We are on a quest for truly transformed urban spaces. We are looking for instances where a council, city, town, municipality has taken the initiative, come up with the funds and actually transformed a mediocre, unused, ugly space into an inviting and fun public environment.
The spectacular reincarnation of High Line in New York from an impossibility to a cool urban environment comes to mind. Or the transformation of an ugly view-blocking concrete barricade between skyscrapers and beach to a colourful seaside promenade at Paseo Marítimo de la Playa Poniente in Benidorm, Spain.
Or the 324 meter-long meandering bench (world’s longest, apparently) by Studio Weave on the seafront at Littlehampton in the UK. It is not just a bench, it is an experience and an environment.
Or Copenhagen’s Skuperkilen neighborhood, where in a decidedly urban and straight-forwardly artificial way the designers and planners at Topotek1, Bjarke Ingels Group and Superflex invaded the entire available space to create a delightful expression of the various cultures and backgrounds represented by the area’s residents. Superkilen received the Institute Honor Awards for Regional and Urban Design by the National AIA Awards 2013.
We need more councils that have the vision and passion to do these things. We need people to demand and rally for them, and we need visionary designers, architects, planners and artists to design and propose and speak for them. Let’s just do it!.
Should anyone need an excuse to travel to Naples, we can offer the perfect one: Go there to explore Metro Napoli’s Art Stations. (That’s subway or tube stations for the rest of us.) The Art Stations program has been going on for some time with artists, designers and architects, including, Alessandro Mendini, Anish Kapoor, Gae Aulenti Jannis Kounellis, Karim Rashid, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Sol LeWitt contributing.
What drew our attention is the 13th Art Station of the Naples Metro system, the Toledo Metro Station, that opened finally after many delays in September 2012, during the European Week of Sustainable Mobility. It was designed by the Spanish firm of architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca.
The station is on Via Toledo (Via Roma), one of the main shopping streets in Naples. A second entrance to the Toledo Station will open in February 2013 in the Spanish Quarter, Quartieri Spagnoli. Oscar Blanca also designed the public squares above the two metro entrances.
The Toledo station is one of the deepest in the line at 50 meters, and it is themed around water and light. The art of the station, curated by art critic and former Venice Biennale director, Achille Bonito Oliva, includes two mosaics by the South African artist, William Kentridge, as well as Light Panels Robert Wilson and works by Francesco Clemente, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Shirin Nehsat and Oliviero Toscani.
We especially love the deep, blue, sparkling crater that connects the ground level with the great lobby 38 meters below. No wonder that The Daily Telegraph included the Toledo Station on its Europe’s Most Impressive Underground Railway Stations list. - Tuija Seipell
See also: Metro Station Drassanes, Barcelona
The Cool Hunter Pop-up boutique series starts this month in Melbourne, Australia continues in Sydney in December, and in 2013 we will be setting up temporary boutiques in New York and London.
THE COOL HOUSE at Rokeby Studios, Melbourne - 29 Nov - 2 Dec
THE COOL HOUSE at Pacific Bondi Beach, Sydney - 7 Dec - 16 Dec
Introducing the irresistible mix: The exclusive Penthouse display suite at Pacific Bondi Beach in Sydney, the coolest and newest photography studio Rokeby in Melbourne, a group of select exclusive feature sponsors and the design-savvy audience of The Cool Hunter, combined with an unexpected, limited-time designer product shopping experience.
In Sydney: Catching the wave of the temporary boutique phenomenon, The Cool Hunter (TCH) will refit the Pacific Bondi Beach Penthouse Suite for an unprecedented and unforgettable 10-day (including 2 weekends) event where potential buyers can not only view the suite but buy any and all of the furnishings, accessories and artwork.
In Melbourne: Rockeby studios becomes the setting for a 4 day designer shopping experience featuring the latest in home and housewares, designer accessories and unique products for the discerning home.
For the guests, shopping at THE COOL HOUSE at Pacific Bondi Beach penthouse and at Rokeby Studios will be unlike any other shopping experience – a striking break from the mind-numbing sameness of stores and malls around the world.
Whenever wood is used beautifully, we pay attention. Kengo Kuma-designed 15-room hotel, and especially the attached fruit market in the town of Yusuhara, in the Takaoka District of Kochi, Japan, is a project worth admiring.
We love the skilful, minimalist use of traditional methods, materials and symbolism in the creation of the market space that appears both ancient and completely modern at the same time – a uniquely Japanese skill, it seems.
The cool, thatched façade pays tribute to the town’s ancient tradition of providing travellers who took the main arterial Yusuhara route rest spaces called “Chad Do” that also functioned as venues for cultural exchange and interaction.
As always with this type of design, our eyes are drawn to everything that is NOT there, which allows us to see what IS there even more clearly. No clutter, no visual noise. Contemporary minimalism at its finest. - Tuija Seipell.
Never thought we’d say we love an abandoned quarry. But through a massive six-year restoration, replanting and re-imagining process, the Quarry Garden in Shanghai Botanical Garden, in the Songjiang District, in Shanghai, China, has become not just a thing of beauty and wonder but a successful travel attraction. An abandoned quarry has indeed been turned into something beautiful.
The Quarry Garden has also earned the American Society of Landscape Architecture 2012 Honor Award.
We love the tranquility and eerie otherworldliness that comes from the ongoing process of a destroyed natural environment returning back to nature but in a completely new, transformed guise. We are left to contemplate both the scars and the forgiveness of nature. - Tuija Seipell
What a cool ride so far!
The Cool Hunter was born seven years ago. I never thought it would lead to what we have today.
It started as a newspaper column and, surprisingly, grew quickly into a globally syndicated column.
When TCH went online, the number of subscribers and readers it drew immediately was astounding. There was clearly a pent-up need for the type of material we were featuring.
Our enthusiastic readers were not just regular people, but editors and reporters from all other media, as well as brand managers, marketing executives, CEOs, designers – professionals whose job it is to know about, and create, innovative ideas, cool products, exceptional communications, fantastic events.
Over the years, well-known brands started contacting us for help and ideas with advertising and marketing.
Our daily exposure to literally hundreds of brands, designers, architects, artists, ideas, design images and PR material has given us not just a super-solid view of what is out there and what stands out, but also access to the best talent in the world.
Of course, most of what we see is not remarkable. Which is why we knew there was yet another niche, and we established ACCESS agency to meet those needs, to help brands stand out from the mediocre, boring sameness.
Mini Pram and Supermarket Trolleys
Since those times, we have worked with great brands, from Swarovski and Gucci to Nike and Mattel.
We do not always showcase all of ACCESS’s work here, but we wanted to show you some of the fun ideas we’ve created for the many Mini offices that have contacted us over the years.
It has truly been a cool ride so far! - Bill Tikos
Mini Rickshaw Tourist Bikes in Athens
Mini Indoor Drive-In Cinema to launch the Mini Countryman in Italy
See more at Access Agency
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
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
It is time to save inflatables from death by boredom, and elevate them to must-have designer experiences! We are talking about enhancing the way adults enjoy playing in the water, although even kids will find a designer inflatable quite a refreshing experience!
What if a designer hotel or resort had amazing, on-brand inflatables in the pool, or on the beach, available for guests to enjoy, take pictures of, share with their networks?
We are looking for architectural, playful, cool, imaginative, never-before-seen designer ideas for inflatables. Show us what you can do. Show us how far we can take this unexplored water experience and we'll manufacture them.
An entire new water surprise waiting for guests - what can we do to WOW them?
Please send us your design ideas including 3d renderings by the end of May, 2012.
What we are looking for specifically is an inflatable for one or two people. We are in search for the best design idea for a practical but awesomely cool water accessory that will make you want one as soon as you see it floating in a pool or on the beach.
The inflatable must fit into the vibe and atmosphere of a five-star resort – we are looking for something super-cool, sculptural, desirable.
The winning design, if and when manufactured, will earn the designer a royalty from each sale of the inflatable.
The design competition is open to all designers, industrial designers, graphic designers, illustrators, architects etc -
Wood is both universal and unique. No other material is as deeply embedded in the history, culture and life of humans worldwide as wood, yet every single piece of wood is unique.
The color tone, texture, durability, flexibility and even sound qualities of different tree species have puzzled and challenged artists, architects, designers, builders and artisans for thousands of years.
Still today, nothing matches wood in versatility or beauty, so it is great to see how today’s designers and architects continue to face the challenge of wood, and use it creatively to interpret sleek, modern designs.
They use wood to meet their current needs and desires for which wood is ideally suited. People seek calm surroundings, simplicity and minimalism to soothe their frayed nerves and to counter the constant visual overload they face. Wood’s warmth and natural beauty works wonders for creating a sense of balance and calm.
People also look for sustainable alternatives, eco-friendly options, greener solutions. When harvested, managed and used sustainably, forests are still the source of the greatest material on earth.
We especially love the influence of Scandinavian and Japanese traditions that we can detect in today’s wood architecture and design. Minimalist, functional, beautiful, and light in both color and weight.
Scandinavian building and design traditions are based solidly on the use of wood. Finnish modernist master, architect Alvar Aalto, stunned the world with Living Wood, his design for the Finnish Pavilion for the Paris World Exposition in 1937. In the pavilion, he combined both traditional and modern architecture and showcased his functionalist design sensibilities. It was considered one of the boldest and most innovative pavilions of the Expo.
Earlier, Aalto’s exploration of the limits of bent wood and mass production had resulted in the Paimio chair (1931) and other furniture classics, and had a permanent impact on how furniture looks even today. Aalto’s work influenced many other modernist masters including Charles and Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen.
The use of wood in Japanese architecture and design is characterized by austere construction methods, the lightness of materials, the connectedness between indoors and outdoors, and the way in which buildings merge with their surroundings.
With hardly any furniture used inside, Japanese master craftsmen were able to focus their skills on the buildings themselves, on skilful joining of sections without nails, and on revealing, rather than covering or adorning, the original texture and tone of the wood.
Wood as a material has held a charmed place in architecture and design for both its simplicity and complexity. It lends itself to imposing, bulky structures, yet also yields to delicate, undulating forms that seem lacy and transparent.
We love this lightness and elegance, the play of light and shadow, the countless tones of color that can be achieved with skilful use of wood both structurally and decoratively.
In more and more residential projects, both big and small, architects and designers are finding new, creative ways to reveal and highlight the beauty and versatility of wood. They manage to create structures that appear current and cool, yet also exude a classic, timeless elegance.
Every day, we come across images of fantastic single-use residences, recreational cottages, furniture, decks and patios, where the qualities of wood are perfectly matched with the users’ needs and the requirements of the surroundings as well.
In retail and hospitality, wood is also making an impact. We love the blocky, clean look of the Aesop stores. At the other end of the spectrum a good example is the lightness and playfulness achieved in RDAI Architects’ use of wood-slat “huts” as departments in the Paris Hermès store built inside an old hotel swimming pool.
In not just eco-lodges, but also in luxury resorts, spas and hotels, wood is becoming the material of choice. As guests are looking for a retreat, a sense of being back in nature, a quilt-free, tranquil vacation, resorts are responding with wood-frame structures, wood interiors and sustainable solutions that also look fabulous.
Wood is not trendy yet it is incredibly cool. It is a demanding, noble, ancient, living material that we have the privilege to use and enjoy. In wood, the architect, designer and builder face the exhilarating challenge of the sculptor — to reveal the character of the specific species, the individual tree. And we, the viewers and users of their work, have the opportunity to discover it for ourselves. We are looking forward to more. - Tuija Seipell.
At TCH, we are so obsessed with wood that we even created Treelife, an event to showcase the most innovate work using wood in the design of Treehouses.