Ecole Maternelle Pajol, a four-classroom kindergarten on Rue Pajol in Paris’s 18th arrondissement, combines so many of the things we love.
Parisian architecture office Palatre & Leclère has restored and reimagined the 1940s building , yet they have left the basic feel of the structure unchanged. We believe in repurposing and saving older buildings, but letting them tell their previous stories, even in their new guises.
We love colour, especially when it is used to brighten up an otherwise drab or monotonous environment. This kindergarten clearly speaks the language of joyful colour.
We love it when public art and public buildings and spaces are used to express joy and be playful, too, not just to parade impressive and “acceptable” art and architecture. Of all places, shouldn’t a kindergarten resonate deeply with children, not just adults?
And of course we love any project that invest the same time, effort and resources into spaces and places for kids than we are used to investing into adults’ play.
In Ecole Maternelle Pajol, Palatre & Leclère used colour boldly both inside and out. They also provided a variety of shapes and forms in the furniture, furnishings and on the walls, in the play areas, rest areas and even in the bathrooms. In addition, they provided a variety of textures from tile and glass to rubber and wood.
The building has kept its 1940s brick-wall feel, yet it radiates exuberance and has an up-to-date energy. Most likely its current users feel it was built just for them.
Palatre & Leclère is an architecture agency founded in 2006 by Tiphaine Leclère and Olivier Palatre. - Tuija Seipell.
Shrouded House is a discreetly opulent residence for a young, design-aware family of four (plus a Labrador retriever) in Toorak, considered the most prestigious neighbourhood in Melbourne, Australia.
Inarc Architects was in charge of the architecture and interiors of the project, completed in February, with Allison Pye Interiors consulting on the interior design and furnishings.
The 13-room residence consists of the 850 square-meter (9,150 sq. ft) main house plus the 300 square-meter (3,330 sq. ft) basement, and the 70 square-meter (753 sq. ft) poolside cabana. The previous house and the earlier landscaping on the site were demolished. The new landscaping replaces most of the removed trees, and responds to the needs of the new house and its residents.
The project gained its moniker Shrouded House from the main feature: the effective screening of the slightly twisting and turning exterior from the adjoining properties and the street by bronze aluminum battens. Used throughout the exterior, the battens give the structure its homogenous colouring and its sense of lightness.
Bronze, steel and glass give the residence its contemporary sculptural presence yet they also allow light and clouds play on, reflect and penetrate the structure, which makes the entire building appear smaller and less monolithic. The effective use of these materials also helps connect the exterior to the interior spaces.
As the structure is also broken up into smaller-scale components, the sizeable house does not appear overly imposing or grandiose.
The interior is open, warm and light-filled with white, sandstone and oak surfaces linking the spaces together.
We love the understated way in which the designers have interpreted the family’s needs of privacy, warmth and openness through timeless, understated architecture. - Tuija Seipell
In Christchurch, New Zealand, 10 massive optical illusion-inducing mixed-media art pieces by Mike Hewson pay homage to the former Christchurch Normal School which opened in 1876.
The building, completely renovated for apartment and retail use in 1981 and renamed Cranmer Courts, was damaged badly in the February 2012 magnitude 6.3 earthquake and it is now destined for demolition.
Before it is gone forever, Hewson wanted to pay homage to the building that used to house a vibrant community. He covered the total of 130 square meters of plywood with mixed-media images depicting artists and others who lived and worked in the building.
Private donations and Hewson's own money covered the $15,000 installation costs. New Zealand-born (in 1985) Mike Hewson is a civil engineer, graduate of Canterbury University (2007). He has worked as a civil engineer in Port Hedland in Western Australia, but has travelled regularly to New Zealand to complete works of art there. He will move permanently back to New Zealand next month and focus on his art full time. - Tuija Seipell
Restaurant Farma Kreaton (Meat Farm in Greek)is the recently opened addition to the well publicized Fabrica Kreaton restaurant located in the center of the city of Komotini, (Adrianoupoleos 4) in northeastern Greece.
The architecture and interior design of both spaces are by Minas Kosmidis (Μηνάς Κοσμίδης) with offices in Thessaloniki and Komotini.
In the case of Farma Kreaton, graphic designer Yiannis Tokalatsidis created the minimalist, hand-drawn graphics and cut-outs of cows, chickens and the scenery of the countryside that set the whimsical barn-yard chic tone to the entire space.
The 270 square-meter (almost 3,000 square- feet), 150 seat new restaurant is in essence an additional open-concept eating area to the existing Fabrica Kreaton that, in turn, is themed around a Greek butcher shop. Both are housed in a renovated 1950s farm house with a large yard.
In Farma Kreaton, in addition to the graphic components, we were attracted to the lovely, white-painted wood floors and the overall feel of a temporary barn-raising supper.
The simple plank tables, the mismatched, unpretentious chairs, the humble potted plants and herbs on the tables, all exude a feel of a space dedicated — just for the moment — to sumptuous eating and enjoyment of good company.
The hay bales, pick forks, watering cans and cut-out animals remind the diners of the work done and to-be done on the farm, the dinner beings just a moment of celebration — perhaps of a good hay harvest or a successful calving.
In short, Minas Kosmidis and his team have managed to create a believable semblance of a working farm without going overboard and ending up with a contrived, pretentious “concept” instead.
The food at Farma Kreaton is typical Greek meat-based plates, and the diners are predominantly locals. Tuija Seipell.
We love the way Bangkok University has been branding itself as a Creative University during the past few years. One method they have chosen to do this is to re-imagine and re-allocate the space so that the students will want to spend time on the campus, not just studying but enjoying themselves.
As before the university retained Bangkok’s Supermachine Studio, led by Pitupong (Jack) Chaowakul, to create the Student Lounge (formerly allocated for teachers) at the Rangsit Campus, located north of Bangkok.
The new configuration for the lounge was completed in March and includes about 1,000 square meters (about 10,764 square feet) combined on the ground floor and mezzanine.
The ground floor area is designed as a flexible hang-out space that can be reconfigured for studying alone or in groups, resting, meetings and so on, using the porous, mobile “ribs” as walls.
The mezzanine level is a fun and games zone. It includes a pink polka-dotted Karaoke hut, teetering off the “cliff” and about to fall off onto the reading cave below. Students sitting on the massive modular sofa in the reading cave can clearly see their fellow students performing in the Karaoke hut.
The game zone includes a huge pool table with mobile holes, a giant dart board where no-one can miss the bulls-eye, a music rehearsal room that is like a little house with one wall hinging open, plus a gossip corner and a Kungfu zone.
Many of the components in the space are meant for the students to change and reconfigure, including the 400- bottle chandelier and the gigantic panda that could be painted in the future to resemble other characters, animals or creatures.
Inside the 6,5-meter high panda is the spiral staircase connecting the ground floor and mezzanine. Students enter the staircase from the backside and exit from the back of the head. The mouth of the panda is a window.
The columns dotting the ground floor are currently white, but the students are expected to paint or decorate them as well. In addition to Pitupong Chaowakul, the design team included Suchart Ouypornchaisakul, Nuntawat Tassanasangsoon, Wattikon Kosolkit, Santi Sarasuphab and Supanna Chanpensri.
- Tuija Seipell
We don’t often come across projects to feature in Valencia, although the ancient city is the third-largest in Spain. So, we were particularly excited to discover the new cool kids wear boutique, Piccino, that opened at Trafalgar 52 this month.
Piccino (Italian for “kids”) is the first retail shop of the family-owned company that offers reasonably priced Italian children’s fashions including Brums and Bimbus.
Valencia’s Masquespacio, also known as +Quespacio, lead by Ana Milena Hernández Palacios, was in charge of both interior design and graphics for this beautiful 38 square-meter (409 square feet) gift-box-of-a-store.
This store reminds us a bit of the Candy Room in Melbourne by the Red Design Group.
But in Piccino, we especially love the bold and disciplined use of just two basic minimalist principles: white surfaces and black line drawings. This framework creates a sense of being inside a drawing, and it blurs the border between real and imagined, giving a fun 3D effect to all flat surfaces.
We are forced to really look, to see, to check out what’s what. Yet, the simplicity of the framework also lets the clothing play the main role. It pops, but in a fun, inclusive way.
The back-story and inspiration come from the owners’ kids and involve children sewing clothes for their new friends.
With the added drawings of furnishings, kids and clothes, and fun call-outs and other on-brand touches, the space is kid- and parent-friendly yet also cool enough to appeal to pre-teens.
The classic Lou Lou Ghost chair by Philippe Starck for Kartell seems to be designed for this environment. - Tuija Seipell
Yoobi Sushi, London's first temakeria, opened last month on Lexington Street in Soho. Its interior design is an exercise in constraint that has produced a statement of clean minimalism at its best.
Temaki is fresh sushi wrapped in a cone. It is a take-out or eat-in variety of sushi that was born in Brazil where the largest Japanese population outside Japan resides.
London-based Gundry & Ducker Architecture Ltd. stripped the former warehouse back to its original brick and painted the walls dark steel-gray.
The designers were challenged to combine the vibes of Rio, Tokyo and London, and to reflect the Yoobi brand's color palette created by Ico Design.
They solved the riddle with a fusion of only a few distinct features. All key surfaces, apart from floors and ceilings, received a light timber covering. The only "colors" are added by the brilliant white sushi bar, by the on-brand color inlays in tables, and by the chairs.
The decorative touch that connects all of the elements is the on-brand angular detail on the floor, sushi bar, tables, and on the blocky benches and plinths. - Tuija Seipell.
The Capsule Lamp has captured our imagination. The intriguingly interactive lighting fixture gleans its idea from the plastic toy capsules of vending machines.
Initially, the Capsule was designed by Hong Kong-based Design Systems Ltd for the Actif children’s wear brand, but it has now taken on a life of its own giving tinkerers and creatives another reason to customize and make it their own.
The main structure of the ceiling pendant is made of stained oak, and either without the capsules, or with just the empty capsules, it looks rather coolly Scandinavian.
But the fun starts when you attach the little plastic capsules – in any combination and quantity you like with all sorts of little treasures in them.
While the fixture comes with a set number of toys, we can envision hiding our own little personal items in the capsules. Or customizing each fixture for each room, with specific themed contents for the capsules? Flowers for one room, office supplies for another, jewelry for the next, sewing items and buttons for yet another. And what about an office or any other work place where team members get to decorate their own fixture above their work areas?
We think we’ll just keep the Capsules for ourselves and never let kids near it. - Tuija Seipell
The interior of the headquarters for KH Gears exudes a sense of engine power, industry and technology. One can almost hear the metallic rumble of massive machinery, toiling tirelessly in a massive engine room somewhere in the not-so-distant future.
The 855 square-meter (about 9,200 sq.ft.) first phase of the 5,300 square-meter (about 57,000 sq.ft.) industrial laboratory and office space of one of the world’s largest gear producers, opened in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China, in December 2011. The remainder of the space will be developed along the same design guidelines in 2013.
Hong-Kong-based Arboit, lead by founder, Italian-trained architect, Alberto Puchetti, designed the space.
The overall goal was to refresh the brand image of the well-established company, to emphasize its strong scientific heritage and the high value of its products.
Arboit used extremely crisp and large grey-tone visuals of the actual gears sparsely yet effectively to celebrate their beauty, precision and balance.
KH Gears logo green appears strategically throughout the space.
It is used on walls and in corridors as a definer of space and as an aide to directions in the large facility where clients also frequently visit the laboratories, and on parts of furniture as an accent. The green also refers to the company’s environmentally friendly policies.
As a nod to the heritage of technology, the font used in the directionals is the typical font of the early days of computers.
The shiny, dark-gray floors, coated in epoxy resin, and the partially smoked glass walls add to the feel of meticulous, laboratory-grade orderliness and efficiency. - Tuija Seipell
Pencils, pegboards, pins, pixels — we’ve been fascinated for a long time by the notion of creating big things from tiny parts. Hiding the image in plain site. Creating pointillist art with physical objects.
So whenever we see yet another iteration of this idea, we pay attention.
Apparently, Stockholm-based photographer Philip Karlberg has also been twirling his pencils for some time, and now all that toying has resulted in a photo shoot for Plaza Magazine.
Karlberg’s six famous sunglass wearers were created using 1,200 sticks and photographed over six days.
From top: Karl Lagerfeld - Jackie O - Lady Gaga - Johnny Depp - John Belushi
We envision using something like this for an eyeglass or sunglass brand, a movie theatre, an optometrist office. The fertile pointillist idea continues to fascinate us every time we witness the power of tiny components exploding into huge impact. - Tuija Seipell