Because we saw…

California: Designing Freedom at the Design Museum

The sunny side is up at the Design Museum with the California: Designing Freedom exhibition. A visual timeline documenting the cultural movements of the 1960s West-Coast, it brings some much-needed sunshine to a gloomy London and offers a great set of reasons explaining why California is still one of the most visually-recognisable “brands” in existence. Skateboards and surfboards, the original 1979 Gay Pride flag and Snapchat smart sunglasses – it’s a celebration of everything sunny, colourful and Made in California.

California: Designing Freedom is on at the Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 6AG until October 17. Book tickets, find opening hours and more details at designmuseum.org.

Against at Almeida Theatre

The world is going through an apocalypse of sorts and the American playwright Christopher Shinn is here to tell us all about it. His latest play Against is starring Ben Whishaw as a multi-billionaire tech magnate who is embarking on a spiritual mission to change the world. Against is an excellent exploration of humanity, wrongness and rightness, and the border between the West and the Rest. Heartbreaking at times and often cruelly realistic, this is a lesson in the contemporary world that everyone should experience.

Against, written by Christopher Shinn, is on at the Almeida theatre, Almeida Street, London N1 1TA until September 30. Book tickets, find times and more details at almeida.co.uk.

Tom of Finland at the ICA

Hypermasculine, overtly sexual and bursting with homoeroticism – Tom of Finland’s illustrations are legendary and recognisable both inside and outside of gay culture. And now is the time to see the story behind one of the most groundbreaking illustrators of the 20th century. In an eponymous biopic starring Finnish actor Pekka Strang as the titular character, the focus is on the background tale of the biggest name in gay erotica – from his controversial beginnings to his overindulgent Los Angeles heyday, it’s a visually arresting period film.

Tom of Finland is screened at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH until August 31. Book tickets, find times and more details at ica.art.

Because we read…

Coffee, algae and exploding lakes: are these the renewables of the future? by Ashley Coates

Aside from recycling your newspaper and drinking from a reusable water bottle, how much do you actually know about the future of a sustainable lifestyle? The Independent’s environmental columnist Ashley Coates digs a little deeper and discusses the potential of our many mundane resources. The bottom line: algae is the gold of the future.

“When coffee waste is allowed to go to landfill it breaks down and releases methane, a gas that has a powerful greenhouse effect 28 times more potent than CO2. In Africa, vast underground deposits of methane created by ongoing volcanic activity is resulting in the phenomenon of ‘exploding lakes’. Trapped gas building up beneath these lakes is periodically released into the atmosphere in a sudden event that has historically killed thousands of people. ”

Now a Free Woman, Chelsea Manning Is Redefining Her Style on Her Own Terms by Sally Singer

An inspiring yet controversial icon of our time, Chelsea Manning is exploring her own body through clothes and Vogue’s Sally Singer is there to follow her amazing transformation. Vintage shopping for Angelina-Jolie-circa-1995-in-Hackers short skirts and discussing her evolving personal style since her release from prison, we are taken on a behind-the-scenes tour that is far more fascinating than just another video of a celebrity’s designer label-clad closet.

“She is amused by how often she wears dresses. For a woman who once told me that “your so-called millennial pink is not for me; I have pink on my computer screen but I won’t wear it; such a frilly color,” she is surprised to find herself reaching for a certain pink frock from Kate Spade. (She was wearing it while building a computer on the floor of her apartment when we spoke.)”

Pretty Iconic: A Personal Look at the Beauty Products that Changed the World by Sali Hughes

Everything from make-up cleaning wipes to Chanel No. 5 – in Pretty Iconic Sali Hughes talks about over 200 of the most iconic beauty products of the modern world and intertwines these with original and helpful beauty secrets. As it’s getting its paperback release, this book makes for a great early-morning commute read instead of a mad underground morning make-up application.

“I find natural mascaras to be rather missing the point. I don’t enhance my determinedly straight, short lashes to look like I have normal ones. I want them to be long, thick and fluttery like a Hereford cow’s. I want good separation and a brush that coats hairs, not eyelids, and a formula that doesn’t dry out in a matter of weeks. It seems so little to ask and yet is amazingly hard to find. It seems Pat McGrath, genius make-up artist, felt similarly ill-served by the dramatic lash mascaras available that in 2001, she took a pile of toothbrushes backstage at the Dior catwalk show.”

Because we heard…

b. by BOSCO

A mish-mash of everything that’s good on the contemporary music scene, this 8-track warm-up party soundtrack is a true original. BOSCO is an Atlanta-based pop-R&B artist who morphs into anything she wishes to, and her latest release b. represents musical eclecticism at its best. You can dance to their beat or cry to their lyrics, but BOSCO’s songs are simultaneously glossy and raw – a joyful proof that good music doesn’t just have to reference bygone eras.

Because track: Free

Science Fiction by Brand New

The mythical, foggy sound of Brand New’s fifth album is an obvious reflection of the fact it’s also announced as their last one ever. And what a way to go. Boasting with rebelliousness and built around their signature, traditional rock sound, Science Fiction sits somewhere between new and old and is a showcase of all the reasons why this legendary band will be terribly missed.

Because track: Could Never Be Heaven

Leave Home by the Ramones

It’s been 40 years since the faux-brothers the Ramones released their second album Leave Home and now the record is back even bigger and better. The makers of one of the most recognisable sounds of the 20th century they were, the Ramones took their signature sounds from their eponymous debut album and injected it with layers of humours for their sophomore album. For its three-disc re-release, Leave Home is boosted with a number of B-sides as well as alternative mixes of the album’s classics. This is the one for the good times.

Because track: Commando

Text by Dino Bonacic

 

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