What a cool ride so far!
The Cool Hunter was born seven years ago. I never thought it would lead to what we have today.
It started as a newspaper column and, surprisingly, grew quickly into a globally syndicated column.
When TCH went online, the number of subscribers and readers it drew immediately was astounding. There was clearly a pent-up need for the type of material we were featuring.
Our enthusiastic readers were not just regular people, but editors and reporters from all other media, as well as brand managers, marketing executives, CEOs, designers – professionals whose job it is to know about, and create, innovative ideas, cool products, exceptional communications, fantastic events.
Over the years, well-known brands started contacting us for help and ideas with advertising and marketing.
Our daily exposure to literally hundreds of brands, designers, architects, artists, ideas, design images and PR material has given us not just a super-solid view of what is out there and what stands out, but also access to the best talent in the world.
Of course, most of what we see is not remarkable. Which is why we knew there was yet another niche, and we established ACCESS agency to meet those needs, to help brands stand out from the mediocre, boring sameness.
Mini Pram and Supermarket Trolleys
Since those times, we have worked with great brands, from Swarovski, Evian and Gucci to Nike, Sephora and Mattel.
We do not always showcase all of ACCESS’s work here, but we wanted to show you some of the fun ideas we’ve created for the many Mini offices that have contacted us over the years.
It has truly been a cool ride so far! - Bill Tikos
Mini Rickshaw Tourist Bikes in Athens
Mini Indoor Drive-In Cinema to launch the Mini Countryman in Italy
See more at Access Agency
When was the last time you did something for the first time?
When did you actually do what your first impulse, or that nagging, persistent feeling is asking you to do?
It is easier to stay where you are, do what you know about, be safe, not push. Take the same route, order the same meal, hang out with the same people, do the same job.
But if you do not constantly test your boundaries, you will never find out what you are capable of.
If you always go over where the bar is the lowest, you will never know how high you can jump.
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
We say: Jump now!
NOW is the absolutely most perfect time to try those new things, to explore new cities, to taste new foods, to start a business, to write a book, to enter a marathon, to go skinny dipping, to start playing squash, to start a blog, to give that dinner party, to propose.
Now is the time to find out what you are here to do. How much can you do? What can you achieve?. How much fun can you have? How much can you give?
Now is the ideal time to experience your life. To LIVE your life. We all know this is not a rehearsal, yet we live as if it were.
And we are not talking about pushing so that you’d be approved by others. Or achieve their goals or what they think you should be achieving. Or pushing beyond your healthy or safe limits.
But we are talking about using all of your talents, skills and abilities now. Because now is all any one of us has. And because that is why we are on this earth. To live our own lives fully.
And when we do, we will find millions of new reasons to be grateful. We will find hundreds of ways to give more. We will find out how wonderful life is.
Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance. - TCH Team
Niche “bars” are the new Third Places. Your preferred, distinctive, highly specialised places between work and home.
We’ve noticed restaurants, bars and services specialized in a not just a specific style of cooking, but on one ingredient, or one way of preparing an ingredient . Or one essential service. Or establishments that are taking the typical environment in a new direction. Doing something new, with a bold, clear focus. Not following others.
The images in this post are of BeefBar in Montre Carlo specialising in meat and established by European meat importer Riccfardo Giraudi who needed an uboring meat restaurant to showcase the best of meat and to entertain his clients.
The fairly recently refurbished interior is by Monaco-based Humbert & Poyet Agency. Especially impressive in the Monte Carlo BeefBar are the custom-made Murano glass chandelier and the marble bathrooms.
In our search for specialisation, we’ve encountered the Obika Mozzarella Bar in Rome/Florence/London/Milan/New York/Los Angeles/Toronto/Istanbul/Tokyo. We fell in love with their website’s sensuous Fabrizio Ferri-directed intro video about the art of making those delicious orbs of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, mozzarella made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo.
And the Poncelet Cheese Bar in Madrid with its cool, angular interior by Gabriel Corchero Studio.
Or San Francisco’s Coffee Bar, a coffee bar decidedly moving away from the atmosphere of scruffy armchairs and permanent residents with their laptops, to creating an elegant, minimalist stage for making an espresso drink .
We’ve also noticed the Asian Noodle Bar, Zozobra, in Kfar-Sabba, Israel, where chef Avi Conforti prepares Asian food based on centuries-old recipes in a shockingly vast and modern environment, designed by BK Architects.
The recently opened Masters Craft ceramic ware boutique in the basement shopping area of Palace Hotel Tokyo is pure proof of what we already know: nobody masters the art of minimalism as well as the Japanese.
Everything in this store, including how each individual item is displayed on the shelves and counters, manifests the skill of leaving all else out except what is needed for balance; of not being afraid of empty space, and of allowing every piece to tell its complete visual and tactile story.
The 45 square-meter (484 sq.ft.) store was designed by Akemi Katsuno & Takashi Yagi, founders of Kyoto-based Love the Life.
For inspiration, they visited the Masters Craft headquarters in Mizunami city, located in the Tono region of Gifu in central Japan, where ceramics production dates back 1300 years. The trees, mountains and silence of the neighboring area inspired the 14 tree-trunk- poles suspended from the ceiling. The visually prominent materials of the shop interior -- Castor Aralia tree and ceramic tiles – also speak the language of the region.
Palace Hotel Tokyo is located in the business centre of the city, and it faces the Imperial Palace and a lush park. It replaces the Hotel Teito and Palace Hotel that occupied the same site from 1947 and 1961, respectively. The 290-room Palace Hotel Tokyo opened in May this year and includes the second Evian Spa outside France. - Tuija Seipell
The Italian wallpaper company Wall & Decò is known for creating exquisite, large-scale mural-like wallpapers that define a room. They are widely used in hotels and restaurants, and for private residences by interior designers.
In April at the Fluorisalone 2012 in Milan, Wall & Decò introduced a new wallpaper system designed for the outdoors.
Their OUT - Outdoor Unconventional Textures - system is a three-part covering that allows for incredible photographic reproductions and large-scale graphic designs to be applied onto outside walls. The system consists of an adhesive, a technical fabric and a finishing treatment.
The designs introduced in Milan included a Bauhaus look, a black-and-white OP pattern, tile-initiations and even military camouflage. We believe this is an idea that has staying power, and that it will expand and improve as feedback from early users comes in. - Tuija Seipell
Mats Sjöqvist together with brothers Mårten and Olle Eriksson-Mårtens attracted a solid following of well-dressed men to their first menswear boutique, Herrekipering (haberdasher in Swedish), on Kocksgatan 17 in Stockholm’s Södermalm district.
Earlier this year, they expanded the business by opening their second and much bigger store, Haberdash, on Upplandsgatan 50, in the Vasastan area of Stockholm. In the process, they renamed the first shop Haberdash as well.
We love the functional, minimalist interior of the new boutique, completed by Stockholm’s Form Us With Love (FUWL).
The materials and details of the store design speak the same language as the brands represented in the store, the language of timeless style, long-term value, functionality, quality and artisanship.
The underlying goal of all of the displays is to allow the customer to see and examine each item completely. So FUWL created a stylized, minimalist craftsman’s studio, with the items displayed on magnified pegboards, simple workbench-like counters and basic square shelving.
Materials, such as Silestone Quartz, Kährs ash and Tärnsjö Tannery leather are used for displays and surfaces. The “bare-bulb” pendant lighting is FUWL’s own Form for Design House Stockholm.
The esteemed brands sold at Haberdash include the French Armor Lux sailor sweaters made famous by Pablo Picasso, Brooks bicycle saddles and accessories from the UK, and Grundén raingear from Sweden.
FUWL is a multi-discipline design house established in 2005 by fellow students of product design at Småland’s Kalmar University, John Löfgren, Jonas Pettersson and Petrus Palmén. - Tuija Seipell
Ecole Maternelle Pajol, a four-classroom kindergarten on Rue Pajol in Paris’s 18th arrondissement, combines so many of the things we love.
Parisian architecture office Palatre & Leclère has restored and reimagined the 1940s building, yet they have left the basic feel of the structure unchanged. We believe in repurposing and saving older buildings, but letting them tell their previous stories, even in their new guises.
We love color, especially when it is used to brighten up an otherwise drab or monotonous environment. This kindergarten clearly speaks the language of joyful color.
We love it when public art and public buildings and spaces are used to express joy and be playful, too, not just to parade impressive and “acceptable” art and architecture. Of all places, shouldn’t a kindergarten resonate deeply with children, not just adults?
And of course we love any project that invest the same time, effort and resources into spaces and places for kids than we are used to investing into adults’ play.
In Ecole Maternelle Pajol, Palatre & Leclère used color boldly both inside and out. They also provided a variety of shapes and forms in the furniture, furnishings and on the walls, in the play areas, rest areas and even in the bathrooms. In addition, they provided a variety of textures from tile and glass to rubber and wood.
The building has kept its 1940s brick-wall feel, yet it radiates exuberance and has an up-to-date energy. Most likely its current users feel it was built just for them.
Palatre & Leclère is an architecture agency founded in 2006 by Tiphaine Leclère and Olivier Palatre. - Tuija Seipell.
Shrouded House is a discreetly opulent residence for a young, design-aware family of four (plus a Labrador retriever) in Toorak, considered the most prestigious neighborhood in Melbourne, Australia.
Inarc Architects was in charge of the architecture and interiors of the project, completed in February, with Allison Pye Interiors consulting on the interior design and furnishings.
The 13-room residence consists of the 850 square-meter (9,150 sq. ft) main house plus the 300 square-meter (3,330 sq. ft) basement, and the 70 square-meter (753 sq. ft) poolside cabana. The previous house and the earlier landscaping on the site were demolished. The new landscaping replaces most of the removed trees, and responds to the needs of the new house and its residents.
The project gained its moniker Shrouded House from the main feature: the effective screening of the slightly twisting and turning exterior from the adjoining properties and the street by bronze aluminum battens. Used throughout the exterior, the battens give the structure its homogenous coloring and its sense of lightness.
Bronze, steel and glass give the residence its contemporary sculptural presence yet they also allow light and clouds play on, reflect and penetrate the structure, which makes the entire building appear smaller and less monolithic. The effective use of these materials also helps connect the exterior to the interior spaces.
As the structure is also broken up into smaller-scale components, the sizeable house does not appear overly imposing or grandiose.
The interior is open, warm and light-filled with white, sandstone and oak surfaces linking the spaces together.
We love the understated way in which the designers have interpreted the family’s needs of privacy, warmth and openness through timeless, understated architecture. - Tuija Seipell
In Christchurch, New Zealand, 10 massive optical illusion-inducing mixed-media art pieces by Mike Hewson pay homage to the former Christchurch Normal School which opened in 1876.
The building, completely renovated for apartment and retail use in 1981 and renamed Cranmer Courts, was damaged badly in the February 2012 magnitude 6.3 earthquake and it is now destined for demolition.
Before it is gone forever, Hewson wanted to pay homage to the building that used to house a vibrant community. He covered the total of 130 square meters of plywood with mixed-media images depicting artists and others who lived and worked in the building.
Private donations and Hewson's own money covered the $15,000 installation costs. New Zealand-born (in 1985) Mike Hewson is a civil engineer, graduate of Canterbury University (2007). He has worked as a civil engineer in Port Hedland in Western Australia, but has travelled regularly to New Zealand to complete works of art there. He will move permanently back to New Zealand next month and focus on his art full time. - Tuija Seipell