Blame us, Norwegian designers and/or their possible dislike of communication, or a slight language barrier, but Norwegian design is not often seen in design media.
We would love to change that and we are currently liking the award-winning work of Oslo-based Inne Design’s Interior Architect Vigdis A. Bergh.
We noticed her work with hair salon and spa INCH whose owner Kirstin Arnesen is clearly onto something. Her little unisex emporium for the balance of body and mind has been gradually growing in Oslo.
We love the design features Inne Design brought to the first store. The eclectic mix of custom-furnishings and individual finds from flea markets and antique stores creates a fun and interesting environment. Also worthy of mention is the ocreative repurposing of such simple pieces as the retro round tables fitted with mirrors that can be removed should they be needed for serving drinks or buffet food at events held in the space.
We like the flexibility, the balance between the feminine and the masculine, and the raw and funky concrete flooring and street art contrasted with velvety plush seating and classic pieces.
Another project worth a note by the same design team is Melkerampa.- Tuija Seipell.
Pristine snow-covered scenery of Courchevel in Les Trois Vallées area of the French Alps, one of the world’s oldest and largest ski areas with all the amenities and options imaginable. Not a bad set-up to build an exclusive luxury ski resort.
L’Apogée Courchevel (the summit, zenith, pinnacle of Courchevel) is a new resort located on the same peak where the former Olympic ski jump was located.
With slabs of stone, peaked rooflines and massive timbers, the hotel exterior speaks the tried-and-true language of resort that reminds us of many ski resorts around the world but also of the National Parks “Parkitecture” in North America. Nothing strikingly different here.
Inside, timbers, fur, leather, suede, wool fabrics with plaid patterns and velvet in rich textures, all confirm that we are, indeed, in an opulent, Tyrolean ski resort.
But the hotel’s 55 rooms and suites involve real modern luxury with customized furniture, bathrooms of Fior di Bosco marble and designer showers and deep soaking tubs. Underfloor heating throughout – including on the balconies. And the scenery from each suite is breathtaking.
If that is not enough, you can stay at the penthouse suite. It has four bedrooms, and a rooftop terrace with a hot tub that is literally a large wooden tub.
And for those with even deeper pockets, there is the private, five-bedroom chalet. The resort’s own spa, restaurant and other amenities may also mean that you never get to the slopes.
The hotel’s owner is French technology entrepreneur Xavier Niel who owns the Internet service provider, Free. L’Apogée Courchevel is managed by Oetker Collection www.oetkercollection.com that manages resort properties around the world. - Tuija Seipell.
We have yet to experience anything even closely equal to our incredible six days at Castello di Reschio in Umbria.
So it should not have come as a surprise to us that their office building would turn out to be stunning as well.
But it just feels somehow unfair that some people really do get to call this restored 1940s tobacco processing factory as their everyday office.
Late last summer, Count Benedikt Bolza, the talented managing director and chief architect of the Castello di Reschio estate, and his team finished the restoration of the estate’s tobacco factory building so that the estate offices, design studio, workshops and exhibitions could move in.
Heritage and history are exquisitely balanced with contemporary style and cool elegance, yet the space does not feel pretentious or contrived. It feels completely natural; there is a sense of ease, as if it had always been like this.
Part of the reason for this is that Bolza left several key elements of the industrial building intact. For example, the stairs that lead to the offices where 13 team members now work are exactly as they were when more than 50 factory workers sorted tobacco here on long wooden tables – many of which are now in the estate’s private restaurant, Osteria.
Reclaimed and repurposed steel, wood, stone and other elements are prominent throughout the estate and in the Tabaccaia as well. Our favourites are the large floor lamps made of reclaimed heaters Bolza found at the Tabaccaia, and topped with perforated stainless steel sheet shades. Another favourite are the large sculptural rings hanging from the ceiling. They are repurposed wine barrel rings from the castle’s wine cellars.
Bolza says that although sound proofing was initially a concern in this hard-surfaced space, it has actually been a blessing in disguise. Repurposed wide wooden planks help muffle sound throughout the open space but no additional sound-proofing was needed “because the magic is that everybody talks at low level creating a sort of spiritual working environment. It is quite amazing and all are in such good working mode because of it,” he says.
And while it may seem that the team is roughing it in this rustic environment, under-floor heating and LED lighting throughout bring the comfort level well beyond that of most ordinary offices. - Tuija Seipell.
At first glance, the K House designed by Sydney-based Chenchow Little appears slightly dark and brooding. No windows or inviting embellishments, only angular planes of concrete and wooden slats.
But as soon as we see the view from the garden, the dwelling starts to appear like a protective burrow, a safe hideaway, an intriguing living space.
And when we later read about the clients’ brief, we knew the architects had achieved exactly what the client – a privacy-conscious family of two adults and two children – had wished for.
The house is located on the edge of Sydney Harbour (Vaucluse) overlooking the city skyline and the Harbour bridge. The northern edge – and the sun bathed side - of the site faces a public pedestrian walkway. To provide extreme privacy yet allow maximum sun exposure and openness to the views and the rear garden, the architects created a protective masonry shell and built an internal lining of untreated gum timber that will weather over time.
The internal views are light-filled and airy with none of the darkness or broodiness of the first-impression.
The total floor area of the residence (including decks) is 533 square meters (5.735 sq. ft). The site area is 788 square meters (8,250 sq.ft).
In their 10 years in business, Chenchow Little founders, Australians Tony Chenchow and Stephanie Little have become known for bold and distinctive residential projects. They are becoming one of our favourites, too. - Tuija Seipell
Entering the Hair Do hair salon in Chiba, Japan, is a surprising experience. No pink or frilly fake-spa softness, nor overly stark funky or shiny hair salon set-ups, just cool balance.
In this new, two-story building, with the upper-floor interior made to look like an old loft, there’s an overall sense of light and space and breathing room – our definite favourites.
Add to that the monochromatic wood-tone paneling and unpretentious furnishings, and we have a setting with real composure.
What makes this salon even more attractive, is the two-story glass wall that gives the clients something additional to look at than just themselves, and adds natural light as one of the main design components.
Located at the Chiba monorail station, the salon also adds some visual interest to the commuters’ daily routine.
The total area of the high-volume salon is 106 square meters (1,141 sq.ft). The architect and designer of the salon is the 36 year-old Ryo Matsui whose retail, office and residential work often includes wood paneling, monochromatic interiors and rounded edges. - Tuija Seipell
Photographs: Daici Ano
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Balance. So difficult achieve as it requires the designer, architect and owner to know just where to stop – what is just enough but not too stark; what is just perfect for the building, for the space and most important, for the residents.
Andy Martin Architects has succeeded in balancing the angular and the circular forms beautifully in this large five-bedroom double-fronted mews residence, Mews 04, in London's Hyde Park.
The biggest alteration Martin competed for this residence was to replace the timber-framed faux Victorian-style conservator form the 80s with a beautiful three-waved, sine-curved glass structure.
The form language of this new conservatory was then elegantly repeated throughout the house allowing maximum natural light into each space and fitting the client’s existing furnishings in with the new and customized pieces.
Bronze, marble and oak are materials that fit perfectly with the classical styling of the residents’ original pieces.
From the rounded topiary at the entrance to the curved marble bath tub, the beautiful curved form brings sophisticated harmony to the entire residence. - Tuija Seipell.
Dutch design pair Rolf Snoeren and Viktor Horsting celebrate the 20th anniversary of their Viktor & Rolf brand by opening a massive Paris flagship store in the 1st arrondissement, at 370 Rue Saint-Honoré.
One expects nothing but spectacular from the brand that has been owned by Renzo Rosso’s group since 2008, with apparently deep pockets to support the label’s growth and expansion.
But we did not expect felt-padded walls or the omnipresent grey colour – a hue that now seems to be the new black of retail environments and is in fact getting a bit boring already.
The charcoal surroundings do show off the more colourful pieces, but there’s something quite depressing and aggressive about all that greyness.
The 7,000 square-foot (650 square-meter) multi-level emporium was designed by the Paris-based Pierre Beucler and Jean-Christophe Poggioli of Architecture & Associés.
The store houses much of the Viktor and Rolf collection including ladies’ wear, handbags, shoes, eyewear, and a selection of menswear and limited-edition pieces. - Tuija Seipell.
We are scratching our heads, searching for new words to describe the attraction we have for buildings such as the Limantos residence by Fernanda Marques Arquitetos Associados.
The one-family residence of 820 square meters (8,826 sq.ft) is built on three levels on a steep 780 square-meter (8,395 sq.ft.) plot in the upscale neighbourhood of Cidade Jardim (Garden City) in the West Zone of São Paulo, Brazil.
What is it that so appeals to us in this? Yes, it is the clean, classic lines, the Miesian harmony between nature and the indoors, the understated elegance of less is more.
It is also the achievement of open-space opulence without pretentious pomposity. It is the complete lack of unnecessary ornamentation. Balance. Harmony. Air to breathe.
Maybe it is that the building just seems to belong. Like waves on the beach or mountains in the skyline, the building occupies its space as if it were meant to be there.
To avoid sounding overly pompous ourselves, let’s just say that we wouldn’t mind living in this house.
The house consists of 13 rooms: living, dining, kitchen, mezzanine, kids’ playroom, three bedroom suites, powder room, two staff suites, plus laundry and garage.
The family engaged Fernanda Marques to create a home – both the architecture and interior are by Marques - that functions well as an everyday residence for the active family, but also lends itself to frequent entertaining.
Marques achieved a beautiful balance between maximum transparency and privacy, and managed to insert the building into a challenging plot while preserving the existing trees.
Using glass, concrete and steel, Marques created a timeless house in the spirit of Mies van der Rohe who was the architect’s inspiration for this project.
The elegant, white spiral staircase, resembling the inside of a shell or a curled strip of paper, is our favourite detail of this beautiful house. - Tuija Seipell.
We love children’s spaces that celebrate the creativity and freedom of body and mind. This Educational Centre, located in the Kfar Shemaryahu area of Tel Aviv, Israel, surely does that.
The 2,400 square metre (25,833 square-foot) Centre includes six kindergartens for children aged three to six years, a common play area and an empowerment centre, a social services and wellness centre that also provides psychological services for children. Three of the six kindergartens are for the children of foreign residents and diplomats.
Hay’s task was to create a friendly and informal integrated environment where each of the spaces functions as an independent unit.
She created individual colour and design themes for each kindergarten space based on the agricultural history of the Kfar Shemaryahu area.
The kindergartens are named Olive (Zayit), Palm (Tamar) , Pomegranate (Rimon), Wheat (Hita), Fig (Te’ena) and Vine (Gefen).
The large, central lobby area connects the kindergartens and the empowerment centre and functions as a play area with equipment that encourages physical activity and interaction. Wooden tractors, lakes, trees and other equipment refer to the life of an agricultural village.
Our favourite area is the Palm kindergarten with its orange colouring derived from ripe dates, and its motifs referring to palm trees, oasis and camels. The little play huts provide nice cozy privacy and home-like details that encourage creative play. - Tuija Seipell.
Images by Amit Geron