November 15 2015

To take people on a completely new journey while doing what you have come to be admired for is a creative’s dream. The latest piece by New York-based artist CJ Hendry is an epic example of just that.

She’s bought a pair of Nike AirMags for $9,000, dipped them in black paint, photographed them and then hand-drawn a massive nine-foot black-and white piece of it. She’ll auction it off in Miami at Scope Art Fair and with 100% of the profits she and The Cool Hunter are purchasing shoes for children in New York.

Yes it's still thousands of scribbles on a page, yes it's a hand-drawn enlargement of a high-end fashion item, and yes it's the same flawless attention to detail that we'd associate with CJ's work. Yet within this piece there are many cool firsts we haven't seen before.

For instance, CJ has never produced a piece that illustrates movement like this. As the paint drips off the shoes and pools at the bottom of the image, it evokes images of much greater issues. In many ways it mimics an oil spill tarnishing an irreplaceable commodity.

Also worth reflection was the outrage of some sneaker fanatics when rumors of CJ dipping the Nike AirMags in a bucket of black paint surfaced on social media.

Such a reaction is true to the time we live in, when sneaker culture and being a sneakerhead is no longer a hobby but a near-religion. To sneakerheads their collection of shoes is their holy book and each piece is like a part of scripture. When you consider CJ's bold statement in this light, it was essentially the ultimate act of blasphemy. Sneakerheads, movie fanatics and fashionistas alike have dreamt for thirty years of owning these shoes, ever since 1985 when Michael J. Fox took us back to a future that we now live in.

Not everybody can own a pair of AirMags though, even if you did have a lazy $9,000 laying around. With only 1500 pairs ever made, finding your size and a seller is a near-impossible task. This makes destroying them seem even more like the ultimate act of insanity.

But as controversial as this piece may be, there is an equal amount of generosity attached to it. CJ and The Cool Hunter will be donating 100% of the profits to charity in the form of sneakers to those less fortunate than ourselves. Instantly, this work goes from being far more than just an outrageous conversation piece.

Instead, it inspires discussion on important and socially challenging questions and at the time, attempts to do something that helps. Would you have dipped the shoes in paint? How much do material items really mean to you? At what price would you destroy something so rare and cherished? And most importantly, would you destroy that item if it meant you could be helping many people far less fortunate than yourself?

In essence CJ has taken an expensive, highly valued and sought-after item, devalued it and then transformed it into a valuable commodity – much-needed footwear - to help those who are less fortunate.

There's no affiliation with Nike, the shoes are very real and the possibilities as to how many people can be helped rely squarely on how much someone is willing to pay for this career-defining piece when it goes up for auction at her upcoming Miami show.

They say you can't understand a person's journey until you've walked a thousand miles in their shoes. This transformation of Nike AirMags is an attempt to help in that understanding.


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November 12 2015

French minimalist conceptual artist, Daniel Buren has since the 1960s been known for his stripes and bold colours. Temporary, bold, wide stripes created by Buren have graced the walls of – and transformed the spaces themselves - at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Picasso Museum, in Paris, for example. Permanently, Buren’s stripes adorn a bridge in Bilbao and the Palais-Royal in Paris, stunning his critics who have implied that his work is not art at all.

In Naples, at the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina (The Madre museum), an installation and solo exhibition by Buren opened a month ago (and will stay open till early July 2017). Axer / Désaxer. Lavoro in situ, 2015, Madre, Napoli – #2, curated by Andrea Viliani and Eugenio Viola, was commissioned to celebrate the museum’s first decade of activity and to highlight the relationship between the museum and the community.

This installation is the second of two commissioned by the Madre on this occasion. The first, Come un gioco da bambini. Lavoro in situ, 2014–2015, Madre, Napoli – #1, will close at the end of February 2016.

Axer / Désaxer was created specifically for the atrium of the museum building, the 19th-century palazzo Donnaregina located in the historical centre of Naples.

Walls painted in bold, warm colours of orange and yellow dominate the installation that includes mirrors and Buren’s famous 8.7-cm-thick black-and-white stripes that cover part of the floor, suggesting an unusual escape route and the street outside.

The description of the installation says that the artist has created “… an area of perceptual and cognitive mobility, of vision, mediation, mutual attraction and communion, in which interior and exterior, museum and community penetrate into each other and merge. Each visitor is thus welcomed and invited, literally at a glance, to be a part of the work, to actively participate in the relation it celebrates between the institutional sphere and public dynamics.”

In our view (and in plain language), the Axer / Désaxer installation acts as an art installation in itself while creating a happy, welcoming and whimsical entry point into the museum. - Tuija Seipell.



November 5 2015

When designer Jean de Lessard was called in to create the new digs for PixMob out of a massive, old textile factory in Montreal’s fashion district, he did what all good designers do: Listened to the client.

After many discussions and much research, the Montreal-based, award-winning designer gave the PixMob team a 10,000 square-foot (930 square meter), two-level club/workshop/office that reflects the spirit of the company with the slogan “Connect crowds – reinvent rituals.”

Words that de Lessard used as cues included collective movement, intensity, beat, music, moment, spectacle, chaotic, nocturnal
PixMob is known for its wireless remote LED light technology that uses glowing objects, balls and wristbands for crowd activation. PixMob’s creations have been seen, for example, at the Sochi Olympics, in Vegas and at Superbowl games.

The most interesting component of the project are the ‘sculptural monoliths,’ angular conference pods that break up the massive open space and reverberate with the sound when PixMob puts on a big party on their premises.

We like the yellow accent colour and we love the raw, unadorned surfaces that reflect both the character of the company and the working-class history of the building. - Tuija Seipell.

Photos Adrien Williams



November 1 2015

We will most likely never lease or own anything as grand and suave as the Symmetry super yacht – in fact, we may never even set foot on such a floating palace – but we are enjoying a close look!

Sander J. Sinot, The Netherlands-born and based custom-designer of super yacht concepts and their lavish interiors and furnishings, introduced the concept of Symmetry at the Monaco Yacht Show in September.

And while the James Bond villain-worthy mega yacht is still just a concept, Sinot’s lengthy promotional video lets us in on the detail and grandeur.

At “just” 180 meters (590 feet) in length, Symmetry is not the largest yacht ever designed – Christopher Seymour’s recent Double Century concept is all of 200 meters – it is certainly massive in scale.

Yet, with all that length and a 29-meter (95 foot) beam Symmetry looks relatively sleek.

With its six decks, it could easily appear bulky and heavy, but its symmetrical hull and stern not just allow for bi-directional manoeuvring at sea, they also allow for a surprisingly lean profile.

Sinot designed the concept from the center out, organizing all of the functions around a central void.

The yacht has room for 34 guests and 48 crew and six decks worth of bliss! A beach deck with a sea-water pool, a guest deck with a 56-foot (17 meter) glass-bottom pool, a hotel deck with a garden, and the owner’s deck with a stateroom opening up to a private outdoor lounge and infinity pool.

In total, Symmetry will have 10,700 square feet (almost 1,000 square meters) of useable exterior deck space.

Inside, the 34 guests can choose from four VIP suites with their own lounges and balconies, and 12 cabins. The owner’s staterooms include a private spa, an office, a library and a skylounge.

And for those hasty escapes - to a casino perhaps - there are two 33-foot (10-meter) tenders, a 46-foot (14-meter) day boat and six personal watercraft. And James is always welcome to land his chopper on the aft helipad.

More about the largest super yachts here: - Tuija Seipell.



October 19 2015

This is another photograph from the U.S.-based photographer Kate Holstein, who brought us the Silver Surfer of Venice Beach.
This one was taken in the Yukon territory in northwest Canada known for its untouched, mountainous and sparsely populated wilderness.

The awesome power of the cold mountain scenery takes over the viewer immediately and starts the thought processes of: How cold would that be? How high is that? Is it always snow covered? 
And that’s the beauty of nature photography. Even when they present inaccessible and inhospitable locations, they are somehow open to everyone’s comments and admiration.

Thanks to photographers such as Holstein, we get to see - and hang in our rooms – stunning images of breathtaking, unreachable vistas.


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October 13 2015

Even in phone-screen size, this image of a tranquil field of lupins in the volcanic moonscape of Iceland looks incredibly beautiful.

Blown up to oversize poster proportions, the same view is absolutely mesmerizing with its magical sense of undisturbed, cool silence.

In Lupins Mountain, in a dramatic contrast to the other image we feature by him – Chasing Epic – photographer Jared Chambers shows off his ability to capture different moods perfectly.

As a decorative centerpiece, Lupins Mountain works in an amazing variety of interiors. In a soft pastel-toned environment, it adds to the feel of tranquility yet holds its own as a center of attention rather than fading into the background.

In more dramatic and stark surroundings, it adds a surprising contrast of colour and softness, while also exuding strength, power and drama.

Limited Edition of 50

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October 12 2015

Dutch designer Maurice Mentjens has created the interior for the House of Smarts in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
It is an exhibition space for showcasing the latest glass work by fellow Dutch designer Arnout Visser.

The House of Smarts, opened in late September, is located at Willemstraat 29, directly across the street from the Eindhoven Public Library, also known as de Witte Dame.
The House of Smarts and the exhibit of Visser’s work are also part of this year’s Dutch Design Week taking place in Eindhoven, October 17-25

The interior first brings to mind an unfinished building with the pipes for air, water and electricity all exposed. All surfaces, including the ceiling, are covered in a network of grey wooden criss-crossing slats.
The structure was inspired by the interconnectedness of the neural pathways of the brain. The criss-crossing slats evoke the “grey matter,” the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain where all information is processed.

The idea is also to make everything visible, transparent and exposed. The multi-talented, 53-year-old Arnout Visser defines himself as a ‘formfinder with a passion for glass.’ His lamps and tableware are often fluid and free-form, and nearly always transparent. This is one of the reasons why the theme of transparency appealed to him as well in the design of the House of Smarts.

Mentjens describes the design also as a labyrinth or a maze, or an interpretation of complicated printing plates, or computer chips, symbolic of rational thought and artificial intelligence.
Mentjens did not have to look far to find the connection between brains and the location, as Eindhoven is known as the technological centre of the Netherlands. Says Mentjens: “In 2011, Eindhoven was declared to be the ‘world’s smartest region’ by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). This is in no small measure due to initiatives such as “Brainport Region Eindhoven.”

The 51-year-old Maurice Metjens and his team are award-winning designers of retail, hospitality and museum spaces including the park-themed waiting area of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. - Tuija Seipell.

 Photography: Arjen Schmitz


October 11 2015

Sydney-based photographer Jake Weisz brings us this exquisite image of a whale. It captures a fleeting split second in time, a moment in the life of an incredibly powerful animal. And yet it also exudes a timeless sense of calm. It gives us a glimpse of a fleeting moment that could have taken place hundreds, maybe even thousands of years ago.
The Whale lets us interpret the image whichever way we want. It could be just a beautiful example of nature photography. A study of blue. An environmental statement. A memory of a wonderful day.
Whatever your interpretation, The Whale establishes its presence and grabs your attention.





October 7 2015

If you are like us and just cannot tolerate another rustic retreat or another architect-trying-too-hard-to-be-cool stack of oblong concrete-and-glass boxes, there’s always the chance that you’ll run across a classic.

A brand-new residence that has all the characteristic of a timeless beauty. A low-profile building that really fits its surroundings. A stylish home where the outdoors is the key feature.

For some time, we’ve had our eye on this residence, designed by Alterstudio Architecture and skilfully supported by landscape architects at Mark Word Design.

The Alterstudio team that included Kevin Alter, Ernesto Cragnolino, Tim Whitehill, Matt Slusarek, Jessica Connolly and Joanna Hartman garnered quite a few awards and accolades with this project when it was completed, and its confident design will stand the test of time for decades to come.

Located in a grove of mature oak trees and overlooking the 200 acre Bright Leaf Preserve and the Colorado River, the house takes full advantage of the exquisite natural setting.

The 5,900-square-foot (550 square meter) house for a family of four has three relatively small bedrooms plus a separate guest suite, as it puts all of its energy into making the most of the public/family areas with living, kitchen and dining rooms lined up along the glass wall that overlooks the huge patio, the gorgeous pool and the view beyond.

We also love the garden in its all-green colour palette and low-profile planted areas. Of course, this residence also has many of the other features that we are drawn to: Smart use of wood and other natural materials, unpretentious and minimalist forms and colours, plus a nice mid-century modernist overall air.

This is one of those dwellings where you feel you can really breathe freely. There’s room for the eye to roam, yet the scale is human. Perfect. - Tuija Seipell.



September 30 2015

Spectacular scenery – and sheep – are the first things that come to mind for most of us when we think of New Zealand.

For an architect, spectacular scenery is always both a challenge and an opportunity.

This was very much the situation for David Ponting, founder of Ponting Fitzgerald (in 1998) of Ponsonby, Auckland, New Zealand, when he saw the site for what his affluent client hoped would be a “sanctuary.”

The site was breathtaking with unbelievable views of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand, and the mountains beyond.

Rocky, powerful terrain. Strong visual lines. Subdued colour scheme. Nothing dainty or traditionally cozy was going to work. This site had a strong, powerful presence of its own.

Ponting and his client settled on a simple, yet very demanding, brief: Let the land speak. With a sensitivity that Ponting later described as having an “element of divination,” he allowed the site to express itself.

Rather than coming to the site with a preconceived set of shoulds and musts and limiting ideas, the architects kept walking the site. They eventually ‘divined’ a beautiful solution that speaks the same language as the site.

They realised that there were two separate locations on the site, each with its own distinct natural forms, each ‘asking for a building.’

They granted the wishes and created two low-profile structures, one as the master dwelling, the other – the larger one - as the guest wing.

When viewed from above, from the entrance way and parking area, each looks like a low-lying bird wing. Not imposing or interrupting, but somehow belonging in the landscape.

The breathtaking beauty of the structures comes from the strong elements: glass and stone, and polished, board-formed and in-situ poured concrete, with reflecting ponds and skylights adding an element of wonder – all in the service of letting the land speak, none standing in between the viewer and the view. The scenery is literally part of the interior, especially in the guest wing that is more open and grandiose than the slightly more private and inward-looking master house.

In the master dwelling, the windows at one end look into cut bedrock, with snow-capped mountains beyond. At the other end, on the rocky hillside, the view at times includes those famous New Zealand wild sheep that occasionally wander by.

If there ever was a project where the brief has actually become reality, this is it. The land has spoken, and was heard well. We are awaiting an invitation to the guest wing. And should it ever arrive, we may never leave. - Tuija Seipell.

Images by Simon Devitt