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
We have opened The Cool Hunter Store – our antidote to boring shopping experiences - this past weekend in the Prahan neighbourhood of Melbourne.
The Cool Hunter Store
142 Commercial Road
Prahran Vic 3181
Monday to Friday - 10:30am - 5:30pm
Saturday - 10am - 4pm
Sunday - Closed
We have created pop-up shops and galleries before, but this one will be a bit longer-term. How long, you ask. We have no idea. We will work it as long as it is interesting to our guests and to us.
(Our window display features The Horse photograph by Sarah McColgan)
The Cool Hunter Store is part art gallery and part shop, but everything is sourced by The Cool Hunter, and everything is for sale. Art, lights, books, gourmet foods, fashion accessories and so on.
We will keep everything fresh and exclusive, and the selection will change regularly so that visiting the store is interesting each time, and there are always goods here that you can’t find anywhere else.
As shopping has become more and more boring, with mind-numbing sameness across airports, high streets, shopping centres and brands, there seems little point in getting excited about a new store. So we know the bar is high.
But we also know that the sameness is the result of brands, stores and managers choosing to be followers rather than leaders. It is so much easier to produce and sell the same colours, styles, hem lengths, materials and products as everybody else. They all go to the same trade shows, same fashion shows, same predictable sources – so is it any wonder that the result is dull and boring?
Our approach is different, and far more time-consuming, but we are trying to un-bore ourselves here, too. We hope that as a result, we will be able to offer our guests a worthwhile experience in return.
And, as always, we used Natalie Longheon from Just Add Cream, our go-to girl to create our space. Time after time, she has executed everything from start to finish perfectly. We can trust her completely which is why we use her constantly. She always delivers.
We plan to use the 260 square-meter space also for client product activations, events, launches and whatever else interests us.
LED infinity mirror artwork by American artist Peter Gronquist, available exclusively at TCH gallery store.
Flowers by Melbourne's most iconic florist - The Studio by Fleur.
The Cool Box – our version of a cool, customized luxury gift “hamper” - will be launching in a few months. We are currently perfecting the packaging for it.
A large CJ Hendry drawing of a Giorgio Armani shopping bag was sold just a few hours prior to opening to a customer in Vancouver.
LED infinity mirror of policeman by Peter Gronquist.
Photographed by Sam Bisso
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.
Some of us go weak in the knees at the sight of a new bookstore or library. Such was certainly the case when we glanced at Cărtureşti Carusel bookstore, opened on February 12 on Lipscani Street in Bucharest’s historical Old Town, also often called just Lipscani.
The magnificent Chrissoveloni bank building, now owned by Jen Chrissoveloni, the great-grandson of the 19th century banker, created a magnificent starting point for the retail project. According to the Romanian media, the current owner invested 1 million Euro in the renovation and leased the building to the Cărtureşti bookstore chain for 10 years. The Cărtureşti brand added an additional 400 000 Euro in design, fittings and inventory, resulting in one of the largest and most spectacular retail projects in the area.
Our eyes tear up with the sight of a thousand square meters (10 764 sq.ft.) dedicated to 10,000 books, music and a bistro. Add to this the magical staircases, the incredible height of the space, the classy use of white and
wood, and we are delighted. The space lends itself well to events and gatherings as the heavily attended opening event proved.
The brand invited several designers to contribute ideas and eventually selected the “carousel” concept submitted by the Romanian Architecture studio Square One that has designed several others. - Tuija Seipell.
See also The New Stuttgart City Library in Germany
Light and the absence of distractions drew us to this great little project. Absolute is an elegant 42 square-metre (42 asg.t.) florist shop on a nicely treed stretch of a boutique-lined street in Shanghai, China.
Architects Kong Rui and Fan Beilei, who founded Genarchitects in 2012, have created a peaceful, airy space by combining a small rectangular room with an adjoining front courtyard.
The design team, that included Chen Xiaoyi, Xue Zhe and You Wei as well, removed the dividing wall and covered the courtyard with a glass roof whichadds not just more room but more light to the otherwise non-descript space.
By the repeating a delicate arch motif in the white, light-weight furnishings, the designers have achieved an ethereal and somehow gamine feel as if the counters and fixtures were standing Bambi-like, erect and alert
with minimal footprints.
We love the fact that the entire floor is visible – yet another smart way to make the area seem much larger than it is.
With light reflecting from glass surfaces and creating patterns through the glass ceiling, the colorful flowers remain the main attraction as they should. - 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.
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.
Toronto’s funky, ever-evolving King West Village has just gained another interesting entrepreneurial tenant at the brand-new, 12-storey condo and townhouse project, Fashion House, at 556 King Street West.
The newcomer is Her Majesty’s Pleasure, a flexible concept by husband and wife, Jeff Armstrong and Sara Kardan. The sunny space functions as a hair, nail and beauty salon, a coffee and tea bar (during the day), a cocktail bar (at night), a shop, and even an event space, all tied together by a tightly controlled palette of colors (mainly black, white and wood) and materials.
The designer of Her Majesty’s Pleasure, John Tong of +Tongtong has created, among other notable spaces, also the re-incarnation of the interior of Toronto’s famed Queen Street West hotel, The Drake, dating back to 1890. - 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
Belgian twin brothers, Kristof and Stefan Boxy have dipped their culinary hands in several Michelin-star restaurants and catering businesses, and they’ve authored a cook book as well: Just Cooking.
We loved their food store/catering space, Boxy Fine Foods, in Ghent, but unfortunately it closed earlier this year. While we do not know the reason why it closed, we bet it wasn’t because of the interior design.
With the help of Frederich Hooft of Ghent, the Boxy brothers created an elegant, white, open space to display and sell gourmet foods.
The elaborate moldings on the ceilings, the sparkling chandeliers, the gilded mirrors and the wide floor boards speak of tradition, history and heritage, but not in a stuffy way. It feels fresh, new and modern with a few clever twists in the display set-ups.
From one angle at a doorway, a triple take on hanging items welcome the visitors: hams, chandeliers and hanging baskets with their mossy root balls.
The setting reminds us of a museum or an art gallery, which is partly the reason the whole enterprise appears opulent and luxurious and sets one up to expect high prices and superior quality. - Tuija Seipell.
See also Victor Churchill Butcher in Sydney