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Infinity and beyond: Ivan Navarro’s installation throws light on Masterpiece London

Wednesday June 28th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Luminous, illusory, monolithic: Ivan Navarro’s latest installation summons the enigmatic energy of prehistoric monuments like Stonehenge and Avebury – with a twist of fluorescent lime and 1970s psychedelia.

Impenetrable Room (2017) greets visitors to Masterpiece – the art fair opening today in Chelsea that brings together everything from antiquities to contemporary art and design. The beguiling boxes fitted with undulating neon tubing and mirrors create an infinity effect, but unlike other infinity installations, you’re kept on the outside of Navarro’s work. It gets at the very nature of creation. You can stand back and marvel, but you can’t fully grasp it.

Impenetrable Room, 2017, by Ivan Navarro. Photography: Andy Barnham

‘I think of this almost as a fourth dimension, that is reflection or fiction,’ Navarro told us ahead of the fair. Unlike other works where he has mounted to the floor or wall, here ‘it was important to achieve this connection between illusion and the real space’. He explains, ‘That’s one of the reasons the pieces are freestanding, and you can tell that it’s a real volume and the effect of the mirror is a trick.’

The six identical, six by six foot containers – originally used for transporting musical instruments – have appeared in Navarro’s work before, but this new site-specific installation, commissioned by the fair and presented by Paul Kasmin Gallery, creates new resonances.

The works seem to resemble shipping containers, and their playful attitude could be taken as poking a little fun at the way of viewing art at a fair—walking around artworks to try to size them up. ‘One idea I like about this work is that you can show it in different configurations,’ he says. ‘Each box is independent from each other, so every time it’s shown in different places you can create different environments.’

Impenetrable Room, 2017, by Ivan Navarro

Navarro, who grew up in Santiago during Pinochet’s rule, is known for his interests in socio-political themes and interests in perception – but another inspiration is furniture. He used to work as an antique restorer and cites furniture as source for his shapes and forms, such as his series of electric chairs in 2005. ‘I’ve always been interested in furniture. I did some pieces connected to Rietveld, and I like Bauhaus and modern German and Dutch design.’

Impenetrable Room is a centrepiece of Masterpiece. And no doubt it’ll be a popular spot for selfies too. ‘Yes, that always happens,’ Navarro concedes. ‘But I don’t make it to be engaging. I make it as a visual experiment to play with different ideas and materials.’

But it won’t be the only way people interact with the art. ‘I always watch – it’s cool to hear what people say. And there’s something interesting people alway do: they see how much the pieces resist damage — some people kick them!’ If you do feel the urge to kick the art, just be aware Navarro might be lurking.

Candid camera: unseen Polaroids by Warhol, Mapplethorpe and more come to light

Wednesday June 28th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Convinced that the Polaroid camera was an invention at the intersection of art and technology, in 1949, Polaroid founder Edwin Land invited Ansel Adams to be a brand consultant. Together they went on to found the Polaroid Artists Programme, in which they gifted iconic 24 x 20 inch Polaroid cameras to a group of artists including Andy Warhol, Guy Bourdin, David Hockney, Robert Rauschenberg and Dennis Hopper, under the agreement that they would donate their photographs back to the programme.

Everlasting Radio Wave-Test #5, 2008, Fujifilm FP-100C, by Chen Wei. © The artist

‘It was shrewd a move. Land hoped Adams would rope in other accomplished photographers,’ says William Ewing, the co-author of a new bookThe Polaroid Project – which for the first time brings together a comprehensive review of the 20,000 strong collection. Featuring images largely unseen due to Polaroid’s post-bankruptcy fragmentation, the book launches alongside a touring exhibition of the same name, beginning at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Texas.

Considering these images collectively, it’s clear how important the candid nature of Polaroid was to the work of some of the 20th century’s best-known photographers, such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Gus Van Sant. Mapplethorpe’s Self Portrait With Dancer (1978) fits perfectly into the photographer's self-documenting body of work, while Guy Bourdin’s Charles Jourdan (1978), a three-part series of a woman walking down the street, is Bourdin at his provocative best.

Once upon a time: Van Cleef & Arpels’ automaton tells a very human story

Tuesday June 27th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Nothing captures the uncanny wonder of mechanical craft quite like figurative automata. Hand-programmed to mimic not just human movement but often emotions too, these clockwork figures, popularized in 18th-century royal courts, are today mostly seen in museums. So an invitation to visit the automaton maker François Junod, in his studio in the Swiss mountain region of Vaud, is an intriguing one.

Bar a cult following in Japan, Junod is relatively unknown outside the core Swiss watch community (his skill is related to traditional horological engineering). He is one of just a handful of contemporary automata craftsmen. This year, his reputation as a master is being heightened further by a collaboration with Van Cleef & Arpels. Junod was one of 20 remarkable craft specialists invited to collaborate on a unique brief for the French jewellery house: the extraordinary Fée Ondine automaton. The sizeable enamelled table clock is designed to tell a fairytale. Junod created the automated aspects of the entire piece and gave life to its star turn – a lithe-limbed, white-gold fairy around whose lifelike movements the clock’s story magically unfolds.

‘The difference between automata and robots is that automata have soft, organic movements,’ says Junod from his mountain-top studio. Crammed with motors, rotors, hammers, toy limbs, record players, cine cameras, chisels, jukeboxes and much, much more, his Sainte-Croix workshop is a film set waiting to happen. ‘The goal is to put life inside the automaton, to tell a story so that it’s not just a mechanism. That is dependent on the gear cams – the mechanical programming. To get a graceful movement, you have to have precision in the system and you have to regulate the speed. You don’t want the fairy’s wings to start fast then go slow, as she would look really sad.’

Judging by his workshop, Junod’s love for all things mechanical is all-encompassing. ‘I study old cameras to come up with solutions, because the regulator inside them is very subtle,’ he says, gesturing upwards to the row of analogue cameras and cine machines dangling from a jam-packed ceiling beam.

‘Automatons are magic,’ says Nicolas Bos, president and chief executive of Van Cleef & Arpels. ‘We tend to think of them still as products of the 18th century – tinny, dusty characters. On the other hand, contemporary ones strive to be modern, abstract, geometrical, but then the emotion is gone. We wanted a 20th-century evocation, a true character and environment, and that’s how we met François. We spent a lot of time discussing the scenario.’

Junod, who developed the clock’s complex mechanism, at his workshop

Enchantment for its own sake is a central theme of Van Cleef & Arpels’ narrative. Throughout its 110-year history, the house has also applied its materials expertise to the creation of rich interior art pieces, mostly with a functional purpose. Craft for craft’s sake, however, has never been the driver for Bos in his time at Van Cleef & Arpels. ‘Our mechanics always start with the stories, never the technique,’ he says. ‘If there is a butterfly or a bird, you want it to have its own life. You learn and rediscover techniques as you work. It’s almost a philosophy you can interpret, as in more surprise, more poetry, more three-dimensionality.’

The Fée Ondine automaton is a continuation of Van Cleef ’s ‘Extraordinary Objects’ series. The time is displayed by way of a tiny jewelled ladybird on the ebony veneer base that supports the animated fairytale above. In the tradition of automata control, the piece is also fitted with a giant key; when turned, it powers the meticulously programmed mechanics that bring the scene to life. As the leaves of a giant enameled lilypad ripple, the fairy awakens and gently moves her arm aside. Tilting her head, she looks on as if in wonder as the lily flower opens to reveal an automated butterfly, slowly flapping its wings. The fairy then bows her head and returns to her repose.

Even with Junod’s expertise in automata, it took years before he could see a way to make the Van Cleef team’s vision a reality. He presented his ideas for the mechanism in matchsticks and, for the enameled leaf parts, in rubber bands and wood. ‘I love to do the prototypes, it’s a real challenge,’ he says. ‘With this project, the dimensions were new to me and required a different method. Also, we were working with two opposite types of engineering – mechanics and jewellery – and they work in different ways.’

Each part of the fairy had to be cast and worked separately by the Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery workshop, which followed Junod’s instruction that every piece of the figure had to move. ‘She’s small, so there are so many components, and she’s gold,’ he says. ‘Gold makes her very heavy, so it is hard to create a smooth movement.’ As Junod worked, so the jewellery workshop had to alter its parameters and develop techniques to respond to his every change. And there were other constraints, too: the added weight of precious stones, the trial-and-error enamelling process, and the demands of remaining true to the Van Cleef & Arpels figurative aesthetic.

The Fée Ondine automaton has been in development for more than five years. It took 20 workshops and many craftsmen more than 12,000 hours of work to create; they used 2,870 components, from gold and silver to precious stones, iron and copper. ‘The art of mechanical systems is very hard – a lot of this work is instinct and experience,’ Junod says. ‘Before the invention of transistors or electricity, we were making cameras, record players. No one learns these skills any more.’

The fairytale scene lasts just 45 seconds. By initiating its creation, Bos is paying homage to the human aspect of exceptional skill – passion. And it would take a proverbial heart of stone not to be enchanted by Fée Ondine.

As originally featured in the Precious Index, our new watches and jewellery supplement (see W*218)

Edmonds + Lee’s minimalist vision has maximum impact in this San Francisco home

Tuesday June 27th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Upon approach, the Remember House, clad in opaque dark panels, stands in sharp contrast to its surrounds. It sits on a thin, sloping parcel of land in San Francisco’s Noe Valley, designed by Edmonds + Lee Architects for a tight-knit family of three.

As a renovation project, it shares similar bones to the neighbouring houses, but the dark façade was meant to stand out. ‘We tend to think about architecture as this spectrum of uniqueness versus universality,’ says architect Robert Edmonds. Drawn away from the universally accessible city, the home ‘should heighten your senses’.

Edmonds is quick to qualify the firm’s ideal for capital-A architecture, adding, ‘It’s not a spectacle, but more of an atmosphere.’ The atmosphere inside the Remember House is ethereal: an immersive all-white interior palette. The white, which could easily read as stark and anonymous in a property market seemingly saturated with this aesthetic, instead comes across as uniquely striking and warm.

The kitchen, living and dining areas are open plan

The secret here is a relentless attention to detail. One example runs through the whole project: the white Douglas fir flooring, two inches thick, which adds a tactile richness grounding the concept. The architects call the interior ‘seamless’ and procession through it a ‘continuous thread of inhabitation’, citing architectural moments like where the white Corian shower stalls flow invisibly into the white walls beyond.

Rather than break up the procession in any obvious, jarring way – none of the doors have hinges, for example, nor disruptive door headers – rooms are defined through the spatial variety and dynamism that comes from a building thoughtfully designed in section. The whole house breathes outward, with the condensed circulation running through the core exploding outward into airy bedrooms and dramatic double-height living spaces.

The home is notable in its extreme purity of design, with every detail taken to its conceptual conclusion. In the architect’s own words, ‘When you’re in the house, you feel it. You don’t feel like you could be in any other type of space.’

Creative luminaries fête Lucienne Day’s centenary with floral tributes

Tuesday June 27th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Influential textile designer Lucienne Day was known for her love of patterns based on plant forms. A passionate gardener, her work drew flowers, grasses and shoots from nature, and transformed them into abstract designs for wallpapers, textiles, carpets and ceramics.

To celebrate the designer’s centenary year and to mark the relaunch of Day’s ‘Flower Brick’, London furniture showroom Twentytwentyone conceived an exhibition entitled ‘Day for Flowers’.

The ‘Flower Brick’, originally introduced by Day in 1966, is a contemporary interpretation of the decorative Delftware produced during the 18th century to hold ornate floral displays. While the originals were produced in England by Bristol Potteries, Twentytwentyone has teamed with British-made ceramics brand 1882 Ltd to produce a limited edition of 100.

Meadow flowers and grasses by Margaret Howell

‘Lucienne Day responded to the decorative potential of a rectangular ceramic form by designing three quite different surface patterns for two sizes of flower brick,’ explains Twentytwentyone, which invited ten creative individuals from the worlds of fashion, design, interiors, architecture and journalism to design a floral display using a ‘Flower Brick’.

The floral displays, created by Michael Anastassiades, Barber & Osgerby, Paula Day, Max Fraser, Suzy Hoodless, Margaret Howell, Philippe Malouin, Alex Mowat, Nikki Tibbles and Faye Toogood were showcased at the ‘Day for Flowers’ exhibition.

While some went for crisp architectural statements – à la Barber & Osgerby, who filled Day’s black-and-white ‘Triangles Flower Brick’ with a regimented arrangement of dried bulrushes – others chose more wild and natural compositions, such as Margaret Howell, who created an arrangement of meadow flowers and grasses in the ‘Papercut Flower Brick’.

Paula Day’s arrangement included buds from her mother Lucienne’s favourite rose, New Dawn, while Max Fraser’s explosive arrangement of grasses, aliums, craspedia globosa and poppy heads was inspired by fireworks.

‘The arrangements illustrate the versatility and enduring appeal of the Lucienne Day’s design,’ said Twentytwentyone. ‘We are certain that the creative wealth and spirit of those involved will provide a dramatic and inspiring summer show of floral creations – and a fitting tribute to Lucienne Day.’

Lord Richard Rogers announces new fellowship scheme at Wimbledon House

Monday June 26th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

The Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) is taking up residence at Richard Rogers’ landmarked Wimbledon House in London, which will host the new Richard Rogers fellowship programme, a three-month residency scheme for professionals working across the built environment.

Lord Rogers designed the single storey modernist house in the 1960s for his parents to live in and it has now been restored by Gumuchdjian Architects, and adapted to suit the needs to the Harvard GSD fellowship residents, as well as opening up space for programmed events.

Wimbledon House, gifted to Harvard GSD by Lord Rogers and Ruth Rogers, is an ideal new home for the fellowship, inspired by the architect’s work expanding cross-disciplinarily investigation and social engagement in collaboration with urbanism and architecture. Additionally, the heritage status of the house will now be maintained due to its continued use as a residence.

The fully glazed façade integrates the rooms of the house with the gardens

The design for Wimbledon House was very experimental for its time, following a modular format that would allow for the renewal of technology and developing needs as time passed, while providing a basic adaptable structure. It was a concept that Lord Rogers had begun developing with the Pompidou and later Lloyd’s, and tested out on a smaller residential scale with Wimbledon House.

Restoration was spearheaded by Gumuchdjian Architects – founder Philip Gumuchdjian worked with the Richard Rogers Partnership for 18 years before setting up his own practice, and supported by Paddy Pugh of John McAslan + Partners, who previously worked at English Heritage. The approach to restoring the building focused on maintaining the character of the design, instead of the fabric – three quarters of the envelope had to be replaced due to asbestos.

After several renovations, the two steel and glass pavilions were returned to their 1990 status, which meant the removal of recently added buildings and a refurbishment of the interior. The courtyards and gardens were returned to their original open design with the collaboration of landscape architect Todd Longstaffe-Gowan. The pavilions and the outdoor spaces were conceived by Lord Rogers as the core modules of the design that would remain constant, a concept that has been returned to.

The Continental Supersports is Bentley’s most formidable car yet

Monday June 26th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

The new Continental Supersports model is the last hurrah for the car that has done more than any other to transform the modern image of Bentley. Ironically, when the Continental is finally replaced with a completely new model after an impressive 14 years (the current car is second generation in name but actually shares a substantial amount of engineering with the original 2003 machine), it will no longer sit at the top of Bentley’s sales charts. That honour will instead have passed to the Bentayga, the brash but capable SUV that currently cueing up a massive change in company fortunes.

Bentley was a company founded by gentlemen for gentlemen, a purveyor of personal transportation for the slightly wilder and more wayward spectrum of the British upper classes and industrial elites of the pre- and inter-war era. Bentley had its ‘Boys’, an undisciplined but fearless bunch of gentlemen racers who used their privilege and undeniable skill to pilot WO Bentley’s brutish machines into the sporting history books. Despite changes of ownership and focus, that sporting image has never really deserted the company, and outrageous performance has always been a hallmark of Bentleys old and new.

The Supersports name has its origins in 1925, the heyday of WO’s era, when 18 examples of the iconic 3 litre model were supplied in an enhanced ‘Super Sports’ guise, with shortened, lightened chassis (although no Bentley has ever been svelte) and uprated engine. These changes made the car good for a genuine 100mph, at a time when this fabled figure was all but unattainable, especially on the road. Back in 2009, the Supersports name was revived and applied to a strung out, stripped-back, bucket-seated, road-racing version of the Continental, a car which was duly crowned the fastest Bentley ever.

Body styling features a bold new rear bumper design with accents, carbon-fibre bonnet vents, side skirts and a rear spoiler to enhance the car’s aerodynamic capabilities. Courtesy of Bentley Motors

As the 2009 Supersports showed, we’re living in a 200mph era now, a top end that is as impractical now as 100mph was back in 1925. But raw figures matter in this part of the market. There’s an undeniable whiff of bragging rights behind the engineering, impressive as it might be. More than anything else, the new 2017 Supersports is about besting those figures. Yet again, this will be the fastest road-going Bentley ever made, an all-important title that presumably gets harder and harder to attain. With a top speed of 209 mph and a 0-60 time of 3.4 seconds (and a 0-100mph of 7.2s) there's no denying this car is hysterically fast. Just 710 examples will be made, split as per customer requirement between coupe and convertible variants, with the usual Bentley accoutrements ladled on according to taste, all the way up to the anything-goes fantasy land of Mulliner-specification.

In ‘basic’ configuration, the Supersports is a more than ample demonstration of Bentley’s skills with a sewing needle and materials swatch. The main story here is undoubtedly the performance. The Continental has evolved over its lifespan into a formidable grand tourer, and presumably no owner ever grumbled that their car wasn’t sufficiently swift or was brave enough to attempt high-speed cornering.

No one asked, but Bentley have still delivered. The 2017 Supersports is a have-your-cake-and-eat-it car, the kind that promises all things to all people. As the fastest officially certified four-seater in the world (although we would be surprised if that 209mph top speed was attainable with four full-size adults on board), it also makes a capable fist of preserving Bentley’s many decades of grand touring heritage. The 2009 Supersports was regarded as rather brash by Bentley standards, with race-inspired bucket seats and paintwork. This new model is far more refined, but it can still be flung around a racetrack with a deftness that belies its 2.2 ton weight.

Not all supercars are bought for the performance numbers, but there’ll always be certain models that are deliberately targeted at those for whom records matter. The Supersports fits nicely into this niche, giving the ageing Continental plenty of cachet ahead of the all-new model’s launch at the end of this year. For the purist, it’s more of a Bentley than the Bentayga will ever be, regardless of those soaring sales.

In black and white: a duet of exhibitions reveals two sides to Helmut Lang

Monday June 26th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Something strange is happening at Sammlung Friedrichshof’s galleries in Vienna and Zurndorf. Step inside and you’ll find the space already occupied by some monochrome monsters, towering, imposing figures clad with shreds and scraps of fabrics, coated in thick, gloopy resin.

These beguiling, 12ft high, yeti-like creations are the latest works of artist and former fashion designer Helmut Lang, part of an exhibition of sculptures and wall reliefs — ‘Various Conditions’ — for which he has plundered his own archives, scrap metal yards and industrial wastelands for materials. Plucked from abandonment, Lang’s materials rise, phoenix-like, into this series of semi-forms in black and white, their intriguing surfaces made up of layers of intricate, anthropomorphic texture. With their corresponding relief panels hanging on the wall, it’s as if the sculptures have emerged from the canvases. 

‘Various Conditions’ at Sammlung Friedrichshof Vienna. Photography: Alexander Rosoli

One of the artist’s aim with the exhibition was to explore the dualism of black and white — hence, the galleries are divided by the two colours (white at Zurndorf, black at Stadtraum). It is a simple but effective visual trick that triggers a deeper questioning about the psychological resonance of colour. It is the matter that makes up these works that really dominates here, though.

Lang says that he likes to work with materials that have ‘a certain history, elements with irreplaceable presence and with scars and memories of a former purpose’, which explains the curious atmosphere the artworks create, each with their own distinctive character. Since quitting fashion for art in 2005, Lang has been consistently fascinated with mass manufactured material, transforming it into something that looks organic and alien at the same time — not unlike his signature clothing designs.

The 61-year-old aligns his approach in these works with that of the avant-garde Viennese Actionists of the 1960s — the sexy, taboo-breaking performance artists — who used blood, urine, entrails and milk instead of paint to defy the borders of conventional art and confront the ugly truths about the world.

A new book explores how mobile architecture is inspiring solutions to urban issues

Monday June 26th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Mobitecture: Architecture on the Move by Rebecca Roke is a compact visual exploration into mobile architecture. In a world undergoing mass population movement driven by political crisis, as well as economic migration, housing crunches and the onset of Generation Rent, the thought-provoking book forces us to re-examine the urban constructs that our lives are built on.

Yet, while it feels like a topical moment for discussion, Mobitecture is nothing new – it dates back to the earliest forms of human settlement. It has always been adaptable, resistant and mobile, following the course of natural changes in weather and animal migration, such as the Bedouin tents made of goats' hair; the Central Asian yurt in felt and timber; or the tipi, found in the Arctic Cirle.

The book introduces a range of projects that respond to a variety of international scenarios explored by architects, designers, artists and students, all neatly and clearly organized into chapters according to each project’s primary means of mobility – carried on hand and foot, no wheels, one or two wheels, sleds and water, with a key of symbols that identify modes of movement for example pedals, paddles or an onboard engine.

Mobitecture: Architecture on the Move, published by Phaidon

From an extendable backpack tent designed by David Shatz, to Alastair Pryor's durable Compact Shelter cubicle for use in disaster zones, and a modular cage system by artist Winfried Baumann, the projects all reflect different uses, situations and also raise questions about living such as security, survival and privacy.

Many projects are the result of research such as the Millenial Housing Lab, a project by Harvard students Jon Staff and Pete Davis that investigates the psychology of small space living. The ‘Homeless Homes’ project by Gregory Koehn, meanwhile, examines the sense of ownership and pride that accompanies the notion of ‘home’.

Reflecting on how architectural theories and trends are also shaping Mobitecture, Roke quotes from the Futurist manifesto of 1909: ‘We no longer believe in the monumental, the heavy and static, and have enriched our sensibilities with a taste for lightness, transience and practicality.’

Designed for a windy coastal site near Crimea, Y-BIO is a modular camping structure designed by Ukraine-based architects Archinoma in 2009. The structure is made of steel framing, canvas, timber, steel staircase. Photography: Aventoza

While governments might prefer us to remain at a fixed address, static, controlled, counted and accounted for, nomadic ways of life seem to be becoming popular again among a digital generation of workers. Roke references the writing of architecture critic Michael Kimmelman who explores a recent trend of middle-class migration, and people travelling in search of different lifestyles – a trend that is represented in Stefan Juust’s ‘Travel Box’. A sleek, 60kg solution to living on the move, the ‘Travel Box’ is a bed, table, chair and bicycle storage packed up into a metal box to allow for a familiar environment any where you go.

Any negative connotations of mobile architecture such as instability, need to be reassessed when actually these designs might be able to provide us with better solutions for living, and allow us to live closer to the actions that define us, instead of the objects that weigh us down.

Interesting public space projects in the book include the ‘paracycle swarm’ designed by Dutch collective N55, which consists of a fleet of artificial gardens set on tricycles that allow people to reclaim public space, encouraging social exchange, as well as the A47 mobile library designed by Productora in Mexico, a flexible space for meetings and events that also houses 1,500 books.

While Mobitecture presents a jaunty compilation of projects that are clever, bright and witty, the book is embedded with important issues to architecture and life today, and it might just inspire some new ways of thinking, further challenge our precast notions of stability, freedom, security, privacy and survival, and help its readers to culturally reassess readily accepted urban conditions.

Box clever: it’s hip to be square at Coffey Architects’ Hidden House

Monday June 26th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Coffey Architects inflicted a savage architectural initiation upon the youngest member of their team, Ella Wright. In order to pass her Part Three qualification and join the architects’ club, she had to design a house on a 72 sq m site, formerly a caretaker’s shed, set on ground above a Grade II-listed prison built in 1847, in a mixed use, green conservation area, and the final challenge: an architect client. Against all odds, the resulting house is graceful, neat and rather luxurious.

Located in the heart of London’s Clerkenwell district and separated from an old school building converted into offices by just a slim footpath, one of the key challenges was maintaining a sense of privacy. The context also meant that planning restricted this project to one-storey height, so a second key challenge was creating space and bringing in natural light.

The client, founder of Flat C Architecture Selim Bayer, needed a second home to serve as a base while he and his partner were in London once a month, being based in Istanbul most of the time. They also were looking for a place to host friends and family. While Wright had been wary of working with another architect, she was pleasantly surprised, saying, ‘He was really on board with the process and really open to ideas.’

Fitting like a glove into its surroundings, the house unfolds like a box of boxes. It is the careful attention to functional detail that allows this house to be a success, yet practicality is never secondary to aesthetic. The smooth oak panelling that hides sliding doors and invisible storage, becomes a design concept, while similarly the roof lights that bring in light while preserving privacy, are deep set and strongly geometric bringing a sense of generosity to the small space. Again, polished concrete floors that hide underfloor heating, also give this home a contemporary edge.

Take an interactive tour of Hidden House

A wide rectangular roof light is positioned directly over the bed in the master bedroom, with another glazed roof light above the shower in the master bedroom. ‘It’s quite unusual to have a bedroom without a traditional window in the wall, but it doesn’t feel claustrophobic,’ says Wright, who also designed a narrow, long and deep roof light that runs along the ceiling connecting the bedroom entrance to the bathroom like a guide.

‘This was an obnoxious piece of plastering for the builders to do – they were not impressed,’ she smiles. Coffey work with the same joiners on many of their projects. ‘We talk them through the concept with the 3D model, so they have the visual from day one, they understand the space and what we are trying to achieve – it’s all about alignment.’

In the combined living, kitchen and dining room, another wide window overlooks a private communal garden. ‘Everywhere we have a window, it’s almost like a punch. They have deep reveals, either made from – brick or oak which is punched, framing a very specific view. It’s the same with the front door, there's a really deep threshold,’ says Wright.

In addition to architectural details, bespoke pieces of furniture also designed by Wright fit perfectly into the box further continuing this smooth and seamless living experience. From the sofa bed in the guest room with matching side tables, to the extendable oak dining table that hides cutlery drawers within, these elements cleverly preserve space while remaining conceptual.

Heaven scent: a major new exhibition celebrates modern fragrance culture

Sunday June 25th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Opening in the East Wing Galleries of Somerset House is an exhibition that explores the changing profile and role of scent in the 21st century.

Perfume never makes for an easy subject to show in a white-washed exhibition space. But Somerset House senior curator Claire Catterall and scent writer Lizzie Ostrom have freshened up the approach to exhibiting fragrance, putting the spotlight on ten contemporary smells that tell the story of how scent has evolved over the past two decades, while showcasing them in arresting ways.

Removing bottles and packaging from the equation and using visual, auditory and tactile prompts alongside the scent itself, each of the exemplary perfumes inhabits a set designed by Muf Architecture/Art. The visitor is invited to pick up a pad and paper and take the journey through the ten spaces, making their own notes on what they experience. There is a break after five, to catch up with which scents have been experienced, who the nose for each is, what the ingredients are, and again for the next five at the end. The staging is unique for each – one evokes white sheets drying on a line, one a catholic confessional, one a crumpled bed.

‘Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent’ at Somerset House

‘Perfume isn’t just about being sexy and alluring anymore – now we not only want to smell different to everyone else but different to before,’ says Catterall summing up the drive behind her curation. ‘Perfume isn’t about fashion any more, it’s not worn as an accessory. It’s experienced more like a book, to make you cry or laugh, to transport you somewhere else.’

The perfumes on show are the work of both classically-trained and the ever-growing category of self-taught perfumers, equal credence being given to both. ‘Perfumers are not talking to us through the filter of a company,’ says Ostrom. ‘It’s not just about big billboard and TV Ad campaigns, stories are told through text and film.’

Constructed from natural materials and synthetics, they are a mixture of the experimental, the challenging, the poetic and the prosaic, but all are ruthlessly modern, and pushing away from classical perfumery. The noses whose works are featured include Lyn Harris of Perfumer H, Antoine Lie, Mark Buxton, Bertrand Dushaufour, Oliveia Giacobetti, Geza Schoen, Andy Tauer, Killian Wells, and David Seth Moltz.

The last space is occupied by a perfume laboratory run by co-sponsors Givaudan (other sponsors are Coty, Peroni Ambra and Liberty London). Each Thursday to Saturday, it will host residencies. New scents will be created from scratch, under the noses of visitors. On the 25 July and 29 August, workshops will be hosted here in collaboration with the Experimental Perfume club, during which partakers can create – and name – their own signature scent.

Jerusalem’s nascent design scene is small but certainly determined

Sunday June 25th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Israel is a country of contrasts. While the 108-year-old city of Tel Aviv has always looked to the future, attracting creative residents with its liberal culture and beachside location, the ancient city of Jerusalem is anchored firmly in its past.

So when six years ago, the Jerusalem Development Authority and Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage decided to sponsor a design week, the city was presented with a unique opportunity. ‘We wanted to show another side to the city and bring as many people as possible to experience Jerusalem as we see it,’ says Ran Wolf, the managing director of Jerusalem Design Week. ‘Contrary to popular belief, Jerusalem is a leading city in design and creativity. Jerusalem is full of young and creative people.’

Today the perception of Jerusalem is changing. The city is gaining a reputation as a centre for tech start-ups, craft beer, boutique hotels and a lively nightlife scene that unites its diverse citizens. The emerging design scene – bolstered by its world-renowned design school the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design – is certainly small but also determined. Working out of a series of studios in the city’s Talbiya district, a group of nine local designers called the Jerusalem Design Collective are a sign that young designers are increasingly finding reasons to stay.

Local studio Grotesca, inspired by the carpet design, created an interactive, grid-like mural made from 144 notepads. Visitors were encouraged to peel off one of the 30000 notepad pages to reveal a new design underneath

‘Being a designer in Jerusalem is a statement. It's about being different and thinking differently,’ says designer Daniel Nahmias, the collective’s founder. ‘Jerusalem is a multicultural cosmopolitan city. While multiculturalism has in the past been a disadvantage in Jerusalem, it has become a distinct advantage. In the coming years, you will be able to see more design centres, more platforms for innovation and creativity. It is a city that invests resources in the design and art community, much more than other cities, with the understanding that the creative class is the engine and key for the city's development.’

The city’s growing design week is helping to nurture this emerging network. Spread across four venues in the city’s affluent Talbiya neighbourhood, this year’s 150 participating designers tackled the broad topic of ‘Islands: an inward exploration of design as a bridge between social, political and cultural boundaries’. The theme is not only a comment on the ongoing conflict over Israel’s borders, but also on wider international political events.

‘With Brexit, Trump’s wall and the mega-portals of the web, the world seems to be closing off into imagined comfort zones,’ explain two of the design week’s curators, Tal Erez and Anat Safran. ‘Facing these changes, designers hold great power: from the potential of creating alternative worlds to the reconstruction of identities.’

Does your self-driving chariot await? Here’s what the future of autonomous cars looks like

Sunday June 25th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Certainly, it’s a stretch to look at Stephenson’s Rocket and see a Shinkansen, or to compare the Wright Flyer to a Dreamliner. So will the autonomous cars of tomorrow have a similarly distant relationship to the cars we use today? Even though a self-driving future seems all but assured, total automation still seems a few years away. Right now, the legislative thicket is growing as fast as it can be hacked back, while the many tentacles of technological standards are interwoven and tangled and have already descended into rancorous accusations of intellectual property theft. And most crucially, the interface between human and machine is still, unsurprisingly, fallible. Will we ever have true self-driving cars?

This thorny question is no longer just an auto industry issue, but a tech industry one. The unseemly scramble for auto-tech partnerships has seen the brain drain swill this way and that as each side competes for the brightest minds in autonomy. At the turn of the decade, the big tech players – Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia – found themselves with only a small foothold in the auto market courtesy of infotainment systems and emerging mobile-to-car sync systems. But self-driving cars promise a new profit engine, given that tomorrow’s cars will need desktop-sized processors, a full suite of sensors and new generation AI-based software. So the race is on, as much between Silicon Valley’s biggest names as it is between the century-old motor manufacturers.

Rinspeed Oasis: a tiny two-seater concept for self-driving urbanities, this includes a garden planter and acres of space. In: gardens and sideboards. Out: dashboards and driving gloves. Illustrator: Joshua Checkley

Currently, automotive intelligence is graded in five levels (excluding Level 0, entirely human controlled). Level 1 equates to long-standing technologies like cruise control, whereas by Level 2 a degree of auto-awareness of lanes, road signs and the movement of other vehicles comes into play. Right now, the market is awaiting the deployment of Level 3, wherein a semblance of AI allows the car to make ‘decisions’ based on changing conditions. Level 4 introduces almost total autonomy, as long as you’re in a controlled area and Level 5 is the fabled robot car of tomorrow, capable of running chores and being summoned, uncomplaining, to rain-streaked city centres in the small hours.

Though still stuck at Level 2, available technology still provides a broad range of experiences, with each manufacturer offering something different. We are all tiptoeing around the technology, with machine-driven missteps victim to viral videos and online rumour-mongering. But just as cruise control crept into ubiquity, today’s self-driving systems are slowly insinuating themselves into our everyday lives.

Tesla’s Autopilot is still getting all the plaudits and the (positive) YouTube hits, although there is steady progress from the more well-established names. Mercedes’ new E-Class represents the gold standard in evolutionary autonomy. The car’s Drive Pilot includes the latest versions of radar-driven cruise control and braking systems, technologies that have been around since 2006. These intelligent aids stop just short of ceding complete control to the machines during highway driving, but handle braking, accelerating, lane-keeping and sticking to speed limits, while the car can also be parked remotely using an app. Volvo’s new XC60 is in many respects a deeply conservative design intended to appeal to deeply conservative people, but it’s also the very first car capable of literally steering you out of the way of impending danger.

Uber Volvo XC90: currently spending big rather than picking up fares, Uber’s taxi of tomorrow is making slow progress. In: ambition to crash and burn. Out: near misses. Illustrator: Joshua Checkley

The upgraded Mercedes S-Class promises next-generation technology, as does the forthcoming Audi A8. ‘It’s a step-by-step evolutionary process,’ say Miklos Kiss, Audi’s head of Pre-Development Autonomous Driving. ‘The next A8’s systems can take control over the car during parking or in stop-and-go traffic situations on freeways at speeds up to 60km/h.’ Audi believes selfdriving works best when it’s handling tedious tasks like stop-start traffic (dealt with by the company’s existing Traffic Jam Assist). Kiss even suggests that, on certain ‘predefined routes’, the A8 will be able to ‘completely take over’. Likewise, the most recent BMW concepts have taken autonomous driving to heart, with the company investing heavily in the interface between car, driver and the outside world as a way of replacing the ‘lost’ emotional connection generated by actually driving yourself. The new generation 5-Series comes closest, the firm having demonstrated a prototype ‘CoPilot’-powered car at the 2017 Las Vegas CES (Consumer Electronics Show).

All Teslas have had full self-driving capable hardware built in since last October; the software just has to catch up. At the time of writing, the company’s loyal band of owners was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Autopilot version 2. Tesla says AP1 ‘is designed… to reduce the driver’s workload’ and the next generation should up the ante significantly. Co-founder Elon Musk has been characteristically evangelical about the panacea of autonomous driving, telling an audience earlier in the year that ‘getting in a car will be like getting in an elevator; just tell it where you want to go and it takes you there with extreme levels of safety, and that will be normal’ 

Tesla, Audi, BMW et al can take care of the engineering, but there’s still more to be done by lawyers. ‘The political framework needs to change most,’ Kiss says. ‘In Europe, an automated steering wheel is not allowed above a speed of 10km/h – the driver is obliged to have full control over the vehicle at all times.’

Toyota Concept -1: the car for 2030, fun and futeristic with a perky Al companion designed to greet you like an old friend. In: smart robot for friends. Out: all conventional wisdom. Illustrator: Joshua Checkley

Manufacturers are lobbying governments. For these technologies to take root, there must be fundamental change. Tech has always nibbled away at and nudged the way we interact with the world and driving will be no different. There are paradoxes to untangle; just as distracted driving is becoming a major issue, we’re asking machines to give us licence to drift off into a digital reverie, quite unconnected to our surroundings. Another is that it is far, far easier to design a fleet of autonomous cars to drive safely on a multi-lane highway than to venture into the heart of a major city. Urban driving is a process of constant negotiation and communication, myriad little tics, gestures, grimaces and muttered curses. Today’s AI fails miserably at this non-verbal stew of cues, hints and expectations.

The psychology of self-driving may be more important than the actual technology. Personal transportation has evolved over hundreds of years. We live in a retro-fitted future, where installing another app and hooking another gadget into our lives is the day-to-day reality. Uber fits seamlessly into this narrative, reducing social interaction to an animated map, its drivers little more than video game characters scurrying around the urban maze, waiting for a summons. It works great for the user, but you can’t help but feel that the code is giving someone, somewhere a raw deal in return.

Is the much-vaunted Silicon Valley mantra of ‘move fast and break things’ entirely inappropriate when it comes to such a social, cultural and technologically ingrained system as the road network? The autonomous offerings of Tesla, Audi, Mercedes, BMW and others are still about layering sophisticated tech over the everyday reality, but no one is expecting to hand over total control to their car. It may be true that self-driving cabs will free the passenger and transform personal transportation, but even if one disregardsthe thoughts of Uber’s hundreds of thousands of flesh-and-blood drivers (and the swathes of the working population employed to drive people and goods around), such techno-utopianism is accompanied by very little curiosity as to the long-term consequences. The unanswered questions about autonomous cars keep stacking up.

Volkswagen Sedric: the Bug that drives itself, VW's vision throws established wine design out the window. In: boxes and Bug-eyes. Out: seventy years of car design. Illustrator: Joshua Checkley

So far, official interest has taken the shape of localised pockets of innovation for valued resident tech firms. Engineering giant Arup set up the UK Autodrive consortium in response to a British government brief to bolster the country’s autonomous, lowcarbon economy. Arup is collaborating with Milton Keynes – the Buckinghamshire new town with a self-image that swings wildly between old hat and far-sighted. Autodrive is definitely the latter, and Arup’s John Miles, who initiated the project, explains how the end result isn’t just about the machines themselves (they’re working with Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Tata), but ‘what this technology actually means for cities, for congestion, pollution, business and attitudes’. The consortium is combining work with ‘conventional’ cars with a system of autonomous pods, L-SATS (Low-Speed Autonomous Transport Designs), designed to mix freely with pedestrians in shopping precincts and small streets. Prototypes are expected by the end of next year, a testament to the need for multiple agencies to collaborate to affect major change.

Silicon Valley-driven innovation rarely reveals a sociological approach. Technology is about instant familiarity, ultra-rapid innovation and the lobster-pot-like embrace of a wider, all-encompassing eco-system. In contrast, a modern car company has a far firmer grasp of its image and perception, as well as the aims, intentions and aspirations of its customers. The auto industry is built on brand identity and loyalty earned, symbolized by the subtle sociological and cultural strata that have developed over decades. It remains to be seen whether these two models can ever successfully come together, let alone strike out and make significant inroads in each other’s worlds. One scenario sees cars diminishing in cultural importance, whether they can drive themselves or not, and manufacturers transitioning into service industries. But it’s unlikely that car companies will rush themselves headlong into irrelevance and it’s even more unlikely that great swathes of the world’s billion car owners will willingly give them up.

Google Waymo Pacifica: hacked together from tried and tested kit, Waymo's modernist minivan is probably the smartest thing on the road. In: smart thinking and bright minds. Out: slick design and desirablility. Illustrator: Joshua Checkley

Autonomy is still a place for conceptual party tricks and wild speculation, with the stands at motor shows and CES glittering with glossy projections of tomorrow’s toys. From avant-garde independents like Rinspeed with its quirky Oasis concept, through to mighty companies like BMW and Toyota, currently touting numerous autonomous ideas, there’s still a strongly seductive whiff of futuristic thinking around the whole idea. In true tech fashion, there are also the startups to consider, including Faraday, Lucid, Otto, Nio and Lynk, all of whom are hoping to bake autonomous driving into their brand new products and seduce those looking to skip the last century of car culture altogether. Just like regular start-up culture, they’re finding the path rife with missteps and false starts and internecine schadenfreude.

Right now, many modern production cars can offer a plausible simulation of driving themselves, subtly wiggling their steering wheels as they steam down the motorway. We are being conditioned to expect much, much more. An autonomous car might be entirely feasible, but the road ahead is winding, foggy and strewn with great unknowns. Perhaps we just have to trust that technology will show us the way.

As originally featured in the June 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*219)

Knock out: Bergman Interiors pack a punch at boutique boxing gym BXR London

Sunday June 25th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

In a city teeming with glossy boutique gyms, London’s fitness fanatics are spoiled for choice. Enter BXR London, a state-of-the-art boxing gym recently opened in the heart of Marylebone on Chiltern Street and the latest venue to get our pulses racing.

Housed in a 12,000 sq ft space with generous 6m-high ceilings, this isn’t your average boxing gym. ‘BXR is a real showcase in the boxing world,’ says Bergman Interiors co-founder Marie Soliman, who oversaw the gym’s design with partner Albin Berglund. ‘We are reflecting the history, the glamour and the craftsmanship of the sport.’

Little surprise then, that the Anthony Joshua-sanctioned hotspot packs a big design punch. ‘We used a rich blend of backlit dark tinted mirror, bronze accents along with warm Cognac-coloured leather,’ says Solimon of the luxurious materials and handmade surfaces by Stuart Fox, which lend the space a refined industrial look.

BXR London boasts its own Joe & The Juice bar

The firm’s desire to create a theatrical, yet unintimidating guest experience became the underlying design concept behind the gym. Adorning the raw concrete walls, murals by London street artist Ben Slow of boxing greats Sugar Ray Leonard, Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali inject soul into the space. Elsewhere, screens and partitions (inspired by Bottega Veneta no less) feature braided leather custom made in Italy by renowned leather maker, Stefano Lago.

There’s plenty on offer to members, from top-of-the-range equipment to an in-house clinic, as well as a pulsing sound system that wouldn’t be amiss in an Ibiza superclub. Joe & The Juice has concocted a special menu for the Ringside Lounge, while the club is also the sole UK distributor of Di Nardo tailored boxing gloves, made to measure for members. We can’t wait to get in the ring.

Donald Judd and Kazimir Malevich square off at Galerie Gmurzynska’s new Zurich space

Sunday June 25th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

In 1994, Donald Judd was preparing for ‘The Moscow Installation’, an exhibition with Kazimir Malevich that would be the first to align the work of the two titans of 20th-century art. ‘I would love it but what would Malevich say?’ Judd had said when Galerie Gmurzynska had proposed the idea. Sadly, Judd passed away before the exhibition opened and now we’re left wondering what the American artist would have thought of it too.

To inaugurate its new Zurich space at Talstrasse 37, Galerie Gmurzynska is revisiting that important exhibition from 23 years ago. This time it is working with Judd’s son, Flavin, who has curated works by his late father and the Malevich to illustrate the parallels – but also the crucial differences – in their radical thinking.

Flavin has selected eight of his father’s slickly painted aluminium and plywood works from the 1980s and 90s, and seven furniture items. Alongside this, he has installed a pair of oil on canvases by Malevich from 1915 and 1917 – representative of a time in which the artist veered more towards the abstract and suprematism in his painting – and drawings from various periods.

‘I like the chartreuse aluminium work in the same view as the cadmium red wood piece,’ explains Flavin. ‘Those two colours are fabulous, as are the 20 Malevich drawings arranged in the way they are at Gmurzynska. When the show comes down, it will not be possible to see that juxtaposition anywhere else until we do it again somewhere.’

The Moscow Installation, 1994, at Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne. © Judd Foundation. Courtesy of Galerie Gmurzynska

Though some are more than a century old, the works don’t look dated – perhaps because they don’t respond to time, but transform it. ‘I think Don’s work is really good as is Malevich’s, and therefore time doesn’t matter. It will always be good and the temporary styles are just that: temporary and just styles,’ adds Flavin.

The most obvious visual connection between the two are their interest in squares. For the American artist, squares were a way to strip away at surface and go back to basics, to look at what exists, as it is.

‘In Don’s case it’s not that there is a spiritual suggestion but that the art should replace things of the spirit,’ Flavin explains. ‘For Don, spiritual matters are just unrefined thought, ideas that if really considered would lead to science or art. For Malevich, it’s the opposite: the spiritual is the opening to the future and the art is the entranceway.’

But for some people, aren’t squares are just squares? ‘There are always people who see both Malevich and Judd as “just squares”, just as there are people who see sunsets as a reason to lower the shades,’ Flavin muses. ‘It’s an absence of consideration and openness. Not everybody is going to like Judd or Malevich works, but one has to give them credit for each pushing the culture to one side to make room for their own.’

An oasis of calm springs from Maggie’s Centre Oldham, designed by dRMM

Sunday June 25th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Alex de Rijke, founding director of dRMM, describes the latest Maggie’s Centre in Oldham as a straightforward box with a powerful void in the centre. Located near Manchester, the new cancer support centre has sunshine yellow flooring and corrugated-style timber cladding.

The single-storey building stands on legs over a gravelled garden area. One birch tree has been planted in the centre of the garden and is enveloped by the void’s asymmetrical glazing. ‘The idea was of a kind of treehouse in its wood,’ says de Rijke. ‘I knew that we didn’t need to do much more than bring the outside into the building.’

The firm sited the centre on a northerly corner site of The Royal Oldham Hospital – a space formerly occupied by a mortuary. From there, its north-facing glazed wall has inspiring views to the Pennines.

Explore the architecture of Maggie’s Centres in the UK, including this Frank Gehry-designed facility in Dundee. Photography: Raf Makda

On approaching the centre, the scent of tulipwood – a cross-laminated hardwood – wafts over a short footbridge. Timber is a key ingredient throughout, from the door handles and the slatted ceiling to the kitchen’s walnut-topped counter and large round table.

The wood is off-set by a poured resin floor, and the tall doors – all in an unexpectedly bright yellow. More warmth is expressed through grey felt, used to frame doorways and as a backing to the seating nooks. Meanwhile a full-height reversible curtain loop by Dutch designer Petra Blaisse can cordon off one part of the open plan space for privacy.

‘This is a reaction to hospital design and the reminder that it can be different from the depressing norms of the hospital environment,’ says de Rijke. Maggie’s Oldham is the latest in a string of centres by high-profile and interesting architects at hospitals across the UK and beyond.

London-based dRMM join Frank Gehry, the late Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Snøhetta, Amanda Levete and Herzog & de Meuron, among others. The blockbuster line-up surely makes Maggie’s CEO (and former cancer nurse) Laura Lee one of the most significant commissioners of contemporary architecture.

Franco Grignani’s paintings reveal a hidden side of the graphic design legend

Sunday June 25th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Everyone owns a Franco Grignani design – he’s the man behind the iconic Woolmark logo. A forefather of visual communication, and a successful graphic designer and art director, (notably at Pubblicità in Italia, an annual on Italian graphic design, where he worked for 26 years) Grignani was both a prolific creator and a supporter of the emerging graphic design scene in Italy. Yet as a painter, his work has perhaps been less explored in recent years.

In London, Grignani has not been seen for 60 years. ‘Grignani did not have gallery representation abroad despite having exhibited in many countries across Europe,’ explain M&L Fine Art partners Luca Gracis and Matteo Lampertico, who are bringing Grignani back this month. ‘In his case, being considered by many as a talented graphic designer meant that his paintings remained on the sidelines of critical debate around his work, as was the case with Bruno Munari, who also straddled the worlds of visual art and design.’

Dissociazione dal bordo,1967

The exhibition at M&L focuses solely on Grignani’s paintings, with 20 carefully selected works from 1952 up to 1975. The works chart, among other things, Grignani’s first use of colour, in 1967—with paintings such as Deriva and Dissociazione dal bordo, but his experiments with Op Art go back even further. ‘Grignani’s role and importance as one of the first Op Art artists of the period is still to be fully recognised. He was already experimenting with an Op aesthetic and techniques ten years before François Morellet or Bridget Riley,’ Gracis and Lampertico say.

Looking at paintings from the later period, such as Vibrazioni (1975) with their warping, distorting lines, it’s easy to see how ahead of his time Grignani really was – in painting as much as in design. Other innovations in his painting work include the introduction of textured industrial glass and emulsified canvases – giving the opportunity for further optical effects, never seen before.

His aesthetic wasn’t popular at the time – but perhaps now resonates with the new taste for ‘digital handmade’ in contemporary painting, merging traditional technique with the visual vocabulary of advanced technology. ‘His artistic language – a strong graphic presence – fits today’s tastes, especially among young people.’ It seems as though Grignani is long overdue a comeback – and this might only be the beginning.

Fantasy island: dream kitchens for creative chief cooks and brilliant bottle washers

Sunday June 25th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

                                        

Backstage at Paris Fashion Week Men’s S/S 2018

Saturday June 24th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

  

Spiritual as ever, Axel Vervoordt reflects on his final exhibition at Palazzo Fortuny

Friday June 23rd, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Over the past decade, Belgian art dealer, antiques guru and all-round tastemaker Axel Vervoordt has put on exquisite exhibitions at Palazzo Fortuny, becoming an unbeatable highlight of the Venice Biennale’s frenzy. As spiritual as ever, the sixth iteration – which, to the art world’s dismay, will be the last – is devoted to the notion of ‘intuition’ and how it has shaped art across continents and historical periods.

‘My wish is that, through art, visitors are invited to open themselves up and liberate their intuition,’ says Vervoordt of the exhibition he co-curated with Daniela Ferretti, the director of Palazzo Fortuny – a gothic building in Campo San Beneto, formerly the studio of Spanish set designer and couturier Mariano Fortuny.

On the ground floor of the palazzo, visitors are greeted by an oddly functioning dialogue between a collection of Neolithic sandstone statue menhir figures, and a striking 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting. Other notable works include paintings by Gustave Courbet, James Ensor and Cy Twombly; a specially commissioned performance piece by Marina Abramović; a series of works by surrealists like André Breton, André Masson and Paul Eluard (with a particular interest in their exploration of the subconscious, including automatic writing and drawings); and one of Anish Kapoor’s round sculptures.

Mariano Fortuny’s cabinet with items from his personal collection. Photography: Jean-Pierre Gabriel

‘Standing in front of it, is feeling the fullness of emptiness,’ explains the Flemish collector of the imposing fibreglass and wood structure. ‘It’s a long, endless white tunnel of light. There’s no time, no beginning, and no end.’ And this somehow sums up Vervoordt’s sense of taste and curatorial instinct – an open-ended search into universality and the philosophical concept of the void.

Known for his eclectic eye and his ability to gracefully mix old and new, the celebrities’ favourite interior designer (his clients include Kanye West and Calvin Klein no less) played a significant role in the discovery of prominent post-war art movements like the artist groups Zero in Europe and Gutai in Japan (both enjoyed surveys at New York’s Guggenheim in recent years).

‘We’ve explored fantastic themes together, but now it’s time for other projects,’ answers Vervoordt when asked about the end of the acclaimed Fortuny series. Since 2007, it has addressed topics of time, infinity, transformation and proportion (sidelining in 2013, with a focus on the life and work of Catalan painter Antoni Tàpies).

And you can’t blame him. Later this year, the hyperactive 69-year-old will be launching Kanaal, a residential and cultural complex in his native Antwerp, under the umbrella of the foundation he created with his wife, May. ‘It’s my intention to curate very personalised exhibitions, also with strong concepts, in these new spaces,’ he tells us. So while this may be the end of the Venice era, it is certainly not the end of the Vervoordt era.

Wallpaper* Handmade call-out

Wednesday June 21st, 2017 11:00:00 PM

  

Wallpaper* and Pullman Hotels team up to help world explorers navigate the planet’s hottest cities

Wednesday June 21st, 2017 11:00:00 PM

   

Stone love: ancient Galician granite conceals a rustic but refined architects’ bolthole

Wednesday June 21st, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Architect Jamie Fobert’s residential output has won multiple accolades. The Levring House, a complex multistorey modern mansion in London’s Bloomsbury, was a RIBA National Award winner in 2015; while the Luker House in Barnes, with its restrained mix of polished concrete, plaster and timber, received a RIBA Regional Award the previous year. The prize for his latest project, designed with his partner Dominique Gagnon and situated on the edge of a nature reserve in the Galicia region of Spain, is that the pair will get to live in it themselves, at least some of the time. ‘It’s our getaway,’ says Fobert. ‘We feel ourselves relax the minute we get to Vigo, the nearest airport.’

The couple came across a ruin of a house outside the small town of Aldán back in 2004. ‘We were trying to find a beach and stumbled across it,’ says Fobert. ‘We were both entranced. I thought that was the end of it, but Dom is very tenacious.’ The house’s ownership was traced to the proprietor of a local restaurant, who eventually agreed to sell in 2010, though planning permission wasn’t granted until 2013. By July 2016, the house was sufficiently complete for Fobert and Gagnon to sleep there for the first time. Twelve years of development does suggest tenacity, indeed.

What is so striking about the house today is how little of it is on view in its lush surroundings of vines, canes, and sandy paths. In that respect, it is quite as the pair found it, with two original exterior walls – made of chunks of granite – kept in place, and the roof, which was long gone, replaced with locally produced tiles over chestnut, the local wood, which is exposed inside.

In the dining area, a classic Japanese knife, by Kai Shun, a chopping board from Batavia and an ‘AB1’ coffee pot, cup and saucer, by Sargadelos, are displayed on a custom made table surrounded by six ‘Aria’ chairs, by Romano Marcato for Lapalma

But walk through the Corten steel gate at the side, down a flight of granite stairs, and you come to a large courtyard. Inside the house, space for a kitchen and then a bedroom was made by burrowing into the hillside. On the upper floor is the master bedroom, which leads to the pool and garden. (In total, the house has five bedrooms, each with an en-suite shower room.) ‘We had the right to restore the building and extend a bit,’ says Fobert, ‘but we didn’t want to detract from the existing construction. That meant excavation, and working within the existing perimeter. It was important for us that what you see now as you approach the house is exactly what we saw on that day in 2004.’

Fobert has form with both excavation and cunning concealment. His Anderson House, delivered in 2003 (and winner of that year’s RIBA Manser Medal), exploited a void on a residential block in Fitzrovia, into which he inserted a light-filled two-bedroom house, by digging down and cutting out window apertures wherever possible. The Levring House benefits from a newly created basement, which contains the pool, while much of his extension for Cornwall’s Tate St Ives, set to open in October, is also buried in the hillside.

Back in Galicia, across the public path is a second building, a small shed that they initially took on as extra space – ‘for bikes and kayaks’, says Fobert. ‘Getting planning for this turned out to be the most difficult thing,’ says Gagnon, but now it is a separate dwelling, with a tiny kitchen and a mezzanine bedroom on top of the shower room.

Fobert is used to working with retail clients, such as Selfridges and Versace, and cultural commissioners including Tate, Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, and Charleston, the Bloomsbury Group’s country idyll in East Sussex. (The last two projects, both additions to sensitive sites, should be completed in 2018.)

The courtyard features a sofa designed by Fobert and Gagnon, and more porcelain pieces by Sargadelos: a ‘Cooa’ plate on the granite table, and a pair of ‘Monferico’ bowls on a ‘Mai Tai’ trolley by Odosdesign, for Punt

‘It’s the job of the architect to be responsive. You listen, particularly for the idiosyncratic,’ he says. As an example, he points out that everyone wants a big kitchen, ‘but the people who say they want to watch their children doing their homework while they do the cooking are giving you so much more information’. In Galicia, Gagnon’s input was informed and substantial. Both he and Fobert studied architecture in their native Canada, and while Gagnon no longer works in Fobert’s practice, here he took up the design mantle. ‘Sometimes I was the client, and Dom made a lot of the design decisions,’ says Fobert. ‘Having two architects design a house, that was something I wasn’t used to.’

Gagnon is keen to credit Fobert with the sequence of three floor-to-ceiling glass doors between the courtyard and the interior. ‘We’d been working on the basis of one single large opening,’ says Gagnon. ‘And then we were walking in the country in Yorkshire, and saw a barn with three vertical openings. Jamie’s very good at making connections between disparate situations. And now when we open the doors, we have three frame-free slots.’ Corten shutters allow them to be completely sealed off when the house is not in use. Fobert, meanwhile, says that it was Gagnon who insisted on an outdoor as well as an indoor kitchen.

‘He had a vision of cleaning fish and octopuses outside. And he was right,’ he says. The market in nearby Cangas sells superb local produce, and outdoor dinners are frequent. In fact, the courtyard is the most important part of the house. With a granite floor and a simple chestnut table, it’s where lunch is had in spring and dinner in summer. ‘We thought it might feel too enclosed,’ says Gagnon, ‘but now it has the pleasant feeling of being both inside and outside. It’s like a completely protected space with the sky for a roof.’ On the hottest days, the stone walls retain heat and, as the temperature drops, provide natural evening warmth.

Water cascades down the courtyard’s furthest wall from the pool, which is reached by a stone staircase that begins with unusually wide steps that turn into much smaller ones. ‘It took a long time to work out, and feels like it’s been there forever,’ says Fobert. Surrounding the pool are existing pine trees, their lower branches trimmed to create an umbrella effect, and new ones, their branches weighted down so they will gracefully bend to the floor as they grow. There are new cork oaks and olives and curving paths lined in Corten that lead to where the car is parked. ‘I look back, and I remember wondering if we were going to be like those Brits abroad on TV, who end up with some worthless piece of land,’ says Gagnon. ‘But the idea of coming back one day, and seeing that someone else had taken it on was even worse.’

As originally featured in the July 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*220)

Flying flicker: this year's Netjets lounge at Art Basel casts a mesmerising glow

Tuesday June 20th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

On the occasion of its 16-year partnership with Art Basel, private jet airline Netjets unveils yet another project in collaboration with the fair. This year, the Netjets collectors lounge featured a bespoke installation by Swedish artist Frida Fjellman, who gave her signature blown glass lanterns a new spatial interpretation.

The lanterns first appeared as part of a solo exhibition of the artist’s work in 2015, and since been developed in a variety of colours and sizes, keeping their distinctive mouth blown glass and metal features, and presented both as single pieces or as chandelier-like clusters. Fjellman has been working with Sweden’s The Glass Factory, an art glass producer based in Boda – a small village in the country’s forests – to develop the project over the last two years.

‘When I first created these lamps, my intention was not to make something beautiful, or useful,’ says Fjellman. ‘I wanted something that looked like exaggerated jewellery, that looked beautiful but also a bit weird; it’s interesting and a bit surprising that people want them.’

The lamps were shown at Design Miami/ in 2016, as part of a large installation by Hostler Burrows (this year’s Design Miami/Basel also had a smaller selection on display at the gallery’s booth), and that’s where they caught Netjets’ attention. The artist was given free reign on the lounge space, and over four months developed an installation of 100 lanterns (her largest installation of these pieces to date) in different shades and sizes, also producing a new large-scale piece that pushes the limits of production. 

The lanterns hang on the ceiling in colour clusters, and the lights are discreetly turned on and off with a slow breathing pulse. ‘My intention was to create a calming environment to de-stress from the fair,’ says the artist. Titled 'Crystal Atmosphere,' the lounge installation affirms the private aviation company’s commitment to the arts, with previous projects featuring collaborations with art/design duo Snarkitecture and British artist Rebecca Louise Law.

‘I was interested in exploring the almost magical sense of tranquility that you experience when cruising above the clouds,’ concludes Fjellman. ‘Flying is perhaps one of the few oasis of calm in our increasingly interconnected digital society.’

Clean cut: white metal designs add a glint of refinement

Tuesday June 20th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Throughout his Thin White Duke period, in 1976, David Bowie sported a sliver of white metal on his left wrist. A symbol of refined simplicity, the bracelet marked Bowie’s departure from his ostentatious Ziggy Stardust persona. Today, the idea of pared-black adornment is re-emerging, with a handful of jewellers offering an understated alternative to the rocker look that had dominated contemporary men’s jewellery.

Paris-based label Le Gramme was ahead of the curve. The brand launched in 2012 with a plain silver cuff available in densities of 41, 33, 21, 15 and 7g. ‘We chose an elementary shape and reduced it sympathetically,’ says co-founder Adrien Messié of the mathematical designs, created in a 20-step process.

That process of refinement is central to the methodology of Beirut-based jeweller Dina Kamal, known for her immaculately honed signet rings in silver and white gold. Kamal’s architectural training inspires her approach to the precious metals. ‘My process isn’t about minimalism or modernity, it’s about creating pieces that are the bare minimum of what they can be,’ she says. Boucheron, Tiffany & Co and Cartier also offer clean designs in precious white metals. Cartier’s ‘Juste un Clou’ collection is inspired by the domestic nail. Its designer, Aldo Cipullo, started a new conversation in fine jewellery in the 1970s with his hardware-influenced creations, including the ‘Love’ bracelet, which comes with its own screwdriver.

Alice Walsh launched British jewellery accessories label Alice Made This in 2011 with minimal cufflinks. Her background in product design had informed her industrial style. ‘There was a gap in the market for an aesthic based on true material, authenticity and a clean shape,’ she explains. Her solid silver ‘Bancroft M8’ cuff is cast in Birmingham’s famed jewellery quarter. ‘The fact that you can squeeze or open it to fit makes it a functional piece as much as a decadent one,’ she says.

As originally featured in the Precious Index, our new Watches and Jewellery supplement (see W*218)

Garden party: art and nature collide at ARoS' inaugural triennial in Aarhus

Tuesday June 20th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

As far as Erlend G. Høyersten, director of Denmark’s lauded Aros Aarhus Art Museum, is concerned, there’s never been a better time to unveil an ambitious art triennial. 'Not only does the museum’s inaugural fair coincide with Aarhus’s year-long celebrations as the European City of Culture,' he says. 'But, perhaps more vitally, the role that art plays in our society has never felt more important. Hopefully these works can affect change,' he adds.

The triennial, titled 'The Garden: End of Times, Beginning of Times', examines mankind’s complex relationship with nature over the past 400 years. 'World views, such as religion, politics, science and culture have manifested themselves in man-made natural landscapes for centuries,' notes Høyersten, adding, 'We hope this gives visitors a new understanding of nature.'

The exhibition is separated into three parts: 'The Past', 'The Present' and' The Future'. 'The Past', which opened at the start of April, is situated within the confines of the museum and traces how nature has manifested itself within art. Classical landscape paintings by Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain brush shoulders with poignant contemporary works by the likes of German photographer Thomas Struth, Swiss visual artist Pamela Rosenkranz and Icelandic-Danish icon, Olafur Eliasson.

Untitled, by Katherina Grosse, 2017

The remaining two themes were rolled out in and around the capital, sparking a stimulating dialogue between art, environment and audience. California-based Doug Aitken, for example, choose to house his multi-layered sculpture, The Garden, inside a secluded industrial warehouse near the docks. The participatory piece allows volunteers to channel their inner Alex DeLarge and smash up the contents – generic white tables, chairs, sofas – of a glass anger room. This aggressive space, which broadcasts a live stream of footage from six cameras, is tempered by an outer ring of lush vegetation, which, he states, 'creates a tension between the natural and synthetic environment.'

Elsewhere, emerging French artist Cyprien Gaillard transformed the toilets of graffiti-strewn student bar – Shen Mao – with an opulent marble terrazzo floor, flecked with fragments of mother-of-pearl oyster shells. 'With Understory, [Gaillard] has created a link between the toilet and its drains to the natural life existing in Danish waters,' muses Marie Nipper, external curator of 'The Present and The Future'. While in calmer shores, US sculptor Meg Webster calls for an urgent response to the decline in pollinators across the US and Europe with Concave Room For Bees, an ecological sculpture that she cultivated close to the coastline using native flowers, grasses and herbs. She hopes the work will 'attract butterflies, bees, insects and all kinds of pollinators to the site.'

On a different note, Bjarke Ingels Group aims to lift spirits and spread social cheer with their colossal, cloud-like mobile sculpture, ‘SKUM’. Inspired by 'a love of trampolines and bouncy castles,' the bubbly pavilion provides a space for people to interact and enjoy the bucolic views of the park in which its placed. Katharina Grosse's untitled garden painting proves equally exuberant. Using raspberry red and white acrylic paint, the popular German artist infiltrates the Mindeparken area of the park, including its bike lanes, beach and jetties, with a radical wash of unnatural colour that disrupts the landscape. 'It’s intrinsically casual, like scribbling with a felt pen on the edge of your shoes,' she explains. 'In that sense, scribbling is a gesture that interferes with the garden’s controlled principles of nature. I hope the work gives viewers a sense of freedom and uninhabited thinking.'

Tree of thought: Francis Kéré reflects on his design for the Serpentine Pavilion

Tuesday June 20th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Designed by architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, the newly unveiled Serpentine Pavilion takes its public role at the heart of London very seriously. It is a community structure that is ecologically intelligent and aware of the impact that culture and architecture can play in shaping society.

Originally from Gando in Burkina Faso, Kéré returned there after training as an architect in Berlin, where he felt that his skills would be more useful. It was during this time while working on early, career defining buildings that he formed his practice, informed by the context of challenging weather conditions and a requirement for sustainable and hard-working materials. Yet it was also the culture of his community – the debates, the meetings and the stories – all social structures integral to village life that have informed his design for this year’s Serpentine Pavilion.

‘The concept is simple, I was inspired by the figure of the tree in the landscape,’ he says, distilling the notion of the pavilion down to one of the most basic, yet central forms of shelter, and its function as a meeting point.

Supported by a light steel framed trunk, the structure has timber brise soleil eaves extending over like the canopy of a tree, creating a dappled light effect, while above, layers of clear polycarbonate panels shelter the internal space. The complex formation has been engineered to a minimum by AECOM, making the exposed materials appear weightless. Light permeates further through the four free-standing walls of timber modules. Independent from the roof, these walls leave a smoothly horizontal sightline that frames the surrounding green tree tops.

The open 330 sq m structure is installed on the lawn of the Serpentine Gallery, located in Hyde Park

Kéré compares the indigo blue of the timber modules to textiles, and the colour holds a cultural relevance to him because in Burkina Faso, indigo shows your ‘best side’ and ‘allows you to shine’. There is openness at every angle. Four entrances naturally open up between the indigo walls, allowing a flow of people into the pavilion. ‘We wanted you to be connected to nature. As you enter the pavilion you will see the trees, if you go inside this void, inside this courtyard, you will have the connection to the sky and in time, I hope it will rain soon and you will feel safe and protected by the structure,’ he says.

Just like his structures that are responsive and aware of climate in Burkina Faso, here in London Kéré pays the same respect to the British climate. When it rains, the water will flow from the polycarbonate roof, down into the central core where a waterfall will process water to be collected through drainage channels in the poured concrete. ‘Water is a precious good,’ he says. ‘I wanted to celebrate it here, not just symbolically but for real, we are able to collect almost 9000 litres of water that will be used for the park. It is real.’

Kéré’s strong community values run solidly through his architectural practice, as well as his design, to which strong female figures are central to. ‘Without the women in Gando I would never be able to do the work that I’m doing. If you came to my home place and saw how these women are making a concrete floor, that becomes more than a concrete floor. If you see the energy that the women bring, which stays with me like one person, you would be greatly surprised’, he says.

At the opening this week, Kéré paid tribute to Zaha Hadid, who inspired and initiated the Serpentine Pavilion programme in 2000 with the gallery’s former co-director Julia Peyton-Jones, as well as Serpentine Galleries CEO Yana Peel and project manager Julie Burnell, and other inspiring women around him, including his daughter. ‘It is an honour to have her here, to see her father in the middle of such a prestigious event, it makes me proud,’ he said. And in return, London certainly feels proud to have an architect such as Kéré, who values community, the environment, and all the people around it.

Manhattan Loft Corporation founder Harry Handelsman plots elevated living in east London

Monday June 19th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Loft living once meant colonising an industrial space in a desolate part of town, filling it with statement furniture and learning to love the screech of goods trains as a non-stop backing track. That’s how Harry Handelsman, an unusually high-profile property developer and founder of the Manhattan Loft Corporation, remembers it anyway. Twenty-five years ago, he was living in Bankside, on the wrong side of the Thames, with dodgy pubs and greasy spoons for company.

‘At that time, London was in deep recession. The whole city was up for sale,’ he recalls. Handelsman, then in his early forties, had returned from a stint in Manhattan, where he was working in finance and was starting to dabble in property, ‘but nothing was selling’. In 1992, he had a light-bulb moment. He bought a building in a then similarly desolate Clerkenwell for £435,000 and turned it into the sort of lofts he had seen in New York. Artists, film producers, photographers and pop stars moved in, as Handelsman hoped, and the newly formed Manhattan Loft Corporation (MLC) became synonymous with a cool new way of living.

Since then, the loft proposition has been so exploited that it has come to mean anything from a first-floor shoe-box to a new-build with exposed bricks and no views. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, though, and of his copycats Handelsman says: ‘I’m happy that loft living is more readily available. My prime motivation is always to add things that don’t exist and have others follow my footsteps, as long as they do it with care and attention.’ After creating loft developments all over London, from Chelsea to Canary Wharf, Fitzrovia to Fulham, came Handelsman’s painstaking transformation of the former Midland Grand Hotel, a Gothic Revival landmark, into the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, which opened in 2011.

Then in 2014, he collaborated with hotelier André Balazs to create perennial party spot the Chiltern Firehouse. Handelsman has thrown a regenerative lifeline to one overlooked, unloved neighbourhood after another and excitement and attention now follow his every professional move. His current project – the creation of a 42-storey, £300m apartment and hotel complex in Stratford, east London – is his most ambitious yet.

Roger Zogolovitch, architect and founder of similarly pioneering independent developer Solidspace, has known Handelsman for more than 30 years. ‘Harry is a rarity among property developers in that he believes he is making the city a better place. His legacy lies in the buildings he has transformed over the last 25 years. They have been brave, innovative and always aspirational. When talking about developers, I often use the analogy of the restaurateur or the film producer – people who have a vision of what they want a project to become. This new breed of independent developer is working in the historic tradition of the patron. I would claim Harry as an unsung hero.’

Designed by architects SOM, Manhattan Loft Gardens will feature a glass facade dotted with Juliet balconies

Handelsman, 67, now lives in a 19th-century apartment overlooking Hyde Park, with his partner Elizabeth, their daughter Allegra and his expanding art collection. He skis and travels, and sits on the boards of the South London Gallery, Artangel and the Southbank Centre. So, in a city where development is complex, oversaturated and overheated, why is Handelsman still in the game? And why not in a new city? ‘I love London,’ says the Munich-born Handelsman from the top floor of Edison House, his Marylebone HQ. ‘It has so much integrity and force behind it.

There are few cities that come close to matching the opportunities and quality of life it offers.’ But the city has changed beyond recognition since Handelsman arrived in 1983. Property prices in the capital are 14 times Londoners’ average annual salaries and prohibitively high for first-time buyers; according to a recent report by the Social Mobility Commission, the number of homeowners aged 25 to 29 has more than halved since 1990. And Brexit hangs, like the sword of Damocles, over anyone buying or selling.

‘I recognise that Londoners face a dilemma; having the means to buy here is a challenge and unless you reconfigure it all, it’s going to be difficult. Brexit is a word, a phenomenon, and will be forgotten over time. And rules are being made, but rules can be broken. But look, here we are in Marylebone, not far from the Edgware Road where property is marginally priced [developer speak for not eye-wateringly expensive]. If you hunt around and are brave, you can find good value in London. You need to make the first step.’

Handelsman was offered the Stratford site by London and Continental Railways in 2009, when the Olympic Park was just starting to take shape, but before the huge Westfield shopping centre landed. He knew immediately that he would build a tower. He also knew that the only firm he would entrust to build it would be Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM), the 81-year-old practice that has created Chicago’s Willis Tower, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, and New York’s One World Trade Center. ‘SOM has a gift for construction, and solid engineering skills. Because of the building’s complexity I didn’t want separate architects and engineers.’ With its double cantilevers and serrated façade, Manhattan Loft Gardens is the most striking tower for miles around.

It’s also the highest – views from the top stretch from Richmond Hill to Crystal Palace to Alexandra Palace, taking in Essex and Surrey along the way. The immediate vicinity, though, is less impressive; the carbuncle that is Westfield, and the dreary Mc-architecture of the former Olympic village are hard to love, but Handelsman, as always, has a vision. There’s nowhere offering fine dining for people east of Shoreditch, he argues, and his tower’s hotel restaurant will be a kind of River Café for the east. With good transport links already, and the first phase of Crossrail opening this year, Handelsman is banking on Stratford as a major retail hub. Culture too, is coming its way. The Victoria and Albert Museum’s V&A East is scheduled to open in 2021, as well as a second Sadler’s Wells Theatre and new campuses for the London College of Fashion and University College London, predicted to attract 1.5 million visitors a year.

On site at the Manhattan Loft Gardens, set to complete in 2018

In a city sprinkled with cookie-cutter residential towers with little in the way of architectural ambition, Handelsman insists Manhattan Loft Gardens will be a cut above; boasting better design but also a more inclusive spirit. ‘London has been seized by investors who haven’t thought about how you actually live in these towers. They are all the same, and totally lacking in atmosphere. The focus is on selling to overseas buyers, on big advertising and marketing, and that’s not what creates a city.’ You only need to picture the glistening towers that stretch, soullessly, along the Thames from Vauxhall to Fulham, to know he’s right.

Apartments within Manhattan Loft Gardens, which are set to be completed in spring 2018 (the hotel will open later in the year), range from £495,000 studio flats to £15m penthouses. More than 50 of the 248 have already sold. Parisian architects Studio KO, designers of the Chiltern Firehouse, have created five floorplans, each of which has floor-to-ceiling glass windows, room enough for a sofa and a work of art, all the mod cons, and in some cases, a Juliet balcony.

For Handelsman, London’s roof gardens, like its high-rises, are also ripe for reinvention, and the tower will have three floors of lush gardens by British designer Randle Siddeley. Incorporating windswept pines, mature olive trees, wild grasses and fire pits, they will host musicians and performances all year round and cater to hotel guests as well as residents. The 146-room hotel, designed by Space Copenhagen (creators of New York’s 11 Howard), will occupy the first seven storeys of the tower, its buzzy bars and giant, art-filled atrium providing a glamorous entry point.

So how to keep the non-doms and speculators at bay, particularly given the price point of the Manhattan Loft Gardens’ apartments? Creating a harmonious community of residents is Handelsman’s biggest challenge. Some apartments will be held back as rentals, at least in the short term, to encourage young, creative occupants. ‘The stereotype of a high-rise tenant is someone who lives in isolation. Anyone can buy an apartment in the block, but I would prefer it if he or she has a bit of understanding about it, rather than just buying off-plan, on a whim.’ Will he know the profile of potential occupants? ‘Of course. I check every detail, down to the door handles. I want to curate a building that is relevant to those who will live in it.’

As originally featured in the July 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*220)

Driving seat: Poltrona Frau and Ferrari join forces on high-octane chair collaboration

Monday June 19th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Heads up agile workers: the ‘Cockpit’ is a racing chair for the office, the Ferrari of swivel seats. Indeed, commissioned to mark the car maker’s 70th anniversary, and manufactured by Poltrona Frau, it is designed by Flavio Manzoni, Ferrari’s design director and creator of recent models such as the GTC4Lusso and the 812 Superfast.

The chair’s silhouette and structure are informed by the ergonomic seats of the marque’s racing cars, while its modular construction offers flexibility and comfort.

Poltrona Frau has collaborated with Ferrari on its vehicle interiors since the mid-1990s and the long-term partnership has allowed the two firms to develop a mutual appreciation and understanding of each other’s aesthetic values. ‘Our companies share the same care and attention to details, the same constant research for excellence, the same love for craftsmanship and the same sense of balanced elegance,’ explains Nicola Coropulis, Poltrona Frau’s brand director.

The chair features a carbon-fibre shell and a leather seat, while its swivel movement was developed using the same design and mechanics as a Ferrari steering wheel.

Two versions are available: the President is a managerial model with a high back, while the Executive can be adapted to any working context. The models are available in sleek black or classic Ferrari red, and there are also options in brown and tan leather, which were chosen by Manzoni’s team from the material samples offered in the car company’s ‘Tailor-Made’ programme.

‘The biggest lesson we have learned in working with Ferrari is that even the tiniest detail must have meaning and function in relation to the whole project. Nothing is there just to embellish,’ says Coropulis. ‘True beauty is in the essence of things and in the way they are assembled.’

As originally featured in the July 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*220)

Paint the town: RIBA's new hub is an architectural beacon in the North

Monday June 19th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

RIBA, the UK’s professional body representing architects, has opened a new public-facing outpost in Liverpool, called RIBA North. The new space, which features a gallery, café, shop and meeting rooms, occupies the last spot in the mixed use waterfront building by architectural practice Broadway Malyan on Mann Island, the cultural centre of Liverpool where neighbours include Tate Liverpool, the Museum of Liverpool and Open Eye gallery.

Complementing the long-standing RIBA hub in London at 66 Portland Place – which amalgamates RIBA’s professional and public roles – RIBA North will provide a base for its 6000 northern members and will spread the reach of RIBA’s educational aims.

‘One of the key things is to have somewhere where members can come and do things for the public, other parts of the industry or clients – so they have a home,’ says Jane Duncan, RIBA president, who credits the north east and north west regional RIBA offices as being some of the most ‘active’ in the UK.

The surrounding waterfront site, with the angular mixed use building designed by Broadway Maylan, where the RIBA North is located

At the helm of RIBA North is director Suzy Jones, who also sees the centre as a cultural space that can respond to the local architectural context. The first exhibition examines the architectural history of Liverpool and includes a selection of exquisite drawings from the extensive RIBA archive, newly restored thanks to a Heritage Lottery fund grant.

‘Activities will be seeded and initiated here, then will travel down to London and vice versa,’ she says of the programme, describing how the Liverpool and London locations will ‘talk to each other’. ‘My intention is that we can respond to local opportunities and we are in the perfect position here to be able to do that, I don’t think that’s something you can do remotely from London, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to do that,’ she says.

Part of Jones’s vision for RIBA North is to empower the public to understand they have a voice when it comes to their environment. ‘Through our activities there are opportunities to debate, discuss and learn more about architecture, and how the broader architectural environment works. It’s with that type of knowledge that you are able to question things and demand better design.’

The welcoming entrance space is punctuated by red painted statement walls and sunken LED lighting meeting a pointed angle

A vast pavilion constructed with layers of hanging red scaffolding mesh designed by creative and conceptual architectural practice KHBT has been installed in a glass covered courtyard known as the ‘Winter Garden’ just outside RIBA North, and this is just one of the ways Jones hopes to attract new audiences.

‘The pavilion is in a space where a lot of people, who don’t ordinarily engage with architecture, walk through – on their daily commute or when making their way through from the Pier Head to Tate Liverpool. They are walking through the space and engaging with this piece of architecture, which is fun and playful and it’s produced by architects. I think the cafe and shop will also attract people who have initially no intention of engaging with an architectural debate engage with architecture.’

‘I think there’s still quite a road to drive down yet to enable the general public to understand what architects do,’ says Duncan. Yet, she is very optimistic about the potential it will open up. ‘RIBA North isn’t just a building, it’s an opportunity for community involvement. Architects are very good at participation – we spend our lives with different stakeholders, we can do strategy. We’ve got a good opportunity here.’

Backstage at Milan Fashion Week Men’s S/S 2018

Monday June 19th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

  

Globe jotter: Sofía Sanchez de Betak takes the world of travel writing by storm

Sunday June 18th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Argentinian fashion consultant, creative director and travel influencer Sofía Sanchez de Betak was nicknamed ‘Chufy’ as a kid. ‘It went from Sofía, to Sofi, to Chofi, to Chufy,’ she writes via email, in between flights.

As you might expect from a worldwide wunderkind, Chufy is difficult to pin down. As well as stalking the globe, hunting for inspirations for her self-titled fashion label, she has also just launched her first round-the-world tome with Assouline, Travels with Chufy.

The scrapbook-esque edition, complete with self-styled holiday snaps, lays out Sanchez de Betak’s wayfaring wisdom, via dozens of characterful hideaways. Each is chosen for its ‘luxury beyond stars’ approach and individualistic qualities that push further than standardised amenity checklists.

[embed]https://www.instagram.com/p/BU_xwzlg-Vw/[/embed]

‘Nowadays, I think hotels use the word “luxury” to define a room with a good duvet and a flat screen TV,’ she offers. ‘It feels like travel’s “luxury” parameters are all about making every destination look and feel the same across continents.’ For Chufy, this has no relevance to true high-end travel. ‘“Luxury” means connecting with your environment, relating to locals, finding the things that make that destination unique – and learning.’

And she’s learnt from the best. A fuselage of well-travelled acquaintances and colleagues have offered their favourite places and tips, many of which can be found in the anecdotal ‘Don’t Miss’ section of each chapter. Sanchez de Betak thanks Alber Elbaz, Elie Top, Isabel Marant, and Princess Elisabeth von Thurn, among others, for showing her that ‘there are more people like us out there, who value these understated gems more than any number of stars’.

Aslı Tunca, Istanbul, with furniture designed by of the owners, designer Aslı Tunca and Belgian sculptor Carl Vercauteren. Photography: Angeles Holmberg

Though she refers to her draft writings as a series of ‘messy memories’, the finished prose is easy and accessible – even when the places she describes aren’t. She writes as if speaking to a friend. Page after page, we step down into the crushed taverners of Istanbul, out onto wild Kenyan savannahs, finally flinging ourselves into the open pampas of Finca Los Alamos, in Chufy’s Argentinian homeland.

Of course, she’s far from hanging up her hand luggage. Hungry for more adventure, Sanchez de Betak cites India, Africa and the Nordic countries as places she’s yet to fully explore. ‘There’s so much to see,' she says. ‘The world is so big, even if you’ve visited 100 places, you've never seen enough.’

Glove story: we can’t keep our hands to ourselves with Zaha Hadid’s latest collaboration

Sunday June 18th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Before she passed away in 2016, Zaha Hadid was working on a hands-on collaboration with Perrin Paris. Founded in 1893, the French accessories house is renowned for its glove-detail clutch bags, which seamlessly meld bag design and the human body. A couple of years ago, Hadid received one of these designs as a present – as it turns out, it’s a gift that keeps on giving with the launch of a new collaborative capsule collection by Perrin Paris and the architect’s studio.

The hand was a body part that resonated with Hadid. Her 2016 collaboration with Georg Jensen, for example, was composed of twisting cuffs and rings. Little surprise then, that the architect created a bold trio of spatial metal forms for the Perrin Paris collaboration, honing in on the area she preferred to adorn. ‘We were trained by Zaha to come up with various possibilities when working on projects,’ explains Maha Kutay, director at Zaha Hadid Design. ‘Originally we discussed the idea of one design, but three options were actually taken forward.’

Zaha Hadid and Perrin Paris' collaboration on a seven-piece capsule collection, inspired by the latter’s signature glove clutch style

Characteristically architectural in the sweeping forms, the metal embellishments also riff on jewellery design. ‘They look more like pieces of jewellery when you’re holding the bag’ Kutay says. ‘Most of Perrin Paris’ previous production was about forming 2D elements and shaping them to become volumetric. Our approach is about sculpting 3D elements, which act like an extension of the arm.’ This dynamism is reinforced in the functional nature of each swooshing metallic detail, which can be slipped onto either hand.

‘We always refer to old paintings that Zaha created,’ explains Kutay of the collection’s colour palette. Black, white and blush interpretations are complemented with gold and silver finished metal forms, while Klein Blue and post-box red versions are entirely monochrome. ‘Zaha liked Klein Blue quite a bit,’ Kutay adds. ‘We’ve also used it on some other furniture pieces. For us it felt like it was a good way of emphasising Zaha’s presence within the collection.’ The styles will be sold on Farfetch, and through Zaha Hadid Design and Perrin Paris’ own websites.

Lovely bones: Caruso St John strips Kvadrat Soft Cells’ studio down to the essentials

Sunday June 18th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Kvadrat Soft Cells has revealed the renovated space for its division in Copenhagen, designed by London-based firm Caruso St John. Located in a historic warehouse in the city’s industrial Nordhavn harbour, the space will serve as a workshop location for the Kvadrat Soft Cells team to develop research, design work, prototyping and communications for the brand.

Caruso St John reduced the bright, lofty space down to its bare bones, removing all existing features to reveal a concrete base on which they built a system of shelves and sliding doors. Arranged over two floors, the space has been outfitted with large wooden panels to create divisions for offices and meeting rooms.

Kvadrat Soft Cells’ bright and lofty new showroom space in Copenhagen

The architects explain that the only material addition to the interiors were sheets of spruce with an oiled surface, used to divide the loft into three separate areas (the foyer, atelier and workspace), but the idea is that these partitions can slide open to turn them into a larger space for events.

Caruso St John also took care of the custom-made furnishings, creating work surfaces in a special version of the wooden panels made of walnut. Soft Cells panels are displayed throughout the workshop, and additional furniture comes from iconic mid-century collections as well as contemporary brands.

The facility has been launched to take Kvadrat’s textile prowess to the next level, producing fully customisable high-performance acoustic panels, and combining the company’s original savoir faire with technological research. ‘The project is meant to provide a flexible background for Kvadrat Soft Cells to pursue its ambitious and ever evolving plans,’ says the architects. ‘We think, so far, it is working.’

Design Miami/ Basel 2017: daring debuts, mid-century marvels and other highlights

Sunday June 18th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Design Miami/ Basel presented its most far-reaching edition ever over the past week, somewhat in contrast with the state of the world and reaffirming design’s strong bonding power. ‘Looking around our world in 2017 – from the US to the UK, France and beyond – it is with great pride that this edition of Design Miami/ Basel will be the most diverse ever,’ said Rodman Primack, fair’s chief creative officer. ‘More countries than any previous edition are represented at the fair and a broader range of styles and aesthetics than ever before.’

It was clearly a year of debuts: for its inaugural Basel outing, South American gallery Mercado Moderno (based in Rio de Janeiro) took over a booth of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed halls, presenting the finest modern and contemporary design from Brazil. A first for the fair is also the introduction of art deco, art nouveau and De Stijl pieces, courtesy of first-time Monaco gallerist Robert Zehil who displayed a rich collection of pieces by the likes of Renè Lalique and Albert Cheuret.

Significant solo shows included an Ettore Sottsass display by Friedman Benda, which followed a series of initiatives that have been celebrating the designer’s centenary throughout the year (such as the Fondazione Giorgio Cini’s retrospective of his glass works, and Charles Zana’s personal collection of Sottsass ceramics, both on display in Venice). At the Friedman Benda’s booth, the designer’s glass and ceramic works displayed his savoir-faire with colour and his humorous approach to form – but it was a series of wooden cabinets that really showed off Sottsass’ aesthetic sensibility and his material prowess.

Read more about art dealer Kenny Schachter’s remarkable car collection, on view at Design Miami/ Basel. Photography: James Harris

Throughout the fair, another strong Italian presence was felt in architecture group BBPR; Milanese gallery Nilufar dedicated its stand to public and private commissions by the firm, including outdoor lighting for Milan’s Mediolanum cinema and a wood, metal and glass panel created for a private residence. Other galleries which included BBPR in their offerings were Chicago-based Casati (a 1958 loveseat the group designed for their Casa Ravelli project), along with Milan’s Galleria Rossella Colombari and Monaco-based Gate 5.

It was undoubtedly the year of historical design, with impressive presentations of mid-century marvels such as Jean Royere’s 1966 coat hanger, an ornamental tree snaking up one booth’s walls, and displayed alongside other pieces and sketches from the French designer’s repertoire. New York gallery Demisch Danant continued its brilliant championing of mid-century French designers, with a solo display of pieces by Jacques Dumond, a leading figure of the modernist movement whose streamlined furniture and lighting pieces link traditional interior design and an exploration of new materials and technologies. Nearby, Gallery Mathieu Richard celebrated another mid-century French creator, showing pieces by Mathieu Matégot in a minimal monochrome setting.

‘We are excited about different voices coming together and creating diverse ways to talk about design,’ explained Primack, and this diverse attitude is well-exemplified throughout the fair. The Design Curio programme (inviting designers, galleries and curators to create small cabinets of curiosities dotted throughout the fair) included Supergufram, a new spin-off brand by the Italian radical design marque Gufram, which launched with a collection of tongue-in-cheek pieces by Studio Job that pushed the boundaries of polyurethane production. Another Curio highlight was a captivating homage to Carlo Mollino by Oscar Humphries, including a short film about the late architect’s work.

Wood, metal and glass panel created for a private residence by architects BBPR at Nilufar. Photography: Daniele Iodice

This year, the Collector’s Lounge design was entrusted to Milanese creative laboratory Leclettico, whose owner and long-term Wallpaper* collaborator Claudio Loria created a fantasy world of vintage furniture mixing patterns and eclectic inspirations. It was a different aesthetic direction for the lounge, one that felt like an inviting new way to offer visitors a place to meet at the Messe.

Elsewhere in the fair, Kenny Schachter presented his collection of cars that ranged from Zaha Hadid-designed futuristic vehicles to classics such as the 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia and an Austin Mini Cooper. Swarovski returned with its forward-thinking Designers of the Future initiative, presenting a minimal space where the three winners’ works conversed through different media exploring the potential of crystal.

For Primack, the design diversity on display is a good indicator of the market’s dynamic vitality. ‘We are so pleased that with this edition, growth and expansion across markets is clear;’ he said. ‘It speaks to the growth of the fair and the vitality of the collectible design market that gallerists of such caliber and breadth are joining us in Basel.’

Star gazing: Adrián Villar Rojas hides a constellation of works at Athens’ Observatory

Sunday June 18th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Stargazing requires looking upward, but Adrián Villar Rojas’ newest installation at the National Observatory of Athens draws attention back down to earth. Wandering through the latest edition of his series, ‘The Theater of Disappearance’, is a spiritual experience that bridges earth and sky, the past, future and present, internal and external worlds.

For the project, commissioned by the Greek contemporary art foundation NEON, the Argentinean artist has transformed the observatory museum and the nearby Hill of Nymphs. A Latin inscription on the Observatory declares that the place is ‘to remain as it is’, but Villar Rojas, known for his surreal sculptural interventions, disregards that command.

The artist has sowed a veritable jungle of 26 plant species, including corn, melons, artichokes, wild grasses and bamboo. The vegetation has taken over the hill, swallowing statues, and will continue growing wild until the show’s end in September.

The Theater of Dissapearance, by Adrián Villar Rojas, 2017. Photography: Panos Kokkinias. Courtesy of NEON

Villar Rojas unifies the observatory with its hill, utilising an area usually ignored by staff and visitors. On one side of the hill, the path through the vegetation abruptly gives way to a loose dirt slope. Known as the ‘war zone’, the hillside and its caves – some challenging to reach – host 11 large vitrines.

In one, a graffitied Winged Victory of Samothrace lies on her side. Butterflies flit around a Mars rover (the Red Planet dirt juxtaposed with green trees seen through the vitrine). Some displays mix timeframes. One features an astronaut’s suit lying with a saber. Each presents a rearranged narrative of history, commenting on the violence of humankind’s drive for conquest. Finally, as though entering another dimension, the domed observatory becomes a temple; a sanctuary to contemplate the contrast of lush vegetation and the vitrines’ stark images.

Villar Rojas has removed almost everything from the museum, keeping a curated slew of noble objects such as handsome telescopes and old tomes. Wandering through the heavy curtains is meditative, while the ancient instruments quietly pull you in to peer into space’s unknowns.

Only the irrigation system Villar Rojas installed will remain after the project ends. Until then, the non-native plants will continue conquering the hillside, shrouding existing monuments, obscuring perspectives, and taking over a home that is not theirs. This is ‘The Theater of Disappearance’ after all.

Clean living: MAD Architects design a sparkling new gallery for Roca in Beijing

Sunday June 18th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

The contemporary ideal when it comes to bathrooms is a sterile sanctuary, stripped down to its essentials yet luxurious enough to draw you in for hours. Roca, the Barcelona-based bathroom outfitter that’s been at it for a hundred years, gets it, owns it and wants everybody to know it.

To that end the company has unlocked the secret to getting bums on seats: take what could be a run-of-the-mill showroom and elevate it into a gallery. After launching successful galleries in London, Lisbon, Spain and Shanghai, Roca has now opened its sixth in the Dongzhimen area of Beijing. And though it deviates dramatically from those spaces, it also remains spectacularly on message.

To design the 800 sq m interior Roca chose Ma Yansong, whose Beijing practice MAD specialises in organic, almost supernatural silhouettes that appear to pulsate with movement. Working within the strict confines of an existing building off congested Dongzhimen Outer Street, Yansong instead used light and projection to play with perceptions.

Double height glazing opens up the gallery space to the urban environment so the LED screen becomes a facade to the street

Taking advantage of full-height windows on two floors overlooking the busy pavement, he transformed the back wall into a giant LED screen, directing attention right through the building. The images on the screen, commissioned from art critic and curator Jérôme Sans, are eerily real: a mother bathing her baby, a man shaving his beard, a father tending to his young son, all tinkering with the latest Roca fixtures, seemingly oblivious to any spectators regardless of the constant flow of spectators on the street. It’s disarmingly alluring.

Yansong says he hopes the gallery ‘can become a positive, vivid corner of the urban community, connecting people and the city in the simplest way’. Elsewhere, projections of falling water that illuminate voids in the walls seek to calm them too.

It’s a deft bit of performance art amid the gallery’s backlit tile floors, stark pedestal displays and ominous black walls. It may not translate into concrete sales, but it advances the ideal of the contemporary bathroom that Roca has conceived immaculately.

The Volvo Cross Country V90 puts driver engagement front and centre

Sunday June 18th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Twenty years ago, Volvo pulled the dust sheet off something rather unusual at the 1997 Frankfurt auto show. Raised up higher than a standard V70, with bodywork encased in black plastic cladding and the words ‘Cross Country’ written across its rear window, this was the V70XC. Perhaps unwittingly, the Swedish manufacturer had created a whole new sector in the automotive world – the crossover.

In the eyes of the critics, this new car sat awkwardly on garage forecourts, unsure of its place, yet the V70XC incorporated all the practicality of a four-wheel drive without the clumsy proportions. It could hack its way up a snow-covered mountain pass yet fly under the radar as a tasteful yet unassuming school runabout. Over the years, the V70XC’s legacy has been continued and copied by competitors, ultimately becoming one of the best-selling sectors in the market.

The S90 R-Design incorporates a redesigned front bumper with integrated fog lights and larger air intakes

Two decades and a host of V70XC-inspired creations on and the latest iteration of Volvo’s family champion takes shape as the V90 Cross Country. Like the V90 estate on which it’s based, the Cross Country’s exterior styling is heavily influenced by the Concept Estate shooting brake, first seen at the 2014 Geneva motor show. ‘Designing a Volvo Cross Country is not a styling exercise, a plastic job. It is based on honest capability,’ says Thomas Ingenlath, Volvo’s chief designer and driver of the marque’s current design direction.

Setting it apart from the Momentum, Inscription and new R-design trim options is – as has become the norm – a hefty dose of body cladding, titanium front and rear skid plates and chrome inserts in the front grille. The sober but solid cabin is exceptionally well put together, in line with what Volvo’s design-conscious clientele have come to expect. The use of matte black walnut wood, cross-stitched leather set the Cross Country apart from the rest of the range, while a centrepiece 9.0” touchscreen display contains all the usual climate, entertainment and information controls. On the road, the Cross Country’s additional 65mm ride height offers a better view of the road and impressive ground clearance on a green lane, while the D5 diesel engine fades into the background on long, steady drives.

For all the Cross Country offers in terms of practicality, not all buyers will be in the market for a family-friendly soft-roader. Alongside the Cross Country stands the V90 and S90 R-Design models. Sitting at the opposite end of the performance spectrum, the R-Design caters for those with sporting prowess in mind – or, at least as much sportiness that can be gained from a sizeable family car. Alongside improved handling and performance from the choice of petrol and diesel engines, are a host of cosmetic changes including a redesigned front bumper with integrated fog lights, larger air intakes, sports seats and steering wheel.

Five spoke diamond-cut alloy wheels are unique to the R-Design range

What runs true between both models, however, is Volvo’s dedication to driver assistance technology. Like its larger SUV sister, the XC90, all variants of the V90 and S90 models can be fitted with autopilot functions that will help steer clear of danger up to speeds of 80mph. With ultimate driver assistance still confined to the pages of science fiction, Volvo’s systems are designed to aid a fully engaged driver, rather than replace them entirely.

More than just an expansion of the Swedish marque’s product suite, Volvo’s Cross Country and R-Design models demonstrate the company’s continued commitment to practicality, design and, above all, safety. As Volvo’s most accomplished variants to date, the R-Design and Cross Country carry the confidence of a company on an upward trajectory, capable of competing with the long-established German automotive aristocracy.

School of life: the Norman Foster Foundation HQ opens in Madrid

Sunday June 18th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

What will our future cities look like? When will we move to outer space? Could we swallow a pill that would make us fluent in new languages? These are just some of the questions – and predictions – that the Norman Foster Foundation is proposing with its new educational programme, bringing architecture, design and technology together under one roof.

The foundation, which has just moved into its new Madrid headquarters – a listed palace first built in 1912 and renovated by a studio within the Foundation led by Norman Foster – aims to train up a new generation of reactive practitioners to harness the vast flow of information accessible to us today. One of the programme’s key aims is to dismantle the silos that have traditionally kept educational fields separate. The foundation also provides a permanent home for Lord Foster’s impressive and growing archive of more than 74,000 objects collected since the 1950s.

The organisation is integral to Lord Foster’s roles as a professional architect, public citizen, and family man, serving as a form of cultural activism. It is his protean family motto – ‘the only constant is change’ – that rings most clearly in its philanthropic activity. As a student, Lord Foster himself relied on scholarships to study architecture. It was after receiving the Pritzker Prize in 1999 (and winning the sum of £100,000), that Lord Foster set up a foundation in collaboration with RIBA to support architecture students with travelling scholarships – an enterprise that will continue alongside that of the Norman Foster Foundation.

Exterior of the Norman Foster Foundation headquarters in Madrid

The HQ launched with a forum titled ‘Future is Now’, led by Lord Foster, which featured a stellar line-up of luminaries from a variety of sectors, including Jonathan Ive, Michael Bloomberg, Nicholas Negroponte, Patricia Urquiola and Maya Lin. They came together to deliberate how design and collaboration might address the topics up for discussion: cities; technology and design; and infrastructure.

Lord Foster’s keynote speech offered some empowering and thoughtful statements. ‘Design is the key to the future,’ he began, before rallying the audience to understanding the importance of interdisciplinary work. ‘The future is far too important to be left to one profession. All disciplines must pull together,’ he said. And with six decades of experience, from his student days as an early adopter of ‘green architecture’ to a professional who prides himself in running against convention, when Lord Foster says something, we must listen.

After presenting accessible yet hard-hitting statistics – ‘by 2050, 75 per cent of the population will be urban’ and ‘75 per cent of cities are on the coast’ – Lord Foster declared that ‘cities are the future now’. Continuing on to compare the densities of three case studies Houston (15 people per hectare), Madrid (55 people per hectare) and New York (260 people per hectare), he credited the success of major global megalopolises to geographical limits, such as London’s green belt or Manhattan Island. Lord Foster was an early pioneer of the skyscraper, as well as building the first post-9/11 high-rise in New York, the Hearst Tower, and now seeks to tackle new challenges such as bringing agriculture into the city through hydroponics.

Meanwhile, Michael Bloomberg addressed what happens when architecture and design meet politics, using examples of his achievements across business and government. He highlighted three contentious problems that the world faces including climate change, nuclear war and destruction of jobs through technology. ‘A lot of problems come from the cities, but solutions also come from the cities,’ the former Mayor of New York City said.

The Norman Foster Foundation archive and library. Courtesy of the Norman Foster Foundation

The panel continued with Lord Foster, Bloomberg, architect/artist Maya Lin and Richard Burdett, professor of urban studies at the London School of Economics, shifting the conversation to the transport revolution. ‘The car will become extinct,’ said Lord Foster, highlighting how 6m professional drivers in the US could be out of jobs – and the tension between technological progression and a fear of the unknown.

This was a sentiment reiterated by Jonathan Ive, chief design officer of Apple, when interviewed, in the ‘Technology and Design’ section of the forum, who spoke of the ‘rapid and intoxicating’ rate of change in expectation. And, when quizzed if he had any regrets, Ive said, ‘What haunts me more is the potential of ideas we’ve missed.’

Ive, who has recently been announced as the new chancellor of London’s Royal College of Art, has a collective approach to his work at Apple that is  second nature. His speech was heavily seasoned with the all-inclusive pronoun of ‘we’ – not a single ‘I’ was heard during Ive’s interview. An attitude weighted further when asked what products excite you: ‘People. We make tools for people.’

The debate always found its way back to ‘people’, returning to the values that Lord Foster founded his Foundation upon. Designer Marc Newson discussed the role of creativity and his favourite tool, the pen (we’re sure it was the ‘Nautilus’ pen that Newson designed for Hermès, that he casually took from his inside pocket). ‘It’s still the speediest link from what’s up here [gesturing to his brain] to out there [gesturing out to the audience],’ he said.

‘The pen is mightier than the drone,’ agreed Niall Ferguson, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, drawing attention to the problems that occur when we ‘make people for tools’, a poignant point made with the backdrop of anti-Uber strikes by cab drivers in Madrid – an egg had even hit Ferguson’s Tesla car in the morning of the forum. Ferguson then criticised the general public for being ‘terrifyingly historically ignorant’, which sparked a lively discussion: ‘You don't want people driving cars!’ exclaimed Neri Oxman, founder and director of the Mediated Matter Group at MIT Media Lab, leaving Ferguson feeling ‘outnumbered’ by optimists. ‘Your brilliant inventions will be misused,’ he prophesised.

Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the MIT Media Lab, amusingly used eggs and omelettes as an analogy for how mixing disciplines would make a better result. And later, following an emergent egg theme, Patricia Urquiola used the frittata as a metaphor for bio-tech and ‘silo-breaking’. Further talks spanned the world’s first architectural robotic laboratory introduced by founder Matthias Kohler, professor of Architecture and Digital Fabrication at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, rising sea levels, as well as a relaxed conversation between artists Olafur Eliasson and Cornelia Parker about climate change.

The exhibition pavilion designed by a studio within the Foundation led by Norman Foster has a wide glazed door that can be swung open to seamlessly connect the interior space with the outdoor courtyard

The audience was left with Lord Foster’s final remarks. ‘If you want to look far ahead – first look back,’ he said, continuing on to reference the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858, when an outbreak of cholera broke out in London due to open sewage – a crisis that caused the sewage system, that is still in use today, and the Thames Embankment to be built, developments that have sculpted the infrastructure of the city as we know it today. He followed this up with the ‘Great Manure Crisis’ of 1894 – the Times newspaper had predicted that 50 years on, London would be 9ft deep in manure. Yet, by the end of the century, the invention of the automobile had changed everything.

‘Tech responds in crisis,’ said Lord Foster. ‘The car, today’s enemy, yesterday’s saviour’ was a critical moment of realisation and circularity on which to end the forum, highlighting the dual role of the foundation as a historical archive as well as an active centre for research and education. It is this sense of social responsibility, and the format of an independent, non-profit facility, that we might increasingly rely on in the future to support a diverse workforce. Manuela Carmena, Mayor of Madrid, remarked on the foundation’s potential to reduce inequality in Madrid through offering an alternative platform for education, open to all.

Yet, it is also clear that it is down to individuals to take up and participate in this model – perhaps more so now than ever. Being a citizen of the world comes with a responsibility to self-educate, to look outside ‘official’ avenues of knowledge, to use diverse sources and to be a discerning critic. Lord Foster bowed out with a poignant piece of advice: ‘Remain a student!’

Monument men: chef Thorsten Schmidt and Snøhetta remodel the house where Noma lived

Sunday June 18th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Strandgade 93, Copenhagen is perhaps the most illustrious address in contemporary gastronomy. In the 18th-century warehouse with a façade of whitewashed brick, and views of the city’s inner harbour, lies the HQ of Noma, a family of restaurants that has pioneered the New Nordic movement, and incubated more international culinary talents than anybody except the now-defunct El Bulli. The first floor currently houses Noma’s office and test kitchen, led by co-founder and head chef René Redzepi, while the ground floor was for 14 years home to its eponymous flagship restaurant. Until February, that is, when the restaurant closed its doors and affirmed its plans to reopen near the roughand- tumble neighbourhood of Christiania by the end of the year (a seven-week pop-up ran in Tulum, Mexico in the interim).

While fans have trained their eyes on this audacious act of reinvention, another new member of the Noma family has been quietly in the works, set to occupy the hallowed grounds of the original restaurant. So far little has been revealed, barring a sign on the front door with the message, ‘Something new is cooking here…’. This is something of an understatement given the formidable talents behind the new project – executive chef Thorsten Schmidt, Norwegian architects Snøhetta and serial entrepreneur Thomas Møller Jensen, who has been brought on board as managing director. Come early July, they will be reopening the ground-floor space as a new restaurant, called Barr.

Rendering of the bar area

An old friend of Redzepi’s, Schmidt is one of the top names in Nordic cuisine. He and his wife, Rikke Malling, ran an acclaimed restaurant, Malling & Schmidt, in Aarhus between 2005 and 2012. Since then, he has consulted, travelled, judged the Wallpaper* Best Urban Hotels awards (see W*174), and even developed a Danish dinner for the International Space Station’s astronauts.

‘For over a decade now, everybody has been looking to the north, which is very exciting,’ says Schmidt in the private dining room of the former Noma. ‘Noma created a blueprint, a way of thinking about food, an awareness of our surroundings. It has been hugely influential, but few people are able to experience it. Through Barr, we want to reach out and give access to a broader audience.’ Schmidt also aims to bring together different strains of Scandinavian cuisine: ‘Right now the culinary landscape is split between the new Nordic and the old-fashioned. But these two are very much connected. As a chef, you should relate to them as one.’

Rendering of the dining area

He pulls up a map on his tablet computer that shows the alcohol belts of Europe – each region colour-coded by its predominant alcoholic beverage. Denmark, Germany, the Low Countries and the British Isles form a beer belt, while an aquavit belt encompasses Norway, Sweden and the Baltics. ‘Beer and aquavit are in our blood and tradition,’ he explains. Similar climates, languages with shared roots and ongoing trade gave rise to common culinary practices, among them salting, smoking, pickling and fermenting. Barr, which means ‘barley’ in Old Norse, encompasses ‘the kitchens of the Northern Oceans’, while adding a touch of modern Scandinavian refinement.

This philosophy is reflected in a seasonal, à la carte menu including dishes that some may consider unfashionable – schnitzel, frikadeller, warm smoked salmon. ‘If you don’t know anything about food, you’ll just think that our salmon is tasty,’ says Schmidt. ‘But if you’re a total foodie, you will ask, “How do you keep the moisture? And what sauce do you glaze it with?” By exploring these deeper layers, we ensure the dish is there for the future. My dream is that some of our ideas will end up on family dinner tables.’ Reinforcing Schmidt’s belief that food and social interaction go together, Barr will have a mix of individual servings and larger dishes intended for sharing, and to encourage spontaneity, some tables will be held for walk-ins. ‘It’s not about fine dining,’ adds Jensen, ‘though we are bringing in Noma’s intelligence and experience. We’re not looking to provide theatre, but rather a great meal, in a great atmosphere.’

‘Barr’ table, by Snøhetta, supported by a carved leg and featuring bag hooks under the surface

Riffing on the theme of a common cuisine for the Northern Oceans, Schmidt and Jensen looked beyond Denmark and asked if Norwegian architects Snøhetta would design the space and identity. Within 20 minutes of their email invitation, Snøhetta wrote back to invite the Barr team to Oslo, to get to know them and their ambitions. ‘We wanted a full collaborative approach,’ says Peter Girgis, the lead interior architect on the project. As such, Schmidt and Jensen have been involved in the every step of the design process. The overall concept is based on the working philosophy of the restaurant, ‘gestalt’, which refers to a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Snøhetta zoomed into the molecular structure of beer and found organic, bubble-like shapes.

They took a 3D diagram of the space, and filled it with enlarged versions of these bubbles. The negative space was then translated into large, gently curved wooden elements, which are now installed on the walls and in the gaps between the ceiling beams, cleverly circumventing the restrictions of designing for a listed building. Made of oak, these have been carved and assembled by local carpenters Malte Gormsen, who worked on the original Noma as well as 108, the other Noma group restaurant on Strandgade. Meanwhile the old Noma floors, which are wide planks of Dinesen oak, have been sanded and refinished. The result is cosy but light, rather resembling a wooden cave.

Water glasses by Schmidt’s wife, Rikke Malling, manufactured by Malling Living

The 65-seat main dining room has tables of varying heights, each with a distinct perspective, ‘so if you’re a regular, it will never be the same experience’, explains Schmidt. In between two original wooden columns, Snøhetta has inserted a custom made high table, in a nod to Viking banqueting practices. Elsewhere, diners will gather at Jonas Lyndby Jensen’s ‘Riverstone’ tables, made from oiled oak with an ovoid top – a design that happens to be inspired by a dish served at Noma. Seating is a mix of Finn Juhl’s ‘108’ chairs with bespoke upholstery, and stools by Rakel Karlsdóttir.

Schmidt worked with ceramicist Kasper Würtz to design a collection of plates in three neutral tones. ‘I wanted them to be soft to the touch. This meant there could be no glazing, and therefore demanded the highest level of craftsmanship. The shapes are very natural,’ he explains. Accompanying these are water glasses by his wife Rikke Malling, as well as beer glasses that were originally designed by Arne Jacobsen for the SAS Royal Hotel. Malling also created a cutlery tray so diners could reset their own table for each course, while Snøhetta is currently working on a bespoke cutlery set.

Menu by Snøhetta, set in Barr Gräbenbach, a typeface inspired by type foundries in the beer belt

Barr’s ethos is also reflected in the menu design, consisting of papers coloured by category, attached by a brass rivet to a sheet of oak, embossed with a microscopic image of Danish ale. In collaboration with Camelot Typefaces, Snøhetta have created a new typeface, Barr Gräbenbach.

The adjoining bar has a more casual layout, and offers hearty snacks such as grilled duck hearts and solæg (Danish pickled egg). The beers on tap include house brews, as well as offerings from up-and-coming breweries. In addition to the brewer and a sommelier, Barr also has a mixologist specialising in beer and aquavit cocktails. ‘We have a lot of geeks, capable people who want to tell the story of Barr, to show what the difference can be when you put your mind to your craft, and work with the best products you can get,’ says Schmidt. ‘We have all been brought together by common respect for each other’s craft. René and Peter [Kreiner, managing director of Noma Group] once said, “We want to be partners only with people we can see ourselves getting old with”. This is why we’re working together.’

As originally featured in the July 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*220)

Ed Atkins selects his video-art favourites from Julia Stoschek’s 750-strong collection

Sunday June 18th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

What is ten years in the art world? Quite a while, as it turns out, when the genre is as young as time-based media (works that incorporate video, film, slide, audio or computer technologies).

The video art collector Julia Stoschek is also young, at least for someone of her standing. On 10 June she celebrated her 42nd birthday – and at the same time, the tenth anniversary of her eponymous collection in Düsseldorf. It’s one of the most significant collections of its kind. For the first time, Stoschek will be putting the curatorial reins of a show – ‘Generation Loss’ – into the hands of an artist, Ed Atkins.

Stoschek has long been an Atkins fan. She devoted a retrospective to the artist five years ago, when he was just 30 years old, and she is the most prolific collector of his video art. ‘Ed represents the generation of digital natives,’ she says. ‘Not to mention, he’s an internationally significant artist’s artist.'

Atkins selected 49 pieces from Stoschek’s collection, which comprises around 750 works in all. All the videos will be shown in the same format. The large screens are uniformly aligned, so that several works can be viewed at one glance. They are presented in choreographed sequence, and mostly in pairs. In this way, Marina Abramović and Ulay meet Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman runs in parallel to Klara Lidén, and Lutz Mommartz is shown next to 1`.

Sky News Live, by Ed Atkins and Simon Thompson, 2016. Photography: Simon Vogel

Stoschek is enthusiastic about Atkins’ concept. ‘He is giving an overview of the entire collection, creating a Gesamtkunstwerk in the process,’ she says. She was even persuaded to gut two floors of her historical building for this – acoustic glass isolates the individual works aurally, without visual separation – in an undertaking ‘comparable to constructing a new building’.

‘The exhibition is based on a community of artists, works and ideas,’ explains Atkins. ‘The communitarian form places the pieces in an intimate relationship to each other. I have a chance to temporarily suspend the hegemony of the collection, asking the words to speak in a different way; in ways they do not necessarily presume to: reflexively.’

The exhibition’s title, ‘Generation Loss’, refers to the depletion of quality that goes hand in hand with the copying or condensing of data, which is a result of evolving technologies. In curating the exhibition, Atkins found that the same reductive concept can be found in politics and culture, feelings and opinions – in short, in social change. He honed in on artistic inheritance, and the way artists enter into dialogue with their predecessors.

For artists represented in the Stoschek collection, this dialogue is very dynamic indeed. ‘There is probably no art genre that has changed so significantly over the last decade as media art,’ Stoschek concurs. ‘From analogue VHS cassettes to digital film – that was a real quantum leap. To me, apart from Gutenberg printing press, digitalisation has kicked off the largest socio-cultural shift in history.’ Accordingly, the layout of the exhibition is like a journey through time: from the beginnings of the moving image to the here and now, in which Stoschek can ‘illustrate the entire timeline of the genre’.

And what does she think the next decade holds for video art? ‘Formally speaking, I don’t think we’ll be looking at seismic changes ahead. But things are still going to stay very exciting. Soon, for example, there will be no such thing as tangible data carriers. And virtual reality, at the moment an entirely new genre, is set to evolve.’

But whatever is brewing in cyberspace – in the real world, for now, the exhibition will be showing for at least a year. ‘Time-based art needs time,’ is a dictum of the Stoschek Collection. And that is something Stoschek would also like to provide to ‘Generation Loss’.

Hot tickets: the designers getting our temperatures rising at Pitti Uomo 2018

Saturday June 17th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Like the soaring temperatures in Florence, the biannual Pitti Uomo trade fair, now in its 92nd edition, rose in global excellence this week, its rotating roll-out of international designer guests featuring London designer JW Anderson, German label Hugo Boss, who presented its younger counterpart label Hugo, and Virgil Abloh’s New York-based label Off-White. Abloh’s show marked a moving collaboration with Jenny Holzer, who recently worked on a limited-edition cover for our July issue (W*220).

Guests were also treated to Christian Louboutin’s staging of a Bike Polo tournament in the centre of the city, and even popped to a sneak preview of ‘The Ephemeral Museum of Fashion’. The exhibition, held in the spaces of the Galleria del Costume of Palazzo Pitti, and curated by Olivier Saillard, features nearly 200 pieces from the 19th century to present day, by designers including House of Worth and Gucci.

Hugo's collection drew inspiration from the concept of the artist as an outsider

In fitting with Hugo Boss' guest status, Bart De Backer, senior head of Hugo menswear design, and Jenny Swank Krasteva, Hugo Woman senior head of creative, explored the status of the artist as an outsider for the label's S/S 2018 collection. The nighttime show, housed in a huge disused cigar factory, featured a long concrete catwalk sprayed with graffiti and illuminated with hundreds of suspended candles. The space was fittingly bedecked with brushstrokes and sketches, while the collection – featuring artful raw edges and loosely tied floral motifs, overall silhouettes and loose coats – veered towards an arty palette of of neutral shades and splashes of bright yellow, Hugo red and blue.

‘When we were working on the collection, we found a lot of photographs of Basquiat wearing designer brands,’ the Hugo designers explained. ‘He was wearing them in a very unconventional, non-precious way. This image of the artist wandering around in his own bubble, creating his own fashion aesthetic, was the starting point.’ This sense of personal style culminated in a play with proportion – for men, doodle print bags were blown up to XL size and for women, embroidery details had a DIY edge. The collection itself acted as a canvas for the London designer Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, whose prints featured on mesh t-shirts and hand-painted organza dresses. ‘His unique style and strong vision of things fits in so well with the ideas and DNA of Hugo,’ De Backer and Krasteva explain.

From an emerging London label to a renowned name on its schedule, JW Anderson presented his Pitti debut in the gardens of a Villa La Pietra, a Renaissance villa in the hills outside Florence. Guests walked through its gardens, populated with lemon trees, topiary and geometric flower beds, before nestling on the floor on cushions. Behind them in the evening sun, stood grand figurative sculptures covered with dust sheets, and on the catwalk stood seven fabric sculptures by the Loewe Craft Prize finalist Anne Low (Jonathan Anderson is also creative director of the Spanish luxury house).

JW Anderson's S/S 2018 collection showed a fresh riff of pared back pieces, debuted in the gardens of the Villa La Pietra. Photography: Daisy Walker

A grand location yes, but the collection marked a more pared back version of the designer’s aesthetic, honing in on beige chino shorts, roll-up jeans, cable-knit sweaters, Breton striped jumpers and a collaboration with Converse. Prints riffed on the Coca Cola logo and came in multicoloured panel love hearts. Anderson’s three year stint as the creative director of Sunspel marks his malleability to move between more subversive and commercial design. His guest status at Pitti marks not just a move in show city but a move towards a new customer.

A cellophane wrapped orange t-shirt acted as the invitation for Off-White's S/S 2018 show. It not only highlighted designer Virgil Abloh’s collaboration with Jenny Holzer, but also featured printed instructions for securing a lifevest- a hint at the political connotations of the show, in particular the Syrian refugee crisis. For the hour and a half long nighttime spectacle, held outside in the enormous front courtyard of the Palazzo Pitti, Holzer projected huge scrolling texts onto the walls of the vast renaissance building, taken from writings documenting war and conflict. Moving excerpts were taken from texts by Omid Shams, Ghayath Almadhoun and by current voices on on the Syrian and Palestinian conflict, living today in exile in the EU and US. Scrolling texts also included thirty verses by the Polish poet Anna Świrszczyńska, who was a military nurse during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

Off-White collaborated with artist Jenny Holzer on a moving outdoor show at the Palazzo Pitti

Utility wear references in the collection, like bright orange lace up boots, eerie hooded-shirts and wide-collared cagoules resembled both lifeguards uniforms and the apocalyptic protective gear worn during a nuclear fallout. Oversized plastic shoulder bags, flat bottomed and in searing orange, resembled miniature lifeboats, while puffer-jacket gilets and paper nylon jackets riffed on the life vests alluded to in the brand's show invitation. The clothes, illuminated in spotlight against the palatial backdrop, acted as a stark reminder of the world’s present political climate, contrasted in stark detail to grandiose architecture of a time gone by.

London calling: Rag & Bone’s Soho flagship is a tale of two cities

Thursday June 15th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

It’s hard to think of label Rag & Bone, without also thinking of Charles Dickens. After all, it was in his tome Bleak House (1852-53), that the original rag and bone man Mr Krook was a victim of spontaneous combustion. The label, which celebrates it’s 15th anniversary this year, also represents an aesthetic tale of two cities – London, the former home of its CEO and founder Marcus Wainwright, and New York, where the brand is based.

It is renowned for its blend of Savile Row-inspired tailoring and British fabrics, with a denim-focused downtown cool. Now the brand has further cemented its Victorian symbology, adding a third boutique to it’s retail presence in London, housed in a 1904 building on Soho’s Beak Street.

‘When we open our stores, rather than imprint Rag & Bone onto a space, we try and take the bones of it, and the history of the shop itself and and weave the brand into it’, explains Wainwright of the 14,000 sq ft, five-storey corner building. ‘The store has a lot of English elements, but it also has some strong New York parts to it’.

Like Rag & Bone's designs, pieces in the store, including this walnut top table inset into poured concrete, improve with age

The design pays homage to the building’s Victorian roots, featuring its original raw brickwork and exposed plaster. It also boasts custom fittings, produced in Rag & Bone’s Brooklyn-based furniture workshop, which has been creating furnishings for the brand’s stores and showrooms since 2008. These are intermingled with antiques sourced in England, and British artworks. A mural by Stanley Donwood – the pen name of artist and writer Dan Rickwood – who has created Radiohead's album and posterwork since the nineties, sits in the store's stairwell. An artwork of x-rayed hands by British artist SHOK-1, features in the men's fitting room.

‘We’re able to create furnishings ourself, literally down to the nuts and bolts,’ Wainwright says of the brand’s Custom Fabrication shop. Furnishings, just like the opposing elements in Rag & Bone’s aesthetic, have been designed to emphasise contrast. The store’s main staircase is crafted from hot rolled steel, metal mesh, reclaimed wood and leather. Fitting room curtains and sofas have been upholstered using archive fabrics, including Harris Tweed. ‘We’ve been using it for at least ten years. It’s one of the most durable fabrics you would possibly use – a little bit itchy, but it will last 50 years!’

In store, a custom denim table features a steel frame, with a live walnut top inset into poured concrete. ‘We want people to be inspired by the clash of things – some which look expensive, and others really dilapidated,' Wainwright explains. 'Rag & Bone is a brand which isn’t precious. Just like our leather and denim, we’re building things that will only look better with age’.

Peaty porcelain: Afroditi Krassa designs ceramic flask for Royal Salute's dynamic aged blends

Thursday June 15th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

In 2015, Wallpaper* joined forces with Greek London-based designer Afroditi Krassa and whisky masters Royal Salute to create a bespoke flask for our annual Handmade project. Krassa’s design featured a streamlined shape for the flask, made of glazed ceramic that was created by German experts Fürstenberg Porzellan.

Krassa and Royal Salute continued their partnership beyond the Handmade borders, and are now presenting their second collaborative product: a limited-edition flask that celebrates a special run of the 30-year aged Scotch whisky, created by Royal Salute’s Director of Blending, Sandy Hyslop. The exclusive set, titled Royal Salute 30-year-old The Flask Edition, comprises flask and a distinctive, full-bodied blend of some of the finest Scotch whiskies, aged for a minimum of 30 years.

The blue porcelain flask designed by Krassa accompanies the whisky bottle of the same material, and comes with a matching funnel for easy pouring, and a minimal wooden tray for presentation. The set is imagined to enhance the whisky-drinking experience, doubling as a travel kit to enjoy Royal Salute on the move.

‘Each time I start a new project I want to challenge the status quo,’ explains the designer. ‘That’s why I was so inspired by Royal Salute, while all other whisky brands are content with glass, Royal Salute houses its whisky in precious porcelain.’ Krassa explains that she wanted to apply the same idea to the flask, creating something in keeping with the brand’s tradition and mixing this with a modern product.

‘Ceramics have a rich history,’ continues the architect, ‘and for me this project presented a really interesting contrast of ancient techniques crafted for a modern audience.’

A rediscovery of Piet Mondrian's early works shows the Dutch painter in a new light

Thursday June 15th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

If you thought Piet Mondrian’s art was all abstract geometric forms and primary colours, a new exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum will have you reconsidering this notion. Upon entering the first room, you spot the still life of a dead hare and faithful recreation of an early morning view of Amsterdam’s famed Singel canal.

The next few halls continue in the same vein, showing dozens of bucolic and, at first glance, traditional landscapes and depictions of the sea, dunes and windmills. In total some 300 of the artist’s works – a quarter of his entire output and almost the entirety of the museum’s Mondrian collection – are on show in the exhibition titled 'The Discovery of Mondrian.' Many of them have never seen before by the public, but rediscovered by the museum staff during a massive restoration project between 2009 and 2015.

The little-known early work is important believes curator Hans Janssen, as it shows just how innovative and modern the artist truly was.' He speaks of the 'sense of depth' that carried through to his later work, the visibly sophisticated brushwork techniques ('the working of the paint') but also of something else: 'At first glance some of them look like 19th century rubbish but they have a quality that is very hard to describe and that has to do with a sense of inner self'. Indeed there is a sense of quiet spirituality and optimism that is a constant in all the work, as well as a potent luminosity that lifts the work out of the mundane.

As the years pass there is an intensification of colour and a dynamism perfectly exemplified in the early 1908 piece Mill in the Sunlight, where realism and truth-telling is abandoned for an impressionistic use of bold oranges, reds and yellows that show a mill suffused in shimmering and glorious sunlight.

With every change in style and move to a new city (the exhibition looks at works produced in Amsterdam, Paris, London and New York), it becomes clear that Mondrian was a painter that constantly innovated and renewed and that, like Van Gogh before him, he lived for his art. Janssen calls Mondrian an 'attentive and intuitive artist whose craftsmanship often resulted in unexpected but beautiful things'.

Both the works and the personal items on display (like the letters and his recreated atelier downstairs) are unexpected and rewarding. Mondrian writes in one letter, 'I want to get as close as possible to the truth and am therefore abstracting everything until I get to the foundations…of things’. There is a feeling in this exhibition that the onlooker is doing just that, getting to the essence of what this remarkable artist was about.

Progress report: Frank Gehry on his mammoth Philadelphia Museum of Art renovation

Wednesday June 14th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

After the triumphant debut of the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in northern Spain, Anne d’Harnoncourt (then director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art) offered Gehry a bold new challenge. 'She said, "You just made a building in Bilbao that’s sculptural, exciting, and created a miracle. Could you do the same thing to an existing building? But you can’t do anything on the outside,"' explains Gehry. 'I loved that idea. I think it’s a very perverse idea, and that’s the kind of stuff I like.'

Selected in 2006 as architect for the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s ambitious interior renovation, he recently celebrated the kickoff of its latest phase: a three-year, $196 million project that will open to the public a total of 90,000 sq ft, all within the building’s original footprint.

'This is a building that was planned in the second decade of the twentieth century. The role of museums has changed dramatically since then,' says Timothy Rub, director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 'The work that Frank and his staff have done to reorganise the building—to rezone it, so to speak—is critically important. It will work far better in the near future than it does today.'

One of the key areas central to the Core Project will be the 'The Forum', which will extend three levels and be a venue for performances. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art

Designed by the collaborating architectural firms of Horace Trumbauer and Zantzinger, Borie, and Medary, the grandly scaled neoclassical building opened in 1928. Subsequent renovations, including the once-exuberant 1980s manoeuvres of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown 'clogged the arteries' according to Gehry. 'Classical buildings have x and y axes, and this museum had that, but it was obfuscated by a lot of interventions over the years that didn’t respect that geometry,' he explains. 'The DNA and the bones of this place are really fantastic, and they showed us the way to make it all work.'

The current 'core project' focuses on the heart of the building. It will remove the current auditorium, opening a west-east axis and creating a multi-level public space (and circulation hub) known as 'the forum' complete with a grand staircase. Additional galleries for American art and contemporary art will be joined by a newly designed restaurant, café, and meeting rooms. The first results will be apparent in 2019, when the historic north entrance is reopened and a major section of the long-shuttered vaulted walkway – a splendid north-south promenade that stretches 640 feet – is completed.

'There are going to be some "wow" moments,' predicts Rub. 'To be able to walk in and see the building unfold in front of you and begin to map out your path through it, is not only satisfying, it’s also going to help the building function.'

A cross-section view showing the changes to the existing interior spaces (Core Project) and the new underground galleries (future phase of the Museum’s Facilities Master Plan). Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Before commencing this 'clarifying' phase, which will continue through the spring of 2020, Gehry was tasked with upgrading the museum’s back-of-house functions (care, storage, and movement of the more than 240,000 objects in the collection). 'They had me start by building a new loading dock, and I thought "Why the hell are they building a loading dock?"' he says. 'Anyway, we did it and we built it, and it’s the best damn loading dock in history!' The 68,000-sq ft art handling facility opened in 2012.

Gehry has found the rather stealthy work of reimagining a museum’s insides energising and inspiring rather than restrictive 'We just did a small concert hall in Berlin in an office building, which maybe I wouldn’t have done if I had not had this experience,' he says. 'I think you can turn potentially limiting things into an asset.'

At 88 ('That’s a little precarious, but I’m swimming and I’m working'), he is especially eager—even a little impatient – to see this most recent phase completed. 'The Philadelphia Museum of Art represents a nexus of American art and culture, of history and the future,' adds Gehry. 'Can it do what they did in Bilbao? Hell, yes! This is going to be an amazing museum.'

Home in one: Snowe's new concept space is an apartment, showroom and retreat

Wednesday June 14th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

The home furnishings industry has had its fair share of disrupters, but few have managed to put it all on show quite like Snowe. The online homewares label, which carries everything from its own quality dinnerware, placemats and glasses, to comfy bed linen, bath towels and candles (all at an affordable price), has done its competition one better by creating a multi-functional retail lab called The Whitespace.

Occupying a spacious, light-filled loft by Gramercy Park in New York City, the retail concept showcases all of Snowe’s creations in an alluring, apartment-style setting.

‘Snowe is meant to be the high-quality canvas to paint your own style on,’ says co-founder Rachel Cohen. ‘Our design sensibilities are timeless, modern and balanced. We look to more classic mid-century alongside modern Scandinavian and utilitarian and minimalistic Japanese design as cornerstones of our aesthetic inspiration and have incorporated some of these leanings in the space.’

The kitchen space inside Snowe's new retail concept The Whitespace

Alongside its adaptable product selection, the brand has also curated an assortment of objects from like-minded brands to complete the picture and bring the space to life. In the living room, artwork from Uprise Art (framed by Framebridge) complements rugs and poufs from GAN and an elegant daybed by Ellinor Haling to provide an inviting backdrop for customers to create registries and wish lists, peruse for design inspiration, or simply lounge back with one of Snowe’s wool-cashmere throws.

In the dining area, a long table showcases a mix of its Limoges porcelain flatware, titanium reinforced glassware and table linen and placemats that are spun in Italy, all arranged under elegant lighting designed by Allied Maker. The experience continues with a bedroom and bar area, giving visitors the chance to touch and feel Snowe’s full range of products firsthand.

‘We launched Snowe always knowing that one day we would have an innovative, immersive physical presence,’ says co-founder Andres Modak. ‘We think of The Whitespace as a 'retail lab’ - a space to experiment and test out different hypotheses around what our customers want and how we can create one-of-a-kind experiences for them.’

Although a shoppable space, items purchased at The Whitespace are still shipped (for free) so that visitors don’t need to trouble themselves with shopping bags and boxes. Cocktail hours and pop-up dinners are also some of the special experiences the brand has created to bring an added tangible component to this modern fantasy home. Visiting is by appointment only to ensure things don’t turn into a mad house.

Man of parts: Conrad Shawcross’ new ‘crazy machine’ spins into St Pancras International

Wednesday June 14th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

The British artist Conrad Shawcross has a thing about harmony. And not some woolly idea of beauty in balance but harmony proper; the harmony of mathematical ratios and Pythagorean intervals, of chords, secret and otherwise. He sees this harmony, or rather finds it, with a sort of engineered synaesthesia, in the strange machines he invents or in particular swoops and curves he creates; in mostly large-scale, complex sculptures, often with moving parts that follow elegant, elliptical ways and paths generated, in part, by beautiful numbers. ‘The brain is activated by notes or certain chords in a way it isn’t by dissonance or discordancy,’ says Shawcross. ‘It triggers emotion and thought and enquiry. So I’m just using these ancient harmonies and transmogrifying them into ratios through machines to see what happens.’

As a young man he became obsessed with a little book called Harmonograph: A Visual Guide to the Mathematics of Music. The book is mostly a collection of remarkable diagrams: repeating swirls, loops, twists and sinusoids, a complex but elemental geometry that seems to exist in three dimensions, if not more, created by a Victorian scientific gizmo called the harmonograph. Initially a research tool designed to measure movement in buildings and then adopted as a parlour entertainment, the harmonograph uses swinging pendulums with moveable weights to push pens and create patterns based on different harmonic ratios. For Shawcross, these intervals and ratios, and the patterns they generate, are things to be pushed and played with but always to be respected. He has used them in many of his works, including a giant new piece to be installed at London’s St Pancras International terminal this summer.

The Interpretation of Movement (a 9:8 in blue) will be the fifth piece to hang in St Pancras station as part of the Terrace Wires project. Previous installations include Ron Arad’s Thought of Train of Thought and Cornelia Parker’s One More Time. Shawcross’ piece – essentially three ‘optic sails’, circles of slatted carbon fins, attached to articulated arms and driven by a complex gearing system – is the artist’s most complex engineering challenge to date. At full stretch it spans 16m. ‘Typically, I made it bigger than the brief allowed, and the piece is heavier than it was supposed to be. It will weigh three-and-a-half tons. The gearbox alone is like a Spitfire engine,’ he says proudly.

The Interpretation of Movement (a 9:8 in blue), 2017

The whole piece rotates at nine revolutions per minute (rpm) while three secondary arms circle at 8rpm. (In harmonic terms, a 9:8 ratio is a major second). If you were to track the movement of the arms, they would create the kind of complex spirograph patterns that Shawcross first saw in his little Harmonograph book. When the sails and those slatted fins cross in front of each other, they create a moiré effect – ‘a subtle pulsing elliptical on-off effect’ – an illusion Shawcross exploited in Optic Cloak, a giant piece of artcum- infrastructure installed in Greenwich Peninsula last year.

In this case, the trance-inducing potential of the moiré effect threatened to put a real spanner in Shawcross’ works. ‘We have had to do these very in-depth renders because the train drivers’ union is very concerned about distraction. If it is too visually arresting they say they can’t have it in the station because it might cause an accident.’ Shawcross eventually managed to persuade the union that it was not a dangerous sort of dazzling. Shawcross prides himself on fabricating as much of his work as he can in his massive east London studio. But creating The Interpretation of Movement required specialist help – ‘dozens of different manufacturers across the country’, he says.

The carbon fins for the ‘optic sails’ were made by an Oxfordshire company called Formtech, part of the UK’s surprisingly rich resource of high-tech manufacturers. ‘They make all these incredibly lightweight, low-flying, carbon-fibre communication satellites,’ Shawcross explains. ‘They don’t need a rocket to launch them. They are just put up there by these gliders with a 12m wingspan. Two people just run down the runway and launch them.’

The work is in many ways also a celebration of British engineering and a nod to the structural daring and complexity of the station itself. ‘I hope it will have this real Brunelian scale of ambition,’ Shawcross says. The complex gear system, left exposed, should be as much of a draw as the looping ‘sails’. ‘The engineering of the room is so spectacular and I wanted to do a very structural, everything-on-display kind of work. Nothing is hidden and it is very much a celebration of structure and materials, like the space itself.’

The St Pancras commission consolidates Shawcross’ standing as one of the most in-demand of British artists, certainly when it comes to large-scale public works. The last two years have seen the landing of Optic Cloak, as well as The Dappled Light of the Sun, a 30-ton canopy of bifurcating steel tetrahedrons, temporarily installed at the Royal Academy, and Paradigm, a 14m-tall twisting stack of tetrahedral steel blocks, permanently installed outside the new Francis Crick Institute in King’s Cross. All of these pieces tried to suggest motion in static forms. With Interpretation of Movement, Shawcross has made a happy return to massive moving parts. ‘I think I wanted to get my teeth into some mechanical stuff again,’ he says. ‘In the studio there is a knowledge base of people and we all love making machines. We want to keep that side of things fresh in our heads. It feels like a year to make crazy machines again.’

As originally featured in the July 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*220)

As she designs new pieces for Tiffany & Co, Paloma Picasso on a process for happy surprises

Wednesday June 14th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

I didn’t know then what I was going to be, but I was so afraid to be compared to my parents [Pablo Picasso and Françoise Gilot], it became an obsession: whatever I did there would be no aesthetic links to what they did, so that people could see my work as something of its own. This was a springboard for me to be my best. I knew I didn’t have room to make errors, because everybody would be pointing and looking at the faults.

It was while I was living in Venice as a teenager that I started having ideas about jewellery design. It was the 1960s and women wore crazy jewellery. You would say hello and then, ‘Aah!’ – you would be attacked by a brooch or a necklace. I used to think, this is so wrong, jewellery should be something that feels good on the skin. Now, of course, I know the skill it takes to engineer jewellery to sit with the body.

My first Venice designs were shooting stars – colourful custom pieces that I manufactured myself. I took them to Paris to try to sell them. After the first meeting, they said ‘put a price on this’, but I had no idea how. That evening, I was at dinner at La Coupole in Montparnasse and Yves Saint Laurent was there. It shows how little I knew him at the time, because I thought, ‘Oh, I can ask Yves!’ I went over to his table and, after we’d had a chat, I said, ‘I need to put a price on my jewellery; I don’t know what to do.’ Yves said, ‘Come to the couture house tomorrow and we’ll talk about it.’

Of course, we never discussed prices because that is something Yves never cared about. But when he saw the drawings, he said, ‘They are really wonderful, I’d like you to come and work for me.’ That’s how my first designs came to be in Yves Saint Laurent boutiques.

‘Paloma’s Melody’ pendant in gold; nine-band bangle in sterling silver, both as before; ‘Paloma’s Groove’ rings in gold, £1,975; ‘Paloma’s Melody’ five-band bangle in gold; ‘Paloma’s Sugar Stacks’ earrings in gold and diamonds; ‘Paloma’s Melody’ five-band bangle in gold and diamonds; ‘Paloma Picasso’ rubellite ring in gold, all as before, all for Tiffany & Co. Photography: Pierpaolo Ferrari

By that time, I had become friendly with John Loring, a painter and writer. John knew I designed jewellery – I had even designed a piece for him. He was living in New York and one day he called to tell me some news. ‘The people from Tiffany are looking for a design director and they have contacted me. What do you think?’ he said. I told him it sounded fabulous. This was the late 1970s and I was in New York quite a bit. Just after John got the job, he told me Tiffany was looking for a new jewellery designer and I should apply. Tiffany was the epitome of America to me – the Eiffel Tower of New York. To be part of that was so liberating.

In New York, people judged me on what I created rather than my name. There was not much colour in jewellery design in the 1980s, so when I created these big pieces in semi-precious stones, people were surprised. My designs were bold, with a certain simplicity and strength, and a strong point of view.

Today feels like a new era for me in design. This year I am relaunching an existing Tiffany collection, the ‘Melody’, in a new guise, plus the new ‘Groove’ design. There is a sensuality to my work and the circle has always been a primary shape. I like its perfection, its voluptuousness. With the new collection I have also been able to add pavé, in diamonds and black spinel, which was not something we were able to do before, technically. We did try to add diamonds ten years ago, but the results were not good. Knowing we can now do a perfect job made me interested in revisiting ‘Melody’.

‘Groove’ has been a more personal process. I wanted to design a wedding band for my husband. He felt rings didn’t look good on his fingers, but I told him, ‘I’m going to design one that I think you would want to wear.’ I made these grooves, like tiny circles. There are eight grooves, which stand for infinity and a long-standing relationship – and the wedding band can stand up on its own. Isn’t that great?

I didn’t realise it was going to stand up, so it was a happy accident. But when you are designing with the right thing in your mind, you get these little surprises, these questions and answers as you go along. That’s what makes me happy as a designer: that I am still learning, that I surprise myself. It keeps you alive.

As originally featured in the Precious Index, our new watches and jewellery supplement (see W*218)

Bow belles: stay ahead of the curve with sensual velvets, muted colours and geometric arcs

Wednesday June 14th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

   






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