Getting where?

Menu Close

Tag: design

My transformer sunglasses

Ray-Ban folding Wayfarers

One of my constant companions.

I am forever in sunglasses. (Despite popular stereotype, the sun does shine in Scotland. Quite often actually.) It’s not that I’m perpetually battling a headache or hangover or something – I just hate squinting and eye strain. I’ll even wear them when there’s just glare and no actual sun. It’s a comfort thing. But I may as well look awesome while I’m at it.

I actually get really attached to accessories, and I like when I find something good that lasts forever. I want to replace things as little as possible, so I’m picky and I seek perfection. I want my sunglasses to be MY sunglasses. I had the same pair of Armani sunglasses my parents bought me for my 18th birthday for 11 years. (In fact, I still have them, I just don’t wear them anymore.) They’re nothing fancy – I think about $100 at the time, and I don’t go for flash – they’re just simple and nice and I managed to not break them for that long. (All down to a hard case, methinks. Important!)

So about 2 years ago when my 29th was coming up and my parents asked me what I wanted, I’d been eying a pair of Ray-Ban folding Wayfarers for a while, and I said well, why not just update my 18th birthday present? Even if they last only half as long, I’d count that as a success.

I was drawn to Wayfarers because they are a solid design classic. And my previous sunglasses were nice, but I don’t think they suited my face as well as the larger frames of the Wayfarer. I feel like a friggin’ rock star every time I wear them. An under-the-rader, rock star, not a look-at-me rock star. Just as I want it.

But outside of that, there’s the most important and super awesome thing about them: they fold.

Not like normal sunglasses folding, like 5-point-transformer-fold-down-tiny folding. Into a lovely, compact square case that takes up barely any space in my bag. PERFECT for travel. And this is why I really love them.

Folded Ray-Ban Wayfarers with case.

Folded up.

I hesitated to buy the folding version at first. More moving parts always means more potential to break, and I wanted these things to be in it for the decade-long-haul of my previous trusty shades. I expect a company like Ray-Ban should be making a high quality product, but still, you never know.

So in the sunglasses bit of Jenner’s in Edinburgh, I asked the woman working there if she had much experience with the folding glasses (they also do Aviators that fold). In addition to a few anecdotes about friends who’ve had pairs with no problems for a year or two, she started to tell me a vague history of folding sunglasses. Apparently Ray-Bans were not the first to do folding, and some Italian company did them long ago. She sort of stopped herself, conscious that not everyone might want to geek out over sunglasses history (lady, I TOTALLY want to geek out about ANYTHING like that). I’ve since done some Googling on the subject, but with little to show, so I’m just gonna have to find myself another rogue sunglasses historian.

In any case, I was suitably convinced to go for the transformers, by her enthusiasm if nothing else. And after having them 2 years, I see I needn’t have worried about quality. These things are great. And the foldy bits not only elicit awe (and occasionally even jealousy) from people who see me take them out or put them away, they don’t seem to make the glasses weaker in any way. When they’re on, you really can’t tell there are 3 extra joints, even though one of them is dead-centre of my face. And when they’re off, they are one of the most travel-friendly, packable things I have.

So, if you want to feel and look like a classic badass (and be ‘practicably fabulous’, as claimed on the Ray-Ban website), I highly recommend folding sunglasses. They get so small you’ll have plenty of extra space for all the other crap you need that does not conveniently fold down to nothing.

In the hammock

Practicably fabulous.

Travel-friendly design from the MoMA

OOF - Edward Ruscha

Love me some Edward Ruscha

I’ve never been to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. I’m not sure how I’ve managed this. I’ve been the the Whitney and the Guggenheim and the Met numerous times, but the MoMA has always escaped me. So my sister suggested we go when we were in the city because she wanted to check out the Matisse cut outs show, and I just wanted to see ALL of the things.

My favourite ended up being the Robert Gober exhibition. He had a few pieces in the Death to Death show that was on when I worked at the National Galleries of Scotland, so I recognised some things, but I thought it was all way, way better in the context of the rest of his own work. I don’t remember what anything was called (I’m terrible at that) but my favourite piece was this giant suitcase that was sitting open on the ground. The bottom was a sewer drain grate and about 6 feet under the floor was a pool of water with a bunch of coral and stuff in it, and if you looked down from a certain angle, you could see some legs and a person holding a baby over the water like they were just wading in. I LOVED it. And I rarely love contemporary art so much.

Of course, any trip to the MoMA wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the shops, which carry all sorts of awesome, covetable design. I thought this would be a dangerous venture, and it WAS, but they also had a ton of travel-friendly stuff that I could actually justify buying. Adventure supplies!

Vapur MoMA bottle

The anti-bottle.

First off, I’ve been wanting a collapsible water bottle forever. And they had one with the (new) New York city skyline MoMA design. I love getting actual functional things that have souvenir-y tat design on them, so I grabbed this without even considering it. It folds down super small when it’s empty, and it’s really sturdy when it’s full. The lid screws off and it’s a wide enough mouth to clean easily with a bottle brush, and the top is a hinged thing that’s not too fiddly. Excellent.

Tote and Able flask

For the whisky.

Further in the realm of travel-friendly drink receptacles, they had this sweet fabric flask that takes up next to no space. AND it’s got a shot glass on the cap. It’s canvas so I feel like I should maybe screen something cool onto it. (The sharks in the background of this are on one of the new BAGGUs I got to replace my old ones. Also good for travel and everything ever.)

Abitax tag light

Tiny light.

And when I was in the queue to pay, I came across this wee super strong LED tag light. You can squeeze it for temporary use or switch it on for steady light. I’m going to clip it in to my waterproof jacket zip I think, but I feel like it’s going to be super handy to have and it’s simple and nicely designed. Not tacky like these things can be sometimes. Impulse-buying at its finest.

Of course all these goodies were merely consolation prizes for what I REALLY wanted: dinosaur cake stands! But you can’t travel with that, so it’s lights and portable beverages for now.


HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS. #Dinosaur #cake stand. It’s like they knew I was coming.

View on Instagram

Coveting design, eating fish, and havin’ a sauna

DUNE by Daan Roosegaarde at Designmuseo

DUNE by Daan Roosegaarde at Designmuseo

I’m a big fan of Scandinavian design, so my one museum on this trip was always going to be Designmuseo Helsinki. Wednesday was Carolina’s birthday, so while she prepped her party, I went to wander around the Museum and the Design District in town.

The Designmuseo is perfectly sized for my lack of attention span for museums. The main floor is a permanent installation of the history of Finnish design. Super informative and really well-curated. All the descriptions are in Finnish, Swedish and English, and they manage to do all that without making anything look busy or flooded with text. It’s a really good overview with lots of eye-candy.

There were some design classics I knew were Finnish, but I had no idea Fiskars was! I have few brand loyalties but my Fiskars scissors are THE BEST. I’ve got a pair for paper and a pair for fabric, and they have both stayed with me for ages. When I was buying a multi-tool 10 years ago, I settled on a Gerber because the scissors in it were Fiskars, and to me, that meant the thing would be excellent forever. And thus far, it has been. Anyway, this was pretty exciting to me. I LOVE good design. And the thing is, they’re so good that despite really loving the Fiskars with Moomins on the handles in some of the shops, I totally couldn’t justify buying another pair because the ones I have are still going strong.

But I digress. Back to the museum. The top floor was an exhibition on Ilmari Tapiovaara whose name I didn’t recognise but I DID easily recognise some of the chairs he’d designed. And this man designed a LOT of chairs. He did loads of other things too. I was a big fan of the designs he did for Finnair, which included both the interior and exterior of the planes as well as things like departure lounges. He also did a set of dorm room furniture which was incredibly clever and probably way better than anything I ever had to deal with in college. Most of what was on display included background on how the designs came about and how they were developed, including sketches and photographs. This was endlessly fascinating to me.

The last stop was the basement, where there was an installation called DUNE by Daan Roosegaarde. It’s an interactive piece made up of a bunch of lights and sound that react to your movements. It was in a room almost completely in the dark, and there wasn’t anyone else down there when I arrived, so it took me a while to understand how it worked. But once I realised the lights were coming on and going off depending on how fast I walked by, I started swooping my hands around over them and playing with how the sensors worked. I basically played with a room full of lights for 15 minutes. It was brilliant. And the sounds that it used reminded me a lot of the weird clinky noises the frogs in the delta in Botswana made, which I loved.

A massive plate of Muikku fried in butter in Market Square. SO TASTY. So many fishes.

A massive plate of Muikku fried in butter in Market Square. SO TASTY. So many fishes.

After the museum, I went to the Market Square to get a plate of Muikku for lunch. I’d been told that it was the thing I needed to try. Muikku are just little white fish, but they fry them in butter and give you a huge pile of them. I got mine with potatoes and veg and they give you garlic sauce to dip them in and you just eat them bones and all. They were REALLY good, but I couldn’t nearly finish the whole plate even though I was starving my head off by the time I sat down.

Sufficiently fueled up, I spent the rest of the afternoon browsing the shops in the Design District. I went into the big name shops like Marimekko and Artek and had many small internal crises about why I wanted some of these gorgeous things so badly. The furniture in Artek is stunning, simple, and EXPENSIVE. And regardless of the fact that I know it will last forever, I found myself arguing WITH MYSELF about whether or not spending upwards of €3000 on a chair is a justifiable thing. And I think it is, in some cases. But there were so many other things I saw in shops that day, big and small, that if money and space were no object I would snap up in an instant. Part of that is being a sucker for that kind of design, but I feel like the other part of it is something slightly uglier and unnecessary that has more to do with consumer culture and the need to BUY STUFF. Which I’m really trying to get away from. But in the meantime, I can just admire all this stuff and wonder if I’ll ever have a room that contains an Artek chair.

In stark contrast to my day of coveting design, we spent the next day at Johanna’s family’s summer cottage on a lake in southern Finland. When I booked this trip, going to the cottage was the first thing that was discussed, by way of this brilliant song by Ylvis:

We didn’t have spaghetti, but there’s no running water so we filled a bunch of bottles to bring up ourselves. I washed the potatoes for lunch in the lake (which was actually much better than washing them in a sink). And there was indeed a ramshackle collection of cutlery and dishes. But there was also a gorgeous lake, a hammock, a sauna, sunshine, good company, and hours to chill out and do a lot of nothing.


This must be at least one of the definitions of paradise.

I went for a swim. I read about the horrendousness of the industrial food chain (I make strange holiday reading choices) just before being served a spread of food so far from industrial production it nearly made me weep with joy. I had a proper Finnish sauna experience, sitting in the heat for a while, going to dive into the lake, lather, rinse, repeat a few times. With a sauna beer on one go-round even. It was such a good day. I could have spent a full week there easily. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay the night because Johanna had to work the next day, but because there were so few distractions, the 8 or so hours we were there felt like ages and ages, in the best possible way.

Back in Helsinki on Friday, I was introduced to the Moomins via YouTube, and then Carolina and I took a bike ride to Arabia, which is the area where a lot of Finish design comes from. I avoided buying more stuff. Narrowly. And then we went to the amusement park Linnanmäki to ride the 64-year-old wooden rollercoaster, which was, of course, fantastic. The rest of the day was pretty low-key, because Saturday and Sunday were going to be full of food and music at Flow Festival, so we were storing up energy for the weekend.