Today Dalston, tomorrow the world

IT IS UN-HIP to take pride in living or working in Hackney? Far from it, it’s becoming big business. Just witness the number of websites covering the area: Loving Dalston was one of three when it started this year.

Witness also the pictures of Vic Lee. He is a graphicist much cooler than his name who makes beautifully detailed drawings in his South London studio of city streetscapes.
The result is that a perspective as everyday as a front-on of the shops straddling Dalston Kingsland railway station can charm the viewer.

He travels to premises in Hackney to make numbered screen-prints of his work on fine art paper in sizes that will accommodate Ikea and Habitat frames.

What marketeers would call his unique selling point – well, possibly unique – is that he includes detailed research in evocatively lettered notes that swirl around the main image. The style reminds old people a little of Pete Frame’s family trees of rock ‘n’ roll bands.

There are differences: Lee’s presentation is more beguiling and his research requires only a surf of the net, a facility unavailable in Frame’s time.

Lee is not stopping at depicting East London, either: he’s well aware of the potential of his approach and is, uhm, drawing up a plan for world domination.

Nick Fraser is a Dalston designer who likes to take well-made objects and equipment that might normally be discarded, such as plumbing pipes and joints, and adapt them for other uses. A candlestick made of heavily industrial brass nuts and bolts painted in colours that subtly evoke the flimsy decadence of the Louis XIV era makes for very pleasant contemplation.

The retail arm of Paul Smith agrees: the trendsetter is one of Fraser’s upscale commercial customers.

Loving Dalston found these Hackney products at the great-value (£5 entrance free included wine, boutique beer and other freebies) East London Design Show at Shoreditch Town Hall in Old Street, which ended on Sunday 5 Dec 2010.

Don’t worry, there’ll be another in time for Christmas next year.

David Altheer 051210

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