Music

March 20 2009



The reports of the demise of Nick Zinner’s guitar have been greatly exaggerated. While the band’s new found admiration of Giorgio Moroder and the synths-and-sequencers party vibe of lead single Zero led many to think that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs had ditched their signature guitar-drenched sound, it’s not the case. Zinner still wields his guitar like a pro on It’s Blitz!, yet it’s used in such measured and considered strokes throughout the album, complementing the richer sense of space and detail than we’ve yet seen from the band. It’s a more artful, rather than arty, version of Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

That's not to say that the band still don't rock, because they really do like on the afore-mentioned single Zero, or Dull Life which gallops at full speed aboard Zinner’s tumbling riffs. But the NYC trio truly shine when they push themselves and their sound headlong into unexplored territories. Take the gorgeous Hysteric, with a skeletal synthesis of organic and programmed drumming, and sparingly used guitar atmospherics, it’s the band at their most tender, before they decide to throw everything at their disposal — horns, trumpets, whistles — into the song, only making it sound bigger and more poignant than before.

Such slow-burning tracks have quickly become the band’s strongest suit, and accordingly It’s Blitz! (a deceptive title it turns out) is dominated with layers of trembling synthesizers and Zinner’s rich guitar-mist. It's a fairly staggering leap from the bratty rush of Fever To Tell and the polished-rock-sheen of Show Your Bones, but the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound so comfortable and assured of themselves while they jump from sound to sound that you shouldn't hesitate about jumping off with them. - By Dave Ruby Howe

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March 17 2009



No more living in denial about the size of your waist line, thanks to this fantastic albeit terrifying guerrilla marketing initiative from the health club chain, Fitness First. Unsuspecting commuters in the Netherlands are faced with viewing their body weight in bright lights - quite literally - when they take a seat at this Rotterdam bus stop. Scary to say the very least, but extraordinarily clever and likely to increase membership numbers at the local Fitness First. The brainchild of Netherlands’ agency N=5, the initiative takes the concept of guerilla marketing to a whole new level. - Lisa Evans

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Architecture

March 14 2009




Paris-based Agence Jouin Manku took on its first large-scale integrated architectural and interior design commission in 2003, when YTL Design Group from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, invited it to design the residence of a Malaysian power family.


 
Completed in the latter part of 2008, the residence is the ultimate expression of the taste, influence and industrial-scale capabilities of the prominent family whose entrepreneurial activities have shaped Kuala Lumpur’s skyline.


 
Three generations of the family inhabit the 3,000 square-meter residence designed to accommodate both private and public functions.


 
The building includes nine bedrooms, two family rooms, a family kitchen and a private dining area, a family library, a game room, a study, a public reception area, a formal dining room, a ballroom, chapel, 21 bathrooms, a swimming pool, two guest suites plus indoor private and guest parking.


 
The initial sketches exploring the owners’ usage requirements reveal resemblances to the boring stacked-boxes look still so ubiquitous in residential architecture. And while traces of the ”heaped trailers“ syndrome remain in the finished building, this is not the Jetsons, neither are we looking at EPCOT, Tomorrowland or the 1964 New York World's Fair.


 
We are in the lush vegetation of a posh Kuala Lumpur residential area, and in spite of the boxiness of the structure, an elegant circular softness manages to permeate the sightlines and key details of the building, making it an agreeable part of its landscape.


 
Inside, prominent examples of this curvilinear elegance include the amazing staircases resembling the inside of a shell when viewed from above, and the round ballroom chandelier of 13,000 custom-designed undulating petals of unglazed cast porcelain biscuit.


 
The curved walls both inside and out have a functional purpose of providing privacy and enclosing each function gently in its own space. The overall sweeping feel inside the spaces invites the viewer in and creates soft, arching vistas.


 
The concept consists of three layers: the base for public functions, the ring for guests and the private house for the family.


 
The inside of the magnificent residence is gorgeous with its high ceilings, large windows and abundance of light. White color and natural wood are dominant elements but they allow the view from the vast, mostly retractable, windows to remain the main visual attraction.


 
The residence is also a wonderful study of contrasts between inside and outside, private and public, traditional and ultra modern, man-made and natural.


 
YTL Design Group of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was the architect of record. The Agence Jouin Manku design team included Patrick Jouin, Sanjit Manku, Yann Brossier (architect), Richard Perron (designer). Officina del Paesaggio from Lugano, Switzerland was in charge of the landscape design, and L’Observatoire, New York, USA handled the lighting. - Tuija Seipell

Images - Roland Halbe

 

Art

March 14 2009

Tomokazu Matsuyama’s work -- mostly acrylics on canvas or paper -- has a sense of intrigue, mystery and secrecy that draws the viewer in and demands a further look. There is also a feel of lightness, floating and movement that seems to suggest fleeting glimpses of something impermanent. At the same time, his art carries a strong implication of tradition and of enduring order.

His colors are subdued but lively, and much of the work suggest a paper-cut collage. Humans, mostly men, and animals, especially horses, populate his art, and even in the abstracts, there is a hint of an eye, a wing, a presence just beyond the immediate first glance. The implication of story and the touch of subtle whimsy make his work accessible and inviting, yet the viewer is not hit with rigid answers. One is left with an oddly comfortable sensation of incomprehension.



Tomokazu Matsuyama was born in Tokyo in 1976. He is a graduate of the Pratt Institute in New York and the Sophia University in Tokyo. He lives and works in New York City. He has held solo exhibitions in San Francisco, New York, Tokyo and Osaka and participated in numerous shows and installations around the world. He has also worked with well-known brands including Levi’s and Nike and Adidas. Tuija Seipell

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Offices

March 13 2009



Ogilvy & Mather’s Guangzhou office has been selected as one of the recipients of the third annual China's Most Successful Design Award 2008, sponsored by FORTUNE China magazine and China Bridge International.
 
Designed by M Moser and Associates, Ogilvy & Mather’s office is the first interior design project to receive this award. Aiming to offer its current and future staff an environment that inspires creativity Ogilvy & Mather allowed M Moser to go all out with the theme “Carnival of Ideas.”


 
The height of the space and the central staircase create a background for a theme park of environments that flow freely and openly from one to another.
 
This is Ogilvy & Mather’s expanded office, relocated from the business hub of Guangzhou to the edgier arts and culture region in the city-fringe, with views across the Pearl River toward the historical Sha Mian district.
 
Michael Lee, Ogilvy’s Shanghai & Southern China COO, was quoted as saying that although the commute time has doubled for many staffers, they still love coming to work because the new environment is so much fun.


 
In a media release, M Moser Associates’ director Wendy Leung is quoted as saying that although seeing the workplace as a strategic tool to support business goals is a new concept in China, it is gaining recognition as a serious trend.
 
In operation since 1981, M Moser has offices in 11 countries, specializing in workplace environments including design, strategic planning, engineering and construction.


 
The 25 winners of China's Most Successful Design Award 2008 include cars, other products, and retail and office spaces. - Tuija Seipell

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March 12 2009



If it’s bubbles you want, Aero offers them up in more ways than one, at least on video. Aero’s maker Nestlé chose Skate Fairy Ty Evans of the Lakai footwear Fully Flared video fame, to create a yummy video that is making the viral rounds. It features the Rio-born Bob Burnquist aka Robert Dean Silva Burnquist having some enviable fun on the bubbles.

Click to watch it - It's awesome



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Food

March 12 2009



The rooftop Terrace of the 13,000-square-foot restaurant/club, Sevva,  on the 25th-floor penthouse of the Prince’s Building, commands prime views of the Hong Kong harbor.
 
Inside, deliciously subtle dashes of color tone down the grandiosity of the vast establishment, giving its several restaurants and bars a relaxed elegance. For drinks, live music and tapas, Sevva has the Taste Bar. For the ultimate power lunch, there is the Bank Side restaurant adorned with images of magnificent banks.


 
The best place for a relaxed drink is the long and narrow Lounge with its live garden wall. Casually elegant meals can be enjoyed under the vaulted ceiling of the Harbor Side restaurant. And for irresistible cakes and sweets, there is Ms B’s Sweets, a cake shop under the huge 1950s chandelier designed originally for the British embassy in Rome.


 
Ms B is owner Bonnie Gokson whose reputation in the world of branding and fashion has helped Sevva gain lots of attention. Gokson is Chanel Asia Pacific’s former communications director and the sister of Asia’s legendary fashion icon, Joyce Ma, credited for bringing the world of brand-name fashion to Asia.


 
Gokson’s own achievements are widely respected in the hospitality, food, entertainment and retail worlds, and she is constantly working on developing new products and ideas.
 
Gokson loves art and drama, so it is no wonder she chose Tsao & McKown Architects to transform the 1960s mixed-use Prince's Building space into the dramatic Sevva environment.


 
Tsao’s background includes studies of theatre from acting to directing, sets and costumes, but his architecture degree is from Harvard where he also met his future partner, Zack McKown.


 
Their New York-based firm handles architecture and design of both residential and commercial projects, as well as set and exhibit design, product and furniture design. - Tuija Seipell

Music

March 11 2009




Jack Brown is used to having labels stuck to his band. In twelve short months, White Lies — which Brown drums for — have been called many things, from the next big thing in indie rock, to slavish Joy Division impersonators and all ‘round miserable boys. And although White Lies can deal with the incessant hype-storm that’s been whipped up in the wake of their debut LP To Lose My Life, it’s those last two that Brown doesn’t care for. “That’s something which we’ve heard of a lot in the last year, that our music is so bleak we must be the most depressed people in Britain, but it couldn’t be further from the truth,” Brown says. “I know that we’ve got a sound which is quite darker than a lot of other bands going around right now, but that itself is a reflection of us as a band and as people. We’ve grown up and these songs represent that maturity,” Brown says of the band’s debut disc. “Listen to the title track of the album, it’s about being so in love with someone that you stay with them until the very end of your lives, I mean, how romantic is that? I feel like there’s so much color and energy to what we do, that to compare us to a band like Joy Division is just absurd, because that was a band concerned with making music that was as bleak as possible. That isn’t us.”

Those who’ve laid such claims against White Lies are seemingly missing the point of To Lose My Life. Yes, it’s a dark sound, and yes, it’s focused on narratives of lost love, betrayal, social and familial dysfunction, and of course death. But it’s really about passion. White Lies’ lyricist Charles Cave utilizes these emotive themes to compel both band and listener, and as a result, To Lose My Life is an equally exhilarating and ambitious record. It’s also one that makes the band befitting of the other label mentioned earlier, the one about being the next big thing in indie rock.

“When people say something like that about you, you’ve got to step back from it all, otherwise it’ll effect you,” Brown admits. “We never wanted to play any games with the band’s hype. We avoided it. We spent over two months rehearsing before we played any shows, we did extended studio sessions for the album and we never released any information about ourselves or our music online. And it worked for us,” he explains. “If the press had started saying those kind of things about us before we finished the album, we never would’ve got anything done. We’re terrible at actually finishing things. That’s why we’ve only got like two B-Sides. We’re rarely satisfied with everything we do and that would’ve made it so much worse.  Thankfully we weren’t under the immense pressure of the hype machine during recording. And when it finally caught up with us, our album was finished and ready to come out, so it didn’t get to our heads. We got really lucky,” he says before beaming widely. And so they should be. — Dave Ruby Howe

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Design

March 11 2009




Scandinave Les Bains Vieux-Montréal is the newest addition to the Scandinave spa line-up.

Located in Old Montreal and close to the Old Port, the 12,000-square-foot spa is the first urban undertaking of the Scandinave team, spearheaded by Benoît Berthiaume, co-founder and executive VP of the Gestion Rivière du Diable group.


 
Occupying the ground floor of a restored former warehouse, Scandinave Les Bains Vieux-Montréal’s setting is less intimate than the rural settings of the first two Scandinave spas. The first corporate spa opened in 1999 in the log-and-stone cabin country of Mont Tremblant’s ski hills in Quebec, and the first franchise opened in 2006 in the Blue Mountain ski hills of Collingwood, Ontario.
 
The Old Montreal spa was designed by Montreal’s award-winning architectural powerhouse, Saucier + Perrotte, led by Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte.


 
The interior is somewhat sterile and cold with its open spaces and expansive surfaces of glass, marble, slate and limestone. In recreating the hot-and-cold “thermo therapy” of the “Scandinavian bath” experience, this spa is definitely closer to Reykjavik’s somewhat clinical Blue Lagoon than to the wood-paneled saunas of Finland.


 
Scandinave’s next corporately owned spa is scheduled to open late this year in the ski hills of Whistler, British Columbia, to be ready for the 2010 Winter Olympics. - Tuija Seipell
 

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March 11 2009




Perwanal Saatchi & Saatchi in Jakarta, Indonesia, has taken interactivity and creepy-crawliness to a new, flat level with the creation of this massive 'floor sticker' in an Jakarta shopping center .
 
The ad, for Jakarta's pet emporium JAKPETZ, promotes Frontline Flea & Tick Spray  with the slogan 'Get them off your dog.'
 
Viewed from the upper levels, the people walking on the ad look disgustingly flea-like, and the scene elicits constant reactions that sound something like 'yikes!' The team behind this effective promo included Chief Creative Officer Andy Greenaway, Executive Creative Director Juhi Kalia and Art Directors Aryanto Salim and Joel Clement. - Tuija Seipell

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