Design

Design

November 22 2007


Fixated as we are with creative ideas, we really like it when we see something nearly impossible turn out to be possible. At the moment we are intrigued by small, compact, boxy buildings. Dwellings, mini houses, pop-up buildings that are clever and functional, yet chic and fun. A home inside a box, a cafe in shipping container.



Or maybe an office, shop or yoga studio in some new, fascinating cube-like format? If you know of such buildings -
actual buildings, not just plans - please let us know where they are. We'd like to see how it's done and spread the word. By Tuija Seipell. send to [email protected]


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Design

November 21 2007




Whoever said that reading was a religious experience was right, especially when taking a visit to Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht, Netherlands.

Having just won the Lensvelt de Architect Interior Prize 2007, this newest addition to the Selexyz book chain is well worth the visit to this medieval city if you are ever in the area.



Erected inside a former 800 year old Dominican church, this bookstore is said to hold the largest stock of books in English in Maastricht, one of the oldest cities in the country.

It was always going to be a challenging task for Amsterdam based architects Merkx + Girod who designed the space, to stay true to the original character and charm of the church, whilst also achieving a desirable amount of commercial space (there was only an available floor area of 750 m2, with a proposed retail space of 1200 m2). Taking advantage of the massive ceiling, both have been achieved through the construction of a multi-storey steel structure which houses the majority of the books. This is one giant bookshelf, with stairs and elevators taking shoppers and visitors alike, up to the heavens (mind the pun), to roof of the church.



To maintain a sense of symmetrical balance in the space, lower tables of best sellers and latest releases have been added to either side, and of course a small cafe at the back for readers to relax and enjoy a hot drink.

Overall a great example of how with clever thinking, spatial solutions can both achieve a suitable retail presence, whilst still respecting and remaining true to the original structure. By Brendan Mc Knight

See also Pontificial Lateral University Library
                 LIBRARIES - CANDIDA-HOFFER
                 Kids Republic Bookstore

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Design

October 3 2007




For some time, designers, architects and builders all over the world have tinkered with the idea of turning excess standard shipping containers into living quarters. Some of the incarnations of the lowly metal box are downright chic, including artist-architect Adam Kalkin's Quik House for which he apparently has more orders than he can handle.

But these metal containers have also drawn the attention of some leading brands that have started to use the eye-popping ideas to full advantage. Holiday shoppers milling about the Time Warner Center in New York will have a fabulous chance to experience one of these soon. Between November 28 and December 29, 2007, they can rest, relax and sip a perfect cup of illy espresso in one of Kalkin's creations, the temporary Push Button House cafe that the Trieste, Italy-based illycaffe will install there.



The European premier of this concept by Alan Kalkin and illy took place at the 52nd Venice Biennale where illy continues to partner with the Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia by providing the visitors each year a space to relax and enjoy their complimentary espresso. This was illy's fourth year of establishing the refreshment area at the Biennale but the Push Button House version created an unprecedented buzz.



With the push of a button, the house opens in 90 seconds like a flower and transforms from a compact container into a fully furnished and functional space with a kitchen, dining room, bathroom, bedroom, living room and library. All materials used in the Biennale house were recyclable or recycled. As Andrea Illy, chairman and CEO of illycaffe, has been quoted as saying, illy was initially interested in Kalkin's idea as an examination of 'home as one continuous mouldable surface, a relief against which human activity would pop out.';

Kalkin's concepts have proven to be adaptable to many circumstances. His company has developed container-unit projects for everything from disaster-relief housing to luxury dwellings (pictured below), and for promotional purposes such as the illy cafe. By Tuija Seipell.



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Design

September 28 2007




Walking past a series of drab estate agent windows doesn't really make you want to part with your hard earned cash. Even if you are looking to move out.

That's why estate agents Hotblack Desiato - depicted as a keyboard player in the cult sci-fi novel, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - decided to spruce up their Islington offices in London. 

These little clusters of property were inspired by the revival of cubism within architecture. The 3-D squares created by designer Paul Crofts are set at varying depths to create an almost pixel like installation that spills over onto the adjacent wall inside. Which makes poking your nose round other people's houses that little bit sweeter.  By Matt Hussey

Design

July 17 2007

 
Some are happy to just get a haircut and some relationship advice from their stylist, but we want more. If stylists actually have a sense of style, why are hair salons mostly boring, sterile and cookie-cutter, we wonder? Our hunt for cool hair salons has yielded a few exceptions. One is Fur Hairdressing at City Square in Melbourne. It is Fur’s second salon; the first is in Greville St, Prahran. The new salon is an expression of Fur creative director Frank Valvo’s inimitable flair that has earned him a semi-permanent perch on the list of Melbourne’s best-dressed men.

Combining their talents with Melbourne-based Six Degrees, Fur stylists created a salon that appears much larger than its 24 square meters. The eclectic interior is a flexible set up changeable for one to seven clients. Imagine walls made of a recycled basketball court — one camouflaging a huge set of drawers -- add 70s disco kitsch, flexible sets of angled and rotating mirrors and you are all set for a new kind of hair salon experience. Fur’s custom-designed lighting and sound (using a BOSE system) will maximize your enjoyment. By Tuija Seipell. See also Pimp and Pinups
 





Design

June 28 2007


Staying at a hospital or visiting a dentist are mostly unpleasant events, even if you were there just to get a little nip-and-tuck or have your teeth whitened. The universal ugliness and dullness of those bland walls and uninspiring furnishings is surely not going to make you feel better. Plastic surgeons, spas and hair salons fare a bit better, but even most of them are just paying lip service to design or luxury with no real imagination, nothing that makes a lasting impression. Except a few. We’ve seen some that have undergone real makeovers and we want more! Let us know where the coolest places of beautification are — from hospitals, plastic surgeons, dentists to hair salons, spas, manicurists... By Tuija Seipel. Send [email protected]




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Design

May 4 2007


Packaging has power – enormous power – over what we buy. The fashions we wear express who we are. Packaging does that for products. We identify with a product because we believe that it does for us what we wish it to do. And as any brand manager will tell you, we buy the “brand promise” and the package carries a lot of that promise.



Try this test scenario. You are dying to break your shampoo routine, or for some reason cannot find your usual brand. How do you select an alternative? You generally pick a package that appeals to you or draws your attention. Often you do that out of necessity – you don’t have the chance to taste or try most products. The package must do the selling right there on the spot.



Ask retail anthropologist Paco Underhill (author of Why we buy and Call of the mall) and he’ll likely produce studies and surveys on shelf impact, shopping behavior and consumer psychology, all showing that it does matter what the box looks like, even when we say it doesn’t.



Martin Lindstrom’s latest book Buyology – Truth and Lies about Why We Buy covers the results of Lindstrom's $7-million study that attempted to figure out what really makes us vote with our wallets. The over-arching revelation – if it is indeed a revelation – is that, more often than not, we as consumers do not know why we buy. We do not know what actually affects us when we make a buying decision.



What we do know – and what marketers know – is that it is all about emotions. How does the brand make us feel, is what matters. Our first impressions, whether about products or people, are strong and quick. In many cases, packaging is the main influencer. The billions spent on packaging and branding annually are not spent on spec. Marketers know it works, although even they don’t always know how or why.



Packaging has a huge impact on many other things as well, not just on our buying decisions. On store shelves, the battle for space and shelf impact is tough. There is a reason why a box of twelve pills is five or more times larger than it actually needs to be to contain the pills. Theft is one concern, possibly also anti-tampering, but mostly it is about taking up space, taking it away from the competition.



As the brand gains shelf space with the bigger box, other things happen as well. The bigger the box, the more shelving is needed. The more shelving is used, the larger the store needs to be. The larger the store, the higher the rent and the more staff is needed to keep it running. We can keep going along this route.



The larger box also means larger cartons to ship the boxes, larger warehouses, larger trucks and so on. A larger box uses up more materials, more trees are cut down, more plastic is used, more garbage is accumulated... And of course, it all costs more. We are not trying to say that packaging is the cause of all ills, but we are suggesting that designing and producing “a slightly bigger box” is not a small decision.



We also feel that we must finally start seriously caring about the environmental impact of unnecessary and eco-unfriendly packaging. Designers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers are the ones that can influence what happens in the packaging world. Packaging manufacturers will follow and start making whatever the market wants to buy. Ideally, of course, manufacturers of packaging should also invest more in developing eco-friendly options, but if unfriendly options keep selling well, why would they change?



Our daily behavior proves that branding and packaging are important. There is nothing inherently wrong with that.



But there is a bigger picture and it includes the inconvenient truth that much of packaging still ends up in garbage, in landfills or in the oceans.



The challenge is to keep the cool, the impact, the fun and the practical function of packaging, but to do it in a way that doesn’t do any damage.



As always, we at The Coolhunter are looking for genuinely original packaging. Let us know when you see it!



From milk cartons to cosmetics, if its packaging that really pops, let us know about it! - Tuija Seipell



Looking for a design studio who can deliver - look no further than TCH Design



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Design

April 8 2007


To the relief of many, a visit to a winery no longer has to resemble an agricultural outing with the mandatory trudging along dirt paths and in dark cellars listening to winegrowers go on and on about the terroir of their cru. Wineries — and not just in the newer wine-producing regions — are starting to wake up to today’s design sensibilities.



With winery buildings now often designed by famous architects, and with spectacular winery hotels, wineries with luxurious spas, cool wine-tasting bars, and imaginative wine shops popping up everywhere, the once stuffy wine culture is beginning to feel a bit more like something that even someone without a burning interest in either viti- or viniculture could enjoy.



Wineries are now full-blown brands, where everything from the buildings all the way down to the towels used in the winery’s spa reflects the brand story and the brand identity. This is not to say that the wine itself no longer matters. On the contrary. Most often, the more passionate the wine growing and the more distinctive the qualities of the wine, the more attention is paid to the overall brand. Of course, money plays a role here as well. If the wine is no good and nobody buys it, there isn’t likely to be a designer spa on the property.



An early example of a winery that took the winery visit idea a bit further is the Wilson Daniels estate winery Pegase di Domaine Clos in California’s Napa Valley. It’s often touted as a place of pilgrimage and “America’s first monument to wine as art.” Designed by Michael Graves and completed in 1987, the intriguing winery structure with its 20,000 square feet of caves now houses 1,000 works of art including Salvador Dali, Henry Moore and Francis Bacon.



A more recent example of winery-as-design-destination is the Frank Gehry-designed Hotel Marques de Riscal in the medieval Spanish village of Elciego. The startling Gehry building, located at one of the oldest vineyards in Spain, has 43 rooms, a cooking school and two elite restaurants. The spa offers specialized wine therapy treatments that with the help of the wine’s antioxidant properties are said to relieve stress and slow ageing.



So although we are duly impressed with those who are fluent with appellations, terroirs and crus, we must admit that we are more drawn to all things beautiful to the eye. So we’d love to see more of the world’s most amazing wineries, wine-tasting bars, wine showrooms and winery hotels. Let us know where they are, so that we can share the joy with the world. Send your tips to [email protected] or via here . By Tuija Seipell\


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Design

March 12 2007




Everyone is a pimp or a pinup, according to Simon Charrison and his cousin James. Not content with the current trend of hair salons - emaciated stylists, pissed-off pundits and sound systems capable of melting your face - the two South Australians decided something had to be done. So they decided to open their own hair salon that prioritised service over grandiloquence right in the heart of London's east-end.

“Both I and Simon have an 'old-school approach'. The stylists have a very close working relationship with the clients, old and new, and many of them come in just for a chat and a coffee. We offer a range of complementary refreshments in the salon and we even offer beer and wine, which is always well received, especially by the clients who have just finished work.”

The styling and design take a similar approach. Vintage Japanese chairs decked in thick black leather mould to your body while the vaudeville decor offers a sense of theatre. Simon has been cutting hair for over twelve years and James has worked in customer service for a similar period.  The sense of personal empowerment at the heart of Pimps & Pinups has attracted the likes of Green Day, not to mention local bands who regularly feature on the in house stereo. “The music we play is really important to the ambience.  There's a lot of indie rock, but Saturdays mainly just ends up being the ACDC day though,” muses James. By Matthew Hussey

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Design

February 10 2007

Bathroom, washroom, toilet, powder room, ladies’/men’s room, whatever we call it, it is the one place in any public or semi-public place – including restaurants, hotels, concert halls, clubs or bars – that really tells what the entire establishment is all about.



Sometimes it may be possible to fake customer care, cool or luxury at the front end, but the truth is always revealed in the loo. If the bathrooms are ordinary, filthy or in poor repair – or all three – you can be sure that the whole concept is just surface glare, without substance and without true respect of the guests.



Just as the owners’ attitudes are reflected in the staff they or their managers hire, their true values and beliefs are revealed in the places that get overlooked in poorly executed concepts: parking garages , coat checks, kitchens, and most visibly and most commonly, bathrooms.



It continues to baffle us why it is not obvious that the experience of going to a concert or dining at a restaurant includes the entire experience, not just parts of it. The divine food in a restaurant or the concert at a venue has a lot to cover up if the journey to your seat was poor agony. We have all had experiences like this: You were scared in the car park, got soaked in the line-up outside, had your wet coat crushed and your scarf dropped at the coat check, and when you proceeded to freshen up in the bathroom, it was completely uninspiring, poorly lit, ill-equipped and stinky. You are disappointed, but not surprised. It has happened too often.



Which is why we are glad that bathrooms are starting to get some serious design attention. There is so much room to impress and surprise that it is amazing everyone isn’t doing something about it. It is one huge untapped opportunity. Because most of us have been so thoroughly underwhelmed hundreds of times, our expectations are quite low to start with.



Owners and designers of such places have an unprecedented chance to surprise, please and pamper us, and to show that they really mean business all the way through.



We are hoping that we will be seeing much more of great bathroom design and that there will be fewer disappointments in your future. Let us know when that happens. - Tuija Seipell