Just over a year ago, the former municipal mortuary at 104 de la rue d’Aubervilliers in the 19th arrondissement of Paris was transformed by Atelier Novembre into Centquatre, one of Europe’s largest artists-in-residence complexes.
There are no traces of what went on in the red-brick buildings before — coffin making, hearse repair and other such grim undertakings — it is now a place that exudes joy and play. Prolific and always fun Parisian designer Matali Crasset has now created a special 1,500-square-foot space for tiny artists as well. Maison des Petits (House of Little Ones) is an activity center for kids under six, where creativity and discovery are the only goals. Centquatre’s resident artists are encouraged to create toys and activities, but there is no set program.
Crasset’s colorful, surrealistic garden has a cozy and soft “navel” at the centre for the littlest ones to crawl in and for older kids, whimsical “activity mushrooms” and fun seats that look like gas cans or curling stones. - Tuija Seipell
Kettner’s in London’s Soho has hosted the famous since 1867 when Auguste Kettner, chef to Napoleon III, first opened the venue. Close to the theatres and other entertainment, the venue has undergone many incarnations with regular patrons from Oscar Wilde and King Edward VII to Agatha Christie and Bing Crosby each leaving their famous vibes in the space.
The four Georgian houses that form Kettner’s have now been refurbished, upgraded and reconfigured into several spaces: The Brasserie, The Pudding Bar, Champagne Bar, The Apartment and several private dining rooms and event spaces including the famed Cabinet Particulier and the grand The Salle.
The new Kettner’s with its fun, delicious and semi-sinful French undertones and furnishings was designed by London-based Ilse Crawford of Studio Ilse. Crawford’s other hospitality and retail assignments include a restaurant for Grand Hotel Stockholm, interiors for Kranzbach Spa Hotel in the Bavarian Alps and Aesop’s Mount Street shop in London. - Tuija Seipell
Jak & Jil blog - always delivers interesting looks
Hôtel de Sers in Paris exemplifies a building that fits magnificently in its new role as a hotel because the current owners’ expensive and extensive renovation retained the initial feel and the structural bones of the original mansion, and managed to insert today’s touches in a way that does not feel like a pretentious afterthought.
Today, Hôtel de Sers has 45 rooms, four junior suites, two large suites with terraces that overlook all of the splendor of Paris, and one 80-square-meter apartment. The original building was a four-storey mansion designed by architect Jules Pellechet in 1880 for Henri-Leopold Charles, the Marquis de Sers.
In the early 1900s, the building served as a medical facility and gained four more floors and a six-storey attachment. It has been a hotel since 1935. In 1999, the Vidalenc family took over the building that was then known as Hôtel le Queen Elizabeth, and the family's younger son, Thibault Vidalenc, became the general manager. He engaged his cousin, recently graduated architect Thomas Vidalenc, and together the two began the 11 million Euro transformation of the old mansion into the chic and desirable Hôtel de Sers it is today.
Thomas Vidalenc designed most of the furniture as well, and added the latest comforts, technology and amenities to the rooms, but the new never overpowers the French classical elements.
The designer touches -- such as modern, sculptural occasional tables, and chairs and cushions covered in retro-floral fabrics -- add a Scandinavian, modernist feel, but it all seems to somehow belong in this environment that is resplendent with gold, and old paintings and red velvet. Not an easy balance to achieve. - Tuija Seipell
Whatever Parisian pastry chef extraordinaire, Philippe Conticini, does gets noticed. His talent for creating desserts that are art in all meanings of the word has found yet another expression this September when he unveiled his latest creation, La Pâtisserie des Rêves (the patisserie of dreams), in the chic 7th arrondissement in Paris. Nothing in the design of the sleek 29 square-meter boutique is reminiscent of a traditional European konditorei. Most strikingly, the stars of the space — the desserts, cakes and pastries — are displayed on a round platform in the center. Each of the 15 culinary masterpieces is presented under its own temperature-controlled glass bell suspended from the ceiling. Customers order their selection from the staff, after which each order appears directly from the kitchen. Both ideas evoke the feel of a meticulous laboratory where precious specimens are handled. Conticini has been in the culinary limelight for more than two decades with his own TV show, several books, restaurants and awards. - Tuija Seipell
There’s no question rap music is in the midst of a major sea change. The jeans are getting tighter, the hoodies brighter. Gangsta is out, hipster is in, and those who don’t adapt are told they’re becoming obsolete. The fresh wave is young and ambitious, full of entrepreneurial spirit whilst spitting about SEGA and sneakers.
But away from the bum rush of hipster rap is a cleaner, more precise alternative.Throughout its reinventions, hip hop’s party trick has been its continued relevance as a medium for social and personal commentary, and it’s in this realm that 5 0’Clock Shadowboxers exist. This is soul-searing music, full of coiled aggression and biting humor. Shadowboxers’ rapper, Zilla Rocca, will laugh about the absurdity of it all one moment, and king hit you for not caring enough the next.
And he careens over some of the most carefully deployed sampology this side of a RJD2 record. Blurry Drones has grafted enough vinyl ammunition for three rap records and then crammed it all onto one. But this isn’t scattershot producing – throwing licks until one sticks – it’s precision work, carefully folded together for maximum effect. This is hip hop front-end loaded with killer instinct and a desperate perspiration. 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers are trapped in the dark corners of soul and society, and have just offered you a front row ticket as they fight their way out. – Matt Shea
Germain is a Parisian restaurant in a newly revitalized space at 25-27 rue de Buci in the 6th Arrondissement. The prolific, Iranian–born and Paris-based architect, India Mahdavi, created the interior architecture of the three-storey, funky establishment.
The most striking feature of the space is a massive yellow sculpture of a woman in an overcoat and high heels. Its lower half stands on the café’s first floor while the upper body and head break through the ceiling to the upper level VIP lounge area. The sculpture is one of three that the multi-disciplinary, Paris-based artist, Xavier Veilhan, made of his friend Sophie for an exhibition at the Emmanuel Perrotin Gallery (Miami) in 2006.
When Thierry Costes, scion of the Parisian hospitality family that owns Germain, asked Veilhan to contribute to Germain, Veilhan studied the multi-storey location and envisioned the drama that would be created if one of his Sophies “grew” in it, almost as if it were a feature that pre-existed the restaurant.
The Costes family is no stranger to using the talent and drawing power of well-known designers and artists in its hotels, restaurants and cafés. The fact that the 36-year-old Veilhan’s sculptural installation work has a prominent presence currently at Versailles cannot but help attract customers and the curious to the left-bank location of Germain. - Tuija Seipell
Mini goes Fluro with Neon wraps by TCH - Have you entered our Mini design contest? - do so here
Mini Neon by TCH Design
It seems that quite a few things will benefit from a Scandinavian touch. Munchausen, a duo formed by Parisian designers Simon Pillard and Philippe Rosetti, took a bold approach with their own kitchen by venturing to IKEA for the basic kitchen island and then spending the next week covering it with more than 20,000 pieces by another Scandinavian brand, Lego
The result is a one-of-a-kind creation that serves as an artistic centerpiece for the space, in addition to functioning as a kitchen counter. Pillard, who works with fashion house JC de Castelbajac, and Rosetti who works with Hugo Boss France Identity, formed Munchhausen in 2004.
The two have recently contributed a collection of T-shirts, cushions, wallpaper and accessories for the new French label Commune de Paris, 1871. Munchhausen was one of three initial contributors for Commune de Paris, 187. The other two were Julien Langendorff and David Herman Dune. - Tuija Seipell.
See also the Lego office table
In 2004, fashion designer Idit Barak opened her tiny 34 square-meter store Delicatessen in her native Tel Aviv, Israel. Barak’s store fit right in with the designers, artists, boutiques and coffee shops that were slowly turning the Gan Hahasmal (=Electric Garden, named for Israel’s first power station opened in 1923) neighborhood funky after its unofficial role as Tel Aviv’s red-light district for some time.
Delicatessen drew design and fashion media attention not just for Barak’s cutting-edge fashions but also for the cool but bare-bones interior. With a measly $3,000 budget, New York-based architect, Z-Astudio created the interior and displays in the two-storey-high space using two main elements — cardboard tubes (from inside fabric bolts) and linoleum, draped like fabric around displays.
Now, five years later, Gan Hahasmal is one of the coolest destinations for Tel Aviv’s fashionable and funky, and Zucker has recreated Delicatessen’s interior magic, this time with a $10,000 budget. Starting from the same philosophy of “more design, less material” Zucker’s team continued the idea of “draping” but this time it took the form of robing the entire space in white, custom-perforated, back-lit pegboard. The white board provides a lacy background for the fashions, and the board’s functionality gives unlimited display flexibility. Yellow paint indicates glimpses of the space’s “undergarments,” and recycled and found furnishings and accessories complete the eclectic look.
The 34-year-old Barak spent nearly a decade in New York, studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology and later learning with illustrator Ruben Toledo and fashion designer Isabel Toledo, and with at Norma Kamali. Idit Barak’s Delicatessen line is sold in boutiques across Israel and in New York. - Tuija Seipell