Crocs

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They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, if so, the bosses at Crocs must have been be swollen with pride. Or were they?

Perhaps the most blatantly ripped off shoes, er… in the history of jelly shoe rip-offs – Fakes infringing the patents owned by Crocs – called “croc-offs”- can now be purchased at leading hyper markets at a bargain basement price point. A supermarket pair of knocked off at €7.99 are a sorry challenge to the real thing that you can buy on Amazon from €19.00. The hookie versions are not as good as, or even similar, in quality to the originals, but how often can that be said.

Why is this product so clearly ripe for rip-off? Crocs are “good” but they are not a Louis Vuitton handbags or a Rolex watches.

The manufacturers has striven to make a distinguishable difference between their better designed and better made products in an apparent ambivalence to the knock off version. 

Fluffy linings, flip-flop versions, extreme paint jobs and themed versions have not save this iconic product from throwing itself on its sword as it was announced in August 2018 that in the light of the wholesale rip-off market Crocs will be ceasing production and closing its manufacturing facilities. Curiously the announcement went on to say that production would be shifted to third parties “to meet the growing demand for Crocs.” It seems the future for a version of Crocs is “bright and bold”. May be its worth storing in your wardrobe a pair as they become scare and increase in value.

I have a pair that resemble a French maritime uniform they are unbelievably comfortable and comprehensively over deliver in most respects. That said they are a little prone to make already hot feet a little stickier. They are not particularly good looking but neither were their wooden antecedents.

See here a piece I did for Aestheticons on Jeremy Atkinson a Master English Clog Maker Jeremy Atkinson – The Last English Clog maker

What’s the story of these favoured jelly shoes that have become the guilty pleasure for many of us.

Founded by Scott Seamans, Lyndon “Duke” Hanson, and George Boedecker, Jr. who had acquired the design from a third party. Originally intended for the boating community the injection mounded foam clog was launched at the Fort Luaderdale Boat Show in 2002 with two hundred pairs being sold.

Word has it that over 300 million pairs of shoes have been legitimately made. In plants in Mexico and Italy. There have been many colourful variations including those decorated with bling called “jibbitz” – the company that created these was acquired by Croc in 2006 – that clip into the holes on the upper. In 2008 a pair of Croc styled golf shoes called “the Ace” were launched.

The subject of some controversy Crocs had become the preferred footwear for the medical profession. Now effectively banned for anti-static reasons; though Croc has responded producing pairs that dissipate static. The shoes have featured in more contentious situations including several claims, particularly in Japan from parents that argued their kids Crocs had become dangerously lodged in escalators.

Image Credits – Crocs

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The Spirit of Ecstasy

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I saw a program on TV recently about the Bentley Bentayga, the new signature 4×4 developed by the luxury brand to appeal to a new market and selling at significantly over $200,000. The iconic Jack Barclay showroom in London’s Berkeley Square has been updated to cater for this new market with an extensive and slightly brutal makeover.

I don’t want to sound at all grumpy old bloke about this development, the car certainly does look refined and comfortable, albeit that it could be easily mistaken for an Audi Q7, but I get a little worried by the need for brands to extend – to reach out to a new market.  Arguably the brand needs updating but should they resist the temptation to simply following the crowd? Or is it that these cars are intended to be highly aspirational but are simply not special enough.

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The Bentley “B” on the bonnet is still in place but the bonnet ornament – the chrome winged “B” is no longer – almost certainly for good Health and Safety, if not aerodynamic, reasons. Sadly, it seems a thing of the past. Well not for all manufacturers …and being fair the winged “B” does appear on the bonnet of the beautiful Bentley Mulsanne.

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Originally conceived as a way of making a dull radiator cover more attractive only Rolls-Royce and Mercedes seem to continue the fine tradition of bonnet ornaments. The most iconic of these pieces of classic automobilia is, of course, The Spirit of Ecstasy.

In 1909 the then Lord Montagu of Beaulieu – a family inextricably linked to the world of motor cars and the founder of The Car Illustrated – sought something distinctive for the bonnet of his new Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. He commissioned sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes to produce a limited run of four figurines that became known as “The Whisperer”.

Some myth and legend surrounds the model, the sculptur’s muse, but it is said to be the Lord’s secret love, Eleanor Velasco Thornton, a Secretary from his office. Ms Thornton is depicted in flowing robes with her index-finger to her lips, perhaps keeping their love a secret? The affair is rumored to have endured for over ten years.

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By 1910 Rolls-Royce took a “dim view” as to the appropriateness of these ornaments and co-founder, Claude Johnson, commissioned Sykes to invoke the mythical beauty of Nike – the Goddess of Victory – to produce a dignified and graceful mascot. Sykes wasn’t so impressed by the brief but preferred to deliver the beautiful, “The Spirit of Ecstasy”.

It was a clear variation of The Whisperer but Johnson was very pleased with Sykes’ creation on its arrival in February 1911. Royce, however, who was then ill, felt it disturbed the driver’s view!

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Initially an optional extra by the early 1920’s the figurine was fitted as standard. Given changes to coach-work various versions of The Spirit of Ecstasy were used and in the 1934 Sykes was again commissioned to produce a kneeling version for the Phantom iV.

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As of 2003 – the Phantom model and all subsequent versions carrying a reduced the Spirit of Ecstasy only 3 inches tall and mounted onot a spring-loaded cradle that retracts when hit or the engine is turned off. Some years and a smart use of technology resulted in this retractable mount that clearly suggests Rolls-Royce’s determination to ensure the longevity of their iconic sculpture.

Whilst the majority are stainless steel a frosted crystal, illuminated version is a factory option.

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Images with grateful thanks – Tim Bishop, Jill Reger, Banham’s and Rolls-Royce Motors

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Fiat Barchetta

 

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The other day I was following a Fiat Barchetta and was reminded of what a pretty and glamorous little car this particular Fiat was. It was in metallic grey with an open burgundy roof. It was in fantastic condition, gleaming chrome and clean paint, with its hood down, wind blowing through the driver’s hair it looked very cool.

There is a growing trend amongst classic car magazines to try to predict those cars that will be future collectibles, that unlike regular vehicles will either hold or  increase their value over a period of time. For me the smart thing to do would be buy a low mileage, well maintained Fiat Barchetta, mothball it, as I have a hunch that this car may well become one such vehicle – a classic.

As someone keen on the evolution of trade marks the “Barchetta” is somewhat enigmatic. Simply in Italian “Barchetta” is a way of saying small boat. Giovanni Canestrini the Editor of “La Gazzetta dell Sport” is credited with the origin of the name in the 1940’s. Initially in the name was used by Ferrari, Maserati and the lesser known manufacturer, Moretti, who all produced open top race cars.

In 1948 and 1949 a Ferrari 166MM – based on the earlier competition Barchetta called the 166S of which only 39 were made – won the Mille Miglia, the endurance race set in Northern Italy which ran from 1927 to 1957 – only being halted by War.

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In 1966 Abarth produced the 1000SP Barchetta – a track success. In 1991 Maserati produced seventeen Barchettas for the track. In 2001 Ferrari released their stunning 550 Barchetta Pininfarina to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the stellar – now Mahindra owned – Turinese design house.

Whilst this extensive use of a distinctive name would be manna from Heaven for the trade-mark lawyers I suspect the fact that the majority of the dramatis personae in this particular performance were either owned or co-owned by the Turin giant “Fiat” is probably the simplest answer to the lack of any dispute.

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Using the project name “Tipo B Spider 176” between 1990-94 Fiat’s in house Centro Stile team comprising primarily Andreas Zapatistas, Alessandro Cavazza and Peter Barrett Davis conceived and developed the Fiat Barchetta. With a 1,747 cc DHOC petrol engine it was based on the chassis of Fiat’s Mark 1 Punto.

It was first released in February 1995 and is classically Italian in styling. It draws from both the Fiat 124 – see our earlier posts on this iconic sports car –  Fiat 124 Sport Spider – a re-imagined icon   – and the earlier Ferrari 166MM.

Production ceased in  June 2005 with a final production run of around 57,700 cars.

So, back to my suggestion of an investment in this beautiful Italian sports car. A simple but limited search on the internet shows that low mileage examples – under 100,000 Kms – particularly LHD – currently go from around €3,000 to €5,000.

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Images – with grateful thanks – courtesy of Sylvia Druet, Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler SpA.

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Zodiac Inflatable Boats

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I like boats but I have always thought that a conventional rigid hulled version was somewhat limiting. The practical reality of an inflatable boat means that it can easily be moved from one location to another and stored away from the water when not in use – thus saving a killing on mooring fees.

There are certain iconic products that through familiarity, usually based on exceptional built quality or performance, become the noun that defines the object. Hoover, Durex and Zodiac. A heritage brand.

Mrs W. spent many summers on Spain’s Costa del Sol as a teenager and when describing an inflatable boat she uses the term “Zodiac”. The boat owners she knew had their Zodiacs equipped with Mercury or Johnson outboards for use as ski boats, fun day boats or as tenders to larger vessels.

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It will come as no surprise that these air filled and thermobonded tube-gunwaled boats can trace their origins to the airships of French company, Zodiac Aerospace founded in 1896. In the 1930s, Zodiac engineer, Pierre Debroutelle, developed early prototype inflatable boats for the use of the French ”Aéronavale” – the aviation arm of the French Navy. In 1934 he invented an inflatable kayak and catamaran and in 1937 Aeronavale commissioned Zodiac to produce inflatables pontoons to carry naval ordinance.

Following its development for military use, in the 1950’s French Navy officer and biologist, Alain Bombard, is credited with designing the combination of an outboard engine, a rigid floor and the boat-shaped inflatable. The resulting design was built by Zodiac. Bombard sailed a version across the Atlantic in 1952 and with his friend and fellow naval officer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, it’s excellent performance made the Zodiac the tender of choice. See our previous post on the inspirational Jacques-Yves Cousteau here – Jacques Cousteau

The 1960’s saw a growth in the recreational use of small boats and Zodiac answered this demand partly by increasing their own production and partly by licensing others, such as Humber in the UK, to produce their boats. Further, US culture was exposed to Zodiac inflatables in Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau“ – get your copy by clicking the AMAZON link below the image.

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The Undersea World Of JACQUES COUSTEAU 6 DVD Box Set PAL

Increasingly from the early 1970’s the modern rigid inflatable boat (RIB) was a development of the classic – almost unsinkable – inflatable boat, enhanced by the addition of a rigid floor and solid hull – in GRP, steel, wood or aluminum. Adding a transom mounted powerful outboard engine made these craft highly manoeverable and able to cope with the roughest seas.

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RIBs became a favourite with the military – Zodiac established a separate division Zodiac Milpro to service this demand – and sea rescue services. Illegal smuggling gangs, intent on landing contraband whilst avoiding detection, in a part of the world I know well, made RIBs their vessel of choice – the authorities using even more military grade versions to thwart this ambition!

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Image Credits – with grateful thanks – Zodiac Nautic.

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STOP PRESS

20.07.18 – It’s been announced in Madrid, as part of Spain’s ongoing war on drug smuggling, particularly on the Costa del Sol and Gibraltar, that the Spanish Government is taking steps to ban the private use of RIBs that are longer than 8m or smaller but with a 150kW engine or bigger. Once sanctioned the ban will come into effect after six months.

Philippe Starck

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Whilst a designer cannot be defined by one of their designs, Phillipe Starck’s “Juicy Salif” is definitive of an era when form and function were not mutually incompatible but certainly pushed boundaries. It’s designer has proved to be one of the most versatile and influential on an entire generation – or two – of consumers.

As many readers will know, I used to live and work in Paris in the early 1980’s for an international law firm housed on the Champs Elysees. I was intoxicated by Paris but it was not all Pastis and Gitanes. I knew of the young Parisien designer, Phillipe Starck, who had been appointed as Art Director to the furniture business of the House of Pierre Cardin, a client of the firms, but couldn’t have anticipated his impact on my World.

Starck was born 18th January 1949, after studying at the prestigious product and interior design École Camondo on Paris’ Left Bank, he worked for Adidas and founded his own design business Starck Design/Ubik. This led to his work with Alessi – see our previous post on the power house of Italian Design  – Alessi Bollitore kettle  in 1990, Starck designed the Juicy Salif for Alessi.

It is said that the idea came to Starck whilst having lunch on the Amalfi coast. He realised that his plate of calamari hadn’t been dressed by lemon juice and had an idea. He scribbled some thoughts onto a napkin that is now preserved at the Alessi Museum. Some say that the Juicy Salif is a triumph of form over function in that it’s said it doesn’t work that well …. for Starck, he is rumoured to have said: “It’s not meant to squeeze lemons, it is meant to start conversations.”

Early projects included the refurbishment of the interior of newly elected President Mitterand’s apartment at the Elysee Palace, followed by the interior design of the iconic Cafe Costes in Paris in 1984, for brothers Jean-Louis and Gilbert Costes, a design which included the now celebrated leather and bent-wood, Costes Chair.

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By the late 1980s Starck was designing environmentally sensitive buildings in Japan including the 1989 “Nani, Nani” and in 1990 the Asahi Beer Hall in Tokyo.

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The late 1990’s into the new Millenium saw Starck heavily involved in the revitalization of the hotel sector with signature projects in New York with Ian Shrager’s “Paramount”

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The Delano in Miami and in London, The Sanderson. The latter is sympathetically based in the Grade II listed 1950’s Reginald Uren’s designed building at 50, Berners Street, London W1 that until 1992 housed the showrooms of Arthur Sanderson’s fabric business deep in London’s Rag Trade area.

Starck interest in things nautical has led to commissions to design some of the world’s most stunning yachts including two “A” motor and sailing yachts for Russian Billionaire, Andrey Melnichenko.

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Starck’s more recent work has involved designing four e-bikes in partnership with Mousthache Bikes, customized to the environment of use including snow and sand….

and the Pibal cycle for the City of Bordeaux.
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UK TV viewers may recall the 2009 BBC2 series fronted by Starck “Design For Life” reality TV show. Over a number of weeks selected Design Students were encouraged – and sometimes railed on by the Gallic Starck – to revive an English passion for design. The weakest were iliminated and the winner was given a six month placement at Starck’s Paris office. Arriving on set with his wife riding pillion on his motor bike, Starck clearly engaged with a UK audience. A fluent English speaker, you were left wondering whether his elaborate pronunciation was part of an act. Excellent TV, but it didn’t make a second series.

Would you like to add a Juicy Salif to your kitchen? If so, click on the Amazon link below the image of the Juicy Salif

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Alessi Juicy Salif Citrus Juicer

Image Credits – with grateful thanks – Starck Network, Moustache Bikes and Alessi

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Arctic Monkeys “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”

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Here’s my 10 cents on the recent release by these icons of British music.

The Arctic Monkeys are not the same band they were in 2006 with “Whatever People say I am….” but twelve years on their songwriting and musicianship have matured, wonderfully.

“Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” is varied, complex and above all box-fresh.

I suspect the intention may be for it to be seen as a concept album – and here an ace is scored. It is also aimed at dissuading the purchase of single tracks – the scourge of the album market – and arguably disrespectful to an artist’s creative intentions.

As a piece of standalone mastery, it is a class all its own. That said stand-out tracks for me include the title track, “Four Out Of Five”, the more classic AM “Science Fiction” and “The Ultracheese”. Alex’s delivery is as usual, Sheffield steel and the reverb is wonderful.

The homage to Bowie is well done and there are so many film soundtracks and sound beds for commerials their music publishers must be thrilled!

Great job lads, brilliantly executed.

STOP PRESS:

In case you thought I was alone in loving this new album, then you’d be wrong! The judging panel of influential Q Magazine have just announced that “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” has been given the accolade of “Album of the Year 2018”.

Read the report here from the Irish Independent Tranquility Base Album of the Year 2018 – Q Magazine

Do yourself a favour and get a copy for the car and/or the turntable by clicking the Amazon link below the image on the album’s cover.

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Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino

In case you have not already heard the stunning debut album by the Arctic Monkeys from 2006 “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” please click on the Amazon link below the image to secure a CD or vinyl.

Remember this album not only won the Mercury Prize it was also the fastest selling debut Album ever in the history of the UK Charts!

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Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

Image credits – with grateful thanks – Domino Recordings Limited

Brompton Bicycles

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I really like to cycle. There’s a “wind in your hair” moment – obviously beneath your safety helmet – when you appreciate the liberty of your pace but also the penny drops that you are actually doing yourself some good. Stamina and a general feeling of wellbeing improve immensely from bike riding.

If you are a City commuter then the idea of riding to work may be somewhat daunting. Aside from the perils of other road users, including the crazy antics of cycle messengers/couriers – who are very time poor – and the inconsideration often shown to pedal power by motorists there are distinct health and wealth benefits. Provided the weather holds, many Cities now have dedicated bike routes offering the cyclists a reasonably direct line between home, through parks and tunnels to emerge close to their work place.

Once you arrive at work – what on earth do you do with your prized bike? You can park it in a designated cycle rack with all manner of heavy “U” locks or chains seeking to prevent theft or why not carry it and place it under your desk!

Yes, armed with an engineering degree from Cambridge University and a somewhat thwarted career in computer science, Andrew Richie’s City Analysist father introduced him to those seeking to commercialize the Bickerton Bike. A patented model of collapseable bike produced entirely from aluminum profiles with no welding and reasonably light.

After extensive modification of the earlier idea to ensure that the dirtiest parts of the bike – primarily the chain – were central to the folded vehicle and named after the Brompton Oratory that could be seen from his flat, in Egerton Gardens, where he developed the first prototypes, James filed his second patent in 1979 for his folding bike. The Patent was granted on the 30th May 1984.

I am very relieved to hear that James Ritchie appears to be in that rare group of perhaps eccentric British inventors, that would logically include James Dyson and Clive Sinclair and Trevor Baylis, that are truely obsessed by their design and live and breath the prospect for their invention. Mr Richie certainly believed in his invention and spent an inordinate amount of time bringing it to market. He readily admits to being a perfectionist for whom all the design and manufacturing details needed to be just right. His belief has proved to be correct.

The Brompton is an iconic and memorable site on the street of London, New York and San Francisco.

His modesty as to his design talents is disarming. He quite rightly notes that he combined the elements of a bicycle that have been around since the Victorian era. He credits Alex Moulton – who we first heard of in relation to his design work on the suspension of Sir Alec Issigonnis’ Mini – see our pervious post here – Mini – the best selling car in Britain  who popularized the smaller wheeled bicycle and without this Mr Richie believes that he would not have conceived the idea of the Brompton.

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It appears that a favourite pastime for the legions of fans of the Brompton folding bike – aside from selecting your preferred vehicle from the company’s wide range of options, alternative parts and accessories that may be tailored to your individual needs – is to add a Brooks saddle, perhaps giving the bike a slightly more noble look. We have celebrated the iconic saddles made by Brooks in Smethwick (West Midlands) – please see our earlier post here – Brooks bicycle saddle

The cleaver team at Brompton based at their production facility in West London have devised and recently launched a Brompton bike that is powered by human and battery! See their video here Brompton’s First Electric Bike

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Can I interest you in a Brompton? The ever popular M6L model is available in either blue or black – please click on the Amazon link below the image of each bike

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BROMPTON M6L 2017 Tempest Blue Folding Bike

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BROMPTON M6L 2017 Black Folding Bike

Or perhaps you’d prefer the same look in a lighter Brompton bike – the H6L – please click the link below the image

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Brompton H6L Superlight 2017 Folding Bike Black Titanium

STOP PRESS

The Independent, one of the UK’s more objective newspapers, in June 2018, carried a very well reasoned piece concerning electric bikes – including Brompton’s very own version. Read the piece By David Phelan here Best Electric Bikes

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Image Credits – with grateful thanks Brompton Bicycles and James Richie

Drones – Stunning Aerial Photography

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At Aestheticons we are as happy to feature future classic designs as we are to revel in the nostalgia of older and equally classical designs or iconic products.

It cannot have failed to appeal to many the proliferation of swooping visual images that are present in documentaries – David Attenborough’s “Blue Planet II” is a good example. Images that appear to be taken from extraordinary heights giving a very wide angled shot of a coast, mountain range or New York scene effortlessly skirting the tall buildings. Whilst these magical images are not the result of an army of small people in miniature helicopters, they are, in the main, shot using cameras mounted on Drones the technology of which has allowed even novice filmmakers to shoot astonishing footage.

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These small unmanned aircraft are known formally as “unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)” more commonly known as a Drone. They fly either by remote control, operated by a human often ion the ground whilst others with more militaristic uses have onboard computers. It is thought that by 2015 over a million Drones had been sold for non-military purposes – such as aerial photography.

In many major countries notably the USA, UK and Australia the the Regulations that control the flying of Drones are for, obvious of air safety reason, increasingly strict. For the UK the DroneSafe website is a very good source of reference and aims to provide useful and practical advise to ensure air safety. Whilst safety is paramount it is still possible to use Drones to take impressive images.

GoPro – see here our previous post on these amazing cameras – Go Pro Hero 4 camera is one of the largest producers of what are described as “sports cameras” capable of astonishing, highly focussed and stable images. Go-Pro have attached their Go-Pro camera technology via a gimbal – giving incredible stability and wide-angels – to a series of Drones under the brand name “Karma”.

See here the Youtuber and celebrated filmmaker, Casey Neistat, testing the Karma in 2016. Go-Pro Karma Note that this vlog has been viewed over 7.5m times!

See here Casey testing – and raving about – the DJi Mavic Pro in later 2016 – Is this still the Greatest Drone Ever? DJI Mavic Pro as seen by 9.5m people!

Would you like a DJI Mavic Pro – if so, click the following AMAZON link

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DJI Mavic Pro Drone – Grey

Sadly, the Karma was troubled by technical issues, not the success that Go-Pro had hoped for and was eventually withdrawn citing increased flying regulation as reducing the overall market. My feeling is that this is an acknowledgement that DJi have won the Drone battle but it also highlights the speed with which success and failure can visit current technologies and great designs.

The DJi range has been augmented by the addition of the more beginner focussed DJi Spark – hotly tipped to be the best selling drone in 2018 – see here Casey’s review DJI Spark

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DJI CP.PT.000746 DJI Spark Drone, Alpine White

How comforting to see that technology has the power to save live – yes for real! In what is said to be a first, news reports in January 2018 from Australia show a Coast Guard Drone being used to deploy a safety raft to two surfers who were trapped by heavy seas off the coast of Lennox Head in New South Wales – see the dramatic footage here – Drone Saves Surfers

STOP PRESS: 23.01.18 – bringing you right up to date – by coincidence DJi launch their new Drone called the “DJi MAVIC Air” and here is Casey Neistat being thrilled to review this new piece of tech. Casey Neistat Reviews the DJi MAVIC AIR 

We will keep you updated on this and let you know when you will be able buy the DJi MAVIC Air through our pages. Thanks for reading.

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Image credits – with grateful thanks to Casey Neistat, Go-Pro, DJi, National Geographic, http://www.aerojo.com and Euronews.

 

Mason Pearson and G B Kent & Sons

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For a man with minimal hair my need for a brush may at first blush seem limited. That is until you look at the beautiful brushes produced by companies such as Mason Pearson and G B Kent & Sons – there are things in life that I can appreciate even without the need to use them!

Just looking at the intracy of persuading a pure boar bristle to stay mounted to a fine wooden handle and to remain attached for many years of grooming. These brushes are not only iconic but they seem devilishly complicated to make – and even more so as some are hand-made.

Somewhere deep in childhood I seem to have, incorrectly, understood, in a routined pink for a girl blue for a boy kind of way, that Mason Pearson made brushes for women whereas Kent made brushes for men. In fact, both companies have extensive ranges for men, women and children – as well as specialist brushes. My Grandmother had a large pure boar bristle Mason Pearson brush and my wife and daughters each have a medium sized Mason Pearson. My Father, who had a distinguished military career prior to commerce, always had a Kent brush – that I think may have been military issue – on his bathroom mirror shelf an in his travel case.

Mason Pearson Brushes was founded in 1860 by a Bradford (Yorkshire, UK) Engineer of the same name who, having had some experience in the weaving business left, with his young wife Mary, for London’s East End to work with brushes. His automation of much of the brush making process resulted in 1885 in Mason being awarded a Silver Medal at the International Inventions Exhibition in London. In the same year his invention of the “pneumatic” rubber-cushion hairbrush became core Mason Pearson product and with some redevelopment between 1905  and 1920’s the resulting 1885 brush sold today is little changed since its first launch.

On Mason’s death Mary, eldest son Mason Jnr and his sisters ran the business for a further twenty years from premises off the Old Ford Road (London E3). In 1986 the business relocated to Stratford but moved in 2009 to give way for the London Olympics that resulted in a move to Rainham in Essex. The business is still owned by the Pearson family and continues to thrive.

The pure bristle versions of the iconic Mason Pearson brush come in several sizes. I understand that for the bedroom/bathroom the B1 and B2 sizes are preferred whereas for the handbag the B3 – the “handy” size – and the B4 – the “pocket” size – are perfect.  Get your favourite by clicking the AMAZON link below the image of your choice

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Mason Pearson Extra Large Pure Boar Bristle Hair Brush B1- Made in England

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Mason Pearson B2 Medium Pure Boar Bristle Fine Hair Brush, Cleaner in Gift Box

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Mason Pearson Brushes Pure Bristle Handy B3 Black

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MASON PEARSON Pocket Size Pure Bristle Hair Brush (Model:B4)

G.B Kent & Sons Ltd, was founded in 1777 by William Kent and has, very impressively, held unbroken Royal Warrants for now nine reigns. In 1932 the company was acquired by Eric Cosby, the owner of Cosby Brushes Ltd. It was a dynamic and creative alliance. Today Eric’s grandson, Alan, is Managing Director and Chairman and his wife and four children work for the business.

Kent Brushes moved from its old London factory – as seen depicted in the videos below –  to Apsley (Hertfordshire, UK) in 1984 and remains there today. The companies reputation is based on its craftsmanship and quality combining hand-made techniques with the latest hi-tech developments in brush making.

Kent iconic brushes are known in the barbering trade as the “lifetimes brush”!

For me, there are two clear and different buying options for the prospective Kent brush purchaser. It’s true, that they look similar – but for the tell-tale screw fixed back – but the first is 100% hand-made progressing through different processes to arrive at the definitive men’s hair brush:

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Kent Handmade Military Oval Bristle Hairbrush for Men White

The alternative is a largely machine made version but just as appealing:

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Kent Oval Military Style Bristle Brush for Men, Cherry Wood White

There are many men who have a beard and the perfect accompanient to their grooming regime is the Kent Beard Brush – this is a right handed version.

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Get yours here – Kent Right Handed Beard Brush

Check out the following charming videos from KENT Kent Brushes 1 And Kent Brushes 2

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Image credits – thanks to Mason Pearson and G.B Kent and Sons Plc.

 

Iconic TV Advertisements

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As we emerge from the Christmas Season when parlour games and an over-dose of TV co-incide I wanted to pay homage to those moments of TV history that are either so creative, successful or engaging that they allow us to be described as iconic.

There can be little doubting the power of the well-timed TV advertisement to support the marketing efforts of a major brand in a critical buying season. However, there are some commercials that go beyond the marketing mix to become – almost National Treasures – being both iconic and loved by audiences.

Here are a few TV commercials that have an appeal all their own. I make no apology for the nostalgic nature of this collection as, to some extent, the core audience was then less sophisticated. The “short-hand” language of known music to accompany aspirational images is no coincidence.

The Seasonal Campaigns – when Fizzy Drinks Manufacturers and Department Stores corner the run up to Christmas.

Coca Cola Santa

Coca Cola Christmas – “Holidays are Coming” Holidays Are Coming – Coca Cola

The first iteration of the Coca Cola Christmas commercial was aired in 1995 featuring the “Christmas Cravan” of illuminated trucks as devised by agency W. B. Doner and Santa Claus as depicted in 1930’s for Coca Cola by the artist Haddon Sundblom. The song “Wonderful Dream (Holidays are Coming)” was first used for the Coca Cola Christmas advert in 2001.

The Bear and The Hare

Christmas John Lewis – “The Bear and the Hare” The Bear and The Hare

UK Department Store, John Lewis, released their first Christmas advert in 2007 but the £7m campaign in 2013 entitled “The Bear and the Hare” is truly a masterpiece. With its superb Lily Allen soundtrack (her version of Keane’s 2004 single “Somewhere Only We Know”) and meticulous artwork from a team including Aaron Blaise – known for his work with Disney – we see our hero the Hare ensuring that his hibernating friend the Bear wakes up to enjoy Christmas.

Perhaps one of the most iconic seasonable adverts that courted as much controversy as plaudits was Sainbury’s 2104 offering. This was a wonderfully evocative advert that encapsulated not only a documented historical event but made contemporary and relevant.

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The AMV BBDO produced classic harnessed the World War One commenmoration that swept the UK in 2014. The director, Ringan Ledwidge, was keen to engage the support of the Royal British Legion for whom Sainbury’s donated a heathy chunk of the sales of a special chocolate bar that reproduced part of the Tommy Christmas trench rations.

Sainbury’s “Truce” Sainsbury’s “Truce”

The Iconic:

Even if I didn’t think that Levi’s 501s – see my earlier post here – Levi 501’s were the best jeans made I suspect this advert would have converted many to this iconic brand.

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Levis – Nick Kamen Levis 501 – Marvin Gaye

First shown on Boxing Day (26.12) in 1985, it was conceived by John Hegarty and Barabara Noakes of BBH and directored by Roger Lyons. It had the desired effect of making jeans sexy and revived Levis flagging fortunes – it also stimulated the sale of boxer shorts!

Even if Guinness isn’t your beer of choice – see my earlier post here – Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 1 one of the UK’s most favourite commercials ever made was for the Black Stuff.

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Guinness Surfers and Horses

The campaign was devised in 1999 by Abbott Mead Vickers for the Guinness brand and was directed by Jonathan Glazer, who later directed the cult movie “Sexy Beast” starring Ray Winstone. It was shot in Hawaii with one surfer, known as Rusty K, finally conquering the wave. Leftfield’s track “Phat Planet” beats out the inspiration drawn from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick “Ahab says, ‘I don’t care who you are, here’s to your dream.'”

When you pursuade a major rock bands to allow you to use one of their songs in support of your first TV comercial, the launch of Windows 95, you have to expect to pay heavily for the priviledge. It is said that The Rolling Stones were paid $3m – for a six month license – but reports suggest that it was money well spent and made Microsoft a household name. Bill Gates apparently had the idea for the commercial from the “Start” button on his pc. The $200m launch was directed by Portland ad agency, Wieden & Kennedy

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Rolling Stones Microsoft – Microsoft – Rolling Stones

The Sexy, Cute and Clever:

Eating a crumbly chocolate bar in a hot bath sound perilous but Cadbury’s managed to turn jeopardy into sexy with a series of adverts in the 1980’s/90s – even if the 1991 version featured an overflowing bath that no doubt caused havoc with the downstairs neighbours…..

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Flake – Bathtime Flake

An altogether more breezy and cute image was created in 1991 by the French Publicis agency featuring a fictional father and daughter in a series of adverts for Renault’s Clio. So successful were the ads that in 1996 a survey suggested that the female lead “Nicole” – a none driver at the time of the first commercial – was more recogniseable than John Major, the then Prime Minister! The sound track to the version shown below – and there were eight ads in total – feature an acoustic recording of Robert Palmer’s “Johnny and Mary” played by an old friend, the guitar genius, Martin Taylor.

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Renault Clio – Nicole/Papa Papa & Nicole

Adverts featuring a large numbers of extras that through careful choreography create stunning images fall into a category we call “cleaver”. In 1989 a Saatchi & Saatchi campaign for British Airways saw the combination of very beautifully Hugh Hudson (Chariots of Fire) directed photography, filmed in Utah, with a stunning Malcolm McLaren and Yanni produced classical soundtrack (the Flower Duet from Léo Delibes’ opera “Lakmé”) and you have an iconic advert that’s instantly recognizable.

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British Airways BA Face Commercial

Given the proliferation of media and the understandable pressures on budgets for TV/on-screen adverts, todays advertising gurus need to be a smart as their predecessors to engage an audience quickly and convincingly.

If you liked this post please “Like” and share it with your friends. We’d really like to hear your experiences of the subject(s) featured in this post. Please share them below in the “Leave a Reply” section. Thanks

Image credits with thanks to Coca Cola, BBC, The John Lewis Partnership, Levi Strauss, Guinness, Leftfield, Microsoft, The Rolling Stones, Sainsbury’s, Cadburys/Mondelez and British Airways.