Architecture

April 17 2016

Slender supporting pilotis and horizontal slivers of concrete characterize the cube-like residential project, White House by Marcio Kogan’s StudiMK27.

The 500 square-meter (5380 sq.ft) building is an elegant example of tropical minimalism. It is constructed of durable industrial materials – concrete and white aluminum – to withstand the harsh tropical elements by the sea, yet it is deceivingly airy and weightless.



These external hallmarks link the Brazilian architect’s work with that of Lina Bo Bardi whose famous Casa de Vidro (Glass House) was completed in 1951, a year before Kogan was born.

Kogan admires Oscar Niemeyer but he has called Bo Bardi “the very best of Brazilian modernists” and he has consistently employed the very best of Bo Bardi’s favourite architectural elements.



White House is a private residence in São Paulo in the São Sebastião region known for its 36 beaches on the southeast coast of Brazil.

The house itself is basically a flat box on stilts, with the ground floor dedicated to all social activity including cooking and dining. The first floor houses all of the bedrooms and on top of that is the terrace garden accessible via a round hatch door.



The surrounding nature is present everywhere thanks to the liberal use of glass. Several other features inside contribute to the sensation of weightlessness.



The industrial materials are softened by the use of native wood. We love the perforated partitions that evoke the muxarabi, Moorish-inspired latticework screens and one of the hallmarks of Brazilian modernism.

In this residence, the partitions allow the light to filter through while creating lovely reflection patterns on the floors and walls.



We also love the floating cantilevered staircases that support the idea of lightness with their understated presence.



Studio MK27 created the White House with co-architect Eduardo Chalabi. The interior design is by Studio MK27 architect Diana Radomysler.



Marcio Kogan founded his Studio StudiMK27.in the early 1980s. He has since made a significant mark in the world of architecture, not just as a modernist in Brazil but globally as well. - Tuija Seipell.



Photographer: Fernando Guerra.

 

 

 





Bars

April 14 2016

Off-hand, one might not think of an ancient Bulgarian town at the foot of the Pirin Mountains as the location of a night club whose design was inspired by the Disney science fiction movie TRON:Legacy.


 
Yet the Flash Club in Bansko fits right in with the smart set of this European ski resort that is also known for its jazz and pop music scene.


 
Sofia, Bulgaria-based Studio Mode with chief designer and founder Svetoslav Todorov at the helm created an eerie pulsating and swirling atmosphere through the use of reflecting surfaces and massive circular forms.


 
State-of-the art sound and lighting schemes complete the illusion of an otherworldly experience .
 
VIP podiums link up with the bar through beams of light while the reflections off the surfaces amplify the space and produce an impression of infinity.

 

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Music

April 10 2016
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Architecture

April 1 2016

The ‘Swiss chalet’ style brings to mind wooden buildings with high gabled roofs, decorative carvings, rows of balconies and exposed wood beams.

But it is also a style that has been more or less ruined by its hundreds of boring, cookie-cut re-iterations in ski resorts around the world.

Even in the Alps, the chalet has become shorthand for pretty much anything that resembles a chalet and can house lots of tourists.

The traditional chalet, however, was a ‘chahtelèt’ (a shepherd’s hut), a solid wooden house with a gabled roof and shuttered windows, built on a stone foundation.

With this in mind, when Amsterdam-based SeARCH (Stedenbouw en ARCHitectuur =Urban Planning & Architecture) was approached by a client who had bought a property in the Swiss ski resort of Anzère, the architects proposed to start from scratch.

The steep hillside building plot was not large, so the architect proposed an entirely new chalet that is both compact and spacious.

Inspired by one of the oldest chalets in Switzerland, the Grand Chalet Balthus in Rossinière, they fitted the entire villa under one solid, clear wrapper.

The wide white edges of the frame give a distinctive and modern look to the three-level building with the guest house downstairs, the main living areas in the middle and a private apartment on the top level.

The garage, accessible from the lower road, is connected to all levels through an elevator that was carved into the mountain.

All floors open to a three-meter wide terrace with views over the Dent Blanche Massif with 4,000-metre peaks of Matterhorn, Dent Blanche, Dufourspitze and Weisshorn. - Tuija Seipell.

 

 

Bars

March 6 2016

The designers of the Mascara nightclub in Sofia, Bulgaria, took their cues from the whimsical story of Alice in Wonderland and from the storied building of the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria.

Founded in 2003 by interior designer Svetoslav Todorov, Sofia-based Studio Mode has designed several night clubs, but Club Mascara is special as it is located on the underground level of the National Opera and Ballet, a building dating back to 1953.



All the drama, props and illusions of theatre and opera combined with the confusing yet amusing madness of Alice in Wonderland gave the designers a rich palette of ideas.

They chose a black-and-white colour scheme to serve as the backdrop for the juxtaposition of round and angular forms, transparent and solid walls, illusionary props and real.



Everything appears to be slightly confusing – vertical and horizontal, up and down, soft and hard, solid and pliable. The bar divides the scene into two parts – the main theater where everything is happening, and the VIP area that is hidden and secretive.

The lighting provides the moving colour at night when the club is full and adds to the baffling feel of things getting curiouser and curiouser by the hour. - Tuija Seipell.

 

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Travel

February 26 2016



For the past few years, Airbnb has been the go­to place for adventurous travelers seeking bold and unique luxury accommodations.  Over the next few weeks, Airbnb will be showcasing hosts and listings whose spaces have unique, creative, and luxurious features.

 

Treehouses have become creative eco-statements in the design world. They allow people to literally be "in" nature and above the stressful street level of life.

Natural hot and cool springs provide respite and relaxation to guests of The Tree House.  One of 620 Tree House listings on Airbnb.

Airbnb also boasts over 270 private islands available to those in search of their own island oasis.

Surrounded by a coral reef, Bird Island in Belize offers the ultimate in privacy.  Guests can snorkel, kayak, or relax with a cocktail in the hammock.

 

 

 

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Food

February 23 2016

Is there anything more basic, homey and familiar than a loaf of great bread? Yet it has become a luxury. More and more of us are sick of (literally and figuratively) the white, never-to-stale sliced bread in its never-to-biodegrade plastic bag.

We crave for fresh artisanal breads, natural ingredients, heritage grains, organic everything. Those who value great-tasting, healthy bread will pay for quality.

And with that quality and premium price comes the notion of design. Why should we buy that wonderful, healthy loaf at a horrible-looking bakery?

Hominess and hearty fare are great, but does the environment have to look so “homey,” too? Not any more. We are seeing more and more cool bakeries around the world.

Our fans and followers helped us track down a few examples that meet the requirements at least visually. If the loaves and other baked goods created at these establishments remain consistently as great as their environments, you can count us in as fans.

Praktik Hotels has again engaged their go-to designer, Lazaro Rosa Violán, to create their latest hotel, Praktik Bakery in Barclelona. It is a cool 74-room designer hotel where the bakery is not just a branding gimmick but the real soul of the hotel.



Forn Baluard at the Praktik Bakery is run by Anna Bellsolà, second-generation artisanal baker known for the family bakery located at the working-class seaside district of Barceloneta.



The bakery lets the hotel guests feel at home as the scent of fresh bread greets them in the lobby. It is also a visual feast as the baking takes place in full view. The bakery interior is rather grandiose, not a tiny hearth stuck in a corner, and it has that air of a busy urban bakery where people come and go throughout the day. The bakery/lobby/café is a living and lively place void of that mausoleum-like chilly emptiness still so prevalent in hotels.



As always, we love the clean lines, the textured surfaces and the minimalist color-scheme. And of course we love bread and bakeries. Doesn’t everyone?

Blé, Thessaloniki, Greece

Blé Bakery on Agias Sofias in Thessaloniki, Greece, most certainly fits the bill. It was designed by the minimalist architects at Claudio Silvestrin Giuliana Salmaso (London & Milan). It has the world’s largest wood oven – gigantic, at 12 meters (almost 40 feet) tall!


 
And the bakery is built from cob made of white clay from Crete and Milos, plus sand and straw. Blé’s four floors house a patisserie, bakery, delicatessen and a wine and mozzarella bar.

Electra, Edessa, Greece



Another cool bakery in northern Greece is located about two hours’ drive form Thessaloniki in a town called Edessa. This central Elektra Bakery location is a prototype redesign of the family-run bakery chain’s stores.

The open, minimalist design by Edessa-based Studioprototype Architects helps to disguise the tiny space of 35 square meters (376 square feet) at a busy intersection.



The large outdoor seating area adds to the appeal, and glass walls link the indoors and outdoors to each other. Furniture by Xavier Pauchard and lighting by Tom Dixon.

VyTA Boulangerie Italiana, Turin, Italy

In Italy, the drama never ends. Not even in a bakery. VyTA Boulangerie, designed by Rome-based architect Daniela Colli, is located at the epicentre of busy urban life, the Porta Nuova train station in Turin.

With its contrasting light oak and black polymer surfaces the shop resembles a high-end fashion boutique or bar much more than it does a bakery steeped in tradition or natural ingredients.



Yet, it is an engaging environment with its large L-shaped counter, the stylized natural-oak “hood” over the pastry displays, and the hexagonal beehive detailing. VyTA Boulangerie has stores in Rome, Milan, Turin and Naples.

Princi, Milan, Italy

Of course, the dramatic dawn of the designer bakery took place in Milan. Princi, also designed by Claudio Silvestrin, offers organic breads and other goodies made according to traditional recipes. And it is open 24 hours a day and even on Sundays.

Owner Rocco Princi opened his first bakery in 1986. He now has four stores in Milan and one in Soho, in London.

Joseph – Brot vom Pheinsten, Vienna, Austria

In Vienna, Austria, the latest cool destination for lovers of organic bread is Joseph - Brot vom Pheinsten (Translation: Joseph – Finest Bread), located in the 1st district at Nagelgrasse 9.


 
This is the first retail store for owner Josef Weghaupt and master baker Friedrich “Fritz” Potocnik whose Joseph delicacies are also available at the city’s finest cafés restaurants, delis and shops. Corporate and graphic design by Martin Dvorak.

Baker D. Chirico, Melbourne, Australia


 
In Melbourne, Australia, cravings for chic design and amazing bread will be satisfied at two shops owned by Daniel Chirico. In celebration of the artisan baker, his second Baker D. Chirico store in Carlton, unlike the first one in St Kilda neighbourhood, has no coffee machine, deli or other distractions.


 
It is all about bread. And of course, about design, wonderful curving wood slats infusing light and warmth into the tiny space. Created by March Studio, also responsible for a number of Aesop store interiors.

Bécasse Bakery, Sydney, Australia
 
The chic, French-inspired Bécasse Bakery is located in the new Westfield Shopping Centre in Sydney, Australia.

It is part of a group of establishments, all located on the fifth floor of the centre and all owned by Justin and Georgia North: Quarter Twenty One restaurant, store and cooking school, plus Bécasse Restaurant and Bécasse Bakery.
 
The bakery was designed by Sydney-based Mima Design with principals Mark McConnell and Micheline Li Yoo Foo.

Panscape Bakery, Kyoto, Japan

In Kyoto, Japan, Panscape bakery represents the new look of bakeries. The tiny space, just over 26 square metres (280 square feet), looks sleek and clean in the understated, minimalist way the Japanese master so well.



Yet, with its select, massive components of cement and aluminum plus a half-tonne log, the space also exudes solidity and strength.

The concept, architecture and interior are by Osaka-based Hiroki Kawata Architects: ninkipen!

Komsufirin, Istanbul, Turkey

In its fewer than five years of existence, Komsufirin has grown to some 60 stores in Turkey and it sells predominantly pre-baked products, so it is by no means an artisan boutique enterprise, but we like the clear, minimalist interior, redesigned by Istanbul-based Autobahn.



The store name translates as “the oven in the neighbourhood” and Autobahn principals Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Ca─člar used natural oak and white tiles to create a modern and visually spacey environment as a backdrop for the ancient process of baking.

Komsufirin is operated by the Doruk group and it is growing at a breathtaking pace, aiming for 350 stores by  2013 and 1,000 stores by 2020.

Helsinki Bakery, Osaka, Japan

One would expect to find Helsinki Bakery in Finland, but no, this one is located in Osaka, in the three-year-old Hankyu Nishinomiya Gardens shopping mall.

And not just the name, but also the white and natural-wood design have direct connections to Finland.

The store’s Japan-born designer Arihiro Miyake is based in Helsinki-Finland, and has studied in both Japan and Finland.

Simple, healthy and natural are the key words of the bakery and the Scandinavian design supports those notions perfectly.

Lagkagehuset Bakery, Copenhagen, Denmark
 
Lagkagehuset Bakery’s name translates as “pie house” but there is definitely no homey pie atmosphere in this location, designed by SPACE Copenhagen.
 
Lagkagehuset’s principals, Steen Skallebæk and Ole Kristoffersen, have been baking independently of each other since the early 1990s. But in 2008, they combined their successes in and started Lagkagehuset that now has 18 locations in Denmark. - Tuija Seipell

Discovered any new designer bakeries we should know about? Get in touch

The third store of Madrid-based bakery Pany Y Pasteles looks very different from the first two, although all were designed by local architectural studio Ideo Architectura, founded by architect and designer Virginia del Barco.



The first two are clean and modern and sleek with the corporate pink colour prominent in both. But the third store is located on the ground floor of a historical, 150-year-old building in Madrid’s historical hear, Alcalá de Henares. When the demolition revealed old brick walls full of texture and character, del Barco knew she had her key element.



She brought in a strong modern touch and the corporate pink colour by installing an eye-catching ceiling made of 12,000 pink wooden bars of various lengths hanging above the guests.



Ideo Architectura also designed the lighting, tables, stools, shelves and bar counters.



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Art

February 6 2016

Carpe Diem – seize the day – is an image that evokes many kinds of emotions and questions. What is happening in the picture? Is it dangerous or just plain fun? What happened afterwards? We are not going to spoil the intrigue by giving our version, but let’s just say that it is a fantastic case of serendipity and creativity. A fashion shoot, smoke bombs of various colours, a foggy forest and a deserted highway. Click.

Available via our online store

 

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Design

February 4 2016

In 2012 Parisian Mikou Studio submitted the winning proposal for the competition to design a swimming pool complex for the city of Issy-les-Moulineaux, France.

The city is located in the Boulougne-Billaincourt arrondissement on the left bank of the river Seine about seven kilometres south-west from Notre Dame in Paris. It is considered one of the entrances to the city of Paris itself.

The swimming-pool  building, recently completed and called Piscine du Fort, is part of a larger Digital Fort complex. It, in turn, is a European Union Smart City Initiatives pilot area, described in a EU-published book as “a new eco-district that combines sustainable development and new technologies - home automation, fibre optics, air-powered waste collection, straw bale school, geothermal energy, feng shui swimming pool and a digital cultural centre.”



The 14.5 million Euro Piscine du Fort structure includes the swimming pools, a fitness centre, a solarium, squash courts, a sauna, a hammam and a cafeteria.

With Piscine du Fort, the Miko Studio designers, well versed in designing swimming pools and other public spaces, strived for a balance of energy.

They engaged feng shui specialist Laurence Dujardin to guide them in the understanding of the Chinese philosophical system of feng shui that translates literally in English as “Wind-Water.”



Another distinctive feature of the Piscine is the smart use of daylight. It streams throughout the building through skylights and windows that are not square or rectangular, but softly rounded “cut-outs.”
This gives the entire space a somewhat swiss-cheesy appearance but the rounded corners also come across as a cool, retro 1960s ambiance and they also help soften the hardness created by all the tiles, concrete and glass.



The third notable characteristic of the building is the use of wood slats. The rooftop outdoor “beach” is covered with wood slats and accessible through a ramp from the pool area.

Inside, the use of wood slats softens the pool area and other spaces as well. Most prominently, though, wood slats cover the building’s exterior walls in a wave-like undulating pattern creating a soft visual impact. - Tuija Seipell.

 

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Bars

January 22 2016

Hong Kong’s already vibrant and versatile bar scene keeps receiving additions that would be right at home in any large global hub. In the Central business district, chock-full of banks, the design-aware and quality-conscious financial wizards now have yet another bar/club where they can spend all those gazillions.



The whiskey bar foxglove, at the Printing House on Duddell Street, is the second bar opened by the Ming Fat House owner team of Jonathan Bui (a Canadian), Eric Lam (an American) and Shakib Pasha (from Hong Kong.)



To provide an environment worthy of their demanding prospective patrons, they invited local architect Nelson Chow Chi-Wai, principal and founder of NC Design & Architecture, to iterate the story of a wealthy adventurer, Frank Minza who, as the owners coyly say, may or may not be a fictional character. To thicken the plot they add that he was the illegitimate son of a somewhat luckless entrepreneur from Hong Kong’s colonial days.



So there is a touch of high-end shadiness and secrecy in foxglove that really is a lovely hybrid: A masculine combo of an ocean liner, airplane, gentlemen’s club and speakeasy.



The entrance isn’t just a plain old door, in fact there is no bar entrance visible. Instead, you walk into an umbrella shop where exquisite specimens of luxury brollies are displayed in custom-design glass cabinets. Find the right silver  handle, touch it, and a secret door opens to the ‘air plane’ that seats 80. A marble-topped cocktail bar connects to the dining section.



A VIP room seats 32 guests and resembles a first-class dining car of a luxury train and the VVIP room brings you to an intimate gentleman’s library where time seems to have stopped and money is still made of paper.



The owner’s first Hong Kong bar, Mrs. Pound, opened a year ago in Sheung Wan. It tested the secret speakeasy entrance concept by offering a Chinese stamp shop as the entry environment. In that case, the story tells that Mrs.

Pound was a burlesque dancer who fell in love with a Chinese stamp shop owner. In an interview, Jonathan Bui was quoted as saying that the hidden entrance and secrecy work especially well in Hong Kong because “it is so different from the typical in-your-face shopfronts.” - Tuija Seipell.



Photography: Dennis Lo Designs

 

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