We are now officially suffering from office envy and the object of our feelings is located in Poland, in a former cable factory in Zabłocie, a post-industrial district in Kraków. It was designed for the web technology consulting firm u2i by architect and urban planner Justyna Friedberg of Kraków-based Morpho Studio.
The obvious breathing room – so often lacking in offices – is clearly evident here. White, ash wood, natural light. Somehow we can imagine thoughts flying freer in a space like this, with this much openness and light.
The real gem of the 800 square-meter (8,611 sq.ft.) office, and the part we covet the most, is the central indoor porch, or chill zone, with its swing and potted plants. A simple, fresh idea, beautifully executed.
We suspect that herbs and favourite flowers will be grown here by the team, and that it will turn out to be not just a passive space with the surroundings fitted and provided by someone else, but that it actually will live as a real porch or garden where people can putter around and exercise their green thumbs. Or just chill in the swing.
With this open porch, the basic, large, rectangular space has become more of an environment and less of a set of offices. And what we like most is that the porch does not have the omnipresent sad pool tables or soft-drink dispensers that still seem to denote “cool office” to some. - Tuija Seipell.
Flamingo Shanghai’s swanky new office, The Attic, is a grand example of how the intelligent use of scale and natural light, and the minimalist approach to materials can create cohesive unity that looks both fresh and imbued with patina.
Shanghai-based Neri&Hu effected their special brand of design philosophy on this cavernous industrial 620 square-meter (6673 sq.ft.) attic, and created a dark-hued and angular open-concept office for the creative agency. The attic includes offices, conference space, exhibit space, observation areas, quiet room and kitchen.
The hard materials and cold surfaces project efficiency and focus. We assume that the natural light through the large skylight windows, together with the presence of people, will balance those aspects with softness and creative life energy.
Husband-and-wife duo, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu established their own design and architecture practice Neri&Hu in Shanghai in 2004 after having moved to China two years earlier to work with Michael Graves. The Philippines-born Neri (b. 1965) has architecture degrees from Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley. Taiwan-born Hu (b. 1968) was trained at Princeton. - Tuija Seipell.
Swedish restaurateurs Magnus Ek and Agneta Green started their entrepreneurial careers in 1994 as they rented the small Oaxen Skärgårdskrog restaurant in Stockholm’s archipelago. They taught themselves the ins and outs of wine, food and fresh ingredients, eventually bought the restaurant and started to gain a steady reputation.
But the Swedish winters being what they are, the archipelago location was open only part of the year. Forward the clock from that to last year, and the grand opening of Oaxen Krog & Slip, their brand new corrugated-metal framed and so beautifully aged twin establishments, right at the old shipyards on the island of Djurgården in Stockholm’s city centre.
Designed and lovingly outfitted with repurposed, antique and retro furnishings and materials by architect Mats Fahlander and architect-designer Agneta Pettersson, the restaurants have already gained several prestigious Swedish awards in business, design and food categories.
These include Stockholm’s Restaurant of the Year 2014 recognition for Slip by the Swedish city entertainment guide Nöjesguiden, and Oaxen Krog’s awarded of Business Restaurant of the Year 2014 by the financial newspaper Dagens Industri. Oaxen Krog has already one Michelin star and Slip has won the Michelin Bib Gourmand-award.
Krog is more of a dining room and Slip a bistro. Our absolute favourites in Slip are the lovely finds dating back to fairly recent Swedish history – the wooden 1905-built craft in the ceiling and the single scull from 1920s. The old Swedish school desks, theatre-seating and repurposed tableware create a uniquely welcoming and familiar feeling.
Oaxen Krog is a bit more formal but seats only 35 and therefore retains an intimate atmosphere. Slatted oak covers the walls and ceiling , and the chairs dating back to the 1950 but still in production by the Swedish Wigells surround the tables custom-crafted by shipyard carpenters. As e the smart city set dines on organic fare, we think we can hear some Swedish Old Salty in his blond beard and blue eyes singing a melancholy song or two about the rough-but-oh-so-wholesome life on the cold shores of Sweden. - Tuija Seipell.
Over the past seven years, at our creative agency, Access, we have worked with a number of residential and commercial property developers from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, helping them with development and strategy.
Yet we see so often the sad sight of yet another mediocre building going up. We see city councils approving mediocre design and we see cities looking uglier because of it. We see property developers rushing to get their building up, wanting to make a quick sale and profit, and not really caring or thinking about the aesthetics of the building.
Does the building enhance the surrounding area or make it worse? Will the building still look great 10, 15 or 20 years from now? Will it become an iconic landmark and a beloved site, or will it become a dated gimmick?
What will the resale value be down the track? Will anyone want to live in or buy property like it?
Property developers — and city councils — need to wake up and realize their influence on the cityscape and take that role seriously. This is the case not just for residential development — the same applies to office buildings, hotels and all public buildings in general.
As a developer and as a city council, do you want to be known as an organization that values and understands design and creates iconic developments? Or will you be known as the ones who created eyesores, or worse, caused a devaluation of an entire area or neighborhood?
The aesthetic of a building should be the Number One priority. There is not much point in creating and promoting beautiful interiors when the exterior tells a different story. The whole building should tell a cohesive story.
So many developers do not see the value, or even think about the aesthetics of the car park, for example. Would it hurt to splash some colour and graphic design on the concrete? Would it hurt to make the lifts and foyer more like those of a great hotel and less like a jail or a warehouse?
What amenities does the building provide? Is there a café, a library, a car wash? Engage us and wow us to the point that we cannot wait to sign on the bottom line! Excite us enough that when you go to market, so much buzz has been created that the units sell in 24 hours and at the price you asked for.
If a building is desirable and unique, and offers something truly beautiful, trust us, consumers WILL buy. It’s a no brainer, yet so many buildings keep going up that do the absolute minimum. They may tick off a few boxes and get the interior right, but not the rest. It’s not enough.
Every day, I am inundated with material from PR people and developers about new projects. Literally hundreds of submissions a day. So, over the past seven years, I have seen everything. And believe me, so have consumers.
Your potential buyers, the couples and the mums and dads and even grandparents are design conscious these days. The internet has opened everyone’s eyes to what is possible. People browse sites all over the globe, they learn, they engage in design. Design is no longer a closed shop. It is everyone’s.
Kids growing up now understand that design plays a crucial role in everything they consume, from the car they buy to the clothes they wear, to the headphones they listen to, to the cookware they cook, to the hotels they stay.
My advice to developers and city councils: Save yourself a lot of money, time and headache, and get it right the first time! Take design seriously now and you will be glad you did. - Bill Tikos
We just had to include this little, happy-looking Mediterranean take-away restaurant on TCH today. The reason? It just made us smile. Of course, there are also the clear colors and the use of wood – both features we tend to like.
Valencia, Spain-based Masquespacio completed the interior design and branding for the 40 square-meter (430 sq.ft.) Kessalao located in Bonn, Germany.
Led by creative director Ana Milena Hernández Palacios, the Masquespacio team used a drop of olive oil as the key for the brand’s logo, and combined the German word “Kess” and the Spanish word “salao”, both apparently referring to a cool, amusing boy. We know salao as “salty” and “unlucky” from Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, but it seems the word has a much happier tone in mainland Spain.
Pine furnishings, birch veneer paneling and raffia add both softness and Mediterranean natural elements to the space. To maximize the use of the tiny space, the raffia covering the tall stools hangs down underneath to provide space for coats and handbags.
Kessalao is Masquespacio’s first project outside Spain. - Tuija Seipell
Photographer - Eric Johansson
This is not a photograph - It's hand drawn with a pen by CJ Hendry for her upcoming IT Bag exhibition.
Flower paintings by Thomas Darnell
Marcel Marongiu designed pool - Mexico
An infinity pool forms the roof of this house designed as a concept by Athens studio Kois Associated Architects for the Greek island of Tinos.
Trou Normand Opens in San Francisco
Aman Canal Grande Hotel, Venice
Road to Como, Italy
Floral Installations by Rebecca Louise Law
Tree Trunk Kitchen by Werkhaus
Giusti Gardens, Verona, Italy
Cooking is a serious and competitive business and professional cooking schools can have the air of military camps where fear and strict order dominate. Nothing wrong with that in the world of celebrity chefs, fame and Michelin stars.
But for the rest of us, cooking is either a fun and enjoyable creative endeavour or a boring daily necessity best avoided at all costs.
Many consumer-facing cooking schools, sensing a growing market niche, are offering relaxed, fun classes in cool surroundings that don’t intimidate the participants.
The all-female Japanese ABC Cooking Studio has more than 125 casual cooking studios in Japan, Hong Kong and China.
High-stakes chefs train elsewhere, but ordinary women who love sophisticated cooking in a happy, relaxed atmosphere flock to ABC whose studios draw more than 250,000 participants per year.
Their latest location, in Huangpu, Shanghai, China, is a new take on their already relaxed approach to cooking. Designed by Prism Design under the direction of Reiji Kobayashi, the new studio is all white, soft and friendly.
Black ceilings, light wood accents and white main features keep the studio’s ambiance clean and professional, avoiding the all-so-common trap of too cute that would have opened up with the introduction of pink, baby blue or yellow.
You can relax now and forget all of your bad memories (should you have any…) of drab and dreary home economics classes because the newest cooking schools are cool.
It is true that The Culinary Art School in Tijuana, Mexico is not of the high-school variety – it is for serious chefs with high aspirations – but it oozes a new, cool confidence that could potentially turn even the most nonchalant teenager into a passionate chef.
The elegant use of wood is the key attribute in The Culinary Art School. Its new building was designed by San Diego, California-based Jorge Gracia Arquitecto whose founder, Jorge Gracia, was born in Tijuana in 1973.
The entire school complex carries an air of strict order, almost an ascetic solemnity. If you didn’t notice the stoves or wine racks, you could mistake this for a place of religious study.
And, passionate chefs certainly express a fervour for food, ingredients and cooking that could be likened to religious zeal. It is easy to imagine how the colours, textures and aromas of various ingredients stand out in this kind of environment. It is like a stage for culinary creation or like a frame for gastronomic artwork.
Also in the category of cool cooking schools is the Sydney Seafood School established in 1989 and completely refurbished for its 20th anniversary. It conducts cooking classes for all skill levels and draws more than 12,000 students annually.
Words such as handsome and sexy come to mind when you look at this space, the creative work of Dreamtime Australia Design, based in Sydney, Australia.
Some time ago, we have featured Dreamtime-designed Churchill Butcher Shop in Sydney.
In Sydney Seafood School, a tactile intrigue, and a contrast between serious study and serious fun, are evident in every space. The school’s entry wall is a honeycombed sandstone creation by sculptor Michael Purdy.
The dark and impressive hands-on kitchen looks formidable with lots of shiny stainless steel and glass, but its gravity is lightened by chalkboard walls with “fish graffiti” as art. The cool auditorium’s walls are lined with Icelandic fish leather. In the dining room, the harbour view competes for attention with a row of fun fishnet chandeliers and their more than 6,000 little globes. Where do we sign up? Tuija Seipell
With his IO Studio, established in 2007, Czech architect Luka Krížek has created several notable hospitality projects.
His beer bar at Brandýs nad Labem (near Prague) for Radegast is the first of a potential chain of bars for the famous brand. Radegast is owned by Plzeňský Prazdroj best known by its German name Pilsner Urquell.
We were immediately attracted to the Old-is-New-Again vibe of the former lock factory. We love well-restored, re-purposed buildings with both an old and new tale to tell.
Krížek added a nice unexpected layer of tradition by using the patterns and colours of the Cibulák porcelain also known as Zwiebelmuster or Blue Onion pattern manufactured by Meissen porcelain since the 18th century.
The rounded shape of the onion repeats nicely in the tables, chairs, lamps, vaulted ceiling and even the exposed AC pipes. - Tuija Seipell
Istanbul, with its magical mix of tradition and everything new, cosmopolitan and local, offers a fertile ground for new concepts and new business ideas.
Nopa, the restaurant and grill opened recently in the Nisantasi neighbourhood, is perhaps not that radical as a restaurant concept, but it has a delicious lushness and richness that appeals to us.
The grand scale and opulence speak of bygone times of train travel, gentlemen’s clubs and important residences. Marble, leather, masculine stone surfaces.
But there is also a cool modern, open-to-the world vibe created by the green vertical walls framing the patio that has a glass roof that can be opened in seconds to create an outdoor terrace.
The House Hotel group is the creator and operator of Nopa, with Istanbul’s hospitality designer darlings, Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Cağlar of Autobahn, in charge of design. - Tuija Seipell.