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)
If you are reading TCH while working, stop for a moment and consider your surroundings? What is your environment like? Are your surroundings in tune with what you should accomplish? Some of us work in our homes while others stare at their computer monitors all day in a multitude of places referred to as “work.”
Our environment has a direct impact on our work and on how we feel about our work. From the time you sit down with your Monday-morning latte to the moment you make the mad dash to the elevator late on Friday afternoon, innumerable stimuli affect your every action and reaction.
Can you gaze out, or better yet, open a window to let in fresh air? Is your concentration broken each time a nearby coworker turns on the external speaker when he answers the phone? Do you spend most of your day away from your workstation? Are the meeting rooms and common areas in your office inviting and inspiring?
Fortunately, designers have become increasingly ingenious when designing office space, but the ones making the decisions at the top deserve praise as well. We’re noticing more and more collaborations between designers and organizations that unquestionably result in satisfaction throughout the staff.
The focus of attention has started to shift. As leaders, we expect employees to produce more, better, faster, cooler. But we often spend all our time and energy ‘evolving our brand,’ and don’t pay much attention to work environments. If we changed the workspace, we’d probably start seeing more of what we want. Creative environments foster and attract creative minds.
Designers have figured it out — change the cube, evolve the thinking. Designers collaborate with interior architects and now the focus is on the entire space. How can we use space better? How do we create an interesting working environment? What if we did something really unusual? Like creating workspace inside a giant pipe — or a series of pipes?
Designers have now also been paying attention to elevators, stairwells, bathrooms, meeting rooms and other social spaces. These previously ignored and undervalued spaces are becoming an integral part of design strategies — and not just to look good, but also to function well. By adding colour, neon, digital interiors, irregular shapes and patterns — cool stuff to look at, to touch, or to sit in or on — we’ll heighten the senses and draw out creative thinking.
Aesop continue to deliver outstanding, intelligent and considered design in not only their product but with their individual approach to each retail concept store they launch. Their latest offering in Zurich embodies this philosophy perfectly. Utilising a long, narrow space to advantage, the focal point of the store is located in the centre of the space allowing consumers to walk around and interact with the products which are located on a series of suspended shelves. There’s a sense of weightlessness and room to breathe due to the fact that the shelves don’t make contact with the ground and only the necessary products and shelving is featured. The repetition of the shelves seem to co-exist with ease but not at the peril of functionality. Using Aesop’s signature store sensibilities of incorporating water, merging modernity and recycled materials and not “over-designing” or adding unnecessary objects, this Zurich store is no exception. — Kate Vandermeer.
Thanks to Apple and its superior design, marketing, advertising and, well, anything else to do with creating and selling a product, most other global communications brands have languished in a kind of brand-image purgatory. Sony is fighting back with this great campaign created by Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney, helmed by art director Eron Broughton. The agency took Sony's earphones and literally mapped out the New York subway system, mimicking a traditional subway map. It's a simple idea but powerful in its execution, giving Sony a much-need dose of coolness. At last, other brands are thinking outside of the square. Now all Sony needs to do is apply that principle to its actual products. Innovate or die, guys. - Laura Demasi
Forget the sport..some of the most interesting things happening at the Beijing Olympics are coming from clever sponsors who have dreamt up creative ways to promote their brands at the mega global event. We're loving the offering from Mini Cooper, who have dragged traditional Chinese street transport into the 21st century with these great bike-powered Minis. Samsung has been equally creative, giving Olympics' fans a chance to view all of the action from their own "private" alien-like pods. Both of these offerings are a lesson to global brands: get creative and innovative in your marketing or risk being drowned out by the noise. - Laura Demasi
Let's face it, most conventional medical interiors aren't exactly attractive. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to discover that most people are allergic to the blandness and sterility of clinic interiors. Well the new Allied Health clinic in Melbourne, proves that it IS possible for health and design (and a bit of fun) to go hand in hand.
Accommodating the rather unusual combination of podiatry, physiotherapy, pathology, dietetics and psychology, the clinic feels like '2001 Space Odyssey meets late nineteenth century Victorian'. Designed by the Melbourne-based studio Chameleon Architecture, the interior juxtaposes elements of heritage, science and future. Ornate period details like crystal chandeliers, cornices, skirting boards and ceiling roses provide a classical backdrop. Exploring the idea of the medical as molecular, large glossy white molecules or futuristic pods are planted throughout the clinic, serving as consultation suites. Once inside the suite/pod, the mood changes again. The interior of the pod, from the walls, ceiling, floors to joinery, is clad entirely in plywood stained with a clear lacquer which enriches and emphasises the grain of the wood. So instead of looking pale under the normally cold and harsh light of clinical spaces, visitors here are instantly bathed in a warm, healthy glow without any treatment having even begun. - Jeanne Tan
Alan McGee, the man who gave the world Oasis and The Libertines, has found the latest diamond in the rough. Scottish band Glasvegas are a four-piece that manages to combine all that was good from the Ronettes-era with all that is bad from modern-day Glasgow to brilliant effect.
Despite their obvious influences that range from Phil Spector to Elvis, what they come up with is so remarkably unique that they sound like The Jesus & Mary Chain getting drunk and having a go at covering the Grease soundtrack.
They draw you in with euphoric and unbreakable walls of sound but there is something so unmistakably bleak - something so unmistakably Scottish - about their sound that, in 2008, they manage to say a hell of a lot more about the state of things than sweaty, prepubescent boys with guitars ever could.
Lead singer James Allan has done for a thick Glasweigan accent what Alex Turner did for Sheffield and what Mike Skinner did for Mockney. And singing along in cod-Glaswegian is all part of the Glasvegas experience, as it is live where they excel. - Rob Facey