Some city councils get it, others don’t. Tapping the creative talents of street artists, illustrators and graphic designers is an effective and cool way to make bland public spaces, old buildings, bridges and car parks new again, and to freshen up the concrete jungle.
It is also an effective way of keeping graffiti away. Plus it draws attention to the building or structure as “potential” not as something to be hated. Maybe it will even bring a buyer, a new occupant or additional creative ideas about how to revitalize the building? Anything but the current dilapidated state of abandoned spaces!
Street artists and muralists bring with them vibrant and a new perspective that architects or designers may not have. This does not mean that millions need to be spent to upgrade the buildings immediately, all you need is vision, courage, local creative talent and some colorful paint like these perfect examples here. Our subscriber list reads like the Who-is-Who of city councils around the globe. So here’s a challenge to you: You need to step up and change the face of your city. There are way too many ugly, run-down buildings, bridges, tunnels and walkways that can be completely transformed into exciting and fun environments with some creative input.
Contact Access Agency so we can help. - Bill Tikos
Anyone who has ever attempted to master various forms of visual art will attest that watercolor painting usually turns out to be one of the most challenging.
This has not discouraged Cate Parr, a UK-born fashion illustrator, who has managed to capture the ethereal, fleeting and vulnerable qualities of fashion imagery in her watercolors.
There is a dreamy, beautiful undertone, yet the images are not entirely virginal. A darker undertone, beneath the pastelly beauty demands the viewer to look closer, a quality we admire in any image-maker's work. In today's world of a million images a second, it takes a lot to make any of us stop and pause and really see.
Parr's work, which has appeared in both editorial and brand contexts, hasn't been seen in massive formats or super-brand environments yet, but somehow we envision these images appearing in enormous window displays in the world's fashion capitals this coming spring. - Tuija Seipell
This stunning house, perched on the hillside above Lake Lugano in Switzerland, certainly takes advantage of the views of the lake and the idyllic, historic village of Brusino Arsizio with its population just under 500.
The residence and office, designed by Milan-based architect Jacopo Mascheroni of JM Architecture for a financial consultant and her family, consists of two sections: a rounded glass pavilion and a reinforced concrete structure that is partially inserted into the mountain.
The client asked for maximum access to the views, but otherwise allowed the architect creative freedom to imagine an exceptional house that clings to the hillside.
A 3,700 square-foot glass house forms the most visible part of the residence and resembles a viewing pavilion of a major sightseeing attraction. It is an open-concept living space, with a white-walled central section that contains the kitchen, bathroom, stairway, storage and mechanical room.
The underground level houses the entry hall, three bedrooms, two baths, an office, laundry, staircase, and playroom. The bedrooms open to an inner courtyard garden.
Radiant heating, use of natural light, geothermal heat pumps and a rainwater collection system are the main environmentally friendly features of the structure.
Jacopo Mascheroni was born in 1974 in Milan and worked for Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects in San Francisco and Richard Meier & Partners in New York City before founding JM Architecture in 2005.
The firm has completed several major residential projects for private clients, as well as commercial and retail spaces. - Tuija Seipell
When restoring this traditional Victorian terrace house — now known as the Skylight House — in Sydney, Australia, the architects and designers at Chenchow Little had to leave the street façade intact because the house is part of a conservation streetscape.
But the ornate, white exterior now hides a beautiful, minimalist dwelling that includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a new kitchen.
Flipping the typical Victorian terrace-house floor plan around, the designers placed the secondary bedrooms on the ground floor and the living rooms on the top floor. The living areas gained access to natural light via the new series of south-facing skylights, and to views across Parramatta River thanks to strategically placed windows.
Right beside the stairs leading from the relocated living room to the new kitchen, is a new central courtyard that encircles an existing mature banksia tree.
The materials and colors are minimalist and pure: raw concrete, glass, white walls and spotted gum hardwood.
The interior design by Janice Chenchow of Chenchow Little, veers toward mid-century modernist with several Scandinavian and Italian pieces including a Woodnotes’ hand-tufted wool "Sammal" carpet (Finnish for "moss") carpet in the color "Ice." We also love the lighting choices, especially "Parentesi" designed by Achille Castiglioni & Pio Manzuʻ for FLOS.
Project architects, husband and wife, Tony Chenchow and Stephanie Little, established their Sydney-based firm in 2004.
The Skylight House won the Australian Institute of Architects, NSW Chapter Award 2011 Residential Architecture Award for Alterations and Additions. - Tuija Seipell
The 15-room Parisian boutique Hôtel Thoumieux in the Left Bank is yet another cool, art-deco-ish creation by Thierry Costes and designer India Mahdavi. Some time ago, we wrote about their Germain cooperation
Located above the popular Thoumieux Brasserie, the hotel also offers its own significant culinary input in the form of the 20-seat dining room Jean-François Piège, where chef Jean-François Piège is apparently creating gastronomic masterpieces.
The dining room’s tongue-in-cheek decor, also by India Mahdavi, exudes a somewhat out-dated and perhaps even a bit underworldly glamor of a bygone-era -- potted plants on doilies and elaborate wallpapers included. The pastelly furnishings, carpets and wall treatments bring out an aura of an elderly, once-quite-elegant aunt, who would not allow you to enter the room with a drippy chocolate ice cream cone.
The 20-seat dining room is not likely offer ice cream cones, but the atmosphere is relaxed, with no sommelier and no menu just “Les Règles du Jeu” (today’s market). - Tuija Seipell
The three-dimensional wall art, “I feel good today,” is a result of creative minds coming together. The location: A popular morning coffee and lunch spot, the erste liebe bar in Hamburg (erste liebe means first love in German). The bar’s owners are the video producers at erste liebe film who work right above the bar.
The artist: Niels Bruschke of Santiago Design, who used a Viktor bike from Schindlehauer as the focal point. The partner: Bruschke was asked to do this piece by Two Wheels Good, a bike shop and promoter and creator of urban mobility concepts. Their first location is at Bismarckstrasse and the second one opened this summer at the new bike-loving 25hours Hotel HafenCity.
All of which just proves Oprah Winfrey’s point: “Here’s what my love affair with quotations has taught me: the more you focus on words that uplift you, the more you embody the ideas contained in those words.” - Tuija Seipell
French architect Odile Decq (born 1955) and her late partner, architect and doctor Benoit Cornette (1953-1998) have never feared bold, big, challenging projects.
This year, Decq who continues to lead Odile DECQ Benoit CORNETTE:Architectes Urbanistes in Paris, completed a task that has apparently eluded designers and architects since 1875.
She designed the spectacular L'Opéra Restaurant, located in one of the most famous buildings in opera, the 1,600-seat L'Opéra Garnier, on Place de l'Opéra in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris.
The 6 million Euro (about $8.2 million US), three-year-long project was completed this summer. The most significant features of the restaurant are the magnificent glass curtain walls that protect the original stone; the curved structures that define the new space and also create the seating areas and even some of the seating; and the simple use of white and red. The result is both minimal and grandiose, contemporary and historic. From some angles, the curvy structures create a cave-like view, perhaps a reference to the Phantom’s subterranean world.
The building, originally designed by architect Charles Garnier in Baroque Revival style, was inaugurated in 1875. Over the years, it has been known as Opéra de Paris, L'Opéra Garnier, Paris Opéra and L'Opéra Populaire. Its architecture set a new style for opera buildings, and for the next several decades opera houses around the world were built to resemble it.
The building’s fame has also been boosted because it is the setting of Gaston Leroux’s gothic novel, Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, 1911) and the popular musical ,by Andrew Lloyd Webber (1986). - Tuija Seipell
Pics by Roland Halbe
Earlier this year, the angular and colorful illustrations of Star Wars characters by UK-based illustrator and animator Liam Brazier drew everyone's attention.
In addition to the Start Wars characters that in their clunkiness lend themselves to geometric treatments, Brazier has also attacked Superman whose billowing cape and bulging muscles are far less boxy.
What makes Brazier's work even more interesting is that the illustrations are not created in Illustrator using vectors. Instead, he draws each shape with Photoshop's polygonal selection tool and then fills them in with color.
We love these powerful images full of intention and action. We can see them covering an entire wall in a kids' room. Or in our office .- Bill Tikos
”Kipling” is the title of a hauntingly melancholic yet somehow beautifully hopeful music video created for the Finnish indie rock band, Magenta Skycode, by Miikka Niemi and his Lapland-based team at Flatlight Films.
We love the way the open space, sparse nature and mythical plot leave room for the viewers’ own interpretations. The airiness and subdued light are perfect reflections of the chilly beauty of Lapland where this was filmed in Kemijärvi and Salla.
The voice and the music are those of Jori Sjöroos, Magenta Skycode’s founder and main man. The other band members are Niko Kivikangas, Kalle Taivainen, Valtteri Lipasti, Mitja Kiviluoma, Niina Sinkkonen and Jessika Rapo.
We especially love the rhythm that seems to recall a yoik (joiku), the Lapps’ ancient form of storytelling by singing. Combined, the video and music bring out thoughts of shape-shifters and shamans, tragic fates and dramatic lives, fear and hope. The man and dog (a white Swiss shepherd) never appear together. Are they the same?
Kipling gained its name from a Rudyard Kipling quote: “Of all the liars in the world sometimes the worst are your own fears.” The song ends with a beautiful verse: As your sadness leads you home, will you turn the scene around, moving closer to the stage where your fear ends up afraid?
Kipling is part of Magenta Skycode’s second album, Relief, that won the 2010 Finland Emma Award (Finnish equivalent of Grammy) for the Best Indie Album. In 2006, the Turku-based Magenta Skycode’s debut album, IIIII, became Finland’s Record of the Year. - Tuija Seipell