilt)

This was a very beautiful garden to photograph with a variety of beautiful flowers and hedges. It was inspired by the British eccentric with mechanisms engineered and inspired by the likes of the creations in Wallace and Gromit and others. This is also a memorable garden because the bay trees twirled, the garden boxes on the shed moved, and the roof on the shed lifted. Other hedges spun or lowered. 










The Modern Slavery Garden (Fresh Garden - Gold)

This garden also won the People's Choice award. It symbolises the hope for the end of slavery, but the bad still happens behind closed doors. The doors symbolise a way to open to freedoms.


Imperial Garden - Revive (Fresh Garden - Silver)

This garden is designed by a Ukranian designer and had lace-like elements that join the different elements together. It tries to redefine the world by removing politics in the world to create a harmony.

Pro Corda Trust - A Suffolk Retreat (Artisan Garden - Silver)

I loved this little garden, which contains a fountain, a summer house, and green and pale purple flowers. The garden is constructed as a retreat for young people with educational needs so that they could engage and create.


Senri-Sentei Garage Garden (Artisan Garden - Gold)

This garden is for a car enthusiast and complements the car as well as provides a relaxing garden space.


After visiting the show gardens, we went into the Great Pavilion. Inside are exhibitors and plant sellers as well as community/education exhibits. One of the displays featured the Queen's 90th birthday. We actually saw a few pay tribute to the Queen, and the show had an area with photographs over the ages.



The Olympics also played a part in a large and colourful exhibition. Around this exhibit were several microscopes where we could see work by Willard Wigan. He creates artwork that fits inside an eye of a needle, which is barely visible with the naked eye. Looking through the microscope allowed the pieces to be seen an admired. I was wowed with this. Painting and constructing these tiny artworks was impressive. My favourites were the Olympic torch and Olympic symbol (how did he do this?) and the four seasons with the changing trees.


Exhibitors tend to specialise in one plant area. There was an exhibit of orchids, roses, cacti, lillies, rhododendrons, peonies, carniverous plants, tulips, daffodils, irises, and other plants.


A special exhibition to the Queen was also created with multiple colours. The other side of the artwork contains a mock 'stand' with buckets of flowers similar to what may be discovered at a flower market. This celebrates New Covent Garden flower market.


A church frame was also created with beautiful pastel pink/purple, cream, and orange flowers.


I liked the colours of the beach huts with the different colours of the plants.


Before we wandered around the vendors, we bought a half bottle of champagne. The area was getting much busier, and we had seen nearly everything so decided to call it a day instead of waiting around for the auction. I did try to reserve a couple of plants in the Great Pavilion, but they were spoken for. This always happens to me, and I must have good taste.


My tips for visiting the RHS Chelsea Flower Show are to arrive early to beat the majority of the crowds and to see the show gardens before they get too busy. Get the guide beforehand and decide which route you want to take. Also, always have your guide with you and watch it carefully; I had someone walk off with mine. The sellers that sell the guides told me that people just try to take them for free. They are £10.00 a pop at the time of writing this, so I was down £10.00 when someone took mine. Also, the queues for the toilets can be very long, particularly around lunch time, so plan ahead if you need to go.

Food and drink can be purchased on site, but it is very expensive and the food that I had was not good quality. I went to Thames View for an early lunch at about 11:30 to avoid the crowds, and the service was also appalling. It was so appalling that different people in the queues around me (I had to go to two queues to get two different items) were joking about how bad it was and how some staff just stood around, would not make eye contact, and would ignore serving. Picnics can be brought, and there is ample space on the grass inside to eat for a fraction of the cost; you could even sit near the bandstand and listen to live music while eating.

If visiting on the Saturday, some of the exhibitors do reserve plants for the big sell off. Reserving seems to be quite popular, and if you really want something specific, it is the way to go. However, the best bargains are probably made when turning up for the auctions instead of making a reservation for something where the price is determined by the exhibitor.

If you have any additional tips, include them in the comments below.

Inflated Deflated sell balloons with wording drawn or printed on them. The quotes are heartfelt messages/feelings or humorous sayings. When the balloons are inflated, the words can be read, and they take on a different meaning when deflated. The creators of this include three people from Chicago, Illinois (Jillian, Kady, and Lauren). They also have a shop selling their balloons. Quotes include: "I need something new", "I'm not like them", "I stopped caring a long time ago", "Mother raised a fighter" and "I stopped caring a long time ago".


For more information, visit their official website at:

Pantone® Colours of the Year for 2016

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For the first time since the printing/colour company Pantone® have announced a 'colour of the year' for each year, 2016 is the first year that marks two colours for the year. Next year, the two colours are PANTONE 15-3919 (Serenity) and PANTONE 13-1520 (Rose Quartz). Both are pastel shades that blend and compliment each other. Serenity is a light pale purple hue, and Rose Quartz is a pastel pink hue.


The two colours balanace against stresses to promote security and well-being, a sense of order and peace. Rose Quartz is a warming colour, and Serenity is a tranquil colour. Expect to see these colours used in the world of fashion, interior design, and other design over the next year.

Some past 'colours of the year' are listed below.

2015: Marsala

2014: Radiant Orchid

2013: Emerald

2012: Tangerine Tango

2011: Honeysuckle

1) Pantone®. [10 December, 2015].

Carnaby Street's Christmas Lights 2015

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Carnaby Street's Christmas lights have always been my favourite Christmas lights in London because they are creative and they change to a new theme each year. In the past, they have been robins, Santa, and Rolling Stones (rock and roll). This year's theme is "Christmas Party" and transforms Carnaby Street into a giant dance floor complete with massive pink disco balls and stars. Early each November, Carnaby Street hosts its own shopping party with discounts at the businesses in the area, and this coincides with its Christmas lights switch-on. These lights should not be missed.







Head over to Carnaby Street to see the Christmas lights before they are taken down in early January.


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