Category Archives: Infographics

Major Cities and the Music They Inspire: Illustrated as Sound Waves

Music. It’s an art form that’s designed to invoke emotion, permeate the soul, and resonate beyond the words that are being said.

But what is music? Like, what is it really? A well-written song is great, but without the rhythm, tempo, and texture of sound, would we fall so madly in love with music like we do?

Looking specifically into the make-up of musical sound waves and the elements used to produce them, we discovered something rather beautiful. When in their visual form, sound waves produced through different frequencies of rhythmic sound are almost statuesque, architectural… like an imposing cityscape just waiting to be brought to life.

This got us thinking: is it possible to crossover music and architecture from a design perspective? With an elemental approach, we took a selection of songs that feature the names of different cities around the world such as New York, New York by Frank Sinatra and Freddie Mercury’s Barcelona.

Using specialist software, we were able to sample these songs, producing a visual which focused specifically on the part where the city name is mentioned. We then looked at the cities themselves, the landmarks they boast, and the unique architecture they’re famed for.

As a result, we were able to create a set of stunning illustrations that beautifully represent both the songs and the cities they pay homage to.

Barcelona

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Originally released in 1983, this Freddie Mercury song features vocals from operatic soprano Monserrat Caballé who provided the high pitched notes, complementing Mercury’s lower range vocals without fault. The haunting vocals and crashing instrumentals synonymous with grand amphitheatres and flamboyant gestures, provide the perfect timbre for a city steeped in Gothic and Medieval architecture.

London

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Some might say it’s a modern classic, but one thing is certain, this top 10 hit for Lily Allen depicts London’s diverse music scene without compromise. With a strong Caribbean influence, the smooth beats plus the high pitch interjection of trumpets during the chorus sends the sound waves soaring. Perfect for a city that is home to the neo-futurist dream and Europe’s tallest building, The Shard.

Miami

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As the song suggests, Miami “brings the heat” and this 2002 summer party classic from Will Smith certainly lives up to that. With strong Spanish and Cuban vibes, the sound waves created are smooth and deep, yet rhythmic high notes punch through to create a striking visual that’s almost reminiscent of the palm trees that line Miami’s famous Ocean Drive.

New York

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New York, New York; a Grammy award winning hit for Frank Sinatra that’s filled with optimism, positivity and the dream that New York is the place to make it happen. The city that never sleeps is a hub for opportunity and discovery. The sound waves produced are dense and wide ranging, tightly packed yet diverse, much like the city itself when viewed from across the Hudson River.

Philadelphia

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Famed for the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the home of the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia is the soul of the American dream. But the effects of capitalism are strong in Philadelphia, as depicted in this 1993 hit for Bruce Springsteen. The sound waves created by this melancholic number are shallow and largely consistent; a mindful nod to the humdrum and monotonous lives seemingly lead by a large portion of the city’s residents.

Las Vegas

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The most populated city in Nevada, Las Vegas is the epitome of fun and frivolity. Vibrant and voltaic, it’s hard not to get excited by the promise of a good time, and the titular song from Elvis Presley’s 1964 hit film mirrors this beautifully. Fast-paced and building in intensity, the sound waves created are jumpy and animated, which perfectly represent the varied and inspired landscape of this desert city.

Vienna

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A city filled to the brim with artistic and intellectual legacy, Vienna is a European powerhouse for creativity, with centuries of history in music and the arts tucked away on almost every corner. The 1980 Electropop hit for Ultravox channels the history of the city in an almost operatic fashion. With drawn out notes and high pitched vocals, they’re a stark contrast to the deep, rhythmic, drum beats that carry the song.

How The Simpsons Predicted Everything From Pantone Colours to Donald Trump’s Presidency

Here at Aspire Doors, we stumbled across something amazing. We help people achieve their interior design dreams with our fantastic products, like our exterior bi-folding doors, which can completely revolutionise your home. Because of the products we sell, we like to keep on top of interior design trends and so on to see how our stock can stay relevant, modern and help our customers achieve cutting-edge, forward-thinking designs.

Part of keeping up to date with interior design is eagerly awaiting the esteemed Pantone Colour of the Year. Beginning in 2000, this annual tradition has cemented Pantone as the authority on all things colour.

Pantone itself was founded in 1962 as manufacturers of colour cards intended to be used by cosmetic companies. Colour swatching is now an important part of many different creative and commercial fields and Pantone certainly contributed to that when they changed direction and established their colour matching system in 1963.

Since 1963, Pantone’s colour matching system (PMS) has done wonders to further their brand voice and identity. The PMS has created a kind of standardised ‘dictionary’ of colours that can be used across projects around the world. The Colour of the Year was a hit from its first year in 2000 and continues to bolster its brand today.

Before we go into our ground-breaking discovery, let’s take a closer look at the Pantone Colour of the Year…

How is the Pantone Colour of the Year Decided?

Pantone take into account numerous factors when calculating the Colour of the Year. They take fashion, politics, product packaging, media, film, the arts, current popular travel destinations, product & industrial design, to name just a few. The colours they choose generally relate to the zeitgeist and socio-economic conditions of the moment.

Pantone will host secret meetings twice a year in various European capitals with colour representatives from around the world. Behind these secret closed doors, they will discuss and debate what the colour of the year should be. These are also decided in advance; Pantone are certainly ahead of the curve in that respect.

Our Discovery

Pantone announced their Colour of the Year for 2019. They chose ‘Living Coral’. Their official website says it is a “life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energises and enlivens with a softer edge”. It really is a gorgeous colour and upon looking down the previous champions to 2010, we noticed something amazing…

The Colour of the Year from 2010 to 2019 are all to be found and easily observed in… the iconic living room of The Simpsons family!

simpsons pantone colours

That’s right – is this proof that Pantone have just been phoning it in since 2010 and these secret meetings are actually just Simpsons marathons?

The Evidence

Let’s begin with Pantone’s Colour of the Year for 2013: Emerald. This hue is also the colour of the Simpsons’ carpet. In 2016, Pantone made history by selecting two shades for Colour of the Year: Serenity and Rose Quartz. Mix these together and you get the colour of the walls in the Simpsons’ living room.

2019’s Living Coral matches the skirting boards, 2018’s Ultra Violet is the colour of their television, going all the way back to 2010 where Pantone’s Colour of the Year – Turquoise – matches the colour of their telephone. From the magazine rack to the side table, rug and curtain, they all match up.

Considering the Simpsons started way back in 1989, this surely can’t be a coincidence, which begs the question…

Is Matt Groening a Time Traveller?

This discovery will undoubtedly add further fuel to the fire that Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, is in fact a time traveller. That might sound crazy, but hear us out…

This isn’t a new theory. ‘Nostragroening’ has been accused of time travel after The Simpsons successfully predicted multiple events that didn’t take place until years after the respective episodes aired.

The Tin Foil Hat Club say he knows all this because he’s a Freemason. Considering that all you have to do is ask and pay an annual fee to be a Freemason, we won’t be putting on our hats just yet.

But this doesn’t stop the fact that The Simpsons have been strangely accurate with their ‘predictions’.

What have The Simpsons Predicted Correctly?

The Simpsons now have quite an impressive list of future predictions. Here are some of the major examples:

  • In 2000, the episode ‘Bart to the Future’ depicted Donald Trump as president, creating a national crisis. This was shared widely in Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. No one’s laughing anymore.
  • The Siegfried & Roy Tiger attack – The Simpsons parodied the Las Vegas act Siegfried & Roy with their own Gunter & Ernst. Gunter & Ernst get mauled by a tiger in the show, which happened to the real life Siegfried & Roy ten years later.
  • In the ‘Bart to the Future’ episode, Lisa and Marge talk using video call technology like Skype or FaceTime. In fairness, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that that would eventually become possible.
  • In a 1995 episode, the Simpsons time travel again to the year 2010. People are using smartwatches. Another prediction that has now come true. Again, this wasn’t exactly a huge stretch; smartwatches were depicted in many other programmes and films way before their release.
  • In 1997, The Simpsons made a reference to an outbreak of Ebola, which very sadly was an issue that dominated the year 2014.
  • In a 2010 episode, Milhouse wagered that MIT Professor Bengt Holmstrom would win a Nobel Prize. He won a Nobel prize in 2016. Coincidence?
  • Walt Disney acquiring Fox, which happened in late 2017. This was a ground-breaking deal that is set to change the face of US media.
  • Another 2010 episode depicts Homer & Marge as a mixed doubles curling team. They come from behind to beat Sweden at the Winter Olympics. At the 2018 Winter Olympics, the USA men’s team came from behind to beat Sweden for a medal.
  • In a 2012 episode, a character that looks a lot like Lady Gaga is seen being lifted down in a harness wearing a glittery silver outfit to entertain the residents of Springfield. Fast forward to 2017, when Lady Gaga, who looks a lot like Lady Gaga, descends from the roof of the NRG Stadium wearing a glittery silver outfit for the Superbowl Halftime Show.
  • The Simpsons Movie from 2007 depicted the NSA as a mass-surveillance agency that listened in to every phone call and watched civilians everywhere. This was confirmed by the whistle-blower Edward Snowden in 2013. However, it was quite well known the US government were conducting mass surveillance, it had just never been confirmed.
  • The FIFA corruption scandal. Again, anyone with eyes could see that FIFA was/is a deeply corrupt organisation. The Simpsons aired an episode in 2014 about corruption in football and in 2015, the FIFA corruption scandal was front-page news, with arrests being made. Again, any football fan in the world could’ve told you that FIFA was and still is corrupt.
  • ‘Europe Puts Greece on Ebay’. This was a ticker that ran across the screen when Homer appears on a news programme in a 2012 episode. In 2015, Greece did default on their debts to the EU and the ticker pretty much rings true now. You didn’t have to be a clairvoyant to see this coming though.
  • Autocorrect failures. In a 1994 episode, one of the school bullies is seen using an Apple device to make a note to ‘Beat up Martin’. This is autocorrected to ‘Eat up Martha’. Anyone with an Apple device knows the necessary evil that is AutoCorrect.
  • The most eerie future prediction, the one that will really make you say ‘hmmm’, is when Homer predicts the mass of the Higgs Boson or ‘God Particle’ in 1998. 14 years before scientists at CERN built and used their Large Hadron Collider to prove the existence of the Higgs Boson, arguably one of the biggest scientific discoveries of all time, Homer Simpson can be seen at a blackboard writing an equation that accurately predicts the mass of the God Particle.
  • The Pantone Colours of the year from 2010 to 2019 – the latest addition to the list.

Admittedly, some of the above predictions could be made by anyone that pays attention to the news, but some of them are so much of a coincidence that it makes you question everything.

Is the colour scheme of the Simpsons living room a blind coincidence, or the smoking gun that reveals Groening to be a time traveller after all? Did Pantone stop using the ‘zeitgeist’ to decide their Colour of the Year in 2010 and instead just pointed to a different part of the Simpsons living room? Who knows? All we know is that we may have gotten quite carried away by this discovery.

All the “Official” Trump Towers – and one unofficial one ;)

Ah, Mr Trump. We’re pretty sure you’ve heard of him. If not, Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America, and well, he isn’t a very popular man…

Despite his current role as President of the United States of America, Trump’s career actually began in real estate, working for his father, Fred Trump. Fred owned a very successful real estate firm, building and selling houses for soldiers and their families in World War ll. Donald eventually took over the business, changed its name to The Trump Organization, and mostly dealt with estate investments for large apartment buildings and the Federal Housing Administration.

Almost 10 years later, Trump teamed up with the Holiday Inn, Corp., and developed a multimillion hotel and casino complex. From here, Trump soared, and now owns 12 towers under the Trump brand.

But as many of you might know, all is not as it seems in the world of Trump Towers.

While researching the real story of the Trump Real Estate Corporation, we discovered an additional 3 buildings that were either never started, cancelled or weren’t even going to be a ‘thing’.

 

trumps towers and facts illustrated

Trump Tower NYC

Trump Tower in New York City are Trump’s main headquarters. Construction of the skyscraper began in 1979 and today it contains apartments, offices, and shops. President Trump, and some of his family, are also known to reside in this building.

Facts About Trump Tower NYC:

  • The building stands at approx. 202m/663 feet
  • Has 58 floors
  • Opened in 1983
  • Cost $300 million
  • The architect/developer for the project was Der Scutt
  • Located in Manhattan, New York City, United States

Trump Towers, Istanbul

Trump Towers in Istanbul consists of 2 skyscrapers conjoined (hence the plural “towers”). One of the buildings is an office tower, and the other is residential.

Trump Towers Istanbul currently houses 200 residents, 80 shops, and a multiplex cinema.

Facts About Trump Towers Istanbul:

  • The height of the 2 buildings is approx 155m/509 feet
  • 1 of the towers has 39 floors, the other has 37 floors
  • Both towers were opened in 2010
  • Cost $300 million
  • The architect/developer for the project was Brigitte Weber Architectural Office
  • Located in Şişli, Istanbul, Turkey

Trump Towers Sunny Isles Beach, Florida

Smaller than the previous buildings, Trump Towers in Florida are still a sight to behold thanks to the 3 identical towers and contemporary architecture. All the buildings consist solely of living accommodation, housing 271 units each.

Facts About Trump Towers Sunny Isles Beach, Florida:

  • All 3 towers sit at approx. 140.5m/461 feet high
  • There are 45 floors in each tower
  • All of the skyscrapers were opened in 2008
  • Cost $900 million
  • The architect/developer for the project was Dezer Properties
  • Located in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, United States

Trump Tower White Plains, New York

Another one of Trump’s smaller skyscrapers is the Trump Tower White Plains. Construction began in 2003 and ended in 2005. This building is another accomodation-only skyscraper that upon opening, housed 212 redsidents.

Facts About Trump Tower White Plains, New York

Trump Towers Pune, India

This particular complex may have made our list, however the buildings are not owned or developed by The Trump Organization, nor has The Trump Organization funded this project.

Trump Towers Pune has an unpublic licensing deal with Trump which has given them the rights to use the name ‘Trump’ (hardly an unusual phenomenon).

Because of the unpublic nature of this deal, we’re limited with the details we can share, such as the cost, architects, and developers, but here are a few details for those interested in these 2 buildings.

Facts About Trump Towers Pune, India:

  • 2 buildings sitting at 87.93m high
  • 24 floors, all residential
  • The buildings were opened in 2016
  • Located in Pune, India

Trump Tower Manila, Philippines

Trump Tower Manila, or Trump Tower at Century City, is a residential building, and currently stands as the second-tallest building in the Philippines. Reservations for the rooms began in 2011, 6 years before the tower’s construction was completed!

Facts About Trump Towers Manila, Philippines:

  • The skyscraper sits at 280m/918.64 feet high
  • 57 floors of residential accommodation occupy the building
  • Opened in November of 2017
  • Cost $150 million
  • The architect/developer for this building was Broadway Malyan
  • Located in Metro Manila, Philippines

Trump World Tower, NYC

President Trump, and his partners, purchased a building in 1997. In ‘98  they demolished it and started to build Trump World Tower in ‘99. The skyscraper was completed 2 years later, in 2001.

Upon completion, it’s known that Trump purchased unused air rights from over 7 neighbouring low-rise properties.

Facts About Trump World Tower, NYC:

  • 262m/861 feet in height
  • 72 floors, all residential condominium
  • Opened in 2001
  • Cost $300 million
  • The architect/developer behind this build was Costas Kondylis & Partners LLP Architects, who also helped with the Trump Tower White Plains build
  • Located in Manhattan, New York City, United States

Trump Tower Punta del Este, Uruguay (not yet built)

A new tower to add to President Trump’s collection, the Trump Tower Punta del Este is currently under construction. Plans for the building were announced in 2012, with construction beginning in 2014. Under the watchful eye of Trump’s son, Eric Trump, the building is set to be completed in early 2020.

Facts about Trump Tower Punta del Este, Uruguay:

  • The building is estimated to stand at 85m/279 feet when completed
  • 26 floors have been announced, all for residential housing
  • It’s estimated to open at some point in 2020
  • Cost $120 million
  • Architect/developer working on the project is Dujovne-Hirsch & Associates
  • Located in Punta del Este, Uruguay

Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago

The Trump International Hotel and Tower sits proudly by the Chicago River. The skyscraper was, at first, announced as the tallest building in the world but due to the 9/11 attacks a few months later, Trump redesigned the building and it’s now the world’s fourth tallest.

Facts About Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago:

  • Sits at a whopping 423.20m high
  • Has 98 floors used for retail, parking, condominiums and a hotel
  • Opened its doors in 2009
  • Cost $847 million
  • Architect/developer of the build was Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
  • Located in Chicago, Illinois

Trump International Hotel and Tower, NYC

Similar to the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, the NYC version also houses a combination of hotel rooms and residential housing. This skyscraper is far shorter and doesn’t have the retail space of its Chicago sibling, but it still sits proudly between Broadway and Central Park – one of the most sort after areas in New York.

Facts About Trump International Hotel and Tower, NYC:

  • 177.62m tall
  • Consists of 44 floors, used for residential condominium and a hotel
  • Originally opened in 1971, renovated by Trump, and reopened in 1997
  • Cost $230 million (renovation costs)
  • The original architect was Thomas E. Stanley, it was then renovated by Philip Johnson and Costas Kondylis
  • Located in Manhattan, New York City, United States

Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower, Panama

This a bit of a juicy one… we’re sure Donald Trump was thrilled with the outcome of this building!

The Trump Organization ran this hotel and residential condominium under the name “Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower” for 7 years, until March 2018. At this time, a Cypriot businessman, Orestes Fintiklis, bought a majority stake in the tower and legally removed The Trump Organization from the tower. In 2015, Orestes had the name Trump removed from the building and, as recently as March 2018, had the Trump name removed from the hotel. The hotel was then renamed The Bahia Grand Panama.

Eek, bit of a blow for Donald Trump!

Facts About The Bahia Grand Panama:

  • Sits 293m high
  • 70 floors used for a hotel and residential housing
  • Opened in 2011
  • Cost $400 million
  • Architect/developer for the project was Arias Serna Saravia
  • Located in Panama City, Panama

Trump International Hotel and Tower, Vancouver

Another hotel and residential housing tower by The Trump Organization, construction on this beautiful tower in Canada started in 2012. Plans for the building began in 2009, however the project was temporarily cancelled in February 2009, with developers confirming the project would proceed in August of the same year.

Facts About The Trump International Hotel and Tower, Vancouver:

Trump Projects that Were Cancelled, Never Completed, or Never Started

Trump Towers, Rio

If this project was completed, Donald Trump would have been the proud owner of the “largest office complex in Brazil” award. Unfortunately the Trump Towers Rio was proposed and announced in 2012, with a five-tower office and mixed-use complex, but due to a lengthy wait in government approval, the project never started.

It’s been said that The Trump Organization is no longer involved with the project and a date for starting work on the site has not been confirmed.

Facts About So-Close-Yet-So-Far Trump Tower, Rio:

  • The 5 towers would have sat at approx. 150m high
  • 38 floors were proposed in all 5 towers
  • 2 of the buildings were expected to open in 2016, ahead of the city’s summer Olympics
  • Cost $2.5 billion
  • Architect/developer for this project was announced as Aflalo & Gasperini Arquitetos
  • (Would have been) located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Trump Tower, Tampa

This is a pretty simple one. Sadly, Trump Tower Tampa, which would have been visible from miles around, never commenced construction due to an economic collapse of the real estate market.

Facts About So-Close-Yet-So-Far Trump Tower, Tampa:

  • The tower would have been around 183m in height
  • 52 floors, all for residential condominium
  • Would have opened sometime in, or after, 2007
  • Cost $225 million
  • Architect/developer for this project was announced as Smith Barnes Santiesteban Architecture
  • (Would have been) located in Tampa, Florida, United States

Trump Tower, Moscow

Lastly, we have Trump Tower, Moscow. Officially, this project was never even a “thing”. In fact, just a few months ago, in November 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow.

Cohen lies:

  • The building would have been the tallest in Europe, at 1,516 feet
  • It would have consisted of 100 floors for residential housing and a hotel
  • Projected cost was more than $300 million
  • (Would have been) located in Moscow, Russia

Travel Posters for Must-See Fictional Destinations

Travel posters just aren’t what they used to be, so it makes sense that vintage versions are now staples of interior design. Pre-internet, people would commission artists to create alluring portraits of the world’s go-to destinations, but this was during the golden age of travel. Far-flung countries were suddenly just a short flight away and everyone was (understandably) desperate to see something new.

The popularity of vintage travel posters inspired us to create some of our own – but not for retro holiday destinations – for famous, fictional locations featured in TV and film. Fancy visiting a galaxy far, far away? And maybe doing a spot of time travelling too..?

The Shire

vintage travel poster for The Shire, Lord of the Rings

If you’re not familiar with Tolkien’s world, then you might not know that a lot of crazy things happen in Middle-Earth, and that the famous Shire is the safe haven of the peaceful humanoid race known as Hobbits. Unless, that is, your name is Baggins – but let’s leave that tale for another time…

Of all the fictional places depicted on film and TV, The Shire is arguably up there amongst the most inviting. The Hobbits live in cosy cottage-style homes dug into the ground, surrounded by lush, green countryside. Why not make a visit to the Shire your next great adventure?

Gilead

vintage travel poster for Gilead, The Handmaid's Tale

Gilead is the regime that seized the United States of America in the classic novel and now hit TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale.

Depicting a USA that has been taken over by an extremist Christian patriarchal regime, the story follows Offred, a handmaid, as she navigates the new Republic of Gilead. This travel poster may depict Gilead as a quaint and pleasant place, but there’s a lot more happening than meets the eye…

Metropolis

Vintage travel poster for Metropolis, Superman

Fancy flying over to Metropolis?

Metropolis is the urban playground in which Superman’s escapades unfold. Not the first, but widely seen as the “original” superhero, Superman popularised the entire genre. He’s still a key figure on the superhero scene today; fighting crime, and raking in billions at the box office while he’s at it.

Working as a journalist for The Daily Planet by day, Superman can be called on at any time to fight crime. His place of work is the main subject of this travel poster, and a must-see if you decide to add Metropolis to your bucket list.

Mos Eisley

Vintage travel poster for Mos Eisley, Star Wars

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy, or so says Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker upon arrival at sketchy spaceport, Mos Eisley. It’s on the planet of Tatooine (and definitely not in Tunisia…)

Mos Eisley’s spaceport is a lawless place known to attract space villains. Want to travel there? You’ll have to have your wits about you (and learning some Jedi mind tricks couldn’t hurt, either).

Hogwarts

Vintage travel poster for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

A visit to Hogwarts isn’t for everyone. Muggles (those of us without magical blood) won’t be treated to the spectacle that is the sprawling Scottish castle housing Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. Thanks to a powerful disguising charm, we’ll simply see a pile of ruins.

However, underneath this charm Hogwarts is there for all the wizarding community to see. Located somewhere in Scotland, this school would 100% fail every OFSTED inspection by a country mile, but if you’re a young witch or wizard, your time at Hogwarts will be the best years of your life – after you’ve fought three-headed dogs, been attacked by a troll, chased by giant spiders, and joined a secret army to fight the world’s most evil wizard in the courtyard of your school, of course.

Still, the scenery is just beautiful…

Rooms of Historical and Cultural Significance: A Window into Creative Spaces

Sometimes a room is much more than functional. Many rooms are mundane and practical, but some perform a much more important purpose. They’re inspiring or comforting, helping people to be their best selves. These are the rooms that make history.

We’ve looked through the window at some of these rooms. Whether they provide inspiration for music, writing, technology or art, we’re sure you’ll be familiar with something that began in one of these symbolic rooms. So, what do they look like? Peek through the windows below.

illustration of the interior of Steve Job's living room

Who: Steve Jobs

Where: 1982 Living Room, Los Gatos, California

What: The rise of Apple

Known for his minimalism, here’s a glimpse of Steve Jobs’ living room. Despite being a multi-millionaire at the time, you’ll notice there isn’t a great deal in his room. Furniture? Who needs it. A cup of tea, a light and some music are all he needed for inspiration.

Illustration of the inside of Frida Kahlo's studio

Who: Frida Kahlo

Where: Casa Azul, Coyoacan, Mexico

What: The Art Studio where Frida created many of her masterpieces and recovered from her horrific injuries.

Frida always returned to her family home, Casa Azul. In fact, she was born and died there. Her home, and particularly her art studio, had a huge influence on her creative work.

Illustration of John and Yoko's bedroom

Who: John Lennon & Yoko Ono

Where: Room 1742 Fairmont, The Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal

What: The 2nd ‘Bed-In for Peace’ location, where ‘Give Peace a Chance’ was written and recorded

After a visit from a Toronto rabbi during their second bed in for peace, John and Yoko developed their lyrics for ‘Give Peace a Chance’. They recorded the track in this room, featuring many other personalities who supported their plight for peace.

Illustration of Roald Dahl's writing hut

Who: Roald Dahl

Where: Writing Hut, Garden

What: The room where he penned many of his later books

Roald Dahl’s writing hut was fundamental to his work. Inspired by Dylan Thomas’ Welsh writing shed, and constructed by a friend, Dahl would spend his days writing in his custom-built environment. Alterations were made for comfort, to aid his writing processes and free him of any unwanted distractions.

Illustration of Ernest Hemmingway's home study

Who: Ernest Hemingway

Where: Home Study, Key West, Florida

What: Hemingway worked on the following novels in this study: Death in the Afternoon, Green Hills of Africa, To Have and Have Not, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Hemingway worked in his home study from 6am until noon, to help him avoid the stifling Floridian heat and humidity. Filled with treasured antiques and his trusty typewriter, this inspiring environment was obviously a great creative aid.

Illustration of Dylan Thomas' writing shed

Who: Dylan Thomas

Where: Writing Shed, near the Boathouse, Laugharne, Wales

What: Thomas wrote some of his most famous works here, including the poem ‘Over Sir John’s Hill’ which describes his view from the shed.

This cliff top shed had inspiring views; perfect for getting those creative juices flowing. Whilst living in the Boathouse, Thomas would retreat to his shed to write. Everything could be seen from here; from beauty and life, to death and tragedy, which all fostered creativity.

Nicknames for Buildings Around the World, Illustrated

Today, iconic new buildings are likely to be as well-known (or in many cases, better known) for their nicknames, as they are for their design. In fact, it seems that as soon as work on a new building wraps up (and often before), the race to get a nickname that sticks is on.

Below is a series of illustrated postcards that depict some of the world’s most widely-recognised buildings as they are best known – by their nicknames.

the armadillo glasgow illustrated

Designed to extend the capacity of the SECC complex, this distinctive building in Glasgow was originally known as the Clyde Auditorium. However, it fast became so widely known as “The Armadillo” that its name was eventually changed.

the bathtub amsterdam illustrated

The delayed and vastly over budget Stedelijk Museum earned its nickname “The Bathtub” long before completion, and it’s easy to see why – this unusual construction bears more than a passing resemblance to a 100,000 square foot bath. Saying that, nobody’s really sure why. Mels Crouwel – Stedelijk’s lead architect – states the design is a “nod to the old Stedelijk’s white rooms”, but that answer does little to explain its uncanny likeness to a bathtub.

the batman building nashville illustrated

Completed in 1994, the 33 storey AT&T building in Nashville is not only the tallest building in the city; it’s the tallest building in the whole state of Tennessee. It earned the nickname “The Batman Building” thanks to its unmistakable resemblance to Batman’s mask.

the beehive new zealand illustrated

Few people hold the 60s and 70s in high regard when it comes to architecture. In fact, buildings from the period are frequently reviled, and are pulled down and replaced almost as often. New Zealand’s Beehive might be an exception. Originally conceived in 1964, the construction itself didn’t start until 1969. It was then built in stages until it was finally completed 10 years later, in 1979. Serving as the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament buildings, the Beehive gained its name thanks to its shape, which is akin to a type of beehive known as a “skep”.

the cheesegrater london illustrated

The Leadenhall Building offers 48 floors of commercial space in the heart of London’s financial district. Completed in 2014 it gained the nickname the Cheesegrater when the City of London Corporation’s chief planning officer, Peter Rees, saw the model of the building and told its designer that he could “imagine his wife using it to grate Parmesan”.

the gherkin london illustrated

Another distinctive work of architecture in London’s financial district, in 2015 the Gherkin (formerly known as the Swiss Re Tower) secured the accolade of being the UK’s most recognisable building nickname. The building is home to 33 floors of offices but is also open to the public, housing a number of venues at which you can eat, drink and enjoy the view.

the sponge boston illustrated

The Sponge is the unofficial name for Simmons Hall – a state-of-the-art halls of residence located on the grounds of MIT (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology). The sponge-like effect exists thanks to the thousands of two foot square windows that adorn the building and from a distance, create an effect not unlike the holes on a sponge – something that designer Steven Holl set out to do when he was commissioned to work on the building in 1999.

IDEAL DAY vs REAL DAY title

The Ideal Day vs The Real Day

Many of us wake up each morning with a vision of our “ideal” day. We mean to eat healthy food (just not too much of it). We plan to get at least half an hour’s exercise.  We intend to fill our evening catching up with friends or family or doing something to “expand our mind”, like reading a book, or binge-watching documentaries.

In reality our good intentions tend to fall by the wayside from the moment we start pressing the snooze button and get up half an hour later than intended. The salad we planned to prepare for lunch gets swapped for a supermarket meal deal and our nutritional powerhouse breakfast of eggs and avocado, or porridge and fruit, gets passed up for the donut we grab as we’re dashing out the door. And don’t get us started on the cake we chomped on at 3pm – it was a colleague’s birthday/someone baked it /it was 50% off (delete as appropriate) – it’d be rude not to.

Of course this doesn’t matter since we’ll work it off later jogging or in the gym, right? Well, that’s the plan, until 5 o’clock rolls around and the sofa seems so much more appealing that sweating it out on a treadmill. But it’s okay, we’ll make the most of our downtime. We’ll call a friend we’ve not spoken to for a while for a catch up and then we’ll get stuck into that book we’ve been meaning to get started on. Or we will, just as soon as we’ve watched this cat video, it looks like a good one…

…feel familiar?

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Movie Buildings in the Real World

Movie Buildings in the Real World

If iconic movie buildings were real, where would they be? See if you can guess both the movie and the real-world location.

Cinderella’s Castle 

Cinderella’s Castle was inspired by old Bavarian and eastern European architecture like Neuschwanstein, a fairytale-esque castle that sits on a hill above the Bavarian village of Hohenschwangau, and the Church of Mother of God before Týn, in Prague’s old town. It makes sense then that the real Cinderella’s Castle would sit in one of these locations, and we think it looks right at home at the end of the medieval Charles Bridge, in Prague.

(Tap the image to discover more!)

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Mos Eisely

The Mos Eisely scenes in Star Wars were filmed in Tunisia, a desert location that clearly influenced the set design. Here, however, we’ve placed the structures in Giza, to contrast the humble Tatooine huts against the spectacular Egyptian pyramids.

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Barad-dûr 

Look at London’s skyline and you might assume the city’s architecture had been inspired by Tolkien’s Middle Earth, and you wouldn’t be the only one. The similarities between The Shard and the black land of Mordor haven’t gone unnoticed, so where else would a real-world Barad-dûr (Sauron’s tower) reside but there?

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Yavin 4 Rebel Base 

Did you know that Central Park has 31 cameras covering its grounds? Yet the whole of the Bronx (at more than 40x its size) only has only 43? Neither did we. In what feels like a little bit of security mismanagement, the relatively peaceful Central Park is more closely guarded than the crime ridden Bronx. What better way to comment on this but with the inclusion of the guards that oversaw the protection of Yavin 4?

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Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry

JK Rowling made Edinburgh her home while writing the Harry Potter series, and as a result many of her wizarding world’s most iconic landmarks and locations were inspired by the city. What better place for a real-life Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry then, than amongst the cobbled streets of this ancient city, with its great castle looming over it from Castle Rock?

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Emerald City

The vast expanse of Russia’s Red Square with its colourful Cathedral is ideal as the backdrop for the bright lights of Oz’s Emerald City.

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Jedi Temple

Manhattan is often described as the “cultural, financial, media and entertainment capital of the world”, so where else would the central hub for all Jedi activities, the Jedi Temple, be located than amongst the high-rise architecture of the Big Apple?

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Atlantis

In The Spy Who Loved Me James bond investigated the hijacking of British and Russian submarines carrying nuclear warheads, and featured the now iconic Atlantic Citadel. Echoing the Battle of Sydney Harbour of 1942 in which the Japanese attacked using submarines, we decided to merge the fact and the fiction. The wave like curves of the Sydney Opera House and sea creature like structure of the citadel made for an aesthetically pleasing combination that supported similarity of fact and fiction.

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Derelict Alien Ship

With its rich history of ships, pirates, and the location of the world’s busiest container port, Shanghai seemed like a great place for the derelict commercial ship from the original Alien film. Weave into that some of the futuristic architecture that is dotted around the city – from the flying saucer like structure of the Shanghai Museum, to the glowing orb of the Oriental Art Centre – and you have a city that is both futuristic and connected to the past; the perfect complement to the design and feel of the original Alien film.

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Bates Motel

There is a camera shot in Hitchcock’s Psycho in which the viewer looks up at the foreboding structure of the Bates family home. Knowing the story and the fate that befell Norman’s mother gives what is a beautiful (fake) house its symbolic eeriness. The steps that lead up to that house reminded us of the immense structure of El Castillo at Chichen Itza, and the steps that are integral to the pyramid.  When you add in the Mayan culture of human sacrifice for the nourishment of the gods, you have a connection between the two that cannot be denied. Maybe that’s what Hitchcock was hinting at all along?

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The Craziest Things You Can Eat Around the Home

Have you ever been sat at home, STARVING, but not really sure what you fancy to eat?

Well, thanks to this guide, you can find a whole range of things you’d never known you can consume!

…and potentially a whole range of things you’d never want to consume, even though you can:

Things you can eat around the house

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There are some weird and wonderful things inside and outside your home that you can eat and still remain perfectly healthy – some of which are downright bizarre. Whilst you can technically eat a lot of this stuff, we probably wouldn’t recommend doing so unless your life depended on it. Remember, if you’re not sure whether you can eat something, DON’T!

 

Tree Bark

The inner layer of bark from many trees including aspen, birch, willow, maple and pine is actually completely edible. This nutritious layer of bark known as the ‘cambium’ can be eaten raw (shredded), boiled to make rustic pasta or even dried and ground to make flour to make bread, soup or a breakfast gruel. Any resin that oozes out whilst preparing can also be eaten uncooked and is full of energy.

 

Snails

Mmmm! Purge snails – removing their toxins – by feeding them on carrots for several days before eating them. You can easily find snails outside after it has rained, and you can fry them in butter, garlic and white wine.

 

Dandelions

Every single part of a dandelion is edible – from its roots to its flowers! Dandelion tea is also proven to help with digestion. Ensure you harvest your dandelions early in order to avoid bitterness of older plants.

 

Leather

You’d have to be as tough as old boots to eat this, but leather is actually edible; despite the fact it holds little-to-no nutritional value. Ensure it has not been tanned with toxic chemicals. You should probably avoid trying to eat this.

 

Squirrels

Cute, furry, delicious…wait, what?! Please remember, squirrels – and all rodents – have the high potential to carry disease. Red squirrels are also endangered – please don’t hurt them.

 

Chalk

Capable of giving you approximately 0 calories per 100g, chalk isn’t exactly the most energy-packed food you can resort to. You also must be careful – as with all foods in this post – that it doesn’t contain anything toxic before taking a bite.

 

Nettles

Tasting similar to spinach, with hints of cucumber, nettles are a surprisingly tasty – albeit painful – choice of food. Use gloves, avoid places pooppopular with dog walkers.

 

House Plants

Don’t just eat any old houseplant. However, it’s entirely possible to grow many edible plants within the home – herbs, peppers, salad leaves and more.

 

Woodlice

Shrimp-like in flavour (apparently), woodlice can be found in abundance in most gardens. Just like with snails, woodlice should be purged of their toxins a few days prior to eating these calcium-packed insects.

 

Pine Needles

Pine needles can be diced and brewed into pine needle tea; probably not the hot drink your friend wants when they come to visit, unless they’re looking to prevent scurvy – which this is great for!

Movie Characters in Their Day Jobs

You’ve all seen the films:

Action.

Drama.

Grown men in questionable costumes. Two-to-three hours of complete awesomeness.

But what happens when the dust settles down? It’s a little known fact that behind closed doors, your favourite movie characters actually return to a typical 9-to-5. After all, there are already tonnes of people employed to fight crime and keep the planet safe, and they’ve still got to put food on the table.

 

Dumbledoor – Aspire Doors’ Biggest Competitor

Dumbledoors2

Dumbledoor might be a great headteacher in Harry Potter’s eyes, but he’s not fooling us. He’s also a terrible manager of a door company. We’ve heard that he runs an ‘Employee of the Year’ competition where there’s always one person that is a clear winner, before he eventually awards it to a different guy that broke all of the rules all year long, only to fight off a dragon or a snake or something equally as brave against Health and Safety regulations at the last minute.

 

Thor – Handyman

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Thor is actually one of the top handymen in Midgard, as long as you require the extremely niche service of having things hammered into your wall, floor or garden. The perfect man to help install your internal bifold door!

 

Magneto – Scrap Metal Man

Magneto

Aaaaannyyy oooold scrraaaap irrrooooooon…aaannnnnyyy ollld scraaaap irrroooooonnnn…

We can’t offer much insight as to what Magneto does during the day, because other than blaring out requests in the streets at all times of the day, no-one is really sure what scrap metal men do or how their van is always full.

 

Hannibal – Home Caterer

hannibal

Questionable customer service, low prices. Very exclusive menu options.

 

Elsa – Fridge-Freezer Repair Girl

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Do you want to fix your freezer?

 

E.T. – Home Telecom Provider

ET

E.T. is helping everyone to be able to phone home whenever they wish with just the touch of a finger. Better service than BT, guaranteed.

 

Bruce Wayne – Man Caves

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If you’ve got money to spend and you’ve had a lady take over your bachelor pad, there’s only one thing for it: man cave.