Everybody is going crazy about Mumbai's Blue Frog, opened earlier this year. It's a 1,000-square-meter complex that includes a club, restaurant, lounge, sound stage, recording studio and sound lab, all encased within the massive walls of an old warehouse in Mumbai's mill district. The Blue Frog Club interior may remind you of those delirious nights at the end-of-summer Exhibition with its midway games, roller coasters and dizzy-making rides. Or you may suddenly start channeling Queen Amidala, addressing the StarWarsian Senate from her floating pod. Luckily, Blue Frog does its dizzying job in a way that is totally stylish - not a tacky thing or overdone costume in sight. And everyone's table is definitely on level ground, although it does not appear so first.
Designers Chris Lee and Kapil Gupta formerly of Chris Lee Architects and Contemporary Urban, and now of Serie (London and Mumbai) have managed to create a cohesive yet exciting space by stripping the visual cues down to a only a few very strong ones.
The equilibrium-challenging effect is achieved by the clever surround-millwork that uses a circle as its main form. The mahogany-paneled millwork circles each round table, forming circular booths or pods in somewhat varying shapes at various levels, guaranteeing great sightlines for all. Not wanting to compete with the lighting or other embellishments of the stage acts, the interior is dark except for the top surface of the booths.
The glowing back-lit resin surfaces tie the seating area together even when a stage show is on, and make it a bit easier to gain one's bearings in the otherwise dark space. Like seating in a Roman amphitheatre, the pods circle and rise from a stage area that can also double as standing room or dance floor in a club set-up. Acts from India and from around the world are starting to make Blue Frog Mumbai's hottest club. By Tuija Seipell
Most of us have a personal image of an ideal escape or getaway. A secluded beach shack hidden on an island paradise - a tucked away cabin built into a snowy mountainside - a private chateaux set on the quiet, rolling hills of a vineyard - basically anywhere we feel removed from the mundane normalcy of our own daily lives.
X.Pace, a Sydney/Singapore-based design studio is on the verge of helping us redefine the ultimate lifestyle solution - the highly luxurious Hingarae residences and resort located in Lake Taupo on New Zealand's north island. Hingarae embodies everything one would expect from 6 star standards - the ideal balance of extreme luxury, privacy and ultra-modern built form set upon a pristine natural environment.
The development will offer twenty eight opportunities to own a fully-furnished Hingarae Module. Each individual Module is 200 square metres set carefully within 1 hectare of natural landscape. Oversized glazing allows uninterrupted views to the surrounding forest, green countryside, snow-capped mountains and crystal blue lake. The interior design is equally rewarding offering an exceptional imported blend of modern and futuristic furniture. The main living space sits on a revolving disc floor that allows orientation toward the exterior or the LCD screen.
Numerous additions to Hingarae Module ownership include an electric car for all on-site traveling, personal use of Hingarae's premium luxury 4WD vehicles for off-site travel, access to on-call helicopter, on-going membership to Jack Nicklaus' Kinloch Golf Club, ongoing winter season's pass to Mount Ruapehu's Whakapapa (New Zealand's largest ski area), shared use of Hingarae's motor launch and unlimited access to the 6 Star Hotel Hingarae and all its facilities including a recording studio. Hingarae also fully manages and maintains each Module and its individual acreage.
Nearly every aspect of a superior style of living has been taken into consideration during the conception and development phases of Hingarae. Unlike anything in the world, this New Zealand destination will soon embody the ultimate expression of escape for those of us able to get in - as prices start from US$1.9 million. As for the rest of us, we can always hope for an invitation from a generous friend. By Andrew J Wiener.
An architect's house could be his ultimate expression of his relationship to the surrounding world. Arthur Casas positioned his own House in Iporanga outside of Sao Paulo deep in the Atlantic forest - the quintessential Brazilian landscape according to Casas.
Two symmetrical rectangular cubes face one another on the north and south sides of the site. Two retractable 36 foot-high glass walls connect the cubes and frame the main living and dining rooms of the house. The entire exterior is panelled in Cumaru wood that blends effortlessly into the surrounding forest.
Cumaru is also used inside as flooring where it stands out against the stark white walls - the only 'colour' found in the minimalist space. To an architect, one of the defining features of the overall design of a structure is effective interior spatial division. In his own house, Casas successfully divided the ground floor into distinct public and private areas. The kitchen and service area - including a separate bedroom and bathroom - were placed in the north cube structure. A studio and a guest bedroom and bathroom are located on the opposite side. The entire space is connected by the vast living room flanked by wood terraces on both ends. An infinity pool appears to be spilling over to soak the surrounding flora.
A floating Cumaru stairway leads to the first level, where one finds the master suite in the southern cube. A narrow bridge crosses over the middle of the living room and leads to an additional guest bedroom, bathroom and a home theater.
The main objective of Casas' design brief for the House in Iporanga was to provide an escape into the Brazilian forest. He has accomplished the creation of a personal retreat, a place where he is able to relax and recharge. By Andrew J Wiener
Negro de Anglona is a stylish restaurant in Madrid created in a converted 17th century Spanish palace, Palacio de Anglona, by architecture and interior design virtuoso, Luis Galliusi. Known for his ability to combine unexpected elements and to create elegant spaces, Galliusi has designed houses, stores, hotels, restaurants, offices and clinics in Madrid, Paris, Cairo, Mexico, Morocco, Indonesia and Miami. His client list includes Manolo Blahnik, Chanel and Phillippe Starck. In the seven rooms of Negro de Anglona, Galliusi has shown his usual flair. He has combined a strong, black-and-white color palette - including enormous black-and-white, back-lit images of castles - with ornate floor-to-ceiling drapery and other, strong decorative elements. The task of overseeing the predominantly Mediterranean menu has been trusted to the 24-year-old chef, Aitor Garcia Cerro. By Tuija Seipell
For eons, walls of greenery have surrounded people and creatures living in jungles, rainforests and other lush places.
Ancient Asians and Europeans since Roman times have paid gardeners to create green art and sculpture for their gardens, from elaborate topiary sculptures and mazes to vine-covered walls.
And, of course, we’ve seen inventive uses of built outdoor space – including rooftops, patios and balconies – as places to bring more green into our overly concrete-covered lives. Smudging the line between indoors and outdoors, and playing with the illusion of greenery where it doesn’t really belong, are also the basis of some recent installations that we like.
Mass Studies, founded in 2003 by Minsuk Cho in Seoul, Korea, has produced some great examples of this. Among them is Ann Demelmeester’s store (pictured above) in Soul. It is one of only four concept stores showcasing the fashions of the Flemish designer.
Green walls are not just visually interesting and environmentally beneficial, they add a sense of calm and peace that is difficult to achieve by other means. The inclusion of real, living plants on a large scale in places where you don’t expect to see them, also adds other sensory elements – the scent of the greenery, the sound of water, perhaps the feeling of humidity around the installation. The organic texture invites touch and inspires conversation – how was this installed, how is it cared for, who did it?
We’ve found some interesting green installations, such as this school in the UK and a hair salon in Japan, but we’d love to see many, many more. We think there’s room for much more creativity and daring in this arena, so let us know if you spot remarkable and unusual examples. - Tuija Seipell. Send to [email protected]