Black and white are the safe choices in the design world. The color of luxury is elegant and subdued. Yet, at the same time, even top-tier designers, artists and luxury brands have always used bright colors as well. It is not about either or. It is not black-and-white or color.
Just try telling those who love Dale Chihuly’s art, Versace interiors, Karim Rashid’s Corian eco-house or Renzo Piano’s Central St Giles facades in London that the “designer look” is always predominantly black and white.
And although bright color is often associated with being a sort of primitive, wild, folk-art aesthetic, and therefore black and white would seem the serious and civilized alternative, color is not just wild, frivolous, and primitive.
Just think of your favorite brand’s logo and you will most likely visualize some color. Imagine a weekly market at a Peruvian mountain town, an Indian wedding party, a Norwegian fishing town, Marimekko fabrics, a Cirque du Soleil show or Avatar, and you cannot avoid feeling uplifted and happy because of the colors.
In fact, we are seeing a clear increase in the use of color in the broad design world.
We see more color in commercial and residential architecture, interior design, art and installations, events, retail and hospitality. We also see more color in products — from aircraft to fashion to everyday items — and in marketing and communications as well.
The recent super-enthusiastic online reaction to the redesign of the logo of the City of Melbourne in Australia is a good example of this. People are interested and they do see the difference. When did people last get that excited about a city logo? Disneyland’s soon-to-open World of Color and the Dubai Fountain are also great examples of what technology and color are bringing to entertainment experiences.
We are hard-wired to notice and react to color, and marketers (and Pantone and the Color Marketing Group) and psychologists have long known this. Children generally love bright colors. Fast-food restaurants use bright colors because they want us to notice, grab and go. Red is stop, green is go. Colors affect and express our everyday lives, even when we don’t notice it.
Throughout history, color has expressed and represented status, religion, origin, feelings and many other things, and its use has been dependent on resources. To be able to afford clothing or other possessions in certain colors meant you were wealthier than most, as some ingredients to produce specific colors were not available everywhere.
As we have seen so vividly in the widely circulated “color wheel” by David McCandless and Always with Honor, different colors mean different things in various cultures. And apparently, people from warm climates respond favorably to warm colors while northerners like cooler colors.
Perhaps it was the recessionary economy that enticed designers to use more color, and attracted the rest of us to it. Whatever the underlying reasons, we see more color and we love it. - Tuija Seipell
Brands wanting to see ideas and concepts about how to use colour effectively, contact our marketing agency, ACCESS AGENCY.
Financial institutions once occupied the most prestigious and opulent buildings and locations in every city and town. They oozed intimidation, grandeur and wealth. Then banks became nameless and faceless boxes, one or more in every block, just like franchised fast-food chains. And then it seemed we’d soon have no physical banks at all, only banking machines and online banking.
But now we are starting to see banks that seem to want to talk to us again. It seems that they want to make us feel welcome, actually wanting to appeal to customers again.
The new financial spaces are designer banks that look more like five-star hotel lounges, bars or nightclubs than the boring boxes banks have become.
Our recent examples of cool banking environments — from retail spaces to offices — have come from Paris, Milan, Moscow, Melbourne, Sydney and Amsterdam.
The latest of these designer banks is the Raiffeisen Bank’s flagship in Zurich designed by design co-operative NAU with associate team of DGJ (Zurich.)
The goal of this white space-agey environment is to break down the physical and emotional barriers between customers and staff. Stern tellers and three-piece-suited bankers behind high counters and glass walls, and accessible only through little windows like jailbirds — these are things of the past.
In this new world of banking, customers are invited to learn more about the bank’s services and products though interactive touch screen tables, while surrounded by digitally produced massive portraits of prominent past residents of the area.
We assume the staff members are equally stylish in attire and grooming as it is tough to imagine bespectacled tellers or portly pin-striped bankers in this environment. - Tuija Seipell
Perhaps we have died and gone to heaven, or just seeing visions, but this not the kind of bank that we do business with. Unfortunately.
This far-reaching concept bank is located in the historical building of 2, Place de l’Opéra. The space is chock-full of completely wacky un-bank features, yet it also has a nice retro touch — the honeycombed ceiling, lovely mirrors — that gives it the elegance and respectability that the building’s history warrants and the bank’s business must convey.
Other than that, it is an almost 1,000 square-meter funhouse of colors, shapes, textures and forms with the goal to entice the customer to discover, interact, experiment and (gasp!) enjoy.
In ten specific zones, all regular banking functions from daily banking to stock-market info, private meetings, staff training can take place with the emphasis on breaking the age-old banking set-up where the client and the adviser (the teller, the banker) are on opposite sides.
All of this plus a temporary exhibition area dedicated to kids, a coffee bar, a 25 square-meter green, living wall set the tone for the unusual banking experience. Of course, such aspects as ergonomics, sustainability, proper lighting and the latest technology, are givens.
In addition to custom furniture and furnishings, Zoevox used furniture by Christophe Delcourt, Philippe Hurel, Paola Lenti, Christian Liaigre, India Mahdavi, Antonio Lupi (lavabo), Pierre Paulin and Philippe Starck, and lighting by Sylvie Coquet, Adrien Gardère, Poul Henningsen, Marco Merendi, Karim Rashid and Patricia Urquiola. Now, can we all expect our neighbourhood banks to change? Tuija Seipell
By the late 1980s, the Praediniussingel building that had accommodated the Groninger Museum for 100 years, had become too small for the museum’s modern and contemporary art, fashion and design, and historic arts collections and exhibits. By 1994, new premises on the Verbindings Canal in Groningen, in the northern Netherlands, were designed by the Italian Alessandro Mendini and guest architects Philippe Starck from Paris, Italian Michele de Lucchi and the Coop Himmelb(l)au group based in Vienna and Los Angeles.
Since 1994, nearly 4 million people have visited, leaving behind wear and tear. The premises have now been renovated and new spaces by Antwerp-based Studio Job, Spanish designer Jaime Hayon and Maarten Baas have been added. The Info Center by Hayon is one of the coolest areas in the new building. Computer stations embedded in a many-armed desk provide information about the museum’s exhibits. Tuija Seipell
You can relax now and forget all of your bad memories (should you have any…) of drab and dreary home economics classes because the newest cooking schools are cool.
It is true that The Culinary Art School in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico is not of the high-school variety – it is for serious chefs with high aspirations – but it oozes a new, cool confidence that could potentially turn even the most nonchalant teenager into a passionate chef.
The elegant use of wood is the key attribute in The Culinary Art School. Its new building was designed by San Diego, California-based Jorge Gracia Arquitecto whose founder, Jorge Gracia, was born in Tijuana in 1973.
The entire school complex carries an air of strict order, almost an ascetic solemnity. If you didn’t notice the stoves or wine racks, you could mistake this for a place of religious study.
And, passionate chefs certainly express a fervour for food, ingredients and cooking that could be likened to religious zeal. It is easy to imagine how the colours, textures and aromas of various ingredients stand out in this kind of environment. It is like a stage for culinary creation or like a frame for gastronomic artwork.
Also in the category of cool cooking schools is the Sydney Seafood School established in 1989 and completely refurbished for its 20th anniversary. It conducts cooking classes for all skill levels and draws more than 12,000 students annually.
Words such as handsome and sexy come to mind when you look at this space, the creative work of Dreamtime Australia Design, based in Sydney, Australia.
Some time ago, we have featured Dreamtime-designed Churchill Butcher Shop in Sydney.
In Sydney Seafood School, a tactile intrigue, and a contrast between serious study and serious fun, are evident in every space. The school’s entry wall is a honeycombed sandstone creation by sculptor Michael Purdy.
The dark and impressive hands-on kitchen looks formidable with lots of shiny stainless steel and glass, but its gravity is lightened by chalkboard walls with “fish graffiti” as art. The cool auditorium’s walls are lined with Icelandic fish leather. In the dining room, the harbour view competes for attention with a row of fun fishnet chandeliers and their more than 6,000 little globes. Where do we sign up? Tuija Seipell
Supermachine Studio in Bangkok, Thailand, is a group of four multitasking architects that team member Pitupong “ Jack” Chaowakul describes as “small office – big projects.” “We work like guerrilla designers, everyone does everything, constantly shifting,” he told TCH.
Supermachine’s latest achievement is the interior design of two floors of one of Bangkok University’s new four-storey buildings that form the new, spectacular Landmark complex, designed by Bangkok-based 49 Group.
Supermachine’s work in the Bangkok University Creative Center (BUCC) - about 600 square meters in total – includes a workshop, library, exhibition space, viewing room and office.
According to Chaowakul, BUCC was set up as part of the government’s goal to transform the country’s economy from agricultural and industrial into the creative economy. To encourage creativity, communication and experimentation, the BUCC facility needed to be open, playful, expressive and flexible.
One of Supermachine’s solutions was the “Lo-Fi pixel wall” at the entrance. They covered a 180 square-meter wall surface with 10,000 custom-made rotating four-sided plastic pieces. Each piece has a pink, blue, green and yellow side. Students can rotate each unite and create color patterns, write messages or just experiment with the tactile wall.
In the student workshop, Supermachine enclosed the internet center in a space-ship like green pod that students can move around in the open space.
Construction at BUCC is coming to a close and the facility will open shortly for students. Supermachine is currently working on the interiors for the university's student lounge facility. - Tuija Seipell
Great, aesthetically pleasing design needn't be limited to traditional architectural forms such as houses and public buildings.
Utilitarian spaces, such as car parks, present architects and designers with a unique opportunity to bring beauty and harmony to the everyday functional spaces that are normally ignored by great design minds.
We're excited to report that the tide is changing, evidenced by these good-looking car parks.
Modern design is all about "experience" and these car parks pictured acknowledge that one's experience of a private or public place begins the minute they pull up in their car. Innovative developers and designers are recognising just how crucial this is - it's almost too late by the time the consumer arrives at the front door. The "experience" of good design starts well before that.
Our agency ACCESS is currently working with a few developers/city councils globally in creating the ultimate public car park and we're on the hunt for architects/designers who already have created in this space. In the know? Get in touch. Seen any other interesting car parks we should know about - send us tips - Bill Tikos
Loft Hamburg, located in a restored building in Winterhude district of Hamburg, is a private 118 square-meter residence designed by Graft. The focal point of the high-ceilinged and otherwise white space is a large pod paneled with walnut. The pod contains the residence’s kitchen and bathroom, hides its central heating, cooling and plumbing, and even provides some cupboards and bookshelves. The owner was looking to use a wide variety of materials, and the walnut pod contrasts beautifully with the soft fabrics, leather and natural stone used elsewhere in the loft.
Graft is an architecture, urban planning and design company established in 1998 in Los Angeles by German architects (,) Lars Krückeberg, Wolfram Putz, Thomas Willemeit and Gregor Hoheisel, all now in their early forties.
Their Berlin office opened in 2001, and Beijing office in 2004. Alejandra Lillo joined Graft as the fifth partner in Los Angeles in 2007. - Tuija Seipell.
Nothing turns heads faster than a cool retro print on an über hot car, and our Space Invader and Pac Man inspired Mini Coopers had half of New York & L.A in a neckbrace from all the attention. Average Joes on the street became home-schooled paparazzi as they snapped away at the Mini on their mobile phones and forwarded them on to friends.
If you think your design has what it takes to get wrapped around a Mini then send it in to us this month and you could see your work blazoned across our exciting new global launch.
See also our Space Invaders pop up skate ramp
In a world where people appreciate good design everywhere, cool mini hotel rooms are the latest ‘it’ trend. In Tokyo, the Capsule Inn exemplifies the bare-essentials hotel rooms for brief use, and similar concepts are popping up at airports, train stations and downtowns around the world, replacing and mimicking the “day rooms” already existing at many airports.
Unlike Tokyo’s bed-only cabins where customers climb into a human equivalent of a honeycomb for a night’s rest, Yotel pods at Gatwick and Heathrow airports in London and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam come in larger and more comfortable formats. These self-contained mini hotel rooms are equipped with a bed, table, HD TV and Wi-Fi.
The fourth Yotel is set to arrive in New York in 2011 with a location opening on 42nd and 10th street boasting 669 luxury rooms and the largest outside terrace in any hotel in New York
Also in Amsterdam, Citizen M has a hotel with 230 mini rooms at Schiphol Airport and a 215-room hotel in Amsterdam City. Citizen M plans to open similar hotels across Europe.
Qbic Hotels has opened two “cheap chic” hotels with mini rooms in the Netherlands: Qbic World Trade Centre Amsterdam and Qbic Maastricht, plus one in Antwerp, Belgium.
Taking the next step in rest and space efficiency, Russia’s Arch Group designed the SleepBox.
Along with an airport version of the rest pod, equipped with the usual, high-tech necessities offered by other companies, Arch Group has also designed an easy-to-relocate version fit for hostels. A small, mobile compartment, 2m (l) x 1.4m (w) x 2.3m (h), SleepBox is made of wood and MDF. SleepBox is meant to “allow very efficient use of available space and, if necessary, a quick change of layout”, making it perfect for hostels where demand and space available often come in conflict with each other. The hostel-specific SleepBox features bunk beds, flip-out tables and sockets for computers or phone chargers and not much else. Yuri Pushkin, Tuija Seipell.