Wood is both universal and unique. No other material is as deeply embedded in the history, culture and life of humans worldwide as wood, yet every single piece of wood is unique.
The color tone, texture, durability, flexibility and even sound qualities of different tree species have puzzled and challenged artists, architects, designers, builders and artisans for thousands of years.
Still today, nothing matches wood in versatility or beauty, so it is great to see how today’s designers and architects continue to face the challenge of wood, and use it creatively to interpret sleek, modern designs.
They use wood to meet their current needs and desires for which wood is ideally suited. People seek calm surroundings, simplicity and minimalism to soothe their frayed nerves and to counter the constant visual overload they face. Wood’s warmth and natural beauty works wonders for creating a sense of balance and calm.
People also look for sustainable alternatives, eco-friendly options, greener solutions. When harvested, managed and used sustainably, forests are still the source of the greatest material on earth.
We especially love the influence of Scandinavian and Japanese traditions that we can detect in today’s wood architecture and design. Minimalist, functional, beautiful, and light in both color and weight.
Scandinavian building and design traditions are based solidly on the use of wood. Finnish modernist master, architect Alvar Aalto, stunned the world with Living Wood, his design for the Finnish Pavilion for the Paris World Exposition in 1937. In the pavilion, he combined both traditional and modern architecture and showcased his functionalist design sensibilities. It was considered one of the boldest and most innovative pavilions of the Expo.
Earlier, Aalto’s exploration of the limits of bent wood and mass production had resulted in the Paimio chair (1931) and other furniture classics, and had a permanent impact on how furniture looks even today. Aalto’s work influenced many other modernist masters including Charles and Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen.
The use of wood in Japanese architecture and design is characterized by austere construction methods, the lightness of materials, the connectedness between indoors and outdoors, and the way in which buildings merge with their surroundings.
With hardly any furniture used inside, Japanese master craftsmen were able to focus their skills on the buildings themselves, on skilful joining of sections without nails, and on revealing, rather than covering or adorning, the original texture and tone of the wood.
Wood as a material has held a charmed place in architecture and design for both its simplicity and complexity. It lends itself to imposing, bulky structures, yet also yields to delicate, undulating forms that seem lacy and transparent.
We love this lightness and elegance, the play of light and shadow, the countless tones of color that can be achieved with skilful use of wood both structurally and decoratively.
In more and more residential projects, both big and small, architects and designers are finding new, creative ways to reveal and highlight the beauty and versatility of wood. They manage to create structures that appear current and cool, yet also exude a classic, timeless elegance.
Every day, we come across images of fantastic single-use residences, recreational cottages, furniture, decks and patios, where the qualities of wood are perfectly matched with the users’ needs and the requirements of the surroundings as well.
In retail and hospitality, wood is also making an impact. We love the blocky, clean look of the Aesop stores. At the other end of the spectrum a good example is the lightness and playfulness achieved in RDAI Architects’ use of wood-slat “huts” as departments in the Paris Hermès store built inside an old hotel swimming pool.
In not just eco-lodges, but also in luxury resorts, spas and hotels, wood is becoming the material of choice. As guests are looking for a retreat, a sense of being back in nature, a quilt-free, tranquil vacation, resorts are responding with wood-frame structures, wood interiors and sustainable solutions that also look fabulous.
Wood is not trendy yet it is incredibly cool. It is a demanding, noble, ancient, living material that we have the privilege to use and enjoy. In wood, the architect, designer and builder face the exhilarating challenge of the sculptor — to reveal the character of the specific species, the individual tree. And we, the viewers and users of their work, have the opportunity to discover it for ourselves. We are looking forward to more. - Tuija Seipell.
At TCH, we are so obsessed with wood that we even created Treelife, an event to showcase the most innovate work using wood in the design of Treehouses.
Complicated is easy, minimalist is difficult. Even more difficult is minimalist design that stands out. That is why we love this little contact lens shop in Tel Aviv, Israel. It is a store concept for Adashot by EyeCare designed by Lee-Ran Shlomi Gidron of Tel Aviv-based Miss Lee Design.
It is apparently the first and only store in Israel that sells nothing but contact lenses. And that posed the main challenge of this project: How to display something as tiny and indistinguishable as contact lenses?
To start, Miss Lee created a word cloud to describe contact lenses: Cleanliness, Transparency, Clarity, Reflection, Gliding, Lightness and Tension between black &white. From that, the two main design elements emerged: The embossed-digits-wall inspired by sight tests, and the six light fixtures with concave mirrors. Minimalist, beautiful and stunning. - Tuija Seipell
'L'Odyssée de Cartier' which premiered worldwide on March 5th is a three and a half minute film celebrating the jewellery house’s 165 years of history.
According to the Telegraph, Cartier UK’s executive chairman Arnaud M. Bamberger said at a preview at Cartier’s London HQ: “This project has been treated like a real movie, we wanted the best special effects, a big director, an incredible model and props to intertwine with our incredible history.”
The stunningly dramatic film follows the brand’s iconic panther on a worldwide journey from St. Petersburg to China, India and Paris. L'Odyssée’s 110-member team was directed by advertising film director Bruno Aveillan. The original score was composed by Pierre Adenot. - Bill Tikos
UK-based shoe and accessory retailer Kurt Geiger has been rolling out its new retail store concept in the UK and around the world with the help of its long-time collaborators at Found Associates of London.
Kurt Geiger’s flagship store and headquarters at 198 Regent Street in London’s West End is a glamorous shoe emporium within a five-storey historically protected building.
Red carpet covers the ramp leading to the men’s department, and it also links visually to the red glass walls at the rear of the store. The walls are lined with dark grey glass shelves forming a beautifully formal “library of shoes.”
Mirrors and glass, and the colors red, white and black create the entire visual structure of the store, allowing the shoes to remain the main focus. The Kurt Geiger Regent Street store occupies 2,800 square feet (260 square meters) of space.
The other main store in London, the 4,000 square-foot (371 square meters) Covent Garden store, is a maze of mirrors circling around a massive staircase.
The mirrors, distorting the space and creating infinite reflections, are all the props that are needed to create a luxurious, fantastical environment.
This Covent Garden store received RetailWeek’s 2011 Fashion Retail Interior of the Year award.- Bill Tikos
Japanese artist Makoto Tojikil is fascinated by light. He uses it in ways that create amazing illusions and out-of-this-world experiences in a subtle, inquisitive way.
But what we love most is the way his No Shadow pieces – large animal and human sculptures made of strands of light - evoke a sense of playfulness, awe, possibility and wonder. We find ourselves unable to stop staring, unwilling to leave the area of influence of the magical, somehow celestial beings and creatures.
Tojiki was born in 1975 in Miyzaki, Japan, and graduated from Kinki University in 1998 as an industrial design engineer. After a stint designing home appliances, he launched his artistic career full-time in 2003. Of the No Shadow pieces, he says “An object is seen when our eyes capture light that is reflected from the object. If we extract just the light that is reflected from ‘something,’ are we still in the presence of that ‘something?’ Using contours of light, I try to express this ‘something.’” We envision all sorts of opportunities for brands to use this type of sculpture at events, launches, stores, showrooms… - Tuija Seipell.
The cool story of David Webb, jewelry designer since 1948 to elite stars, socialites and others who love bold statement pieces, continues beautifully today.
With the 2010 change in ownership – from the Silberstein family to Sima Ghadamian, Mark Emanuel and Robert Sadian – the New York tradition has managed to hold the attention of the luxury jewelry buyer from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor to Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez.
The most recent buzz around David Webb is not about the iconic pieces’ animal and other organic forms or the incredibly rich settings of precious stones, but about the design of the Madison Avenue Flagship boutique, above which the artisans still work in the in-house atelier.
Designed by architect Peter Pennoyer with interior design by Katie Ridder, the boutique seems more like a mansion or series of salons, and less like a store or showroom. With prices starting at $4,000, the David Webb pieces require surroundings that are both luxurious and intimate. Pennoyer and Ridder have achieved an edgy ease that lets the jewelry remain the center of attention. - Tuija Seipell
Just like fireworks, originally used in celebrations to reach up to and greet the spirits in the sky, this LED-light cathedral aimed VERY VERY high! We’re not sure if it was visible from space (or higher) but it certainly glowed brightly.
More than half-a-million people were drawn to the Luminaire De Cagna LED-light display at the 2012 Light Festival in Ghent, Belgium. Luminaire De Cagna became the main attraction of the Festival that included more than 30 other displays and exhibitions.
Constructed of wood, covered with 55,000 LED lights and reaching 28 meters (92 ft.) into the sky above Belfortstraat, the Romanesque cathedral-like Luminaire De Cagna used only 20 kWh of energy.
Luminaire De Cagna is an Italian family business that has created light displays since 1930. They started with oil and carbine lights, moved on to electric and, since 2006, have used LED-lights exclusively. - Tuija Seipell
Is it visual art, audio art, a sculpture, a product, a machine? Byoungho Kim's works could be described as all of these. They are visually stunning, make sounds, have a sculptural quality and they are manufactured just like any other highly-engineered industrial products.
Born in Seoul, Korea, in 1974 Kim has explored the edges of art and product, sounds and visuals throughout his career. As his sound sculptures have no “practical use,” they are defined as art but their intrigue lies in the technology behind them.
The two lighting fixture-like pieces we are featuring are made of aluminum and they use both piezo and arduino technology. A piezo is an electronic device that be used to both play and detect tones. arduino is a popular open-source single-board microcontroller. None of this means much to most of us, but the result — sounds being emitted and changed by the sculptures — is fascinating.
The rounded Soft Crash (330 x 330 x 165 centimeters, or 130 x 130 x 65 inches) was one of the pieces on display at Kim’s solo exhibition at the end of 2011 at the Arario Gallery in Seoul. The second piece, from 2010, is called Horizontal Intervention (96 x 280 x 25 cm, 38 x 110 x 10 in.)
Byoungho Kim describes his pieces as “constructed fantasy” that expresses mankind’s continuous pursuit of new desires. - Tuija Seipell
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