We have all seen more than enough of the stacked-boxes genre of architecture. Boring, cold, uninviting, uninhabitable and so last decade.
Yet, once in a while, a set of images crosses our desks of a project that could potentially fall into the has-been category but doesn’t, and instead makes us look again and ponder the beauty of great architecture.
This is the case with Casa Fez, a new house in Porto, Portugal, designed by architect Álvaro Leite Siza Vieira. The architect calls it “the work of my life” as it is a residence he created for himself. “This project and everything behind it was a huge challenge,” he told TCH. “I needed a lot of willpower and courage -- even more than when I decided to become an architect. I try sew up objectives, interests and goals. I followed an ideal and I finally achieved my dream.”
From some angles, we see glimpses of Tomorrowland, but we are willing to overlook that because from so many other viewpoints, the statuesque poise of the structure and the stark clarity of lines brings back memories of Alvar Aalto. One can almost imagine this house in the birch forests of Finland.
With this residence, Álvaro Leite Siza Vieira aimed to “achieve a new kind of romanticism” and he continued this artistic thought throughout.
The architect started planning his dream house in 2004 and the construction was finally finished earlier this year. He did absolutely everything himself – not just planning, coordinating and supervising the construction but also creating the interiors and the tiniest of details, including the doors and doorknobs, hand rails, furnishings, lighting, furniture and even some paintings. Mixed with the new pieces are historical and timeless pieces inherited from the family and perfect for this environment.
Architect Álvaro Leite Siza Vieira, who was born in 1962 in Porto, graduated from the Faculty of Architecture in Escola do Porto in 1994. He has an impressive pedigree that includes touches of Finland, which perhaps explains the Aalto-like feel of this house.
He is the son of one of the best-known Portuguese architects, Álvaro Siza Vieira, winner of the 1992 Pritzker Prize and the 1988 Alvar Aalto Medal, among many other accolades.
Father and son collaborated in the creation of their competition entry for the Museum of Contemporary Art, KIASMA, in Helsinki in 1992 (won by American architect Steven Holl.)
The son Álvaro Leite Siza Vieira is best known for his Casa Tolo in northern Portugal, a residence that cascades down a steep hill like a clunky staircase fit for a giant.
For this latest residence, his own dream-come-true, he has conjured up a tranquil sense of sculptural beauty.
The white structure, sitting on a non-descript site, draws you inside where magnificent, bold ceiling details assist in creating a sense of wonder and interest.
Natural light, wooden floors, unadorned windows all add up to a simplicity that resembles a gallery, museum or concert hall.Casa Fez does not pretend to be a cozy home, but is instead a statement residence that fits the owner’s’ lifestyle – and is perfect for him. - Tuija Seipell. Photos © Fernando Guerra
In Amsterdam's restaurant scene, the names of Bert van der Leden, Douwe Werkman and Rob Wagemans pop up constantly, and usually all together. Werkman and van der Leden wield their influence through IQ Creative, a restaurant and hospitality conglomerate that is best known for the Supperclubs around the world, but also operates Witteveen, Nomads, Vyne, Envy and Nevy in Amsterdam.
For interior, architectural and conceptual creative output, they turn most often to Concrete of Amsterdam, a 25-member company founded in 1997 by the 37-year-old Wagemans. Concrete is a kit of three companies: Concrete Architectural Associates (architecture, design concepts), Concrete Reinforced (urban design) and Models+Monsters (scale models).
The prolific gentlemen's latest cooperation is Mazzo. It is a cool reincarnation of a notorious disco in a strange and ugly building on Rozengracht. The building may be odd but not that unusual in Amsterdam. Its spaces of varying heights and widths could have posed a problem, but for Concrete, they offered an opportunity to create an inviting yet industrial-feeling atmosphere and a place that is flexible without seeming temporary.
Mismatched chairs, exposed brick walls, rough wooden shelving, sepia-toned images and GUBI and MOOOI lighting manage to give the mismatched spaces a cozy sense of an impromptu meeting place where moms could meet for lunch and moguls could convene for an important deal. - Bill Tikos
Matchstick Art of the Day: Pei-San Ng’s “Passion” — 2,500 matches glued to a piece of reclaimed plywood.
Whatever you can think up, Cookieboy can bake it! In fact, Cookieboy can bake cookies of things you never thought of as being cookie potential. Such as feathers and bonsai trees and tents and eyeglasses. Or sheep with a necklace and Christmas wreaths. And shoes and socks and chairs and entire table settings. Cookieboy was born in 1984 in Kyoto and graduated from textile design course at Kyoto.
He’s found his canvas in cookies and is now appearing with brands such as Issey Miyake and LaForet Harajuku shopping complex and museum in Tokyo. In addition to the fantastic one-of pieces, Cookieboy bakes party packages that include a set for Anniversary, Tiara, Wedding and Basic party. We are off to ordering TCH cookies! - Tuija Seipell
The new D’Espresso on Madison Avenue (at 42nd) in New York has received more media attention than is generally awarded to a tiny coffee shop in this world of millions of new coffee shops.
The reason for the attention is the fun design by the Manhattan-based nemaworkshop, a team of designers and architects that has created numerous cool retail and hospitality concepts. Founder Anurag Nema took the idea of a coffee shop that looks like a library – giving a nod to the nearby New York Public Library’s Bryant park branch – and turned it on its side. The walls are not lined with books but the floors and ceiling are. Except that it is all an illusion, a life-size image of books printed on custom tiles. Pendant lighting does not hang from the ceiling; it sticks out from the walls.
The tiny coffee bar of 420 square feet (39 square meters) is the second for owner Eugene Kagansky (the first one is on the Lower East Side) who plans to create an entire empire of coffee shops. Apparently, the next one will be completely upside down. - Tuija Seipell
This six-floor, 15,500-square-foot warehouse built in 1915 in TriBeCa does not match everyone’s idea of a perfect family home. Mixed Greens gallery owner Paige West, her husband and their three sons thought otherwise. They summoned their many-time design magician Ghislaine Viñas to create their most imaginative project yet while Peter Guthrie handled the renovation of the actual structure.
This is the kind of home where you imagine Willy Wonka to live, or some other out-there character who throws crazy dinner parties that are talked about months afterwards. West’s family occupies the top four floors that are capped by a green roof. The lower two levels are taken up by a guest duplex that is not your typical guest house either. It includes, among other surprises, a two-storey climbing wall.
The old frame has been restored in a subdued style leaving a suitable background a lots of room for the wild interiors. Most of the time, one is not quite sure what one is looking at. It is a delightful, colorful and slightly mad mix of styles, colors, art and props, reminding us of a few hotels - including Hotel Fox in Copenhagen - where each room is decorated by a different artist.
A chandelier made of ping-pong balls, a self portrait by chocolate artist Vik Muniz and a pair of sheep sculptures grazing on a fuzzy green carpet are just some of the crazy details in this home, that according to the designer and owners, was also designed to be easy to care for and live in for a family with young kids. One thing is certain; the kids will not describe their home as ordinary or boring. - Tuija Seipell.
Dutch artists, mother and daughter Michèle Deiters and Bibi van der Velden, have created a series of sculptures that demand a double take. Their new partnership, Bibi Michèle, combines van der Velden’s conceptual vision with Deiters’s sculptural talents. The resulting pieces of art seem both new and timeless. The reflecting surfaces of the bold human-head sculptures incorporate the texture and light of the surroundings, and ask the viewer to participate.
The viewers can also see themselves reflected back from the sculptures which evokes a feel of conversation and communication. According to the artists, the viewer is an essential ingredient in the art by contributing emotion.
Weightlessness and an eerie out-of-placeness characterize the powerful pieces that are the duo’s first main body of work as a team. - Tuija Seipell
Audi, a brand exuding an attitude of self confidence and progressive thinking, and associated with the latest technology and innovative design, is a perfect brand to pioneer this entirely original concept, a new breed of “billboard” created by Access Agency.
It is a display of four life-size Audi cars, suspended inside the silver rings of a massive Audi symbol attached to an iconic bridge structure or in front of landmark spaces — the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, Tower Bridge, Venice. The rings rotate around, light-up at night, and move up and down the bridge. Against the backdrop of spectacular urban architecture, the Audi installation reflects Audi’s continuous challenging of the status quo, its capacity to innovate, and its ability to avoid the bland and the ordinary.
But what will create valuable media attention and social media buzz is not just the actual final display, but the entire anticipation, the process of creation, the engineering feat of the installation and the spectacular launch event.
The manufacturing and transportation of the gigantic rings, the installation of the rings, the hoisting of the vehicles, the first test of the lights, the rehearsals of the launch…By the time the installation is complete, and the unveiling event is about to start, the news about it will have reached those in the know.
PR — locally and globally — plus participation and rallies by dealers, and other in-town and on-site activities and happenings leading up to the unveiling, will add to the echo effect of this one-of-a-kind promotion.
The anticipation, excitement and buzz will culminate in an epic night-time launch event that we envision including a live symphony orchestra playing on a barge right under the suspended rings or on the bridge itself, a fireworks presentation or a LED light show above the bridge, and the ultimate unveiling of the rings. Bill Tikos
When you are Nike, you just do it. There’s absolutely no point being timid or ordinary. You blaze trails, create trends, draw attention.
Here at Access, we are creating Nike Extreme experiences around the globe. Here are a few of our concepts in which we use the Nike singular swoosh power to create serious buzz. The kind of buzz that goes viral because people love it. Because they are having fun doing it.
This kind of concept/campaign ticks all the boxes. It creates a unique, fun offline experience and then shares it with the online world. You film it, and that becomes the TV ad; you photograph it and that becomes the print ad; and both are used in online and social network campaigns. Put all those together with individual participants’ own social network buzz and you have a run-away funfest across channels.
But it all starts with an offline experience that is big enough to create that initial pick-up spontaneously and authentically. It must be worth their while. Then people will talk about it online, bloggers will feature it, and the rest of media will cover it. When serious, authentic viral kicks in, it proves that consumers loved what you did and want to share it. That is worth more than any push campaign result because it has become THEIR experience.
We start with a swoosh-shaped Nike Extreme Swoosh Toboggan Ride – a toboggan slide shaped like the swoosh. Of course, the toboggans themselves are shaped like swooshes, too. You can try this at the coolest ski resorts of the world.
As it isn’t snowing everywhere, those more inclined to enjoy themselves on the beach get to try the Nike Extreme Swoosh Slide. A fun and bouncy inflatable megaslide in the shape of the swoosh, appearing at the world's coolest beaches.
And who would want to remain bound to the ground? Not those who take off in the Nike Extreme Swoosh Hot Air Balloon. Flying over big cities, the Swoosh can be seen from miles around. When you’ve ticked off all three from your “Must-do Fun” list, you’ll probably be in the need of some new Nikes and you’ll certainly have something to talk about. - Bill Tikos
Forget thinking outside the box. Forget the box. Where brands need to go today, there is no box.
As consumers, we are all skeptical, cynical and tired of being marketed at. We crave relevance, value, real connection, engagement, something surprising, an experience. And we crave entertainment that is worth our while. The success of Avatar, Toy Story 3, Cirque du Soleil or the iPad, or the virtual runaways of Evian Rollerbabies or Old Spice, testify that no matter how depressed the economy, how uncool conspicuous consumption, we happily spend our hard-earned money and our scarce time on entertainment, products, ideas and campaigns that pick us up, dazzle us, and give us more that we imagined.
With social media, the experience economy has exploded to cover every type of brand, nearly all socio-economic groups, and almost every part of the world. Everything has sped up and amplified. By the time traditional marketing catches up to an idea, the leading edge of consumers has seen it somewhere already, moved on, and told everyone else about it.
Now more than ever before, brands need to be fast, smart and way ahead of the curve to speak directly and engagingly to each consumer segments. That's where Access comes in.