The stark honesty of Hiroshima-born and -based 38-year-old architect Keisuke Maeda’s work is breathtaking.
The Pit House residence he designed for a client in Okayama, Japan, is a startling steel-structured 138 square-meter (1487 sq.ft.) “cave” that was built into the hillside site, yet it allows the residents 360-degree views of the surrounding area and its buildings.
This is achieved by mounting the above-the-surface part of the structure on 50 branch-like poles, creating a surround skylight for the amphitheater inside.
The Pit is one of those residences that one would absolutely want to visit, not just during the day but at night. There is an observatory-like feel to the space, yet the inside looks completely comfortable.
The structure’s boxy surface silhouette hides beautiful, snail-like curving walls, and in spite of being mostly underground, the residence is filled with light and openness.
Pit is definitely not the word we’d use to describe this wonderful structure, but perhaps that name is part of that honesty we so love about Maeda. - Tuija Seipell
Eight weeks ago, our Facebook (FB) page (facebook.com/thecoolhunter) with all of its content and our 788,000 fans – resources we have created and nurtured meticulously over the past five years - was gone.
Not blocked or invisible, but completely gone. Disabled. “Page does not exist.” No explanation, flimsy warnings, no instructions on what to do next. None of our numerous attempts to rectify the situation and resurrect the page have worked.
And because we suspect there are other businesses in the same bind, we are writing this to seek help and encourage open conversation. This is not a minor problem. This is a huge issue and potentially fatal to businesses. We feel that FB must change its one-sided, secret policies and deal with us, and others like us, openly and fairly.
(Image found on Facebook without image credit.)
Important part of our business
Up till that day eight weeks ago, our FB fan base increased by about 1,500 to 2,500 per day, and the page generated more than 10,000 click-throughs to our site, TheCoolHunter.net (TCH), per day.
TCH is an almost eight-year-old design and pop-culture site. We have 2.1 million monthly site visits, a 186,000-strong newsletter subscriber list that reads like the Who-Is-Who of the design and marketing media. We have 247,000 Twitter and 100,000 Instagram followers.
But our Facebook presence has been a unique and extremely important part of our strategy. It is the water cooler of our global community. Losing our FB page is not just a minor hick-up. It is a serious loss of connection and interaction, and of a massive amount of content.
We post items on FB that may not make it to the actual blog, giving hundreds of artists and designers exposure, and thousands of fans something new to see. Our FB page provides the interaction, comments and ideas that help us keep our editorial fresh. It helps us generate ideas for our weekend playlists, gives us tips for our world tours on what to do and see in each city. Most important, our FB community keeps us on our toes, generates great ideas and feedback, and lets us know when we are on the right track.
Our FB community is truly global. At any time of day or night, we would get immediate reactions from hundreds of fans around the world on pretty much any question we would ask. It has become crucially important to us to stay connected in this way. It is a vital link to our community.
Since our page has been disabled, we have also receive hundreds of emails and messages daily from fans worrying where we have gone.
(Photo by Christopher Wilson)
What did we do?
In essence, we want to know this: What did we do? How do we rectify it? We have never intentionally broken any FB rules and we are willing to do whatever it takes to get our page back. But we do not have the answers and we do not know how to get them. We have tried everything in our power, and we are getting nowhere.
We had a momentary glimpse of hope when we asked for help via Twitter. The young and savvy Nina Mufleh @ninamufleh contacted us and said she could help reinstate it. And she did! We got our page – minus its content. In five days, we had more than 400,000 fans back. But then FB disabled it again. Again, no email, no warning - just gone. That’s when we started to get really annoyed.
Infringement of what?
When our page was initially disabled, we contacted FB. The only response we received was “This user was disabled for repeat IP infringement.” We have no idea what we were infringing on. Which image/s or posts, specifically, have caused this?
We know of only two infringements – two situations where FB closed our account , and we argue strongly that they were not infringements at all.
The problem with this is that you don’t know if what you are posting could irk FB.
But even if FB disagrees with the images we posted, are two images enough to kill our account with no chance of recourse?
The other reason that could have caused the closure of our FB page is that we sometimes use images even when we do not know who has taken the picture.
With FB, Tumblr, Pinterest and all the other image-sharing opportunities today, millions of people and organizations share images – theirs and someone else’s - freely every day. We WANT to give credit always, but in many cases we cannot find that information. On our “About Us” page and on our (now extinct) FB page we specifically state that if we have posted an image that belongs to you, we want to know, so that we can give you the appropriate credit.
Similar issues were discussed in a Huffington Post article here:
If they made any sense at all, they would give you us the contact info of the person who is complaining, so that we can resolve the issue with them. Right now, a completely anonymous and faceless Facebook tells you that a completely anonymous and potentially even false third party has complained about your page. Why can they not be open?
We have no idea why openness is such a foreign thing to them. And more important, we cannot believe that they think that everyone who clicks “share” on FB has checked that they personally have the right to post that image! That is a ridiculous idea. If people did that, FB would not be the business it is. It would be a tiny little official online group of insiders who share each others’ images and copy. Facebook is founded on FREE SHARING. They make their money based on that sharing.
The key point is that absolutely every one of us has posted images AND COPY whose author we do not know and whose authors’ permission we do not have. Facebook is built on this sharing. As are pretty much all other social media platforms. So, why do they attack a few and not all, if they are the police?
Bottom line: We need and want our Facebook account back. But we do not know how.
Do you? Do you have a back-up plan for if this happens to your business? Can you be sure it won’t happen to you? We think not.
It seems ridiculous to severely penalize a business for doing what most Facebook users do daily.
UPDATE: Media coverage:
In the past few years, forerunners in the niche hospitality business have been tripping over each other in their attempts to create the next “un-hotel.” Their goal has been to take the mind-numbing sameness of resorts and big hotels, and the litany of empty and unbroken service promises, out of hotel stays by creating unusual overnight accommodation and unexpected twists.
Many are geared toward the in-the-know frequent traveller who appreciates design, art and pop culture. Themed rooms, completely personalized hotel stays, unexpected common areas, unusual pairings of boutiques, restaurants, art and rooms have all resulted from this un-hotel wave.
Two weeks ago, people who love all things Droog gained their own example of this. They now have yet another reason to fly to Amsterdam as they now can stay the night – if they are extremely lucky - at Hôtel Droog’s singular guest room.
Hôtel Droog is the Droog brand’s first foray into the hospitality business, if that’s what this emporium of fashionably cool shops should be called. It is perhaps more like a funky little department store and less like a hotel.
Drawn in by the mid-century modernist Scandinavian undertow, guests of Hôtel Droog are in for much more than overnight accommodation. The hotel part of Hôtel Droog is more of a clever afterthought than the main attraction as it consists of only one suite, located on the topmost floor of the 17th century building, the former home of the city’s textile guild.
In addition to the guest suite, the 700 square meter (753 sq.ft) space that is Hôtel Droog includes, in an all-white casings, a Droog store offering the staples by the Droog designers, a fashion store K A B I N E T created by Amsterdam-based Ferry van der Nat, a Cosmania cosmetics boutique and also a product display area for Weltevree.
Resting from their spending spree, guests without the privilege of a suite upstairs can rest in the dining room or in the fantastic garden created by Claude Pasquer and Corrine Detroyat, the darlings of the Chaumont Garden Festival. We bet the Hôtel Droog concept has staying power and we envision additional suites, possibly in the nearby buildings. - Tuija Seipell
A fresh take on the office cubicle is possible! Just look at the fun little houses in which the 30 or so cubicle dwellers toil at this Los Angeles-based creative media agency.
Designed by Edward Ogosta Architecture, the 6,000-square-foot (558 sq.ft.) warehouse space initially appears like any big white space with particle-board detailing. But the seemingly bland interior reveals a number of clever ideas, all designed to spark create ideas and encourage interaction as well as provide privacy.
Ogosta named the design Hybrid Office to indicate that every main feature represents two supposedly unrelated things: something from the surrounding city and/or nature married with an office function.
The office cubicles are called House-Tables and their skyline represents that of a row of houses.
There’s a gathering space, an amphitheater-like area constructed with book cases called Book-Arena, and a tatami-covered thinking space called Sky-Cave. Tall, cone shaped hollow tree trunks have become chairs that provide individual privacy. - Tuija Seipell.
It seems that every day we come across yet another beautiful example of elegant use of wood and, more often than not, the architects and designers turn out to be Aussies! Watch out Scandinavians and Japanese!
Stephen O’Connor and Annick Houle, partners at O’Connor and Houle Architecture, are responsible for designing this stunning residence in Blairgowrie on the Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne, Australia. The Pirates Bay House is an L-shaped, one-storey, 200 square-meter (2152 sq. ft.) home for the two architects themselves and their twins.
Because this is an assignment they can fully control, the partners were able to indulge in all of their favorite features, They value slow life and harmony with nature. They also emphasize the various ways in which the residents interact with their living environment – the play of light on the walls and through windows and doorways, the feel of materials and textures, the breezes and airflow throughout the building, and of course, the views and vistas at different times of the day and during different seasons.
The optimal use of sunlight, rainwater and other natural resources, and the selection of landscaping features and native plants that require minimal maintenance or watering, are all part of the owners’ quest for sustainable living. Non-toxic materials, low-energy appliances, recycled timbers were also selected for the same reason.
The result is an elegant, minimalist house that makes us think of self-sufficient Finnish summer houses with no running water, no electricity, no indoor plumbing, yet with all the pleasure. - Bill Tikos
Elegance, minimalism, form-and-function – you know our favorites already. So it comes as no surprise that we like Muriel Grateau’s newly minimalized boutique/gallery at 37 Rue de Beaune in Paris.
Grateau, the queen of the minimalist table setting and sculptural Art Deco jewelry, has had a shop in Paris since 1992 (at this address since 1997) and this fall’s boutique refurbishment was undertaken in celebration of her two decades here.
Displaying her 100 shades of table linen and her subtle, unobtrusive tableware in an all-white setting is not terribly original or imaginative, but it does seem to be perfect for the purpose.
Taking a page from the tested-and-true Japanese book of the art of the minimalist display, Grateau deletes absolutely everything that is not the focal point, i.e. the items on display.
Her goal was to evoke a feeling of floating, to imply that the pieces are unattached and unrestrained by mere surfaces or walls.
Materials such as white mineral resin, stones covered with white powdered paint, white lacquered steel plate and LED lighting were used to create the ethereal 140 square-meter space.
Attending the September 19th re-launch party were design luminaires including Tristan Auer, Lorenz Baümer, Jean Louis Deniot, Hervé Van der Straeten, Chahan Minassian, Juan Montoya, Hervé Van der Straeten, Charles Zana and Pierre Yovanovitch. - Tuija Seipell. (Pics - Oleg Covian)
We may be leaning toward minimalist design and monochromatic surroundings, but we also admire artists and designers who can handle color well.
Francesco Lo Castro from Florida is currently drawing our attention with his multicolor paintings.
He uses oils and acrylics, spray paint and silkscreen as well as layered epoxy resin and gold leaf, usually on a wood base.
We love the combination of explosiveness and strict order, vibrancy and dreaminess, power and release in his work.
Lo Castro was born in Italy, grew up in Germany, and has been active in the Miami art scene for more than a decade.
He is currently working on producing 3D animations based on his paintings, set to premiere at UR1 Festival during Art Basel week - Bill Tikos
Whenever wood is used beautifully, we pay attention. Kengo Kuma-designed 15-room hotel, and especially the attached fruit market in the town of Yusuhara, in the Takaoka District of Kochi, Japan, is a project worth admiring.
We love the skilful, minimalist use of traditional methods, materials and symbolism in the creation of the market space that appears both ancient and completely modern at the same time – a uniquely Japanese skill, it seems.
The cool, thatched façade pays tribute to the town’s ancient tradition of providing travellers who took the main arterial Yusuhara route rest spaces called “Chad Do” that also functioned as venues for cultural exchange and interaction.
As always with this type of design, our eyes are drawn to everything that is NOT there, which allows us to see what IS there even more clearly. No clutter, no visual noise. Contemporary minimalism at its finest. - Tuija Seipell.
Many of us know what it's like to work from home. Distraction upon distraction tends to stunt our productiveness. If only more of us could convince our employers that we can, in fact, stay motivated and actually get work accomplished in the confines of our own home offices.
The design team at Synthesis recently installed Chelsea Workspace - a custom home office for a private personal investment advisor. Constrained by both budget and space, the design team at Synthesis enwrapped a series of prefabricated CNC milled birch plywood ribs atop all the necessary features any home workspace should include: a desk, sliding and hinged storage units, a printer and paper shredder, concealed paths for wires and cables and recesses for lighting - thereby eliminating all unnecessary clutter.
One small window emits natural light onto the surfaces where horizontal spacers are arranged in the pattern of a world map, which will allow the owner to map out his travels. The design of the work space presents a viable solution to ensure working from home can be free from distraction, and where focus in an innovative space ensures the highest level of productivity. - Andrew J Martin
We like the fresh, unpretentious and happy look of the temporary Movement Café and performance space built next to the DLR station in Greenwich, South East London. It was constructed in 16 days to be ready for the opening of the Olympics.
It is located at the gateway to the Olympic borough, on Greenwich Industrial Estate, currently being redeveloped by the Cathedral Group. The Café was designed by British designer and artist Morag Myerscough and he collaborated with poet and tweeter Len Sissay.
Sissay's poem of tweets is now on the hoarding on the site, but it will be eventually set into the road as a permanent ode to the site. - Bill Tikos