Offices

December 1 2008




GHD, makers of the must-have hair straightening irons (many a woman's best friend, let me tell you) have just joined the cool offices club. The company's new 15,600 sq ft head quarters in Leeds is more space ship than corporate office. And that's exactly how they wanted it, according to UK firm Carey Jones interiors, who designed the futuristic space, which features a "catwalk" in the reception area.



The objective of the two-year long project was to capture GHD's sense of style and uniqueness in the market place and translate that into their HQ's design. Mission accomplished. - Lisa Evans

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Kids

November 27 2008




One of the easiest ways to make a boring space more vibrant is to use colour. However, as so many of us can remember, obvious opportunities to do this have been missed for decades in schools, universities and hundreds of other places where young people are more or less stuck for long periods. Luckily, today’s kids have better luck – at least in the schools where Amsterdam’s i29 has had its say.


 
i29 Interior Architects consists of two interior designers – Jaspar Jansen and Jeroen Dellensen – and is known for clear, bold solutions. A good example of this is their custom furniture project for a Het Veer. It is a public school in Almere, a city located 25 kilometers east of Amsterdam and often referred to as the most modern city in Europe. Het Veer is a school for children with learning and concentration difficulties and the objective of i29’s work was to express and entice concentration, playfulness and movement. Their eight different white and red tube furniture pieces can be mixed and matched creating various formations. They play off the Buzz Wire science game that teaches about electric circuits and is based on concentration and hand coordination.


 
At the Caland Lyseum in Amsterdam, 1,500 students work in a sport-centric environment where they receive coaching for their specific sport and in academic topics. i29 was asked to envision  the public spaces – including the main hall, staff room, library and computer/media room – for the new Bos & Partners architects-designed building with its gray brick, glass walls and unusual floor plans. They used large images of the school’s famous sports hero alumni and then custom-created multi-functional tables, benches and signage, plus a color scheme for the common areas. The award-winning solution matches the dynamic and multicultural life of the school yet lets the buildings features dominate. - Tuija Seipell

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Kids

November 26 2008



These cool images are from the fabulous Kinderdentist in Berlin. Designed by Brad Pitt’s favourite architecture firm, the super-creative and multi-functional GRAFT, this is the kind of place that makes us want to be kids again. Never thought we’d say that about a dental office, but what can we do? And why exactly is it that adults’ dental offices don’t look like this?


 
Kinderdentist is an underwater world of play and adventure with a 12-foot visual wave drawing the guests into to world of blue hues and pixilated schools of fish. You feel as if you were under water, in a submarine, just waiting for exciting things to happen. And yes, kids’ teeth get fixed there, too.


 
Originally established in 1998 in Los Angeles by German architects, Lars Krückeberg and Wolfram Putz, Graft expanded in 2001 when third partner, Thomas Willemeit, opened the Berlin office, and fourth partner, Gregor Hoheisel, established Graft in Beijing.
 
Now perhaps best known for its collaboration with Brad Pitt, Graft has always pushed the boundaries of mere architecture and is known for an enormous breath of projects. Architecture, interior design and art concepts, urban design, “eventing,” film and video projects, music, car design, commercials and exhibitions are just some of the things the prolific team has completed globally. Its architecture and interior design practice extends the breath of the field as well from furniture schemes to concept design of hotels, restaurants, clubs, offices, institutions, residences.


 
In the media, Graft is often labeled as something other than a ‘global architecture firm’ – including a rock band, a hippie commune and a bunch of eccentrics – and it seems that this is exactly what the partners like to hear. Willemeit has been quoted as saying that “In L.A. we’re these crazy German guys and in Berlin we are not accepted into the Berlin architecture mafia – we’re cowboys. - Tuija Seipell

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Stores

November 25 2008



Aesop continues to serve up award winning design with its new store in "The Strand Arcade" in Sydney. Each Aesop store has its own signature look defying the carbon copy stores that were so popular in the 90's and early 2000's. Respecting the store's neighbouring environment is important to Aesop and integration within the area is emphasised. March Studio's, Rodney Eggleston has again been offered the role to find the "store's soul" and bring it to life. He has made one of Aesop's highlight materials "Porcelain" the hero in this store by using the timeless, precious material for the tiles, small furnishings and floor.   



As always with Aesop, clean lines and only the necessary pieces of furniture and interiors are used allowing optimum space and movement. The complete range of skin, hair and body products are available in this store, so maximising the wall space was essential. The finishing results are a sublime gallery like offering that continues to push the retail boundaries. — Kate Vandermeer.

Fashion

November 24 2008




Shoes say as much about the wearer and his or her character as do eyeglasses. Jamie Hayon's line of shoes for Camper is perfect for self expression. With his industrial design aesthetic and love of tap dancing shoes, Hayon has created a collection of sporty shoes that has a touch of elegance; an upgrade from the humble sneaker. With its smooth, form-fitting shape, linen-print lining and diamond-patterned sole, this shoe is more than just a mere accessory for the feet - it's a fusion of style, form and function. - Kate Vandermeer


Lifestyle

November 24 2008




In the digital age of music, Turntablism has long remained a bastion of the analogue, a smoky backroom where arguments over white labels, pick-ups and the merits of the 'S'-shaped tone arm are the order of the day.  Only recently has the turntable been dragged into the digital spectrum, beginning with the CD models ten years ago and being followed now by the emergence of hard-drive based decks.  

The recent Picasso & His Collection exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA ) of Brisbane, Australia, managed to take the digital deck another step further. A significant part of Pablo Picasso's genius was the posthumous influence he had on modern Europe following his death in 1973, something GoMA's curators were excited to capture in their Contemporary Media Lounge, the centrepiece being the introduction of a touch screen turntable.

Co-ordinated by GoMA's Multimedia Designer, Aidan Robertson and calling on the skills of both the gallery's exhibitions team and post production company Cutting Edge's Interactive Designer, Dan Treichel, the brilliance of the turntables lies in the linking of a platter taken from a Numark HDX deck with an intuitive touchscreen. As the platter spins, the user is able to manipulate a range of adjustable filters onscreen to build, rearrange and reinvent the MP3 songs on the drive. While relatively easy to pick up and play, the turntables also possess a steady learning curve, letting the more committed and ambitious users create works of intimidating aural dexterity.   

Thus Robertson, Treichel and their collaborators managed to weave together the practicality of both old and new, keeping the tactile response of the high-torque HDX platter but matching it to the easy access of media and filters provided by a touchscreen. By doing so, they created a compelling experience and in the process made the touchscreen-turntables an unexpected star of the exhibition. By Matt Shea

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Offices

November 19 2008




When the investment group All Capital wanted a power space for their high-powered meetings in Amsterdam, they engaged two local creative firms that had the right vision. Architectural office Eckhardt en Leeuwenstein created the meeting and lounge areas that are prestigious and opulent without being pretentious or stuffy.

Themed around the playful concept of being under a spotlight, the spaces feature gigantic, round, black lamp shades spray-painted gold inside. These power lights appear to cast spot lights and create shadows everywhere in the space. The fake ovals of light and shadow on the floor, walls and furnishings are created by altering the colors and textures of the finish.



The golden ovals also define specific areas and soften the angles of the black-stained ash wood desks and cabinets. In addition, the gold and silver ovals scattered about can be interpreted as coins - highlighting the business of the client. All existing ornamentation and detail of the building was painted white.
 
The All Capital boardrooms and lounge opened last month in the historic, 17th-century building, De Gouden Bocht located by one of the most famous canals of Amsterdam, the Herengracht (=Gentlemen`s Canal).



i29 was established in 2001 by Jaspar Jensen and Jeroen Dellensen. Their style is characterized by a dramatic absence of extras or gimmicks, and by frequent use of clear blocks of color and lots of white. Their projects, mainly in Amsterdam, include schools, retail shops, restaurants, hotels and private residences.
 
Architect duo Rob Eckhardt and Goos Leeuwenstein has a long history of distinctive projects from public spaces to restaurants, entertainment venues and residences. They've created offices for Publicis, DDB and Eigen Fabrikaat, film studios for Jurriaan Eindhoven, and interiors for Restaurant Bordewijk. Eckhardt became known early in his career as a furniture designer with the disco stool Dolores as his first success in the early 1980s. He even operated a retail store that sold his furniture, including the 1983 Groeten uit Holland chair and the 1982 Karel Doorman chaise lounge. - Tuija Seipell



Lifestyle

November 17 2008



If the first and second generations of social networking portals were about opening up the world, the third generation is about closing it again. Invitation only sites are popping up everywhere, creating exclusive, gated virtual communities that shut out the “masses.”

A Small World
helped kick off the ‘invitation-only’ trend by restricting new membership to those invited by current members. But sometimes an invitation just isn’t enough. Gaining entry into this new generation of private online world can involve an intimidating process of review, such as career-orientated sites bluechipexpert.com and doostang.com, where aspiring members must submit their resumes to be considered for acceptance. Other sites are blatantly and proudly parochial, such as aprivateclub.com, which is only for New Yorkers in-the-know.

If you were lucky enough to score an invitation to the Cannes Film Festival, you would also have gained access to the festival’s ‘private’ online portal, cannes2008.ning.com, created for attendees only.

In Asia, well heeled society-types and business movers and shakers can network at dianefay.com, a members only online club where one has to be invited to gain entry. In Europe decayenne.com offers a similar exclusive club concept for invited members only. 

Wall Street types can commiserate the global financial meltdown with eachother in the privacy of cyberspace at bankersavenue.com, a members-only portal for bankers who must be invited to join.

Global expats can catch up on local knowledge and network at internations.org. The members-only site is for diplomats, members of IGOs and NGOs, foreign correspondents and other expatriates employed by multinational companies and their family members.

If you don't bat for the 'straight' team you can connect with other successful 'power' gays at cosmocircle.net .

If bizarre beliefs are more your thing then you can try getting into the spacecollective.org invite-only community, where "forward thinking terrestrials exchange ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe." Sounds like a blast. Where do we sign up?

American Express should jump into the fray here and create a network for people who use their ‘black’ card.  Are businesses missing out by not creating exclusive environments for their high end customers?- Laura Demasi

Do you know of any other ‘private’ networking portals like these? send us a tip

pics via cobrasnake

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Music

November 13 2008


The marching beat surges forward, where it’s met by a chugging bass line, rattling guitars and a menacing vocal. It’s the opening bars of a new single called Bismarck, which among other things is the signal that Lost Valentinos are back from the wilderness and want to be heard again. And it’s hard to fault them for coming back so fiery, after all, the last two years have seen Lost Valentinos in what can only be described as band hell. Riding the buzz from two successful EPs, the band spiralled as their label fell out from under them, they got sued by Bobby Womack, changed their name (from 'The' to 'Lost') and lost a drummer to Midnight Juggernauts. Emerging at last with Bismarck, a taste of their upcoming Ewan Pearson-produced record, it’s clear that Lost Valentinos have something to prove. They have a statement. They’re back and they haven’t missed a beat. — Dave Ruby Howe

Bismarck is OUT NOW

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Stores

November 7 2008




We love great retail. We want to find it; we use it as therapy, as entertainment, as an escape, as fantasy. Yet great retail stores are much scarcer than mediocre stores. We all can list many stores that underwhelm us, yet we visit them daily. Mostly, because we must. Just think of your run-of-the mill grocery store, convenience store, drug store, gas station, department store, big box.

Even the newest “concept” versions of many brands are bland, boring and basic; designed for the retailer and its suppliers, not the consumer. They are designed and re-designed without challenging old retail “truths,” and so the result is the same old. 



We as consumers shop for two broad reasons: Either because we must, or because want to. We have resigned to the fact that when we shop for items we must buy – gasoline, medicine, food – the stores will not look great. And yet, we’d most likely prefer shopping at a gas station that isn’t scary, dirty, neon-lit and dull, or in a drug store that doesn’t look like a warehouse for the most powerful brands. Even in today’s multi-channel environment where consumers can stay at home and shop for necessities online, many retailers still assume that consumers don’t notice or care.



Mass-appeal stores –including gas stations, grocery, convenience and department stores – have a much wider target audience than a niche boutique, and the two groups’ challenges are different, but a consumer who shops for food does not suddenly forget his or her experience in a niche shop. The expectations, or at least the knowledge of a great experience goes everywhere with the consumer.



As business people, and as consumers, we know that retail today is more challenging and complicated than ever. Consumers shop less and demand more from each experience. They spend less and demand more value. In all categories and at all price levels, consumers look for value in the end, but value is not the same as cheap.

Value is defined by the consumer as: Is it really worth my time, attention, money? The joy, prestige and pleasure produced by a newly acquired tech-toy or pair of shoes – expensive as they may be – make them worth the price to the consumer. And if the shopping experience was awesome, we have something more to tell our friends.



Regardless of segment or even price, today’s power retail is all about authenticity, consistency and experience. Retailers must be nimble and adaptable, and evolve with consumers’ tastes and needs. Consumers can find everything online, so the in-store experience must give them something that is much, much better. Stores must be relevant, engaging, fresh. They must offer an emotional connection, interaction, excitement.



As long as our list of underwhelming stores may be, we all know some wonderful stores we’ve experienced. If you talk about your list of such favorites, most likely you will end up telling a story. It will be about the experience in the store: The way it looks, smells or feels. It will be about the staff behavior, the music, the selection, the philosophy, the brands, the changes, the activities. It has been a memorable experience in a good way. It has made an impression. You were — and are – emotionally engaged.



Whether the store is specialized in high-end fashion, cool skateboards, discount foods, knock-down furniture or exclusive art books, to the customer the overall honesty of the offering is what will bring us back. Will the components match? Is it all on the same page? Is it authentic? Can we trust them to deliver the same or more again? Today’s customer can spot an empty shell and a fake, fluffy concept easily, and when the novelty of such “concepts” wears off, the customer has no reason to return.



A retail store is not a concept, neither is it a brand. It is just one channel, one way of expressing whatever it is the consumer understands the promise to be, whatever the consumer feels the experience is going to add to his or her life. Branding, marketing, store design, merchandise selection, staff behavior, the windows, the change rooms, the website, the wrapping paper and bags, plus a million other details make up that promise, and every store visit either renews or shatters the trust.



Today, with word-of-mouth sped up by social media, bad news travels faster than ever. That can be a serious challenge, because a single bad experience can blow up and become headline news.



But good news travels faster than ever as well, and that poses another challenge to retailers. More often than not, the customer knows more about the brand, the products, and most important, the competition, than the staff. People do not need to travel the world to know about the latest, the newest, the coolest, and the best. Customers have seen more exciting stores, more creative marketing and more fun products than perhaps the typical store staff or even the managers. And if the customer is more enthusiastic and knowledgeable than the sales person, then the customer will not receive “knowledgeable service” no matter what the promotions promise.



Quoting directly from our “Power of the Box” post, we can refer to retail anthropologist Paco Underhill (author of Why we buy and Call of the mall ) and his studies and surveys on shelf impact, shopping behavior and consumer psychology. They all show that it matters what the box looks like, what it makes us feel – even when we say it doesn’t. A retail store is that box.



Also in the same post, we referred to Buyology – Truth and Lies about Why We Buy, a book by Martin Lindstrom who is now on Time magazine’s list of world’s 100 most influential people. Buyology covers the results of Lindstrom's $7-million study that attempted to figure out what really makes us vote with our wallets. The over-arching revelation – if it is indeed a revelation – is that, more often than not, we as consumers do not know why we buy. We do not know what actually affects us when we make a buying decision. But mostly it is about emotions.



When we encounter a fantastic retail store today – a store that we feel is worthy of our attention, time and money – we are really seeing a minor miracle and a major business feat. We should tell the world about it and we should demand more of it. Retailing is an extremely complicated and well-researched business, yet succeeding in it is still perhaps closer to magic than anything else. - Tuija Seipell



Knowing what’s hot is what The Cool Hunter is all about. The Cool Hunter Platinum team can help help give your new product or service the elusive C-factor — whether it’s a lifestyle product or techno-gadget, a new store or access to our little black book of collaborators to assemble the right team of creatives to realise the on-going vision of the brand.


 

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