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MERRY CHRISTMAS! (and some festive wallpaper)

This time last year, I was just about ruin two weeks away from work – by embarking on two weeks doing hardcore DIY (it's great, it's just greater when it's over).

I nearly conquered the painting of my stairs and did a rush job on my home office. But this Christmas, I shall be doing NO decorating at all.

'Winter Sports' wallpaper
Wearing a boiler suit (yes?) and a hangover on New Year's Day was probably better in 1988, at a New Year's Eve rave that's just getting going. However, I do often dream of finishing all the DIY that sometimes winks seductively at me when I'm home alone, and that is what I started doing when I spotted these excellently festive wallpapers from Dupenny (£75 for a three-metre panel, or £198 for a 10-metre roll).

Meanwhile, merry festivities all – I'm signing off until 7th January. I shall hard not to decorate anything.

RIP Preston bus station? (And commemorative print sale.)

Anyone live near Preston? Then you'll know the city's brilliantly brutalist and quite extraordinary-looking, 1969-built concrete bus station with its mad, shadowy curves... 

...and the sad news that its demolition has just been approved by Preston Council, after attempts by English Heritage and the 20th Century Society to have it listed were vetoed by our lovely culture secretary. You can read more about the story in this piece in yesterday's Guardian – thanks to Abi for sending this link – meanwhile, enjoy these stunning photographs of the building, taken by Jonathan Kenyon (and keep reading if you'd like to buy prints of any of the images).

All photos by Jonathan Kenyon

Surprisingly (especially when you browse around his website and see the quality of his work), Jonathan  isn't a full-time photographer. "Photography is just a hobby of mine," he says. "I work in the construction industry as an estimator for a full-time job – hence my love for the architecture of Preston bus station. I initially did the set of images for a coursework piece a few years back and I have had quite a lot of interest in them ever since."

I'm not surprised. They are so beautiful. And if you agree, and are interested in owning one or more, Jonathan is selling (approximately) A3 sized prints, which cost £75 each including p&p. Jonathan's Tumblr blog is also worth a look – as are his wedding, portrait and band photography skills, all of which you can check out on his website. Busy guy...

Contact Jonathan at or see his info page.

And back to the demolition... It's not everyone's cup of tea but, as the 20th Century Society point out, it is "irreplaceable". "Built in 1969 to the designs of Building Design Partnership, the building featured on the World Monuments Fund 2012 international list of historic sites at risk," it explains on the Society's website. "The building is a rare survivor of the transport mega-structures of the 1960s and is one of the most significant Brutalist buildings in the UK."

I know that it was local action that saved my local market in Brixton from becoming a faceless shopping mall (quite what's happening to it now is another sad story of rent hikes and cultural bulldozering, even though the building is safe). But for Preston's striking, glowering monster of a bus station, there is still this petition...

For further reading about automotive architecture in Britain, you might like this fascinating piece about a new English Heritage book on the topic in the Independent by Jack Watkins.

Modernist London in Winter greetings cards

I STILL haven't posted my Christmas cards. Have you? I'm wondering if I choose these beautiful illustrations of Modernist buildings in London, by Stefi Orazi (with seasonal added snow), if I can style them out as 'happy new year' missives, as that is the earliest they are likely to arrive. 

Then again, these might just be too good to send...

This new series of the cards for 2012 (the first series, released in 2008, has been given an update) features: Centre Point, Erno Goldfinger’s house at 2 Willow Road in Hampstead, The Brunswick Centre in Bloomsbury, Berthold Lubetkin’s Penguin Pool at London Zoo and the Barbican and Golden Lane Estate.

Buy them direct from Stefi's online shop (where there are some other lovely modernist buildings in the snow to ogle, too), or from the Lollipop Shoppe (and all sort of other places you can find with a quick Google) for £12 for a pack of six.

Custhom's digital
embroidery exhibition

A while back, I posted about the beautiful digitally embroidered wallpaper designed by the London design duo, CUSTHOM. Its clean, yet tactile lines are a thing to behold, and the unusual technique used to create it is a story in itself... which you can discover more about at an exhibition curated by CUSTHOM that has just opened in east London (you can also have a very good look online if you're nowhere near east London). The point of the show is to showcase this way of printing, which captures the delicacy of 3-D, real stitching and translates it into digital 2-D prints. Below are some of the highlights, along with a few close-ups to show the technique.

Jemma Ooi and Nathan Philpott, the duo behind CUSTHOM, have chosen a number of designers in different creative fields to submit an artwork each, which have been translated onto paper via stitch or mechanical drawing.

Artists include Fred Butler (scroll down to see her contribution), a props maker for fashion shoots; clothes designer and Vogue illustrator, David Longshaw (see very last image); graphic illustrator, Paul Blow (see his work above) and Giedre Domizait whose incredible digital animations were on show this summer at Olympic stadium.

Sylvia Baz, 'S'  

Hawaii, 'DB London 12'

Fred Butler, 'A Bee in my Bonnet with a Honey Haircomb'

George Wu, 'Confetti'

David Longshaw, 'Maude & Arthur, the Big Debate'

The exhibition runs until 14 January at the Print House Gallery in London, E8. A limited edition run of each poster design will be available to buy, framed and unframed, through the gallery and online. 10% of all proceeds will be donated to Art Against Knives.

Is this the scariest Christmas bauble ever?

Just a quick post today – simply to share something I stumbled across earlier: this terrifying Christmas tree decoration, featuring what appears to be a foetus inside it.

It is just plain wrong, right?

But is it the scariest thing you could ever hang on a tree? I'd love to share some more freaky festive decor – so send me anything fitting you have found...

Monochrome masterpiece

The first thing I did as I decorated my house was to paint it all white. I'd long dreamed of the clean simplicity of the classic pale backdrop – I imagined I'd magically begin to hoard less, and that my bits and pieces, suddenly 'curated' rather than clutter, would gain stature, as if in a freshly whitewashed gallery. Ha. Obviously that never happened. It's just not my natural style – and, once a hoarder... 

But it wasn't all down to my lack of style discipline: although my house has heaps of huge windows (it's a poor-man's Span house, so they go wall-to-wall) and light-bouncing Scandi-ish pale floorboards (they came with the house – good design Lambeth Council), bits of it remain gloomy and dark. So colour has crept onto walls. And white soft furnishings are not ideal with a frequently muddy dog. But I can still dream. And when I saw this beautiful Idaho home, belonging to jewellery designer, Jennifer Hagler, on the Etsy blog, I thought I'd share what exactly it is I dream of...

Love the slightly haunting drawing above the sideboard; and wall-fixing furniture like this is a top tip if you want to maximise space and flash a bit of minimal chic. (Just don't shove loads of tat underneath it every time you tidy up.)

This (bottom right image) is a far better use for those hanging Ikea containers; I tried putting herbs in mine (messy), and they currently hold kitchen utensils, uselessly, as the angle means everything always falls out. But stubby little pens and pencils, parfait. Mine may be reborn on my office wall. 

I have written about bunching up a light garland like this (right hand picture) before, after seeing it in the home of the Brigg blog. It is a good, cheap look. And – hurrah – some typographic art that doesn't look dated. Nice font.

See more images of Jennifer's place on the Etsy blog, as well as lots of get-the-look shopping inspiration. You should also check out Jennifer's very beautiful blog, A Merry Mishap and the geometric jewellery she designs and sells through her Etsy shop. It's clean and minimal, but striking – just the sort of jewellery you'd expect someone living in this flat to design.

All photos from Etsy.

Brixton East

So. I went to a little party at Brixton East, a shop round the corner from my house last night. I've posted about the place before, here, and since then the building – an amazing 1871 former furniture warehouse over two-and-a-bit floors has undergone extensive restoration and decoration. 

When it's not dark, I must pop back and take some snaps of the incredible upstairs gallery area (these are the 'bit' floors in the vast vaulted wooden ceiling). There is a particularly marvellous wooden panelled section that I could look at for hours. For now, here's the downstairs and the wares on sale. Very nice. It is owned by a chap called Andy Luckett who has nursed the wonderful building back to life, and who used to be Cath Kidston's buyer of second hand things – and he has a great eye for unusual bits and pieces. As you can see...

Brixton East's owner, Andy Luckett, outside the shop

I love an old-school record player

The shop is only open in this format until Christmas Eve, and only at weekends (see the flyer, below). The rest of the time (so far, at least) it has been an art gallery, so it will perhaps revert to that for a while, as well as hosting other temporary shops, productions and events. And hopefully there will be a very good sale to clear the remaining stock...!

I shall pop back with my camera anon.

T-shirt lampshades
from Belle & Videre

I love this unusual approach to lampshade design: the T-light, from new company on the block, Belle & Videre: they'll take a beloved old t-shirt and turn it into a beautifully made lampshade for you.

You can see some examples of shades already made, below. It's such an unusual idea, I think they look great. They are not cheap: £250 but maybe that's an investment if you have a very special old t-shirt  to preserve, or someone close with a big birthday coming up and a beloved Bruce Springsteen t-shirt lurking at the bottom of their cupboard. For something no one else would have, that's totally personalised and tells a good story, well, maybe a luxury purchase is OK. ( But Belle & Videre also sell other beautiful lampshades, with ready-made designs starting at £55.)

Which t-shirt would you turn into a lampshade? I think of the ones above, I like the bottom one the most (I don't know if it is a band t-shirt or something else – anyone recognise it?). I think graphic designs would generally look good... So if I was lampshading up a t-shirt, I'd wish I still had my amazing World of Twist t-shirt, where the design was made to look like a packet of Consulate menthol cigarettes (anyone remember those – I couldn't find a picture anywhere online?). Or another graphic design, The Sugarcubes' Life's Too Good logo, would be great. Or, going for evocative images from classic albums, maybe St Etienne's Foxbase Alpha or The Smiths' The Queen is Dead... but I should stop: I'm showing my age now.

And, finally, for any ageing newly-weds with a shoe-gazing past, I also think the t-shirt below – lampshaded-up – would make a totally excellent gift... no?