Offices

January 11 2010

In 1984, Vodafone was a tiny UK startup. Today, it is one of the world’s leading mobile telecommunications companies with activities around the globe. Vodafone’s well publicized Portuguese headquarters is located on Avenida da Boavista in Porto (Oporto), the namesake of Port wine and Portugal’s second global city after Lisbon.


 
The super modern building was designed by architects José António Barbosa and Pedro Guimarães of Barbosa Guimarães Arquitectos.


 
The architects’ wish to reflect Vodafone’s credo “Vodafone Life, Life in Motion” lead to the creation of a building that challenges the static and appears to be out of balance. Three of the angular building’s eight floors are underground. The cross-section reveals an uneven footprint almost as if the entire structure had fallen from sky at a great speed and crashed itself into the earth where it now sits, only partly exposed and slightly disheveled.


 
Indeed, the outer skin reminds us of a slightly unfinished origami project that will eventually become a scale model of a museum, the inside views bring to mind the many variations of angular, uneven and pleasantly unresolved spaces we’d seen at Hotel Silken Puerta América in Madrid, especially the rooms designed by Ron Arad, Zaha Hadid and Plasma Studio. - Tuija Seipell

Photography by ultimasreportagens.com





Ads

January 10 2010

While Italians take cars seriously, it doesn’t mean they cannot have some fun with them. The advertising campaign for the special edition of the Bologna Motor Show 2009 takes full advantage of this. With toys in a retro home playing at taking themselves seriously — including Barbie-like dolls and toy cars and bikes — the advertising campaign pokes fun at the clichés about boys and their toys, hot girls and hot cars.

The show's promo has a reputation of pushing boundaries and being provocative with Milan-based Armando Testa agency having been in charge of the advertising campaign for the past decade. The 2009 campaign — billboards, magazine and newspaper ads, online, TV and radio — was creative directed by Nicola Lampugnani and Francesco Guerrera, with Federica Saraniti Lana’s copy and Nicola Rinaldi’s art. The press campaign was edited by LSD studio. The TV ad was by The Family with Federico Brugia’s direction and music by Ferdinando Arnò. - Tuija Seipell

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Ads

January 8 2010

Lego Kitchen meets Lego fashion.

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Kids

January 7 2010

Perhaps out of necessity or just for a sad lack of creativity, architects and designers of kids spaces — kindergartens, schools, playgrounds — have been obsessed with durability, cost-savings and maximization of space.


 
For so long, a tiny nod to fun and play has sufficed. A few splashes of color and some clunky plastic structures have made a depressingly boring space supposedly suitable for children. Yes, money is often the main barrier, but it certainly cannot be the only one. We have needed a change in how we design for kids and we think this change is happening.


 
Kids’ environments are slowly getting more serious consideration in terms of design, innovation, creativity and groundbreaking solutions. We have also noticed, that adult work spaces have started to resemble kiddy play rooms with flexible and crazy-creative work areas, lots of color, fun details. The result of all this? We now see kids’ play spaces that look sophisticated yet fun, AND we see adult work spaces that fit the exact same bill. Soon you won’t even notice when kindergarten ends and work life begins!


 
A recent example of a sophisticated and creative private kindergarten comes from Israel. The cool, Bauhaus-inspired building is located in Tel Aviv metropolitan district’s upscale, mainly residential neighborhood of Ramat Hasharon that is also known for the Israeli Tennis Center and the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music.

Tel Aviv-based Lev-Gargir Architects designed this space with Bauhaus principles in mind in both floor plans and elevations. The usual requirements — safety, flexibility, good light — are all well met, but what we like is the sense of light and airy freedom.


 
The slightly Scandinavian sensibility is a beautiful change to the visually busy sensory overload that is often offered at the other end of the spectrum of new children’s spaces. This makes the lovely statement that a stimulating, creative environment for children does not need to scream. Children themselves provide the color, movement, sounds and action, and the quieter, calmer surroundings leave room for the kids’ own creativity.



For this project, Lev-Gargir Architects worked with the well-known local children’s interior, furniture and toy designer, Sarit Shani Hay, whose details and playful touches in furniture, materials, colors and accessories express an understated respect for children. Nothing is in your face, aggressively demanding attention. Shani Hay is a graduate of London’s Chelsea College of Art and Design. She opened her Tel Aviv studio in 1995.


 
Lillach Lev and Elan Gargir, both graduates of Haifa’s Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), established their practice in 1999. Lev-Gargir Architects works in a variety of projects from private residences to commercial buildings and retail environments. - Tuija Seipell

Photographer - Amit Garon

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Travel

January 6 2010

Elegant use of space, lovely surface texture and breathtaking sightlines help this new “stack of boxes” avoid the current architectural cliché and give it the appearance of a villa that is not new at all but rather an established retro holiday compound of someone with a confident sense of style and a stack of extra cash.


 
Casa Kimball is a much-publicized private house and rental villa on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Designed by New York’s Rangr Studio.


 
Casa Kimball owner, Google software engineer Spencer Kimball, found Jasmit Rangr via Google when he needed a designer for his New York loft. That cooperation led to the next project, the beach house in the Dominican Republic.


 
Casa Kimball’s lovely features include huge windowss and doors that pivot on ball bearings and have extremely thin and light frames made of a South-American hardwood as strong as steel. Floors and ceilings are covered with local coral stone. The 20,000 square-foot casa has eight suites. - Tuija Seipell

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Transportation

December 28 2009




Think back 70 or 75 years to a time when design began to break away from the traditional and elaborate rationalism that had ensued for hundreds of years. As the styles of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Streamline and Zigzag Moderne emerged after the Industrial Revolution, designers as well as consumers fully embraced the Age of the Machine.   Shiny chrome surfaces lay across curving forms or over expansive horizontal planes and glorified a dynamic new world on the move.

And suddenly, design was muted as World War II approached. Inspiration was buried away, along with some innovative and visually stunning design work. Skip ahead to 2005 when some curious members of BMW Classic opened a box and found the R7 bike 75 assembled - although not in shining condition. The engine was corroded, the metalwork was in dire shape, the battery was unusable, but the opportunity for restoration could not be ignored.



Various specialists at the BMW workshop discovered the original design drawings in the archive collections and conjured up the ghosts from Streamline Moderne’s past. Missing parts were sourced, others were rebuilt, the chrome was polished and the frame was painted black. And the final test, retuning the 1934 BMW motorcycle to the street, proved to be worth the wait nearly three quarters of a century later. - Andrew J Wiener via Bike Exif

 


Stores

December 21 2009



As we have seen in various posts here on The Cool Hunter, footwear has become a genre of art all of its own.



Much like how the simple need for shelter has crescendoed into superfluous McMansions, the shoe started out as a humble necessity: to keep the toes out of harm's way. Currently - as anyone who's purchased a pair of platform sneakers or sky-high stilettos can attest - a need for beauty and style has far overshadowed the trivial want for comfort.



Oscar Wilde once professed, "One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art". The financially fortunate seem to agree, with well-manicured feet peeking from artistic footwear worth their weight in rubies and diamonds. Cobbler extraordinaire Stuart Weitzman took this tendency to an unprecedented pinnacle with the unveiling of his "Cinderella Slippers" which were worn by singer Alison Krauss at the 2004 Oscars ceremony and priced at $2M.



Thankfully, enjoying the art of footwear is not limited to those of stratospheric bank accounts. The need for fashionable shoe has crossed all social boundaries. From retro-style sneakers to high-end designer fashion heels, shoes are a major part of the international fashion market, and shoe sales are a serious indicator of status and sub-culture.



Naturally, the shoe store has evolved, side-by-side, into an equally stylish hub of modern fashion. No matter if you're talking about a pair Jimmy Choo wedges (a must on the streets of Manhattan) or a rare collectable pair of original 1972 Adidas sneakers — there is a carefully manicured storeroom and market-analyzed price tag for each.



So what's your favorite shoe store?



We want to see stores that feature the most original display and merchandising techniques out there.



From sneaker shops to high-end department stores to exclusive boutiques, if you know of a great candidate then send us an e-mail.











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Architecture

December 16 2009

A tactile sense of texture, a romantic play of light, and a reverence of natural beauty are all evident in this graceful, angular villa that seems monumental yet inviting. It brings up memories of hikes up a mountain on Crete where the white ruins of an ancient chapel cling onto the cliffs. But these ruins are on an entirely different island and they are brand new.


 
With its two main blocks at 90-degree angles, the Plus House appears from above to form an almost complete cross or a plus-sign. The opulent weekend villa juts out of a mountainside in a popular holiday area known for its hot springs, in Shizuoka Prefecture on Japan’s main island of Honshu.


 
The architects of this stunning beauty are husband and wife, Masahiro (36) and Mao (33) Harada, who founded Mount Fuji Architects Studio in 2004. Both are avid mountaineers — so much so that they named their company after the country’s highest and most admired mountain, also located in the Shizuoka Prefecture.


 
Plus House shows off their talents at being bold but not grandiose, and at involving the surrounding nature in delicate detail but without giving up the individuality and presence of the building.


 
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the deceptively simple two-level concrete structure has private rooms and a bath on the lower level, and salon and kitchen on the upper. The water for the bedrooms and bath comes directly from a natural hot spring. The exterior is clad entirely in white water-polished marble with surface texture changing gradually toward the outer tips of the blocks from rough to mirror-smooth. The interior is also covered in white marble that reflects the blue light from the south (ocean) and green light from the west (forest). - Tuija Seipell

Photographs - Ken'ichi Suzuki

Music

December 15 2009

Opening with just a billowing piano refrain and acoustic strumming, you get the immediate feeling that there's something pretty interesting about The Gadsdens' breakthrough single The Sailor Song. After that initial hook, the UK quintet completely ensnare you with some witting strings and slurred vocal coos from singer Jody Gadsden, sounding like he's had one too many drinks and far too many sleepless nights. Expect to see these guys gobbled up by the Greys Anatomy crowd in no time. - Oliver Queen

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Lifestyle

December 13 2009

Many old concepts are best left in the past, but not the barbershop. Brendan Murdock believed this statement so strongly that in May 2006, he opened Murdock, an upscale, traditional barbershop on Old Street in the funky design district of Shoreditch in East London. Murdock was right, of course, and two more of his “male grooming nirvanas” have opened since — in September 2007 in Liberty’s department store and in August 2009 among the high-fashion boutiques on Stafford Street in Mayfair. Still in his mid-thirties, Murdock has taken the scenic route to barbershopping — ambling from financial studies to a career as a lawyer, and then opening the CRU restaurant in Shoreditch in 2002. He now focuses solely on all aspects of his shaving emporiums that offer the traditional wet shave, haircuts, manicures and facials. It seems men are in for some serious pampering as Murdock has said he wants his stores in every major city around the globe, and we have noticed old-style barber stores with a modern design touch opening everywhere from Milan to Sydney and NY. - Tuija Seipell.

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