Design

Design

March 11 2009




Scandinave Les Bains Vieux-Montréal is the newest addition to the Scandinave spa line-up.

Located in Old Montreal and close to the Old Port, the 12,000-square-foot spa is the first urban undertaking of the Scandinave team, spearheaded by Benoît Berthiaume, co-founder and executive VP of the Gestion Rivière du Diable group.


 
Occupying the ground floor of a restored former warehouse, Scandinave Les Bains Vieux-Montréal’s setting is less intimate than the rural settings of the first two Scandinave spas. The first corporate spa opened in 1999 in the log-and-stone cabin country of Mont Tremblant’s ski hills in Quebec, and the first franchise opened in 2006 in the Blue Mountain ski hills of Collingwood, Ontario.
 
The Old Montreal spa was designed by Montreal’s award-winning architectural powerhouse, Saucier + Perrotte, led by Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte.


 
The interior is somewhat sterile and cold with its open spaces and expansive surfaces of glass, marble, slate and limestone. In recreating the hot-and-cold “thermo therapy” of the “Scandinavian bath” experience, this spa is definitely closer to Reykjavik’s somewhat clinical Blue Lagoon than to the wood-paneled saunas of Finland.


 
Scandinave’s next corporately owned spa is scheduled to open late this year in the ski hills of Whistler, British Columbia, to be ready for the 2010 Winter Olympics. - Tuija Seipell
 

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Design

February 12 2009



Peter Masters of Burned Toast Design is known for his elegant bent-wood and curved-acrylic tables and chairs, but the Manchester, UK-based furniture designer can be big, bold and public, if required. A recent re-vamp of the funky Reuben Wood Hair Salon in Manchester’s city centre shows that Masters has the talent to create an entire environment that is eclectic, electric and elegant.


 
Using simple curved mirrors, he created the storage units necessary to hide the day-to-day paraphernalia of a busy hair salon. The creation of the large mirrored surfaces dictated that everything else needed to be streamlined and toned-down so that the space would not appear too busy or scattered when clients and staff would populate it.


 
The long blue table in the middle of the salon is an industrialized version of Masters’ Horse design. The mirrors in this station are removable which makes it easy to change the look of the space without destroying the overall feel. Dashes of pink, green and blue play off the larger surfaces of black and white, and create focal points in the mirrored environment.


 
When making and designing furniture, Masters plays with a large variety of materials, methods and technologies. Laminating plywood, casting resins and metals, fabricating plastics and upholstery are all familiar to Masters, as are using a machine created for violin manufacture or hand-crafting custom pieces from sustainable materials. - Tuija Seipell



Related articles - Pimps & Pinups - London & Fur Hairdressing - Melbourne

Design

January 13 2009



Many of the brutalist forms of architecture constructed under the watchful eyes of the Soviet regime in the latter half of the twentieth century sit unused or abandoned throughout various eastern European cities.  The ‘Danube Flower,’ a Belgrade landmark sited along the river’s foreshore was no exception.  Originally opened as a restaurant in the 1970s, the triangular structure built 15 metres above the river sat empty for fifteen years after the fall of Communism and during the civil war in what was then Yugoslavia and now is Serbia. 

 

The Belgrade design studio, 4of7 partnered with London-based Superfusionlab to adaptively reuse the space as a high-end gym and spa in city’s centre.  From the ground-level pedestrian esplanade, visitors enter the Wellness Sky through the central core, the sole support for the entire structure, which contains two lift shafts and a double spiral staircase.



Once inside the facilities, its namesake genuinely takes meaning.  Fitness gurus and gym junkies are immediately awash with sweeping city and river views from the uninterrupted ribbon window, which wraps entirely around the building.  During the day, light glows through the widows onto the reflective resin floor.  The faceted ceiling comprised of backlit semi translucent triangular panels allows visitors to feel as if they are exercising within a cloud.  The openness and loftiness of the design of the Wellness Sky allows members to feel nearly weightless in the very environment where burning away the excess is the ultimate achievement. - Andrew J Wiener.

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Design

January 6 2009




Bold use of colour has never frightened the 40-year-old, Lisbon-based architect Pedro Gadanho. The colour extravagance of the recently completed single-family residence in Oporto, Portugal, follows Gadanho’s established modus operandi of using white and bright colours as key elements of a space. The petrol-blue kitchen and sanguine stairway draw the attention while at the same time punching up the power of snowy white.



Colour played an important part also in the widely reviewed and admired Orange house he designed with Nuno Grande. The private residence was completed in 2005 in Carreço, Portugal.
 
Another example of Gadanho’s use of color is the high-profile Ellipse Foundation Art Centre in Estoril/Alcoitão, Portugal. He designed the 20,000 square-foot converted warehouse with Atelier de Santos. It was completed in 2006.



Gadanho’s thought-provoking architecture matches his overall attempt to provoke critical thinking about the relationship between architecture and current culture. He is known not only as an architect but also as a free-lance critic, curator and teacher. He’s taught architecture theory and history at Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do Porto and curated the Portuguese presence at the 2004 Venice Biennale. And for those of us who like lovely names, his full name is Pedro César Clara do Carmo Gadanho. Tuija Seipell



Images/Fernando Guera


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Design

December 4 2008



123dv Architectuur & Consult is yet another award-winning – and strangely numbered – multi-disciplinary Dutch design firm. The Rotterdam-based 123dv practices architecture and interior design in a wide range of areas from residential to commercial buildings, from small-scale to huge projects.
 
A commercial project, the new wing of the Media Plaza in Utrecht, was launched with a high-tech party in October.
 
The Media Plaza is one of many conference and exhibition venues under the wings of the venerable Dutch Fair organization
JaarBeurs.


 
The Media Plaza’s new expansion involves eight meeting rooms and a main congress hall that accommodates 700 people. The space 123dv created is an incredibly flexible blank-canvas for seminars, conferences and corporate events.
 
The design emphasis is on various light sources and different projection methods. The new wing is accessible via two tunnels in which 123dv designed all surfaces to be canvases for projection, with floors and walls reacting to the movement of people.


 
Light and projection are the main features also in the foyer and in the meeting rooms. To create different moods or to emphasize event-appropriate colors, the LED-light walls in the foyer and the fabric ceilings in the session rooms can change color.
 
123dv outfitted the main hall with a 100% transparent ETFE (ethylenetetrafluoroethylene) roof to mimic the feel of an ancient amphitheatre – a meeting under the open sky. The completely white congress hall seems an ideal backdrop for events where the organizer can really allow its colors or products to pop. We can already picture the possibilities for a fashion runway show. - Tuija Seipell



 
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Design

September 29 2008



Great surroundings will not camouflage poor programming in movie theatres. No matter how swanky the theatre, if it shows poor movies, we just won’t go. Which isn’t to say that we have given up on movie-theatre design. We still wish that one day, somewhere, someone is going to design a decidedly different, interesting and exciting movie theatre.


 
Glimpses of brilliance are visible in the new Light House Cinema at Smithfield in Dublin, Ireland designed by Dublin’s award-winning DTA Architects Of course, you really need to design – and judge – a movie theatre so that it looks and functions best when people are using it. So, having not paid personal visits to the new Light House, we cannot say for sure, but the images we have received of the empty space indicate that the play of light, colour and height works exceptionally well here.
 


Light House cinema has been a bit of an institution in Dublin. It started showing Irish, independent, foreign-language, art house and classic cinema 20 years ago, closed in 1966, and re-opened this summer in its new, customized space. The four-screen, intimate art-house cinema includes a wonderful, inviting and open cafe that looks like something you’d see at an art museum, not a movie theatre. The leader of the Light House project at DTA was Derek Tynan and the project architect was Colin Mackay.


 
The new cinema benefited from the financial assistance of The Arts Council, the Irish Film Board, and the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. For Dublin’s city planners, this was to be a cultural magnet and a focal point for the largest mixed-use development ever in Dublin’s inner city, the massive rejuvenation plan for the historical Smithfield Market area.


 
And if you’d like to make our wishes come true, please let us know of any supreme movie-theatre design concepts you’ve seen, designed or commissioned. We are all eyes and ears. - Tuija Seipell

See also Home Theatre and AMC Pacific Place Cinema in Hong Kong.

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Design

September 24 2008



In most cities, strategic downtown street corners are flanked by enormous, old banks, the ornate cathedrals of capital designed to impress and intimidate. With the massive changes in real estate values and consumer banking habits, such monuments to Mammon are no longer smart or necessary. But what amazing opportunities such massive commissions must have been for the architects of the day! And what depressing alternatives we’ve experienced since! Luckily, online banking has made a bank visit almost obsolete, but when you must visit, most of the time you’ll find a boring, convenience-store-type standardized box – retail banking in the worst meaning of both words.


 
But we are starting to see a change. Several new bank design concepts are in the works, and some have been launched recently, including CheBanca! in Milan by Crea International. The concept for CheBanca! (translation: What a bank!) reflects the brand’s simplicity, transparency and innovation. When Crea International co-founder Massimo Fabbro will speak at POPAI Italia in November on the power of physical brand design to bring to life a brand's language, spirit and values, he will no doubt mention CheBanca!


 
And now that we have seen a few examples of fabulous bank design, we want more! If you’ve seen, designed or commissioned one, let us know. — Tuija Seipell



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Design

August 4 2008




Let's face it, most conventional medical interiors aren't exactly attractive. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to discover that most people are allergic to the blandness and sterility of clinic interiors. Well the new Allied Health clinic in Melbourne, proves that it IS possible for health and design (and a bit of fun) to go hand in hand.

Accommodating the rather unusual combination of podiatry, physiotherapy, pathology, dietetics and psychology, the clinic feels like '2001 Space Odyssey meets late nineteenth century Victorian'. Designed by the Melbourne-based studio Chameleon Architecture, the interior juxtaposes elements of heritage, science and future. Ornate period details like crystal chandeliers, cornices, skirting boards and ceiling roses provide a classical backdrop. Exploring the idea of the medical as molecular, large glossy white molecules or futuristic pods are planted throughout the clinic, serving as consultation suites. Once inside the suite/pod, the mood changes again. The interior of the pod, from the walls, ceiling, floors to joinery, is clad entirely in plywood stained with a clear lacquer which enriches and emphasises the grain of the wood. So instead of looking pale under the normally cold and harsh light of clinical spaces, visitors here are instantly bathed in a warm, healthy glow without any treatment having even begun. - Jeanne Tan

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Design

July 30 2008



The aquatic complex Les Bains des Docks  (animation here), designed by the 2008 Prtizker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvel has just opened in the historical Port of Le Havre. Inspired by the Roman thermal baths, the 5,000-square-metre complex offers an eerily beautiful atmosphere of tranquility with the fantastic play of natural light soothing the eyes, the masterful acoustics pleasing the ears, and the pools and treatment areas taking care of the rest of the body.



Although the main “colour” of the complex is white, each section’s distinct atmosphere and hue is created by flowing water curtains, colour walls, and various textures and surface treatments. Each pool — lap-pool, children’s pool, whirlpools — is designed, shaped and lit to create a unique “private space” for its specific users. These seemingly enclosed areas help minimize echoing and sound carriage — an annoying aspect of most aquatic centres - as do the varying-height floors and ceilings, and the acoustic false ceilings. Saunas, a hammam, cold and hot baths, and a spa area with hydro-massage and aquagym areas complete the atmosphere of pampering and care. An external lagoon makes the summer use of the complex even more appealing.



The Docks in the south end of the ancient port city of Le Havre are the oldest docks in France. The area is under massive revitalization with the goal of making this a leisure, culture and shopping neighborhood. When completed, the area will include residences, a large park, a tropical greenhouse, cinemas, bowling alleys and a shopping center, plus a Nouvel-designed Sea and Sustainable Development Centre to be completed in 2011. The Sea Centre will be a showcase of shipping and sailing — exploring their economic and industrial significance as well as their environmental impact on coasts and estuaries. It will be a 120-meter-high metallic structure dominating the port and it will include exhibit areas, an aquarium, a meteorological station and a restaurant with panoramic, 360-degree views of Port of Le Havre.



Nouvel’s well-known public buildings literally span the world from New York to Reykjavik, Dubai, Soul and Tangiers. Recent interesting buildings include the bright-red research center for the maker of brakes for luxury cars, Brembo, in Italy. NouveI's masterpiece for La Philharmonie de Paris will open in 2012. - Tuija Seipell



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Design

June 3 2008


Movin’ on up, now more than ever encapsulates stunning design, impeccable service, effortless living from the time the sun rises to well after the sun sets. We’ve been noticing a rising trend in the sheer number of luxury residences - we recently told you about an exclusive collection of seaside properties in Abu Dhabi. And now from New York to Buenos Aires, and from Moscow to Beijing, we’ll reveal a few more of the coolest luxury abodes.

Many of us have been accustomed to the stylistic cues offered by W Hotels across the world — but how many of us will actually have a chance to pick up the phone from our own kitchens and receive assistance from the ‘Whatever, Whenever’ hotline? Soon, for those who jumped at the chance to purchase a W-styled apartment in one of their newest locations south of the World Trade Centre in New York City, the possibilities will be limitless.



W Residents may share the building with distinguished hotel guests in the lower portion of Manhattan, but luxury amenities such as a rooftop terrace, a fitness centre and spa in the sky, a media screening room and digital lounge, as well as a separate entrance, will be solely for those permanently living in the upper floors of the luxury tower. 



While the W Hotel New York Downtown will take up the first twenty-two floors, the upper levels have been split into furnished residences (Floors 23-30) and customised residences (Floors 33-56). Interior design exceeds expectations, even by W standards, with sleek and functional kitchen built-ins to a translucent wall from the bedroom to a ‘peek-a-boo loo.’



A bit further in the heart of Tribeca, Five Franklin Place is destined be the epitome of luxury residences. The 20-storey building will contain 55 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units that will be set up as duplex lofts on the lower floors; single-level city residents above; plus three triplex penthouses each with a rooftop terrace and serviced by private internal lifts. 

The building itself, designed by Dutch architect Ben van Berkell of UNStudio, will be wrapped in a series of horizontal black metallic bands — each of which ungulates as it curves around and hugs the frame of the structure. The façade is apparently a direct tribute to the original 19th-century built form of cast iron that shaped lower Manhattan — and the metallic surface will reflect light while highlighting the magnificence of the neighbouring buildings. 



The building’s façade is not merely about aesthetics, as the bands will also create shading from the daylight, deflect heat, and guarantee every residence will have the highest degree of privacy, and simultaneously frame unparalleled views out across Manhattan. 

The Loft Residences on the levels have a double-height living area that maximises the light entering the space. The height of the great room continues on through a gallery where a white lacquered library wall ascends up into the second level. 



The upper-tier City Residences feature integrated terraces off the main living areas, and all units are custom-fitted with B&B Italia kitchens and built-ins throughout. The master bathrooms feature a circular sliding wall that allows the bathroom to become part of the bedroom and share its spectacular city views. 

And for those at the top, the five ultra-luxurious Sky Penthouses are unmatched in practically every aspect. Again, B&B Italia has masterfully crafted the space, including the kitchen.  Sweeping views from every room, even the master bathroom, automatically heighten the occupants’ awareness of their place in the cityscape and the surrounding environment. 



The skylines of our cities are rapidly changing — ingeniously designed buildings are competing for our attention. But architectural beauty alone is not going to provide the type of service we’re growing accustomed to expecting after spending millions on luxury lifestyle. We feel that the rise of luxury residences has only just begun — and we want to know all about it. If you are aware of luxury residences we should investigate, please let us know. By Andrew J Wiener.


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