Anyone who has ever designed food and beverage packaging knows how difficult it is to stand out in the crowded sameness of food stores. This difficulty is magnified in the wine category. You must, in essence, express the wine’s distinctive qualities in the tiny space of the label, the cap, and perhaps some carton or POS applications.
To make matters worse, various laws and regulations require that much of the label space is taken up by small print. There is also very little cost-effective wiggle room in the basic package: the bottle.
Bottles are universally more or less the same, and the sameness is dictated by standardized manufacturing, transportation, storage and displays. Wine quality plays a major role in this as well, as does consumer perception. Wine that comes out of a box or a plastic container just doesn’t feel quite right.
In the retail selling environment, education and information now also demand their share of space as more and more novices want to know about wine.
For the wine retailer, and for the designer of spaces where wine is sold, all of this poses a challenge: How to display hundreds of seemingly similar bottles in an attractive, interesting and functionally effective way. How to make shopping enjoyable and easy, and how to help consumers learn more about wine.
Dutch online wine seller Grapy hired the Amsterdam-based Storeage to design its first physical selling space. Located in the Het Verbogen Rijk bookstore in Roosendaal, the shop-in-shop helps integrate the bookstore’s wine and cook books with the wine.
We love the massive graphics and the simple, clear “signage” that gives only minimal direction: creamy whites, fresh whites, bubbles. This simplicity – rather than the common and confusing information overload – is what makes shopping easy. Storeage used minimalist, mobile and modular displays to facilitate the move of this shop into other locations.
It will come as no surprise to our readers that we love wood, minimalism and Scandinavian design. Mistral Wine & Champagne Bar in São Paulo, Brazil, is the Mistral wine company’s first physical space.
Designed by local architect Arthur Casas it is a perfect example of how to make a boring, long space look magnificent. We like the bottle display system that shows each bottle label-up, and eliminates the need to handle the bottles. The long “selection hall” leads to a bar area, designed for learning about wine by reading and tasting.
Peter Poulakos, son of Sparta, Greece-born restaurateur Harry Poulakos, operates not just 22 restaurants, including the well-known Harry’s in New York City, but also the focus of our interest here: Vintry Fine Wines
According to Rogers Marvel Architects, the designers of the Battery Park neighbourhood store, the design is based on the parallel rows and rolling hills of wine country. In addition to the beauty of the clean lines, we love the clarity of the space, and the fact that the educational aspect is handled though simple tablets mounted in the central table.
With more than 2,500 bottles on display, the ease of finding what you need is absolutely essential.
In our review of wine stores, we have seen a fairly clear division into two categories: The earthy and traditional winery-related, rustic concepts, and the minimalist, pared down, urban schemes.
The latter was taken to the extreme in this small wine shop in central Stuttgart, Germany, where the designers at Furch Gestaltung + Produktion had to take drastic measures to fit 1,200 types of wine in about 12,000 bottles into a selling space that was not really fit for the task at all.
The store, located at Dorotheenstraße 2 (at Schillerplatz) and operated by Weinhandlung Kreis, is only 70 square meters (about 753 sq.ft) in size on two floors, and has no storage.
Here, the uniformity of wine packaging became the solution. The standards of wine bottling (more or less all bottles are the same size), storage and transportation became the literal and conceptual framework for the entire store.
The designers created a utilitarian, spreadsheet -like metal grid from wire mats that were welded together to form cubes, each with space for 25 bottles.
The real genius of the concept, however, is in the color. The tall stacks of industrial-looking racks could have appeared unappealing and daunting to the consumer – and yes, this is still probably a bit of a challenge to shop for the first time around – but the color adds a significant uptick to the mood.
The store looks cool and playful, and the shelf colors can become a way finding color code for shoppers to find their favourite wines the next time around. - Tuija Seipell
* See also the rise of the designer bakery
It’s the ceiling. Definitely the ceiling. And the wood, of course. We just cannot take our eyes off of cool wood features, so, naturally this studio in Melbourne drew our attention.
It is for Assemble an architecture, design and property development company focused on small footprint projects. Joachim Holland, one of the three key players at Assemble, is also the design principal at Jackson Clements Burrows whose work with the Trojan House we wrote about some time ago.
True to their hands-on spirit, the Assemble team participated in the actual building of the studio and, with professional help, put together its pine batten-and-stud latticework ceiling that was loosely modeled after origami.
In addition to looking lovely, the ceiling is highly functional. It conceals a network of pipes, ducts, tubes, fire alarms, smoke detectors and air-conditioning units, and also improves the acoustics in the space otherwise dominated by exposed concrete and glass.
The ceiling is constructed from five triangles repeated five times across the length of the ceiling. We like how the ceiling’s sense of light weight and openness livens up an otherwise fairly standard, boxy space. - Tuija Seipell.
It is not often that we see an extensive series of images depicting the visual and physical interpretations of a restaurant brand and we think: Wow. These are ALL great!
But that was the case with El Montero. It is a restaurant located in the city of Saltillo in the Mexican state of Coahuila, not far from the Texan border. The surrounding area is desert and the visual and culinary style of the restaurant reflect this.
The town itself is nicknamed both the Athens of Mexico (for its history and concentration of intellectuals) and the Detroit of Mexico for the automobile assembly plants of Mercedes Benz, General Motors and Chrysler. Seems odd that one city could be both an Athens and a Detroit, but that’s what we are told.
As always, we fall in love with dualities and juxtapositions. We like the combination of sophistication and aged materials, contemporary and historical, dark and light. One cannot miss the fantastic, custom-created chandelier consisting of more than 4 kilometers of chain.
Or the cactus forest of the roomy terrace. Or the great combination of an exposed old-stone wall with ornate gold detailing.
The branding and interior design of El Montero were developed by Anagrama, a multi-disciplinary creative agency located in San Pedro Garza García in the state of Nuevo León. - Tuija Seipell
Located in Bellevue Hill, one of the most affluent suburbs of Sydney, this elegantly renovated residence merges the heritage of the building with contemporary minimalism in a way that is not easy to achieve.
Sydney-based Luigi Rosselli Architects in charge of re-imagining the Victorian bones of the building. They have done it lovingly by adding a new wing that includes a kitchen and family room on the ground floor and a study and staff quarters above it.
What we like especially is the eye-catching new three-storey staircase that links the old and new segments. It seems like a perfect signature of the bygone period yet manages to look completely cool and modern.
We also love the whitewashed walls, the wide oak floorboards and the elegant use of marble in the bathroom. The cool lighting installation (by Lindsey Adelman) above the staircase, and the cozy yet roomy vaulted-ceilinged attic are both features that respect the old structure but in a fresh manner.
In these images, it is also tough to ignore the lovely display furnishings brought together by Alexandra Donohoe of Decus (also of Sydney).
During the renovation, the building’s heating system was also completely overhauled and it now operates a geothermal air conditioning and heating system. - Tuija Seipell
Photographer: Justin Alexander
The stark honesty of Hiroshima-born and -based 38-year-old architect Keisuke Maeda’s work is breathtaking.
The Pit House residence he designed for a client in Okayama, Japan, is a startling steel-structured 138 square-meter (1487 sq.ft.) “cave” that was built into the hillside site, yet it allows the residents 360-degree views of the surrounding area and its buildings.
This is achieved by mounting the above-the-surface part of the structure on 50 branch-like poles, creating a surround skylight for the amphitheater inside.
The Pit is one of those residences that one would absolutely want to visit, not just during the day but at night. There is an observatory-like feel to the space, yet the inside looks completely comfortable.
The structure’s boxy surface silhouette hides beautiful, snail-like curving walls, and in spite of being mostly underground, the residence is filled with light and openness.
Pit is definitely not the word we’d use to describe this wonderful structure, but perhaps that name is part of that honesty we so love about Maeda. - Tuija Seipell
Eight weeks ago, our Facebook (FB) page (facebook.com/thecoolhunter) with all of its content and our 788,000 fans – resources we have created and nurtured meticulously over the past five years - was gone.
Not blocked or invisible, but completely gone. Disabled. “Page does not exist.” No explanation, flimsy warnings, no instructions on what to do next. None of our numerous attempts to rectify the situation and resurrect the page have worked.
And because we suspect there are other businesses in the same bind, we are writing this to seek help and encourage open conversation. This is not a minor problem. This is a huge issue and potentially fatal to businesses. We feel that FB must change its one-sided, secret policies and deal with us, and others like us, openly and fairly.
(Image found on Facebook without image credit.)
Important part of our business
Up till that day eight weeks ago, our FB fan base increased by about 1,500 to 2,500 per day, and the page generated more than 10,000 click-throughs to our site, TheCoolHunter.net (TCH), per day.
TCH is an almost eight-year-old design and pop-culture site. We have 2.1 million monthly site visits, a 186,000-strong newsletter subscriber list that reads like the Who-Is-Who of the design and marketing media. We have 247,000 Twitter and 100,000 Instagram followers.
But our Facebook presence has been a unique and extremely important part of our strategy. It is the water cooler of our global community. Losing our FB page is not just a minor hick-up. It is a serious loss of connection and interaction, and of a massive amount of content.
We post items on FB that may not make it to the actual blog, giving hundreds of artists and designers exposure, and thousands of fans something new to see. Our FB page provides the interaction, comments and ideas that help us keep our editorial fresh. It helps us generate ideas for our weekend playlists, gives us tips for our world tours on what to do and see in each city. Most important, our FB community keeps us on our toes, generates great ideas and feedback, and lets us know when we are on the right track.
Our FB community is truly global. At any time of day or night, we would get immediate reactions from hundreds of fans around the world on pretty much any question we would ask. It has become crucially important to us to stay connected in this way. It is a vital link to our community.
Since our page has been disabled, we have also receive hundreds of emails and messages daily from fans worrying where we have gone.
(Image found on Facebook without image credit.)
What did we do?
In essence, we want to know this: What did we do? How do we rectify it? We have never intentionally broken any FB rules and we are willing to do whatever it takes to get our page back. But we do not have the answers and we do not know how to get them. We have tried everything in our power, and we are getting nowhere.
We had a momentary glimpse of hope when we asked for help via Twitter. The young and savvy Nina Mufleh @ninamufleh contacted us and said she could help reinstate it. And she did! We got our page – minus its content. In five days, we had more than 400,000 fans back. But then FB disabled it again. Again, no email, no warning - just gone. That’s when we started to get really annoyed.
Infringement of what?
When our page was initially disabled, we contacted FB. The only response we received was “This user was disabled for repeat IP infringement.” We have no idea what we were infringing on. Which image/s or posts, specifically, have caused this?
We know of only two infringements – two situations where FB closed our account , and we argue strongly that they were not infringements at all.
The problem with this is that you don’t know if what you are posting could irk FB.
But even if FB disagrees with the images we posted, are two images enough to kill our account with no chance of recourse?
The other reason that could have caused the closure of our FB page is that we sometimes use images even when we do not know who has taken the picture.
With FB, Tumblr, Pinterest and all the other image-sharing opportunities today, millions of people and organizations share images – theirs and someone else’s - freely every day. We WANT to give credit always, but in many cases we cannot find that information. On our “About Us” page and on our (now extinct) FB page we specifically state that if we have posted an image that belongs to you, we want to know, so that we can give you the appropriate credit.
Similar issues were discussed in a Huffington Post article here:
If they made any sense at all, they would give you us the contact info of the person who is complaining, so that we can resolve the issue with them. Right now, a completely anonymous and faceless Facebook tells you that a completely anonymous and potentially even false third party has complained about your page. Why can they not be open?
We have no idea why openness is such a foreign thing to them. And more important, we cannot believe that they think that everyone who clicks “share” on FB has checked that they personally have the right to post that image! That is a ridiculous idea. If people did that, FB would not be the business it is. It would be a tiny little official online group of insiders who share each others’ images and copy. Facebook is founded on FREE SHARING. They make their money based on that sharing.
The key point is that absolutely every one of us has posted images AND COPY whose author we do not know and whose authors’ permission we do not have. Facebook is built on this sharing. As are pretty much all other social media platforms. So, why do they attack a few and not all, if they are the police?
Bottom line: We need and want our Facebook account back. But we do not know how.
Do you? Do you have a back-up plan for if this happens to your business? Can you be sure it won’t happen to you? We think not.
It seems ridiculous to severely penalize a business for doing what most Facebook users do daily.
UPDATE: Media coverage:
In the past few years, forerunners in the niche hospitality business have been tripping over each other in their attempts to create the next “un-hotel.” Their goal has been to take the mind-numbing sameness of resorts and big hotels, and the litany of empty and unbroken service promises, out of hotel stays by creating unusual overnight accommodation and unexpected twists.
Many are geared toward the in-the-know frequent traveller who appreciates design, art and pop culture. Themed rooms, completely personalized hotel stays, unexpected common areas, unusual pairings of boutiques, restaurants, art and rooms have all resulted from this un-hotel wave.
Two weeks ago, people who love all things Droog gained their own example of this. They now have yet another reason to fly to Amsterdam as they now can stay the night – if they are extremely lucky - at Hôtel Droog’s singular guest room.
Hôtel Droog is the Droog brand’s first foray into the hospitality business, if that’s what this emporium of fashionably cool shops should be called. It is perhaps more like a funky little department store and less like a hotel.
Drawn in by the mid-century modernist Scandinavian undertow, guests of Hôtel Droog are in for much more than overnight accommodation. The hotel part of Hôtel Droog is more of a clever afterthought than the main attraction as it consists of only one suite, located on the topmost floor of the 17th century building, the former home of the city’s textile guild.
In addition to the guest suite, the 700 square meter (753 sq.ft) space that is Hôtel Droog includes, in an all-white casings, a Droog store offering the staples by the Droog designers, a fashion store K A B I N E T created by Amsterdam-based Ferry van der Nat, a Cosmania cosmetics boutique and also a product display area for Weltevree.
Resting from their spending spree, guests without the privilege of a suite upstairs can rest in the dining room or in the fantastic garden created by Claude Pasquer and Corrine Detroyat, the darlings of the Chaumont Garden Festival. We bet the Hôtel Droog concept has staying power and we envision additional suites, possibly in the nearby buildings. - Tuija Seipell
A fresh take on the office cubicle is possible! Just look at the fun little houses in which the 30 or so cubicle dwellers toil at this Los Angeles-based creative media agency.
Designed by Edward Ogosta Architecture, the 6,000-square-foot (558 sq.ft.) warehouse space initially appears like any big white space with particle-board detailing. But the seemingly bland interior reveals a number of clever ideas, all designed to spark create ideas and encourage interaction as well as provide privacy.
Ogosta named the design Hybrid Office to indicate that every main feature represents two supposedly unrelated things: something from the surrounding city and/or nature married with an office function.
The office cubicles are called House-Tables and their skyline represents that of a row of houses.
There’s a gathering space, an amphitheater-like area constructed with book cases called Book-Arena, and a tatami-covered thinking space called Sky-Cave. Tall, cone shaped hollow tree trunks have become chairs that provide individual privacy. - Tuija Seipell.
It seems that every day we come across yet another beautiful example of elegant use of wood and, more often than not, the architects and designers turn out to be Aussies! Watch out Scandinavians and Japanese!
Stephen O’Connor and Annick Houle, partners at O’Connor and Houle Architecture, are responsible for designing this stunning residence in Blairgowrie on the Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne, Australia. The Pirates Bay House is an L-shaped, one-storey, 200 square-meter (2152 sq. ft.) home for the two architects themselves and their twins.
Because this is an assignment they can fully control, the partners were able to indulge in all of their favourite features, They value slow life and harmony with nature. They also emphasize the various ways in which the residents interact with their living environment – the play of light on the walls and through windows and doorways, the feel of materials and textures, the breezes and airflow throughout the building, and of course, the views and vistas at different times of the day and during different seasons.
The optimal use of sunlight, rainwater and other natural resources, and the selection of landscaping features and native plants that require minimal maintenance or watering, are all part of the owners’ quest for sustainable living. Non-toxic materials, low-energy appliances, recycled timbers were also selected for the same reason.
The result is an elegant, minimalist house that makes us think of self-sufficient Finnish summer houses with no running water, no electricity, no indoor plumbing, yet with all the pleasure. - Bill Tikos