When you travel constantly, you are not easily impressed by hotels. You have no patience for pretentious or poor service, and you have seen enough amenity kits and fluffy robes to turn you off bathing permanently. Design does not even enter the picture until the all-too-common problem issues, such as bad pillows, no wifi or no internet connection at all, noisy surroundings and slow service, are eliminated.
However, if the service and comfort issues are handled well, we start to really appreciate design. This is why, when in London, TCH stays at the Firmdale Hotels. Our favourite is The Soho Hotel, situated right in the centre of Soho but tucked away in a quiet lane with theatres, shops and cafes within walking distance. The rooms are spacious and luxurious, and the penthouse is extraordinary.
Firmdale is a UK-based boutique hotel operator with six hotels in London and now one in New York. Firmdale is privately owned by husband and wife team of Tim and Kit Kemp. In each Firmdale property, Kit Kemp has been in charge of interior design and her attention to detail is impeccable. Colour, texture, quirky themes and art collections are part of her signature style that manages to translate into an inviting and beautiful hotel experience. Kit Kemp’s eclectic but luxurious design work makes her hotels akin to the refined British Airways business class.
Late last fall, Firmdale opened its first-of-many-to-come North American hotel, the Crosby Street Hotel, in New York. Again, it is in the perfect location in the heart of SoHo between Prince, Spring and Lafayette Streets. It is a few cobblestones away from all the action, but on a quiet street.
The brand new 11-storey, 86-room Crosby Street Hotel was built on a vacant parking lot over a two-year period. A short film by Jean Roman Seyfried “The Reconstruction of My Views” chronicles the construction period using time-lapse photography. The film premiered in the hotel’s own 99-seat screening room. (all images here are of Crosby Street Hotel). - Bill Tikos
Firmdale's next opening will be in London. They have acquired a site in Piccadilly (called Ham Yard) and will begin to develop later this year.
Are you always hunting around vintage stores trying to find that perfect precious signature piece, delicately rummaging through shelves of long forgotten items imagining having the skill and craft to turn that amazing door into a signature coffee table, or an old barbers jar into a unique centrepiece vase? This is what designer Lee Broom was thinking for his newest product 'the Decanterlights', which launch next week as part of his latest bar design for Coquine in London's west, and lucky for him - he does have the skill and the craft to create such beautiful and original pieces.
The Decanterlights are truly one of a kind, each made from lead crystal decanters that have been hand sourced from antique markets and vintage shops by Broom and his team. Hung together in clusters at Coquine to create a warm glow amongst the eclectic surroundings, the Decanterlights have already created such a stir that Broom has decided to build on the concept to develop a collection that will soon be available to purchase in either clear crystal or with a contemporary polished gold finish.
Coquine will also feature signature pieces from Broom’s recent and highly sought after Heritage Boy collection, including some that have not yet been seen by the public.
Based in London, 33 year old Broom has already achieved such acclaim and success that his designs are sold around the world and have been featured in publications including Wallpaper*, Sunday Times Style and The New York Times. Original, contemporary and style conscious, Broom has created the design for over 35 venues across London and the UK and has won numerous awards including Time Out's Bar of the Year for Lost Society. - Brendan McKnight
Juliet Supperclub opened late last year in the West Chelsea area of New York. The elegant, opulent, sexy and thoroughly shimmery establishment owes its looks to Bluarch Architecture + Interiors, whose ability to make the blue, hard surfaces look luminous and richly textured is astonishing.
Juliet is an impressive coming-together of big names that keep popping-up in the restaurant and nightclub scene. It is the 15th-or-so restaurant of celebrity chef Todd English. English’s influence is evident in the Mediterranean menu and overall attention to food, something that often ends up overpowered by glittery and glamorous nightclub surroundings.
Juliet is one of three restaurant/nightclubs in which nightclub tycoon Jon Bakshi (Jon B.) is currently a partner. His other two are the Greenhouses he operates with Barry Mullineaux in New York and Hallandale Beach, Florida. Mullineaux, in turn, is currently also partner in Via dei Mille in New York with Giuseppe Tuosto and Marcello Villani.
Greenhouse New York was also designed by Bluarch as are several other prominent nightclubs, stores, hotels and residences in New York and around the world. Tuija Seipell
Upperkut, a young communications agency, takes up residence in the basement of a fully operational church, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church, in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood of Montreal, Canada. How do you design the space without compromising the dynamic and fun character of the agency, and without altering the ceilings and other acoustic components of the building?
Montreal-based designer, Jean de Lessard, solved the problem by relying heavily on color and large-scale graphics that echo Uppercut’s website. The 380-square-meter space was divided into four areas: president’s office, project managers’ area, studio and multi-function room. The result is a colorful, functional space with a slightly scruffy feel that reiterate the vibes of both Upperkut and church-basement life. - Tuija Seipell
It is not easy to impress in Paris. To create a restaurant, bar, hotel or retail establishment that stands out, surprises the locals and the jetsetting international visitors, and creates positive buzz that lasts more than a night, is a serious challenge.
The collective talents and star power of the team behind Le Restaurant Matignon are significant enough to suggest that a new, permanent player may have arrived on the scene.
Opened two months ago, at 3 Avenue Matignon, just a few steps off Champs‐Elysées, Matignon promotes itself as “restaurant and playground” but in plain terms it is a restaurant, bar and lounge that has already hosted several lavish private parties for high-end brands and media.
Matignon was founded by Paris-born international promoter and artistic director Cyril Péret (Paglinghi) and Gilbert Costes, one of the Parisian Costes hospitality triumvirate (brothers Jean-Louis and Gilbert and Gilbert’s son, Thierry) that seems to have its hands in half the new restaurant and cafe concepts in Paris.
Péret has entertained and cooperated with celebrities throughout his career in Miami and Paris, while the Costes brothers are no strangers either to working with celebrities and top-level designers and architects.
To create the physical environment, Costes and Péret retained the formidable and prolific French architect and designer Jacques Garcia, whose rich and luxurious signature touch can be witnessed in hotels and restaurants around the globe. Garcia’s work includes Hôtel Métropole in Monte Carlo, the Spice Market restaurant in New York, Hôtel Costes in Paris and dozens of others around the world owned by sultans and sheiks, royalty and even Garcia himself (Château du Champ-de-Bataille).
Several years ago, Garcia was quoted as saying that 50 million people ate at his restaurants and five million people slept at his hotels. These numbers have only grown since.
At Matignon, Garcia has created a luxurious mix of eclectic and opulent, subdued and bold, elegant and funky. Matignon has no online presence at this time, so the only way to get to know it is to go in person. Tuija Seipell
Matignon is located at 3, Avenue Matignon 75008 Paris, telephone : 01 42 89 64 72.
Rosa’s, a modern Thai restaurant in Soho in London’s West End, is the second Rosa’s for managing partners Saiphin and Alex Moore. The success of their first, in Spitalfields in the East End, spurred them to open a three-month “tester,” a pop-up restaurant called Noodles in the Soho space. Its success, in turn, gave birth to a full-blown Rosa’s with its bright-red exterior and wood-paneled interior.
Designed by London-based Gundry & Ducker Rosa’s is an elegant nod to the temporary plywood-booth air of Noodles, the red-light heritage of Soho, and the warm and homey style of the Thai food. Its design features match those of the Spitalfields Rosa’s, also by Gundry & Ducker.
The main feature in the Soho Rosa’s street-level space is the modified oak ogee-curved mouldings. They form coat hooks, lamps and the 'pie crust' edge of the tables. The ceiling is made of gloss pink panels in a brick pattern, set behind a deep frame. In the basement, the same themes prevail but in black gloss and grey and reclaimed teak.
Gundry & Ducker was founded by Tyeth Gundry and Christian Ducker in 2007, both former employees of Nigel Coates. With backgrounds in architecture, furniture and exhibit design, Gundry and Drucker have completed several award-winning hospitality and residential projects. - Tuija Seipell
Kids have boundless imaginations. No matter how poor, colourless and toyless their environment, they’ll find a way to play. They will play with stones, twigs, grass and water, and they will play with each other. They’ll think up ways of turning mundane items into creations that have all the life of the latest computer game.
But only if they are lucky enough to have the free time to play, are not too hungry to move about, or have water to play with.
In this light, what our urban kids have available to them, is excessively abundant. They have daycare and play spaces, parks, playgrounds, even yards. Yet, when we look at the basic play environments in our communities, there’s no denying that they are sadly short of what they could be. With some colour, imagination, labour and resources, they could all be so much better.
There are wonderful examples of this, such as the recent “accidental” kids’ park at Madison Square Park in New York. It is an art installation by artist Jessica Stockholder, commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy.
The installation includes a multicoloured triangular platform, a sandbox of bright-blue rubber mulch, multicoloured bleachers and painted pavement. It was not intended originally as a children’s play space, but kids have taken to it like crazy, surprising both the artist and the Conservancy. The lesson we can learn from this is that if we point our resources in the right direction, the result can be infinitely fun and rewarding for everyone involved.
We spend millions annually on "adult playgrounds" — stadiums, concert halls, bars, restaurants. We spend billions advertising and promoting them. Why is it that we do not seem to want to dedicate the necessary resources to give our children the best we can offer?
Every dedicated kids’ arts organization will be able to point you to reams of research reports that show that early access to arts and arts education aids children in all aspects of their lives later on.
They will build self-confidence; discover their abilities, skills and talents; and in the best of circumstances, they will grow to be fantastic contributors in their communities. Yet another reason to make sure our kids live and play in environments that are rich in creativity, arts and inspiration.
If this generation of children is going to be responsible for solving the problems of a world where children are still too hungry to play at all, then we should be paying closer attention. We should be giving our kids — regardless of their resources — all the support and inspiration we can.
Anyone with creative ideas, energy, staff and money, can give to kids in his or her neighborhood. Who knows what could happen, if we as individuals, companies and cities paid as much attention to our kids’ play environments as we do to our own? - Tuija Seipell
Developers, city councils wanting to see ideas and concepts in how to design super cool educational environments and playgrounds effectively, contact our marketing agency, ACCESS AGENCY.
The game of marketing has changed fundamentally. Taking out uninspiring, run-of-the-mill print and TV ads doesn’t fly any more. Marketing a brand effectively requires exceptional ideas and concepts that are entertaining and unusual enough to capture the imaginations of today’s cynical, ad-wary consumers. Our advice is to go beyond the traditional media to capture your audience in other platforms as well – offline brand experiences that DEMAND consumer attention.
Brave, new, exciting, entertaining offline experiences are talked about, blogged about and spread through social media. This is viral marketing at its best and most effective. If the idea is good, nothing can stop its spread. We spend all of our waking hours evaluating and creating such ideas. We see more innovation and ideas and concepts each day than we ever thought possible and the ideas we’ve created have achieved incredible attention. We have access to a global roster of creative talent of all disciplines whom we can tap for our projects. For more info contact our marketing agency ACCESS - Bill Tikos
Creating compelling and unique brand experiences is what our new marketing agency ACCESS does best. The incredible interest that media, brands and readers have shown in our postings of just some of our ideas -- McFancy McDonald’s, Puma Spinstar, Mini Car wraps and Transformers Skate Park -- shows clearly why brands are so keen on creating these kinds of experiences.
These are experiences that are talked about, blogged about and written about. Just Google McFancy McDonald’s and you will get over 10 pages and over 6 million views. Not one of these concepts even exists yet, (with the exception of Mini) but the media interest, online buzz and brands approaching us to experience our way of thinking offers rock-solid proof that they are an effective way to create brand awareness.
Our agency ACCESS taps into our global creative community to offer brands exceptional ideas and execution. If a brand is unable to register an image, product or service in the public’s mind with impact, it has little hope of being relevant. Traditional methods of creating visual impact and effective recall are no longer enough. Today’s consumers demand much more. It takes much more to register under their radar. Imaginative and impactful marketing is now more than ever a core function of a successful consumer-facing business. And to be successful in today’s increasingly competitive environment, companies must learn to stage experiences that engage and speak directly and personally to each of their customer segments. Exciting, unusual, cool brand experiences -- both on and offline -- are capturing the imagination of today's consumer. If it is not memorable, then it is just wallpaper.
Our latest project is for Moët - a champagne & chandeliers event showcasing over 100 chandeliers, made from crystal, glass, neon, plastic, paper in a space that can be adapted to suit any environment, from a digital-style marquee at the races to a smaller venue.
Here’s a glimpse at what we are working on.
Transformers 3 Media launch - pop up skate ramp
With fuzzed out guitar swells, biscuit tin snare drums, drowsy, shuffling vocals, and a Google-defeating band name, Portland’s 1,2,3 have everything a day-dreaming indie rock romantic could hope for. Already courting both blogs and indie radio waves, this duo will be on repeat for the rest of the year without question.
With just one track to their name - the epic synths and vocoder frenzy named Futuretapes - it’s probably too early to proclaim Philadelphia based collective CSLSX the best new act we’ve heard in 2010. But screw it, we’re going to say it anyway. Because what we’ve heard so far is bordering so close on perfect that it’d be scary if we weren’t too busy dancing.
Hailing from a seriously chilled hideaway in Australia’s Queensland, Flight Facilities are two young dudes causing a big stir with their smoothed-out house tracks. Already grabbing the attention of heavies like Aeroplane and the Bang Gang, these guys are making sax solos in dance tracks cool again. And that can’t be a bad thing.
The next heiress to the pop princess crown, Florrie has been making all the right moves towards chart domination, including star hook-ups with bonafide hit-makers like Fred Falke and Xenomania, the same team that made Girls Aloud and Sugababes so inescapable. That’s a very tight pedigree, but of course it always comes down to the tunes, and so far it’s looking as though has a knack for hooky, delirious pop tunes. Expect big things.
With every rapper with a mic rallying to be a part of the next crop, 2010’s break out star seems to unanimously be North Carolina’s J. Cole. Having already impressed hip hop big guns like Wale, No I.D. and Jay-Z (who signed the 25 year old to his Roc Nation label) and a debut album (Cole World) due to drop in a matter of months you can expect be hearing a lot from him at every turn.
With a knowing nod to ‘80s smoothies like Toto and Hall & Oates, Sydney tunesmith Matt Van Schie has brought the pop back to synth-pop with his Balmy Nights EP from earlier this year. He’s got another run of tunes due before he settles back into his fulltime band Van She, so lovers of seriously smooth music should get their fill while they can.
Mixing pounding tribal drums with glowing neon synths for some twisted ‘calypso-electro’ sounds kind of terrible on paper, but one listen to New York production team Tanlines and their infectious tracks and we promise you’ll be converted to the gospel. - Dave Ruby Howe and Oli Queen