NODE – Beautifully Illustrated Fair-Trade Rugs

rug production sanna

chrishaughton-owl detail

NODE might just be one of my favorite design projects of the last few years. Set up by the Irish illustrator Chris Haughton and the Nepal-based entrepreneur Akshay Sthapit, the project aims to connect international designers and illustrators with crafts-people in the developing world. Based on a belief that ‘trade not aid’ is the best solution to the poverty trap, NODE has started to make a series of fair-trade rugs with crafts-people at the Kumbeshwar Technical School in Kathmandu, Nepal.

At the moment they’re working on a collection for London’s Design Museum that features 18 hand-made rugs by 18 artists. They’ve got a fantastic array of talent involved including Sanna Annukka (above), Chris Haughton (also above), Geoff McFetridge, Jon Klassen, and many more. Launching on the 5th of March, the rugs will be for sale at theDesign Museum’s shop as well as online as part of Fair Trade Fortnight.

rug production wool

It’s a wonderful project and one that becomes even more special when you find out a bit more about the Kumbeshwar Technical School. Here, employees receive a fair wage and their work also supports an adult literacy and skills training program with 6,000 graduates, a school with 260 children and an orphanage with 25 children. In the video above you can get a great insight into how the rugs are crafted but you should also read a bit more about Kumbeshwar on their website here.

It’s wonderful to see a project like this and particularly one which raises awareness with designers of the possibilities in fair trade. If you’re in London during Fair Trade Fortnight make sure to try and head along to the Design Museum and maybe even pick up a rug! More details and even times can be found online here.

Philip Kennedy

January 24, 2013 / By

‘In Pieces’ – Hyper-photographic realism and LEGO mix to amazing effect

"In Pieces" by Dean West & Nathan Sawaya 1

"In Pieces" by Dean West & Nathan Sawaya 2

"In Pieces" by Dean West & Nathan Sawaya 3

In Pieces is the name of a fantastic multi-media collaboration between the photographer Dean West and the LEGO-sculptor Nathan Sawaya. The series explores the idea that identity exists today predominantly as a cultural creation and something which has been heavily commercialized and manipulated.

West and Sawaya’s images play with the artifice of modern photography, creating hyper-real images that include amazing LEGO sculptures hidden within each picture. Attempting to discover Sawaya’s sculptures is where the fun begins, and once they reveal themselves they highlight exactly how manipulated and artificial photographs can be.

Sawaya’s sculptures are beautifully rendered and their pixelated-forms emphasize the fabricated nature of modern photography. It’s a wonderful series and a great idea. You can view the full series of photographs online at Dean West’s webiste here.

"In Pieces" by Dean West & Nathan Sawaya - details

Philip Kennedy

January 23, 2013 / By

Family Band’s ‘Moonbeams’ – A Beautiful and Haunting Video

Family Band - Moonbeams 1

Family Band - Moonbeams 2

Family Band - Moonbeams 3

I love this strange and surreal video from the Brooklyn indie-folk outfit Family Band. Directed by Sam Macon, it shows a pair of skeletons share a day together; finding love in the suburbs and put a whole new spin on the phrase “till death do us part”.

It’s a very sweet and spooky video and set against the Family Band’s mournful ballad it feels rather touching. Family Band’s album Grace & Lies was released last July on No Quarter.

Philip Kennedy

January 22, 2013 / By

Smorgasboard – A Beautifully Illustrated Board Game For Foodies


Steve Simpson - Smorgasboard 2

Steve Simpson - Smorgasboard 3


Steve Simpson - Smorgasboard 4

Smorgasboard is a fantastic new board game for foodies. The aim of the game is to be the first team of chefs to graduate from Rick’s Culinary Academy and achieve gastronomic success! To do this, teams of 2 or more are set a series of challenges which involve tasks like drawing food-related words without letting the pencil leave the paper or spotting the ‘missing ingredient’ in a classic recipe. The game has a great selection of tasks on offer and if you’re a fan of team-based board games then this is certaintly one which is well worth adding to your games cabinet.

What I like most of all about it is how it looks. Illustrated and designed by the Irish-based illustrator Steve Simpson, Smorgasboard is the type of game that really catches your eye. Filled with rich colors, great looking characters and fantastic details, it’s the sort of game which is just perfect for playing with friends that you’ve invited around for dinner. You can find out more about the game (and buy a copy) online here. And also make sure to take a look at Steve’s Behance page where he gives a great insight into the project and shows off the game in all its wonderful detail.

Philip Kennedy

January 18, 2013 / By

FUD by Elsa Lang


FUD by Elsa Lang 2

“Blanabbas, urngs and purs!” You really just can’t beat some misspelled food. The Portland-based illustrator and designer Elsa Lang agrees and – inspired by the FUD meme – she’s made some fantastic FUD wallpapers. Don’t try and get either of us to explain why misspelled food is so funny… it just is!

Many of you might know Elsa from her work with Always With Honor (where she designs and illustrates with her husband Tyler and their dog Zoe). Her FUD wallpaper was made a few years ago and I just really love it. You can download a copy of it here. If you don’t download it you could end up with agg on your face!

Update: The other day Always With Honor created another great food-related illustration and so I thought I’d tag it on to the end of this post. It’s a portrait of Julia Child, one of Elsa’s favorite people of all time! It’s a great portrait and it really captures the character of Child. You can download it as a phone wallpaper here.

Always With Honor - Julia Child

Philip Kennedy

January 17, 2013 / By

‘Prolegomenon’ – A Mandala Made Of Food Comes To Life For The Soil & the Sun

'Prolegomenon' video by The Sun & The Soil

“Prolegomenon” – A food mandala comes alive for The Soil & The Sun 1

I love this stop motion animation music video for the experiential spiritual folk-rock band the Soil and the Sun. Animated by It’s just nice., the video was made over the course of 3 days and shows peppers, rice, peanuts, kale, coffee beans and spices all whirling together and forming a beautiful mandala which is used as the cover of the band’s new album What Wonder is this Universe!.

It’s a great little video and the animation is just mind-bogglingly brilliant. You can check out the New-Mexican based band online here.

Philip Kennedy

January 15, 2013 / By

Food As Fashion – Fulvio Bonavia’s ‘A Matter of Taste’

Fulvio Bonavia’s ‘A Matter of Taste’ c

Fulvio Bonavia’s ‘A Matter of Taste’ a

Fulvio Bonavia’s ‘A Matter of Taste’ b

Fulvio Bonavia’s ‘A Matter of Taste’ d

The Italian advertising and editorial photographer Fulvio Bonavia has created these amazing photographs using food. Taking edible elements he’s turned our daily eats into finely crafted jewelry, handbags, shoes and more. The series – aptly titled A Matter of Taste – is fun, unique and inventive and it’s also incredibly beautiful.

Here we see cauliflowers become bobble hats and watermelons become scooter helmets. Every creation is so clever and every image so beautiful. What I love most about this series is how Bonavia can take the foods we see everyday and cast them in a new light, making us stop and re-appreciate the beauty of the food we eat. You can see more of the series online here or buy a copy of the book. It’s a delicious collection of photographs.

Philip Kennedy

January 14, 2013 / By

The Fantastically Irreverent Art of Michael Gaughan


half-pipe-scanflattenedlow rez

Lolita compositionlowrez


I recently discovered the work of artist Michael Gaughan after he launched a new site and I really love what he does. The Minnesota-based artist, illustrator and performer creates beautifully made and terrifically witty watercolor paintings that mix parody and satire in a fantastically entertaining way.

Over the years Gaughan has worked for clients such as Andrew WK, American Apparel and Flaunt Magazine. He has also exhibited in cities such as from Rotterdam, New York, LA and Portland. Under the name ICE ROD he performace a project where he freestyle raps on Chatroulette with an audience. Make sure to check that out here and also visit his new site here.

Philip Kennedy

January 10, 2013 / By