Twelve Months:
The First Equinox One

So the third one. Or, technically, the first one if you go by the original Roman calendar. March retains a sense of primacy due to the March equinox, also known as the Northward or vernal equinox or, more pointedly, the autumnal equinox – incongruous for those of us north of the Equator but perfectly orthodox for those down south.

Its southerly moniker alludes to its significance as the mark of transition from summer to autumn, which up here is transposed as the shift from winter to spring. The change is mirrored during the second equinox in September.

As above, not so below.

The point is, the clocks have gone forward and it’s finally getting warmer, which is nice. It also means that we’re all keen to get outside.

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Dave went a-photographing around the estates: this time he took a trip to the Alexandra & Ainsworth Estate near Camden, building upon his thoughts on social housing in the process.

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Elsewhere on the blog, we got to know Jason French from Baroque Jewellery in the latest edition of our series, What’s Your Story?

And, on the subject of spending more time in the out-and-about, we’re delighted to announce that we’ll be working with the lovely people at East Beach Café, a striking restaurant and venue located right on the beach in West Sussex.

Around the industry:

Being poorer makes people less likely to spend money on crap they don’t really need because they’re spending all their money on frivolities such as housing, food and clothing.

Trouble for algorithm utopians as some brands enacted a boycott of advertising on YouTube due to adverts for otherwise morally upstanding and uncontroversial brands like Wal-Mart and Starbucks being placed on racist or otherwise repugnant videos.

Built to last
Alexandra & Ainsworth Estate

Following my visit to Robin Hood Gardens and still thinking about our shrinking social housing stock, I decided to visit a well-known concrete estate based in Camden.Sign

The Alexandra & Ainsworth estate was designed by Neave Brown in 1968 and has become a brutalist landmark – often featured in Open House and often used for films, TV shows, and photoshoots for fashion editorials.

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I think this is due to its stark, otherworldly layout: the relics of a possible future planned out back in the late 60s and 70s but never fully realised. Alexandra & Ainsworth is an interesting case as it is been recognised as an architectural landmark and is Grade II listed, saving it from meeting the bulldozers in the same fashion as Robin Hood. Half of the estate has remained social housing while the other half has transferred to private ownership.

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The private tenants are predominantly people who want to enjoy the building and have maintained their flats in the original layout. The estate is a place where owner-occupiers and social tenants co-exist in harmony, with the lines of social class demolished by the collective appreciation of their domestic environment.

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The Japanese-style terraced gardens are a superb example of how the design utilises limited space, giving most residents a balcony or planter to make their own. I love the idea of a space as a blank canvas, where it is down to people to take a flat as it is and carve their own environment within its confines – giving all people the chance to be both equal and different in their space; everyone has the same basic materials, but the result is entirely their own.

Niceflat2

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It’s great to see a bold, fantastic piece of architecture appreciated and safeguarded for people to enjoy. It’s a testament to the ideal that good design will stand the test of time.

Thank you for your attention.

Straightup Walkway2 Downstairs Downstairs2 ""

Baroque Jewellery
What’s Your Story?

What’s Your Story? is a monthly series in which we find and talk to interesting people in our local community, whether they run a business, have an interesting job or do something else that we think is worthy of wider attention.

Baroque Jewellery is an award-winning boutique jewellers located in Brighton’s famous Lanes. We spoke to Jason French from Baroque to find out more about him and the business.

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How was Baroque Jewellery created?

Myself and a few other goldsmiths had a studio in New England House where we were making jewellery for other shops around the country. We decided to relocate to a workshop with a small retail space and ended up acquiring the shop on Union Street instead – so we inadvertently became retailers – that was in 2006. We are unlike many of the other jewellery shops in the Lanes as we design and make all of our own jewellery as well as stocking a small selection of designer-jewellers.

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How did you get into jewellery?

I loved making things back at school from woodwork to metalwork. After school I got onto the pre-apprenticeship course at Sir John Cass and then became an apprentice at Graff Diamonds where I stayed for twenty years making anything from giant diamond rings to Tiaras for princesses!

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Baroque has a unique, eclectic style – what are your influences?

My greatest influence comes from the precious stone itself. I usually start working around the gem – it could be a rough diamond, a free-form opal or an intensely coloured sapphire – and draw on my experience to create something unusual that works with it.

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What’s your proudest moment?

This was probably making a massive rough diamond ring for Jo Wood (then wife of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood) 50th birthday and then getting an invite to the party! Although having said that, it’s always a proud moment when customers leave the shop delighted with their customised purchase – it’s hugely rewarding especially as it usually marks a special moment in their lives.

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Favourite thing about the job?

I love to make and create jewellery but I also enjoy meeting customers and working with them from the start to the finish of their dream piece.""

What’s your favourite music to listen to while you work?

We listen to Radio 6 Music in the workshop and they play an eclectic mix which suits our style.

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Why Brighton?

Apart from being the place where we choose to live (because, among other things it’s the greatest city in the country) Brighton attracts our kind of customer who is looking for something a little different. It’s a very creative and liberal place and there’s always such a buzz around town especially when the May Festival and The Great Escape Music Festivals are on.

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What are your future plans for Baroque?

The future of Baroque Jewellery is taking care of itself as it has firmly established itself as the destination store in Brighton for bespoke jewellery. We attract customers who come from London and all over the country as word spreads of our work and unique service.

We just launched a new website last month and we also have a little one-off bespoke project running at the moment, as we speak I’m in the middle of making ten one-off pieces to showcase our skills for the shop window.

Westham Ply ""

Twelve Months:
Awkward Second Album

Ah, the awkward second album. If January is the month for quiet contemplation, February is when the world peeks out from under the eaves to survey the sky.

There was controversy at the Oscars but there were no complaints at an awards ceremony closer to home. The Brighton’s Best Restaurants Awards rightly recognised Cin Cin’s contribution to the local scene with no fewer than three awards: Best Welcome, Highest New Entry and 6th Best Restaurant.

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We’re delighted for David, Fabrizio and Jamie, and the awards serve as testament to their hard work before and since the launch of their bar and kitchen back in November. You can read about what the team at Cin Cin made of it on their website.

We spent much of February helping Sussex Cricket prepare to launch tickets for this season’s NatWest T20 Blast. Tickets are on sale now, so you can plan your summer of cricket and admire our lovely artwork while you’re at it.

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Around these parts, February saw the continuation of our What’s Your Story? series, in which we chatted to the lovely Livv at Dopple Press. The next edition is due this week, so keep refreshing your social media feeds so you can read it the second it drops.

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Dave took a wander around Robin Hood Gardens and looked back to a time when a lack of social housing actually resulted in the construction of more social housing. Somewhere along the way the ideals that the Gardens were intended to represent disappeared beneath the waves of social change, leaving a corroding shrine to good intentions.

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