Category Archives: Infographics

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?

IDEAL DAY vs REAL DAY optimised

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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

thorvan3

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

elsa (1)

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

bwayne-caves (1)

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.

The Best of the Best Places to Live in the UK

Have you ever been confused by lists that judge the supposed ‘best places to live‘?

Each list can be easily torn apart based on one simple question; best for who? What’s best for one person might not be best for another. That’s why we’ve put together this useful infographic, which looks at the best places to live in the UK for all sorts of reasons;  rural living, urban living, job prospects, big city life, enjoying retirement, value-for-money, raising a family, living by the sea, cheap properties and quality of life. Aaaaaannd…breathe!

Best of the best UK infographic

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For rural living, Rutland in the East Midlands tops the charts with more than 96% of residents reporting good or fairly good health, along with one of the country’s lowest crime rates. Throw in high average earnings and a population that is among the most happy in Britain and you’ve got yourself the perfect rural location.

For urban living, Moseley in Birmingham comes top of the pile. Culture, nightlife and entertainment all play their part, as does its proximity to Birmingham’s city centre and local schools.

Surprise, surprise, London grabs top spot when it comes to job prospects. The number of businesses in the city has increased by a third since 2004, with the number of jobs increasing by 18% in the same time period.

The first location on this list that falls outside of England is the best big city to live in; Cardiff. High salaries, low living costs and high levels of life satisfaction make this the best big city to live in, according to MoneySupermarket.

For enjoying retirement, Dorset comes out on top according to Prudential’s quality of retirement index. Local residents were found to be highly likely to own property and be in good health.

In terms of value-for-money, the Welsh town of Blaenau Gwent ranks best – allowing you to get a square foot of home for just £76.80. Compare this to Kensington and Chelsea, where each square foot will cost you a monsterous £1,008.36.

St. Bees, Cumbria is deemed best for raising a family according to a Family Investment study, due to low crime rates, high salaries, affordable properties and a close knit community feel. The village is also home to a private school that boasts a 100% GCSE and A-Level pass rate (2013/14).

For living by the sea, Rhossili – the third Welsh location on this list – is the best according to TripAdvisor, which ranks their stunning three-mile golden beach as the best in the UK, and ninth best in the world! There is also easy accessibility into Swansea, Wales’s second largest city.

When it comes to cheap properties, North Ormesby in Middlesbrough can’t be beaten – with an average house price of just £57,480 and some properties available for as little as £30,000. However, there is also a decreasing population and unemployment rates that are three times the national average.

Finally, Hart in Hampshire rounds off our infographic as the best place to live for overall quality of life. Boasting the UK’s highest life expectancy (that’s 83 years for men and even more for women) along with low crime rates, high employment rates and average incomes, along with a content and happy population, Hart cannot be beaten for all-around life quality. Their houses look great and likely have some gorgeous external doors on them!

The World’s Most Expensive Homes [Infographic]

Ever wondered what the most expensive houses around the world are and how much they go for? Wonder no more, as we’ve rounded up 10 of the most expensive houses the world has ever seen…

Worlds Most Expensive Houses

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Hearst’s Mansion – $95m

This house was made famous in ‘The Godfather’ in a scene in which a Hollywood movie producer awoke to find a severed horses head in bed with him.

This ‘mansion’ is actually four houses, an apartment and a cottage all together; totaling 29 bedrooms, along with a movie theater, a disco and much more. It was once the most expensive house on the US market at $165m.

Maison de l’Amitie  – $95m

The Maison de l’Amitie is perfect for if you need separate guest cottages for all of your visitors – because clearly 18 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms isn’t enough in the main house alone.

The owner of the property, Dmitry Rybolovlev – who also owns AS Monaco FC – had what is believed to be the most expensive divorce settlement in history, with Swiss courts ordering him to pay $4.5bn to his ex-wife.

Palo Alto Loire Chateau – $100m

This house became the first ‘single-family home’ in the US to sell for more than $100m. Does your single-family home have 14 bathrooms, a ballroom and a private car wash?

The owner of the property, Yuri Milner, is an investor in Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Groupon and lots of other highly successful online businesses, and is worth over $1.8bn.

One57 Penthouse – $100.5m

The One57 Penthouse features 23ft high ceilings, so can even accommodate basketball players. Along with this, it has glass curtain walls that offer a panoramic view of Central Park.

As well as having access to all of the Park Hyatt hotel amenities (which takes up the first 39 floors of the building), owners also have their own private amenities floor, complete with gym, pool, library and theater. Not too shabby.

Fleur de Lys – $125m

Along with a 24-karat gold trimmed interior, there is also a 50-seat home cinema and a host of museum-worthy furniture inside Fleur de Lys; including Napoleon’s favourite chair!

Franchuk Villa – $129m

This five story, 10-bedroom Victorian villa used to be an all-girls school until 1997.

In 2006, developers purchased the property for £20m, spent £10m on refurbishing it and then sold it on for £80m two years later. There can’t be too many houses in the world that have been sold for £50m profit within a couple of years, surely?

Bran Castle – $135m

Famous for once housing Vlad the Impaler – better know as Count Dracula – this not-so-homely castle is an extremely popular tourist destination, with over 500,000 people visiting every year.

One Hyde Park Penthouse – $214m

You might think that $214m would get you a house of total luxury, but apparently not – or at least it seems that way – based on the owner planning to spend upwards of $90m on further renovations.

What else could need to be renovated? It already has iris scanners, bulletproof windows, SAS Special Forces protection (seriously), private gyms, his-and-her studies…just the typical stuff you’d find in an everyday house, I guess.

Rutland Gate – $485m

Although appearing conservative from the outside, the Hariri mansion at Rutland Gate is the largest single-family home in the UK other than Buckingham Palace, with 45 bedrooms.

Antilia – $1bn

The Antilia home of Mukesh Ambani is technically 40-stories tall, with each room almost twice the height of a typical room.

Inside the house is a Hindu temple, health spas, yoga studios, swimming pools, gardens (inside!), a 168-car garage, three helipads (yes, three), a 50-seat movie studio and over 600 staff work at the property. At $1bn, it seems like a steal…

You can start your property’s journey to turning it into a palace by finishing it off with one of our exquisite external bifold doors.

A Guide to Dinner Party Etiquette

Are you planning on hosting a dinner party? Do you regularly have guests around for dinner? Or perhaps you’ve been invited to a dinner party and you don’t know what to expect or how to act?

Check out our infographic below that will give you all of the right and wrong things to do when hosting or visiting a dinner party; whether that be with your friends, business associates or whomever.

An infographic about dinner party etiquette

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Etiquette for the Host:

You should always plan your menu well in advance, and have a theme if possible. Consider the season when planning; lighter foods (such as soup) are great in the summer whereas meals like stews and roasts are more popular in the winter.

Make sure your table is well set; iron the tablecloth, polish the silverware, and leave glassware absolutely sparkling.

Be sure to entertain your guests when they arrive, and only offer pre-dinner cocktails if there’s going to be at least a one hour wait until food is served. Remember: during dinner, guests should never have to ask for a refill.

For your meal, never serve heavy or spicy dishes back-to-back, and, likewise, don’t serve successive sweet dishes either.

And remember: internal bi-folding doors always look fantastic at a dinner party or when inviting guests to your house!

Etiquette for the Guests:

When attending a dinner party, you should always bring a gift for your host. Ensure that it’s personal if you know the host, but always present it discreetly.

When sitting at the table, you should always have both feet firmly on the floor – do not have your legs crossed. Unfold your napkin, place it on your knee, and wait patiently to be served.

Always work from the outside in on your cutlery when served with each course. When holding your drink, always hold the glass by the stem – never leave fingerprints or lip-prints.

Be sure to always talk about cheerful, pleasant topics, and ensure that all compliments about the food are gracious but not over-the-top.

Want seconds? Don’t be scared to accept seconds if offered, but only after everyone has been served once.