It helps to have a strong understanding of dramatic interiors when tackling the potentially intimidating task of restoring a massive, 17th century Amsterdam canal residence AND re-imagining it as a functioning modern residence for a busy, fun- and art-loving four-member family.
Interior architects Sigrid van Kleef (38) and René van der Leest (40) of Amsterdam’s Studio R U I M had what it took to strike that seemingly impossible balance: Their background in theatre and opera set and costume design, as well as in restoration and interior design of contemporary homes.
Their priority was to respect and celebrate the heritage and character of the Herengracht canal house built originally in 1666 for a successful Amsterdam merchant, Abraham Muyssart.
Equally important was to not make the residence feel like a museum but instead, allow it to express the current residents’ own lifestyle and interests, of which photography was a significant one.
The resulting 400 square-meter home includes three living rooms, five bedrooms, two kitchens, two bathrooms and a 200 square meter garden.
One of our favourite features is the massive, black ornamental steel frame in the living room ceiling. It speaks the visual language of centuries-old mouldings yet makes a bold contemporary statement and creates a lovely contrast to the daintier visual elements in the space.
We love the use of wood: panelling, staircases, exposed in ceilings and in framing. The kitchen is a particularly cool combination of traditional and modern. The walls are dominated by vast restored paintings depicting views of the river Vecht and framed in their original wood frames.
Countering this are the super-modern counters, bench and especially the custom-designed (by Studio RUIM) industrial-scale copper light fixtures.
All this juxtaposing is a demanding balancing act but RUIM has managed to tie it all together with a bold sense of drama, yet they have also induced a feeling of fun, lightness, serenity and comfort avoiding the trying-too-hard, melodramatic solutions that would have been easier and predictable. - Tuija Seipell.
Photography: Daniel Nicolas
The era of romantic letter mail is all but over, yet all of us still need a letterbox, a mail box, a mail slot... a something where our daily hard- copy mail, and even an occasional long-distance post card from our globe-trotting friends, can be delivered.
But what if we don’t want just “something”? What if we want a stylish, cool, fun, “look-at-me!” mail box that matches our stylistic tastes? Try to find a mail box that is anything other than supremely ugly and you will come up with nothing.
The concept of Koo Koo was developed by Bill Playso who saw the glaring need for a stylish and cool letterbox. he invited industrial designerJustin Hutchinson to help bring the concept to life. the result of Koo Koo letterbox by Playso. Designed and manufactured in Melbourne, Australia
Koo Koo is a stylized bird-shaped letterbox that does not take itself too seriously, yet it has serious curb appeal. It is a conversation piece outdoors and in. Expect to see Koo Koo indoors as often as outdoors. Maybe for internal mail in the office? A suggestion box for your customers? And even the box in which Koo Koo is shipped and displayed is a designer creation in itself. Expect the shipping box to live a long life as well, as a storage box that does not have to hide.
Great design moves people, conveys feelings, evokes a reaction, triggers memories, delights, goes against convention, breaks new ground and surprises in a positive sense.
Packaging designed by Fernando Volken Togni.
Zinc powder-coated metal body, compact laminate magnetic side panels.
Base model is A$330 and A$420 for the optional compact wood laminate side magnetic panels.
Mention TCH for free international shipping
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 flavour 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
If the city is called Casablanca (White House), creating an all-white interior for a restaurant there isn’t a major creative break-through. But Christophe Pillet, the designer of the Maison Blanche (White House), reflected the omnipresent white back on itself with smoked mirrors, and created a vertigo-inducing vessel-of-a-space that forces us to look again.
The 600 square-meter (approx. 6500 sq.ft.) restaurant and bar, opened in July 2012 at La Place Mohamed Abdou and La Rue du Commandant Lamy, facing the Parc de la Ligue Arave. Maison Blanche Casablanca is the baby sister of Maison Blanche Fes, opened in 2009.
Maison Blanche Casablanca feels like a container, a bottle, or a jewellery box where the guest will appear as the filling, the jewel, the berry, or the decoration. Chef Thierry Vaissière’s cuisine will likely bring the guests back again for another look at themselves and their chic friends.
Our first landing into Casablanca many years ago offered an aerial view of a beautiful white city, but the actual on-the-street experience was a disappointing drag through an exhausted, dilapidated city whose vitality and lifeblood was sadly missing.
Maison Blanche and many other businesses like it are suggesting we should visit more often and give the white beauty another reason to charm us. - Tuija Seipell
It is tough to describe our six glorious days at Castello Di Reschio in Umbria, Italy, without resorting to clichés and big words that sound like overstatements. Awesome. Amazing. Surreal. Idyllic. Exquisite.
But when we review our images, videos and stories from Di Reschio, the one thing that has become even clearer over time is the feeling that we were transported to some unspecified luxurious time period between ancient history and tomorrow. A perfect “time is standing still” moment, offering relaxation and pampering, yet managing to surprise and delight at every turn.
With the estate itself a testament to how beautifully structures can age, combined with the extraordinary attention to detail in the restoration, and topped with every modern amenity one could wish for, it all appeared – and still does – almost too beautiful and perfect to be true.
We kept thinking that it resembled a movie set, yet there wasn’t a single fake or pretentious item in the place. Everything felt that it belonged here, and somehow always had belonged, even if reality proved otherwise.
The back story of this incredible estate and the family that runs it, is just as unbelievable and romantic as any fantasy we could conjure up. In 1994, Count Antonio Bolza and his wife, Angelika, purchased Castello di Reschio, a 2,700-acre estate in the hills of Umbria, Italy. They set out to restore and renovate the disused farmhouses on the estate that dates back to 1202.
Over time, the Count’s son Benedickt Bolza (now known as Count Bolza) graduated from architecture school and joined the family operation, taking over the planning, design and renovation.
He met his future wife, Nencia (of the princely Corsini family of Florence), at Castello di Reschio where she was hired by his parents in 1998 to paint decorative trompe l’oeil murals.
Eventually, the couple took over the estate’s largest castle as the home for themselves and their now five children. It was the most challenging to renovate, says Count Bolza, but it is beyond amazing. The couple has no regrets about the painstaking work they’ve done on it and offer tours for the guests.
So far, they have renovated about 25 villas on the estate, catering to an international elite client base of buyers and renters.
We stayed at the Palazzo that sleeps 10. The staircase in the centre of the house alone took our breath away. And the attention to detail in absolutely everything on the entire estate. From custom-design (by Count Bolza) furniture to incredible amenities including Ortiga Sicilia toiletries that we completely fell in love with.
On arrival, at lunchtime, our house was bustling with cooking and soon a delicious lunch was served at the huge table. This was a precursor to the astonishing mealtimes we were to enjoy throughout our stay.
Swimming pools, gyms, tennis, cooking lessons at your own house, and eating, of course, eating. Everything as fresh as can be and everything produced locally.
As we were focusing on doing as little as possible, we were delighted to be spectators at Conte Bolza’s Tuesday evening dressage performance. As he and his white horse moved elegantly around the paddock, we were seated under a maharaja tent, and served Italian hors d’oeuvres and wine.
The entire setup felt like we were witnessing an old-world European aristocratic tradition, and we were probably not too far wrong. Dressage does have deep European roots dating back to before Renaissance, and horses have played a vital role in this former frontier fief situated on the border between the former Papal States and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
And within a five-minute drive from our Palazzo was the estate’s restaurant, Osteria – that’s how large the estate is – where chef Marco Pellegrini creates the Di Reschio cuisine.
Unpretentious, delicious, fresher than fresh. Italian. Perfect bright-red vine ripened tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, pasta, gazpacho, bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and chilli, and wine. You get the idea. We think we have found our heaven on earth and it is called Castello Di Reschio.
A short video we produced on the most extraordinary place we experienced last summer - Castello Di Reschio in Umbria, Italy. - Bill Tikos
We like this 130 square meter (1,400 sq.ft.) office for its crisp simplicity.
It is a expansion project by Alain Wong of Comodo for his company’s own office space located in Knutsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Wong calls the project Landscape in Bustling City, a fitting name for an office located in the middle of the busy city in an area that used to be lush gardens.
Comodo’s earlier office was predominantly black and white, as is the new one, except for the natural wood used to create platforms, partitions and furnishings.
The extensive use of unfinished raw wood board creates a nice balance of function and whimsy, and brings a sense of the outdoors inside. Natural light streams into much of the space through glass partitions. - Tuija Seipell.
As far as nightlife goes, in Porto, Portugal, it is all happening downtown. A local company, Baixa (baixa is Portuguese for downtown), has recently added another downtown nightclub to its roster that already includes the Baixa bar.
The new nightclub, Instalação (installation), was designed by José Carlos Cruz Arquitecto, the same team responsible for the design of Baixa bar as well as the Farmacia Lordelo we have featured earlier.
The space for Instalação, opened in March, was in essence a long, narrow corridor with two dividing structural arches that support the building itself.
From this 250 square-meter (2,690 sq.ft.) space the designers created a golden wire tunnel where the main materials are concrete, brass and polished aluminum.
Inspired by various works of Olafur Eliasson,the team created a glowing, floating lighting program that helps expand the space visually and draws the attention to reflections and illumination, away from the narrow framework of the room.
Andy Warhol’s Factory inspired some of the ideas for the smaller VIP room, and Anish Kapoor’s ideas gave suggestions for the beautifully textured concrete ceiling – our favourite part of the entire project.
Apart from the Tom Dixon lighting fixture above the concrete bar counter, all furnishings and fixtures were design by José Carlos Cruz Arquitecto. - Tuija Seipell.
Photos by Fernando Guerra FG+SG.
Not only is this Bernardo Bader designed private home beautiful and elegant in its deceptive simplicity, it is also a great example of how to use resources to their fullest. Haus am Moor is a private residence with an attached studio, located in Krumbach area of Lower Austria.
For some of us, the exterior of the house brings back images of Scandinavian barns in their hulking, windowless, untreated beauty that weathers perfectly in the harsh climate till the barns appear to be part of the landscape.
Bader took some of his cues from the traditional stone-and-wood –structured Bregenzerwald house that also speak a minimalist visual language and use local materials beautifully.
For Haus am Moor Bader and his team used a concrete core and wood from the owner’s own forest. Every part of the the 60 spruce, fir and elm trees was used to construct walls, floors, ceilings, doors and furniture. During the construction, the building team unearthed clay in the depth of one meter. This clay was pressed to form bricks that were air dried on-site and used for the floor structure under the wood slats.
The house is heated with the central wood-burning hearth, and with geothermal heat pump.
Of course, we love the overall minimalist approach evident throughout the house both inside and out. But what we love specifically is the way daylight plays among the wooden slats, and the way the lit windows glow at night. Beautiful. Tuija Seipell
Tropea, Calabria, Southern Italy.
The garden of Saiho Ji in Kyoto, Japan.
Atlantic Ocean Rd, Norway
The Dunes of Lencois, Brazil
Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California
La Grotta Cove, Corfu Island, Greece
Vintgar Gorge, Triglav National Park, Slovenia
Qikeng Don in Wulong, China
Valloires Abbey Garden, France
Blanket Bay Lodge, New Zealand
Tulip Fields, Amsterdam
View the previous listings on our Amazing Places page here