Music

October 8 2008

It’s difficult to find a new world culture that's as musically rich as that of New Zealand. Picking up your brother’s guitar and starting a band with your best friend and his sister is a rite of passage for most Kiwis. The Cool Hunter finds three grown-up versions of these backyard operations who are now taking the music of New Zealand to all corners of the globe, and that's just scratching the surface.



Liam Finn is very much a product of his genealogy, but that only partly explains the appeal of his beguiling music. Finn plays through a memory of family holidays and kids toying in the backyard while his delicate arrangements cast you into a spell conducted only by your own reminiscences.



Equal parts fastidious and inspired, there is barely a hip-hop album coming out of New Zealand that doesn’t have P-Money's production and DJ nous behind it. The epitome of the quiet performer, P-Money keeps schtum and lets the stomp of his gleaming productions blow your headphones.



In a world plagued by the manic, Fat Freddys Drop stand back, holding up a ‘hi-tek soul’ elixir.  This is music to be shared by close friends over a quiet cookout that runs from the long breezy summer afternoon into a warm, star-lit evening. By Matt Shea






Architecture

October 7 2008




Dupli Casa, a private residence by the Neckar river, near the old town of Marbach in South- Western Germany, is a wonderfull example of connection and fluidity. It connects the inside with the outside, up with down, air with ground and - most cleverly - past with present and even future.



From the outside, the three-storey concrete villa looks like a bit like some sort of a fiberglass motorboat job gone funny, yet it also manages to look immensely appealing and intriguing. From some angles, the structure appears to be standing upside down - the lower exterior rim spilling onto the lawn and forming a part of a roof structure, if the building were to stand the other way around. It could have been blown there by the wind; it could be a StarWarsian vehicle frozen in place; it could be just taking off to outer space.



The outdoor swimming pool and the white surface surrounding it seem like a perfect reflection of the house, almost as if the house had been face down on the ground, and when it was lifted off the ground, the process had left an imprint of a swimming pool on the ground and the large window opening in the house.



The views from the inside are amazing, especially from the vast ground-level openings that again, give the sensation of flying, being airborne, weightlessness. Everything is fluid, flowing and smooth.
 
All of this is very much in keeping with the main inspiration for the house. The new residence follows the footprint of the previous dwelling and its numerous extensions. The idea was to let the 'family archaeology' continue in the new building. It's a house that remembers its beginnings in 1984 yet projects boldly into the  future.



Dupli Casa is the work of Jurgen Mayer H., founder and principal of his cross-disciplinary studio. J. Mayer H. Architekten in Berlin. Other team members include Georg Schmidthals, Thorsten Blatter and Simon Takasak, plus Uli Wiesler's architecture studio based in Stuttgart. - Tuija Seipell
 


Offices

October 2 2008



Trust Melbourne (the city that holds Design close to its bosom) to be the home of the latest initiative from ANZ Bank; a Breakout & Learning Centre designed by Hassell. As the title suggests, this large, flexible, multi-purpose space is designed to encourage creativity, however it is in the execution that the freedom from constraints of a “normal” office environment is apparent.  Forget about boring corporate colours, obvious branding and drab office furniture (in the style of hit series “The Office”).  



The use of unexpected materials and contradictory colors in the space and its furnishings produces startling results. Plywood, paint and patterned rubber with industrial raw finishes are topped off with a pop of fire-engine red and frog green! Various-size meeting rooms are equipped with state-of-the art technology to enhance the group experience. Perhaps my favorite design features are the “Tree of Knowledge” and the “Giant Foot”. Just like in a fairytale, the tree grows between floors in a natural raw shape reminding us that the childlike imagination is where creativity is ripest. Beneath the tree, the Giant Foot reminds us about reality and perception.  — Kate Vandermeer



Events

October 1 2008



Hector Serrano Studio has curated and designed the exhibition Spain Emotion as well as the communication campaign of the Spanish participation at this years Tokyo Designer's Week. The event is organized by the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX) and will take place in the Spanish Embassy in Tokyo from 30 October to 3 November 2008.



More than an exhibition, Spain Emotion is a celebration of the best Spanish design in the Tokyo Designer's Week that encompasses not only this exhibition, but also conferences and seminars; a forum that provides with an exceptional opportunity to get to know at first hand those who are behind the products. The aim of Hector Serrano Studio this year is for emotion to be the guiding threads of their story, and the products its main characters. To this end, they have created a space that aims to surprise, entertain, seduce and encourage, rather than simply showing; four large stages where light dramatises and bathes the surroundings and the pieces in colour. Colour to communicate the vitality and energy with which the Spanish character is so often identified. In short, an experience aimed at revealing the latest in Spanish design, in a most emotive way. - Tuija Seipell




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Design

September 29 2008



Great surroundings will not camouflage poor programming in movie theatres. No matter how swanky the theatre, if it shows poor movies, we just won’t go. Which isn’t to say that we have given up on movie-theatre design. We still wish that one day, somewhere, someone is going to design a decidedly different, interesting and exciting movie theatre.


 
Glimpses of brilliance are visible in the new Light House Cinema at Smithfield in Dublin, Ireland designed by Dublin’s award-winning DTA Architects Of course, you really need to design – and judge – a movie theatre so that it looks and functions best when people are using it. So, having not paid personal visits to the new Light House, we cannot say for sure, but the images we have received of the empty space indicate that the play of light, colour and height works exceptionally well here.
 


Light House cinema has been a bit of an institution in Dublin. It started showing Irish, independent, foreign-language, art house and classic cinema 20 years ago, closed in 1966, and re-opened this summer in its new, customized space. The four-screen, intimate art-house cinema includes a wonderful, inviting and open cafe that looks like something you’d see at an art museum, not a movie theatre. The leader of the Light House project at DTA was Derek Tynan and the project architect was Colin Mackay.


 
The new cinema benefited from the financial assistance of The Arts Council, the Irish Film Board, and the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. For Dublin’s city planners, this was to be a cultural magnet and a focal point for the largest mixed-use development ever in Dublin’s inner city, the massive rejuvenation plan for the historical Smithfield Market area.


 
And if you’d like to make our wishes come true, please let us know of any supreme movie-theatre design concepts you’ve seen, designed or commissioned. We are all eyes and ears. - Tuija Seipell

See also Home Theatre and AMC Pacific Place Cinema in Hong Kong.

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Design

September 24 2008



In most cities, strategic downtown street corners are flanked by enormous, old banks, the ornate cathedrals of capital designed to impress and intimidate. With the massive changes in real estate values and consumer banking habits, such monuments to Mammon are no longer smart or necessary. But what amazing opportunities such massive commissions must have been for the architects of the day! And what depressing alternatives we’ve experienced since! Luckily, online banking has made a bank visit almost obsolete, but when you must visit, most of the time you’ll find a boring, convenience-store-type standardized box – retail banking in the worst meaning of both words.


 
But we are starting to see a change. Several new bank design concepts are in the works, and some have been launched recently, including CheBanca! in Milan by Crea International. The concept for CheBanca! (translation: What a bank!) reflects the brand’s simplicity, transparency and innovation. When Crea International co-founder Massimo Fabbro will speak at POPAI Italia in November on the power of physical brand design to bring to life a brand's language, spirit and values, he will no doubt mention CheBanca!


 
And now that we have seen a few examples of fabulous bank design, we want more! If you’ve seen, designed or commissioned one, let us know. — Tuija Seipell



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Events

September 24 2008



A glass of expensive champagne on a swanky rooftop bar just doesn't cut it in the competitive world of product launches, which are all vying for VIP attendees and press coverage. 

Chanel decided to think outside of the square for the launch of the brand's new perfume, ‘Eau première,’ staging the event at a private Parisian apartment. Chanel recruited acclaimed set, window and interior designer Jean-Marc Gady to create an experiential event for guests, a "scenography" tasked with bringing the new fragrance and the heritage of the brand to life. Gady has created spaces for the likes of Louis Vuitton, Moet & Chandon and Apple.



The designer transformed the apartment into a set, which guests were encouraged to explore as the event played out. While they played with artfully arranged test sprays,  a fountain sent drops of the new fragrance into the air, sweetly permeating their senses. The evening ended with the unveiling of large format photographs of Chanel's iconic "faces" over the years, from Marilyn Monroe through to Nicole Kidman. - Lisa Evans



Art

September 22 2008




The name Gary Fernandez has started to appear often enough to warrant a closer look. Fernandez is a freelance illustrator and graphic artist based in Madrid, Spain, and currently living in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His client list is impressive, ranging from advertising heavies DDB, McCann Erickson, JWT and Grey to superbrands such as Coca Cola, Nokia and Camel. His illustrations have appeared in numerous magazines and books.


 
Fernandez's intricate, retro-esque illustrations marry a liquid stroke with a rigid tension, which in turn projects an underlying seething mood and latent danger. For some reason, I'm thinking Dadaism and Salvador Dali mixed with the sixties London vibes and New York's retro fashion illustrations. At the same time, some of his work is almost whimsical and merry; evoking images from Cirque du Soleil and old European circus posters. Whatever you see, you are irresistibly drawn into his world.


 
A fantastic recent example is his elaborate illustration book titled Introduction to Fantastic Girls, Future Landscapes & the Most Beautiful Birds Ever Seen, available -- possibly -- on his site in limited quantities.


 
Gary Fernandez is also the founder and creative lead of the T-shirt brand VelvetBanana. The name VelvetBanana draws its parts from The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol banana cover for their first album The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967).


 
Fernandez started VelvetBanana in 2005 with the goal of redefining the "Art Rock T-shirt" by producing thematic collections. The themes capture certain moods, songs or bands. The latest, Collection #3, is described as having electrifying, abrasive, furious and hypnotic graphics full of energy, although the photo book of the collection appears indoorsy and tame, with clean yet fashionably brooding models photographed against a pristine white background.- Tuija Seipell
 

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House

September 2 2008




One thing we really love at The Cool Hunter is reinvention. Taking a fresh approach to an established form is at the foundation of innovation and we applaud anyone who can pull it off - like Ron Arad who has created this incredibly unique luxury bath concept, which turns the traditional bath on its head, literally. Aside from its obvious aesthetic appeal - it's like a giant art installation for your bathroom - its also multi-purpose, transforming from bath to shower as the whole unit revolves. Arad worked with Italian bathroom design brand Teuco to bring the concept to life. At this stage it's still a prototype but Arad is confident that with Teuco's production expertise his bath dream will soon be a reality in our own homes. We want one now. -Lisa Evans (via Sept issue of Wallpaper magazine)

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Transportation

August 26 2008




Quickly now, name a cool camper, caravan, trailer, motorhome or RV. Indeed, the only thing even close to cool in this category is a something retro. But this may be changing. Forget the 1973 Winnebago Mini Winnie, forget Shasta Airflyte, forget even the shiny retro Airstream, because a new generation of caravans is just being introduced at the Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf (August 30-September 7, 2008)
 
Visitors to Europe's biggest camper show are getting a first look at the prototype of Mehrzeller, a completely customizable trailer. While RV designers and manufacturers the world over were nodding off at the wheel, Theresa Kalteis and Christian Freissling, two students at Austria's Graz University of Technology's faculty of architecture, decided to make a move. Their thesis project on 'mobile living solutions' under professor Peter Schreibmayer was going to be not just a theory; it was going to become reality and something that will change the world of trailers.


 
They made the very simple assumption that the people who know best what the ideal camper needs are the people who will use it. On the Mehrzeller's project website, the designers explain (in German) that when their 'configurator' interface is fully functional in the spring of 2009, potential buyers can input their data and wishes, and order their unique Mehrzeller camper online. The name Mehrzeller can be translated as 'moreceller,' i.e. something with more cells. The name is fitting as the pods or units that form the Mehrzeller in various configurations do look somewhat 'cellular.'
 
The production will be based on the principle of mass customization, and production costs will not be significantly higher than those of standard campers. The basic architecture and design parameters remain the same, while the customers get to choose pretty much everything else. Using the configurator interface, they input the number and age of the people and animals that are going to be using the camper. Then they input the usage of space - eating, sleeping, cooking, working, entertaining, relaxing and so on - and the relative importance of each function. The system will then determine the floor plan and generate a 3D rendering. Next, the buyers select the materials and appliances. The program then calculates the price and creates the production specifications.


 
Mehrzeller will most likely move forward, and not remain just a crazy one-off prototype, because it has the backing of such heavyweights as BMW, 3M and many others. If you cannot catch the camper in Dusseldorf, you can see it at the Caravan Salon Austria, held in Wels October 15.-19, 2008. By Tuija Seipell (via squob)