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
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 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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Maurice Mentjens Design, based in Holtum, the Netherlands, continues to delight and draw attention with its imaginative work. We have featured a couple of their store projects here and here, but this time, we are fascinated by the studio/office/production facility they designed for PostPanic.
PostPanic is a creative design and animation studio, but it is also a production company that animates, produces and directs its creations in-house. PostPanic produces mainly commercial projects for the international advertising, retail, broadcast and music industries. Clients include Nike, MTV and Coca-Cola.
When PostPanic decided to move to a new large facility located in Westerdoksdijk, a new high-density district in Amsterdam, it commissioned Mentjens to come up with interiors that would accommodate the various production and design teams, and also be flexible enough to suit a staff whose numbers can fluctuate from 14 to 40 depending on the workload.
Mentjens used the distance between the massive concrete columns as the defining theme of the space’s other dimensions. The production room, meeting room and staff room are all as wide as the distance between two columns, and the studio on the mezzanine level is two spans wide.
The overall feel of the space conjures up thoughts of a retro space-age station, or perhaps a secret-agent facility for a very important mission. There is a sense of industrious, “we mean business” attitude in the entire facility with delightful touches of color and fun treatments — sky-blue ceiling, red-and-gold paisley wall — to lighten up the gravity. We especially love the pod-like boardroom that resembles an interrogation chamber on a space ship headed to somewhere far, far away. - Tuija Seipell
Photography - Arjen Schmitz
The Cool Hunter celebrates creativity in all of its modern manifestations. We are global in outlook, culturally discerning and a trusted hub for what's cool, thoughtful, innovative and original. We value global relevance, not trends, channelling our discoveries to our worldwide audience of 900,000 readers per month.
For a long time, we have been approached by networks and production companies from Brazil to L.A. wanting to produce a weekly TCH TV. We have now aligned the key ingredients needed to create the kind of quality and diversity that we want for what we see as a culture show, not another version of poor-quality reality TV.
We are currently looking for the right people as our presenters in New York and Los Angeles, the two hubs where we will start the line up that we envision expanding to all continents. We need confident people who can write and present in their own natural way. Age is irrelevant — you can be 25 or 65 as long as you are interesting and interested in meeting fascinating and innovative people around the world. If you feel you could be a TCH TV presenter, send us an image and info about yourself and explain what you would bring to TCH TV.
We are also hunting for story ideas for high-quality, intriguing, relevant and creative content — from showcasing a 85-year-old aquabics instructor in L.A to discussing with the scientists who have discovered a cure for cancer by mimicking the cancer-fighting properties found in cancer-proof mice. We also want to hear from advertisers who are in the process of launching a guerrilla campaign or a cool, new TV ad. We want to hear from fashion designers creating something unique for their show at Fashion Week, and event producers launching an innovative event. We want to know about business start-ups, entrepreneurs, eco designers, architects, artists, gurus. If it is creative, innovative, new and, most important, original, we want to know about it. Deadline 11 Jan, 2010 - send info to [email protected]
Minjae Lee is a young South Korean artist whose work expresses a semi-disturbing inner tension that is tough to ignore, even if you feel that you'd like to. It draws you in with its powerful colors, halting imagery and clever juxtaposition of beauty, innocence and fragility with brash, loud and aggressive.
The 19-year old artist is mainly self-taught and uses old-fashioned tools — such as markers, pens, crayons, acrylics — to create his illustrations. He has yet to break into commercial success, but as his style is developing and improving each time new images appear, we will likely see a lot of him in the future.
What characterizes his work overall is drama. The ethereal females that populate most of his work exude a dark, organic tension, and it seems that even the brightest marker colors do not quite manage to save them from some sort of looming peril. Or are we, the viewers, in fact, the ones who are in danger? Whatever the case, we are drawn in, interacting on an emotional level, surprised, looking for something.
Minjae Lee’s penchant for dramatic expression is clear also in the work of those he admires. His favorite photographer is the 55-year-old Japanese Hiroshi Nonami, whose women are equally capable of telling a dramatic, dark story. Not surprisingly, Lee’s favorite fashion designer is the king of runway drama, the Gibraltar-born, 49-year-old John Galliano. - Tuija Seipell