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Opened in late fall 2007, Electric Birdcage at Haymarket in the heart of London's West End, has been receiving mixed reviews. One thing is certain, though, it IS getting a reaction from everyone who visits.
Electric Birdcage is a magnificently weird combination of Alice in Wonderland and Russian Aristocrat, dim sum parlor and late-night cocktail bar, sophisticated party venue and silly funhouse.
The owners, brothers Richard and Anthony Traviss, knew where to go for eccentric and totally extravagant interiors: to London's beloved venue designer Shaun Clarkson. His handiwork can be seen, for example, at La Pigalle, Covent Garden's Denim, Play Room, Profile, Power's Acoustic Room, The Bloomsbury Ballroom, Atlantic Bar & Grill and Jerusalem.
Electric Birdcage's surrealistic interior includes a Fibonacci-style patterned floor, tables made of tree roots, gigantic pink hands for chairs, lavish Vegas-style mirrors, imposing black stallions, two snarling black polymer panthers, a carousel bar and iron birdcage chandeliers dangling from a pink ceiling. Even the DJ operates from a birdcage.
Capacity crowd of 300, served by cute staff in retro airline get-up, can order Pan-Asian fare by head chef Somporn Khamsaenphan all day, and stay until 4 am enjoying cocktails by mixologist Chad Shields. You and seven friends can share the signature Electric Birdcage bowl filled with a mix of champagne, Absolut Raspberri peach schnapps, Cointreau, Absolut Citron, strawberry puree, gomme syrup, orange juice, fresh raspberries and blueberries. That should elicit a reaction, if nothing else will. By Tuija Seipell
We have a hunch we will be seeing much more of the work by the young, London-based graphic designer and illustrator, Nikki Farquharson.
Her ongoing project, Mixed Media Girls, gives the viewer a lot to look at. The collages appear innocent and sweet but at the same time exude sharp, pent-up energy that does not feel altogether safe. The title of the work is also wonderfully suggestive – or not, depending on how the reader wishes to understand it.
Farquharson’s work extends from the one-dimensional world to book projects and 3D pieces in which she often ponders and twists the meaning of words and proverbs, spies on conversations, and questions established truths.
In 2007, she started the website Random Got Beautiful that is open for anyone to submit images focused on a specific color. - Tuija Seipell
We are currently working on some projects (still under wraps) with a 23-year-old London-based illustrator, Dan Stafford. Born in Manchester, Stafford graduated this year from Loughborough University School of Art & Design with First Class Honours in Visual Communication. He is now busily producing slightly mad illustrations for clients such as Who’s Jack Magazine.
Stafford says filmmakers such as David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick influence his art, but we detect a Tim Burtonish sense of the bizarre — an aggressive duality of sweet and sinister, meek and macabre. In Stafford’s work, the dark side is mostly up-front in the subject matter while the softer side is represented through the choice colors and the softness of edges.
Indications of his future success include confirmed participation in 2010 in exhibitions in at least London, San Francisco and Glasgow. We believe that we will all see a lot more of his striking art in the future. - Tuija Seipell.
Creative duo Kirsten Rutherford and Lisa Jelliffe from London’s Brothers & Sisters agency drew our attention to their current poster installation “Making the invisible visible” that hit the streets of London this past weekend.
It is a collaboration with the Berlin-based, three-person photographic street art collective Mentalgassi in support of Amnesty International.
The London poster campaign is specifically in support of Troy Davis, a man described as having “been on death row for 19 years in the USA, despite serious doubts about his conviction.”
The posters, depicting a close-up Davis’s face, are mounted on fence railings that disguise the posters so that the face behind the bars is revealed only when viewed from an angle. View the video.
The three posters are located at 4-7 Great Pulteney St, 21 Great Pulteney Street, and 5 Berners St (all W1). - Bill Tikos
Our favorite Holly Fulton dress so far is this "mummified" dress that's a perfect fit for Cleopatra, too. A special sculptural and graphic magic is going on in the London designer's first solo collection of Autumn/Winter 2010. Fulton's first two collections, with Fashion East, featured similar, strong lines, and Art Deco, Mackintosh and cinema-inspired pieces adorned with metal and Swarovski crystals. Fulton is a designer we will be hearing more about in the years to come. So far in 2010, she's won the Elle Style Award for New Designer, and the Young Designer of the Year Award at the Scottish Fashion Awards. - Tuija Seipell. via Fashion 156
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
So many top-notch things have come together in Barbecoa, one of London’s newest restaurants, that it would be a quite the scandal if it did not succeed.
Just consider the ingredients of this barbecue haven: First take Britain’s biggest food export, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Combine him with the man who knows everything about barbecue, French-trained American chef Adam Perry. (Don’t forget both own and operate several restaurants already.)
Mix in the best meat preparation tools from around the world; the Japanese robata grills, fire pits, Texan smoker and tandoor ovens. Add one in-house butcher shop that provides every part of animal — from meats to game to poultry — not just to the restaurant but for the public to buy.
Wrap this all in a stylishly bold Tom Dixon interior by his Design Research Studio and sprinkle lightly with a fantastic view of the adjacent St. Paul’s Cathedral. If, in addition, the prices, service and food quality meet or exceed expectations, we’d have to say this is a sure winner. - Bill Tikos
British jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partridge’s London flagship store is now open on the luxe Bond Street. In her typical fashion, Azagury-Partridge has handled the interior and furnishing design herself.
The store has the same luscious, red-velvet jewelry box feel as her first store that opened in 1995 in Notting Hill (and moved to Westbourne Grove in 2005). The most fantastic feature of the new store is the carpet. It stands out in Azagury-Partridge’s signature style – it is almost too much, but not quite. It brings a smile to your face, makes you look again. That’s the “rock-star” quality that everyone mentions about her work.
The first floor of the two-storey boutique offers an impressive meeting of theatrical and whimsical. Absolutely everything has been choreographed and specially made for the space. Downstairs is a private-member-style, discreet enclave of hidden doors, alcoves and padded walls. The ceiling is adorned with 600,000 Swarovski crystals.
When Azagury-Partridge launched her own jewelry line in 1990, she was completely self-taught. The first piece she had ever designed was her own engagement ring only three years earlier. She has been quoted as saying that “The advantages of being self-taught are that I have no preconceptions or received opinions about the rules of jewellery. Being an outsider is my raison d’être.” - Tuija Seipell
Many old concepts are best left in the past, but not the barbershop. Brendan Murdock believed this statement so strongly that in May 2006, he opened Murdock, an upscale, traditional barbershop on Old Street in the funky design district of Shoreditch in East London. Murdock was right, of course, and two more of his “male grooming nirvanas” have opened since — in September 2007 in Liberty’s department store and in August 2009 among the high-fashion boutiques on Stafford Street in Mayfair. Still in his mid-thirties, Murdock has taken the scenic route to barbershopping — ambling from financial studies to a career as a lawyer, and then opening the CRU restaurant in Shoreditch in 2002. He now focuses solely on all aspects of his shaving emporiums that offer the traditional wet shave, haircuts, manicures and facials. It seems men are in for some serious pampering as Murdock has said he wants his stores in every major city around the globe, and we have noticed old-style barber stores with a modern design touch opening everywhere from Milan to Sydney and NY. - Tuija Seipell.
Pool tables, free beer and “casual everyday” dress code may have become the desired and appropriate work environment in many companies, but for some, a gentlemen’s club atmosphere works better.
London-based architecture and design firm SHH created this elegant office in London for an international investment company. The offices are located in a five-storey Georgian townhouse connected to a two-storey mews by a partially covered walkway. Several marble-inlaid fireplaces, marble mosaic floor tiles and beautiful ceiling cornices were kept from the previous occupants but the rest underwent a thorough modernization.
The resulting milieu is imposing and somewhat intimidating. Its dark, black-and-white photography vibe harkens back to some secret storied past, yet the contemporary treatments, especially the dramatic lighting pieces return the thoughts back to today.
Some of the light fixtures are by Modular and Foscarini and the statement chandeliers were custom-designed by Michael Anastassiades.
Custom-work, limited-edition pieces and classic furnishings such as Eames chairs accent each space, giving stunning jolts among the calm opulence.
Showing up in dated jeans or worn-out sneakers (unless you are Steve Jobs or Richard Branson) in this space would not seem appropriate, and should cue sports be allowed, they would most likely be the English Billiards variety.
Founded in 1992 by David Spence, Graham Harris and Neil Hogan (the S, H and H), architecture and design firm SHH is now a practice of more than 50 people working globally on architecture, design and branding projects.
Many of SHH’s retail, hospitality, nightclub and office clients are in the luxury category, but their client list includes also names such as Sheraton, Adidas, Pizza Hut, Aphostrophe and McDonald’s. - Tuija Seipell
Kettner’s in London’s Soho has hosted the famous since 1867 when Auguste Kettner, chef to Napoleon III, first opened the venue. Close to the theatres and other entertainment, the venue has undergone many incarnations with regular patrons from Oscar Wilde and King Edward VII to Agatha Christie and Bing Crosby each leaving their famous vibes in the space.
The four Georgian houses that form Kettner’s have now been refurbished, upgraded and reconfigured into several spaces: The Brasserie, The Pudding Bar, Champagne Bar, The Apartment and several private dining rooms and event spaces including the famed Cabinet Particulier and the grand The Salle.
The new Kettner’s with its fun, delicious and semi-sinful French undertones and furnishings was designed by London-based Ilse Crawford of Studio Ilse. Crawford’s other hospitality and retail assignments include a restaurant for Grand Hotel Stockholm, interiors for Kranzbach Spa Hotel in the Bavarian Alps and Aesop’s Mount Street shop in London. - Tuija Seipell
Kirk Originals eyewear company opened its London flagship store on Conduit Street in the West End this week with a swanky launch party.
London-based Campaign designed the pared-down, dramatic retail environment of the 66 square-meter boutique.
The black-and-white color palette, only one eyewear wall with 187 “heads” for frames, and practically no furnishings ensure that customers will focus on the eyewear, not the trappings. Eye examinations and fitting take place in the basement, away from the main display space. Large graphics of winking eyes in the window speak the same, clear language leaving no doubt about what they sell.
Established more than two decades ago, Kirk Originals is still run by Jason and Karen Kirk from their home near Bordeaux, France. Kirk Originals are available in more than 40 countries. - Tuija Seipell
Are you always hunting around vintage stores trying to find that perfect precious signature piece, delicately rummaging through shelves of long forgotten items imagining having the skill and craft to turn that amazing door into a signature coffee table, or an old barbers jar into a unique centrepiece vase? This is what designer Lee Broom was thinking for his newest product 'the Decanterlights', which launch next week as part of his latest bar design for Coquine in London's west, and lucky for him - he does have the skill and the craft to create such beautiful and original pieces.
The Decanterlights are truly one of a kind, each made from lead crystal decanters that have been hand sourced from antique markets and vintage shops by Broom and his team. Hung together in clusters at Coquine to create a warm glow amongst the eclectic surroundings, the Decanterlights have already created such a stir that Broom has decided to build on the concept to develop a collection that will soon be available to purchase in either clear crystal or with a contemporary polished gold finish.
Coquine will also feature signature pieces from Broom’s recent and highly sought after Heritage Boy collection, including some that have not yet been seen by the public.
Based in London, 33 year old Broom has already achieved such acclaim and success that his designs are sold around the world and have been featured in publications including Wallpaper*, Sunday Times Style and The New York Times. Original, contemporary and style conscious, Broom has created the design for over 35 venues across London and the UK and has won numerous awards including Time Out's Bar of the Year for Lost Society. - Brendan McKnight
Rosa’s, a modern Thai restaurant in Soho in London’s West End, is the second Rosa’s for managing partners Saiphin and Alex Moore. The success of their first, in Spitalfields in the East End, spurred them to open a three-month “tester,” a pop-up restaurant called Noodles in the Soho space. Its success, in turn, gave birth to a full-blown Rosa’s with its bright-red exterior and wood-paneled interior.
Designed by London-based Gundry & Ducker Rosa’s is an elegant nod to the temporary plywood-booth air of Noodles, the red-light heritage of Soho, and the warm and homey style of the Thai food. Its design features match those of the Spitalfields Rosa’s, also by Gundry & Ducker.
The main feature in the Soho Rosa’s street-level space is the modified oak ogee-curved mouldings. They form coat hooks, lamps and the 'pie crust' edge of the tables. The ceiling is made of gloss pink panels in a brick pattern, set behind a deep frame. In the basement, the same themes prevail but in black gloss and grey and reclaimed teak.
Gundry & Ducker was founded by Tyeth Gundry and Christian Ducker in 2007, both former employees of Nigel Coates. With backgrounds in architecture, furniture and exhibit design, Gundry and Drucker have completed several award-winning hospitality and residential projects. - Tuija Seipell
The ostrich eggs have hatched at the Bond St Louis Vuitton store in London. Every few days a new egg is hatched revealing a new shoe, watch or accessory.
You can always rely on Louis Vuitton for original, fresh window displays.
Tim and Fiona Slack (T&F Slack) are married to each other and to their love of creating shoes, considered “modern classics” by industry standards. Their collection gives the classic “Gibson” or “Derby” shoe shape new life when unexpected color combinations, stitching details and fabrications are blended together.
You can choose from the perforated Punch Derby in white leather with yellow peaking beneath, or have a custom pair made to order in their Notting Hill Shop, or use the simple “build your own shoe” system they’ve created within Selfridges and Liberty.
Dedicated to keeping manufacturing local, they make around 150 shoes per month in their factory where old-fashioned machinery is salvaged and customized to create their “modern classic” shoes. With so much repetition in the world of shoes, it’s so refreshing to see a unique and bespoke solution that really does draw the eye downwards! – Kate Vandermeer
Last year, we covered Macquarie Group's massive Sydney headquarters designed by West Hollywood-based Clive Wilkinson Architects. Earlier this year, the same two players completed another spectacular office project, this time in London.
Macquarie, a global provider of banking and investment services, gathered up its various divisions from several buildings under one roof in the brand-new Ropemaker Place. Macquarie occupies 217,500 square feet (20,207 square meters) on six floors in the 20-storey, LEED Platinum building designed by Arup Associates.
Wilkinson's team took its cues from the new trend of transparency in financial services and balanced that with the more traditional and practical needs of prestige and privacy.
The beautiful, open space is a triumph of simplicity. A skillful and meaningful use of bright colour, combined with the all-white inner structure gives the open plan a sense of delight and order.
The centerpiece is the open atrium where the bright red steel staircase and upper-level steel catwalks link the various floors in a visually stunning way. The sculpture-like staircase, with its underside also painted red, is the focal point of the entire space and symbolizes not just openness but connectedness as well.
Privacy and prestige are evident in the more secluded client areas, where the traditional pinstripe lines appear in several iterations in ceilings, partitions, environmental graphics and other visual cues.
Exquisite furnishings, such as the purple Tom Dixon seating in the upper-level guest relations and reception area, exude prestige with modern sensibilities.
The traditional boardroom is furnished by existing furniture from previous offices, including Eames chairs and walnut-veneer table.
Environmental graphics, by Los Angeles-based Egg Office, continue on the theme of transparency and privacy with vertical pinstripes the key visual element. - Tuija Seipell.
UK-based shoe and accessory retailer Kurt Geiger has been rolling out its new retail store concept in the UK and around the world with the help of its long-time collaborators at Found Associates of London.
Kurt Geiger’s flagship store and headquarters at 198 Regent Street in London’s West End is a glamorous shoe emporium within a five-storey historically protected building.
Red carpet covers the ramp leading to the men’s department, and it also links visually to the red glass walls at the rear of the store. The walls are lined with dark grey glass shelves forming a beautifully formal “library of shoes.”
Mirrors and glass, and the colors red, white and black create the entire visual structure of the store, allowing the shoes to remain the main focus. The Kurt Geiger Regent Street store occupies 2,800 square feet (260 square meters) of space.
The other main store in London, the 4,000 square-foot (371 square meters) Covent Garden store, is a maze of mirrors circling around a massive staircase.
The mirrors, distorting the space and creating infinite reflections, are all the props that are needed to create a luxurious, fantastical environment.
This Covent Garden store received RetailWeek’s 2011 Fashion Retail Interior of the Year award.- Bill Tikos
Yoobi Sushi, London's first temakeria, opened last month on Lexington Street in Soho. Its interior design is an exercise in constraint that has produced a statement of clean minimalism at its best.
Temaki is fresh sushi wrapped in a cone. It is a take-out or eat-in variety of sushi that was born in Brazil where the largest Japanese population outside Japan resides.
London-based Gundry & Ducker Architecture Ltd. stripped the former warehouse back to its original brick and painted the walls dark steel-gray.
The designers were challenged to combine the vibes of Rio, Tokyo and London, and to reflect the Yoobi brand's color palette created by Ico Design.
They solved the riddle with a fusion of only a few distinct features. All key surfaces, apart from floors and ceilings, received a light timber covering. The only "colors" are added by the brilliant white sushi bar, by the on-brand color inlays in tables, and by the chairs.
The decorative touch that connects all of the elements is the on-brand angular detail on the floor, sushi bar, tables, and on the blocky benches and plinths. - Tuija Seipell.
Fiddian-Green was at Reschio, working on a commission for the owner, Count Antonio Bolza. And, of course, the subject matter of his massive sculpture was the horse, in this case Count Antonio's favorite stallion, Punto, born and bred at Reschio.
We say "of course" because the British sculptor, who normally works at his hilltop studio near Guildford in Surrey, UK, has been obsessed with the equine head for nearly three decades.
Ever since he saw a fifth-century B.C. carving of the head of a horse of Selene from the Parthenon at the British Museum he has worked at perfecting the form of the horse's head, as well as mastering the ancient 'lost wax' technique. He works in clay, plaster, beaten lead and marble, and he oversees the casting into bronze himself.
Fiddian-Green's colossal, classically inspired equine heads are exhibited around the world in prominent locations, including 'Still water ', the 30-foot head of a drinking horse right next to the Marble Arch in London.
Celebrities have also found his work irresistible and collectors include J.K. Rowling, Ringo Starr, Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe.
Of his work at Castello Di Reschio, Fiddian-Green said in a statement: "At Reschio, I found new inspiration not only from the study of these wonderful Andalusian horses, but from the light, the smell, the hills, the sense of ancient peace that pervades the land from the days when St. Francis wandered through these hills, and before, way back to the time of the Etruscans. In fact the very air that fills this land upon which Reschio sits has ignited a new fire in my work." - Bill TIkos
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Balance. So difficult achieve as it requires the designer, architect and owner to know just where to stop – what is just enough but not too stark; what is just perfect for the building, for the space and most important, for the residents.
Andy Martin Architects has succeeded in balancing the angular and the circular forms beautifully in this large five-bedroom double-fronted mews residence, Mews 04, in London's Hyde Park.
The biggest alteration Martin competed for this residence was to replace the timber-framed faux Victorian-style conservator form the 80s with a beautiful three-waved, sine-curved glass structure.
The form language of this new conservatory was then elegantly repeated throughout the house allowing maximum natural light into each space and fitting the client’s existing furnishings in with the new and customized pieces.
Bronze, marble and oak are materials that fit perfectly with the classical styling of the residents’ original pieces.
From the rounded topiary at the entrance to the curved marble bath tub, the beautiful curved form brings sophisticated harmony to the entire residence. - Tuija Seipell.
Those of us who are tired of throwawayism and of pointlessly amassing closetfuls of disposable footwear, are starting to pay serious attention to the kind of shoe quality that only true expertise and attention to detail can produce.
Voting with our wallets, we’d rather shop once a year and obtain something that is beautiful, durable and worth the high price, than keep throwing our money – and shoes – away season after season. Traditional men’s shoe makers Joseph Cheaney and others like them are thriving today because they give us what we want.
If you have been making fine men’s’ shoes since 1886 in Northamptonshire, the region known for high-quality English shoemaking, you have the history, traditions and expertise to claim top-price for your product today.
Capitalizing on the demand of high-quality, customized, hand-made men’s footwear Joseph Cheaney has turned its fortunes around in the past five years, since cousins Jonathan and William Church, fifth-generation shoemakers themselves, bought the brand.
The brand is thriving not just in London, where five stores have opened in five years, but also in China, Japan, continental Europe and Russia.
Although it is hip and contemporary, Joseph Cheaeny’s impressive new flagship fits perfectly on London’s Jermyn Street that dates back to 1664 and is known for British artistry and craftsmanship, especially for the finest men’s tailors, shirt makers and suppliers of leather goods.
The designers at Checkland & Kindleysides used history, tradition and craftsmanship as their guides for the store design, creating an environment that inspires exploration and helps patrons appreciate the skill and care that goes into making every pair by hand.
The front of the store highlights the factory and the process of making each pair. Many features of this area echo the factory in Northampton, including metal-framed screens, paneled ceiling and painted brick. In the center sit a 1:100 scale model of the Cheaney factory and a display of how genuine Cheaney shoes are made.
The second area of the store feels like a traditional boardroom with leather seating and the portraits of the founders looking down sternly from the walls.
Our favourite features are the white peg-board walls, the rows of wooden shoe lasts and the exquisite inky-blue colour on some of the walls.
Checkland & Kindleysides is a 30-year-old, London-based design studio with a retail client list that includes Wrangler, Dr.Martens, Levi’s, Timberland and Converse. - Tuija Seipell