Design

January 13 2009



Many of the brutalist forms of architecture constructed under the watchful eyes of the Soviet regime in the latter half of the twentieth century sit unused or abandoned throughout various eastern European cities.  The ‘Danube Flower,’ a Belgrade landmark sited along the river’s foreshore was no exception.  Originally opened as a restaurant in the 1970s, the triangular structure built 15 metres above the river sat empty for fifteen years after the fall of Communism and during the civil war in what was then Yugoslavia and now is Serbia. 

 

The Belgrade design studio, 4of7 partnered with London-based Superfusionlab to adaptively reuse the space as a high-end gym and spa in city’s centre.  From the ground-level pedestrian esplanade, visitors enter the Wellness Sky through the central core, the sole support for the entire structure, which contains two lift shafts and a double spiral staircase.



Once inside the facilities, its namesake genuinely takes meaning.  Fitness gurus and gym junkies are immediately awash with sweeping city and river views from the uninterrupted ribbon window, which wraps entirely around the building.  During the day, light glows through the widows onto the reflective resin floor.  The faceted ceiling comprised of backlit semi translucent triangular panels allows visitors to feel as if they are exercising within a cloud.  The openness and loftiness of the design of the Wellness Sky allows members to feel nearly weightless in the very environment where burning away the excess is the ultimate achievement. - Andrew J Wiener.

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Architecture

January 13 2009




The boxy and containery appearance of residential buildings currently attracting accolades and attention is starting to get boring. However, simplicity, clarity and openness are qualities that continue to appeal.



While this is yet another house of stacked boxes, we cannot help but admire the vacation residence clinging dramatically to the sloping hill up in the trees of the Laurentian mountains of Quebec, Canada.



Locals, used to a more traditional ski chalet in this popular ski resort area, refer to the building as the cube, a name choice requiring no imagination. When the Montreal-based architectural firm Saucier + Perrotte won the Canadian Architect magazine’s Award of Excellence for this project in 2004, the magazine called the entry the Lac Superieur Residence in Lac Superieur, Mont-Tremblant.



Whatever the moniker, the house stuns with its elegant lines, stylish use of materials and lack of unnecessary distractions.



As it should be, the building’s real redeeming features reveal themselves inside. The views from the floor-to-ceiling windows provide all the visual stimulus you’ll need, and at the same time, demand a streamlined approach to everything else in the interior.



The boxy-cubey theme continues inside as do the color scheme and the lack of distracting materials. The residence is divided into three functional areas’ sleeping quarters on the top floor, middle and entry floor for living and the lowest level for play.



Although the building looks like a disorganized corner of a stylish container-port it exudes a solitary, silent grace that allows the distinctive, four seasons of the mountain to provide the main attraction.



The building meets the criteria for a log cabin as described in the area’s design guidelines for recreational development yet, fortunately, fails to resemble a Tyrolean mini castle. - Tuija Seipell




Ads

January 9 2009



Many of us have a fascination with graffiti art, and we sometimes even look over our shoulders to make sure no one’s watching when we scratch out our initials in a freshly laid slab of cement — or carve them into a wooden desk — or even scribble profanities across the stall door in a public restroom. 

The creative minds working for Sharpie, the ultimate in permanent markers, have discovered a way to satiate our desires to deface public domain.  Interactive e-cast billboards have been scattered around cities, which allow people to experience the rush of creating their own graffiti.  Choose some colours, write a message and Sharpie makes it possible for anyone to leave his permanent mark on the side of the bus stop or the public phone or anywhere else billboard adverting may be experienced. Andrew J Wiener.

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Design

January 6 2009




Bold use of colour has never frightened the 40-year-old, Lisbon-based architect Pedro Gadanho. The colour extravagance of the recently completed single-family residence in Oporto, Portugal, follows Gadanho’s established modus operandi of using white and bright colours as key elements of a space. The petrol-blue kitchen and sanguine stairway draw the attention while at the same time punching up the power of snowy white.



Colour played an important part also in the widely reviewed and admired Orange house he designed with Nuno Grande. The private residence was completed in 2005 in Carreço, Portugal.
 
Another example of Gadanho’s use of color is the high-profile Ellipse Foundation Art Centre in Estoril/Alcoitão, Portugal. He designed the 20,000 square-foot converted warehouse with Atelier de Santos. It was completed in 2006.



Gadanho’s thought-provoking architecture matches his overall attempt to provoke critical thinking about the relationship between architecture and current culture. He is known not only as an architect but also as a free-lance critic, curator and teacher. He’s taught architecture theory and history at Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do Porto and curated the Portuguese presence at the 2004 Venice Biennale. And for those of us who like lovely names, his full name is Pedro César Clara do Carmo Gadanho. Tuija Seipell



Images/Fernando Guera


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Music

December 15 2008



Trying to describe Tacoma’s Mono In VCF makes you feel like a tongue-tied fool attempting to convey a transcendental experience. This is music quite unlike anything you’ve heard before, perhaps best imagined as a young Suede camping on a rooftop, watching storms clouds with Phil Spector. It’s on Masha, lifted from Mono In VCF’s self-titled LP, that we witness the band’s finest hour. It’s a song born of the cold sea, with guitars that shudder like crumbling icebergs and synths that brush a transpacific wind across the nape of your neck. Bang in the middle of the mix sits Kim Miller’s voice, an exercise in beguilement that could seduce a fleet of sailors into the abyss. Stupefying, soul-tickling stuff. — Matt Shea

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Kids

December 10 2008



ArcheToys designed by Floris Hovers may be toys but kids do not need to get excited. Adults are going to scoop them up, now that they are apparently available - although we are not yet quite sure how or where we could buy them.
 
Hovers was born in 1976 in Raamsdonksveer in the Netherlands and graduated from the Eindhoven Design Academy in 2004. The first ArcheToy was an ambulance that Hovers created for his little cousin. The simplicity of the cars from the 1950s and 1960s charmed and intrigued Hovers and so he began to craft a fleet of specialty vehicles. They are archetypes of uncomplicated, recognizable form; toys for adults minus tiresome macho undertones.
 
Hovers introduced ArcheToys to the world at the November 2007 Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. His intention of designing furniture has now been sidetracked as these little things have taken off the way they deserve. More than 40 strong and growing, the ArcheToys fleet includes several that we simply must have — especially the hearse, combine and ice-cream truck. - Tuija Seipell

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Food

December 8 2008



Posh is probably the best word to describe the venerable Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida. Expecting only pastelly and fussy colonial style, we were happy to see the fun decor of Serendipity cafe, just opened at the luxury resort. But we really shouldn’t be surprised. This cafe is the second only outlet of New York’s super-famous Serendipity 3.
 
It is the cafe with the crazy Alice-in-Wonderland decor that was opened in 1954 in New York (on East 58th and later moved to East 60th) by three party-hosting young men, Patch Caradine, Calvin Holt and Stephen Bruce. In addition to serving mad dessert and ice cream treats, they also offered – and still do – an extensive family-friendly menu. Celebrities of all kinds are regulars. In 2001, a movie was named after the cafe and starred John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale.


 
The Boca Raton outlet is the first time the 54-year-old Serendipity has been lured outside New York, so we assume they have really thought this out. Certainly the new 1,200-square-foot space looks amazing with its ice-creamy colors and signature light fixtures. .We’ll drink an Apricot Smush for that. - Tuija Seipell

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Transportation

December 8 2008



If you're fortunate enough to have a garage full of sports cars your next purchase must be a Silvestri speedboat - what we like to call the Porsche of the sea. The devastatingly handsome 23-foot vessel was actually created by the makers of the Spyker sports car and it shows. It features all sorts of high tech gadgets and stylistic points that you expect from a superior sports car, from remote control hatched compartments to a sleek leather interior. Oh, and a ferocious motor to be reckoned with. It's enough to make James Bond proud. - Orlando Evans

Design

December 4 2008



123dv Architectuur & Consult is yet another award-winning – and strangely numbered – multi-disciplinary Dutch design firm. The Rotterdam-based 123dv practices architecture and interior design in a wide range of areas from residential to commercial buildings, from small-scale to huge projects.
 
A commercial project, the new wing of the Media Plaza in Utrecht, was launched with a high-tech party in October.
 
The Media Plaza is one of many conference and exhibition venues under the wings of the venerable Dutch Fair organization
JaarBeurs.


 
The Media Plaza’s new expansion involves eight meeting rooms and a main congress hall that accommodates 700 people. The space 123dv created is an incredibly flexible blank-canvas for seminars, conferences and corporate events.
 
The design emphasis is on various light sources and different projection methods. The new wing is accessible via two tunnels in which 123dv designed all surfaces to be canvases for projection, with floors and walls reacting to the movement of people.


 
Light and projection are the main features also in the foyer and in the meeting rooms. To create different moods or to emphasize event-appropriate colors, the LED-light walls in the foyer and the fabric ceilings in the session rooms can change color.
 
123dv outfitted the main hall with a 100% transparent ETFE (ethylenetetrafluoroethylene) roof to mimic the feel of an ancient amphitheatre – a meeting under the open sky. The completely white congress hall seems an ideal backdrop for events where the organizer can really allow its colors or products to pop. We can already picture the possibilities for a fashion runway show. - Tuija Seipell



 
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Stores

December 3 2008



VilaSofa, a furniture store that opened in Amsterdam in October is a clever design feat by Tjep. Judging by the VilaSofa website, it is a brand that can use some visual updating. VilaSofa is positioned somewhere between an IKEA store and a conventional furniture store and its claim to fame is reasonable prices and a guaranteed 48-hour delivery of all displayed models.
 
The Amsterdam-based Tjep faced the challenge of making all this look cool. It zeroed in on the warehouse concept but with a homey twist. It focused on the aspects of speed and the transitional nature of the place where factory-born furniture lives while waiting to be taken to your home.


 
Combining warehouse and home isn’t easy, but Tjep accomplished it by only suggesting both. They used warehousing and transportation symbols as the basis for gigantic cutouts and wall graphics, and created a white wall with cutouts of chandeliers, windows and ornate balconies that imply a villa and refer to your home as your castle. Staff rides around in cute cash-register trolleys so that customers don’t need to go to them.


 
The Tjep design team included company founders Frank Tjepkema and Janneke Hooymans, plus Leonie Janssen, Tina Stieger, Bertrand Gravier and Camille Cortet.
 
Tjep is a multiple-award winning firm that works in an astonishingly wide variety of three-dimensional design – Product and furniture design, interior design and interior architecture, identity design and events. Tjep clients include Droog, British Airways, ING, Restaurant Praq, Camper, Heineken and Ikea. Hooymans left Tjep in May 2008, and now works independently thisisjane.com. - Tuija Seipell.
 
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