Tray Chic

With men’s fashion flexing its A-game in recent seasons it was only a matter of time before the inevitable transition from dandy menswear to equally dandy homewares took to the playing field. It’s all well and good looking fly from head to toe but if you don’t know your brogues from your Bauhaus your sprezz-ometer will be found wanting.

Luxury preppy label GANT delves into its Scandi archives to introduce accessories for the home under its younger line GANT Rugger with a collection of serving trays. Yes, trays. Admittedly the words ‘rugger’ and ‘trays’ don’t initially slide off the tongue naturally, however the humble serving tray is one of the most popular Swedish exports and is a staple in the Swede’s design-conscious psyche for both beauty and functionality. Tapping into the leading trend for designerware GANT Rugger has released three individual styles that are more at home with a round of snaps amongst friends rather than half-time orange slices for the team. 
Each tray is handmade from a single sheet of Scandinavian birch wood and features Swedish-inspired imagery that wouldn’t look out of place on a cotton square. The indigo-inspired 'Rope Tray' (above) is a handsome example of bridging runway looks with interior design ready for Springtime house parties. Head over to GANT Rugger to check out the new collection and serve up some chic in your man cave. 

For updates on design and lifestyle from the 
#highlife to the #lowlife follow @JMVELARDI

Images courtesy of GANT


The Beatles X Vans

This year's GRAMMYs marked the first in a long line of special tributes that will commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ historic appearance on America’s The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. The two surviving members of the iconic rock band, Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, reunited to perform and accept the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in the run up to next month’s TV special, which will be broadcast on US network CBS on 9th February at 8pm – the exact day, date and time four men from Liverpool appeared on US television in New York to take both America and the world by storm. 
The Beatles with Ed Sullivan – 9th February 1964
Beatlemania transcends musical tastes and continues to command lucrative interest as only the greatest band of all time can. After more than forty years since the band’s break-up, brand-Beatles has worked with influential designers on a variety of collaborations that have included street wear label A Bathing Ape to high-end Japanese fashion house COMME des GARÇONS. In this special year Vans will release a capsule collection of their trademark canvas sneakers emblazoned with trippy imagery from The Beatles’ 1968 animated film and album art Yellow Submarine, illustrated by Heinz Edelmann. The Yellow Submarine collection will include four colourways of distinct psychedelic graphics on Authentic, Era, Sk8-Hi and Slip-On models.
This highly anticipated collection is a first into the forays of footwear using Yellow Submarine iconography and follows previous collaborations between Vans and music heavyweights that include a 2013 release with heavy metal band Metallica. It may be nearly fifty years old but the Yellow Submarine collection looks as fresh and contemporary in 2014 as it did in the Sixties and will no doubt keep new and existing Beatles fans on their toes.
The Beatles X Vans capsule collection will launch on 1st March 2014 and will retail between $65 and $75 - check out full details of the collection at Vans.com

Visit GRAMMY.com for further information about The Night That Changed America: A GRAMMY Salute to The Beatles TV special airing next month. 

Images courtesy of Vans & © 2009 Apple Corps Ltd.


Hello For Some More

Sir Paul Smith’s celebrated exhibition at London’s Design Museum will be delaying its farewell. Hello My Name Is Paul Smith will be extended to 22nd June 2014 and will feature a host of new events scheduled for the coming months, which will include guest talks and Friday Lates dedicated to men’s fashion and style. 
The Design Museum celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and I can think of no better British designer than the distinguishable dandy that is Sir Paul Smith to face the museum’s landmark year.

Read my full review of the inspiring exhibition that charts the designer’s global success from Nottingham to Nippon at Ohh Deer’s blog. Visit the Design Museum for booking and visitor information.

Follow @JMVELARDI for the latest updates on art, culture and lifestyle and visit jonathanvelardi.com/writing for a selection of my published writing. 

Image courtesy of the Design Museum



The end of 2013 marked the finale of what have been momentous occasions at the House of Windsor. Celebrations for Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and subsequent Coronation anniversary last year provided much pomp and circumstance, great and small, which touched all aspects and interests of the British Monarchy. Design, innovation, culture and sport all featured in the royal limelight and as is customary, gifts were duly presented to the Monarch from these various bodies that contribute to what must be one of the most eclectic collections in the world, spanning The Queen’s sixty-year reign.

 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee, 2012 - David Hockney
To celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, the Royal Academy of Arts, founded in London by George III in 1768, presented a gift to The Queen of over one hundred works on paper by practising Royal Academicians. The Diamond Jubilee portfolio followed tradition of two previous gifts presented to its royal patron – the first to mark the Coronation in 1953 and the second to celebrate the Silver Jubilee in 1977 – both of which had featured a host of prominent talent from the era.

Gifted: From the Royal Academy to The Queen, curated by Martin Clayton, Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Royal Collection, presents the entire Diamond Jubilee portfolio featuring traditional and contemporary artists who have transferred their respective mixed media practices to art works on paper. Hung in the Salon-style at The Queen’s Gallery, the individual works from the portfolio encircle a painting by Johan Zoffany from the Royal Collection, The Academicians of the Royal Academy dated 1771-2. The painting is believed to have been commissioned by George III - as the Academy’s founding patron - and provides historical grounding of the long-standing relationship between fine art and Monarchy, as well as the developments of artistic expression through the centuries. Zoffany’s canvas depicts an all-male landscape of all the founding members in their finery setting up a life class with male nude models - training that was at the core of the curriculum, adopted from the French framework at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In contrast, the Diamond Jubilee portfolio portrays a very different representation of twenty-first century artistic practice in Britain; notably the inclusion of female members, the breadth of media such as collage (Joe Tilson) and photography (Michael Manser) to the latest technology with an iPad drawing courtesy of David Hockney, and not a life drawing sketch in sight. The exhibition is by no means a comprehensive representation of contemporary artistic practice, however high-profile names such as Hockney, Tracey Emin, Anish Kapoor, Cornelia Parker and Grayson Perry will cater to visitors who do not join the art crowd on its annual pilgrimage to the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. 
Design for Kenilworth AMI, 2010 - Grayson Perry
Other highlights include the design for London 2012’s Olympic Aquatic Centre by international architect Zaha Hadid and a print by sculptor Phyllida Barlow in her trademark pink hues, who is preparing to take on the grand Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain this year in the name of the annual Tate Britain Commission launching in late March. 

While artists with controversial reputations in the art world are included in this exclusive portfolio, their restrained contributions may disappoint visitors expecting strokes of anarchy within the crimson gallery. On display are the beautifully crafted bespoke portfolio boxes that will archive the prints - reminding visitors that as with Zoffany’s painting, the works assume a new role, beyond the gallery walls, onto the royal timeline of history. 

Gifted: From the Royal Academy to The Queen runs to 16th March 2014 at The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace. Tickets include entry to Castiglione: Lost Genius - an exhibition of drawings and prints by one of the most accomplished draughtsmen from the seventeenth-century, Giovanni Castiglione. For further visitor information visit the Royal collection’s official website.

The Queen's Gallery
Buckingham Palace 

Images courtesy of Royal Collection Trust
2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee, 2012 - David Hockney
Inkjet Printed iPad Drawing on Paper, 20x14" © David Hockney
Design for Kenilworth AMI, 2010 - Grayson Perry
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013


Happy New Year

Ain't No Mountain High Enough
Greetings from 2014! I hope the New Year has gotten off to a brilliant start despite Mother Nature’s hindrances of late. I’m back from riding high on a wave myself - a metaphorical wave of inspiration - after what was one of the best breaks I’ve had in a long time. Lake Geneva called me back once more to test my French as well as my stamina, as I walked down every rue and boulevard worthy of cultural exploration under the bluest of blue skies. 2013 continued to surprise down to its very last hours as I travelled over the Swiss Alps to what had been previously unchartered territories of Eastern Europe. Ringing in 2014 in Belgrade was only the beginning of an electric adventure across the Serbian capital, bounteous of art, design and gastronomy. The city proved to be a hit on all my senses and I’ll be sharing all the #highlife and #lowlife from Belgrade and Geneva on the blog in the coming weeks.

Until then, here’s to a prosperous and boundless year ahead!