Paleoanthropologist Erik Trinkaus purports that man started wearing shoes between 26,000 and 40,000 years ago. The average American woman today is said to own 27 pairs of shoes. This is all interesting stuff if shoes are your passion — as they are for Maecenas Dirk Vanderschueren, owner of Cortina, one of the world’s largest shoe manufacturers.
To share his passion Vanderschueren created a “shoe experience” SONS – Shoes Or No Shoes in Kruishoutem (Cruyshautem), in East Flanders, Belgium, about 70 kilometers (40 miles) from Antwerp and Brussels, and close to Cortina’s hometown of Oudenaarde.
SONS consists of three collections. The Ethnographic Collection, amassed by former shoe distributor William (Boy) Habraken, includes 2,700 pairs from 155 countries and is acknowledged by the Guinness World Records as the largest collection of tribal and ethnological shoes.
Antwerp-based shoemaker couple Veerle Swenters and Pierre Bogaerts contributed the Modern Collection -- some 1,200 pairs acquired from artists, many of whom customized the shoes, evoking the question: Are they art or shoes? Shoes or no shoes?
The Designer Collection, also accumulated by Habraken, showcases unique footwear form 20th-century and contemporary designers including Salvatore Ferragamo, Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik.
SONS is housed in a building designed and built by gallery owner Emile Veranneman and architect Christiaan Vander Plaetse in 1973. Architects Lode Uytterschaut and Johan Ketele revamped the structure for the constantly growing shoe collections. Outside, they covered the building with lead and inside, they created an unpretentious warehouse look using industrial shelving systems and almost no colour. - Tuija Seipell
It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that toys and childhood play were the guiding inspirations for the recently completed children’s sports and recreation center in Saint-Cloud, a wealthy community located in the metropolitan area of Paris, about six miles from the city center.
Designed by Paris-based KOZ Architects, and coexisting with several older educational buildings and a residential development, the 1,600 square-meter facility is unexpected and bold in its riotous use of colours both inside and out. A more typical an approach for this type of neighbourhood would have been a structure that vanishes into its surroundings.
The funhouse by KOZ has turned into a favorite of kids, parents and teachers, as the facility was planned and its wild colours used in specific ways that fosters the intended functions -- play and sports – and not just to shock or delight.
Joining cube-shaped, basic concrete structures with an overlay and creating a sports court on top of the building have not only increased the building’s usability and maximized the use of the site, but also accommodated the complex’s surprisingly easy fit into the site. A monolithic, monotonic approach would have created a mass much more imposing and seemingly unfriendly than the varying-height structure with its pixelated glass facade that now draws children in through colour and an abundance of natural light.
KOZ was established in 1999 Christophe Ouhayoun and Nicholas Ziesel, graduates of the Paris-Belleville School of Architecture who both spent part of their childhoods in the USA. With three other architectural firms, KOZ established a collaborative collective, Plan01 in 2001. - Tuija Seipell
We love a fine wine, especially when it can be ingested in as thoughtful an environment as this one. Welcome to Merus, a "designer" winery like no other. Located in the Napa Valley in California, Merus looks more like a Michelin-starred restaurant than your average cellar-door retail outlet. Exposed beams are the only nod to the past in this interior design strategy, which is thoroughly modern with a hint of Californian warmth.
Amsterdam-based Uxus Design is the architecture and design firm behind the winery. With more than a few inspiring, high profile projects under its belt, Uxus is one of the Netherlands' hottest design studios - with an office to match.
It's been a busy year for Uxus, who have unveiled a number of other great retail design projects recently including the new Heineken 'concept' bars which will open in airports across the globe and one of Europe's coolest McDonald's play areas in Amsterdam. - Bill Tikos
See also Design Wine
While the airline industry remains fiercely competitive through price wars, company's real ammunition should be found in the point of difference offered in their inflight experience. Oddly however this leverage is never taken advantage to its full potential as in-flight-experiences rarely stray away from offering a stock-standard service to their customers.
An airplane is of course transportation, and not a hotel, spa or restaurant, but we have been waiting for a long time for the first airline that is willing to embark on true differentiation. Taking cues from cool architecture, leading-edge design and the vibes we see ahead of, and outside of, trends, The Coolhunter is now working on creating truly cool airline experiences, giving premium-class passengers a real reason to select one airline over another.
Bred from the very culture that has made The Cool Hunter an international success, TCH is offering its insight in the world of trend forecasting to the airline industry to create a truly unique and progressive in-flight experience. The Cool Hunter will curate the design, aesthetics and functionality across on-board entertainment, furnishings and decor right through to re-inventing on-board shopping, all with the signature style that has placed The Cool Hunter in the forefront of style.
Airline Marketing Managers should contact [email protected] for more details.
Virgin Atlantic exterior designed by TCH Design Studio
An existing subway or metro station does not give much room to creativity. Drassanes is a metro station in Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella district at the old docks of Port Vell.
The original station was built in 1968. Eduardo Gutiérrez Munné and Jordi Fernández Río, the 31-year-old partners of ON-A Arquitectura WWW.ON-A.ES, had no other option but to accept the limitations of the constricted space and make the best of it by covering the old station with new surfaces. They decided that a subway car already has everything a passenger needs and proceeded to create a station that emulates the feel of (a) subway cars. Light-weight, white glass-enforced concrete covers the vertical surfaces and a resin component helps make the white floors vibration-proof.
The overall feel is clean and open, something that could not be said of the old station. Eduardo Gutiérrez and Jordi Fernández have completed several public and commercial projects, from hotels and bars to stadiums and zoos. They established ON-A in 2005. - Tuija Seipell
West Hollywood, California-based Clive Wilkinson Architects has completed many projects for California’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. The private college offers two-year fashion, graphics, interior design and entertainment education at four campuses Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County and San Diego.
Clive Wilkinson’s latest undertaking with the Institute was the 31,000-square-foot Sand Diego facility located on the third floor of a new, unremarkable office tower overlooking the Petco baseball park. Bold use of colour defines the various functional areas of the campus, and makes dividing walls unnecessary. Glass walls are present in almost every space, which allows light to flow freely. These are all effective ways of creating openness and visual interest while avoiding the claustrophobic, square-box feel that could result, especially in the areas located farthest from the perimeter walls with windows.
Sand-tone flooring and hard, angular lines link everything together, and establish an edgy, free-flowing sense of vibrancy. Visually light-weight furniture paired with heavier blocks of seating and desks bring variety without looking pretentious. Everything seems a bit temporary, in the positive sense of the word. Softer, rounded treatments in the lounge area invite relaxation and rest.
The Cape Town and London-educated architect, Clive Wilkinson, established his office in Los Angeles in 1991. The company has since reaped awards in both interior design and architecture, completing commercial, residential and hospitality projects. One of the firm’s current assignments is the renovation of the 370,000-square-foot Nokia House in Helsinki, the headquarters of Nokia, due to be completed in 2010. - Tuija Seipell
Mecanoo Architects is designing the city hall and central train station for its home town of Delft, in the Netherlands. The top level will be glass-ceilinged, and even the underground levels will have a feel of transparency and light. Vaulted ceilings, archways and a strong use of white and blue will lighten the visual weight of the complex that will include a 30,000 square-meter public hall. The four-year construction will begin next year.
The Dutch-born and educated architect Francine Houben established Mecanoo Architects in the mid-80s. Mecanoo has since completed an incredible variety of public and private projects, including retail stores, theaters, hotels, libraries, museums, chapels, residential neighborhoods and parks. Houben’s focus on ”sensory beauty,“ color and light has produced many spectacular buildings in Europe and around the world. Most recently, Mecanoo won the competition to design the new master plan for a central business district in Shenzhen, China. The district will include 8,000 houses and 400,000 square-meters of commercial and cultural facilities. - Tuija Seipell
You must feel comfortable being surrounded by really bright colours if you plan on studying at Tokyo's famous Senzoku Kaguen College of Music's latest addition. It is called Black Hole on the school's site, but Black Hall on the site of Terada design & Architects, the Tokyo-based architecture firm that designed it. We want to believe the school, especially when we know that one of the large studios is called Big Mouth. The Black Hole has recording studios, multimedia studios, electronic organ classrooms, PC labs, and practice studios for jazz, jazz vocal, pop and rock. In the otherwise basic hallways, intense wall and ceiling colours have become the main design element, and the way finding ' large-scale painted signage on the walls ' is the main artwork. Terada is an architecture and design studio established by the Osaka-born, 42-year-old Naoki Terada in 2003. - Tuija Seipell