New York artist Tara Donovan is a master of seeing. Not just looking, but actually seeing. Her sculptural, one-of-a-kind art is based on her ability to see, imagine and create forms, shapes and textures from ordinary objects that most of us don't even notice. She creates art from rolls of tape, pieces of pencil, Styrofoam cups, paper plates, napkins. Her sculptural works evoke thoughts of nature. A perfect example is the 'Untitled' cloud formation she created in 2003 from Styrofoam cups and glue.
The 38-year-old Donovan has recently accomplished several things many artists never achieve. This September, the first monograph of her work was published by visual book press, Monacelli Press (now owned by Random House). A couple of weeks later, on October 10, a traveling retrospective of her work opened at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
But perhaps the biggest deal is the extra half-a-million dollars that she will have to work with in the next few years. In late September, she received a phone call from the John D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation. She was informed that she had been made a Fellow of the Foundation and that she will receive a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation 'genius' grant. It is a no-strings-attached support of her work over five years. She was selected as one of 25 recipients in 2008. Others include a physician, an astrophysicist, a violinist, a computer scientist and representatives of many other endeavours who were selected for their creativity, originality and potential to make important contributions in the future. - Tuija Seipell
Thanks to the jet-set generation, demand for boutique hotels is increasing around the world. The first boutique "chain," W, started the trend for a network of branded urbane-style properties and has just launched its latest edition - W Hong Kong.
Located in West Kowloon, the hub of the buzzing financial district of Hong Kong, the new W brings a large dose of New York style to this cosmopolitan Asian business capital.
The area is right on the commercial waterfront, so instead of luxury yachts you are more likely to look out onto imposingly large freight and cargo ships. It works though, juxtaposing the designer, luxury environment with the gritty, functional realism of the hotel's location.
Overall the hotel's design is pitch-perfect for the W brand - New-York- style interiors with the W signature quirk in the form of butterflies (butterfly motifs everywhere, we loved it) and surprising contemporary art works such as a fiberglass seal holding up a grand piano (yes, a seal holding up a grand piano, it's for real and a feat of creativity and engineering).
Other standouts include the spectacular rooftop pool, featuring an incredible mega-scale mosaic of a butterfly graphic created by Australian designer Fabio Ongarato. The pool looks out over the whole island - one of the most breathtaking in the city.
The rooms, designed by Australian interior desiger, Nicholas Graham and Japanese designer, Yasumichi Morita, are comfortable and welcoming. Each designer was assigned a specific floor to design, so each floor has its own personality, countering the cookie-cutter feel of most large hotels.
As for the suites - let's just say that they're apty titled - "Wow" and "Extreme" - and are suitably enticing. Enough to turn a short stay in long one....- Laura Demasi
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