What kind of society would we live in if architecture and design were merely just jobs instead of expressive art forms that articulated the beliefs and values of people, organizations and cultures? This is an age old question which faces designers every single day.
In conjunction with Australian health care provider Medibank, a creative collaboration of designers set out to express the values of health and wellbeing established by the company and in doing so have done far more than just their jobs.
Perhaps to the average person it’s a very cool set of stairs yet when you consider it from a design point of view it’s a successful and impressive feat of creativity.
Traditionally we place so much emphasis on the places and spaces we are going to and we forget to acknowledge the importance of the transitional points which get us there.
In this particular case the stairs are the focal point and they certainly don’t disappoint. They are not as much as a distraction to the eye yet more of a piece of art the eye can’t stop looking at. They are levels upon levels of curvilinear vibrancy, acting in an abstract way to shape the boundary of a light filled void space which sets the scene for this beautiful building.
They truly serve an important purpose.
Located in Melbourne’s Docklands, Medibank Place is a statement piece promoting the companies beliefs of ‘better health for everyone’, from customers to the people who come to work there every day.
The design of the new workplace was a further extension of a major cultural change from Medibank who have taken a particular focus on preventative health and wellbeing.
The aspiration of Medibank is to create one of the healthiest workplaces in the world. With this in mind the design teams of Chris Connell Design, Kerry Phelan Design Office, Russell and George and HASSELL Architects collectively set out to make this vision a reality.
It’s a workplace which is emphatic of movement, flexibility, freedom, creativity, interaction and engagement; all points which we associate with positive physical and mental health. It’s amazing to think the endless possibilities good design can have and in this case it now sets the benchmark for healthier workplaces and hopefully in turn a healthier society.
The buildings form has been established so that employees are able to roam freely and work in any of the 26 different work settings at their disposal. These spaces range from indoor quiet zones and collaborative hubs to wifi-enabled balconies and the buildings public park.
The stairs act as the heart of this operation and are a key piece of design in achieving successful movement from zone to zone. The intention behind this being that staff feel both empowered whilst encouraged to move around during the day which is crucial to staying healthy.
In essence these stairs are Medibank ‘walking the talk’ when it comes to promoting better health and equally important are an example of careful, considerate and socially conscious design. On any given day they can take you on a new and unique journey to being a better person and this is what good design is all about; changing lives and inspiring minds. - David Mousa. (Photography Earl Carter)
When Eileen and Jerry Ford established Ford Models Agency in their New York City home in 1946, they created a new kind of global beauty agency concept, and an entirely new business category. Since then, the agency has been the benchmark establishment for all others in the business of beauty.
Opulence and grand scale have always been key features of the agency’s offices around the world from New York City to Paris, Sao Paulo, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles.
It is not surprising, that this culture of global luxury, plus the heritage of the Art Deco style Warren and Wetmore building on New York’s 57th Street, formed the foundation for the stunning design for Ford Models Women’s Division’s 5000 square-foot (464.5 square metre) penthouse headquarters at number 57 on 57th Street.
Rafael de Gardenas’ Architecture at Large juxtaposed the Art Deco features of the space with Gothic and Parisian elements and established an elegant environment with an imaginative feel of history and efficiency.
For example, the mixing of semi-industrial looking lighting with fantastic murals of flora and fauna by Leon Benn produces a dramatic effect, as does the no-nonsense, factory-like row of work stations positioned at a long desk in a former living room with a prominent fireplace.
Executive offices are located in a three-sided solarium with open terraces and spectacular views as special features.
The harmonious balance of old and modern is always difficult to achieve, but Rafael de Gardenas Architecture at Large has managed to do it graciously and confidently on many occasions. So far, their work in Ford Models Agency remains our favourite. - Tuija Seipell.
May we just move in, please? This super-sleek, one-storey residence is rather close to a perfect minimalist house.
It fits in its surroundings and manages to appear like a real home for real people although it also reveals its cool, sophisticated character that reflects the tastes of the owners.
Located in residential suburb, about a 15-minute drive away from Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, the 264 square-metre (2841 sq.ft.), three- bedroom house centers around an inner courtyard that also has a swimming pool.
The car port merges seamlessly with the overall scheme and does not appear like an add-on. As a clean concrete cell, the car port not just shelters the owner’s retro sports car, but it also creates a display case for it. The shelter works just like a perfect box for the perfect gift; it enhances it but does not compete with it or take anything away from it.
The minimalist general approach, and the low profile and scale, make the structure seem unpretentious and sleek and much smaller than it actually is.
Our eyes are drawn to the elegant use of white as the colour of floors, and even the concrete and gravel outside.
This same educated minimalism is in view also inside the residence, where minimalism is not taken to a painful degree, neither is the harmony broken by arbitrary, and so often meaningless, splashes of colour. Much of the furniture is by Poliform and B&B Italia
Glass, wood and concrete are the main materials used in this house, affectionately called the Piano House. This name comes from the display-like open space around the grand piano. Because the piano is on display in a minimalist setting, it becomes the main character. Or, conversely, one might say that the piano as the main character has dictated the fact that open space is needed around it. The key point here is balance, and knowing what to leave out.
We believe that it is very easy to be complicated, not just in architecture and design in general, but in all creative endeavours. Minimalism is not easy, as we have said on so many occasions, but when it IS executed well, it creates an elegant sense of ease and lightness.
Everything belongs, everything fits together, everything speaks the same, language. Tuija Seipell
Build a massive house made of concrete in the middle of a grove of 130 beautiful protected old oak trees and you have an ugly disaster in your hands.
This scenario sounds likely but it was elegantly avoided in the Oak Pass Main House that Walker Workshop designed for a private client in Beverly Hills, California.
The house sits on a 3.5-acre site at the rim of a canyon, which is why the fantastic views were the main consideration of the house plan.
The ornate oak trees provide a contrast for the hard edges of the low-lying house - a delicate balance not easily achieved.
The use of glass allows for views and vistas over and through the house and makes the mass of the house seem much smaller than it is.
Structural concrete is the main building material as it lets large spans of space to flow into each other without columns or supports.
All of this leads to a calm harmony between the site and the elegant minimalist house.
The 8,000 square-foot (743 sq.m.) single-family residence includes four bedrooms on the lower level beneath the green grassy roof, two kitchens, a dining room, a living room, an office, a 900-bottle wine room, an exercise room, a media room, four bathrooms and a powder room, a foyer and an art gallery courtyard plus a garage.
A 75-foot lap pool with infinity edges on three of four sides, bisects the house.
This large residence is on the same property with the much written-about Oak Pass Guest House that Walker Workshop completed in 2013. - Tuija Seipell.
Imagine any city as if it were the human body and think of all the crucial aspects of it which keep us living. Within a city you could consider the people to be the blood; the thing which circulates constantly and gives life. Transport systems are the vessels which allow that blood to move and public infrastructure is the brains of the operation which facilitates the growth and movement of blood cells.
Equally important though is that essential organ called the heart. From a geographical sense, the centre of the city is considered the heart however more importantly it's the spaces within a city which have character, inspire and shape society that are indeed the most heartfelt.
Rainbow Chapel, located inside the G+ Park in Shanghai is a new addition to a large organ of cultural landscape which has redefined this large bustling Chinese city. It's a collaborative effort between award-winning design agency COORDINATION ASIA and logon urban.architecture.design; who have so successfully used the credo of 'developing art spaces which nourish a city' to form their concept.
The team from COORDINATION ASIA have featured previously on The Cool Hunter with their designs for the Shanghai Office and Kids Museum of Glass. They continue to tackle interesting social projects in a market which is ever growing and developing; Rainbow Chapel certainly is no exception to this as founder Tilman Thürmer explains its conception:
"Over the years of operating the museum park we experienced an increasing demand to have a new type of venue that caters to the Chinese public, now avid for living a creative life, gathering new and exciting experiences and mixing art and lifestyle. There was a lack on the Chinese wedding market that mainly offers city centre locations and classic settings and we went on to fill that gap."
Designed around the Shanghai Museum of Glass the G+ Park recently celebrated its 4 year anniversary by unveiling a lifestyle addition to its premises that includes the Rainbow Chapel which is attached to the museum park. It's a first for China and provides an alternative to classic wedding venues which appeals greatly to young and creative couples looking for something different.
It's only fitting that the structural form of the Rainbow Chapel is a circle, as essentially a circle is an infinite line. This was indeed the intention of having a circular form within a square as it alluded to the nature of the connections made inside the place. It was also intended to represent fundamental Chinese symbolism with the circle representing fullness and unity, whilst the square stands as a symbol of honesty and virtue; when combined they lend a sense of perfection and provide good-luck.
The building in total covers 390 square meters and is a vivid and fascinating exploration of the endless possibilities of glass.
The façade of the building appears to be kaleidoscopic as it comprises of 3060 elements, using 65 different colours and mixture of both transparent and semi-transparent glass. As the sun moves around the structure and the lighting changes so does the effects of the glass on the interior; creating a clever moving instillation. This effect brings the chapel to life.
Sitting just next to the chapel is a banquet hall which covers 1200 square meters, built upon a former industrial glass workshop. This workshop has been converted into an elegant and sophisticated space which marries in well with the Rainbow Chapel. Whilst extremely elegant it's also highly versatile and is capable of facilitating a wide range of events from weddings and anniversaries to concerts.
The Rainbow Chapel is modern, it's sleek and highly artistic; most impressively though it maintains these aesthetics whilst still having character, heart and a deep connection to those using it. It's a perfect cultural response to a gap in society and a heartfelt addition to Shanghai City - David Mousa.
It’s yet another example of the worlds of food, design and architecture colliding as this clever modern adaption of the pizza parlour has forever changed the way people grab a slice. Maybe it didn’t seem possible that this experience could be revolutionized yet a collaboration between Voodoo Ray’s and London based design consultancy firm Brinkworth has done exactly this.
The collaborative effort these two entities have come up with is mouth-watering both aesthetically and in taste. In every sense of the word Voodoo Ray’s is iconic.
Just as a pizza is modular and has an adaptable form, so does the architecture of this small quirky pizzeria. It’s a carefully constructed design, engineered to fit within the bounds of three shipping container units in Shoreditch’s award winning BOXPARK. Even the bold, striking, signage on the front and the fit-out has been modelled around the constraints of a container.
This form of design has a strong contextual importance as it sets a tone that Voodoo Ray’s can be moved and adapted to fit within a wide range of sites all around the world. It so successfully follows suit with a concept explored earlier by The Cool Hunter with the notion of ‘small is the new big’, as were seeing more pop-up stores and adaptive retail.
The pizzeria itself has a strong and recognizable interface that is both alluring and a great representation of what Voodoo’s stands for. They don’t appear to take themselves too seriously yet still offer vibrancy and colour; qualities which are consistently mimicked through their branding, menu and design.
It seems far more than just a slice of pizza, in fact Voodoo’s have found a clever way of making pizza an icon again; something maybe not seen since the days of folding your slice in half whilst you ate it because that’s what the ninja turtles did.
Everything has been thought out and the level of detail which has gone into the whole concept is impressive. For instance high bars have been implemented to create a unique bar style eating experience which fits within the modular set up.
Voodoo’s even has its own dynamic range of coloured tiles which provide a playful vibrancy to the whole scheme and Brinkworth have so carefully implemented materials in their design which pay homage not only to the brand but the shipping container which facilitates this unique concept.
It is no surprise that with such amazing design like this Brinkworth has been commissioned by the likes of Nike, Supreme, Ben Sherman, Selfridges, Carhartt WIP, Dabbous, LBi, Dinos Chapman, Converse, Karen Millen, Heineken, Tinello, Rapha, Google and Casio.
Voodoo Rays are currently in the process of evolving the brand further and locating to more permanent locations in the future. It truly is more than just a slice of pizza, it’s now that cool new place for people to meet and share a love of something so simple yet tasty. - David Mousa.
It's Asian cuisine engineered by a Cuban born and raised chef done with a Latin twist. It speaks true to the character of New York City as its innovative, appeals to the senses and runs the fine line between sophisticated and whimsical. There's a representation through the food of one man's dream to make it big in New York, this man being chef Luis Pous but more importantly it holds a much larger significance within a unique social context.
The menu is exquisite and genuinely original. From black bean & plantain empanadas to ginger & papaya marinated palomilla, there's something for every persons taste. What's most fascinating is how chef Pous has found intricate and delicate connections between two cuisines which traditionally have never mixed. It's a classic example of art imitating life as the worlds of innovation and cultural diversity have originated from within a social context and transferred into an exciting gastronomical experience. It's the New York mentality which has allowed such an amazing thing to occur.
The vision and inspiration behind the menu is particularly interesting as it's an exploration by chef Pous into the evolution of Cuban cuisine. His belief being that the menu he has developed is a representation of where Cuban food would be had they had access to a wider range of global ingredients within the past 50 years.
Food is only really half of this amazing tale though. The other 50% is in Asia de Cuba's sleek and modern design. Its clean, minimal, classical and a great interpretation of old Havana within a modern context. Conceived by renowned designer Rafael de Cárdenas this beautiful layout has characteristics of 1950's Hollywood, it's a little 'mad men', somewhere cool to escape the streets in salvation of a good drink and a nice meal.
The design evokes a seductive and hazy feeling which speaks true to Havana's gloried nightlife past. What Cárdenas has done so cleverly is managed to incorporate Asia de Cuba's personality back into the design without making it overcomplicated. There's touches of Cuba with Asian influences. This in many ways mimics how chef Pous has designed the menu and makes the whole experience even more special.
It's no surprise that Cárdenas has been commissioned by the likes of Barneys New York, Baccarat, Cartier, Nordstrom, Nike, Ford Models, and HBO.
Culture, food, cocktails and unique tastes; all within one of the most active metropolises in the world. Its original, new and ambitious; a perfect addition to the cultural landscape of New York City. - David Mousa.
Buren, known for his use of bold stripes in his installations, cooperated in this work with French architect Patrick Bouchain.
As his inspiration Buren used the ideas of Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel (1782-1852), the German pedagogue who created the concept – and word - of kindergarten.
A large room on the museum’s first floor is now a colourful miniature city where the guests, adults and kids alike, can walk and play and interact with the many shapes.
The installation aims to celebrate the relationship between the museum the institution and its guests, the community.
We love the intriguing vistas, the complete lack of text or explanation, the honest openness of the invitation to enter, explore and play . - Tuija Seipell.
In this children’s indoor playground called Mama Smile, French-born, Tokyo-based architect, Emmanuelle Moureaux, has created a friendly and harmonious atmosphere that gives both children and parents a break from busy shopping.
Located inside a shopping mall in the town of Mito 100 miles North East of Tokyo, Mama Smile looks deliciously inviting with its soft, muted colour palette and its friendly visual language employing the simple shape of a house.
Moureaux says that the colourful space is also expected to help with the growth of the mind of the child from the viewpoint of “iro-iku”, a Japanese term describing a method of using the effect of colour to bring up concentration and imagination.
Moureaux, who moved to Tokyo in 1996 and established her architecture firm there in 2003, is known for her continuous study of colour. Her colour work includes the art installation “100 colors” in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Mitsui Building, and in 2014 in 51 Uniqlo stores in 26 cities in eight countries.
She has also created the concept of shikiri, a made-up word that means “dividing space using colours.”. - Tuija Seipell.