Offices

June 11 2008



Great interior design isn't just limited to private homes, the retail world, hotels and public spaces such as art galleries. Smart employers are realizing that a creative workspace inspires greater productivity and...you guessed it, creativity. Since we first identified this trend last year, we've seen many more great examples - so much so that we've decided to launch a whole new section on creative work environments around the globe. Like this great space designed for KULT offices, located in a former school atop Mount Sophia in Singapore, the inspiration for this PR and advertising agency was to return to the uncertainty and excitement of the classroom laboratory. Remember the fascinating hours spent in the school lab - setting fire to stuff, cutting slimy things, peering into microscopes, sniffing foul liquids, adding just a little bit more of that to this to see what happens? Kult staff step into their office through a large cut in the wall, which creates an other-worldly effect as they leave reality behind every morning. A central island work-space is illuminated by a spectacular, suspended light ceiling. This techno element is balanced by the ubiquitous views of nature, delivered by windows situated above each desktop along the entire length of the office's walls. A contrasting color scheme of black and white brings it all together creating a modern space that blends harmoniously with the natural environment.



We're so inspired by cool creative office design that we're going to make the subject of our next book: The World's Coolest Creatives Offices; the second in a series which kicked off on The World's Coolest Hotel Rooms, this week. If you know of such a cool creative environment please send us a tip. By Lisa Evans.

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Music

June 5 2008

Is it too early for lists?  Never, we say.  So here they are, all the songs that have set the bar so high for music in '08.

10 - Foals - 'Balloons'

These Oxford boys "fly balloons on this fuel called love".  So they own my favourite lyric so far this year.  They also sport snaky, crystal guitar lines and a gurgling brass section - what else can you do but sit back and lap it up?  Encore.



9 - Tokyo Police Club - 'In A Cave'

These young Ontarions, do it straight up.  The drum beat makes my neck snap, the guitars make me want to jump and the whole thing, in all its raw, snotty glory makes me feel like I did when I discovered punk for the first time. 



8 - Cut Copy - 'Lights & Music'

Even when they're cruising, Cut Copy churn out fabulously energetic pop gems. Tops.



7 - M83 - 'Graveyard Girl'

Would getting to second base in a cemetary be awkward/blasphemous? This makes it sound so right. And hot.


 
6 - Snoop Dogg - 'Sensual Seduction'

Snoop can do anything he likes, basically. He could ditch the blunts and 8-Balls for a harmonica and some overalls and get all country and western on us and he'd still drop a hot record.



5 - Santogold - 'L.E.S. Artistes'


Perfect pop. Without borders, without barriers. The best song from hands down the best indie-reggae rock-hop album, ever.



4 - The Presets - 'This Boy's In Love'


Like some forgotten gem from Depeche Mode's bombed out basement, This Boy's In Love thunders into the list. It's equal parts new romantic fey-pop and pure dancefloor dynamite. Brilliant.



3 - Vampire Weekend - 'A Punk'


Every time lead vocalist Ezra Koenig sings that hook: "Look outside, the raincoats gone" he dangles just one, excruciatingly good 'Say Oh!' off the end of it.  I wish he would have given me a more traditional 'Say Oh, oh, oh', but the fact he didn't is probably the reason I keep coming back for more.



2 - The Teenagers - 'Love No (Delorean Remix)'


Week old pepperoni pizza, Showgirls, broken English and blatant hipster narcissism. Yes, the Teenagers have it all.  And this Delorean remix somehow manages to make them even better.  Superb.



1 - MGMT - 'Kids'

Oh man.  The little rising synth, warbling like a bird to the sound of children playing. Is there are more uplifting intro to a song anywhere in the world right now? MGMT make you pump fists in the air, sing at the top of your voice, dance like a fool and smile until you hurt. Thank you MGMT.



By Nick Christie and Dave Ruby Howe




Food

June 5 2008



Rumor has it that Bangalore Express, opened a few months ago across Waterloo Station in London, is the first of many to come. Both menu and decor of this modern, Indian fresh-food place have received mixed reviews, but we like the inventiveness of the “scaffolding” used to build the booths and the upper level. Some have called it a recipe for disaster and other thought it looked like bunk beds. Both may be true as you do need to climb step ladders to reach the second level and much of the exposed structure is, indeed, made of FastClamp, a construction-site scaffolding system.



The interior colour scheme is organic in muted greens and browns. We love the peacefulness this creates. Bangalore Express is the newest venture of proprietors Charles Hill and head chef Yogesh Datta who also run the Painted Heron in Chelsea. By Tuija Seipell




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Design

June 3 2008


Movin’ on up, now more than ever encapsulates stunning design, impeccable service, effortless living from the time the sun rises to well after the sun sets. We’ve been noticing a rising trend in the sheer number of luxury residences - we recently told you about an exclusive collection of seaside properties in Abu Dhabi. And now from New York to Buenos Aires, and from Moscow to Beijing, we’ll reveal a few more of the coolest luxury abodes.

Many of us have been accustomed to the stylistic cues offered by W Hotels across the world — but how many of us will actually have a chance to pick up the phone from our own kitchens and receive assistance from the ‘Whatever, Whenever’ hotline? Soon, for those who jumped at the chance to purchase a W-styled apartment in one of their newest locations south of the World Trade Centre in New York City, the possibilities will be limitless.



W Residents may share the building with distinguished hotel guests in the lower portion of Manhattan, but luxury amenities such as a rooftop terrace, a fitness centre and spa in the sky, a media screening room and digital lounge, as well as a separate entrance, will be solely for those permanently living in the upper floors of the luxury tower. 



While the W Hotel New York Downtown will take up the first twenty-two floors, the upper levels have been split into furnished residences (Floors 23-30) and customised residences (Floors 33-56). Interior design exceeds expectations, even by W standards, with sleek and functional kitchen built-ins to a translucent wall from the bedroom to a ‘peek-a-boo loo.’



A bit further in the heart of Tribeca, Five Franklin Place is destined be the epitome of luxury residences. The 20-storey building will contain 55 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units that will be set up as duplex lofts on the lower floors; single-level city residents above; plus three triplex penthouses each with a rooftop terrace and serviced by private internal lifts. 

The building itself, designed by Dutch architect Ben van Berkell of UNStudio, will be wrapped in a series of horizontal black metallic bands — each of which ungulates as it curves around and hugs the frame of the structure. The façade is apparently a direct tribute to the original 19th-century built form of cast iron that shaped lower Manhattan — and the metallic surface will reflect light while highlighting the magnificence of the neighbouring buildings. 



The building’s façade is not merely about aesthetics, as the bands will also create shading from the daylight, deflect heat, and guarantee every residence will have the highest degree of privacy, and simultaneously frame unparalleled views out across Manhattan. 

The Loft Residences on the levels have a double-height living area that maximises the light entering the space. The height of the great room continues on through a gallery where a white lacquered library wall ascends up into the second level. 



The upper-tier City Residences feature integrated terraces off the main living areas, and all units are custom-fitted with B&B Italia kitchens and built-ins throughout. The master bathrooms feature a circular sliding wall that allows the bathroom to become part of the bedroom and share its spectacular city views. 

And for those at the top, the five ultra-luxurious Sky Penthouses are unmatched in practically every aspect. Again, B&B Italia has masterfully crafted the space, including the kitchen.  Sweeping views from every room, even the master bathroom, automatically heighten the occupants’ awareness of their place in the cityscape and the surrounding environment. 



The skylines of our cities are rapidly changing — ingeniously designed buildings are competing for our attention. But architectural beauty alone is not going to provide the type of service we’re growing accustomed to expecting after spending millions on luxury lifestyle. We feel that the rise of luxury residences has only just begun — and we want to know all about it. If you are aware of luxury residences we should investigate, please let us know. By Andrew J Wiener.


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Music

June 3 2008



Breaking up can be hard. Clearly, nobody told the Futureheads this little fact of life. After the ‘heads and their label 679 went splitsville, the band haven’t slowed down a bit.

On their new cut, The Beginning Of The Twist, the Sunderland four-piece come off all perky and energised without the strings attached feel that sometimes comes with the label world.

That track has their classic neo-wave jerky guitar sound, ideal for kids in Converse All Stars to freak to at their local indie disco, all mixed with a twist of big-time production from the golden fingertips of Youth (Primal Scream, The Verve).

Here I was thinking they’d disappeared with Kaiser Chiefs to planet suck, but the Futureheads are back and they sound better than ever. By Dave Ruby Howe.

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Art
Art

Offices

June 2 2008



At the end of last year we filled you in briefly on the evolution of office design from autonomous, uninspiring closed spaces to the ubiquitous cube and finally the latest incarnation of creative, motivational and dynamic workable environments.  And now we’re back to tell you about one of the latest projects from the architecture and design firm Camenzind Evolution: Google Zurich.

And what is truly remarkable about this project is that Carmenzind Evolution delivered exactly what Google desired, while not exceeding the costs of many conventional interior office fit-outs.  The design team began by working closely with Google through the pre-design process by interviewing all 350 employees with the intention of incorporating their ideas into a new workspace.  Because many companies spend excessive amounts on furniture and finishes that have nothing to do with how the employees work and interact within the space, the final design resulted in elements from which the so-called ‘Zooglers’ would benefit most.



Stefan Camenzind, the design firm’s founding partner, reveals the essential considerations that led to the innovative creation for the new office space in Zurich: staff knows better than a management committee what works best based on personality types; flexibility of space allows employees take ownership and feel like they belong; communal areas can and should be outlandish and inspiring; bold, clean colour will successfully change the character of the room; cash is always well-spent on an extraordinary coffee machine rather than on soda or junk food; and finally, it’s OK and even recommended to splurge on a few signature items rather than going all out on carpet, furniture and chairs, all of which can amount to spending too much on the stuff no one notices anyway.



Keeping all that in mind, let’s dissect Google’s new EMEA Engineering Hub located within walking distance of Zurich city centre in the ‘Hurlimann Areal.’  The building was originally a brewery that has been converted in to a vibrant mixed-use development of residential and commercial spaces, including shops and a spa hotel. The Google offices comprise seven storeys of 12,000 square metres of floor space for up to 800 employees.

A diverse team of Zooglers was assembled and represented the entire staff by approving and rejecting nearly every aspect of the interior fit-out.  Carmenzind Evolution was never given a specific design brief, but instead followed the directions and recommendations given by the steering committee.  Another unique element included in the design process was the involvement of a psychologist who administered a survey to each employee identifying both emotional and practical requirement of the Zooglers.



The final design strategy involved the creation of highly functional, yet somewhat basic individual workspace surrounded by proportionally larger, highly stimulating communal areas and meeting spaces.  Open-plan workspaces were created for 8-10 employees, whilst glass-partitioned offices were built for smaller work teams allowing for both transparency and light from the outside, as well as creating the required degree of privacy from within.  And because the average Google worker moves workstations twice a year, each area has to be exceedingly flexibly and adaptable. 

Every floor is individually themed and colour-coded allowing for effortless orientation.  The fifth floor, the history floor, was designed to resemble an old library parlor.  The meeting room has large overstuffed sofas and chairs, dark, velvet curtains, a fireplace and a chandelier.  The fourth floor is the green floor — the environment floor.  The communal spaces have large, cocoon-like meeting areas amidst a forest of tree trunks.  Zooglers can slide down a pole from the floor above into the space.  And the third floor’s theme is Switzerland.  The floors have carpets that look like snow, and ski gondolas have been converted into meeting spaces.  Igloo Satellite Cabins allow work teams to close themselves off to their surroundings and attend videoconferences with peers around the world. 



Other noteworthy communal areas include an aquarium water lounge where workers can chill out in foam-brick-filled bathtubs; a massage spa and a games room to play billiards, foosball and other video games; the Milliways cafeteria accessible via a large spiral slide where chefs use local produce to offer fresh meals; and a fitness studio offering group yoga and Pilates classes.  And as each communal area is dispersed throughout the seven floors, Zooglers are encouraged to circulate and explore thereby increasing their interaction and communication with co-workers from every department. 

We have to admit we’re huge fans of socially-inclusive design processes — and the design team at Carmenzind Evolution were dedicated to insuring the wants and needs of each Google employee in Zurich were met — and usually even exceeded.  Google, of course, is a highly innovative and effervescent company where their new relaxed work environment will undoubtedly inspire and motivate Zooglers to keep the company moving forward while conceiving provoking initiatives. By Andrew J Wiener.






Architecture

May 28 2008



Antwerp, Belgium-based one-year-old sculp(IT) is a partnership of two architects, Pieter Peerlings and Silvia Mertens. They have recently completed a clever office, residence and studio for themselves in what they call “Antwerp’s narrowest house” located in Anwerp’s former red-light district. They took a 2.4-meter (7 feet 10 inches) wide space between two buildings, erected a steel skeleton in it and installed four wooden floors, one each for work, dining, relaxing and sleeping, plus a bath tub on the roof.



A one-piece staircase connects the floors. The walls are all glass, allowing light in and creating a feel of space. In a nod to the area’s “exhibitionist” past, each “window” to the street has a black frame emphasizing the showcase or display aspect. The multi-color lighting scheme completes the seedy notion. By Tuija Seipell



Stores

May 22 2008



After becoming one of the world's hottest boutique botanical skincare ranges, the Australian-based Aesop brand is now making a name for itself in the world of innovative retail design, injecting a large dose of cool into the concept of sustainability. If you thought the brand's Melbourne "cardboard" concept store was clever (all of the merchandising stands were made from recycled cardboard), you'll love its brand new Adelaide "bottle" boutique. The store's ceiling is crafted entirely out of recycled bottles, precisely arranged in a wave pattern. Who said green had to be dowdy?

These new Australian stores are part of a big phase of expansion for Aesop, which has also just opened boutiques in Paris and London's swanky Mayfair. By Lisa Evans



Music

May 21 2008


While hipsters the world over are salivating for distorted bangers from the likes of Justice, Teenage Bad Girl and the rest of the rabble, there’s something far more exciting happening just out of the spotlight. It’s called Valerie (scene, sound, label and blog). It’s sunglasses at night, John Hughes, Molly Ringwald, old Sega Megadrive cartridges, endless summers and high drama romance all rolled into one. Purveyors of the Valerie sound include founders the Outrunners, Anoraak, College, Mathelvin and Minitel Rose and more recently Parallels and Aedyhawke, all brought together through their shared adoration of retro synths and Miami Vice re-runs. Good thing they all found each other because they’re hitting all the right marks, from Maethelvin’s car-chase disco to the teenage anthems of College and Anoraak’s make out sesh scores. In three years time Valerie might be an inescapable, designer-tee-spewing, branding monstrosity. Right now, it just sounds so good.  Touch it while it's still pure.

myspace.com/valeriejetaime
myspace.com/theoutrunners
myspace.com/maethelvin
myspace.com/anoraak
myspace.com/minitelrose
myspace.com/collegeoflove

By Dave Ruby Howe


Architecture

May 19 2008




There’s a new planet in the solar system and it’s called Luxury. Actually, it is here on earth, on a little-known island called Nurai, located northeast of Abu Dhabi city.

The 130,000-square-meter island is about to be transformed into an achingly glamorous and luxurious resort and exclusive private residential estate, comprised of one boutique luxury hotel resort with 60 suites, 31 beachfront estates and 36 water villas.



The mammoth project is a collaboration between New York based Studio Dror, led by Dror Benshetrit, that has designed the residences, and the Paris-based firm AW2 are responsible for the design of the hotel.

The sheer scale of the project is awe-inspiring; the incredible multi-storey water villas alone will span 515 square metres each, comprising of three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a private rooftop garden with spa pool, private infinity pool, multiple decks, outdoor barbeque area, gourmet kitchen and concealed service quarters. No doubt Tom & Katie are making their reservations already.



As for the private “Seaside” residences (which are sure to be snapped up by Saudi Princes and oil shieks because they will probably be the only ones who can afford them), the five bedroom-six bathroom estates span across between 3,000 — 6,050 square metres.
 
Each “Seaside” estate will include a private beach and garden, rooftop garden with spa pool, infinity swimming pool, indoor reflecting pools, concealed service quarters, entertainment patios, outdoor dining areas, chef and show kitchens and outdoor showers.

The resort is due to open in 2010 and residences start at €20 million. By Lisa Evans