Last November, TeamLab, a Japanese collective of architects, designers, artists, programmers and engineers, installed a large-scale retrospective of its work at the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo.
The two main interactive digital art exhibitions of the retrospective – “Digital Art” that toured the world in 2014, and “Learn and Play! teamLab Future Park” experience park for children – have been so popular at the Miraikan that the show has been extended till May 1, 2015.
In addition to the two exhibitions, the installation event has also included new pieces and components that have rotated from time to time.
One of the recently re-installed pieces is the interactive experience called Floating Flower Garden that involves more than 2,300 living and growing plants suspended from the ceiling.
The plants interact with the visitor so that the plants closest to the viewer float up while the others stay lower. This creates a cocoon or a personal, airy flowering “room” with the viewer at its centre.
The plants are constantly in motion reacting to the movements of the viewers. If several people approach an area simultaneously, the plants react by re-creating the space around them.
TeamLab describes the thinking behind this meditative space: “Japanese Zen gardens are said to have been born as a place for Zen priests to carry out training so that they can become one with nature. The garden is a microcosm of the vastness of the surrounding natural mountain areas where they gathered to train.”
TeamLab’s group of “ultra-technologists” is lead by 38-year-old CEO Toshiyuki Inoko who co-founded TeamLab in 2001. He is also currently serving as a creative industry private sector expert for the Cool Japan project by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. - Tuija Seipell
Two basic ideas – one gold and one black - result in dramatic impact in the new Gold Souk building at the Beverwijk Bazaar in The Netherlands.
Rotterdam-based Liong Lie Architects had the cool opportunity to design a brand new hall for the gold dealers and goldsmiths that offer their wares each weekend at the Goudstraat (Goldstreet) at the Eastern Market of the famous Bazaar.
The designers based the uneven shape of the building on a raw piece of gold. They covered the façade with gold-tinted panels with a triangle pattern. The panels are placed in different orientations so that the entire building sparkles and shimmers under different lighting conditions during the day and at night.
And how do you outshine all that glitter of wall-to-wall gold inside? You don’t. Instead, you stay out of the way. Liong Lie chose to paint every surface inside black giving the space a night-time feel and allowing the gold really shine. A mysterious “Arabian Nights” feel envelops the visitors as soon as they step into the building from the daylight.
The Bazaar in Beverwijk is a massive indoor public “fleamarket in overdrive.” With more than 2,000 shops and more than 60 food establishments in numerous halls, De Bazaar offers clothing, accessories, toys, food and even gold. - Tuija Seipell.
Humming puppy? That’s quite a kooky name for a luxe Melbourne yoga studio – the humming is a nod to the Arup audio engineer designed sound system that delivers an exquisite hum soundtrack around the yoga studio; the puppy is a nod to the ubiquitous downward dog yoga pose.
Clients leave a nondescript inner-city Prahran side street, climb a set of industrial stairs into the studio (known here as a shala) and enter a cocooned space where every detail of the design – custom lighting, soundtrack and interiors is geared towards preparing yogis physically and mentally for their practice.
Co-founders Jackie Alexander and Chris Koch wanted to create a different yoga studio experience – part day spa pampering, part ‘get on that mat’ yoga practice and worked with architects (and yoga practitioners) Louisa Macleod and Karen Abernethy and ARUP to create a new kind of studio.
The studio space features Silvertop Ash shiplap interior cladding that gives it a minimalist barn feel. Walls have extra layers of soundproofing to genuinely cocoon clients from the outside world. The 380 square metres yoga studio (known as a shala) features three tiers of mats, accommodating up to 39 students per class, soaring 10-metre high ceilings and engineered oak floorboards. Clients can book specific sanitized mats online before classes.
“Conceptually the preparation area (front of house) is intended as a 'refuge' - pure, simple and white with touches of timber,” says Louisa. “Whereas the yoga practice space is intended as a 'sublime' space, a universe of its own complete with pure black walls and linings.” The entire studio is sound proofed (well there is a pole dancing studio next door) and a Sonos system pipes in a specially commissioned soundtrack of soundwaves at 40hz - a frequency associated with ‘gamma’ brain wave activity and states of peak performance; it is meant to help people tune into the practice and not get distracted. Another layer of sound comes in the form of a 7.83hz, otherwise known as the Schumann Resonance that helps to 'ground' yogis during practice. Together they create an unmistakable hum that resonates throughout the classes. The shala is heated to exactly 27 degrees by a series of radiant heat panels too so it is all rather idyllic for yoga practitioners.
Clients can just turn up in their yoga gear – all props such as mat, belts, blocks, shower/workout towels and meditation cushions are supplied. Bathrooms offer five-star standards – fresh towels, toiletries, hair straighteners, driers even lockers with phone charging capability.
Amenities aside, real innovation here is the ingenious soundtrack. Co-founder Koch (an IT entrepreneur who created successful startup 1Form) had a “lightbulb moment” to add the gamma soundtrack to classes to stop people getting too distracted during their poses and tune into their practice. Humming Puppy also does the “afterclass”; offering chilled coconut water and warm green tea. Humming Puppy seems to have found a happy balance between luxury and simplicity. Says Louisa: “Luxury can be attributed to the generosity of space. This balance is maintained by a simple and raw material selection combined with fine detailing in the construction and the touches of more fine materials (brass etc.) in some of the fittings.”
For co-owner Jackie, the afterclass experience is key. “We wanted a place where people could hang out,” says Jackie. “We felt what was lacking in a lot of yoga studios.” There is a clear advantage in the architects genuinely understanding the end-users’ needs. Says Louisa: “The fact that we both practice yoga and have done so in many places all over the world definitely informed the design process as we know how a good yoga studio should function. We are aware of the rituals and how the spaces should flow.” - Emily Ross.
The recently opened Casa Cavia in the Palermo Chico neighborhood of Buenos Aires is an enchanting fusion of sights, sounds, tastes and eras.
Now operating as a brand new assembly of a restaurant, publishing house, bookstore, flower shop and perfumery, Casa Cavia is housed in what was known as the Bollini Roca residence, designed in the gilded age of the 1920s as a personal gift to the owner’s wife by the Spanish-born architect and artist Alejandro Christophersen of Norwegian parentage.
The founder and creator of the Casa Cavia concept, Guadalupe Garcia Mosqueda with book publisher Ana Mosqueda asked London and San Francisco-based KallosTurin Architects to restore and transform the residence into a modern cultural center, yet retain the essence of the historical building.
The architects retained the room proportions and numerous details but they also included modern elements throughout. The material palette includes white and green marble, brass, antique mirror, leather and terrazzo flooring – all inspired by the city’s cafes of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Our eyes are drawn to the golden details, the arches and rounded shapes, the muted green seating and, of course, the flying books in the ceiling.
Our favourite section is the elegantly proportioned inner garden-courtyard with its small pool. It forces us to grieve the lack of such elements in today’s urban planning. Where, indeed, are the lovely urban inner courtyards of today that don’t feel like shopping mall food courts?
Ana Mosqueda’s Ampersand Publishing is the inspiration and anchor of Casa Cavia. It produces books but is also a center to exchange ideas, recalling the publishers of Europe and Americas at the beginning of the 20th century. There is a hall for classes, conferences and book presentations along with a library focused on the history of books and written culture.
Guadalupe Garcia Mosqueda has drawn in the best new Argentine talent to create and host the various parts of the concept that aims to showcase the best of Buenos Aires while promoting architecture, gastronomy, design, literature and art.
For the perfumery she brought in Julian Bedel, “the nose of Argentina” to offer the fragrances of Fueguia 1833 perfumes. Casa Cavia’s signature scent will be Biblioteca De Babel, named after a short story by Jorge Luis Borges about an enormous library of interlocking rooms housing a vast collection of books.
Costume designer and art director Silvana Grosso creates amazing floral impressions Casa Cavia’s flower shop Flores Pasión while Próspero Velazco presides over the pâtisserie and revives the neighbourhood tradition of high tea.
Pablo Massey, a protégé of Argentina’s top culinary star, Francis Mallmann, helms Casa Cavia’s restaurant, La Cocina.
We believe – and hope - that these kinds of charming yet also extremely functional and useful “unrelated fusions” of various activities and offerings are one trend that is growing around the world. The fact that Casa Cavia, in addition to providing a fertile mixture, also restores and repurposes an important building makes this project that much more fabulous. - Tuija Seipell.
Some of us go weak in the knees at the sight of a new bookstore or library. Such was certainly the case when we glanced at Cărtureşti Carusel bookstore, opened on February 12 on Lipscani Street in Bucharest’s historical Old Town, also often called just Lipscani.
The magnificent Chrissoveloni bank building, now owned by Jen Chrissoveloni, the great-grandson of the 19th century banker, created a magnificent starting point for the retail project. According to the Romanian media, the current owner invested 1 million Euro in the renovation and leased the building to the Cărtureşti bookstore chain for 10 years. The Cărtureşti brand added an additional 400 000 Euro in design, fittings and inventory, resulting in one of the largest and most spectacular retail projects in the area.
Our eyes tear up with the sight of a thousand square meters (10 764 sq.ft.) dedicated to 10,000 books, music and a bistro. Add to this the magical staircases, the incredible height of the space, the classy use of white and
wood, and we are delighted. The space lends itself well to events and gatherings as the heavily attended opening event proved.
The brand invited several designers to contribute ideas and eventually selected the “carousel” concept submitted by the Romanian Architecture studio Square One that has designed several others. - Tuija Seipell.
See also The New Stuttgart City Library in Germany
Villa Moos by Lake Constance (Bodensee) at the northern foot of the Alps draws our attention with its building-block appearance and foreboding façade.
And yet, surprisingly, with these almost semi-brutalist intentions, the look of heaviness does not follow.
Instead, there’s a delightful mood of lightness, almost of semi-permanence. It seems as if the entire structure could be a fold-up affair made of exceptionally strong origami paper or very light sheets of card board, ready for packing up and carting elsewhere. But as we know metal and glass are the main components, we must admire the architects’ ability to balance the scales so that the end result is harmonious.
With a sparse set of key ideas, the German architecture firm Biehler Weith Associated has managed to create a rather classy and serene vacation home for the owner whose sleek speed boats and antique race cars fit right in with the cool residence. - Tuija Seipell.
Images by Brigida Gonzalez
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Light and the absence of distractions drew us to this great little project. Absolute is an elegant 42 square-metre (42 asg.t.) florist shop on a nicely treed stretch of a boutique-lined street in Shanghai, China.
Architects Kong Rui and Fan Beilei, who founded Genarchitects in 2012, have created a peaceful, airy space by combining a small rectangular room with an adjoining front courtyard.
The design team, that included Chen Xiaoyi, Xue Zhe and You Wei as well, removed the dividing wall and covered the courtyard with a glass roof whichadds not just more room but more light to the otherwise non-descript space.
By the repeating a delicate arch motif in the white, light-weight furnishings, the designers have achieved an ethereal and somehow gamine feel as if the counters and fixtures were standing Bambi-like, erect and alert
with minimal footprints.
We love the fact that the entire floor is visible – yet another smart way to make the area seem much larger than it is.
With light reflecting from glass surfaces and creating patterns through the glass ceiling, the colourful flowers remain the main attraction as they should. - Tuija Seipell.
Just before the Holiday shopping season last year, Greek Jewelry designer Ileana Makri opened an intriguing retail store on Patriarhou Ioakim Street in Athens’s posh fashion district of Kolonaki.
She hired Greek architect Stelios Kois to envision an environment for not just her own jewelry but also for fashionable creations of other designers. The Makri is not new to retail, as her first entry, Mageia, also in Athens, opened in 1987. Mageia was also the setting for the launch of her precious jewelry line in 1996. Steeped in symbols, nature, mystique and multicultural lore, her pieces featured snakes, evil eyes, insects and other nature-inspired themes created in gold, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and other precious materials. Barneys New York noticed, and from there on, Makri has been part of the jewelry scene, and not just in the up-market fine jewelry segment but also in costume jewelry .
Celebrities and stars, from Jennifer Lopez and Faith Hill to Uma Thurman, Heidi Klum and Rita Wilson, have walked the red carpets of the world wearing Makri’s pieces.
As one would expect, Kois and project manager Antriana Voutsina with team members Nikos Patsiaouras, Marielina Stavrou, Konstantinos Karanasos and Alexandros Economou, used Makri’s work and philosophy as inspiration for the new Athens store.
The quality of light, geometric patterns, exquisite workmanship and intricate detailing are all essential in Ileana Makri’s work in which she transforms “memories to jewelry”, as Kois expressed it in a brief.
In the “peculiar forest” that Kois’s team created, our eyes are drawn to the strong, angular lines of the glass-and-metal trees on which jewelry and other items are displayed. The trees allow 360-degree viewing of the items inside the branch-boxes. We like the scarcity and strength of materials: metal, glass, wood and stone that gives the items on display a minimalist backdrop.
However, our favourite aspect of the store is the exterior. The window opening that appears like a big picture frame, was divided into three segments: Two windows framed with black stone protrude from the façade and, in between them, a narrow door made of black-stained oak leads into the store.
The narrower of the windows is for exhibiting the latest collections. It also frames a display tree and shows off our other favourite feature: the narrow, stone-clad staircase that leads to the jeweller’s workshop. - Tuija Seipell.