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Wallpaper* Magazine: design, interiors, architecture, fashion, art - News feed

Last feed update: Wednesday August 23rd, 2017 03:25:19 PM

Cast in stone: Ado Chale’s lifetime of alchemy and artistry goes on show in Brussels

Tuesday August 22nd, 2017 11:00:00 PM

You would hardly find more a passionate specialist in mineralogy in the history of modern applied arts than Brussels-based Ado Chale. A lifetime of work by this largely unknown Belgian designer, decorator and sculptor is being presented in a first retrospective at the Bozar Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. 

Chale created a plethora of custom-made interior objects during his 50-year-long career. He belongs to the generation of interior decorators that appeared on the scene in the 1960s, focused on creating exclusive interior objects on the borders of fine and applied art. Designers such as Gabriella Crespi, Maria Pergay, François-Xavier Lalanne and Claude Lalanne established a new approach to designing furniture and accessories, bringing a glamorous spectacle into 20th century interiors.

Born in 1928 as Adolphe Pelsener, the designer was self-taught, developing his skills in blacksmiths’ metal workshops. It wasn’t until the late 1950s that he discovered mineralogy, wherein he began creating the decorative jewellery and tabletops which were to become the universe of his artistic expression. They allowed him to experiment with abstract decoration and structural solutions. He changed his name to Ado Chale at the beginning of the 1960s, marking the start of his career as a designer.

Detail of coffee tables in bronze, and black resin and malachite. Photography: Maxime Prananto

During the 1960s and 70s, his work focussed on the beauty of natural stones. He travelled the world collecting materials like fossilised redwood, malachite, chalcedony agate, rhodochrosite, lapis lazuli, jade and amethyst, encrusting them in epoxy resin to create the smooth decorative surfaces of his tables.

Chale’s work was exhibited at various world fairs, including the Universal Exhibition in Montreal in 1967. Important clients commissioned him with exclusive projects. In 1968, he created 25 marcasite mosaic tables for the new Hilton Hotel in Brussels. His practice was favoured by the Court of Belgium, which chose a number of official gifts from his work: notably for the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Diana Spencer, the first visit of President Pompidou to Brussels, the birthday of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and that of the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

While Chale continued to exhibit his work around the world during the 1980s and 90s, he turned to less valuable natural materials. He started to use bone buttons, mother-of-pearl or peppercorns to manufacture small decorative and sometimes functional objects, such as door handles, cigar box, lamps, obelisks, mosaic balls, bronze cuts and also his first paintings of torn papers or ropes. 

In 2000, Chale met Paris-based galerist Yves Gastou who opened a new market for him. The Belgian designer’s work was subsequently favored by interior architects like Alberto Pinto, Peter Marino and Jacques Grange. His works from the 1960s and 70s became sought-after collectible items, and the most prestigious auctions were sold at auspicious houses like Wright and Phillips de Pury.  

The scenography of the Bozar exhibition was created by Belgian artist Richard Venlet; while publishing house Aparté is releasing an new important monogaph on Chale’s practice.

Art of the Treasure Hunt serves up a perfect pairing of art and wine

Tuesday August 22nd, 2017 11:00:00 PM

You might know how to match your wine to your food – but how about to your art? Intertwined with Chianti’s breathtaking rolling vineyards this summer are contemporary artworks to complement the history and scenery of the region, its prestigious wineries and villas, and of course, the multi-sensory experience of its colours and flavours.

Under the Tuscan sun until 30 October, visitors can see new and recent artworks by world renowned names – including Marina Abramović, Oscar Tuazon, Kiki Smith and Jannis Kounellis – enjoyed with the scent of surrounding grapes, while imbibing some of them too.

Eternity IV, 2017, by Janine von Thüngen, at Villa Geggiano. Courtesy of the artist

Nature and its elements are a consistent theme and inspiration in this year’s works, connecting the landscapes of each of the chosen locations for this sprawling group exhibition to the process of wine-making and the ever complex relationship between man and the earth. At the spectacular Villa di Geggiano, close to Siena – home to the Bianchi Bandinelli family since 1527 – you’ll find Swedish naturalist Henrik Håkansson’s stuffed starlings in the chapel.

Over at Castello di Brolio, Italy’s oldest winery, Not Vital has installed 25 of his 100 steel ‘Lotus Flowers’ on the terrace. Meanwhile, Colle Bereto – famed for its Chianti Classico – hosts an outdoor water sculpture by Kiki Smith in the charming hamlet of Radda, as well as ethereal ‘seaweed’ drapes by Brazilian artist Vivian Caccuri.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtV7y5oPc20[/embed]

Textile works by Polish artists Alicja Bielawska and Agnieszka Brzeżańska (also on view at Villa di Geggiano) allude to the fruits of the region’s fertile terrain: Bielawska’s coloured cloths, studies on light, billow in the breeze outdoors, while hanging in the ballroom, Brzeżańska’s ‘Water Spirits’ paintings suggest the transient flow of time.

Art of the Treasure Hunt – this year on its second run – is the brainchild of Kasia Redzisz, a senior curator at Tate Liverpool; Olivier Widmaier Picasso, grandson of Pablo; and arts patron Luziah Hennessy of LMVH. Hennessy says that the idea behind the hunt dates back to the 18th century, when ‘it was the tradition for wealthy families to send youths on a cultural tour of Europe as a “rite of passage”.’

Style findings: dispatches from the Wallpaper* fashion team

Tuesday August 22nd, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Tunnel vision: decked out in clashing checks and plaid, we’re dancing to a different beat

Tuesday August 22nd, 2017 11:00:00 PM

At just 23, Anders Hayward has already fit three careers under his beautifully buckled belt. Among his many talents, the dancer, model and experimental choreographer has the rare ability to turn a hectic fashion shoot into a carefully orchestrated waltz.

For our September 2017 Style Special, we tapped Hayward to direct the movement for a menswear fashion shoot photographed by Liam Warwick, in which we celebrate clashing checks and plucky plaids. Creating a sense of movement beneath all these juxtaposing Prada, Calvin Klein and Salvatore Ferragamo patterns was essential. ‘During the styling process, I chose thematic movements that I felt would suit the clothes,’ Hayward explains, ‘I’m interested in designers that create clothes for characters – I enjoy creating fashion narratives.’

Game to become the leading men were our models, Georges Labbat and Baptiste Faure – despite their differing levels of dance experience. Labbat was the perfect match for Hayward, having trained in Belgium under intensely musical choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. But Anders enjoys the surprise and (sometimes inelegant) quirks that come from working with models with minimal formal dance training, like Faure. ‘It’s great to see a model who has never really been choreographed before come out with some really interesting, organic movement. On the other side I love pushing more experienced dancers, like Labbat, to move in ways that they’re not necessarily familiar with.’

Hayward also grappled with a sculptural set and an eclectic mix of refined furniture – including pieces from Aram, B&B Italia and Rodolfo Dordoni. ‘I had sketches and blueprints of what the space was going to look like before, so I had a few ideas in mind – especially for the image with the two boys in the circle,’ says Hayward. ‘We found that it worked best if they were constantly moving. When the two were in constant flow, I could just tweak a hand movement, a shoe placement, or the flourish of a lapel.’

Though we’re only treated to the static, freeze-framed result, the arching backs, awkward necks and stretching fingers of each model capture Hayward’s momentum-filled choreography – while proving one can do impressive backbends in a tailored Fendi suit.

Under the loupe: our latest watch and jewellery finds

Tuesday August 22nd, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Bites: Wallpaper’s pick of the latest grooming, food and technology goings-on

Tuesday August 22nd, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Botanist

Tuesday August 22nd, 2017 11:00:00 PM

The Jim Cheng-designed Fairmont Pacific Rim has long been Vancouver’s most gorgeous hotel. But its cavernous lobby – a see and be seen spot for local politicos, Hollywood stars and corporate party people – was crying out for a more intimate space. Enter Botanist – the latest creative offspring of Vancouver based restaurant designer wunderkind Craig Stanghetta and his Ste Marie team.

More than mere eatery, Botanist marries different eras – notably the 1920s and the 1980s – to create a unique contemporary ambiance that reads like the Miami Babylon club in Scarface designed by Gio Ponti for a West Coast client.

Similarly, the elevated West Coast fusion cuisine pairs French and Mediterranean elements with fresh local ingredients. 

Outsider art: the must-see outdoor installations for 2017

Monday August 21st, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Life’s a beach: the top 10 Miami hotels for 2017

Monday August 21st, 2017 11:00:00 PM

In pictures: the W* photography desk’s daily digest of visual inspiration

Monday August 21st, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Hotel EMC2

Monday August 21st, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Albert Einstein’s famous relativity theorem may have inspired a great many endeavours, but it’s probably safe to say that a hotel has not, until now, been one of them.

The newest offshoot of Marriott’s Autograph brand, the 195-room EMC2 occupies a new, 21-storey pile by KOO architects in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile quarter. The interiors by Rockwell, meant to represent a convergence of art and science, are almost what you would imagine Captain Nemo’s lair to look like: a stylish science lab furnished with Montreal artist Felix Guyon’s zoetrope in the reception, oversized perforated metal lanterns in the public spaces and, in the warm cabin-like bedrooms, teardrop-shaped phonograph speakers on copper poles that are powered by smartphones.

Dominated by a copper-topped bar top, and towering bookcases lined with volumes on science and art, the Albert’s soaring dining room is the setting for chef Brandon Brumback’s mod menu of aged duck roasted with cauliflower miso and XO sauce, and charred Spanish octopus draped with a cilantro dressing.

Centre stage: Hollywood’s iconic John Anson Ford Theatres reopens after renovation

Sunday August 20th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Stealing the architectural spotlight this summer is the re-opening of Los Angeles’ iconic John Anson Ford Theatres complex. Dating back to 1920 – and nestled in the Hollywood Hills – the open-air theatre is one of LA’s oldest performing arts centres.

The first major renovation of and new construction on the site, which cost $72.2 million, was left in the safe hands of LA-based Levin & Associates Architects – the team behind the revival of much-loved landmarks such as LA City Hall, the Griffith Observatory and the Wiltern theatre.

The sensitive restoration has allowed all of the original elements to shine again. The poured concrete entranceway, designed in 1931 to resemble the gates of Jerusalem, and the turreted concrete towers flanking the amphitheatre stage were carefully restored, while the seating was replaced and the concrete tiered deck repaired and waterproofed.

Yet much of Levin & Associates’ work involved adding function and technology to bring the theatrical relic into the 21st century. One of the main updates was a new, curved, three-storey building with a loading dock, administrative offices and public terrace, which solved many practical difficulties for the complex.

The new amphitheatre stage at night, with the natural backdrop

‘The biggest surprise was how long the Ford operated under the pre-renovation conditions – without the acoustic and theatrical improvements, and the artist and patron amenities,’ says Brenda Levin, architect and founder of Levin & Associates Architects.

A new ‘canyon green and sky blue’ sound wall at the rear of the amphitheatre was designed to reduce noise bleed from nearby Route 101: ‘The new sound wall successfully achieves a major reduction in the ambient freeway noise. In fact, once you close the doors to the theatre, you may hear birds chirping. And the acoustics inside are among the best in the country for an outdoor amphitheatre.’

The theatre also has a new custom-designed decorative metal-panelled control booth, kitted out with the latest recording technology to document the high quality sound and performance.

The amphitheatre stage was completely replaced with a new two-level Brazilian walnut ipe hardwood stage. Beyond the fourth wall, other materials were refreshed in line with the historic style of the theatre, such as a new stone veneer used on the retaining walls and theatrical stairs of the upper stage.

The loading dock and sound wall attached to the new building

‘One of the primary goals of the project was to improve the Ford for the performers. That included providing more dressing rooms, showers and a green room as well as a wider, more useful crossover. The only option was to increase the square footage under the stage and below the amphitheatre seating,’ says Levin, who cannily cut 3,500 sq ft of extra space from the bedrock.

While the impressive surrounding environment is one of the cultural draws of the Ford Theatre, it was something of a logistical mountain for Levin and her team to climb. To make the site sustainable and safe, they had to stabilise the canyon and hillside through erosion control measures and drainage systems, and design new retaining walls. The site itself was a challenge, too.

Thanks to Levin’s hard work, visitor access has been greatly enhanced. The new Zev Yaroslavsky Terrace (The Zev) and Ford Terrace Café provide vital social spaces to linger and enjoy the architecture and the hillside vistas. Landscape designers Mia Lehrer + Associates worked on smoothly blending the space with the surrounding groves of mature trees, planting native Southern Californian species such as two mature coast live oaks and two strawberry madrones (as well as Mediterranean species), and designing a series of stone walls and lighting elements to build atmosphere.

Levin can’t help but feel satisfied: ‘The County now has a totally re-imagined Ford – a state of the art theatre in which any and all artists will enjoy the technical and aesthetic improvements; and for the patrons, a beautiful new picnic terrace with gourmet food options. All accessible for the first time.’

Top of the glass: Pauline Deltour’s first design for Cire Trudon has serious bottle

Sunday August 20th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

It seems French industrial designer Pauline Deltour can turn her hand to anything. Since leaving Konstantin Grcic’s studio in 2009, bags, jewellery, public spaces and packaging have appeared among the designs in her portfolio. Spanning mediums, each project shares her commitment to expressive materials and under-designed functionality.

Since 2015, Deltour has been collaborating with iconic French candlemaker Cire Trudon, producing a home fragrance diffuser and a contemporary candle-snuffing tool. Both products play a part in the 450-year-old maison’s ongoing modernisation of its visual identity. Now, as the brand makes a foray into perfume for the first time, it has tapped into Deltour’s contemporary vision for the fragrance line’s glass bottles.

By now, Deltour is well-versed in Cire Trudon’s heritage-meets-contemporary aesthetic. ‘It was such a luxury to have already created two products with Cire Trudon,’ she explains. ‘It made it much easier for me to understand what they want. When we first collaborated, I was acutely aware of the company’s long history and candlemaking expertise.’

‘L'Éteignoir’ candle-snuffing tool, by Pauline Deltour, for Cire Trudon, 2016

But this time, both parties were coming to the project with fresh eyes. The five genderless fragrances created by Lyn Harris, Antoine Lie and Yann Vasnier toy with themes of ‘royalty, religion and revolution’, explains creative director Julien Pruvost. Evoking characters (including kings, parliamentarians and the proletariat), each fragrance is ‘rooted in the maison’s heritage’, yet aims to be 'modern and subversive’.

He wanted a bottle to match. Something that ‘could have been here 400 years, but was actually made yesterday’, Deltour explains. To tackle the brief, she researched extensively, making a ‘giant mood board of historical and contemporary coloured glass references’, and presented prototypes to study groups. ‘We talked a lot about tiny details – something that doesn't really happen in the glass bottle industry. We thought of everything down to the kind of reflection the sticker would produce on the bottle’s reverse, and the texture of the screw-top.’

Rendered in the maison’s signature pine-green hue, the cap is finished in textural rippled-glass, echoing Deltour’s home fragrance diffuser, released earlier this year. The bottle underneath is daringly simple, resembling the silhouette of Cire Trudon’s classic scented candles. ‘Though it might not seem like it, this was a more complex design process than my two previous Cire Trudon projects,’ Deltour offers. ‘For me, creating a bottle is like designing a watch. Each moving part is essential to the overall feel. Everything from the weight [and] volume, to the transparency of a glass bottle should affect how you experience the fragrance inside.’

This is not a scent to hide in your handbag. ‘It’s something you can have by your side, and admire, every day,’ says Deltour. It’s a privileged object – fit for both royal salon and contemporary vanity stands.

Model home: a new book surveys Konstantin Melnikov’s totemic Moscow house

Sunday August 20th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

In 2012, the Wallpaper* team had the good fortune to visit Konstantin Melnikov’s spectacular private house in Moscow (W*164). It was a rather inauspicious time for this iconic piece of residential architecture, designed in 1927 at the height of Russian Constructivism and long considered one of the totemic houses of the 20th century. Decay and neglect were evident everywhere, from the overgrown garden to the crumbling masonry and damp-streaked walls.

And yet in every corner there was a revelation – a thrilling angle, a streak of light, a bold colour or striking antique. Kitsch modern teddy bears sat next to minor masterpieces of early Soviet realism. A mighty stove stood alone like a miniature Constructivist tower in its own right. Melnikov’s great cylindrical drums were a maze of tiny cracks, a testament to the conventional construction techniques that underpinned the radical form.

In designing this house for himself, Melnikov (1880–1974) had the rare opportunity to consider every single detail, and the allocation of land and materials was a rare privilege at the time. Although structurally conventional it was formally abstract in almost every other way. In plan form the house is formed from two interlocking circles, with bedrooms and kitchen on the ground floor, leading via a central spiral stair to a  studio space on the upper floor, lit by arrays of hexagonal windows.

DOM Publishers’ monograph delves into the genesis and design of this unique building, reproducing original archive photography and a host of beautiful drawings, along with contemporary imagery of the house in its current state of preservation. Conservation work is still very much required, but the house is now a museum and its future is finally secure.

Poster code: a Tokyo gallery pays homage to Philippe Apeloig’s graphic expertise

Sunday August 20th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Philippe Apeloig’s new show at Tokyo’s Ginza Graphic Gallery marks a full circle for the Parisian designer. Almost 20 years ago in 1998, Apeloig presented ‘Posters in the context of French culture’ – first at the DNP Duo Dojima (DDD) Gallery in Osaka, and then at the Ginza Graphic Gallery. Curated by the late Japanese graphic master Ikko Tanaka, who passed away in 2002, the exhibition showcased a poster designed by Apeloig that received the Gold Award from the Tokyo Type Directors Club in 1995.

The name of the new show – ‘Apeloiggg’ – is a nod to the Ginza Graphic Gallery’s GGG acronym that was immortalised in a logotype created by Tanaka. ‘I thought it made a lot of sense to connect my name to his logotype. It’s a kind of homage to him,’ reflects Apeloig, who continues to be inspired by Japan. ‘And I like that it echoes the repetition that you see in my work also.’

Installation view of ‘Apeloiggg’ at Ginza Graphic Gallery

The new survey follows on from three important solo shows for Apeloig: his retrospective, ‘Typorama’, at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris (2013–14); ‘Using Type’, a solo exhibition of his typographic posters, at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (2015); and ‘TypoApeloig’ at Cité du Livre d'Aix-en-Provence (2014).

Displayed across the ground floor and the basement of the Ginza Graphic Gallery, the Tokyo show brings together Apeloig’s recent forays into product and packaging work: a line of porcelain for La Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, a scarf and watch for Hermès, and packaging designs for Issey Miyake Parfums – a trio of 3D objects that Apeloig says came along ‘by chance’. ‘I wanted to show the different ways in which graphic design can be used,’ he explains. ‘Not only on printed matter like posters and books but also on objects packaging and ceramics.’

Split into two, half of the basement space is given over to the designer’s motion graphic pieces, which are projected onto a vast screen that spans the entire wall. In the other half, a series of books and brochures occupies one wall, while six posters showcase Apeloig’s bespoke fonts. Another three posters are portraits of writers Philip Roth, Kenzaburō Ōe and Mario Vargas Llosa, and a fourth is a blue portrait of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, which Apeloig designed for the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective at the Petit Palais, Paris in 2010.

Apeloig’s packaging designs for Issey Miyake Parfums

Upstairs on the ground floor, Apeloig’s Issey Miyake packaging is displayed in a series of illuminated recessed alcoves that glow in the exhibition’s darkness. ‘Issey Miyake was the most commercial project that I’ve ever done but I didn't forfeit my creativity – not at all,’ says Apeloig, who took the fragrance’s streamlined bottle silhouette and transformed it into a set of geometric letters that he describes as ‘playful forms, dancing in movement’. 

‘It’s a very abstract design,’ continues Apeloig, ‘Movement is at the centre of my work. As you understand, modern dance was perhaps the entrance door for me to the contemporary approach in art and design. First of all by watching performances. I still think that today I kept this magical choreography as an influence in my work, as one can see in the motion graphic pieces that I present today.’

Opposite the packaging, the ceramic plates for La Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres – featuring minimalist patterns that nod to Japanese artist Hokusai – are exhibited like artworks on the wall alongside Apeloig’s numerous dynamic posters that specifically feature landscapes, scenery and architecture crafted from type.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue edited by art critic Steven Heller

To complete the showcase, Apeloig worked with American art critic Steven Heller on a 64-page catalogue in Japanese and English. A quote from Heller on its cover reads, ‘Apeloig is always totally and unreservedly Apeloig, the purveyor of typographic exquisiteness.’ It’s a perfect sentence to sum up this exhibition, demonstrating Apeloig’s innate ability to apply his distinctive graphic style to whichever medium he touches.

Les Trois Cochons

Sunday August 20th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Twelve years after opening in Copenhagen’s heaving Værnedamsvej strip and charming locals with its uncomplicated, rustic French bistro fare, it was time Les Trois Cochons had a spot of a nip and tuck.

The updates by Danish studio Københavns Møbelsnedkeri are a quiet homage to the restaurant’s previous incarnation as a butcher shop, with exposed slabs of concrete wall setting off old turquoise-green tiles, chequerboard floor tiles, dark oak and antique brass lamps, updated Thonet chairs, and warm brown leather banquettes.

It’s little surprise that the restaurant’s devoted clientele have flocked back with enthusiasm, especially since head chef Nikolaj Jelsbech sends out into the light-filled dining room classic plates such as pan-fried turbot glazed with a sauce of beurre blanc, seafood platters piled high with sea urchins, razor clams and langoustine, and a grilled tarte flambée. In the basement, meanwhile, is a cosy private room for post-prandial cocktails. 

The new reality: Mercedes-Maybach unveils the super-luxury electric car of tomorrow’s world

Friday August 18th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

When Mercedes-Benz had a second attempt at reviving the Maybach name, it took a more understated approach than the hefty limousines built for the earlier, 1997, iteration. Mercedes-Maybach, as the standalone luxury division was renamed in 2015, became a sub-brand, creating highly personalised and lavishly finished versions of the company’s flagship S-Class model.

However, something of the original marque’s devil-may-care ostentation broke cover at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. At 5.7m long, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 was a spectacular foray into cyber-sybaritic excess. An all-electric 2+2, it made up for its modest environmental footprint by excelling in both scale and form, evoking pre-war coachbuilding, yacht design, art deco sculpture and aviation-inspired dynamism all in one package.

For 2017, Mercedes-Benz is returning to Pebble Beach with a sequel, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet. Chopping the top off the Vision 6 has cost the car its rear seats, but has greatly increased the sense of sheer luxury abandon. For a start, there’s a sweeping rear deck and tail that would look more at home bobbing about in the Monaco harbour than humming along the Autobahn, finished off with a vertical LED brake light bisecting the trunk lid.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MNJdnQLvBw[/embed]

The cockpit is a nappa leather-lined cocoon, quilted like a Chesterfield and illuminated in every nook and cranny by LEDs and sporting a wrap-around digital dashboard that seems to blend into the doors, while the front is almost all grille, with headlights reduced to slender slivers that echo the flashes of chrome down each flank. Massive 24-inch wheels complete the picture.

The company is unapologetic about the Cabriolet concept’s role: to define ‘the ultimate in luxury of the future’, while also referencing the grand style of the past. As with the closed roof version, this concept is purely electric, with a promised 200 mile range and high performance from four electric motors. Rather more hypothetical features include a friendly ‘concierge’ – a form of on-board AI – and biometric sensors to keep track of occupants’ health.

It’s highly unlikely that the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet will ever reach series production, although deep-pocketed car collectors have been known to twist the right arms when it comes to getting what they want. More importantly, the Vision 6 cars show that Mercedes-Benz – and Mercedes-Maybach – are looking seriously at the idea of an all-electric, super-luxury car.

The time is fast approaching when the most expensive cars will make the leap to zero emissions; with over a century of high-end experience, Mercedes-Benz is ensuring it stays on top of the market.

At CIFF 2017, a new generation of fashion designers is on the rise

Thursday August 17th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

On a sunny evening last week, a 100-plus people could be spotted grooving in an out of town car park at the Bella Center in Copenhagen. Bottles of beer and craft vodka cocktails in-hand, they were wearing a diverse smattering of styles – from Supreme X Louis Vuitton dungarees to boiler suits and floral dresses by the Danish label Ganni that recently posted annual revenues of nearly $59m. A giant pink cardboard installation featuring totemic symbols by London-based set designer Gary Card housed the DJ/designer, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy.

It’s not what you might expect from a fashion trade show but then CIFF (the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair that runs in parallel to Copenhagen Fashion Week) is smoothly re-inventing itself as a destination for buyers, creatives and emerging talent alike. The Loverboy pop-up was conceived by Lulu Kennedy MBE, founder of London’s Fashion East not-for-profit platform, one element of a curated programme of shows and stands through which Kennedy introduces UK-based talent to a new audience.

Louise Gray’s photographic blow-ups on view at the Bella Center

Inside the fair, Husam el Odeh recreated the chaos of his jewellery workshop, making pierced Danish Krone pendants on the spot while designers including Catilin Price and queer glamour protagonists Art School presented their collections against the backdrop of Louise Gray’s photographic blow-ups. ‘Copenhagen is relaxed and CIFF is very supportive of emerging talent,’ says Kennedy. ‘There is time, space and attention.’

Time and space are rare commodities in fashion and Kristian W Andersen is making best use of them at CIFF where he has been working as director and creative director for the last three years. ‘Trade shows are a bit broken,’ says Andersen, who is well-versed in the circuit having run his own avant-garde brand. Andersen, who also oversees Code Art Fair at the same location, adds, ‘Yes CIFF is a commercial business – 2000 brands show here and it is owned by a private company but if you have the opportunity to support talent then I think that’s an obligation.’ One and a half million visitors pass through the fairs and conferences annually fuelling the revenue of hotels, stores and restaurants.

Martin Asbjørn S/S 2018

Alongside Kennedy, Andersen also invites a cross-section of brands into an area called Raven. Off White and Hiroshi Fujiwara have previously taken up the offer and this edition saw New York brand and LVMH prize nominee Abasi Rosborough take the stage, showing military-influenced sportswear made from dead stock materials and featuring photographic prints of melting glaciers by artist Justin Brice Guariglia. ‘With the fashion industry being one of the biggest polluters, we thought it relevant and poignant to showcase glaciers on clothing – our consumption choices do matter,’ says Greg Rosborough who previously worked at Ralph Lauren.

Where creativity is seen to bubble, community and commerce often follow. The mothership project is the development of an extensive neighbourhood of houses and offices (over 320,000 sq m) that will become the Bella Quarter. Denmark practices Cobe and William Lauritzen Architects have been commissioned for the €2 billion development that will include green spaces, sports facilities, galleries and shops. ‘We need to set the tone this is an opportunity to create a neighbourhood and when do you get the chance to do that? There are so many developments that have to be completely rethought – think of Les Halles in Paris. It’s not an easy thing and we have to differentiate ourselves,’ says Andersen who is planning an artist/makers in residence programme.

London designer Martine Rose’s utilitarian collection was presented against a backdrop of climbing rocks

The city, considered one of the most liveable and green in Europe with its track history of purist design has a lot to offer and live up to.  Curiosity in hygge and the concentration of Michelin restaurants have also sparked a micro tourism boom while the population is growing at 1000 a month. Now, the fashion halo is beginning to glow with designers established and new including Martin Asbjorn (great Miami beach pastel linens), Ganni, Très Bien (a spin-off line by the concept store), Cecilie Bahnsen and jewellery designer Sophie Bille Brahe offering thoughtful, spirited collections that encapsulate the city’s aspirational way of life.

There’s no better advert than watching healthy, smiling twenty-somethings bike through the streets in ruffled dresses and flak jackets, boys in shorts and pyjama shirts. It’s the polar opposite of the urban angst and punkish subversion that pervades the scene in New York, Paris and London.

New York City’s latest crop of luxury residential developments

Thursday August 17th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Fresh cut: jeweller Sophie Bille Brahe cultivates Karen Blixen’s floral fascination

Thursday August 17th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Copenhagen-native and jewellery designer Sophie Bille Brahe takes a swim in the North Sea every afternoon. ‘It’s where I feel most inspired,’ she says. ‘To me, the calm Danish coastline is characteristic of the clean, Scandinavian subtlety I aim to capture in my work.’

Until now, Bille Brahe has scarcely deviated from fine, minimal lines. It comes as a surprise, then, that her latest collection is inspired by flowers. Five pear-cut diamond petals encase a striking yellow diamond flowerhead at the end of the Canary Marguerite necklace. The pavé diamond stem of the Pellegrina earring is topped by a five petal flower of brilliant-cut diamonds.

‘For me, flowers represent new beginnings,’ says Bille Brahe, ‘and this collection is a fresh start. It’s more “classic”, using larger diamonds – with my own twist, of course.’ Her gold-set flowers are reminiscent of Robert Mapplethorpe’s poised Y series, or the horticultural prints of German nature photographer Karl Blossfeldt.

Sophie Bille Brahe and collaborator Emelie Johansson, who helped pick organic flowers for Bille Brahe’s pop-up jewellery boutique in Copenhagen

But it's the somewhat unlikely figure of author, and keen florist, Karen Blixen (1885-1962) that compelled Bille Brahe to enter this floral phase. She has been visiting Blixen’s seaside manor since childhood, and feels a deep affinity with her. Now a museum, the residence is filled with flower arrangements rendered in Blixen’s signature style. Bouquets of colourful daisies, tulips and wild grasses fan out dramatically from shallow porcelain vases.

‘The way Karen Blixen stripped tulips!’ enthuses Bille Brahe. ‘She removed all of the leaves, leaving one, very modern stem. She arranged flowers in the same way she lived her life – something I’ve always wanted to do in my jewellery. I want to leave the materials to stand as much as possible on their own.’

It’s a philosophy that has influenced Bille Brahe since she was ten, and started selling jewellery to her mother’s friends – delicate wire earrings tangled with beads, and brooches made from mirror fragments. Even then, she was fascinated by materials, yet didn’t want to over-manipulate them. She has carried this respect into her work with gold and diamonds. ‘I want my jewellery to tell a story – but it has to tell it quietly, as pared back as possible.’ Her floral collection whispers.

Wedge cut: high drama meets bold engineering in Salvatore Ferragamo’s refabricated heels

Thursday August 17th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

For his debut collection as Salvatore Ferragamo’s design director of women’s footwear, Paul Andrew has stayed ahead of the curve, updating the Florentine fashion house’s signature F-shaped wedge – first created in 1947 – in suede and velvet variations. ‘I have been researching the shoes in the house’s archive and this is something that salvatore Ferragamo was never able to do,’ explains the English-born, New York-based designer.

‘When I was designing the collection, I started thinking about Richard Serra and the way he works with form. The shape of his Torqued Ellipse sculptures are very reminiscent of the F-shaped wedge. It’s very undercut and dramatic. To mould materials like velvet and suede, which don’t have much give, is very complicated.’ To achieve the design, Andrew developed leather crimping machines, which mould the fabric and leather 11 times over several days. ‘The silhouette that Ferragamo created in the 1940s was always covered with two pieces of leather,’ explains Andrew. ‘The state-of-the-art technology that we now have at our fingertips allows us to manifest the shape in one piece, which is a real feat of engineering.’

A version of this article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*222)

Tribe

Thursday August 17th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

In answer to the modern traveller’s desire for affordable luxury, a new Australian hotel operator has debuted a concept that eschews the usual ‘luxury clichés’ such as bellhops or a concierge, to focus on the things that really matter – not least slick design-led interiors by Travis Walton Architects.

Occupying a structure that was built offshore – to save on costs that can be passed onto guests – the 126-rooms are compact, but they are smartly designed with concealed nooks to keep things streamlined, full-length views of Perth’s Kings Park and luxury amenities such as Kevin Murphy toiletries and pod coffee makers.

Of course, public spaces are key. Here, Tribe Food, which focuses on ethical, sustainable eating, morphs from café by day to bar at night, while an inlaid stone bench and plush lounges offer plenty of functional space for work and meetings. The lobby’s focal point is a 2.7-metre wall that will showcase changing works from Australian artists. 

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

Wednesday August 16th, 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.

Spheres of influence: Wayne McGregor dances the line between man and machine

Wednesday August 16th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

‘There isn’t really an English word for what we have created. It's kind of an experience; a performance; a living artwork.’ So says Random International’s dramaturg Heloise Reynolds, of the practice’s latest installation, unveiled in London last week.

Staged in the echoing Roundhouse theatre, the art-meets-technology studio has designed seven helium-filled white globes that hover and swarm around the space on tiny propellers. In one moment, they’re pack-like, curious. In others, they’re inanimate, programmed, droning. ‘We’re trying to create a sense of otherness,’ says Random International co-founder Hannes Koch. ‘We want people to feel like aliens. We want to say, “This is how it feels to be intimately exposed to a very advanced organism.”’

Dreamt up in an unlikely industrial estate in Balham, where Random International’s engineers have spent the last five months buried under complex behavioural data maps, the spheres’ flocking behaviour is determined by generative algorithms built to resemble human characteristics. Able to react to their environment, the computer-controlled orbs select individuals from the audience to hone in on – swooping inquisitively towards them, or sinisterly mirroring their movements. In a landscape of driverless cars, digital butlers and ‘the robots are coming!’, these oddly familiar spheres pull at the tangled thread of what it means to be human in the age of AI.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBP1T_si0iU[/embed]

Frequent Random International collaborator, choreographer Wayne McGregor, has long been fascinated by this ever-slimming intersection between man and machine. Through his futuristic staging and his boundary-defying collaborations, McGregor does more than walk the ‘uncanny valley’, he dances there.

As he has done here, engaging a troop of his dynamic studio dancers to perform underneath the hovering, human-like globes to an electronic score especially composed by Warp Records’ Mark Pritchard. The formidable likes of Edward Watson and Fukiko Takase look anonymous, painted with either a ‘+’ or ‘–’ symbol. They are human magnets, pulling together and pushing apart. The elemental dancers enter into a loose dialogue with the globes, staying low, as the orbs twist into lofty formations overhead.

The human and technological aspects of the exhibition interact seamlessly, a testament to the well-matched collaborators – despite the fact McGregor didn't know exactly how the installation would look and act until it was installed. ‘I got it conceptually, and that was enough,’ he explains.

It helps that the collaborators are ‘on the same page aesthetically’. Instead of shunning technology as a clinical device, both McGregor and Random International use it as a theatrical tool to evoke emotion. ‘I think technology can make you feel something,’ McGregor continues. ‘It’s visceral. It can help the audience to embody a performance.’

That’s exactly what the spheres do here. As the dancers file out, the stage is left empty for audience members to enter into their own duet with the white globes, in what Koch describes as an ‘emotive experiment’. Forgetting our inhibitions, we enter into a game of computerised cloud-gazing, in a display of how the human imagination, and the artificial one, can partner to create something out of this world.

Less is Moor: the Yves Saint Laurent Museum is set to be a lesson in restrained elegance

Wednesday August 16th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

No building better sums up the passions of its patrons than the new Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech. Its form evokes the restrained elegance that defined all of the late Saint Laurent’s designs; its modernity satisfies Pierre Bergé, his partner in work and life; and its red brick façade echoes the sun-soaked palette of the country that the pair fell in love with.

‘When we first discovered Marrakech in 1966, we were so moved by the city that we immediately decided to buy a house here,’ explains Bergé. Twice a year, in December and June, Saint Laurent would head to Marrakech for two weeks to design his haute couture collections. His Moroccan hideaway also became a legendary den of hedonism, and in 2002, when he retired, Marrakech became his haven. ‘It feels perfectly natural, 50 years later, to build a museum dedicated to Saint Laurent’s oeuvre, which was so inspired by this country,’ says Bergé.

The construction of the building was undertaken by Bymaro, the Moroccan subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, which handled all aspects of the project and managed the various tradesmen, while respecting the detailed technical requirements for the conservation of the collection.

The new museum’s permanent gallery features YSL classics – the pea coat, the Mondrian dress, ‘le smoking’ and the safari jacket – as well as 50 rarely-seen pieces, all loaned by the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent in Paris. French architect Christophe Martin has designed the displays around themes close to Saint Laurent’s heart, among them Masculine-Feminine, Black, Africa and Morocco.

With its library, auditorium, gallery, bookshop and café, Bergé predicts the museum will become a cultural hub. He is well versed at kickstarting cultural activity in Morocco; in 1980, he and Saint Laurent saved the neighbouring Jardin Majorelle from ruin. The museum’s minimal gardens will, like those of its neighbour, be filled with native succulents, tiled pools and palms.

A marble presentation model of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech. The museum itself has a graphic identity that was handled by Philippe Apeloig, who, in 2010, had designed the poster for the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective at the Petit Palais in Paris.

Bergé knew exactly who he wanted to design the new museum in Marrakech (there will also be a sister museum in Paris, designed by regular Fondation PB-YSL collaborators, architect Jacques Grange and scenographer Nathalie Crinière, which will launch at the same time as the Marrakech one).

Olivier Marty and Karl Fournier, founders of Paris- based Studio KO, opened a satellite office in Marrakech 15 years ago and worked with Bergé on his private house in Tangier. Like Bergé and Saint Laurent before them, the pair went to Morocco on a whim and were also captivated by its colours and textures.

As originally featured in the September 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*222)

Box set: a Marseilles sculpture park is putting the fabulous back into prefab

Wednesday August 16th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

In 2016, Paris-based design dealer Eric Touchaleaume – known for re-popularising the works of seminal European architects and designers of the early 20th century – unveiled the Friche de l’Dscalette, a one-of-a-kind sculpture and architectural park on the outskirts of Marseilles, the French port city on the Mediterranean.

According to its founder, the park was established to ‘protect the poetry of the place, and to foster the philosophies shared by Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret, le Corbusier, and the people of Marseilles’.

Following last year’s presentation of demountable Prouvé houses, this summer’s programme has gone retro-futuristic with ‘Utopie Plastic’, a collection of prefabricated houses and other design ephemera from the late 1960s and early 70s.

Futuro House, designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen (1933-2013) in 1968

Among the remarkable structures that have touched down are the Hexacube by Georges Candilis and Anja Blomstedt, originally intended as a part of a mobile beach community; Maison Bulle by French designer Jean-Benjamin Maneval, comprising six bubble-like shells; and the UFO-shaped Futuro House, originally designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen as a transportable ski chalet.

The structures, scattered around the site, are complemented by plastic furniture by designers including Quasar Khanh, Wendell Castle and Maurica Calka. Taken together, the exhibition captures the unique application of the quintessential post-war material as well as the utopian spirit of the times. While it wasn’t to last: the idiosyncratic design milieu, which began in the mid-50s, fizzled out following the 1970s oil crisis, the movement has achieved interest and increasing market prices.

After a visit to the park, one can see why these innovative and colorful structures deserve a new life, appearing all the more surreal when set against the park’s agrarian backdrop, which resembles an archaeological dig complete with brick archways, pine trees and crumbling ramparts.

Villa Maïa

Wednesday August 16th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

French real estate group Maïa has certainly made an impact with its 5-star debut into the hotel business. Located atop Lyon’s Fourvieère hill, what was once the site of a former hospital now houses a four-storey building designed by Paris-based Jean-Michel Wilmotte. 

The interiors by French interior designer Jacques Granges has used neutral oatmeal tones with accents of colour revealed in accessories such as the cashmere bed throw or the Murano drinking glasses, inspired by photographs by Charles Maze that hang above the bed.

Expansive windows pull in views of cluttered rooftops backed by the distant surge of the Mont Blanc, and landscaped gardens by Louis Benech are an evocative tableau best enjoyed from the adjacent heated indoor swimming pool.

Outside of the hotel, the tangle of cobblestone streets and the hodgepodge of gothic and Renaissance architecture of the city’s old town is just a 10-minute stroll away.

Prima fascia: bespoke dashboard art, the new in-car accessory for your Rolls-Royce Phantom

Wednesday August 16th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Rolls-Royce doesn’t believe in rushing itself to market. Instead, the Goodwood-based manufacturer takes pride in playing the long game. Its cars have a gravitas and power that comes with longevity – the Phantom has 92 years of history spread over seven generations.

Replacing the 13-year-old seventh edition is a tall order. For Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce’s design director, a new Phantom offered new possibilities. Specifying a modern luxury car is increasingly akin to building a house or a yacht. There are extremes; the company recently unveiled the Sweptail, a one-off coupé built for an extremely well-heeled customer. Rolls-Royce acknowledged it was ‘probably the most expensive new car ever’.

Further studies on the movement of fabrics in water to inform the sculptural form. Photography: Lol Keegan, Jake Curtis, Based Upon

This level of personalisation isn’t practical for every Rolls. However, the new Phantom has one feature in particular that blends the company’s burgeoning patronage of the arts with its customers’ love of the bespoke. ‘When we began the conceptual start point for the fascia of the new Phantom, we realised we had an opportunity to create a dedicated gallery space,’ says Taylor. ‘It was an automotive first.’ Rolls-Royce designer Alex Innes describes it as ‘a canvas within the interior space of the car’. To showcase the possibilities, the design team approached several fellow creatives. ‘We wanted partners with a fresh perspective and no automotive experience,’ says Innes, ‘using materials and techniques not seen in a car before.’

Ian Abell, who founded London studio Based Upon with his brother Richard, was one of the pioneers. ‘Rolls-Royce approached us for ideas on how to fill the space,’ he recalls. The Gallery is mounted behind special glass in the dashboard, a ‘display case’ with sufficient depth for a true sculptural piece. Based Upon’s design draws inspiration from the Phantom’s highly refined power delivery. ‘We wanted a piece that looked like it had harnessed great energy in a mysterious way – almost as if it was alive.’ The studio created movement by drawing fabric through a tank of water. The process swapped back and forth between digital and analogue, culminating in a final form milled from a solid block of aviation-grade aluminium and polished to emphasise light and shade.

The interplay of light and reflections is all part of the Phantom experience, as is the retractable information screen that glides away to let the artwork shine. It’s all about the details. ‘In a way,’ Taylor concludes, ‘each Phantom is an art project in its own right.’ Now there’s one more thing to commission before you can get behind the wheel.

As originally featured in the September 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*222)

Flower power: Kate Moss designs hand-painted wallpaper range for de Gournay

Tuesday August 15th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Back in 2015, fashion titan Kate Moss made her first leap into the realm of interior design with The Barnhouse, a luxury retreat in the Cotswolds she designed for Philippe Starck’s brand Yoo. Since then, Moss has spearheaded several more projects, most recently designing a new floral wallpaper for British brand de Gournay.

The hand-painted design, ‘Anemones in Light’, nods to the anemone flower that is said to have been formed by Aphrodite’s tears over the death Adonis – or so the Greek legend goes. It is this amorous premise – and a ‘monochromatic, art deco feel’ – that shapes Moss’ collection, which had an original working title of ‘Twilight’. Moss explained, ‘The paper changes depending on the different times of day.’

A de Gournay artisan paints ‘Anemones in Light’, designed by Kate Moss. Courtesy of de Gournay

The union between de Gournay and Moss was a natural creative coupling. Moss recalls her multiple interiors projects with Katie Grove, with whom she shared a mutual admiration for the de Gournay’s wallpaper. ‘[They] add warmth, texture, dimension and drama to a room,’ she says. Her approach to interior design does not stray far from fashion styling: ‘My style is drawn from different eras, mixing the old with the new, custom pieces mixed with found treasures.’

This type of subtle fusion is noticeable in the new range: take the softness of the painted blooms together with the contemporary colour palette. Moss takes pride in modelling the greyscale ‘Dusk’ in her very own bathroom; she was inspired by film noir for this colourway, which adds a gently sober, yet romantic mood to the collection.

The Design Museum reveals the shortlist for the 2017 Beazley Designs of the Year

Tuesday August 15th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

London’s Design Museum has announced the shortlist for the Beazley Designs of the Year, its annual celebration of the most notable design ideas from the past 12 months. On view at the museum from 18 October in an exhibition designed by London architects Carmody Groarke, the annual award is now in its tenth year, and has previously honoured designs such as David Bowie’s Black Star album by Jonathan Barnbrook and Thomas Heatherwick’s Olympic Cauldron.

The 62 nominations span a wide spectrum of disciplines, including architecture, graphics, product design, fashion, transport and digital. The museum tapped an international panel of creative luminaries to select the nominees, with the final shortlist offering a broad view of contemporary design today.

The projects paint a clear picture of the current state of the world, with several entries concerned with refugees and with the political turmoil of the past year. Case in point, Wolfgang Tillmans’ pro-EU, anti-Brexit poster campaign, or the Olympic refugee flag by Yara Said, representing the very first refugee team taking part to an Olympic competition.

A strong focus on socially-driven designs is also evident in nominations such as the Calais Builds Project or Francis Kerè’s project for a secondary school in Burkina Faso, as well, the Pussyhat, which has become an iconic symbol of protest spurred by US President Donald Trump’s controversially sexist remarks.

Of course, more recreational initiatives are included, such as last year’s augmented reality Pokémon Go game, or a new interface for the Premier League’s TV branding experience, by DixonBaxi. New technologies are also featured in the list, as is an innovative use of materials, such as Max Lamb and Really’s recycled textile benches, or Chilean studio gt2P’s lava furniture. As in previous years, the selection bolsters the museum’s position as a global observatory for creative disciplines, and demonstrates the all-encompassing power of design. The winners will be announced in January next year – watch this space.

Memphis soul: Nathalie Du Pasquier and George Sowden’s bold graphics for Valentino

Tuesday August 15th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Two radically different reference points seem to anchor the A/W 2017 women’s Valentino collection; restrained Victoriana co-mingles with the bold, poppy post-modernism of the Memphis Group, the Milan-based design collective, founded in 1981, that included among its members Ettore Sottsass, Andrea Branzi and Matteo Thun. According to Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, this was less a study in contrasts than an exploration of common themes.

‘Both periods are characterised by a shift towards technological progress and a general openness towards consumption,’ he says. The collection, he argues, integrates austere Victorian shapes with the saturated colours typical of Memphis, ‘establishing a new harmony between two distant yet analogue periods.’

It is not the first time Piccioli has spun his work around contrasting cultural references: his first solo effort (after Maria Grazia Chiuri’s departure from the label in 2016) was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights and featured a collaboration with Zandra Rhodes, while his latest menswear collection included slogans by English punk artist Jamie Reid. ‘Through being open to dialogue, the brand’s standards are always elevated,’ says Piccioli. ‘To me, Valentino has always been the expression of pure beauty, and I feel that connecting its patrimonial value to other forms of beauty is a natural process.’

For this latest work, Piccioli looked to two of the founding members of Memphis, French artist Nathalie Du Pasquier and British designer George Sowden, who collaborated with Piccioli, lending recent works which appear throughout the collection. Du Pasquier and Sowden are life partners who took different creative routes when Memphis disbanded in 1987. Du Pasquier took to painting full-time, producing abstract, geometric works that push the boundaries of spatial representation. Meanwhile, Sowden continued his work in industrial design, collaborating with brands such as Driade, Steelcase and Alessi, culminating in the launch of his namesake homewares brand in 2010.

Valentino’s creative director, Pierpaolo Piccoli, photographed at the Valentino showroom on Place Vendôme, Paris, on the day of the A/W17 Couture show in July. Photography: Osma Harvilahti

The works Piccioli chose for the Valentino collection come from two specific projects: a print series by Du Pasquier entitled Counting, and Sowden’s Designing without a Cause illustrations. Counting is a playful series of illustrated basic maths calculations performed by hands, numbers and mundane objects painted on colourful backgrounds. Designing without a Cause, on the other hand, is a collection of works Sowden has created over the past two years and further developed for an exhibition earlier this year entitled The Heart of the Matter. Piccioli focused exclusively on the black and white illustrations from this series, based on abstract patterns originally created to work as prints on textiles, decorations and details on manufactured objects, some dating back decades. The designs were taken apart by Sowden and used as raw material, uprooted and decontextualised. ‘[These works] allowed me to play with two aspects of the creative process I am most passionate about – chromatic experimentation and composition,’ adds Piccioli.

He built the collection around Victorian-inspired contemporary silhouettes, mixing colours and prints from the same era with the more modern works. ‘I played with different consistencies and heft, and adapted [Du Pasquier and Sowden’s] works to long dresses and coats so their personalities would be properly expressed,’ says Piccioli. Du Pasquier’s colourful prints are recreated in velvet, fur and leather, while Sowden’s designs are reproduced as an overall print on floaty silk dresses, combined with pastels, the austere silhouettes emboldened by swirly patterns. ‘The way Valentino developed the drawings was very clever and refined,’ says Sowden. ‘Mixing [them] with 19th century silhouettes was very postmodern,’ echoes Du Pasquier. ‘It is always interesting to have different worlds meeting: it’s where culture comes from.’

The works Piccioli has used make clear how far the pair has pushed on, post-Memphis. ‘I would never have done these drawings in the 1980s, but I am still the same person, and my taste for graphics is not radically different,’ says Du Pasquier. Piccioli admires how the pair’s visual languages originated in a collective but became personal and singular. ‘It’s a great challenge that both artists have done successfully,’ he adds.

The three creatives still see the strong influence of Memphis in contemporary culture; and not just as nostalgia but as a visual approach as valid and vital as ever. ‘Memphis was a defining moment of the late-20th century. It influenced the aesthetics and identity of global design,’ says Sowden. ‘As such,it will never go away, but will be forever discussed and criticised, added to, copied and constantly reinterpreted by generations to come.’ Piccioli agrees: ‘The Memphis Group is resurfacing as a revolutionary reaction to the standardisation of taste and attire. Its message is now more pertinent than ever. Its position of gentle disregard and defiance may be a lesson that we can make our own.’

As originally featured in the September 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*222)

The Entertainment Suite at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental

Tuesday August 15th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

These are busy times for Joyce Wang, the Hong Kong-based architect and designer who having barely finished her refurbishment of London’s Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, has just unveiled her latest opus sprucing up all 111 rooms at Hong Kong’s Landmark Mandarin Oriental in her trademark sweep of cool textured colours and elegantly parsed furnishings.

Her boldest statement though must be the latter’s Entertainment Suite, which is exactly what it sounds like. Located on the northwest corner of the hotel’s 15th floor with bracing views of Queens Road Central, the vast 2,250 sq ft pleasure dome is the stage-set for blow-out parties and celebrations.

It’s abundantly clear that Wang was barely constrained by a budget, as evidenced by the limestone walls, silk finishes, hand-moulded chandeliers, customised champagne caddy, a capacious bathtub cut from a single piece of marble, and a B&O sound system boosted by a 160in screen and laser projector. If boredom should ever strike, there’s always the 1930s vintage jukebox, a cabinet of Cuban cigars and rare wines, DJ booth, popcorn machine, fully-loaded PlayStation and a crystal vitrine that’s kept stocked with nibbles to keep the party going.

Hypochondriac revellers, meanwhile, will be thrilled by the suite’s ventilation system that dispenses purified, allergen-free air.

Shigeru Ban on his masterfully minimalist interiors for Cast Iron House

Monday August 14th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Shigeru Ban likes to keep us guessing. The Pritzker Prize winner is best known for his radical tectonic experiments with materials like paper, wood and PVC plastic, and for his temporary designs for refugees and victims of natural disasters. But for his latest effort, Ban has created ultra-luxury condominiums inside a renovated 1881 cast iron building in Tribeca.

Cast Iron House, as the six-storey project is called, consists of 11 lofty duplex residences and two glass and steel penthouses, supported by cantilevered trusses. The building’s exterior has been immaculately restored—for instance, some 4,000 pieces of the building’s façade were recast at a foundry in Alabama, while the industrial-sized curved windows maintain their original sizing.

But the white, miminalist interiors are completely new, with Ban matching newly-formed floor slabs (there were originally no duplexes or mezzanines) with the original building line and designing every minute detail, including door handles, hand rails, sculptural kitchens and bathrooms and seamless joinery.

The model apartment has been fitted out by interior designer Brad Ford. Pictured here in the second guest room, a queen sized bed in walnut and a Finn Juhl Frame Chair. Photography: Scott Frances

‘I wanted to create a contrast between the old exterior and the new interior,’ says Ban. ‘Designing something old-fashioned for me is fake. Making this contrast is, I think more contextual.’

Spaces smoothly flow into each other, with as few dividing walls as possible. Most of the solid barriers are furniture, cabinets, or closets; a device, said Ban, inspired by his Furniture Houses, known for using storage as structure. ‘I call it invisible structure,’ says Ban. ‘I try to minimise materials and eliminate unneccessary elements like walls. If there’s a cabinet it can work like a wall.’

As for this foray into work for the very wealthy, Ban doesn't see any break from the rest of his oeuvre. ‘For me there’s no difference. I’m just interested in providing space people need. The importance of a project has nothing to do with the budget.’

While the project exudes simple elegance, Ban still managed to sneak in some subversive experiments. Because new floorplates didn’t always match up with existing windows, a few apartments’ glazing sits by your feet, creating very unusual views. As for those penthouses, which open completely to the city via folding glass doors, they’re the ultimate expression of diversion from the historic fabric.

‘We’re articulating the separation,’ says Ban, who, by the way, is now designing semi-permanent housing for South Sudanese refugees, combining new concepts with local building technologies and materials. So much for getting comfortable.

Holy order: a Dutch collective brings a spiritual slant to gin

Monday August 14th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

To fit with the transcendent theme of this year’s Holy Handmade! exhibition, we searched far and wide for a suitably divine drink to serve up to guests at the Wallpaper* Handmade party during Salone del Mobile. Taking place at Mediateca Santa Teresa, a deconsecrated church on Milan’s Via della Moscova, the party required an elixir with a certain spiritual slant.

On reading about #CHURCH – an independent band of party organisers from the Dutch city of Groningen who began producing their own gin, named Holy Water, in 2015 – we knew we’d found the perfect partner.

‘Our collective started out organising parties and music events back in 2006,’ says co-founder Jesse Terpstra. ‘Core to every idea that came to fruition was the belief that we could do everything ourselves, and even better than anything already out there. This approach led to us hosting parties, with home-made food and local musical talent, that quickly caught on in the community.’

‘The same mentality was key to launching our own gin,’ he continues. ‘Our starting point was a love for a good gin and tonic and a spicy curry. We quickly learnt what was needed to make a gin that suited our tastes better than any gin already out there.’

The gung-ho team became evangelical about the distilling process, and what started out as experimental, backyard-produced moonshine quickly evolved into a professional product. Distinguished by its herbal taste, the gin is now produced at small local distilleries in Groningen but remains single-distilled and unfiltered in order to preserve its original taste and handmade, artisanal quality.

Graphic designers and friends of the #CHURCH collective Rudmer van Hulzen and Pim Klomp are the duo responsible for Holy Water gin’s distinctive H-shaped logo – a motif that takes the # from #CHURCH and transforms it into a gothic H written in black ink.

‘It not only captured the spirit of our gin and our collective perfectly, but combined with the characteristic apothecary bottle, made for an exceptional design that stands out,’ enthuses Terpstra. ‘Holy Water is the perfect gin for the true connoisseur; small-batch, artisanal with a bold flavour and a bold design. A true gin drinker's gin.’

Counter culture: the best NYC coffee bars for design devotees

Monday August 14th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Line work: graphic design, optical illusions and mathematics collide in Franco Grignani show

Monday August 14th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

London gallery Estorick Collection is paying tribute to Franco Grignani with a summer exhibition dedicated to the Italian graphic designer. ‘Franco Grignani: Art as Design 1950-1990’ chronicles the work of Grignani and includes both graphics created for international brands and his more artistic output. It’s the second show of his work in the city this year following an exhibition at M&L Fine Art, which focused on his optical paintings.

Grignani is best known for his streamlined design for the Woolmark logo (a black and white line work representing a ball of yarn), which he created in 1964. In the late 1930s, he set up a graphic design studio in Milan and created logos, advertising campaigns and visuals for brands such as Pirelli and Penguin. His experimental graphics are infused with geometric abstraction, the result of his architecture and mathematics background.

La Frattura Del Rumore, by Franco Grignani, 1990. Courtesy of Archivio Manuela Grignani Sirtoli

This linear style is also at the core of Grignani’s paintings, produced in parallel with his graphics career. Inspired by his experiences with the futurists and featuring early op art examples, the tableaux are produced in an almost exclusively monochromatic black and white palette on photographic card. 

The Estorick show presents over 130 pieces, including paintings and works on paper, and does a poignant job at highlighting Grignani’s humour as a painter and a designer, as well as his penchant for formulae and optical deception.

The Pool

Monday August 14th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Breathing new life into a revered icon is no mean feat, but Major Food Group has done just that with its restoration of the Pool Room at the former Four Seasons Restaurant.

Now simply called The Pool, the refurbished lounge and restaurant is newly adorned with iridescent blue shades, evoking a mood inspired by the ocean, while still embracing the legendary Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson-designed architectural features that made the space such a treasure.

Overseen by Annabelle Selldorf, The Pool’s restoration has touched almost every aspect of its original 1959 interior. From the glass walls, steel beams and recessed light fixtures to Marie Nichol’s original chain curtains, which have been cleaned and repaired, and a completely overhauled kitchen that services both The Grill and The Pool, no detail has been overlooked.

The restaurant’s interior, which was guided by designer William T Georgis, also features Knoll ‘Brno‘ chairs, originally created by Johnson and reproduced for The Pool in mohair and leather, new Edward Fields’ carpets (the company produced the original floorcoverings) and new lighting by Hervé Descottes of L’Observatoire. The space is capped off by original art pieces by Joan Miro, Alexander Calder and Cy Twobly from 1958 – the year the Seagram building was constructed.

In such a setting, diners can enjoy a simple, yet exquisite seafood-inflected menu focused on conviviality. The Pool Lounge, the restaurant’s former private dining space, has also been reincarnated as a separate cocktail lounge. Resplendent with a glimmering mother-of-pearl bar and onyx and nickel cocktail tables, it comes armed with a inventive menu of fruity cocktails and equally tempting bar snacks.

A new block of artist ateliers is set to bolster Berlin’s creative cachet

Sunday August 13th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

From underground bunkers to converted fetish clubs, Berlin’s art scene has always disrupted the status quo. The latest creative nerve centre to be unveiled is a project developed by London-based firm Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, in tandem with musician and photographer Bryan Adams, Hoidn Wang Partner, and Sauerzapfe Architekten.

Located in the southeastern district of Treptow-Köpenick, the newly minted Spreehalle will house 12 artist’s ateliers in a former factory building that was one part of an extensive complex belonging to the AEG Kabelwerk group (General Electric Company). Feilden Clegg Bradley has retained the industrial bones of the building, which dates from 1910, including two distinctive brick and steel halls.

‘The underlying idea was to create this “raw space”, clean, clear and free from fripperies and impositions that would allow the users to represent their own personalities and requirements within the ateliers,’ explain the architects. To wit, Spreehalle preserves much of the ‘industrial patina accumulated during [the building’s] history’ across a 2,500 sq m area.

All units are completed to the standard of ‘shell and core’ so that the interior finishes can be determined by the atelier owners. Photography: Werner Huthmacher Photography and FCBStudios

Swathes of bare concrete and brickwork will allow the compound’s future residents to shape their individual salons to their needs. A new extension, meanwhile, offers premises for lofts, offices and galleries. The north and south elevations have been updated with steel window and door replacements.

Eight of the ateliers are part of a three-storey wing on the west, while the remaining four are housed in the former double-bay factory hall. On the west side, the existing two-storey structure was raised by a generous 5m high atelier space. Each atelier boasts a separate external space, in the form of a balcony (some with views of the Spree river) or a garden. The ground floor of the east wing could eventually include a shop and café. At the centre of the property a communal courtyard connects the two linear main halls, which the architects created by removing the roof but retaining the steel structure.

Spreehalle will attract like-minded tenants from the spheres of art, architecture, graphic design, publishing and advertising. The initiative shores up a wider regeneration project in the area, spearheaded the council of Treptow-Köpenick. A number of crafts workshops are located nearby, while a new public square and pedestrian bridge have already been constructed, together with boat moorings along the riverbank.

At Design Parade 12, young designers’ experiments come to the fore

Sunday August 13th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Hotel Bienvenue

Sunday August 13th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Housed in the former century-old Hotel Fenelon, in Paris’ bustling South Pigalle neighbourhood, Bienvenue is the latest addition to hotelier Adrien Gloaguen’s growing collection, which also includes nearby Paradis and Panache.

Set over two buildings – affectionately christened Town and Countryside – that are separated by a central courtyard, the hotel’s colourful new interiors are by Chloé Nègre, who gave each building a distinct look: 32 art deco-inspired rooms in Town are revealed in smooth pastel colour palettes, with handmade curved velvet headboards and forged iron lighting to match, while on the other side, Countryside’s eight rooms have a floral bent with flower-printed wallpaper and curtains and daisy-shaped taps.

The highlight is artist Julien Colombier’s flamboyant floor motif in the courtyard, best seen from the guestroom windows, or from the bar and small restaurant on the ground floor. Here, tasty tapas-style dishes are served alongside the signature wacky cakes from baker Anaïs Olmer, who also offers cake-making classes on site. 

I, robot: the machines are here and have us in their sights

Sunday August 13th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Few technologies have been so extensively foreshadowed as robotics. For nearly 100 years, we’ve indulged in an array of speculative fictions that have defined the form, function and social impact of robots far in advance of the available technology. As a result, automation is treated more as a cultural trope than an economic threat. All the while the robots are fermenting the stealthiest industrial revolution in history.

We delved behind the scenes at the London Science Museum’s recent exhibition about our obsession with mechanical life forms. As well as asking the big questions about robotic pasts, presents and futures, the show offers up a rogue’s gallery of android approximations of specialist applications, from healthcare through to entertainment.

This lifelike mechanical baby, made by a special effects company, has latex skin and metal joints, which allow it to sneeze, move its arms and legs, and appear to ‘breathe’

Popular perception of robots rarely aligns with reality. Large swathes of modern industry are automated beyond the point of no return. Cars, white goods and electronics all depend on robotic manufacture, and the huge labour populations deployed to assemble iPhones, laptops and sneakers are also being usurped by robotic alternatives with no need for dorms or unions. China is the largest buyer of industrial robots in the world. Yet, for most consumers, it matters not a jot if an assembly shop is powered by sweat or sparks; the end result is the same. Instead, we seem hard-wired to seek out emotional attachments with robots, happily ignoring the irreplaceable mechanical ballet of the robotic production line.

Perhaps this is our species’ great mistake; we want robots to be familiar and friendly, whereas their uglier, more adept relatives are quietly doing the heavy lifting we’d rather not deal with. As a result, the path to automation is unstoppable, with global industrial robot sales rising year on year. Change will come with the robotic shift from physical to emotional labour.

Projects like Komodroid, a ‘robot newscaster’ that reads headlines without inflection or emotion, letting you project your own feelings, or ROSA (Rob’s Open Source Android) with its imitation of human muscular structures and spooky face-tracking ability, only scratch the surface of our desperation to love, and be loved, by the machine. Many generations of cultural representation have given robots direct access to our heartstrings, and we haven’t even touched on the thorny issue of sex, let alone death.

See more of the September 2017 Style Special here

It’s safe to say that every conceivable human interaction (and form of fluid exchange) will eventually be subcontracted to a machine. Along the way, we’ll take the mandatory trek to the ‘uncanny valley’, a dive into the awkward intersection between true-to-life human features and the skin-crawling consequences of getting it a bit wrong.

This partly explains why humanoid, but not human-like, robots generate the most affection among those who interact with them. A robot is still best at doing a single thing exceptionally well, be it sifting, sorting, sweeping, welding or stamping. And yet technologists and consumers seem compelled to empower our metal friends to do much, much more. Unfortunately, we have little idea of what will happen once they actually can.

As originally featured in the September 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*222)

Letter from Palm Springs: the latest projects from the mid-century modern mecca

Thursday August 10th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Palm Springs is a city that performs a delicate dance between preservation and development in the midst of a mid-century architectural wonderland. It’s the kind of town where design-savvy residents are also activists who spring to the defence of endangered buildings, lead by groups like the Palm Springs Modern Committee.

Sadly, the 1959 spa and casino complex designed by William Cody, Donald Wexler, Richard Harrison and Phillip Koenig, was torn down in 2014 by the local Agua Caliente tribe who own the land. Now residents anxiously await what is rumoured (no plans have been released publicly to date) to be an 18-storey new hotel complex built on the bones of the old spa.

Architecture and Design Center – Palm Springs Art Museum, designed by Marmol Radziner, completed in 2011

But a new project by Grit Development (formerly Wessman Development) nearby, five years in negotiation, that includes a five-storey Kimpton hotel, adjoining retail and commercial space and civic park (designed by landscape architect Mark Rios) speaks to a happier architectural ending. Designed by local wunderkind Chris Pardo, a 30-something architect also responsible for the recent Arrive hotel and a slew of retail, commercial and restaurant projects, with ACRM as project architect, the project promises to be a new civic focal point.

Across from the Palm Springs Art Museum, the development will also feature a sculpture park – hot on the heels of this spring’s inaugural Desert X festival – that will eventually house Albert Frey’s 1931 Aluminaire house, shipped all the way from a Long Island storage unit earlier this year, as well as an outdoor gallery for rotating exhibitions from the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Aluminaire, originally designed for the Allied Arts and Industry and Architectural League Exhibition in New York, will be reassembled in a new plaza space in the park. And across the street, the long endangered and languishing Town and Country complex (1946-55), an early example of mixed use architecture designed by Paul R Williams and A Quincy Jones and given Class 1 Historic Site status by the city in 2015, will now be restored by as part of a deal between the city and the developer.

Desert Palisades Guard House designed by Sean Lockyer, completed in February 2017

The firm in charge of the restoration, Marmol Radziner, was also responsible for the rehabilitation of the Architecture and Design Center in 2011, Edwards Harris Pavilion as well as Neutra’s famous Kaufmann Desert House.

Meanwhile, a recreation of an unbuilt 1967 design by Al Beadle, by his former partner Ned Sawyer and Palm Springs architect Lance O’Donnell (o2 architecture), was unveiled during this year’s Modernism Week, while new residential projects by young architects like Sean Lockyer of Studio AR&D Architects offer fresh iterations of classic desert modernism.

Social workers: the craftiest co-working spaces around the world

Thursday August 10th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

In the frame: standout designs from around the globe

Thursday August 10th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Place makers: a new exhibition celebrates 50 years of Singapore-based DP Architects

Thursday August 10th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

It is not a hyperbole to state very simply that no architectural firm in Singapore better sums up the aspirations, indeed history, of a nation than DP Architects. The briefest scan of the city-state’s skyline reveals the intriguing silhouettes of buildings – created by the 1,300-staff studio since it was founded in 1967 by Koh Seow Chuan, William Lim and Tay Kheng Soon – that have both stood the test of time, and influenced a generation of architects and designers in tropical typology and a new form of Asian-based aesthetics.

It seems somewhat appropriate, too, that DP Architects is launching on 12 August during Singapore’s National Day week, ‘A Common Line | One Global Studio’, an overdue retrospective of its work over the past five decades.

And there is plenty to admire here. Ng San Son, DP’s senior associate director and curator of the exhibition, has been judicious in cherry-picking from around 3,000 projects in 70 countries just what to put on show at the URA Centre.

View of the Marina Bay. Courtesy of DP Architects

Commendably, Ng narrows the lens on both blockbusters and classics located closer to home. Front and centre are archival pieces that have never been publicly seen, such as architectural drawings and supersized models of some of the firm’s most ambitious statements including the Golden Mile Complex and the incomparable 1973 People’s Park Complex – Asia’s first fully realised mixed-use development and a bona fide paradigm-changer in a land-scarce country like Singapore – to more recent behemoths like Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, the Singapore Sports Hub and the SEA Aquarium alongside regional work such as the Dubai Mall.

Anchored by a wall-sized illustration of DP Architects’ work by the Singapore-based illustrator Lee Xin Li, the exhibition is a neat time capsule of not just the firm’s history and oeuvre, but also of Singapore’s parallel spurt from fledgling state (it only became a nation in August 1965) to muscular, First World powerhouse.

In Singapore Revealed, a special supplement in the upcoming October issue of Wallpaper*, we feature one of DP Architects’ ground-breaking works for a community centre.

Round the twist: abstract circles are the playful alternative to classic hoops

Thursday August 10th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

In focus: we zoom in on Meeyye, fashion’s first progressive lens eyewear line

Thursday August 10th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

It took just shy of ten months for Masako Kumakura, a former fashion executive, to develop optical label Meeyye. ‘The factory that I enlisted in China is the best in the world,’ she says. ‘They understood my idea very quickly.’ Her lightbulb concept? The development of the first fashion eyewear line to offer progressive lenses. Her stylish bifocal frames allow optically-challenged wearers to see both closely and at a distance through one lens. Customers simply choose their frames based on the standard grades of uncostly reading glasses at drug stores.

‘Meeyye is what I need, and what my friends and their friends need, at a fair price,’ Kumakura says. Unconvinced by the existing fashionable reading glasses on the market, she had even asked an optician to fit her designer frames with bifocal lenses. But the request was deemed impossible. The brand debuted earlier this summer, with Matchesfashion.com as its global launch partner. There are four styles, available as opticals or sunglasses: women’s classic aviators, a retro-inspired ovular lens, a 1970s angular frame and a unisex wayfarer shape. A recent move to California inspired the vintage aesthetic. ‘It gave me the creativity hit!’ Kumakura explains.

While the brand evolved from a personal style search – ‘This is all about me me me!’ says Kumakura of the inspiration behind the brand name – it also has global impact in mind. Not just progressive in terms of lenses, the frames are 3D-printed and their cases crafted from sustainable packaging, made from polylactic acid. Now that’s a label to have eyes for.

CitizenM North Gate

Thursday August 10th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

Since launching its first property in Schiphol airport in 2008, the citizenM group has been busy sprinkling its ‘affordable luxury’ branding across western Europe and North America, with, we hear, 15 new properties due to be rolled out faster than you can whip out your passport. This past month, it opened its eleventh – and first Asian – outpost in Taipei, ahead of Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur. 

Rising 26 stories above the historic North Gate, the 267-room hotel cleaves close to the brand’s DNA – to wit, an interior design by Dutch studio Concrete of brash primary colours anchored by swathes of black, mood-lighting and a team of chirpy, tee-shirted Millennial staff, the latter, somewhat burdened with the grandiose title of ambassadors.

Gadgetry dominates whether the self-check-in counter on the ground floor, the lively video wall art in the corridors, or the iPad in the compact all-white rooms that control everything from the blinds and room temperature to the menu of shifting ambient lighting

A 24/7 bar and canteen on the second floor serves up quiches, congee, instant noodles and Continental fare, though, this being Taipei, there are abundant and more locally authentic fare to be had nearby, not the least of which are Hua Shan Market’s sesame flat breads, Ay Chung’s rice flour noodles, and Din Tai Fung’s fabulous dumplings a few blocks away next to the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Made in Milan: inside Carlo Aymonino and Aldo Rossi’s iconic Gallaratese housing project

Wednesday August 9th, 2017 11:00:00 PM

When architect Carlo Aymonino started working on the designs for an affordable housing complex commissioned by the City of Milan in 1967, he wanted to reflect his neo-rationalist ideas and theories for a future urban community. But it was also quite clear that he wanted to design an icon that would go down in history.

Rome-based Aymonino commissioned Aldo Rossi to design one of the five buildings in the Monte Amiata housing complex, located in the Gallaratese neighbourhood in northwest Milan. Completed in the mid-1970s, it was a time when both Italian architects would soar to prominence on the international architecture scene.

For the September 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (see W*222), we explored the iconic housing estate with photographer Laura Coulson and her band of merry models, suited in Emporio Armani, booted in Bottega Veneta, shaded by Gucci and accessorised with vintage Sony Walkmans, all to the synth sounds of Italo-disco.

As Italo-disco was mixing homegrown electronic beats alongside sampled sounds from across the Atlantic, Aymonino and Rossi similarly looked first to traditional Italian architecture, and then abroad to Bauhaus to construct their style. Both architects belonged to the neo-rationalist school of thought, which held up historic architecture as an example to be followed. Aymonino’s four buildings drew directly from the stepped Roman amphitheatre and Trajan’s Market, with its varied, asymmetric, but also very structured form.

A spread from our ‘Sound track’ fashion story, shot on location at Monte Amiata housing complex. Photography: Laura Coulson. Fashion: Harry Lambert

At Gallaratese, Aymonino designed complex typologies of apartments, stacked up upon each other at various recessions, alternating glass blocks with balconies and red window frames. Even parallels can be seen in the warm russet tones of the Trajan’s Market brick, reflected in the pink concrete tones of Aymonino’s blocks at Gallaratese.

At the same time, both architects were fascinated by the Unité d’habitation in Marseille, completed in 1952. Inspired by the modernist style and theory set out as a community-building project by Le Corbusier, Rossi’s contribution to the design sits in complete contrast to Aymonino’s. His single rectangular building is a strict, white plastered, autonomous block stretching 200m and raised up above a ground floor colonnade.

The Unité d’habitation presented ideas of a unified community that was self-contained and cohesive, yet also part of the city. At Gallaratese, the architects designed covered and uncovered yellow walkways to connect the 440 apartments to each other and the city outside, as well as public space – a central amphitheatre and two triangular shaped plazas to socially serve the community. Along Rossi’s ground floor colonnade, retail and commercial spaces were designed, although these were never realised into the intended purpose.

Red window frames, glass blocks and balconies create a sense of rhythm unfolding across the facades of the housing complex

The brief from the City of Milan to the architects was to design a low-income housing complex that integrated green space, public services and connections to the city within its plan. At the time of commission, the 12-hectare site at Gallatarese was owned by the Monte Amiata Mining Company. Originally purchased for the use of commercial agriculture, it was pinpointed as a key site for development by architects and planners devising a post-war masterplan for new housing in Milan. Consequently in 1952, the City of Milan and Monte Amiata entered into a business deal for the construction of the housing project, an early example of public and private housing enterprise that has now become the norm.

Whether the project that completed in 1974 offered much success in housing low-income Milanese residents is debatable. First, squatters controversially occupied it. Rents then rose at the same rate as the architects’ rise to international prominence and a design-conscious bourgeois moved in to stay. Yet Aymonino and Rossi’s urban ideals of an inclusive urban community can be seen at play at the fully occupied complex with approximately 1,500 residents – older residents play cards in the communal spaces and one ground floor room can be reserved for resident’s events such as debates, reunions or book clubs free of charge.

In terms of architectural success, the masterpiece became instantly iconic. The Milan-based Anticàmera Location Agency – collaborators for our Style Special fashion shoot – describe Gallaratese as a virtuous example of good preservation and commitment. The engagement of the agency itself in revealing historic sites to the wider public through photography has allowed it to access often private places of architectural significance that are rarely seen.

Today tourists, students and visitors can explore Aymonino and Rossi’s development free of charge for one hour maximum, thanks to an awareness of the importance of the site among residents, doorkeepers and preservation groups alike. It’s time to dig out your Sony Walkman, plug in and waltz down a yellow walkway. Start the clock.

Pavilion party: the architects packing a big punch with small structures

Wednesday August 9th, 2017 11:00:00 PM





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