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Here now and gone tomorrow. Summer is always too short which is why we love it so intensely and why we want to live it to the fullest.
To celebrate the kick-off of summer in Sydney, Rotate Store by The Cool Hunter in-sydney is dedicating its first-ever theme to the love of summer.
Rotate by TCH – Summer Lovers - is located at 1 Martin Place in the city’s urban hub where culture and commerce, cafés and high-end fashion meet, mix and mingle. (opposite the Xmas tree)
TCH has curated a cool summery product selection that reflects a sunny, playful vibe. There are beach towels and swimwear from the local brand “We are Handsome” as well as many international brands, including Danward thongs from Italy, beach bats and swimwear from Brazil and Bangkok.
As the summer themed selection will be available until mid February only, the goods will be gone fast. Here now and gone tomorrow. Just like summer itself.
The great execution of The Cool Hunter’s first Rotate store is by the talented Natalie Longheon and Peter Pengly of event company The Artistry. This young firm over delivered in record time by designing, producing, executing and styling in less than 2 weeks. We can't wait to get them involved in our next rotate store.
TCH Summer Lovers Store is open Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm, Thursday 10am to 8pm, and Saturday 11am to 4pm. Closed on Sundays
A huge thanks goes to our marketing agency from Melbourne FLAUNT MARKETING who always get involved with much enthusiasm. Brands wanting to get involved in our next few Rotate projects contact Sharyn Lowe. [email protected] We'll be popping up in Melbourne next year as well.
When you visit Summer Lovers store, you could win a free 3 night stay for 2 to Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island (voted best hotel in the world). Simply take a picture at the store, share it on Instragram using the hashtags - #tchsummerlovers and #qualia and you’ll be in the running.
Images by Felix Forest
The label’s first collection, designed by young Dutch designers, including Denmark-born Claes Iversen, launched with a flashy catwalk show at the Arnhem Fashion Biennale in 2007. The label is part of Stichting Mode Met een Missie (Fashion with a mission foundation) which, in turn, was founded in 2005 to help women with problems caused by addiction, homelessness or psychiatric issues. In “teach-them-to-fish” spirit, the women are taught to make the Ami-e-toi label’s clothing and so gain a profession, and self respect.
In Mentjens’s luxurious store design, Art Deco meets boudoir and is juxtaposed with red-velvet sofas, oak parquet flooring, marble, busts on mirror-top tables, and cameos on the wall. Two massive mirrored walls ensure that the fashions and the fashionistas are visible in endless repetition. The idea “Nothing is quite as it seems” is part of the design concept, echoing the contrast between have-it-all fashionistas and the women who make the fashions. - Tuija Seipell
Photography - Arjen Schmitz
Japan is a hot-bed of out-of-the-box creativity and retail design is one of the areas in which it excels. The latest store with more is the new Patrick Cox boutique in Tokyo's Aoyama district, a mecca for fashion.
Local architect Chikara Ohno designed the store using only three elements - the color white, the circle shape and lighting - to great effect. Forming a canopy, huge, cylindrical pendants hang from the ceiling resembling imposing sculptures that also illuminate the products perched just below on cylindrical counters, lit from their bases.
Ohno's design demonstrates the power of simplicity. By working with a few key elements and playing around with proportion he has achieved a dramatic space that also stays true to its function - which is of course to cast the merchandise in the best possible light - pardon the pun - so we are compelled to buy it. - Lisa Evans
Lovely shoes and bags will literally be on pins and needles this Saturday, when the Kymyka shoes and bags boutique opens in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The beautiful store, established by Chantal Hermans and Jurgo Mouthaan, begins its life with an impressive line-up of brands, including Dolce & Cabbana, Etro, Stella McCartney, Dsquared, YSL, Giuseppe Zanotti, Luciano Padovan and Theory. Jimmy Choo will join the list soon, as will other brands.
Hermans and Muthaan chose well when they picked the industrious Maurice Mentjens to design their store. His work has been rewarded at many design competitions, including the Dutch Design Awards in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
His design for the Stash bag shop won not just the Dutch Design Award in the Retail Category but also the German Design Award. Maurice Mentjens Design is engaged in a vast variety of project ranging from interior, exhibit, retail and hospitality design to product and furniture design. - Tuija Seipell
Related article - Shoo Biz - The World's Best
Photography - Arjen Schmitz
We love great retail. We want to find it; we use it as therapy, as entertainment, as an escape, as fantasy. Yet great retail stores are much scarcer than mediocre stores. We all can list many stores that underwhelm us, yet we visit them daily. Mostly, because we must. Just think of your run-of-the mill grocery store, convenience store, drug store, gas station, department store, big box.
Even the newest “concept” versions of many brands are bland, boring and basic; designed for the retailer and its suppliers, not the consumer. They are designed and re-designed without challenging old retail “truths,” and so the result is the same old.
We as consumers shop for two broad reasons: Either because we must, or because want to. We have resigned to the fact that when we shop for items we must buy – gasoline, medicine, food – the stores will not look great. And yet, we’d most likely prefer shopping at a gas station that isn’t scary, dirty, neon-lit and dull, or in a drug store that doesn’t look like a warehouse for the most powerful brands. Even in today’s multi-channel environment where consumers can stay at home and shop for necessities online, many retailers still assume that consumers don’t notice or care.
Mass-appeal stores –including gas stations, grocery, convenience and department stores – have a much wider target audience than a niche boutique, and the two groups’ challenges are different, but a consumer who shops for food does not suddenly forget his or her experience in a niche shop. The expectations, or at least the knowledge of a great experience goes everywhere with the consumer.
As business people, and as consumers, we know that retail today is more challenging and complicated than ever. Consumers shop less and demand more from each experience. They spend less and demand more value. In all categories and at all price levels, consumers look for value in the end, but value is not the same as cheap.
Value is defined by the consumer as: Is it really worth my time, attention, money? The joy, prestige and pleasure produced by a newly acquired tech-toy or pair of shoes – expensive as they may be – make them worth the price to the consumer. And if the shopping experience was awesome, we have something more to tell our friends.
Regardless of segment or even price, today’s power retail is all about authenticity, consistency and experience. Retailers must be nimble and adaptable, and evolve with consumers’ tastes and needs. Consumers can find everything online, so the in-store experience must give them something that is much, much better. Stores must be relevant, engaging, fresh. They must offer an emotional connection, interaction, excitement.
As long as our list of underwhelming stores may be, we all know some wonderful stores we’ve experienced. If you talk about your list of such favorites, most likely you will end up telling a story. It will be about the experience in the store: The way it looks, smells or feels. It will be about the staff behavior, the music, the selection, the philosophy, the brands, the changes, the activities. It has been a memorable experience in a good way. It has made an impression. You were — and are – emotionally engaged.
Whether the store is specialized in high-end fashion, cool skateboards, discount foods, knock-down furniture or exclusive art books, to the customer the overall honesty of the offering is what will bring us back. Will the components match? Is it all on the same page? Is it authentic? Can we trust them to deliver the same or more again? Today’s customer can spot an empty shell and a fake, fluffy concept easily, and when the novelty of such “concepts” wears off, the customer has no reason to return.
A retail store is not a concept, neither is it a brand. It is just one channel, one way of expressing whatever it is the consumer understands the promise to be, whatever the consumer feels the experience is going to add to his or her life. Branding, marketing, store design, merchandise selection, staff behavior, the windows, the change rooms, the website, the wrapping paper and bags, plus a million other details make up that promise, and every store visit either renews or shatters the trust.
Today, with word-of-mouth sped up by social media, bad news travels faster than ever. That can be a serious challenge, because a single bad experience can blow up and become headline news.
But good news travels faster than ever as well, and that poses another challenge to retailers. More often than not, the customer knows more about the brand, the products, and most important, the competition, than the staff. People do not need to travel the world to know about the latest, the newest, the coolest, and the best. Customers have seen more exciting stores, more creative marketing and more fun products than perhaps the typical store staff or even the managers. And if the customer is more enthusiastic and knowledgeable than the sales person, then the customer will not receive “knowledgeable service” no matter what the promotions promise.
Quoting directly from our “Power of the Box” post, we can refer to retail anthropologist Paco Underhill (author of Why we buy and Call of the mall ) and his studies and surveys on shelf impact, shopping behavior and consumer psychology. They all show that it matters what the box looks like, what it makes us feel – even when we say it doesn’t. A retail store is that box.
Also in the same post, we referred to Buyology – Truth and Lies about Why We Buy, a book by Martin Lindstrom who is now on Time magazine’s list of world’s 100 most influential people. Buyology covers the results of Lindstrom's $7-million study that attempted to figure out what really makes us vote with our wallets. The over-arching revelation – if it is indeed a revelation – is that, more often than not, we as consumers do not know why we buy. We do not know what actually affects us when we make a buying decision. But mostly it is about emotions.
When we encounter a fantastic retail store today – a store that we feel is worthy of our attention, time and money – we are really seeing a minor miracle and a major business feat. We should tell the world about it and we should demand more of it. Retailing is an extremely complicated and well-researched business, yet succeeding in it is still perhaps closer to magic than anything else. - Tuija Seipell
Knowing what’s hot is what The Cool Hunter is all about. The Cool Hunter Platinum team can help help give your new product or service the elusive C-factor — whether it’s a lifestyle product or techno-gadget, a new store or access to our little black book of collaborators to assemble the right team of creatives to realise the on-going vision of the brand.
Sports brands, even those that are not official sponsors of the World Cup soccer tournament, are taking full advantage of the global celebrations and fan enthusiasm. In New York City, Nike is making full creative use of its Nike Stadium NYC, a multi-purpose experiential environment opened at the Browery Stadium in May and designed by New York and London-based architectural firm Rafael de Cárdenas.
In Nike Stadium NYC, Cárdenas has created a soccer-inspired space that feels right in the New York environment — not glossy or overly sleek, but somewhat lived-in, hard-edged and willing to take some wear and tear. Triangular wooden blocks allow for instant creative modification of the space, as users can stack them, sit on them or create their own seating areas.
At Nike Stadium NYC, various soccer-related programs and performances in architecture, design and art are taking place all summer and into the fall. These include film screenings, match viewings and other events, all focused on exploring creative expression of soccer.
Nike Stadiums are the brand’s multi-purpose event spaces that have so far opened in Berlin, London, Milan, New York, Paris and Tokyo.
Nike Stadiums continue to reinforce Nike’s reputation as a creative supporter of soccer — something that their 2007 Cannes Lion-winning Stadium shoe box represented well. A limited number of shoe boxes were transformed to resemble a stadium with an image of a stadium and an embedded sound chip. When you opened your shoe box, you saw a miniature stadium and heard the crowd cheering, and you could imagine yourself inside a stadium cheering along or, better yet, playing on the field wearing your new Nikes. - Tuija Seipell
Established by the Berneda family in 1939, Barcelona’s own sports shoe house Munich continues to stay on top of things. In the 1970s, Munich made tracks with the Made in Barcelona footwear line and the X logo.
The Munich flagship store was designed by Ignasi Llauradó and Eric Dufourd of dear design, a design and architectural firm the two established in Barcelona in 2005.
Dark-glass surfaces, mirrors, metal trees and cage-like boxes hanging from the ceiling (from which the shoes have “escaped”), all carry a carefree, experimental and impermanent air. The angular and clunky space with its hard edges and seemingly moving parts is clearly an attempt to say that the septuagenarian brand is nowhere near slowing down. - Tuija Seipell
In 2004, fashion designer Idit Barak opened her tiny 34 square-meter store Delicatessen in her native Tel Aviv, Israel. Barak’s store fit right in with the designers, artists, boutiques and coffee shops that were slowly turning the Gan Hahasmal (=Electric Garden, named for Israel’s first power station opened in 1923) neighborhood funky after its unofficial role as Tel Aviv’s red-light district for some time.
Delicatessen drew design and fashion media attention not just for Barak’s cutting-edge fashions but also for the cool but bare-bones interior. With a measly $3,000 budget, New York-based architect, Z-Astudio created the interior and displays in the two-storey-high space using two main elements — cardboard tubes (from inside fabric bolts) and linoleum, draped like fabric around displays.
Now, five years later, Gan Hahasmal is one of the coolest destinations for Tel Aviv’s fashionable and funky, and Zucker has recreated Delicatessen’s interior magic, this time with a $10,000 budget. Starting from the same philosophy of “more design, less material” Zucker’s team continued the idea of “draping” but this time it took the form of robing the entire space in white, custom-perforated, back-lit pegboard. The white board provides a lacy background for the fashions, and the board’s functionality gives unlimited display flexibility. Yellow paint indicates glimpses of the space’s “undergarments,” and recycled and found furnishings and accessories complete the eclectic look.
The 34-year-old Barak spent nearly a decade in New York, studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology and later learning with illustrator Ruben Toledo and fashion designer Isabel Toledo, and with at Norma Kamali. Idit Barak’s Delicatessen line is sold in boutiques across Israel and in New York. - Tuija Seipell
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
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)
The Moscow-based Podium Fashion Groupl is involved in numerous fashion ventures, but what caught our eye is the Podium 1 jewelry store in Paris (at 334, rue St.-Honore, Paris 1er, right across from Colette). The tiny shop (50 square metres) oozes glamour and old money, patina and luxury.
The rich feel is created through textured wallpaper, dark antique or aged wood furnishings, curved vitrines, thick-glass cabinets with hand-tooled iron pulls, plus a massive armoire standing on curled legs and sporting Gothic arches. The slightly mad and eccentric, yet visually cohesive neogothic interior and furnishings are by Moscow-based Artbureau I/1 (“one over one”) whose eight principals create both private and commercial interiors and architecture.
Podium’s Paris store is a space for one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted pieces created with rare or antique techniques by jewelry names such as Loree Rodkin whose pieces recently adorned Michelle Obama at the inauguration ball and Cher on the cover of Architectural Digest. 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
Not so long ago, we noticed the handiwork of Deardesign when they created the Munich sports shoe concept store in Barcelona’s massive L’illa Diagonal.
Now Ignasi Llauradó and Eric Dufourd, the founders of the Barcelona-based design and architecture studio, have completed another flagship store in the same mall. This time, the store belongs to local fashion brand Lurdes Bergada, Syngman Cucala, established by the 30-year fashion veteran, Lurdes Bergada.
In keeping with the fashion brand’s industrial and minimalistic style, Deardesign created a vast hangar-like feel by including all of the functions of the store – both client-facing and back-room – under one roof, but separating them with a curving wall.
This wall, created with 1,000 pieces of beech wood screwed together by 2,400 screws, forms an igloo-like huge presence and becomes a focal point that emphasizes the size of the entire space. Each piece of wood is unique and each piece is visibly numbered – a necessary technical detail for building the wall and a creative design idea to expose the “making of” and to bring attention to the construction features. The use of concrete, wood and cement further adds to the warehouse-like atmosphere.
The clothing brand is all about simple, clean lines and technical ability, and the industrial feel of the store interior echoes this beautifully.
Lurdes Bergada and her son, Syngman Cucala, are known for the practicality and high quality of their fashionable clothing for both men and women, sold in their five stores (including two in Madrid) of which the first opened in 1978.
For Deardesign, this flagship is an impressive addition to their already impressive retail client list that includes LVMH Group, Burberry, Nike and Sephora. Ignasi Llauradó is an industrial designer educated in Barcelona and Eric Dufourd is a Paris-trained interior designer. They established Deardesign in 2005. - Tuija Seipell
We are seeing more and more stores and services dedicated solely to the fine things in life for men. Salons, shops and spas are realizing that men have been treated like second-class citizens when it comes to luxurious, beautiful retail environments.
There are millions of sports bars, car dealerships, gyms and hardware stores, but that is definitely not all that men need and want. At New York Fashion Week, British luxury men’s brand Alfred Dunhill showcased its Winter 2010 collection in a vacant Meatpacking District warehouse transformed into a pop-up shop.
With aluminum panels and projection technology, London-based design workshop Campaign created an environment that brought a little bit of Dunhill’s London flagship store to New York.
Alfred Dunhill, who joined his father’s saddlery business in 1887, and planned to change the company’s focus toward the pioneering motorist, said it very well: “It is not enough to expect a man to pay for the best, you must also give him what he has paid for...” We think men are ready to pay for the best -- and “the best” includes the environment in which he spends his money. - Tuija Seipell
The first OHWOW Book Club has opened its doors in a tiny 150 square-foot space in New York’s Greenwich Village. The retail space is located below street level in a historic brownstone on Waverly Place.
The black-and-white tiled floor and the turquoise walls create a decidedly aquatic mood although the designer, Rafael de Cárdenas, was thinking less of marine habitats and more of a classic pre-war NYC water closet when he themed the space.
Experience designer/architect Rafael de Cárdenas of Architecture At Large is a master of creating moods. In OHWOW Book Club, he has explored not only the sensations of disorientation and floating through neon lighting and random wall color patterns and placement of shelves, but also the feel of direction through the Navajo carpet-like tile pattern of the floor.
All of these themes are evident also in OHWOW’s Miami exhibition space at NW 7 Avenue, that de Cárdenas designed in 2008 and to which the Miami Art Basel crowd took right away.
OHWOW (Our House West of Wynwood) is a collaborative creative enterprise conceived by New York’s event impresario Aaron Bondaroff and Miami art and publishing powerhouse Al Moran. - Tuija Seipell
Paris has now joined Beijing, Beirut, Buenos Aires, Doha, Dubai, Florence, Geneva, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Macao, Madrid, Moscow, New York, Portofino, Riyadh, Shanghai and Tokyo as a location of an Officine Panerai watch boutique.
The Parisian shop opened in September in the 1st arrondissement on Rue de la Paix's jewelery row, between Place Vendôme and Opéra Garnier.
The Italian company was founded in Florence in 1860 by Giovanni Panerai. It became the official supplier of the Italian Navy and continued to build various precision instruments for the army's diving corps. Panerai remained relatively unknown in the civilian world until its bulky watches were brought to popular attention by Sylvester Stallone who wore a Panerai Luminor watch during the shooting of the movie Daylight in Rome. Stallone then ordered and signed a special batch of the watches called Slytech. He gave them to his friends, including Arnold Schwarzenegger. Stallone has since worn many Panerais, including the largest Panerai wrist watch, the limited-edition Panerai Egiziano, with a face that is 60mm in diameter.
The interior of the 41 square-meter Parisian boutique echoes Panerai's naval traditions by emphasizing precision and quality, and featuring such materials as teak and steel. - Bill Tikos
Luxury jewelry and giftware stores are waking up. They have been as traditionally stuffy as banks in their design, but their globe-trotting clientele is demanding an upgrade. Bored out of their minds, they want an edge, a spark, a something, to break up the monotony and to add some interest.
We've featured a few, including Octium in Kuwait,- Podium Paris and Solange Azagury-Partridge London and here is another to add to that list: The two-level Faraone jewelery boutique in Milan, on Via Montenapoleone, envisioned by architect Massimo Iosa Ghini. whose retail design work includes showrooms for Maserati and Ferrari.
At Faraone, his subdued, metallic setting for the items on display symbolizes the precious-metal setting of a ring or pendant that sets out the stones, engraving and minute details.
There is also a cool, retro factor, reminiscent of the mysterious estate jewelry areas in luxury department stores of the past. The soft nappa leather chairs and the tone-on-tone carpeting add to the feel of being inside a jewelry box. - Tuija Seipell.
In a refreshing departure from the now so routine dark-mahogany “men’s club” feel of men’s stores, New York-based architect and interior designer Rafael de Cárdenas of Architecture At Large approached Cape Town’s Unknown Union with a much lighter touch.
The two-level boutique, located in a historic building, exudes light and color. On the first level, white walls serve as the background to the pared-down stacked-box shelving painted in softly muted yet vibrant colors. This simplified setting, gives the owners, Sean Shuter and Daniel Jackson, an ideal showcase for the brands that they represent, including ANYthing, Pendleton, Surface to Air, and Penfield USA.
The second level is an ever-changing, creative space, where local and international creators and artist showcase their work. The opening event for the space featured the work of Rafael de Cárdenas/Architecture at Large, Gazelle, Surface to Air, Milkbeard, Cornrow Rider and THECAST. - Tuija Seipell.
OUKAN 71 is an intriguing addition to the sophisticated shopping area around Friedrichstrasse in Berlin. OUKAN 71 combines a fashion and art showroom/shop with a tea room and restaurant. Located on Kronenstrasse 71 (Kronen Strasse means Crown Street in German, and Oukan is Japanese for crown), the boutique has a fascinating background.
When the earthquake and tsunami cancelled the Tokyo Fashion Week in March last year, a group of Japanese designers were looking for a place to showcase their work. Berlin answered, and a charity project, Tokyo Gakudan (Tokyo Orchestra), was presented at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin in July 2011, with 40 Japanese designers showing their collections.
Natalie Viaux and Huy Thong Tran Mai were responsible of the Tokyo Gakudan Runway Show at Mercedes-Benz Studio. They are also the masterminds behind OUKAN 71, inspired by the fashion show.
On two open-concept floors, OUKAN 71 offers a constantly changing selection of fashion, accessories and design, much of it currently Scandinavian, but all with a Japanese feel. The Tea Bar Restaurant serves raw, vegan, vegetarian and fish breakfast and lunch dishes by chef-patissier Eriko Ohsawa, formerly of Tim Raue’s MA and UMA restaurants. - Tuija Seipell
Toronto’s latest TA-ZE store, at 120 Adelaide Street West, is only 800 square feet in size, but it is airy and uncluttered. TA-ZE is a chain of retail stores focusing on premium olive oils and related product.
Ta-ze means fresh in Turkish, and the company is rooted in the long traditions of olive-oil production. Its product comes from six provinces in the Aegean region of Turkey, from 33 co-operatives that include more than 28,000 olive producers.
The purity and clarity of the oil is reflected in the minimalist store concept designed by Toronto-based Burdifilek, led by managing partner Paul Filek, and creative partner Diego Burdi. They are also responsible for retail design for W Hotels, Holt Renfrew department stores, Club Monaco and Joe Fresh, among others. - Bill Tikos
The cool story of David Webb, jewelry designer since 1948 to elite stars, socialites and others who love bold statement pieces, continues beautifully today.
With the 2010 change in ownership – from the Silberstein family to Sima Ghadamian, Mark Emanuel and Robert Sadian – the New York tradition has managed to hold the attention of the luxury jewelry buyer from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor to Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez.
The most recent buzz around David Webb is not about the iconic pieces’ animal and other organic forms or the incredibly rich settings of precious stones, but about the design of the Madison Avenue Flagship boutique, above which the artisans still work in the in-house atelier.
Designed by architect Peter Pennoyer with interior design by Katie Ridder, the boutique seems more like a mansion or series of salons, and less like a store or showroom. With prices starting at $4,000, the David Webb pieces require surroundings that are both luxurious and intimate. Pennoyer and Ridder have achieved an edgy ease that lets the jewelry remain the center of attention. - 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
Complicated is easy, minimalist is difficult. Even more difficult is minimalist design that stands out. That is why we love this little contact lens shop in Tel Aviv, Israel. It is a store concept for Adashot by EyeCare designed by Lee-Ran Shlomi Gidron of Tel Aviv-based Miss Lee Design.
It is apparently the first and only store in Israel that sells nothing but contact lenses. And that posed the main challenge of this project: How to display something as tiny and indistinguishable as contact lenses?
To start, Miss Lee created a word cloud to describe contact lenses: Cleanliness, Transparency, Clarity, Reflection, Gliding, Lightness and Tension between black &white. From that, the two main design elements emerged: The embossed-digits-wall inspired by sight tests, and the six light fixtures with concave mirrors. Minimalist, beautiful and stunning. - Tuija Seipell
Matching optional, mixing mandatory. Straight-laced or upscale are definitely not the main characteristics of the target audience of Spicy Color’s peppy and girly clothing store in Seoul, Korea.
The candy-colored “fashion playground” shop expresses the brand’s sweet and happy mantra of “joy.play.love.” with a pop-art retro vibe.
Students, most likely female, will find themselves completely at home in this slightly messy, dorm-room environment with its mix-and-match, low-brow fixtures, gooey colors and “wastebasket” lighting.
Everything is light-weight and mobile or moveable, making it easy to create new, unexpected displays every week. The various sections of the store have different textures and materials, tiles, brick, wood, metal, adding another dimension to the multi-function space.
The website repeats the same feel: a dated yellow typewriter, a yellow scooter, big dice, a shoe-shaped pink armchair, a retro guitar — it all reminds us of cast-offs, second-hand finds and an adventurous creative spirit.
It reflects student days of low budget and high spirits. Ice cream and yogurt, balloons, cupcakes, jellybeans – the vibe invites us to expect something yummy and bouncy, slightly indulgent and perhaps even a bit naughty.
The clothing is equally fun and colourful, and the entire brand approach is spelled out as “fashion is play.” The design of the store is by local design firm m4, under the direction of Kwang-Hyun Han and Yun Young-Sub. - Tuija Seipell.
Mats Sjöqvist together with brothers Mårten and Olle Eriksson-Mårtens attracted a solid following of well-dressed men to their first menswear boutique, Herrekipering (haberdasher in Swedish), on Kocksgatan 17 in Stockholm’s Södermalm district.
Earlier this year, they expanded the business by opening their second and much bigger store, Haberdash, on Upplandsgatan 50, in the Vasastan area of Stockholm. In the process, they renamed the first shop Haberdash as well.
We love the functional, minimalist interior of the new boutique, completed by Stockholm’s Form Us With Love (FUWL).
The materials and details of the store design speak the same language as the brands represented in the store, the language of timeless style, long-term value, functionality, quality and artisanship.
The underlying goal of all of the displays is to allow the customer to see and examine each item completely. So FUWL created a stylized, minimalist craftsman’s studio, with the items displayed on magnified pegboards, simple workbench-like counters and basic square shelving.
Materials, such as Silestone Quartz, Kährs ash and Tärnsjö Tannery leather are used for displays and surfaces. The “bare-bulb” pendant lighting is FUWL’s own Form for Design House Stockholm.
The esteemed brands sold at Haberdash include the French Armor Lux sailor sweaters made famous by Pablo Picasso, Brooks bicycle saddles and accessories from the UK, and Grundén raingear from Sweden.
FUWL is a multi-discipline design house established in 2005 by fellow students of product design at Småland’s Kalmar University, John Löfgren, Jonas Pettersson and Petrus Palmén. - Tuija Seipell
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
Yes, yes! We LOVE the cool, clean, minimalist interior (no news here to our readers) of the brand-new 100 square-meter retail store, the HITGallery, opened at the end of September in the Times Square shopping center in Hong Kong.
The elegantly retro store, designed by the talented Milan-based architect and designer, Fabio Novembre, is the first iteration of a new global multi-brand retail concept of the Pettoranello-based fashion house, Ittierre S.p.A. Ittierre holds the licenses, manufacturers and markets several brands, including Aquascutum, C’n’C Costume National, Galliano, GF Ferré, Fiorucci, Karl Lagerfeld Paris, Pierre Balmain and Tommy Hilfiger Collection. The latest brand to sign with Ittierre is Jean Paul Gaultier, with his men’s collection launching in Fall/Winter 2013-14.
The HITGallery boutiques, slated to open around the globe, feature\s several, if not all, of the lines Ittiere represents. The next store in line will be the Milan flagship but in the meanwhile, Ittierre has just opened a 1,000-square-meter temporary store, IT'S 30 MANZONI, at Palazzo Scotti Gallarati in Milan's luxury neighborhood.
In a media release, Fabio Novembre is quoted as saying that The HITGallery stores capture the essence and spirit of Italy by, for example, taking inspiration from the surreal atmospheres of the artist Giorgio De Chirico.
He continues: “Upon entering the concept store in Hong Kong, people will promptly notice the strong Italian imprint of the architectural design’s classical matrix: symmetrical structure, row of arches, one dominant hue offset by two-tone flooring. The color defining the walls – a neutral shade bordering between green and sky or cerulean blue – defies classification, so becoming the ideal backdrop for all the brands sold in the store.”
We love the uncluttered feel, the delicious Casamania Her chair (also by Novembre) and the complete lack of brand-clutter, especially signs and logos. The latter, of course, will pose the most massive of all retail challenges that trumps all design and merchandising feats: The need to provide relevant and sincerely customer-centric service. Don’t even get us started on THAT topic! - Tuija Seipell
Photography by Dennis Lo
Viennese moms and dads have yet another option to spoil their offspring: Bambini in central Vienna at Tuchlauben 7.
The interior of the 360 square-meter (3875 sq.ft) multi-level emporium of children’s high-end fashion was entirely custom-designed by the 12-year-old Viennese firm, Architektur Denis Kosutic, for the Vienna-based MB Fashion GmbH.
Carrying such brands as Armani Junior, Fendi, Gucci, La Perla, Roberto Cavalli, Versace Young and Missoni, this is MB Fashion’s first shop of the Bambini concept.
Kosutic and collaborators Mareike Kuchenbecker and Carina Haberl took a Wizard-of-Oz/Alice-in-Wonderland/Jules Verne approach yet cooled the usual color riot of kiddie stores down into a junior film noir environment
Everything from wall and floor treatments to furnishings and display elements was created specifically for this store.
With smoky grey as the main hue, the space is both imaginatively fun and slightly scary – and we all know that most kids love to be scared, if they feel safe.
There are surprises and details that don’t quite match, which makes the space interesting and fun, yet keeps the tone down at a tolerable level.
The custom-created surreal flowers-and-lollipops pattern appears in various places and at different scales throughout the store. Cage-like pillars made of copper tubing create the central merchandise displays and evoke a feeling of retro-futuristic submarine vehicles.
Velvet draping, soft floorcoverings and smooth surfaces on some furnishings add a softness to temper the hard and shiny metallic components.
Also custom-designed are the friezes of mushrooms, lollipops and pears, and seating shaped like bananas, strawberries, lemons and plums.
The designers aimed for a space that would “allow adults to be kids and kids to be adults.” We think they have succeeded. - Tuija Seipell.
Photographer: Lea Titz
Opening Ceremony has relocated its flagship store from Shibuya to Omotesando to the home of street fashion on Cat’s Alley. The new Tokyo flagship store sees OC founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim realise yet another temple to their love of out-of-the-box fashion.
Alongside neighbours such as Ragtag, Burton and Paul Smith Jeans, the new store is 1200 square-metres (12,917 sq.ft.) over four themed floors (rather than Shibuya’s much larger eight-floor store).
The interior reflects the younger, edgier fashion crowd that swarms Harajuku’s streets each weekend and the stock has a strong Tokyo flavor with special collections by Yoko Ono, Dallas-born, Tokyo-based Kiko Mizuhara and OC favorite Chloe Sevigny. A pastel palette of lilacs, pinks and baby blues is offset by neon, wild cabinetry, Ben-Day dots and Pop Art inspired staircases.
Each floor showcases Opening Ceremony’s unmistakable fashion edit; high-fashion plus cult brands including Alexander Wang, Carven, Christopher Kane, Phillip Lim and Proenza Shouler mixed in with the Opening Ceremony clothing lines, fresh, up-and-comers and their perfume collaboration with Le Labo.
The zoological-themed floor features ostriches, llamas and striking wooden horse jewelry cabinets showing off limited edition pieces.
The store is unmistakably Tokyo-style and there is a reason why retailers are looking to Tokyo and the OC founders for inspiration. Leon and Lim’s have their fingers on the pulse of global fashion, they collaborate with the likes of Martin Margiela, Adidas and Rodarte whilst revitalising the Kenzo fashion house. And still manage to kit Beyonce out in custom Kenzo. - Emily Ross
In the 1950s Roger Delbôve started a chain of high-end hair salons in Belgium, eventually growing and expanding it with his wife, Marion who had worked with Helena Rubinstein Belgium. Some 20 years later, they were researching, developing and producing their own products and offering a complete service for women, from head to toe.
In 2011, Gina and Sybille d'Ansembourg join the Delbôves’ daugter, Isabelle, in the business and focus on expanding the reach of the Delbôve Cosmetics name.
This has now culminated in the opening of the Delbôve Cosmetics flagship store in Brussels this May. Brussels-based freelance designer, Christophe Remy, was in charge of branding from web, package and stationery design to art direction and interior design of the boutique itself.
The clean and elegant store is a cool marriage of a modern spa and beauty salon with a pharmacy of a bygone era. - Tuija Seipell.
As the ice cream and cupcake shop genre has become increasingly pink and cute, to the point of icky and utterly boring, we were delighted to run across Once Upon A Cream.
It is an ice cream shop in the beach resort town of Hua Hin, about 200 km south of Bangkok, Thailand. The refreshing shop was designed by Bangkok’s MADA Design Factory.
The design team was led by co-founder and creative director Nisachol Loetritsirikul. She managed to avoid the cute overload and instead came up with a crisp balance of whimsy and old-word dairy.
A few little nods to Willy Wonka are there – the pieces of machinery and copper fixtures, the pepperminty red-and-white round tables, the chewing-gum blue seating, the blue sky and fluffy clouds in the ceiling. But they are counterbalanced by the old-dairy accents: The white tiles, the clean surfaces, the wooden boxes.
The wood boards, rattan chairs and again the blue sky - references to the resort town location – round out the design concept. - Tuija Seipell.
The work of Paris-based Matali Crasset always makes us smile. Her ability to take something basic and make it appear fun and fresh is unparalleled. More remarkable is her ability to do this while avoiding the gummy-colored slide that so easily leads to overly cute, fake and just plain childish.
Including just enough color to pop, adding just enough quirky shapes to make a point, and leaving everything else out, makes this little university grocery shop a delight.
Mini M grocery is a neighborhood grocery store at the Toulouse University where the student services organization is working to improving the options and accessibility of various food service alternatives from eat-in and take-out to grocery stores.
This colorful market is designed to stand out from the concrete buildings that surround it. Its overall feel is positive and fun; it is a market-stall-like casual shop, clearly different from the typical, boring convenience stores and corner stores elsewhere in the city.
Rotate: Curated by The Cool Hunter – A completely new surprising shopping experience every 8 weeks. Always new, always different, always changing.
At TCH, we are always into something new. Just cannot help ourselves. A year ago, we launched the temporary two-week The Cool House in Melbourne & Sydney. More than 10,000 people attended and it was a huge success.
But rather than repeat ourselves this year, we wanted to evolve this cool concept. The result: Rotate by The Cool Hunter – a store that will stay in place for a year but the theme will change every eight weeks. New theme, new store, new everything every two months. Blink, and the shop has changed completely! Blink, and you’ve missed it! If you want it, you need to buy it now. It won’t be there next time.
Good bye to the same old boring sets of stores. Every mall, every airport, ever shopping street – the same stores, the same brands, same standard look-alike themes. Welcome Rotate by The Cool Hunter – the shop full of surprises, the concept that does not stand still.
The Rotate Concept:
These themed temporary pop-up stores will constantly evolve - and not just a changing window display or a few new products. The entire setup and product mix will change every 8 weeks.
There will be a new theme for each period e.g. Summer Lovers, The Art Hunter, Color Your World, Winter Wonderland. But this won't be your regular, boring store either – Rotate will be fun, innovative, interactive and visually spectacular.
Products and brands will be carefully curated by The Cool Hunter Team and feature amazing local brands and unique international offerings.
Our first theme "Summer Lovers" launches in Sydney in 2 weeks - stay tuned for more info later this month.
Dutch design pair Rolf Snoeren and Viktor Horsting celebrate the 20th anniversary of their Viktor & Rolf brand by opening a massive Paris flagship store in the 1st arrondissement, at 370 Rue Saint-Honoré.
One expects nothing but spectacular from the brand that has been owned by Renzo Rosso’s group since 2008, with apparently deep pockets to support the label’s growth and expansion.
But we did not expect felt-padded walls or the omnipresent grey color – a hue that now seems to be the new black of retail environments and is in fact getting a bit boring already.
The charcoal surroundings do show off the more colorful pieces, but there’s something quite depressing and aggressive about all that greyness.
The 7,000 square-foot (650 square-meter) multi-level emporium was designed by the Paris-based Pierre Beucler and Jean-Christophe Poggioli of Architecture & Associés.
The store houses much of the Viktor and Rolf collection including ladies’ wear, handbags, shoes, eyewear, and a selection of menswear and limited-edition pieces. - 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
Like its namesake, the Paris-Nice express train of the 1950s, Le Mistral gift shop in Tokyo is precise and orderly.
With its navy blue base color and strict visual rules reminiscent of a dapper railway uniform, the interior is an effective vessel to display the tightly (strictly) edited selection of gift items from around the world.
Designed by Jumpei Matsushima of JP architects, the 61 square-meter (656 sq.ft.) shop is also thoroughly Japanese in its sparse coloring and its neat and exact (precise) division of space in ever-repeating rectangles.
By giving clear rules (in both meanings of the word), the plan allows daily changes to the displays without disturbing the balance and orderliness of the overall look.
Everything in the store, from furniture and fixtures to the actual merchandise, lines up with the grid that originates from the building’s structural frame. - Tuija Seipell
Hunter Boots is making waves again. The Edinburgh, Scotland-based historic icon has opened its first-ever flagship store at 83 Regent Street in London with a celebration featuring a troupe of Singing-In-The-Rain dancers arriving in a red double-decker wearing head-to-toe Hunter Original collection.
The store design is a funky combo of urban shopping heaven and agricultural themes that echo farm life and barns – all thought up by the design team at Checkland Kindleysides.
Established in 1856 and known for its dutiful supply of millions of trench boots for the British troops in both World Wars, Hunter has been making a steady move from boots only to a full-fledged clothing brand.
When Hunter hired Alasdhair Willis (aka Mr. Stella McCartney & co-founder of Wallpaper with Tyler Brûlé ) as their design director two years ago, everybody paid attention and started expecting big things. And they have not been disappointed.
The expanded repertoire and the new flagship are just the beginning, however. Willis is going to launch yet another new line in 2015. Hunter Field will be a more technical outdoor collection, for “the guy and girl who wants to look amazing in the wilds of the great outdoors,” as Willis has been quoted describing it.
The flagship, with its barnyard ambiance enhanced with a two-storey high LED screen showing fashion shows and campaigns, will not be the only retail expansion either. According to Checkland Kindleysides, it will form the foundation of future retail and shop-in-shop opportunities. - Tuija Seipell.
Just before the Holiday shopping season last year, Greek Jewelry designer Ileana Makri opened an intriguing retail store on Patriarhou Ioakim Street in Athens’s posh fashion district of Kolonaki.
She hired Greek architect Stelios Kois to envision an environment for not just her own jewelry but also for fashionable creations of other designers. The Makri is not new to retail, as her first entry, Mageia, also in Athens, opened in 1987. Mageia was also the setting for the launch of her precious jewelry line in 1996. Steeped in symbols, nature, mystique and multicultural lore, her pieces featured snakes, evil eyes, insects and other nature-inspired themes created in gold, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and other precious materials. Barneys New York noticed, and from there on, Makri has been part of the jewelry scene, and not just in the up-market fine jewelry segment but also in costume jewelry .
Celebrities and stars, from Jennifer Lopez and Faith Hill to Uma Thurman, Heidi Klum and Rita Wilson, have walked the red carpets of the world wearing Makri’s pieces.
As one would expect, Kois and project manager Antriana Voutsina with team members Nikos Patsiaouras, Marielina Stavrou, Konstantinos Karanasos and Alexandros Economou, used Makri’s work and philosophy as inspiration for the new Athens store.
The quality of light, geometric patterns, exquisite workmanship and intricate detailing are all essential in Ileana Makri’s work in which she transforms “memories to jewelry”, as Kois expressed it in a brief.
In the “peculiar forest” that Kois’s team created, our eyes are drawn to the strong, angular lines of the glass-and-metal trees on which jewelry and other items are displayed. The trees allow 360-degree viewing of the items inside the branch-boxes. We like the scarcity and strength of materials: metal, glass, wood and stone that gives the items on display a minimalist backdrop.
However, our favourite aspect of the store is the exterior. The window opening that appears like a big picture frame, was divided into three segments: Two windows framed with black stone protrude from the façade and, in between them, a narrow door made of black-stained oak leads into the store.
The narrower of the windows is for exhibiting the latest collections. It also frames a display tree and shows off our other favorite feature: the narrow, stone-clad staircase that leads to the jeweller’s workshop. - Tuija Seipell.
Two basic ideas – one gold and one black - result in dramatic impact in the new Gold Souk building at the Beverwijk Bazaar in The Netherlands.
Rotterdam-based Liong Lie Architects had the cool opportunity to design a brand new hall for the gold dealers and goldsmiths that offer their wares each weekend at the Goudstraat (Goldstreet) at the Eastern Market of the famous Bazaar.
The designers based the uneven shape of the building on a raw piece of gold. They covered the façade with gold-tinted panels with a triangle pattern. The panels are placed in different orientations so that the entire building sparkles and shimmers under different lighting conditions during the day and at night.
And how do you outshine all that glitter of wall-to-wall gold inside? You don’t. Instead, you stay out of the way. Liong Lie chose to paint every surface inside black giving the space a night-time feel and allowing the gold really shine. A mysterious “Arabian Nights” feel envelops the visitors as soon as they step into the building from the daylight.
The Bazaar in Beverwijk is a massive indoor public “fleamarket in overdrive.” With more than 2,000 shops and more than 60 food establishments in numerous halls, De Bazaar offers clothing, accessories, toys, food and even gold. - Tuija Seipell.
Dutch designer Maurice Mentjens has created the interior for the House of Smarts in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
It is an exhibition space for showcasing the latest glass work by fellow Dutch designer Arnout Visser.
The House of Smarts, opened in late September, is located at Willemstraat 29, directly across the street from the Eindhoven Public Library, also known as de Witte Dame.
The House of Smarts and the exhibit of Visser’s work are also part of this year’s Dutch Design Week taking place in Eindhoven, October 17-25
The interior first brings to mind an unfinished building with the pipes for air, water and electricity all exposed. All surfaces, including the ceiling, are covered in a network of grey wooden criss-crossing slats.
The structure was inspired by the interconnectedness of the neural pathways of the brain. The criss-crossing slats evoke the “grey matter,” the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain where all information is processed.
The idea is also to make everything visible, transparent and exposed. The multi-talented, 53-year-old Arnout Visser defines himself as a ‘formfinder with a passion for glass.’ His lamps and tableware are often fluid and free-form, and nearly always transparent. This is one of the reasons why the theme of transparency appealed to him as well in the design of the House of Smarts.
Mentjens describes the design also as a labyrinth or a maze, or an interpretation of complicated printing plates, or computer chips, symbolic of rational thought and artificial intelligence.
Mentjens did not have to look far to find the connection between brains and the location, as Eindhoven is known as the technological centre of the Netherlands. Says Mentjens: “In 2011, Eindhoven was declared to be the ‘world’s smartest region’ by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). This is in no small measure due to initiatives such as “Brainport Region Eindhoven.”
The 51-year-old Maurice Metjens and his team are award-winning designers of retail, hospitality and museum spaces including the park-themed waiting area of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. - Tuija Seipell.
Photography: Arjen Schmitz