If you are like us and just cannot tolerate another rustic retreat or another architect-trying-too-hard-to-be-cool stack of oblong concrete-and-glass boxes, there’s always the chance that you’ll run across a classic.
A brand-new residence that has all the characteristic of a timeless beauty. A low-profile building that really fits its surroundings. A stylish home where the outdoors is the key feature.
The Alterstudio team that included Kevin Alter, Ernesto Cragnolino, Tim Whitehill, Matt Slusarek, Jessica Connolly and Joanna Hartman garnered quite a few awards and accolades with this project when it was completed, and its confident design will stand the test of time for decades to come.
Located in a grove of mature oak trees and overlooking the 200 acre Bright Leaf Preserve and the Colorado River, the house takes full advantage of the exquisite natural setting.
The 5,900-square-foot (550 square meter) house for a family of four has three relatively small bedrooms plus a separate guest suite, as it puts all of its energy into making the most of the public/family areas with living, kitchen and dining rooms lined up along the glass wall that overlooks the huge patio, the gorgeous pool and the view beyond.
We also love the garden in its all-green colour palette and low-profile planted areas. Of course, this residence also has many of the other features that we are drawn to: Smart use of wood and other natural materials, unpretentious and minimalist forms and colours, plus a nice mid-century modernist overall air.
This is one of those dwellings where you feel you can really breathe freely. There’s room for the eye to roam, yet the scale is human. Perfect. - Tuija Seipell.
Spectacular scenery – and sheep – are the first things that come to mind for most of us when we think of New Zealand.
For an architect, spectacular scenery is always both a challenge and an opportunity.
This was very much the situation for David Ponting, founder of Ponting Fitzgerald (in 1998) of Ponsonby, Auckland, New Zealand, when he saw the site for what his affluent client hoped would be a “sanctuary.”
The site was breathtaking with unbelievable views of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand, and the mountains beyond.
Rocky, powerful terrain. Strong visual lines. Subdued colour scheme. Nothing dainty or traditionally cozy was going to work. This site had a strong, powerful presence of its own.
Ponting and his client settled on a simple, yet very demanding, brief: Let the land speak. With a sensitivity that Ponting later described as having an “element of divination,” he allowed the site to express itself.
Rather than coming to the site with a preconceived set of shoulds and musts and limiting ideas, the architects kept walking the site. They eventually ‘divined’ a beautiful solution that speaks the same language as the site.
They realised that there were two separate locations on the site, each with its own distinct natural forms, each ‘asking for a building.’
They granted the wishes and created two low-profile structures, one as the master dwelling, the other – the larger one - as the guest wing.
When viewed from above, from the entrance way and parking area, each looks like a low-lying bird wing. Not imposing or interrupting, but somehow belonging in the landscape.
The breathtaking beauty of the structures comes from the strong elements: glass and stone, and polished, board-formed and in-situ poured concrete, with reflecting ponds and skylights adding an element of wonder – all in the service of letting the land speak, none standing in between the viewer and the view. The scenery is literally part of the interior, especially in the guest wing that is more open and grandiose than the slightly more private and inward-looking master house.
In the master dwelling, the windows at one end look into cut bedrock, with snow-capped mountains beyond. At the other end, on the rocky hillside, the view at times includes those famous New Zealand wild sheep that occasionally wander by.
If there ever was a project where the brief has actually become reality, this is it. The land has spoken, and was heard well. We are awaiting an invitation to the guest wing. And should it ever arrive, we may never leave. - Tuija Seipell.
Images by Simon Devitt
With a floor as beautiful as the chevron-patterned dark hardwood one in this recently renovated classic apartment, the re-imagining designers’ main job is to try to not ruin it or its harmonizing and stylish effect.
In the case of the Strasbourg, France-based private apartment in question, the other defining features are the gorgeous fourth-floor corner location with the large windows, and the elegant cast-iron railings.
Luckily, design team Tomas Umbrasas, Aidas Barzda, Tautvydas Vileikis, Rokas Kontvainis of YCL Studio knew how to leave these elements alone. Not only did they preserve them, they also emphasized them.
The gorgeous ceiling moldings, classic crystal chandeliers, the smart placing of a few ornate wall sconces, and the overall white and cool grey colouring draw attention to and highlight these time-tested features.
The five-room apartment is 114 square meters (1,227 sq.ft.) in size but it looks significantly larger because there are no tight nooks or dark corners, no hidden areas and no unnecessary doors.
The design team made one substantial – and extremely appealing - change in the original room division by creating a massive, white bath room/spa with its own windows, seating area and seemingly endless space. This alone upgrades the apartment to a totally new level.
Located in the Alsace region of North-eastern France, Strasbourg is the home of the European Parliament with more than its share of gorgeous apartments and residences.
Combining traditional and new as smartly as the YCL team has done is a perfect fit for the cool set of the town.
Based in the capital Lithuania, Vilnius, with its neoclassical and Gothic architectural highlights, the YCL team brought to the project not just a fine sense of new and modern, balance and scale, but, more important, a confident sensibility toward what must stay and what must go. - Tuija Seipell.
We are excited to announce that CJ Hendry is working on another super-cool, exclusive series of hand-drawn images: The Alphabet!
Never one to take the easy way out, she has chosen to draw shiny, metallic helium balloons.
Drawing anything with just a pen is tough enough - impossible formost of us - but to draw massive photographic images of reflective 3D objects is incredible!
But in her typical low-key fashion, CJ Hendry says she decided to create the alphabet series from a set of shiny balloons because she "just likes the mirror effect and the reflection of the balloons, but mostly because it's just fun!"
Only one image of each letter will be available plus two special characters: $ (dollar sign) and & (ampersand).
She has just started drawing the images and half of them are already sold! If you are interested, contact us;
Framed size: 90cm x 90cm.
We hesitate to use words such as charming or sweet here as they might imply excessive cuteness, but the recently completed tiny chapel on Cyprus does have a welcoming, approachable appearance that made us contemplate tiny, cozy spaces.
However, we were also immediately aware that this is sanctuary, not some dwelling for friendly trolls.
We were also drawn to reflect on visits to small Greek mountain villages where tiny white churches cling to seemingly inaccessible cliffs.
And glancing inside and seeing the gorgeous hanging lighting fixtures, we remembered our visits to stalactite caves on several Greek Islands.
Cyprus-based, 35-year architect Michail Georgiou, with collaborator Theresa Kwok, has created this 56 square-meter (602 sq.ft.) gem of a Greek Orthodox chapel using an experimental building technique.
The light-weight structure consists of a steel frame and a thin ferrocement shell.
The 5.5-meter (18-foot) high doorway adds a sense of welcome and transparency, as one can see through the structure that from this angle appears as if it were just a dome of a temporary structure.
We are always excited by thoughtful design that manages to combine the traditional and the contemporary techniques and languages. This is right up Georgiou’s ally as he holds a MSc in Adaptive Architecture and Computation from the Bartlett and a MArch from the NTUA.
In addition to being a practicing architect with both residential and public projects, he also lectures on Computational Design and Fabrication at the Department of Architecture in the University of Nicosia (Cyprus). We expect to see more innovative work from him. - Tuija Seipell.
Photography by Charis Solomou
We had forgotten how beautiful grey concrete can be until we saw what Ezequiel Farca had done with a 1970s residence in Mexico City.
At the same time, we were also reminded of how much we love Farca’s elegant work in general.
To start with, the Barrancas House in Mexico City had a lot going for it before Farca came along.
It is located on a sloped property so that the four levels of the house, from basement all the way to the top, or second, floor, are all in fact on ground level.
In addition, the site overlooks a great wooded area with grown trees and greenery. The house had good bones that Farca and team members Cristina Grappin and Fernanda de la Mora preserved and then took to a new level of cool, modern comfort.
The 720 square-meter (7,750 sq ft) house is a family residence. Keeping that in mind Farca maximized the exposure to the views and daylight by opening up the rooms with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the woods. He also knocked down interior walls and replaced some with sliding screens and hidden doors and providing bay windows that open fully . All of these give the family members the option of creating specific spaces for their changing needs.
Much of the furniture was also custom-designed by Farca’s team for the Barrancas residence.
The new luxury amenities of the house now include a home theater, a wine cellar, a gym and two large terraces. Our favourite luxury features are the chic long pool on the topmost level and the skillful use of greenery both inside the residence and outside in the new garden.
The landscape was designed with plants that adjust to the local climate, with green roof and green walls, it also has a solar energy system and a automatized water saving system.
Marble, stone and wood dominate the interior, with earthy tones and neutral colours throughout. The interior flows seamlessly together with the exterior and all of that gives the sensation of expanded, unblocked freedom.
Ezequiel Farca and his team have achieved that tough-to-define and even tougher to accomplish harmony where the old and new coexist, where the exterior and interior belong together and where the meticulous design work does not honk its own horn but instead, stays stylishly in the background where it belongs. - Tuija Seipell.
Photography: Jaime Navarro, Roland Halbe
We have encountered dramatic, elegant and inviting yoga studios, spas and salons, but this is the first time that we’d like to include a boxing center on that same list.
In Taipei, Taiwan, local designer and principal of MW Design, Michelle Wei, has conjured up a dramatic environment for Boxing+ Wellness Center.
Located on the basement level of an industrial building, the entire space of 562 square-meters (6,050 sq.ft or 170 Taiwanese Ping) has an aura of dark strength without being boring or off-putting in a predictable over-masculine way.
Instead of the stereotypical solutions of lots of black fake leather, neon lights, tile, metal and functional but unimaginative showers, lockers and common areas, Wei has used environmentally friendly plywood, metal mesh, black iron, and recycled timber to create a sense of low-key elegance.
The interior design supports the goal of Boxing+ to be a comfortable space that suits both male and female guests of all ages who wish to learn and enjoy boxing.
The shoe lockers located under the entrance staircase are made of recycled timber, and wood paneling is used in the reception desk and several other feature areas as warm accents.
The shower rooms’ gray floral tiles and light gray marble countertops add a feeling of luxury and pampering for the guests after their vigorous exercise.
With the help of Chubic Lighting, Wei has also incorporated dramatic lighting in many areas. The main lockers have grey doors and each has its own spotlight for both exclusivity and a bit of stage-show drama.
During match nights, multi-color lights focus on the ring producing a professional-like experience for the audience and the boxers. Tuija Seipell
Photography by Figure x Lee Kuo-Min Studio
Mesmerizing, intriguing, stunning, elegant. We could not stop staring at this enchanting photographic image of a bubble by Mathieu Missiaen and so we had to have it.
The image is called “Bubble” but we keep seeing all sorts of strange worlds in it. This piece has all the hallmarks of an eye-catching conversation piece. It does stand out. It will be noticed in whatever space you’ll hang it.
In addition, it has a hypnotizing effect. In its enigmatic core there appears to be an explanation. If you just look at it long enough, you will solve the puzzle. You will figure it out. You will see something in it. You will know how it was created.
And yet, you don’t really want to know.
We are usually pretty tough on facts. We want to know the details, but in this case, we do not want to know. It would break the spell. We just want to stare.
Buy it online here
For more than a decade, shared offices have been an option for business in most larger cities around the world. Creating and renting out such premises is a highly competed business and success is not guaranteed.
The necessary ingredients include a fine balance of location-appropriate sizing, pricing and design, a customizable set of services and facilities, and of course a favourable location.
We’ve seen both boring and inspiring examples. Some of them are not much more than bland office pens or chairs and desks for rent. Some are too casual and communal, or veering too far toward the creative-businesses-having-fun-together variety.
Not everyone who wants a shared office environment is looking for constant interaction, open-concept layouts or the minimum of luxury.
Elegance, privacy and high-end design are also on the must-have-list of many potential tenants of such spaces.
All of these less-frequently-seen attributes have come together in Paramount by The Office Space, a cool retrofit of the 1940s Paramount Pictures building at 80 Commonwealth Street in Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia.
The Office Space founders Boris and Naomi Tosic are veterans of the shared office game in Sydney. Boris Tosic’s high-end office fit-out firm, Elan Construct, was in charge of building and joinery in this project.
To transform the heritage-listed landmark Art Deco building into a 22-suite luxury office space taking up the total of almost 300 square meters (3,230 Sq.ft.) , the Tosics engaged global architecture, design and consulting firm Woods Bagot.
Woods Bagot principal, Domenic Alvaro, who with Todd Hammond formed the Woods Bagot project team, says that the concept and harmony come from “ … creating a simultaneously functional and aesthetically beautiful experience in every detail.”
Mid-century modernist vibes are strong in the space. American Cherry and oak panelling is curved to echo the building’s exterior and to form visually soft divisions.
Additional materials - limestone, marble, goat-hair carpet – are used in features customized for the project.
A three-dimensional ceiling of timber and brass ties it all together, as period-appropriate lighting by Light Practice.
Brass and leather accents and mid-century pieces from Molteni Co and Walter Knoll are perfect with the BassamFellows hand-crafted furniture and select pieces from Australian AB Projects’ inaugural collection
The overall effect is akin to a boutique hotel where the rooms are in fact offices and work spaces.
We suspect that this trend will be strong in globally the near future as more and more successful professional individuals and businesses are looking for workspace to align with their style and brand. - Tuija Seipell.