We are on a quest for truly transformed urban spaces. We are looking for instances where a council, city, town, municipality has taken the initiative, come up with the funds and actually transformed a mediocre, unused, ugly space into an inviting and fun public environment.
The spectacular reincarnation of High Line in New York from an impossibility to a cool urban environment comes to mind. Or the transformation of an ugly view-blocking concrete barricade between skyscrapers and beach to a colourful seaside promenade at Paseo Marítimo de la Playa Poniente in Benidorm, Spain.
Or the 324 meter-long meandering bench (world’s longest, apparently) by Studio Weave on the seafront at Littlehampton in the UK. It is not just a bench, it is an experience and an environment.
Or Copenhagen’s Skuperkilen neighborhood, where in a decidedly urban and straight-forwardly artificial way the designers and planners at Topotek1, Bjarke Ingels Group and Superflex invaded the entire available space to create a delightful expression of the various cultures and backgrounds represented by the area’s residents. Superkilen received the Institute Honor Awards for Regional and Urban Design by the National AIA Awards 2013.
We need more councils that have the vision and passion to do these things. We need people to demand and rally for them, and we need visionary designers, architects, planners and artists to design and propose and speak for them. Let’s just do it!.
The offices are located on Stockholm’s luxury power-shopping boulevard, Birger Jarlsgatan, in the two loft floors of building number 9 where the street-level occupants include Agent Provocateur.
Medge is a consultancy in sports rights management, TV distribution and media operations, so it is appropriate that their 180 square-meter (1937.5 sq.ft.) digs are testosterone-induced. Dark half-paneling with its English Gentlemen’s Club vibe gives a nod to the company’s other office in London and draws the line between traditional (below) and modern (above).
A hideously ugly reddish upholstered couch/sofa in a corner seating area, and the heavy iron bars and wood beams in the ceiling give off a sense of a confidence and strength. We love the use of white paint in the uppermost areas as it contrasts powerfully with the black, and opens up the space to the skylights. Tuija Seipell.
We have written about a Nike store display by the Finland-born, Amsterdam-based illustrator Kustaa Saksi before, but this time, it is his fantastical paper display at the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair that drew our attention.
Saksi and Swedish architect Gert Wingårdh created the breathtaking display for the Fair’s third annual combined exhibition and talk show area called Hello!
The project is an initiative by the Fair to inspire and start a conversation about contemporary and future workplaces. This year’s theme was Communication.
Saksi created the intricate and delicate display from 1120 stacks of A4-size paper (total of 700,000 sheets of paper) suspended from 44,000 points in the ceiling. Ceiling frescoes, church domes, altars – these were all part of the inspiration for Saksi and Wingårdh who concluded that paper is still them most commonly used means of communication and therefor the perfect material for the display.
The Finnish forestry and paper giant Stora Enso donated the paper for the space that also hosts uses seminars and panel discussions. Tuija Seipell
Photos by Tord-Rikard Söderström
Not that anyone really needs a watch to check the time. We all carry more than enough devices that inform us of the time, or more commonly, the lack thereof.
Maybe that is why there is a nice retro feel in the whole idea of wearing a watch. I dare you to rush me! Let me just check the time on my watch and see if I care to rush!
We are certainly fans of cool time pieces here at TCH, so when we were introduced to the Melbourne-based AÃRK Collective our interest was immediate.
We love the minimalist, serious craftsmanship of not just the watches and every detail inside and out, but also the packaging.
The attention to every detail honours the craftsmanship, the timeless craftsmanship, of the entire experience. These are not jewellery or pretentiously magnanimous investment pieces for sheer show-off.
These are practical yet beautiful. Form and function. Minimalist and cool. Just what we love. We’ve ordered our Yolk Yellow watches. Now, if only time would fly a little faster…Tuija Seipell
Rope, wood and 39 foam board flowers decorated with fashion patterns. These were the elements of a display of Spanish children’s shoe brands at the 76th annual children’s fashion fair, FIMI (Feria Internacional de Moda Infantil) in Valencia, Spain, at the end of January.
Valencia-based design studio Masquespacio with designer Ana Milena Hernández Palacios at the helm of the project, was charged with creating a stand-out exhibit for the shoes amid the colourful children's fashion exhibitors. They needed to achieve the results by using either materials already in the Fair’s warehouse or materials that could be manufactured at a low cost internally.
Foamboard and vinyl became the key elements for the two-sided flowers, clouds and circles, hand-cut by the fair’s sign makers. When suspended from the ceiling with nylon line, the pastel-hued mobile twirled lightly in the space.
The trees at either end were part of an earlier exhibition, but reused for this stand as a place to hang the information of each of the 39 participating brands.
We like the overall effect of juicy warmth and crafty playfulness achieved with very few elements yet expressing an idyllic child’s world effortlessly. The shoes appear as if they were an afterthought, which makes the display even more appealing, considering that the fair’s visitors were seasoned children's fashion experts who were perfectly capable of zeroing in on the shoes without the display pushing them in their faces. Tuija Seipell
Exposition: David Rodríguez from Cualiti
Viennese mums and dads have yet another option to spoil their offspring: Bambini in central Vienna at Tuchlauben 7.
The interior of the 360 square-meter (3875 sq.ft) multi-level emporium of children’s high-end fashion was entirely custom-designed by the 12-year-old Viennese firm, Architektur Denis Kosutic, for the Vienna-based MB Fashion GmbH.
Carrying such brands as Armani Junior, Fendi, Gucci, La Perla, Roberto Cavalli, Versace Young and Missoni, this is MB Fashion’s first shop of the Bambini concept.
Kosutic and collaborators Mareike Kuchenbecker and Carina Haberl took a Wizard-of-Oz/Alice-in-Wonderland/Jules Verne approach yet cooled the usual colour riot of kiddie stores down into a junior film noir environment
Everything from wall and floor treatments to furnishings and display elements was created specifically for this store.
With smoky grey as the main hue, the space is both imaginatively fun and slightly scary – and we all know that most kids love to be scared, if they feel safe.
There are surprises and details that don’t quite match, which makes the space interesting and fun, yet keeps the tone down at a tolerable level.
The custom-created surreal flowers-and-lollipops pattern appears in various places and at different scales throughout the store. Cage-like pillars made of copper tubing create the central merchandise displays and evoke a feeling of retro-futuristic submarine vehicles.
Velvet draping, soft floorcoverings and smooth surfaces on some furnishings add a softness to temper the hard and shiny metallic components.
Also custom-designed are the friezes of mushrooms, lollipops and pears, and seating shaped like bananas, strawberries, lemons and plums.
The designers aimed for a space that would “allow adults to be kids and kids to be adults.” We think they have succeeded. - Tuija Seipell.
Photographer: Lea Titz
Should anyone need an excuse to travel to Naples, we can offer the perfect one: Go there to explore Metro Napoli’s Art Stations. (That’s subway or tube stations for the rest of us.) The Art Stations program has been going on for some time with artists, designers and architects, including, Alessandro Mendini, Anish Kapoor, Gae Aulenti Jannis Kounellis, Karim Rashid, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Sol LeWitt contributing.
What drew our attention is the 13th Art Station of the Naples Metro system, the Toledo Metro Station, that opened finally after many delays in September 2012, during the European Week of Sustainable Mobility. It was designed by the Spanish firm of architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca.
The station is on Via Toledo (Via Roma), one of the main shopping streets in Naples. A second entrance to the Toledo Station will open in February 2013 in the Spanish Quarter, Quartieri Spagnoli. Oscar Blanca also designed the public squares above the two metro entrances.
The Toledo station is one of the deepest in the line at 50 meters, and it is themed around water and light. The art of the station, curated by art critic and former Venice Biennale director, Achille Bonito Oliva, includes two mosaics by the South African artist, William Kentridge, as well as Light Panels Robert Wilson and works by Francesco Clemente, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Shirin Nehsat and Oliviero Toscani.
We especially love the deep, blue, sparkling crater that connects the ground level with the great lobby 38 meters below. No wonder that The Daily Telegraph included the Toledo Station on its Europe’s Most Impressive Underground Railway Stations list. - Tuija Seipell
See also: Metro Station Drassanes, Barcelona
This funky pharmacy with its unconventional exterior and startling interior volume is not something you’d expect to stroll into in a small, ancient town in north-central Portugal.
Yet the 50,000 or so inhabitants of Vila Real (=Royal Town) who can trace their town’s history back to the paleolithic era, were quite used to an imposing pharmacy building on this site.
But when the private owner of Farmácia Lordelo - which had already operated nearly quarter-century on this site - decided to rebuild, she did not go for timid.
Instead, the architecture and interior design by JOSÉ CARLOS CRUZ – ARQUITECTO went all the way to a super-modern, taking advantage of the fact that the area does not have strict building style restrictions. The building certainly stands out in this residential neighborhood located slightly off the city centre.
Many of us are used to the type of “drug store” where the actual pharmacy part is squeezed into a back corner somewhere and given as little space as possible – as it is not the part generating the profit - while the rest of the store space is taken up by everything from diapers and toilet paper to books and food, and with the tacky packaging and POS material that goes with that. A pharmacy this clean and beautiful is a rarity, indeed.
Farmácia Lordelo is not only a compounding pharmacy but also a laboratory, which is one of the reasons the designers toned everything down and kept the interior airy, white and logo-less. How wonderfully refreshing! And yes, it does look a bit sterile and clinical as well, but that was the intention.
The oval-shaped space is 522 square meters in size (5618 sq.ft.) and the various functions are divided into two levels with the retail floor on ground level..
We also love the cool aluminum coated and perforated exterior where the only opening is the main entrance to the retail floor. The enormous cross logo and the external lighting changes creating an animated and lively contrast to the monochrome interior. - Tuija Seipell
Images by Fernando Guerra, FG+SG Fotografia de Architectura
Yes, yes! We LOVE the cool, clean, minimalist interior (no news here to our readers) of the brand-new 100 square-meter retail store, the HITGallery, opened at the end of September in the Times Square shopping center in Hong Kong.
The elegantly retro store, designed by the talented Milan-based architect and designer, Fabio Novembre, is the first iteration of a new global multi-brand retail concept of the Pettoranello-based fashion house, Ittierre S.p.A. Ittierre holds the licenses, manufacturers and markets several brands, including Aquascutum, C’n’C Costume National, Galliano, GF Ferré, Fiorucci, Karl Lagerfeld Paris, Pierre Balmain and Tommy Hilfiger Collection. The latest brand to sign with Ittierre is Jean Paul Gaultier, with his men’s collection launching in Fall/Winter 2013-14.
The HITGallery boutiques, slated to open around the globe, feature\s several, if not all, of the lines Ittiere represents. The next store in line will be the Milan flagship but in the meanwhile, Ittierre has just opened a 1,000-square-meter temporary store, IT'S 30 MANZONI, at Palazzo Scotti Gallarati in Milan's luxury neighborhood.
In a media release, Fabio Novembre is quoted as saying that The HITGallery stores capture the essence and spirit of Italy by, for example, taking inspiration from the surreal atmospheres of the artist Giorgio De Chirico.
He continues: “Upon entering the concept store in Hong Kong, people will promptly notice the strong Italian imprint of the architectural design’s classical matrix: symmetrical structure, row of arches, one dominant hue offset by two-tone flooring. The color defining the walls – a neutral shade bordering between green and sky or cerulean blue – defies classification, so becoming the ideal backdrop for all the brands sold in the store.”
We love the uncluttered feel, the delicious Casamania Her chair (also by Novembre) and the complete lack of brand-clutter, especially signs and logos. The latter, of course, will pose the most massive of all retail challenges that trumps all design and merchandising feats: The need to provide relevant and sincerely customer-centric service. Don’t even get us started on THAT topic! - Tuija Seipell
Photography by Dennis Lo