Billboards are meant to distract and annoy, to draw attention and to not fit in. In its recent on-street ad campaign, IBM promotes its People for Smart Cities Program with billboards that are even more invasive.
Ogilvy & Mather France took the concept of the board and bent it into shapes that could – with some effort – be seen as solutions for a somewhat smarter city, London and Paris in this case. A board bends to become a bench, a rain shelter or a ramp over stairs.
It is still visual clutter, it is still preaching something, but at least it is doing it with a bit more imagination than just pushing a loud message. How many citizens actually paid attention to IBM’s message on the street while perusing the practical benefits of the boards, we don’t know, but the social media attention this campaign is achieving has certainly worked its magic. We certainly found ourselves deep in the depths of IBM’s Smarter Planet, Smarter Cities site, reading white papers and studies about retail and merchandising. - Tuija Seipell
Gilbert and Thierry Costes’s Parisian hospitality empire, Beaumarly, has produced yet another entry: Café Français at 1, Place de la Bastille.
Facing the Opéra, the Café Français includes a brasserie, a bar, a veranda and a terrace, and takes up almost an entire block, form Boulevard Henri IV to Rue Saint Antoine, making it one of the largest establishments of its kind in Paris.
We love the juicy leather seating, seemingly bursting out of its form and showing off the French national colors. Counter-balancing the roundness of the seating are the classic hard and reflective materials: marble, mirrors, terrazzo, brass and copper leaf with the black-and-white colour scheme bringing out a contemporary feel.
Topping the two dining rooms is yet another of our favorites: the blue sky mural on the dome. It adds whimsy and color and makes the large rooms appear even larger. Dramatic arches and alcoves create separate seating areas without breaking the overall flow of the space.
Artistic design of the space is by veteran Thierry collaborators, India Mahdavi, and Mathias Augustyniak and Michaël Amzalag of M/M (Paris) Studio. Chef Pascal Lognon-Duval presides in the kitchen. - Tuija Seipell
A rear of a small inner city Melbourne pub has been transformed from a tiny add-on back extension into a voyeuristic playground by Techné Architects. The clever rethinking of the space has effectively turned the 130m2 back area of The Prahran Hotel into 300m2 over three levels.
The star of the design is a series of 17 ½ concrete waterpipes. These concrete culverts dominate the striking street façade.
For architect Justin Northrop, the pipes add a lot more than drama to the hotel’s exterior. “Inside you are climbing over the pipes, sitting in them, or on them at various levels. They have a lasting impact on the space.”
Guests can sit in booths inside the pipes. “We were looking for a sense of drama and theatricality,” says Northrop.
Booths can be seen from the street, and throughout the interior of the hotel. Each booth, that seats up to 12, features leather upholstered banquettes and is lined with recycled spotted gum slats and acoustic absorption mats. “The voyeuristic nature of these pubs is very important, the way the space is connected visually,” says Northrop.
The project is the fifth pub collaboration between Techné and hotel group Sand Hill Road (SHR has pubs around Melbourne and moonlight as successful film producers). Pub Group’s Matt Mullins was not trying to create a gastro pub. “I want it to be accessible, for locals, for neighbours,” he says. At the same time, the close collaboration with Techné in the past meant Mullins was more than open to left-field design ideas. The main bar features salvaged pipes, concrete cast lamps and plantings by Ayus Botanical.
Guests can choose between three levels; the ground floor mixes polychromatic textured tiles and spotted gum floorboards, with a light-filled courtyard and street views. The courtyard features a striking nine-metre trapezoidal concrete wall, that has a corrugated effect and porthole motifs.
The natural materials and soft upholstery take the edge of the concrete, steel and glass used in the interior. (Even the banisters are covered in leather for a luxe, surprise element.)
The 12-seat VIP area sits atop a giant water pipe, feeling suspended over the space. A key criteria of the design was to ensure that patrons always have a vantage point from wherever they are in the space. “It’s great for voyeurs,” says Mullins. An exception to the open-plan approach is a sunken seating area, known as ‘the lair’, below stairs for patrons who want to stay under wraps.
At its core, design “is about conviviality” says Northrop. “It’s providing people with opportunities to interact in non-standard ways, a whole variety of seating and gathering.” To make sure there is space for serious partying, one long table on the ground floor can be dismantled to make way for an impromptu dance floor. Northrop made sure the redesign featured a serious DJ deck. “Afterall pubs are not meant to be places of calm and reflection,” he says. Indeed. - Emily Ross
If we at TCH were to establish a new office, this is what it could look like. A clean, minimalist space, with a touch of history and elegance.
The 150 square meter office is located in Kortrijk, Belgium, in a historically important, restored textile weaving factory from the early part of 1900.
Vincent Van Duysen Architects handled not only the restoration of the space but also the interior design, and the design of much of the furniture.
The office consists of a large main space and smaller offices for the four staff members. Most interesting about this elegant project is the fact that the office is not for a design studio or architectural firm, but for Belgo-Seeds, a business involved in global importing and exporting of agricultural products, especially seeds. A shelving unit with beautifully lit glass containers of seeds is the only direct reference to this.
The brick ceiling and cast-iron columns are restored nods to the industrial past of the building, while the dark timber wall paneling, light oak floors and soft hues of fabrics and furnishings add a comfortable feel.
Most of the furniture was custom-designed by Vincent Van Duysen including the desks, all storage units and the pendant lighting. The office chair used in this project is the brown leather version Van Duysen’s design for Bulo. The coffee table is a custom version of Van Duysen’s Surface for B&B Italia:.
We love the lack of visual noise; the spaciousness, openness and sophistication achieved with the intelligent use of glass, screens and lighting. - Tuija Seipell
Photographer: Thomas De Bruyne
It helps to have a strong understanding of dramatic interiors when tackling the potentially intimidating task of restoring a massive, 17th century Amsterdam canal residence AND re-imagining it as a functioning modern residence for a busy, fun- and art-loving four-member family.
Interior architects Sigrid van Kleef (38) and René van der Leest (40) of Amsterdam’s Studio R U I M had what it took to strike that seemingly impossible balance: Their background in theatre and opera set and costume design, as well as in restoration and interior design of contemporary homes.
Their priority was to respect and celebrate the heritage and character of the Herengracht canal house built originally in 1666 for a successful Amsterdam merchant, Abraham Muyssart.
Equally important was to not make the residence feel like a museum but instead, allow it to express the current residents’ own lifestyle and interests, of which photography was a significant one.
The resulting 400 square-meter home includes three living rooms, five bedrooms, two kitchens, two bathrooms and a 200 square meter garden.
One of our favorite features is the massive, black ornamental steel frame in the living room ceiling. It speaks the visual language of centuries-old mouldings yet makes a bold contemporary statement and creates a lovely contrast to the daintier visual elements in the space.
We love the use of wood: panelling, staircases, exposed in ceilings and in framing. The kitchen is a particularly cool combination of traditional and modern. The walls are dominated by vast restored paintings depicting views of the river Vecht and framed in their original wood frames.
Countering this are the super-modern counters, bench and especially the custom-designed (by Studio RUIM) industrial-scale copper light fixtures.
All this juxtaposing is a demanding balancing act but RUIM has managed to tie it all together with a bold sense of drama, yet they have also induced a feeling of fun, lightness, serenity and comfort avoiding the trying-too-hard, melodramatic solutions that would have been easier and predictable. - Tuija Seipell.
Photography: Daniel Nicolas
The era of romantic letter mail is all but over, yet all of us still need a letterbox, a mail box, a mail slot... a something where our daily hard- copy mail, and even an occasional long-distance post card from our globe-trotting friends, can be delivered.
But what if we don’t want just “something”? What if we want a stylish, cool, fun, “look-at-me!” mail box that matches our stylistic tastes? Try to find a mail box that is anything other than supremely ugly and you will come up with nothing.
The concept of Koo Koo was developed by Bill Playso who saw the glaring need for a stylish and cool letterbox. he invited industrial designerJustin Hutchinson to help bring the concept to life. the result of Koo Koo letterbox by Playso. Designed and manufactured in Melbourne, Australia
Koo Koo is a stylized bird-shaped letterbox that does not take itself too seriously, yet it has serious curb appeal. It is a conversation piece outdoors and in. Expect to see Koo Koo indoors as often as outdoors. Maybe for internal mail in the office? A suggestion box for your customers? And even the box in which Koo Koo is shipped and displayed is a designer creation in itself. Expect the shipping box to live a long life as well, as a storage box that does not have to hide.
Great design moves people, conveys feelings, evokes a reaction, triggers memories, delights, goes against convention, breaks new ground and surprises in a positive sense.
Packaging designed by Fernando Volken Togni.
Zinc powder-coated metal body, compact laminate magnetic side panels.
Base model is A$330 and A$420 for the optional compact wood laminate side magnetic panels.
Mention TCH for free international shipping
Opening Ceremony has relocated its flagship store from Shibuya to Omotesando to the home of street fashion on Cat’s Alley. The new Tokyo flagship store sees OC founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim realise yet another temple to their love of out-of-the-box fashion.
Alongside neighbours such as Ragtag, Burton and Paul Smith Jeans, the new store is 1200 square-metres (12,917 sq.ft.) over four themed floors (rather than Shibuya’s much larger eight-floor store).
The interior reflects the younger, edgier fashion crowd that swarms Harajuku’s streets each weekend and the stock has a strong Tokyo flavor with special collections by Yoko Ono, Dallas-born, Tokyo-based Kiko Mizuhara and OC favorite Chloe Sevigny. A pastel palette of lilacs, pinks and baby blues is offset by neon, wild cabinetry, Ben-Day dots and Pop Art inspired staircases.
Each floor showcases Opening Ceremony’s unmistakable fashion edit; high-fashion plus cult brands including Alexander Wang, Carven, Christopher Kane, Phillip Lim and Proenza Shouler mixed in with the Opening Ceremony clothing lines, fresh, up-and-comers and their perfume collaboration with Le Labo.
The zoological-themed floor features ostriches, llamas and striking wooden horse jewelry cabinets showing off limited edition pieces.
The store is unmistakably Tokyo-style and there is a reason why retailers are looking to Tokyo and the OC founders for inspiration. Leon and Lim’s have their fingers on the pulse of global fashion, they collaborate with the likes of Martin Margiela, Adidas and Rodarte whilst revitalising the Kenzo fashion house. And still manage to kit Beyonce out in custom Kenzo. - Emily Ross
If the city is called Casablanca (White House), creating an all-white interior for a restaurant there isn’t a major creative break-through. But Christophe Pillet, the designer of the Maison Blanche (White House), reflected the omnipresent white back on itself with smoked mirrors, and created a vertigo-inducing vessel-of-a-space that forces us to look again.
The 600 square-meter (approx. 6500 sq.ft.) restaurant and bar, opened in July 2012 at La Place Mohamed Abdou and La Rue du Commandant Lamy, facing the Parc de la Ligue Arave. Maison Blanche Casablanca is the baby sister of Maison Blanche Fes, opened in 2009.
Maison Blanche Casablanca feels like a container, a bottle, or a jewellery box where the guest will appear as the filling, the jewel, the berry, or the decoration. Chef Thierry Vaissière’s cuisine will likely bring the guests back again for another look at themselves and their chic friends.
Our first landing into Casablanca many years ago offered an aerial view of a beautiful white city, but the actual on-the-street experience was a disappointing drag through an exhausted, dilapidated city whose vitality and lifeblood was sadly missing.
Maison Blanche and many other businesses like it are suggesting we should visit more often and give the white beauty another reason to charm us. - Tuija Seipell
It is tough to describe our six glorious days at Castello Di Reschio in Umbria, Italy, without resorting to clichés and big words that sound like overstatements. Awesome. Amazing. Surreal. Idyllic. Exquisite.
But when we review our images, videos and stories from Di Reschio, the one thing that has become even clearer over time is the feeling that we were transported to some unspecified luxurious time period between ancient history and tomorrow. A perfect “time is standing still” moment, offering relaxation and pampering, yet managing to surprise and delight at every turn.
With the estate itself a testament to how beautifully structures can age, combined with the extraordinary attention to detail in the restoration, and topped with every modern amenity one could wish for, it all appeared – and still does – almost too beautiful and perfect to be true.
We kept thinking that it resembled a movie set, yet there wasn’t a single fake or pretentious item in the place. Everything felt that it belonged here, and somehow always had belonged, even if reality proved otherwise.
The back story of this incredible estate and the family that runs it, is just as unbelievable and romantic as any fantasy we could conjure up. In 1994, Count Antonio Bolza and his wife, Angelika, purchased Castello di Reschio, a 2,700-acre estate in the hills of Umbria, Italy. They set out to restore and renovate the disused farmhouses on the estate that dates back to 1202.
Over time, the Count’s son Benedickt Bolza (now known as Count Bolza) graduated from architecture school and joined the family operation, taking over the planning, design and renovation.
He met his future wife, Nencia (of the princely Corsini family of Florence), at Castello di Reschio where she was hired by his parents in 1998 to paint decorative trompe l’oeil murals.
Eventually, the couple took over the estate’s largest castle as the home for themselves and their now five children. It was the most challenging to renovate, says Count Bolza, but it is beyond amazing. The couple has no regrets about the painstaking work they’ve done on it and offer tours for the guests.
So far, they have renovated about 25 villas on the estate, catering to an international elite client base of buyers and renters.
We stayed at the Palazzo that sleeps 10. The staircase in the centre of the house alone took our breath away. And the attention to detail in absolutely everything on the entire estate. From custom-design (by Count Bolza) furniture to incredible amenities including Ortiga Sicilia toiletries that we completely fell in love with.
On arrival, at lunchtime, our house was bustling with cooking and soon a delicious lunch was served at the huge table. This was a precursor to the astonishing mealtimes we were to enjoy throughout our stay.
Swimming pools, gyms, tennis, cooking lessons at your own house, and eating, of course, eating. Everything as fresh as can be and everything produced locally.
As we were focusing on doing as little as possible, we were delighted to be spectators at Conte Bolza’s Tuesday evening dressage performance. As he and his white horse moved elegantly around the paddock, we were seated under a maharaja tent, and served Italian hors d’oeuvres and wine.
The entire setup felt like we were witnessing an old-world European aristocratic tradition, and we were probably not too far wrong. Dressage does have deep European roots dating back to before Renaissance, and horses have played a vital role in this former frontier fief situated on the border between the former Papal States and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
And within a five-minute drive from our Palazzo was the estate’s restaurant, Osteria – that’s how large the estate is – where chef Marco Pellegrini creates the Di Reschio cuisine.
Unpretentious, delicious, fresher than fresh. Italian. Perfect bright-red vine ripened tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, pasta, gazpacho, bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and chilli, and wine. You get the idea. We think we have found our heaven on earth and it is called Castello Di Reschio.
A short video we produced on the most extraordinary place we experienced last summer - Castello Di Reschio in Umbria, Italy. - Bill Tikos