Thursday, 31 May 2012

Paradoxes of Tehran

Having spent the last 12 months in the Iranian capital of Tehran, it may surprise you that this city has a lot to offer, even with being in the Islamic Republic. The lonely planet guide does not do this city any form of justice, splitting this city of 14 million people into 2 groups; the rich and poor. Tehran and Iran in general is not where you would go for city break, normally but having visitors over here, and showing them the finer sides to Tehran culture, they all left the country with a big grin on there face!

Being one of the editors of an arts magazine, I have been given unfettered access to a vast array of culture that most Tehrani’s refuse to believe exist. Tehran has one of the wildest party scenes in the region, which if compared to Dubai probably would be on a par, but this is in a dry state, no pun intended.

From installation exhibitions to rooftop choreographic performances’, Tehran is the city of paradoxes over paradoxes, a city rich with the beating heart of the ancient Persian empire but with the hint of a dusty Madrid layout. Coffee shops where Elizabeth Taylor used to frequent, the most valued art collection outside the Guggenheim around $7,000,000,000 roughly at today’s value. But then again you will never see these fine 20th century pieces due to the cultural restriction placed on western art.

This is the town that buying a Kia Sportage will cost you the same as a house due to import restrictions, but the Koreans can’t sell enough of the machines. Tehran, if you want to break your stereotypes about Iran then this is the city to start with.

Our Man in Tehran

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Celebrate the Craftsman

I have spent my Sunday morning going through Nick Hands Slow Coast Soundslides. Quite simply they are delightful. Back in 2009 & 2010 Nick Hand travelled around the coasts of Britain and Ireland. As he went the photographer and graphic designer profiled the craftsman and women he meet along his costal cycle ride. His travels have also recently been put into a book.

As Nick says in his Do Lecture Why we need to celebrate craftsmen 'In an age of fast, there’s slow. In an age of quantity there’s quality.' We just couldn't agree more. He quotes Paul Smith in the talk, saying 'Individuality and true craftsmanship is something we really need'. Its an uplifting talk and a refreshing celebration of craft, quality and the appreciation of the finer, smaller and slower things in life.  

What I recommend is that you stop listening to me and I firstly let Nick do the speaking in his talk, but secondly and most importantly listen to the artisans themselves. (Especially Bill the stick maker)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Round the Wireless!

We head northwards to the cold lands of Scandinavia for this week's Round the Wireless, scattered with high levels of equality, beautiful furniture, integrated transport, fields full of blonde hair and apparently very talented female music artists. 

Firstly Le Corps Mince de Francoise (LCMDF) a Finnish sibling duo:

Second more sisters, Swedish blues/southern rock trio Greta, Stella and Sunniva Bondesson:

Representing Denmark, trio Lisbet Fritze, Sofie Johanne and Loui Foo, Giana Factory:

Then 21-year-old Jenny “Lydmor” Rossander, a Danish electronic singer/songwriter


Flipping Fantastic

Here at the Ataraxian we love good service, in fact were doolally about it! We value care, detail, quality, and nice refreshing gin based drink in the afternoon. So we were very pleased when Threadflip, a month-old San Francisco-based company, landed in our lap this afternoon. It contains all of the above (expect for the gin unfortunately). 
The joy of buying that battered classic orange covered Penguin edition of Brighton Rock or that 60 year old Harris Tweed blazer is the story. You can only begin to imagine the adventures its had, you get the clues; like the 'To Harold, from your dearest Maggie' scribbled in beautiful penmanship on the inside cover, or the old cinema ticket in the top pocket of the blazer to see Pretty Woman in 1990. The rest you fill in with your imagination and then step out and start it's next chapter. 
The impersonal nature of shopping online, coupled with the standardized format and general coldness and blandness of sites like Ebay and Etsy takes a lot of that joy, mystery and story out of the experience. Like these sites, Threadflip lets you buy and sell secondhand fashion goods. What Threadflip does and where it differs from its established competitors, is it personalizes the experience, buyers and sellers are identified not by anonymous usernames, but by their Facebook profiles. It injects the story back into the online retail world, something that was loved but is no longer needed is passed on, it stops being a mere transaction. The format of the site encourages you to browse and explore, as if you were in a vintage clothes store on Portobello Road, rather than searching like you would on Ebay, further resurrecting lost pleasures of shopping.  
On top of this they ship you the packaging and an addressed, pre-paid mailing label so all you need to do it pack it up and send it on its way. And also offer a service called White Glove Service, where you send them your stuff and they do all the photographing, listing and posting for you. All together it amounts to a fantastic service and we at The Ataraxian salute you Threadflip. Threadflip are currently only in the US, so we have have a couple of requests, get over to Blighty sharpish & we would be ecstatic if you did Menswear as well.