When in Barcelona, you will want to check into one of the several new or refurbished and distinctively cool hotels that have opened there recently. Among them, W Barcelona, located on La Barceloneta and designed by architect Ricardo Bofill, and the swish apartment residences of El Palauet that we featured in October.
The latest hotel launch capturing design media attention is Mandarin Oriental Barcelona. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group operates in 25 countries, but this is its first entry into southern Europe. Mandarin Oriental Barcelona’s official opening was celebrated in November 2009 with a lavish gala attended by the city’s style leaders and elite.
The hotel’s cool factor is a lucky combination of three elements: The convenience of the central location on Passeig de Gràcia, the good bones of the refurbished 20th-century former bank building, and most significant, the tour de force of design by Spanish-born Milano-based architect, Patricia Urquiola, responsible for the interior decor of the 98-room hotel, including most of the furnishings.
Urquiola is best known for her prolific career in designing clean-lined furniture and accessories for brands such as Foscarini, B&B Italia, Alessi, Capellini, Cassina, Knoll and Moroso. At Mandarin Oriental Barcelona she has created a strong sense of timeless elegance by using white confidently and lavishly, and by applying a Scandinavian sense of scale and clean lines.
To soften the linear angularity, Urquiola added beautiful touches that reflect the weightlessness and precious fragility of origami or intricate lace. The overall effect is stunning. - Tuija Seipell
Today’s demanding consumers expect even their beloved, favourite brands to step up their game. Many run-away online successes of offline brand “stunts” attest that consumers expect, and get really excited about, experiences that are unusual, fun, thought-provoking and emotionally engaging. With the power and immediacy of social media, surprising offline events and stunts have now turned into truly powerful promotional tools.
In 2010, TCH will launch Access Agency. It is a dedicated entity that will continue our work of creating highly original, transformational, yet eminently practical and results-oriented strategies for companies to stage the kinds of offline brand experiences that will increase the economic value of their offering.
Access specializes in helping brands and businesses see the world differently. We add substantial value by creating customized experiences that change the consumers’ thinking in some way. The surprise element changes the thinking patterns, and the change makes the experience memorable. People want to talk about it, tell everybody about it. And that, in turn, translates into added brand awareness and ultimately sales.
Access is hard at work creating ideas and concepts for some high profile brands. For McDonald’s, we envision a cool, surprising and fun mix of concepts. First is McFancy, an upmarket temporary McDonald’s store that launches at Fashion Weeks around the globe — London, New York, Paris, Milan, Sydney, Hong Kong. McFancy is part art installation, gathering spot and, of course, a restaurant that offers a traditional McDonald’s menu but packaged in a way that makes a playful yet stylish nod to the lifestyle of the highly desirable, influential consumers that attend Fashion Weeks.
Waiters in tuxedos, silver service, private dining areas, and packaging co-created with the fashion brands that present at Fashion Week — Burberry burgers, Chanel fries on black packaging, Paul Smith Sundaes…A bit of fun among the serious business of fashion. A bite of comfort food among all the elaborate cocktail fare, Private dining rooms, a raised catwalk that winds around the perimeter of the space, and with a central bar area providing a dramatic focal point. The ceiling is constructed from stretched fabric, ribbed to provide articulation and define zones. The form of the ceiling is accentuated through the use of LED lighting.
We believe that McDonald’s can have major presence at events like NY Fashion Week, movie premiers and other high-profile events by creating a space to fit that environment.
This is just one of many concepts that Access Agency will be launching in 2010. Brands wanting to create something innovative and extraordinary should contact [email protected]
See also McMobile McDonald's (below)
If we were consultants to the two Canadian entertainment titans, Avatar director James Cameron (born Aug 16 1954 in Kapuskasing, Ontario) and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté (born Sep 2, 1959 in Quebec City, Quebec), we’d suggest they create a resident Cirque show in Las Vegas based on Avatar.
Those who have seen Cirque’s resident Vegas show O at Bellagio and Franco Dragone's Le Reve at Wynn know that this combination would work. These two shows are creative mind-blowers, original and fantastic, memorable experiences unlike any other theatre, circus, concert or play event you’ve ever seen.
On the other hand, Cirque’s other resident Vegas shows - The Beatles Love at MGM Mirage and Viva ELVIS at Aria and even the rumoured-to-be-in-the-works Michael Jackson show - do not have the innovation or inspiration Cirque is capable of. We don’t need another song-and-dance show.
Now that Laliberté has had his own Pandora experience, having just landed back on Earth from his $35 million working holiday to the International Space Station, we think he’d be perfectly poised to take this on. Wouldn’t you just love to step into a live 3D alien world of Pandora? We would. - Bill Tikos
In 1984, Vodafone was a tiny UK startup. Today, it is one of the world’s leading mobile telecommunications companies with activities around the globe. Vodafone’s well publicized Portuguese headquarters is located on Avenida da Boavista in Porto (Oporto), the namesake of Port wine and Portugal’s second global city after Lisbon.
The super modern building was designed by architects José António Barbosa and Pedro Guimarães of Barbosa Guimarães Arquitectos.
The architects’ wish to reflect Vodafone’s credo “Vodafone Life, Life in Motion” lead to the creation of a building that challenges the static and appears to be out of balance. Three of the angular building’s eight floors are underground. The cross-section reveals an uneven footprint almost as if the entire structure had fallen from sky at a great speed and crashed itself into the earth where it now sits, only partly exposed and slightly disheveled.
Indeed, the outer skin reminds us of a slightly unfinished origami project that will eventually become a scale model of a museum, the inside views bring to mind the many variations of angular, uneven and pleasantly unresolved spaces we’d seen at Hotel Silken Puerta América in Madrid, especially the rooms designed by Ron Arad, Zaha Hadid and Plasma Studio. - Tuija Seipell
While Italians take cars seriously, it doesn’t mean they cannot have some fun with them. The advertising campaign for the special edition of the Bologna Motor Show 2009 takes full advantage of this. With toys in a retro home playing at taking themselves seriously — including Barbie-like dolls and toy cars and bikes — the advertising campaign pokes fun at the clichés about boys and their toys, hot girls and hot cars.
The show's promo has a reputation of pushing boundaries and being provocative with Milan-based Armando Testa agency having been in charge of the advertising campaign for the past decade. The 2009 campaign — billboards, magazine and newspaper ads, online, TV and radio — was creative directed by Nicola Lampugnani and Francesco Guerrera, with Federica Saraniti Lana’s copy and Nicola Rinaldi’s art. The press campaign was edited by LSD studio. The TV ad was by The Family with Federico Brugia’s direction and music by Ferdinando Arnò. - Tuija Seipell
Perhaps out of necessity or just for a sad lack of creativity, architects and designers of kids spaces - kindergartens, schools, playgrounds — have been obsessed with durability, cost-savings and maximization of space.
For so long, a tiny nod to fun and play has sufficed. A few splashes of colour and some clunky plastic structures have made a depressingly boring space supposedly suitable for children. Yes, money is often the main barrier, but it certainly cannot be the only one. We have needed a change in how we design for kids and we think this change is happening.
Kids’ environments are slowly getting more serious consideration in terms of design, innovation, creativity and groundbreaking solutions. We have also noticed, that adult work spaces have started to resemble kiddy play rooms with flexible and crazy-creative work areas, lots of colour, fun details. The result of all this? We now see kids’ play spaces that look sophisticated yet fun, AND we see adult work spaces that fit the exact same bill. Soon you won’t even notice when kindergarten ends and work life begins!
A recent example of a sophisticated and creative private kindergarten comes from Israel. The cool, Bauhaus-inspired building is located in Tel Aviv metropolitan district’s upscale, mainly residential neighborhood of Ramat Hasharon that is also known for the Israeli Tennis Centre and the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music.
Tel Aviv-based Lev-Gargir Architects designed this space with Bauhaus principles in mind in both floor plans and elevations. The usual requirements — safety, flexibility, good light — are all well met, but what we like is the sense of light and airy freedom.
The slightly Scandinavian sensibility is a beautiful change to the visually busy sensory overload that is often offered at the other end of the spectrum of new children’s spaces. This makes the lovely statement that a stimulating, creative environment for children does not need to scream. Children themselves provide the colour, movement, sounds and action, and the quieter, calmer surroundings leave room for the kids’ own creativity.
For this project, Lev-Gargir Architects worked with the well-known local children’s interior, furniture and toy designer, Sarit Shani Hay, whose details and playful touches in furniture, materials, colours and accessories express an understated respect for children. Nothing is in your face, aggressively demanding attention. Shani Hay is a graduate of London’s Chelsea College of Art and Design. She opened her Tel Aviv studio in 1995.
Lillach Lev and Elan Gargir, both graduates of Haifa’s Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), established their practice in 1999. Lev-Gargir Architects works in a variety of projects from private residences to commercial buildings and retail environments. - Tuija Seipell
Elegant use of space, lovely surface texture and breathtaking sightlines help this new “stack of boxes” avoid the current architectural cliché and give it the appearance of a villa that is not new at all but rather an established retro holiday compound of someone with a confident sense of style and a stack of extra cash.
Casa Kimball owner, Google software engineer Spencer Kimball, found Jasmit Rangr via Google when he needed a designer for his New York loft. That cooperation led to the next project, the beach house in the Dominican Republic.
Casa Kimball’s lovely features include huge windows and doors that pivot on ball bearings and have extremely thin and light frames made of a South-American hardwood as strong as steel. Floors and ceilings are covered with local coral stone. The 20,000 square-foot casa has eight suites. - Tuija Seipell
Think back 70 or 75 years to a time when design began to break away from the traditional and elaborate rationalism that had ensued for hundreds of years. As the styles of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Streamline and Zigzag Moderne emerged after the Industrial Revolution, designers as well as consumers fully embraced the Age of the Machine. Shiny chrome surfaces lay across curving forms or over expansive horizontal planes and glorified a dynamic new world on the move.
And suddenly, design was muted as World War II approached. Inspiration was buried away, along with some innovative and visually stunning design work. Skip ahead to 2005 when some curious members of BMW Classic opened a box and found the R7 bike 75 assembled - although not in shining condition. The engine was corroded, the metalwork was in dire shape, the battery was unusable, but the opportunity for restoration could not be ignored.
Various specialists at the BMW workshop discovered the original design drawings in the archive collections and conjured up the ghosts from Streamline Moderne’s past. Missing parts were sourced, others were rebuilt, the chrome was polished and the frame was painted black. And the final test, retuning the 1934 BMW motorcycle to the street, proved to be worth the wait nearly three quarters of a century later. - Andrew J Wiener via Bike Exif
As we have seen in various posts here on The Cool Hunter, footwear has become a genre of art all of its own.
Much like how the simple need for shelter has crescendoed into superfluous McMansions, the shoe started out as a humble necessity: to keep the toes out of harm's way. Currently - as anyone who's purchased a pair of platform sneakers or sky-high stilettos can attest - a need for beauty and style has far overshadowed the trivial want for comfort.
Oscar Wilde once professed, "One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art". The financially fortunate seem to agree, with well-manicured feet peeking from artistic footwear worth their weight in rubies and diamonds. Cobbler extraordinaire Stuart Weitzman took this tendency to an unprecedented pinnacle with the unveiling of his "Cinderella Slippers" which were worn by singer Alison Krauss at the 2004 Oscars ceremony and priced at $2M.
Thankfully, enjoying the art of footwear is not limited to those of stratospheric bank accounts. The need for fashionable shoe has crossed all social boundaries. From retro-style sneakers to high-end designer fashion heels, shoes are a major part of the international fashion market, and shoe sales are a serious indicator of status and sub-culture.
Naturally, the shoe store has evolved, side-by-side, into an equally stylish hub of modern fashion. No matter if you're talking about a pair Jimmy Choo wedges (a must on the streets of Manhattan) or a rare collectable pair of original 1972 Adidas sneakers — there is a carefully manicured storeroom and market-analyzed price tag for each.
So what's your favourite shoe store?
We want to see stores that feature the most original display and merchandising techniques out there.
From sneaker shops to high-end department stores to exclusive boutiques, if you know of a great candidate then send us an e-mail