Cities grow organically, and while some areas thrive and prosper, others parts undoubtedly deteriorate over time as industry evolves, social dynamics shift and economies fluctuate. Many accomplished urban designers look at the multi-dimensionality of any city within which they work regardless of where a project is sited.
Ashton Raggatt McDougal (ARM) architects completed the design of the Melbourne Recital Center and the neighbouring Melbourne Theater Company helping to transform the formerly derelict Southbank area of the city to the dynamic district it has now become. The firm has been so successful in their designs of the two buildings that they have been honored with the 2009 Victorian Architecture Medal winning highest accolades in three categories for public architecture, interior design as well as urban design.
In a country where the two largest cities compete for just about everything, is Melbourne set to de-thrown Sydney for a higher quality performance space? Granted we’re not here to critique Utzon’s Opera House, but we are prepared to say that ARM, in collaboration with Arup Acoustics, designed a dynamic and original 1000-seat performance space and 150-seat Salon. “The fusion of architectural and acoustic design throughout the development of Elisabeth Murdoch Hall has produced a visually and aurally exciting hall,” a designer from Arup explains. “Based on the proportions of the classic shoe-box shaped European concert hall, the geometry has been enhanced to provide greater acoustic intimacy and improved sightlines for the entire audience.”
The design for the Melbourne Theater Company begins with the dramatic façade: 3D iridescent steel tubing folds and bends against black aluminum cladding – just as an actor brings performance to life against a dark backdrop. The interior is comprised of the Sumner Theater, a 500-seat hall noticeably without a balcony or mezzanine space, but still allowing exceptional site lines to the stage regardless of where your season tickets land you. The most striking element inside the main theater is the Word Wall – 70 quotes from different plays are illuminated when the stage is dark. The building also houses a full rehearsal hall that can be used as an event space or a smaller performance space, as well as a café and bar at the front of the house. - Andrew j Wiener
Each year as the Tour de France presses on through the French countryside, our desire and envy for faster sleeker cooler bikes is reinvigorated. While the German Team Tentakulus is not preparing to train its riders to race against many of the world's best, their new Shocker bike could be highly competitive for cool. Most Shocker riders will probably never need to worry about changing gears or overtaking fellow riders on steep climbs through the Alps. Besides looking good, switching on the headlight for safe night cruising is just about the only true performance feature that comes standard on every bike. - Andrew J Wiener
There’s something uniquely Danish about Fagget Fairys; an aggressive modernity stirred to a potent beat that marks the duo (that’s MC Ena and DJ Sensimilla) as being distinctly of the Jutland, a place where political, social and artistic progressivism is the norm rather than the exception.
It’s in Feed the Horse that the duo has produced a dexterous debut album. Built on Sensimilla’s filthy, sweat-smeared bass lines, Fagget Fairys’ brand of ghetto-funk churns, pumps, wrestles and writhes. Feed the Horse is almost salacious in its intent, and you can’t help but listen without feeling either bizarrely elated or subtly violated, or perhaps just both.
“I think the album worked out in a really good way,” explains Ena in her signature elastic style, her mind occasionally tripping over her tongue in a torrent of engaging verbosity. “Everything happened at the right time, because we had our EP out last year with two tracks on it that became very popular on the music blogs, so we already had a good basis on which we could then produce. When we did the album, we did it half in New York and half in Copenhagen, so we were working in these lots of two weeks at a time, where we would go into the studio and not come out for two weeks basically.”
Perhaps the biggest coup with Feed the Horse was the recruitment of Grammy award-winning Danish producer, Rasmus Bille Bähncke. Sensimilla has plenty of experience shaking clubs across Denmark, but working with Bähncke was a whole new experience entirely.
“He’s a really, really amazing guy and I think it was a bit like love at first sight for all of us,” Sensimilla explains. “You have the perfect match personally and you have the perfect match professionally and I think he was our perfect match in a professional sense. He has a good ear for what’s catchy in the pop genre and I have a really good ear for the underground thing, so the combination on the album is really interesting I think.”
Fagget Fairys may be destroying sound systems worldwide, but they’re simply the sharpened spearhead of what’s turning out to be a gang busting groundswell in Danish popular music.
“There are so many really interesting sounds coming out of Denmark,” says Sensimilla. “I think it’s being recognised in a few places in the world that we have some strong names now and that’s really exciting!” Exciting doesn’t even begin to describe the surge in great Danish music that Fagget Fairys are leading, with a bustling and dynamic community of artists in the pack, the scene is on the verge of a musical triumph of truly epic proportions. – Matt Shea
Speaking to Elly Jackson, the flame-haired singer and focal point of UK duo La Roux, on the eve of her ascent into the realms of pop-stardom - that being the pinnacle reaches of the pop charts - is interesting in that it's an incredible achievement for an electro duo, who regardless of their enormous potential don't fit the mold of conventional chart-darlings, and also because Jackson doesn't see herself popstar yet.
"Yeah, it's very weird in a way. I never expected us to do well on the pop charts like we have done, but yeah, it's nice anyway," Elly says, referring to La Roux's two most recent singles, In For The Kill and Bulletproof, hitting number 2 and 1 on the UK pop charts. "When In For The Kill first entered the charts we were chuffed about it, but then it started to climb and it reached number 2, so we were sharing space with genuine pop stars," she explains from the back of La Roux's tour van. "I was just happy because it meant that people were listening to our music. That's the important thing."
But despite the double-act's runaway success La Roux aren't a flash in the pan, as Elly states emphatically. "A lot of people think that we've just kind of appeared over night, but that's not the case at all. We've been doing this for years. It took a couple of years of recording and writing together to find out what we liked and what we didn't like, and then last year we started taking that around to labels and people who wanted to work with. It's been a long time coming for us, so if people think we've just sprung up out of nowhere, they're wrong."
As Elly suggests, the La Roux project has been developing and gestating for a number of years before taking off. The singer explains that the years leading up to their self titled album were spent "struggling" with songs. "It started out very different to what you hear now. We were doing things in an organic kind of way. It wasn't strictly folk music, but there were a lot of acoustic instruments involved. I grew up listening to a lot of folk music so I guess that was a big influence at the time," she says fankly. "But our songs weren't working. It was difficult for us. Like, the songs were good, but there was just something that wasn't 100% right. So we took a break from things for a little while and I started listening to a lot of electronic music, a lot of synthpop and stuff. Ben ([Langmaid], the other side of La Roux) and I got together again and decided to try things out with some electronic sounds, and it just clicked. The songs finally made sense.”
La Roux by La Roux is out now. Hit the band’s website for a free download pack. - Dave Ruby Howe
Nikon took its cue from our celebrity-obsessed paparazzi culture to launch the brand's D700 model in Korea.
At a busy Seoul subway station, Nikon mounted a huge interactive, light-box billboard displaying life-like images of paparazzi. Huddled together as if at a premiere, the "paps" appear to be jostling and competing for the best celebrity snap. The celebrities in this case were the passersby, who automatically triggered a deluge of flashing camera lights as they walked past the billboard. The accidental superstars then followed the red carpet all the way out of the station and into a mall - directly into the store where they could purchase the new D700. Mission accomplished. - Lisa Evans
West Hollywood, California-based Clive Wilkinson Architects has completed many projects for California’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. The private college offers two-year fashion, graphics, interior design and entertainment education at four campuses Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County and San Diego.
Clive Wilkinson’s latest undertaking with the Institute was the 31,000-square-foot Sand Diego facility located on the third floor of a new, unremarkable office tower overlooking the Petco baseball park. Bold use of color defines the various functional areas of the campus, and makes dividing walls unnecessary. Glass walls are present in almost every space, which allows light to flow freely. These are all effective ways of creating openness and visual interest while avoiding the claustrophobic, square-box feel that could result, especially in the areas located farthest from the perimeter walls with windows.
Sand-tone flooring and hard, angular lines link everything together, and establish an edgy, free-flowing sense of vibrancy. Visually light-weight furniture paired with heavier blocks of seating and desks bring variety without looking pretentious. Everything seems a bit temporary, in the positive sense of the word. Softer, rounded treatments in the lounge area invite relaxation and rest.
The Cape Town and London-educated architect, Clive Wilkinson, established his office in Los Angeles in 1991. The company has since reaped awards in both interior design and architecture, completing commercial, residential and hospitality projects. One of the firm’s current assignments is the renovation of the 370,000-square-foot Nokia House in Helsinki, the headquarters of Nokia, due to be completed in 2010. - Tuija Seipell
Eclectic, electric, electrifying and energetic are words that describe the work of art director and designer Pedro Vilas-Boas. Stationed in Lisbon, the Portuguese-born Vilas Boas collaborates with a variety of complementing talent and comes up with fascinating web sites, online and offline projects, graphics, posters and even T-shirt designs for A-list clients such as Nokia and Carlsberg.
His work is characterized by a mix of contrast, electricity, motion and bold lines. The result is an effective blend of energy and punch. Lucky for his high-energy clients that Pedro Vilas-Boas chose this type of punch as his preferred medium, and did not fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a policeman. - Tuija Seipell
Patrick Tighe, principal of Santa Monica’s Tighe Architecture, may hate space-age references. But, here we go: Tighe’s work for Moving Picture Company’s (MPC) Los Angeles office IS space-agey. With its pod-like central spaces, curving ledges and white drywall expanses, it evokes memories of retro space movies.
But it all fits. The U.K-based MPC is in the business of computer animation, color-grading and digital effects, so you wouldn’t want color, hard edges or natural light to mess with that. MPC is known for its work on the past six James Bond films, Slumdog Millionaire and commercials.
In turn, Tighe’s residential and commercial work is characterized by roofs shooting out at angles, curves sweeping, horizontal planes slanting. Your eye follows these lines easily and accepts the direction. A goal that MPC is most likely familiar as well. - Tuija Seipell
Have fun with your pimples! That was likely the thinking of Gideon Amichay, Chief Creative Officer and partner at Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Y&R Interactive in Tel Aviv, Israel, when he created a campaign for Clearex acne treatment gel. A pimply-faced, 5-meter-tall climbing wall at Israel’s largest climbing center exposed 8,000 teenagers per month to the brand during their summer holidays. The agency’s online take on the same predicament earned it a perch on 2009 Cannes Cyber Lions shortlist. Teenagers entered their friends’ photos online and pimpled their faces liberally. The only way for the friend to remove the pimples? Use “online” Clearex, of course. This campaign gained over 2.7 million exposures and 25,000 active surfers in under 48 hours. - Tuija Seipell
How far will your need for speed take you? If you’re like many of us, dreams of sitting in the cockpit of any kind of aircraft rolling through the clouds are unlikely to ever happen... until now. The US Air Force has teamed up with Galpin Auto Sports and built the stealth-looking Dodge Challenger Vapor – part muscle car, part fighter jet – all military strategy.
The designers fitted the body of the car with jet enhancements that would even make Batman look twice. Special radar-blocking black paint covers the car, while a stealth exhaust allows it to run virtually silent. A roof-mounted camera detects any type of movement within a quarter mile. Biometric verification via the driver’s thumbprint gives access to the vehicle through gull wing doors.
All that’s left to do now is strap on one of the custom-designed helmets, climb inside the cockpit and take off. Once seated behind the wheel (or wheels, as there is a passenger-side steering wheel as well), the pilot and co-pilot can use an advanced computer-system complete with internet access, a GPS tracking system, exterior proximity sensors, as well as switch on a thermal vision projection on the windshield to track enemy forces through the darkness.
Jumping back to reality, only briefly, the USAF designed the Challenger as a recruitment tool for future cadets. The military planned a Super Car Tour and is visiting various high schools across the US, along with a handful of auto shows to entice young hopefuls into military service. - Andrew J Wiener