Working in a shared space - in a café or a rented-by-the-hour office - is nothing new, but sometimes a concept pops up that is worth a second look. Now into its third week of life, Joint Café + Workspace in Bangkok stands
out in its whiteness.
We will not speculate on what it will look like after a few months of coffee spills and foot traffic, but for now, it appears inviting like a new notebook, all ready to be filled with people, ideas and inspiration. The space, designed by Thailand’s 56th Studio, is located on the 12th floor of the Asia Hotel’s car park building.
The space is flexible and can be rented in various configurations for workshops, lessons or meetings. Joint Café + Workspace looks more like an office and less like a café, which may make it a unique proposition in that it will not become a coffee shop where people hang out for hours working on their laptops and tablets over one cup of coffee. - Tuija Seipell.
We are now officially suffering from office envy and the object of our feelings is located in Poland, in a former cable factory in Zabłocie, a post-industrial district in Kraków. It was designed for the web technology consulting firm u2i by architect and urban planner Justyna Friedberg of Kraków-based Morpho Studio.
The obvious breathing room – so often lacking in offices – is clearly evident here. White, ash wood, natural light. Somehow we can imagine thoughts flying freer in a space like this, with this much openness and light.
The real gem of the 800 square-meter (8,611 sq.ft.) office, and the part we covet the most, is the central indoor porch, or chill zone, with its swing and potted plants. A simple, fresh idea, beautifully executed.
We suspect that herbs and favourite flowers will be grown here by the team, and that it will turn out to be not just a passive space with the surroundings fitted and provided by someone else, but that it actually will live as a real porch or garden where people can putter around and exercise their green thumbs. Or just chill in the swing.
With this open porch, the basic, large, rectangular space has become more of an environment and less of a set of offices. And what we like most is that the porch does not have the omnipresent sad pool tables or soft-drink dispensers that still seem to denote “cool office” to some. - Tuija Seipell.
Do you really think there is an interior environment that wouldn’t be made more beautiful, more tranquil, more cool with the addition of a peaceful image of ocean scenery?
We don’t think so. Without a doubt, the cure for the visual noise and image overload in our lives comes in the form of a stunning photograph by Luke Shadbolt of the central coast of NSW in Australia.
The picture seem like an oil painting, but it is in reality an expertly composed photograph.
Imagine a quiet beach, a soft morning breeze on your skin, the scent of the ocean, the sound of the soft waves. This image will transport you to your favourite seaside places as they expand and calm down any interior with its serene atmosphere and gorgeous colours. Now, just take a deep breath and relax.
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A simple take on the classic time-teller. Featuring a sandblasted, matte-black stainless steel case, with cool grey face and premium tan and black leather band.
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In March 2014, Particia Derks’s work turned heads at TCH - The Art Hunter experience in Sydney. The penetrating eyes, arresting colours and the sheer size of her original portraiture paintings are all attention-grabbers in hemselves. Combine the three and you’d have to be dead to not stop and notice.
We have selected two of the Netherlands-based artist’s original works. Both paintings are head-and-shoulders images of a female, executed in muted pastel colours with striking, strong eyes and bright-coloured lips. The images are direct, somewhat aggressive but at the same time, there’s a sense of sadness and secrecy – there’s room for us viewers to make up our own minds about what the subject is feeling and why.
A great piece of art does that – it leaves enough undefined, so that we can come back again and again, day after day, and find our thoughts shifting once more.
For many years, Pelletier has been researching and experimenting with methods of creating multidimensional portraits. Using his research in thermal imaging and MRI scanners as a technological basis and as inspiration, he started using Microsoft’s motion-sensing Xbox device, Kinect, to create cool artwork with a strong, edgy look.
Pelletier’s 3D images made of a sitting subject appear to be pictures of a metallic sculpture, strangely alive yet scarily cold at the same time. An updated C-3PO with a beating heart, perhaps?
Pelletier has participated in exhibitions and festivals around the world including the Netherlands, Canada, Finland, Spain, UK, US and Australia.
He is originally from Saskatchewan, Canada, and works currently at Random Studio in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. - Tuija Seipell
These designs are printed on metallic paper and mounted behind perspex for a dazzling and bold look. They can be wall mounted or free standing.
Flamingo Shanghai’s swanky new office, The Attic, is a grand example of how the intelligent use of scale and natural light, and the minimalist approach to materials can create cohesive unity that looks both fresh and imbued with patina.
Shanghai-based Neri&Hu effected their special brand of design philosophy on this cavernous industrial 620 square-meter (6673 sq.ft.) attic, and created a dark-hued and angular open-concept office for the creative agency. The attic includes offices, conference space, exhibit space, observation areas, quiet room and kitchen.
The hard materials and cold surfaces project efficiency and focus. We assume that the natural light through the large skylight windows, together with the presence of people, will balance those aspects with softness and creative life energy.
Husband-and-wife duo, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu established their own design and architecture practice Neri&Hu in Shanghai in 2004 after having moved to China two years earlier to work with Michael Graves. The Philippines-born Neri (b. 1965) has architecture degrees from Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley. Taiwan-born Hu (b. 1968) was trained at Princeton. - Tuija Seipell.
Swedish restaurateurs Magnus Ek and Agneta Green started their entrepreneurial careers in 1994 as they rented the small Oaxen Skärgårdskrog restaurant in Stockholm’s archipelago. They taught themselves the ins and outs of wine, food and fresh ingredients, eventually bought the restaurant and started to gain a steady reputation.
But the Swedish winters being what they are, the archipelago location was open only part of the year. Forward the clock from that to last year, and the grand opening of Oaxen Krog & Slip, their brand new corrugated-metal framed and so beautifully aged twin establishments, right at the old shipyards on the island of Djurgården in Stockholm’s city centre.
Designed and lovingly outfitted with repurposed, antique and retro furnishings and materials by architect Mats Fahlander and architect-designer Agneta Pettersson, the restaurants have already gained several prestigious Swedish awards in business, design and food categories.
These include Stockholm’s Restaurant of the Year 2014 recognition for Slip by the Swedish city entertainment guide Nöjesguiden, and Oaxen Krog’s awarded of Business Restaurant of the Year 2014 by the financial newspaper Dagens Industri. Oaxen Krog has already one Michelin star and Slip has won the Michelin Bib Gourmand-award.
Krog is more of a dining room and Slip a bistro. Our absolute favourites in Slip are the lovely finds dating back to fairly recent Swedish history – the wooden 1905-built craft in the ceiling and the single scull from 1920s. The old Swedish school desks, theatre-seating and repurposed tableware create a uniquely welcoming and familiar feeling.
Oaxen Krog is a bit more formal but seats only 35 and therefore retains an intimate atmosphere. Slatted oak covers the walls and ceiling , and the chairs dating back to the 1950 but still in production by the Swedish Wigells surround the tables custom-crafted by shipyard carpenters. As e the smart city set dines on organic fare, we think we can hear some Swedish Old Salty in his blond beard and blue eyes singing a melancholy song or two about the rough-but-oh-so-wholesome life on the cold shores of Sweden. - Tuija Seipell.
Over the past seven years, at our creative agency, Access, we have worked with a number of residential and commercial property developers from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, helping them with development and strategy.
Yet we see so often the sad sight of yet another mediocre building going up. We see city councils approving mediocre design and we see cities looking uglier because of it. We see property developers rushing to get their building up, wanting to make a quick sale and profit, and not really caring or thinking about the aesthetics of the building.
Does the building enhance the surrounding area or make it worse? Will the building still look great 10, 15 or 20 years from now? Will it become an iconic landmark and a beloved site, or will it become a dated gimmick?
What will the resale value be down the track? Will anyone want to live in or buy property like it?
Property developers — and city councils — need to wake up and realize their influence on the cityscape and take that role seriously. This is the case not just for residential development — the same applies to office buildings, hotels and all public buildings in general.
As a developer and as a city council, do you want to be known as an organization that values and understands design and creates iconic developments? Or will you be known as the ones who created eyesores, or worse, caused a devaluation of an entire area or neighborhood?
The aesthetic of a building should be the Number One priority. There is not much point in creating and promoting beautiful interiors when the exterior tells a different story. The whole building should tell a cohesive story.
So many developers do not see the value, or even think about the aesthetics of the car park, for example. Would it hurt to splash some colour and graphic design on the concrete? Would it hurt to make the lifts and foyer more like those of a great hotel and less like a jail or a warehouse?
What amenities does the building provide? Is there a café, a library, a car wash? Engage us and wow us to the point that we cannot wait to sign on the bottom line! Excite us enough that when you go to market, so much buzz has been created that the units sell in 24 hours and at the price you asked for.
If a building is desirable and unique, and offers something truly beautiful, trust us, consumers WILL buy. It’s a no brainer, yet so many buildings keep going up that do the absolute minimum. They may tick off a few boxes and get the interior right, but not the rest. It’s not enough.
Every day, I am inundated with material from PR people and developers about new projects. Literally hundreds of submissions a day. So, over the past seven years, I have seen everything. And believe me, so have consumers.
Your potential buyers, the couples and the mums and dads and even grandparents are design conscious these days. The internet has opened everyone’s eyes to what is possible. People browse sites all over the globe, they learn, they engage in design. Design is no longer a closed shop. It is everyone’s.
Kids growing up now understand that design plays a crucial role in everything they consume, from the car they buy to the clothes they wear, to the headphones they listen to, to the cookware they cook, to the hotels they stay.
My advice to developers and city councils: Save yourself a lot of money, time and headache, and get it right the first time! Take design seriously now and you will be glad you did. - Bill Tikos