In the past few years, forerunners in the niche hospitality business have been tripping over each other in their attempts to create the next “un-hotel.” Their goal has been to take the mind-numbing sameness of resorts and big hotels, and the litany of empty and unbroken service promises, out of hotel stays by creating unusual overnight accommodation and unexpected twists.
Many are geared toward the in-the-know frequent traveller who appreciates design, art and pop culture. Themed rooms, completely personalized hotel stays, unexpected common areas, unusual pairings of boutiques, restaurants, art and rooms have all resulted from this un-hotel wave.
Two weeks ago, people who love all things Droog gained their own example of this. They now have yet another reason to fly to Amsterdam as they now can stay the night – if they are extremely lucky - at Hôtel Droog’s singular guest room.
Hôtel Droog is the Droog brand’s first foray into the hospitality business, if that’s what this emporium of fashionably cool shops should be called. It is perhaps more like a funky little department store and less like a hotel.
Drawn in by the mid-century modernist Scandinavian undertow, guests of Hôtel Droog are in for much more than overnight accommodation. The hotel part of Hôtel Droog is more of a clever afterthought than the main attraction as it consists of only one suite, located on the topmost floor of the 17th century building, the former home of the city’s textile guild.
In addition to the guest suite, the 700 square meter (753 sq.ft) space that is Hôtel Droog includes, in an all-white casings, a Droog store offering the staples by the Droog designers, a fashion store K A B I N E T created by Amsterdam-based Ferry van der Nat, a Cosmania cosmetics boutique and also a product display area for Weltevree.
Resting from their spending spree, guests without the privilege of a suite upstairs can rest in the dining room or in the fantastic garden created by Claude Pasquer and Corrine Detroyat, the darlings of the Chaumont Garden Festival. We bet the Hôtel Droog concept has staying power and we envision additional suites, possibly in the nearby buildings. - Tuija Seipell
A fresh take on the office cubicle is possible! Just look at the fun little houses in which the 30 or so cubicle dwellers toil at this Los Angeles-based creative media agency.
Designed by Edward Ogosta Architecture, the 6,000-square-foot (558 sq.ft.) warehouse space initially appears like any big white space with particle-board detailing. But the seemingly bland interior reveals a number of clever ideas, all designed to spark create ideas and encourage interaction as well as provide privacy.
Ogosta named the design Hybrid Office to indicate that every main feature represents two supposedly unrelated things: something from the surrounding city and/or nature married with an office function.
The office cubicles are called House-Tables and their skyline represents that of a row of houses.
There’s a gathering space, an amphitheater-like area constructed with book cases called Book-Arena, and a tatami-covered thinking space called Sky-Cave. Tall, cone shaped hollow tree trunks have become chairs that provide individual privacy. - Tuija Seipell.
It seems that every day we come across yet another beautiful example of elegant use of wood and, more often than not, the architects and designers turn out to be Aussies! Watch out Scandinavians and Japanese!
Stephen O’Connor and Annick Houle, partners at O’Connor and Houle Architecture, are responsible for designing this stunning residence in Blairgowrie on the Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne, Australia. The Pirates Bay House is an L-shaped, one-storey, 200 square-meter (2152 sq. ft.) home for the two architects themselves and their twins.
Because this is an assignment they can fully control, the partners were able to indulge in all of their favourite features, They value slow life and harmony with nature. They also emphasize the various ways in which the residents interact with their living environment – the play of light on the walls and through windows and doorways, the feel of materials and textures, the breezes and airflow throughout the building, and of course, the views and vistas at different times of the day and during different seasons.
The optimal use of sunlight, rainwater and other natural resources, and the selection of landscaping features and native plants that require minimal maintenance or watering, are all part of the owners’ quest for sustainable living. Non-toxic materials, low-energy appliances, recycled timbers were also selected for the same reason.
The result is an elegant, minimalist house that makes us think of self-sufficient Finnish summer houses with no running water, no electricity, no indoor plumbing, yet with all the pleasure. - Bill Tikos
Elegance, minimalism, form-and-function – you know our favorites already. So it comes as no surprise that we like Muriel Grateau’s newly minimalized boutique/gallery at 37 Rue de Beaune in Paris.
Grateau, the queen of the minimalist table setting and sculptural Art Deco jewelry, has had a shop in Paris since 1992 (at this address since 1997) and this fall’s boutique refurbishment was undertaken in celebration of her two decades here.
Displaying her 100 shades of table linen and her subtle, unobtrusive tableware in an all-white setting is not terribly original or imaginative, but it does seem to be perfect for the purpose.
Taking a page from the tested-and-true Japanese book of the art of the minimalist display, Grateau deletes absolutely everything that is not the focal point, i.e. the items on display.
Her goal was to evoke a feeling of floating, to imply that the pieces are unattached and unrestrained by mere surfaces or walls.
Materials such as white mineral resin, stones covered with white powdered paint, white lacquered steel plate and LED lighting were used to create the ethereal 140 square-meter space.
Attending the September 19th re-launch party were design luminaires including Tristan Auer, Lorenz Baümer, Jean Louis Deniot, Hervé Van der Straeten, Chahan Minassian, Juan Montoya, Hervé Van der Straeten, Charles Zana and Pierre Yovanovitch. - Tuija Seipell. (Pics - Oleg Covian)
Whenever wood is used beautifully, we pay attention. Kengo Kuma-designed 15-room hotel, and especially the attached fruit market in the town of Yusuhara, in the Takaoka District of Kochi, Japan, is a project worth admiring.
We love the skilful, minimalist use of traditional methods, materials and symbolism in the creation of the market space that appears both ancient and completely modern at the same time – a uniquely Japanese skill, it seems.
The cool, thatched façade pays tribute to the town’s ancient tradition of providing travellers who took the main arterial Yusuhara route rest spaces called “Chad Do” that also functioned as venues for cultural exchange and interaction.
As always with this type of design, our eyes are drawn to everything that is NOT there, which allows us to see what IS there even more clearly. No clutter, no visual noise. Contemporary minimalism at its finest. - Tuija Seipell.
Many of us know what it's like to work from home. Distraction upon distraction tends to stunt our productiveness. If only more of us could convince our employers that we can, in fact, stay motivated and actually get work accomplished in the confines of our own home offices.
The design team at Synthesis recently installed Chelsea Workspace - a custom home office for a private personal investment advisor. Constrained by both budget and space, the design team at Synthesis enwrapped a series of prefabricated CNC milled birch plywood ribs atop all the necessary features any home workspace should include: a desk, sliding and hinged storage units, a printer and paper shredder, concealed paths for wires and cables and recesses for lighting - thereby eliminating all unnecessary clutter.
One small window emits natural light onto the surfaces where horizontal spacers are arranged in the pattern of a world map, which will allow the owner to map out his travels. The design of the work space presents a viable solution to ensure working from home can be free from distraction, and where focus in an innovative space ensures the highest level of productivity. - Andrew J Martin
We like the fresh, unpretentious and happy look of the temporary Movement Café and performance space built next to the DLR station in Greenwich, South East London. It was constructed in 16 days to be ready for the opening of the Olympics.
It is located at the gateway to the Olympic borough, on Greenwich Industrial Estate, currently being redeveloped by the Cathedral Group. The Café was designed by British designer and artist Morag Myerscough and he collaborated with poet and tweeter Len Sissay.
Sissay's poem of tweets is now on the hoarding on the site, but it will be eventually set into the road as a permanent ode to the site. - Bill Tikos
JMD Design of Redfern, Sydney has created a cool kids’ outdoor space that makes us all want to run free and wild, with our hair blowing happily in the wind and our bodies full of positive energy.
The 20,500 square meter park, opened this summer, is located at Jamieson and Homebush Streets, in Sydney, Australia, and operates under the Sydney Olympic Park Authority.
JMD Design wanted to avoid the fenced-in, overly structure-based approach of many kids’ outdoor parks. They worked with, rather than against the earth forms of cones, cuts and terraces, established earlier at this site, and created a free-flowing, open play area with surprises and distinctive activity points.
The tree house is manufactured from galvanised steel, fibrous cement sheeting floors and walls, hardwood timber batten walls and ceilings, stainless steel mesh walls and ceilings with rope floors in some areas.
Tonkin Zulaikha Greer (TZG) designed the kiosk and petal roof canopy that overlook the water and sand play area. - Tuija Seipell
The Camélia restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris is both sparklingly new and elegantly timeless. Possibly because of our Mid-Century Modernist and Scandinavian leanings, we think this space is exquisite.
It was designed by Paris-based Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku of Jouin Manku Studio.
The camellia motif relates directly to the camellia garden in which the restaurant is located. We love the smooth surfaces, the white colour, the subtle feel of being inside a gigantic bloom. The furnishings echo the same smooth petal shape and remind us of the Finnish master, Alvar Aalto, and his timeless white buildings and furniture. - Tuija Seipell
Never thought we’d say we love an abandoned quarry. But through a massive six-year restoration, replanting and re-imagining process, the Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden, in the Songjiang District, in Shanghai, China, has become not just a thing of beauty and wonder but a successful travel attraction. An abandoned quarry has indeed been turned into something beautiful.
The Quarry Garden has also earned the American Society of Landscape Architecture 2012 Honor Award.
We love the tranquility and eerie otherworldliness that comes from the ongoing process of a destroyed natural environment returning back to nature but in a completely new, transformed guise. We are left to contemplate both the scars and the forgiveness of nature. - Tuija Seipell