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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

COOL HUNTING (article first published : 2008-01-2)

Take the word “cool” in its modern format and mix it with “hunting” in the sense of pursuit with intent to capture, and “Cool Hunting” ends up as meaning “to look for things from around the globe that are really cool.”

“Cool Hunters”, so says the press release, “are a new breed of trend watchers who travel the virtual world in a constant search for cutting edge designs. This phenomenon has spawned various websites showcasing their finds.” It goes on to assure readers that nobody paid to be included in the publication but selection was made purely on the basis of ‘cool’. The result is an “irreverent, ironic and eclectic mix of products designed in every corner of the globe”.

Compiled by Dave Evans, an award-winning Australian photographer and self-confessed net junkie, Cool Hunting is a pictorial exploration through novel ideas and products in the connection of design, culture and technology and features. Dave Evans compiles a guide of exciting new cultural trends that capture youth culture, street fashion and lifestyle.

When paging through the book, my immediate response was “Austin Powers meets the Jetson’s”. The funkiness of 1970’s retro design polished with the surrealist notions of the uncanny - mirrored the Jetson’s futuristic innovations.

This virtual shopping catalogue (with the website addresses quoted at the bottom of each page) allows you to spice up each area of you life with cool, cheeky, bizarre and kitsch products.

Upholstered vinyl Skateboards for a soft-cushioned skate or The Voltaic solar bags which are mobile solar power generators designed to charge virtually all handheld electronics; a TV remote control combined with beads- for watching TV in an unusual form. An all-transparent two-passenger kayak; eye protection for dogs- “Doggles” - and vitamin-enriched underwear, just to name a few…

It is the essential future trend guide to inject the “Kultcha” of cool into anything from your underwear to your car. All the things you would want but would probably never use. Even the idea of the book is innovative in itself - no editorial or advertising fees for the artists. It’s the ultimate “cool” coffee table book and you will recognise it in your local book store by its distinctive front cover of lower female legs encased in wooden stilts.

I asked my uncle, who is an engineer, to give me his impression: He responded that it was a delightful photographic essay of contemporary images to challenge the minds of ad executives and designers countrywide. He particularly enjoyed and found stimulating the fold-up Geekbike, the elegant Bird Table, Happy (Reversible) Glasses (cocktail glass on one end and wine glass on the other) and Golden Jubilee (gold plated jubilee hose clamps), not to mention the keyboard handbag!

Cool Hunting is published in paperback by Jacana Media and retails at R165. ISBN 978-1-77009-401-7 – Kate MacIldowie




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