There’s something about hot air balloons that makes us all smile. Perhaps it’s the colours, the roundness, the weightlessness? Or maybe it is our eternal desire to fly, to be weightless, to float happily in the air?
At home, colourful balloons have been used to decorate parties, and maybe that is one of the reasons why we associate all balloons with fun and happy times from early childhood on.
Outside the home, massive inflatables often decorate celebratory parades, with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade the best known and oldest (since 1924).
Balloons are part of store openings and sale events, and they create brand awareness in TV commercials and crowd gatherings. Blimps float above baseball stadiums and inside hockey arenas, sometimes towing banners with commercial messages.
Balloons have also been a part of movies, from Jules Verne's Phileas Fogg’s stylish voyage in Around the world in 80 days in the 1956 movie, to Karl Fredricksen’s trip to Paradise Falls in his house lifted by thousands of balloons in Disney/Pixar’s Up (2009).
At country fairs and all kinds of festivals, hot air balloon rides are a big draw and a once-in-a lifetime experience for many.
Interestingly, hot air balloons – like so many technological inventions including the internet – have their beginnings in the military. Unmanned balloons were used in China for military signaling and other purposes more than 2000 years ago.
It’s also been amazing to learn how big a hobby hot air ballooning has become for thousands of people today! Large festivals and races take place around the world with competition categories ranging from speed to size to creativity. It seems that our fascination with balloons will continue for another couple of millennia. - Tuija Seipell
If you have recently seen a super-cool balloon, please let us know!
With its black-and-white richness and its familiar graphic themes integrated into a smooth flow, this short contemplation of the Circle of Life is stunningly beautiful. It is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s quote "The boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?”
The film was created by Saskia Kretzschmann as part of her fifth-semester studies at the famous Anhalt University of Applied Science, in central Germany. The music is by Thomas Mayer. - Tuija Seipell
We have experienced dozens of brand and product launches. Much of the time, we are not impressed. Small baby-steps, same-old-same-old, reiterations of existing and stale ideas, broken brand promises, confusing off-brand presentations, mind-numbing marketing-speak, boring PR. Blah blah blah.
No matter how much we are lavished and pampered with free trips and swag, if we are not impressed, we are not impressed, and we will not write about it. If it’s not cool, it’s not cool. Simply, if it does not resonate with us, we will not write about it.
That is the integrity you our readers expect of us, and we expect it of ourselves, too. So, when we sometimes do publish a sponsored post, we always make it clear that it is a sponsored post. This is not one of them.
We’ve attended Mercedes launches before and not written about them. But this time, they got us excited! The last few days in L.A. have shown us that Mercedes is serious about creating cool concepts and producing cars that are more edgy, sporty, cool and engaging for a younger audience, a group whose language they have not spoken before.
Waiters in black t-shirts with tuxedo print which makes it look like a short sleeve jacket - cool idea
We love it that Mercedes is really trying to do something different. In cars, in events, in branching out, in their approach to reaching a new audience.
The “multidisciplinary festival” we attended last Thursday at The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in L.A. is called Transmission L.A: AV CLUB - presented by The Avant/Garde Diaries and curated by Mike D of the Beastie Boys.
The festival runs from April 20 to May 6 and it is free and open to the public. It is a mixture of contemporary art, design, music, film and food.
The star vehicle of the event is the Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupé, the new midsize four-door luxury coupé scheduled for market launch next year.
With the release of the A class later this year, Mercedes started to approach the younger, savvy consumer market. They’ve had to rethink and redevelop their design strategy and marketing but, while the car drives beautifully, the look does not match the promises hinted at during the concept stage. We wanted more. Bolder, edgier, something that really does draw the eye.
We think this latest concept, the Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupé, has the potential to make a splash. This week in L.A. Mercedes certainly pulled out all the stops with the festival, celebrations and parties attended by the Who is Who in hipster L.A.
Mercedes launched this new car in a way they have not launched before. They understand that street art matters and they enlisted Mike D of the Beastie Boys to bring into this international meeting point of the avant garde his favorite artists and musicians, including Benjamin Jones, Mike Mills, Tom Sachs, Lauren Mackler from Public Fiction, Sage Vaughn, Isaac from Still House Group, Peter Coffin, Roy Choi and Will Fowler.
Mercedes had the new car as part of an installation with headphones you listen to while the lights above created a light show on the car, bathing the “new baby” in a cool artistic shower. Very impressive.
We have been to many, many car launches before and they are mostly boring. This one was different and interesting, with lots of talking points and lots of ways to engage the audience.
Here's a video of what the exhibition looks like. Go visit it while it’s still on! - Bill Tikos
We will never tire of the positive effects of nature. Its calming, soothing and inspiring influence will never go out of style.
The more we rush, the more time we spend indoors staring at our screens and devices, the more urban our lifestyles become, the more we crave and need time away from it all.
It has been amazing to follow the newest solutions to the old dilemmas: How to bring more green space to cities; how to reclaim underused urban land for recreational and other "green" uses; how to provide more and more people the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of spending time in nature.
Lately, we have seen fantastic examples of how designers and architects, urban planners and citizens' organizations have accomplished both large and small-scale projects, from bringing a bit of greenery, and open space to otherwise bleak surroundings, to large-scale neighborhood-changing undertakings.
The most prominent of these large-scale projects in the past few years has probably been New York's Highline, the "park in the sky" that reclaimed a deemed-to-be-demolished industrial transportation structure for recreational and other uses.
It has been a massive project in all aspects of the word, and it has also become a poster-project whose publicity is helping other projects get off the ground. We hope it will continue to give citizens' organizations, city officials, designers and architects encouragement and inspiration as they tackle smaller projects, or even ones bigger than Highline.
We expect much more reclaiming of industrial and transportation lands, more green roofs, more natural features replacing concrete and asphalt, more walking and hiking paths, more waterways for recreational use, more spectacular viewing areas, more urban sanctuaries, more trees.
Getting back to nature is not a new phenomenon. For hundreds of years, wealthy city dwellers have travelled to summer residences and summer resorts, and withdrawn to their cottages and lakeside retreats. They've enjoyed fresh air in their gardens and hunting estates.
Of course, the need for recreational options has escalated since the industrial revolution. People, even ordinary citizens, now needed a place to catch their breath. They lived in more and more urban environments and also had the previously unknown luxury of a few days off per month.
Children went to summer camps, adults went hiking and camping, entire families went on long drives in recreational vehicles. Tourism boomed and being in nature became the vogue thing to do. And it has remained so ever since.
As we seek balance in our hectic lives today, we see solutions outdoors. "Green space" in the widest sense of the word in cities and surrounding areas is beneficial from recreational, ecological, economical, social and health purposes, but mostly we love it because it is just plain beautiful.
We love gardens and parks, ponds and water features, playgrounds and sports fields, open plazas, avenues and boulevards. We want more of it because even the smallest green feature lifts our spirits, while the wide open spaces can change our lives. - Tuija Seipell
First we fell in love with the city-ready look of Skora, a new “natural” sneaker brand from Portland, Oregon. Then we fell in love with the shoe itself.
Since we received a pair, it is pretty much all we’ve been wearing around town, on the beach or running, to the gym, to work, to yoga. They are super comfortable and light, and they make us feel like we’re floating or walking on clouds. They feel totally natural, almost like being barefoot, only better! And that is just what the designers intended.
Skora was founded by David Sypiewski, a well-funded entrepreneur and formerly injured runner.
His shoes, like so many of the new, minimalist running shoes crowding the market today, are based on the notion that humans were designed to run shoeless, and that most running shoes overcorrect the human foot’s natural ability to adjust and function. Rather than piling up more features, more support, more cushioning and more everything, the minimalist or natural shoe designers start from the bare foot and its inherent abilities.
Skora’s first two models are based on a last that is shaped like the natural arch, and they have no height drop from heel to toe. The mid-foot hits the ground first, not the heel as with most running shoes.
In addition to loving the look of the shoes and loving the amazing feeling of wearing them, we also love their branding. The website is easy to navigate and the entire brand works. We are definitely fans. - Bill Tikos
Not being big meat-eaters, we may never become regulars at Yakiniku Master Japanese barbecue, but we do love the design of the chain’s latest, its third, restaurant, opened late last year on Shanghai’s Tianyaoqiao road.
The 300 square-meter (3,230 square-foot) restaurant seats 130 people. It was designed by Beijing-based Golucci International Design, lead by the Taiwan-born, London-trained designer, Lee Hsuheng, with team members Zhao Shuang and Ji Weng.
The interior of Yakiniku Master Japanese barbecue is a harmonious combination of minimalist modern design and references to both Japanese and Southern Chinese architecture and traditions.
We love the use of the wood frame structures of traditional Japanese architecture, and in particular, the oak lattice work or screens that simultaneously divide and unite the restaurant’s various sections.
We love the half-moon shaped ceiling light fixtures designed by Golucci and referring to small, traditional Chinese boats.
The seemingly random, rectangular patches of meticulously arranged pebbles create cool interest on the floor and resemble a typical Zen-like feature in a Chinese garden.
We like the large, black-and-white mural behind the bar area that shows the beautifully curving silhouettes of typical Chinese roofs.
But most of all we love the stunning, ink-black wall of stacked traditional Japanese barbecue coal. It is absolutely beautiful.
All of these quietly elegant elements are not just beautiful to look at, but tactile and interesting, with texture and life and stories to tell.
Lee Hsuheng established Golucci International Design in 2004. Its portfolio includes a number of high-end restaurant and hospitality projects. - Tuija Seipell
At first glance we thought this was a campaign for sunglasses, but no. This campaign of massive vinyl stickers hit the bathrooms of Beirut’s trendy spots to draw attention to Riviera Privé. It is an exclusive beach, pool and bar and lounge area in one of Lebanon’s most famous hotels, the Riviera Hotel.
Riviera is located right in Beirut city, facing the Mediterranean. The hotel has been a favorite destination of jet-setters since 1956.
The Riviera Privé area has seen several reiterations of glamour and luxury, as has the hotel itself, but it is definitely the place for beach-loving locals who want to see and be seen. The sticker campaign created by République Beirut plays cleverly on this theme by implying reflective sunglasses and evoking the sense of being watched.
Our guess is that not so long from now, a sunglass company will use this same idea. Bill Tikos
Intercontinental Hotel and Thalasso Spa - Bora Bora
Blue Lagoon, Reykjavik - Iceland
Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Dunes in Peru
Pongua Falls, Vietnam
Lady Musgrave Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Kaieteur Falls - World's Largest
5 Star Taj Exotica Resort - Maldives
Elafonisi Beach, Crete
Casa Kimball - Dominican Republic