Our most recent artistic pick is Milan-based, London-educated artist and sculptor, Benedetta Mori Ubaldini.
There is something strangely intriguing and mesmerizing about her chicken-wire sculptures.
Trying to put our finger on it, we came up with more than a few explanations why we love these so much.
One appealing aspect is that they look somehow unfinished and raw. The wire frame is usually the part of a sculpture we do not see. It is not the final product. And yet, these airy and lightweight pieces seem to lack nothing at all. They are very much finished and completed.
And the lightness and weightlessness, that floating feel, is another endearing quality. These pieces seem to be almost nonexistent. Barely there. About to disintegrate and vanish.
And that fleeting property of Ubaldini’s work is yet another reason why we cannot take our eyes off them. Something sneaky, shady, secretive and sly. Maybe even a bit evil and sinister. Maybe we shouldn’t be seeing these ephemeral sculpture innards at all?
Ubaldini’s work has graced store windows, art galleries and event spaces in many countries, and two of her smaller pieces are even on sale at Magis Me Too as decorations for children’s rooms.
In their incredible simplicity, her wire-frame, 3D-pieces leave us much room to interpret and come up with our own viewpoint. Is it good or bad, happy or sad, fun or sinister, serious or just plain playful junk?
For some reason, we want to take this artwork very seriously. We want her to do larger installations. Massive worlds and environments.
After all, if an artist’s work gives us reason to ponder, consider and think, it has given us the best gift art can give us. - Tuija Seipell.
Children deserve much more attention in urban planning than what they are getting currently. As small children and toddlers are not likely to raise their voices to demand the attention, it is up to us adults to do something about it.
We need to support, demand and finance more initiatives that help children – and their parents – enjoy the outdoors, even in urban settings.
French urban planning and architecture firm Espace Libre, has created a delightful multi-functional play area for toddlers in the commune of Alfortville, located 7.6 kilometres (4.7 miles) from the centre of Paris.
Completed this fall, the 2500 square-metre (26910 square foot) play area includes features that encourage exploration, interaction and experimentation through all the senses.
It includes multiple elevations, many kinds of surface textures, many varieties of vegetation and shrubs, and multiple colors. Several kinds of lighting, interactive structures for swinging and bouncing, and interesting surfaces – such as the strip of “street” meant for chalk art – all add variety to the enjoyment of this space. - Tuija Seipell.
If we had only one word to describe this residence, we’d use harmony. If we’d have just two, we’d use harmony and elegance. Luckily, we can use many more, and timeless is a third word that comes to mind immediately.
Architects Geert Bosch and Annemariken Hilberlink of Berlicum, Netherlands-based HILBERINKBOSCH architects designed this timeless gem for a couple whose children have already left the house.
The villa is located in Utrechtse Heuvelrug, a municipality in the Dutch province of Utrecht.
The key to the harmonious elegance of the house is the way it sits on its site. The pine-forested site has a height difference of six meters – a unique feature in the predominantly flat Dutch landscape. As requested by the clients, the architects took full advantage of the location.
As a result, the house appears to have been on this plot for a long time. It belongs here as it responds seamlessly to its surroundings.
The architects pick up even more elegance points through the timeless style of the building itself. Three masters inspired the refined grace: Frank Lloyd Wright for his mastery with natural scenery, Mies van der Rohe for the open and transparent plan, and Peter Zumthor for his brilliance with tactile materials.
The entire color scheme of the residence stems from the surrounding nature. The dunes inspired the color of the concrete, and the beige, orange and green hues of pine trees are reflected in the bricks.
The same seamless color scheme continues indoors where the forest and dunes seem to be just as present as they are outside. The owners love art and theatre, and their home is designed to be a perfect showcase for both. This is true especially in the double-height entrance area.
Let’s add a few more adjectives, just to prove how much we love this villa. Graceful. Chic. Cool. - Tuija Seipell
Like its namesake, the Paris-Nice express train of the 1950s, Le Mistral gift shop in Tokyo is precise and orderly.
With its navy blue base color and strict visual rules reminiscent of a dapper railway uniform, the interior is an effective vessel to display the tightly (strictly) edited selection of gift items from around the world.
Designed by Jumpei Matsushima of JP architects, the 61 square-meter (656 sq.ft.) shop is also thoroughly Japanese in its sparse coloring and its neat and exact (precise) division of space in ever-repeating rectangles.
By giving clear rules (in both meanings of the word), the plan allows daily changes to the displays without disturbing the balance and orderliness of the overall look.
Everything in the store, from furniture and fixtures to the actual merchandise, lines up with the grid that originates from the building’s structural frame. - Tuija Seipell
A simple take on the classic time-teller. Featuring a sandblasted, matte-black stainless steel case, with cool grey face and premium tan and black leather band.
With Japanese Quartz Movement, Stainless Steel Bezel, Case & Caseback this watch is both beautiful and high quality. $129 - Purchase here
The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park by Brazil (Pic - Massimo Vitali)
Chamonix Mont Blanc (Pic - Isabelle Jouvie)
Cathedrals Beach, Galicia, Spain
Loggas beach, Corfu island ~ Greece
Winnats Pass near Castleton Derbyshire, UK
Amsterdam (Pic - Sander Fennema)
The Seven Sisters Waterfall in Norway.
View the previous listings on our Amazing Places page here
Australian swimwear brand Seafolly leads the 2014 call of summer by collaborating on a music video with Australian artists, Panama. In a brand first, CEO Anthony Halas chose to launch the Seafolly summer collection in an original, distinctive format showcasing international ambassador Martha Hunt in a music clip directed by Daniel Askill.
The music video for Panama's new single "Stay Forever" follows Martha Hunt and a number of girls living in colder climates who are suddenly drawn to water and the irresistible Australian summer. The girls make a magical underwater migration to a secluded Australian beach paradise where they relish in the sun of the soft, white sand.
We are giving our vote of confidence to any brand that has the guts and skill to launch a new product the way Seafolly is doing it.
Hire the talent, be clear on your unique brand voice and execute with confidence. This is exactly the path brands must take today to attract attention - Bill Tikos
We are planning CJ Hendry's first solo show in December, but want to give you a preview of some of the work we will be showcasing.
Penfolds Grange Hermitage 105 x 155
Pool balls - 1 through to 15 - 60cm x 60cm - signed and framed
The 8 has already been sold - to pre-purchase the others, please get in touch.
Old School soccer ball
Also 3 x Golf Balls, 3 x Tennis Balls and 3 x Baseballs
Nike Soccer Ball - 120cm x 120cm
We arranged for CJ Hendry to meet Kanye West on the last leg of his Australian tour. She presented him with his very own hand-drawn US$100 bank note
Cj Hendry is exclusively represented by thecoolhunter.
Current issue of Vogue Living
Belgian twin brothers, Kristof and Stefan Boxy have dipped their culinary hands in several Michelin-star restaurants and catering businesses, and they’ve authored a cook book as well: Just Cooking.
We loved their food store/catering space, Boxy Fine Foods, in Ghent, but unfortunately it closed earlier this year. While we do not know the reason why it closed, we bet it wasn’t because of the interior design.
With the help of Frederich Hooft of Ghent, the Boxy brothers created an elegant, white, open space to display and sell gourmet foods.
The elaborate moldings on the ceilings, the sparkling chandeliers, the gilded mirrors and the wide floor boards speak of tradition, history and heritage, but not in a stuffy way. It feels fresh, new and modern with a few clever twists in the display set-ups.
From one angle at a doorway, a triple take on hanging items welcome the visitors: hams, chandeliers and hanging baskets with their mossy root balls.
The setting reminds us of a museum or an art gallery, which is partly the reason the whole enterprise appears opulent and luxurious and sets one up to expect high prices and superior quality. - Tuija Seipell.
See also Victor Churchill Butcher in Sydney
Good coffee was not on an average consumer’s radar in 1971, when the story of the brand now known as Starbucks began. This was the case especially in North America where coffee culture was nonexistent.
That all started to change when Howard Schultz bought Starbucks in 1987 and started its expansion outside Seattle with the first outside the U.S. store opening that same year in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Today, Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world with about 23,500 stores in 65 countries. With the changes in lifestyles around the world, Starbucks’s idea of the local coffee shop being the “third place” between work and home has really become a reality.
Working, meeting and cooperating at coffee shops has become the norm, as has the lingo of special coffees as customers around the world order tall skinny lattes fluently.
What Starbucks has also done is open the market for smaller specialized coffee shops for those markets where the giants don’t want to go, and for those customers who don’t want the same old, standardized stores, at least not all the time.
As a result, we see daily examples of new, stylish, individual and small-chain coffee shops that manage to feel appealing even to the consumers that are by now completely coffeed-out.
And, Starbucks itself creates original concepts to fit special locations.Leaving no market or location un-Starbucked, the brand opened an amazing shop at the main entrance to the Dazaifu Tenman-gū, one of the most revered Shinto shrines in Japan.
About two million visitors a year trek to the shrine, established in 919 A.D. To match the task at hand, Starbucks recruited the 60-year-old Japanese master architect and master of the wooden slats, Kengo Kuma.
Kuma used 2000 wooden slats to weave a latticework structure that encases the entire four-meter (13 ft.) high space, creating a nest or a cave. The latticework reflects traditional Japanese architecture and fits harmoniously among the traditional buildings of the area.
In the last decade, we have covered many coffee shops that stand out. These include D’Espresso
that opened in 2010 in New York and made waves with its startling floors and ceilings covered in images of books. The Manhattan-based designers at Nemaworkshop took their cue from the nearby New York Public Library’s Bryant Park branch and went delightfully bookish.
At the edge of Little Italy on Manhattan, A New Zealand coffee culture is brewing. Luke Harwood, one of the founders of Happy Bones café on Broome Street is also one of the founders of Kiwi fashion brand Stolen Girlfriends Club.
Originally, in 2012, Harwood and artist Jason Woodside satisfied their obsession with great coffee in a space at the back of a retail boutique on Bond Street.
Then Harwood and Woodside were joined by New Zealand’s power couple Craig Nevill-Manning (Google's engineering director in NY) and wife Kirsten (previously of Facebook and Google) and now Happy Bones is its own independent little box offering espresso, art publications and an eclectic mix of retro design pieces.
We love the white-painted brick walls that make the little shoebox seem so bright and clean.
Coffee Bar’s tiny Kearny Street shop by Jones Haydy sits right at the entrance to a large parking garage and caters to the busy people of the Financial District.
It is also located on a stretch of street that has suffered from vacancies and neglected lots, and the store is optimistically attempting to bring life back to the area.
Adorned with lovely wooden walls, some of which are scorched with the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique that prolongs the life of the wood, the shop still retains the slightly rough industrial air with its minimalistic furnishings and exposed-concrete features.
Another San Francisco favourite is the three-location Sightglass Coffee Bar & Roastery.
The flagship coffee bar, company headquarters and roaster are now located at 270 Seventh Street in San Francisco’s SoMa neighbourhood in a restored building dating back to 1925.
The building remains unchanged outside – it’s still an ugly concrete cube – but the inside exudes the company’s artisanal expertise and obsessive focus on all things coffee.
The fabulous, multi-level building took its new shape through cooperation between Sightglass owners Justin and Jerad Morrison and Seth Boor of Boor Bridges Architecture.
Saint Frank Coffee is yet another great San Francisco renovation, located in the historic Russian Hill neighbourhood at 2340 Polk Street.
The boxy shape of the space is nicely divided with wood paneling and bright white walls that draw the eye to the center of action - the white coffee bar.
Far from San Francisco’s coffee culture, Origo Coffee Shop in Bucharest, Romania, features the same kind of great restored surroundings and smooth expanses of wood paneling .
Local architecture and design studio Lama Arhitectura discovered beautiful wood beams underneath the layers of plaster and these beams became the hanging posts for the 270 teacups that hang above the bar.
The space is a coffee shop by day and a bar by night and the solid-oak bar can be raised from sit-down height to stand-up height accordingly.
Paris is also renewing its coffee culture among stiff traditions and competition. The creative minds at L'Hôtel de Vendôme in Paris set their eyes on “High Coffee.” They don’t call it that, but it certainly looks and feels like it.
Every afternoon, superior gourmet coffee varieties are served accompanied by dainty carts full of mouth-watering sweet delicacies created with the supervision of Luc Debove, Chef Pâtissier of the Grand Hotel of Cap Ferrat.
Adding to the High Tea feel, the coffee is served in the hotel’s deliciously prissy first-floor restaurant, with its magnificent views of Place Vendôme. When the restaurant opened in 2009, it was Florence-based architect Michele Bönan’s first restaurant and hotel project in France.
The two men leading the Paris coffee revolution are Frenchman Antoine Netien and his Australian partner Tom Clarke. They opened their first Café Coutume in Paris in 2011, and brought a cool and playful sense of ‘science’ to the coffee shop.
Clean white surroundings, glass beakers and coffee origins marked in scientific-like abbreviations, such as ‘Gu’ for Guatemala.
They have since expanded in France and recently opened their first Japanese café in Tokyo’s Aoyama district.
To design this store, they invited CUT Architecture that designed their original flagship and the coffee cart for the Finnish Institute in Paris.
The Tokyo store repeats the science theme with white tiles, glass beakers and a lovely pattern of squares everywhere. The ceiling lattice and lighting, the shape of the tables, the shelving, the tiles, all bring a sense of order and harmony. Tuija Seipell
See also The Rise of the Designer Bakery