It seems that every day we come across yet another beautiful example of elegant use of wood and, more often than not, the architects and designers turn out to be Aussies! Watch out Scandinavians and Japanese!
Stephen O’Connor and Annick Houle, partners at O’Connor and Houle Architecture, are responsible for designing this stunning residence in Blairgowrie on the Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne, Australia. The Pirates Bay House is an L-shaped, one-storey, 200 square-meter (2152 sq. ft.) home for the two architects themselves and their twins.
Because this is an assignment they can fully control, the partners were able to indulge in all of their favorite features, They value slow life and harmony with nature. They also emphasize the various ways in which the residents interact with their living environment – the play of light on the walls and through windows and doorways, the feel of materials and textures, the breezes and airflow throughout the building, and of course, the views and vistas at different times of the day and during different seasons.
The optimal use of sunlight, rainwater and other natural resources, and the selection of landscaping features and native plants that require minimal maintenance or watering, are all part of the owners’ quest for sustainable living. Non-toxic materials, low-energy appliances, recycled timbers were also selected for the same reason.
The result is an elegant, minimalist house that makes us think of self-sufficient Finnish summer houses with no running water, no electricity, no indoor plumbing, yet with all the pleasure. - Bill Tikos
Elegance, minimalism, form-and-function – you know our favorites already. So it comes as no surprise that we like Muriel Grateau’s newly minimalized boutique/gallery at 37 Rue de Beaune in Paris.
Grateau, the queen of the minimalist table setting and sculptural Art Deco jewelry, has had a shop in Paris since 1992 (at this address since 1997) and this fall’s boutique refurbishment was undertaken in celebration of her two decades here.
Displaying her 100 shades of table linen and her subtle, unobtrusive tableware in an all-white setting is not terribly original or imaginative, but it does seem to be perfect for the purpose.
Taking a page from the tested-and-true Japanese book of the art of the minimalist display, Grateau deletes absolutely everything that is not the focal point, i.e. the items on display.
Her goal was to evoke a feeling of floating, to imply that the pieces are unattached and unrestrained by mere surfaces or walls.
Materials such as white mineral resin, stones covered with white powdered paint, white lacquered steel plate and LED lighting were used to create the ethereal 140 square-meter space.
Attending the September 19th re-launch party were design luminaires including Tristan Auer, Lorenz Baümer, Jean Louis Deniot, Hervé Van der Straeten, Chahan Minassian, Juan Montoya, Hervé Van der Straeten, Charles Zana and Pierre Yovanovitch. - Tuija Seipell. (Pics - Oleg Covian)
We may be leaning toward minimalist design and monochromatic surroundings, but we also admire artists and designers who can handle color well.
Francesco Lo Castro from Florida is currently drawing our attention with his multicolor paintings.
He uses oils and acrylics, spray paint and silkscreen as well as layered epoxy resin and gold leaf, usually on a wood base.
We love the combination of explosiveness and strict order, vibrancy and dreaminess, power and release in his work.
Lo Castro was born in Italy, grew up in Germany, and has been active in the Miami art scene for more than a decade.
He is currently working on producing 3D animations based on his paintings, set to premiere at UR1 Festival during Art Basel week - Bill Tikos
Whenever wood is used beautifully, we pay attention. Kengo Kuma-designed 15-room hotel, and especially the attached fruit market in the town of Yusuhara, in the Takaoka District of Kochi, Japan, is a project worth admiring.
We love the skilful, minimalist use of traditional methods, materials and symbolism in the creation of the market space that appears both ancient and completely modern at the same time – a uniquely Japanese skill, it seems.
The cool, thatched façade pays tribute to the town’s ancient tradition of providing travellers who took the main arterial Yusuhara route rest spaces called “Chad Do” that also functioned as venues for cultural exchange and interaction.
As always with this type of design, our eyes are drawn to everything that is NOT there, which allows us to see what IS there even more clearly. No clutter, no visual noise. Contemporary minimalism at its finest. - Tuija Seipell.
Many of us know what it's like to work from home. Distraction upon distraction tends to stunt our productiveness. If only more of us could convince our employers that we can, in fact, stay motivated and actually get work accomplished in the confines of our own home offices.
The design team at Synthesis recently installed Chelsea Workspace - a custom home office for a private personal investment advisor. Constrained by both budget and space, the design team at Synthesis enwrapped a series of prefabricated CNC milled birch plywood ribs atop all the necessary features any home workspace should include: a desk, sliding and hinged storage units, a printer and paper shredder, concealed paths for wires and cables and recesses for lighting - thereby eliminating all unnecessary clutter.
One small window emits natural light onto the surfaces where horizontal spacers are arranged in the pattern of a world map, which will allow the owner to map out his travels. The design of the work space presents a viable solution to ensure working from home can be free from distraction, and where focus in an innovative space ensures the highest level of productivity. - Andrew J Martin
We like the fresh, unpretentious and happy look of the temporary Movement Café and performance space built next to the DLR station in Greenwich, South East London. It was constructed in 16 days to be ready for the opening of the Olympics.
It is located at the gateway to the Olympic borough, on Greenwich Industrial Estate, currently being redeveloped by the Cathedral Group. The Café was designed by British designer and artist Morag Myerscough and he collaborated with poet and tweeter Len Sissay.
Sissay's poem of tweets is now on the hoarding on the site, but it will be eventually set into the road as a permanent ode to the site. - Bill Tikos
JMD Design of Redfern, Sydney has created a cool kids’ outdoor space that makes us all want to run free and wild, with our hair blowing happily in the wind and our bodies full of positive energy.
The 20,500 square meter park, opened this summer, is located at Jamieson and Homebush Streets, in Sydney, Australia, and operates under the Sydney Olympic Park Authority.
JMD Design wanted to avoid the fenced-in, overly structure-based approach of many kids’ outdoor parks. They worked with, rather than against the earth forms of cones, cuts and terraces, established earlier at this site, and created a free-flowing, open play area with surprises and distinctive activity points.
The tree house is manufactured from galvanised steel, fibrous cement sheeting floors and walls, hardwood timber batten walls and ceilings, stainless steel mesh walls and ceilings with rope floors in some areas.
Tonkin Zulaikha Greer (TZG) designed the kiosk and petal roof canopy that overlook the water and sand play area. - Tuija Seipell
The Camélia restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris is both sparklingly new and elegantly timeless. Possibly because of our Mid-Century Modernist and Scandinavian leanings, we think this space is exquisite.
It was designed by Paris-based Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku of Jouin Manku Studio.
The camellia motif relates directly to the camellia garden in which the restaurant is located. We love the smooth surfaces, the white colour, the subtle feel of being inside a gigantic bloom. The furnishings echo the same smooth petal shape and remind us of the Finnish master, Alvar Aalto, and his timeless white buildings and furniture. - Tuija Seipell
Never thought we’d say we love an abandoned quarry. But through a massive six-year restoration, replanting and re-imagining process, the Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden, in the Songjiang District, in Shanghai, China, has become not just a thing of beauty and wonder but a successful travel attraction. An abandoned quarry has indeed been turned into something beautiful.
The Quarry Garden has also earned the American Society of Landscape Architecture 2012 Honor Award.
We love the tranquility and eerie otherworldliness that comes from the ongoing process of a destroyed natural environment returning back to nature but in a completely new, transformed guise. We are left to contemplate both the scars and the forgiveness of nature. - Tuija Seipell
There is something mouth-wateringly yummy and creamily liquid going on in the interior of Cioccolato, a bakery boutique in Monterrey, Mexico. The designers aimed for a Willy Wonka factory feel of slight madness, and we think they’ve succeeded.
The new shop focuses on custom desserts and special events, and it is a specialized spin-off concept of the existing, fairly traditional Cioccolato pastry and cake brand.
The designers of the new concept are Savvy Studio Savvy-Studio.net of San Pedro Garza García, Nuevo León, México. One of the main concerns of the design team was to ensure clear differentiation of the new concept, without confusing the brands current customers.
The gooey concept evokes cravings of sweet sugary treats and thick whipped cream, strong chocolate and colourful candies, feather-light macaroons and juicy cupcakes – anything sweet and happy and festive.
Our favourite is the white table with one leg formed by dripping something, perhaps jam or some other irresistible filling. Chocolate drips off shelves and the seats seem to be made of licorice and ice cream.
Savvy Studio was in charge of the entire rebranding concept, from visual identity to interior design and packaging. Savvy is a multi-disciplinary studio involved in industrial design, architecture, graphic design, marketing and communications. Tuija Seipell