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
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.
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
Wood is both universal and unique. No other material is as deeply embedded in the history, culture and life of humans worldwide as wood, yet every single piece of wood is unique.
The color tone, texture, durability, flexibility and even sound qualities of different tree species have puzzled and challenged artists, architects, designers, builders and artisans for thousands of years.
Still today, nothing matches wood in versatility or beauty, so it is great to see how today’s designers and architects continue to face the challenge of wood, and use it creatively to interpret sleek, modern designs.
They use wood to meet their current needs and desires for which wood is ideally suited. People seek calm surroundings, simplicity and minimalism to soothe their frayed nerves and to counter the constant visual overload they face. Wood’s warmth and natural beauty works wonders for creating a sense of balance and calm.
People also look for sustainable alternatives, eco-friendly options, greener solutions. When harvested, managed and used sustainably, forests are still the source of the greatest material on earth.
We especially love the influence of Scandinavian and Japanese traditions that we can detect in today’s wood architecture and design. Minimalist, functional, beautiful, and light in both color and weight.
Scandinavian building and design traditions are based solidly on the use of wood. Finnish modernist master, architect Alvar Aalto, stunned the world with Living Wood, his design for the Finnish Pavilion for the Paris World Exposition in 1937. In the pavilion, he combined both traditional and modern architecture and showcased his functionalist design sensibilities. It was considered one of the boldest and most innovative pavilions of the Expo.
Earlier, Aalto’s exploration of the limits of bent wood and mass production had resulted in the Paimio chair (1931) and other furniture classics, and had a permanent impact on how furniture looks even today. Aalto’s work influenced many other modernist masters including Charles and Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen.
The use of wood in Japanese architecture and design is characterized by austere construction methods, the lightness of materials, the connectedness between indoors and outdoors, and the way in which buildings merge with their surroundings.
With hardly any furniture used inside, Japanese master craftsmen were able to focus their skills on the buildings themselves, on skilful joining of sections without nails, and on revealing, rather than covering or adorning, the original texture and tone of the wood.
Wood as a material has held a charmed place in architecture and design for both its simplicity and complexity. It lends itself to imposing, bulky structures, yet also yields to delicate, undulating forms that seem lacy and transparent.
We love this lightness and elegance, the play of light and shadow, the countless tones of color that can be achieved with skilful use of wood both structurally and decoratively.
In more and more residential projects, both big and small, architects and designers are finding new, creative ways to reveal and highlight the beauty and versatility of wood. They manage to create structures that appear current and cool, yet also exude a classic, timeless elegance.
Every day, we come across images of fantastic single-use residences, recreational cottages, furniture, decks and patios, where the qualities of wood are perfectly matched with the users’ needs and the requirements of the surroundings as well.
In retail and hospitality, wood is also making an impact. We love the blocky, clean look of the Aesop stores. At the other end of the spectrum a good example is the lightness and playfulness achieved in RDAI Architects’ use of wood-slat “huts” as departments in the Paris Hermès store built inside an old hotel swimming pool.
In not just eco-lodges, but also in luxury resorts, spas and hotels, wood is becoming the material of choice. As guests are looking for a retreat, a sense of being back in nature, a quilt-free, tranquil vacation, resorts are responding with wood-frame structures, wood interiors and sustainable solutions that also look fabulous.
Wood is not trendy yet it is incredibly cool. It is a demanding, noble, ancient, living material that we have the privilege to use and enjoy. In wood, the architect, designer and builder face the exhilarating challenge of the sculptor — to reveal the character of the specific species, the individual tree. And we, the viewers and users of their work, have the opportunity to discover it for ourselves. We are looking forward to more. - Tuija Seipell.
At TCH, we are so obsessed with wood that we even created Treelife, an event to showcase the most innovate work using wood in the design of Treehouses.
We became obsessed with inflatables ever since we created the Mini Inflatables. The reaction they generated told us that we were on to something – we were not the only ones crazy about them.
We wanted to see more, do more and create more of them, and as always, we wanted to see what ideas others could come up with. So we launched a competition and asked for submissions.
Tons of suggestions came in, one more imaginative than the other. But to us, many of them were too complicated and cumbersome, trying a bit too hard.
But finally, we can reveal the winning design. It is a masterpiece in minimalism and function created by Pablo Crespo Pita from Spain.
Pablo’s CHAT inflatable is a series of three models with unlimited ways to link and enjoy them. We love the flexibility, practicality and the juicy colours.
For two weeks only, you can now purchase the CHAT Inflatable from here.
Pablo's other entry and our favourite is Air Couture below
Should you be so lucky as to be asked to design a Film Museum, how would you feel? Most likely, overwhelmed. The many juicy aspects of the dream factory of film business make one’s head spin! The technology – from the first scratchy silent films to today’s 4D experiences. The genres – from drama and documentaries, to sci-fi and animated movies. And the intrigue and mystery of film as propaganda tool and promotional vehicle. The stars and the drama of their lives online and off. The various awards, the gowns and the glitter. Even the people behind the movie cameras – the directors, the movie moguls and the critics – all seem to carry an extra aura of glamour and fascination. Add to that the sets, the locations, the props, the car chases, cliff-hangers, fantasy worlds and the historical epics created and recreated through film. Indeed, no lack of material.
When Tilman Thürmer the German-born architect and founder of Coordination Asia (that we have covered before), was selected as the Art Director of the Shanghai Film Museum, he had “film” and “Shanghai” as his directives. No more, no less.
The Shanghai Film Museum, opened on June 17 and currently hosting screenings for the nine-day 16th International Shanghai Film Festival, is therefore a highly commendable feat in its minimalist yet immersive approach.
It’s goal is to celebrate and introduce to visitors the past and future of Shanghai’s involvement as the centre of Chinese film. The 15,000 square-meter, four-storey building is located in a former film studio in downtown Xujiahui.
The new museum involves more than 70 interactive installations and 3,000 historic exhibits. The visitors can ad-lib for famous Chinese films in a real sound studio, walk the red carpet, or Carpet of Light, or learn about animation, post-production, sound and live broadcasting in fully equipped studios.
Thürmer chose light and shadow, black and white, as the main themes, with grays and metallic accents referring to the silver screen, the film equipment and the glittering awards.
We especially love Thürmer’s involvement in the other aspects of the customer experience as well, not just the design of the actual space and exhibits. Too often this is all left to the last minute and not considered important. Yet the visitor interacts with people and with the entire experience, not just the walls and “props.”
Thürmer’s role as consultant and art director was extended to the communication design and operations of the museum. He created a visual identity and a graphic design concept, and consulted the museum on selecting and training the right team.
“The opening of the new museum is the start of a longer development process,” Thürmer says. “The coming year will be about professionalizing operations, visitor services and management. To me, this museum can be considered a success when it stimulates a new generation to identify with Shanghai Film. I will be satisfied when I see young people leaving the museum inspired, thinking: ‘The Shanghai film industry, that’s what I want to dedicate my future to.’”
We love this kind of thinking! -Tuija Seipell.
The era of romantic letter mail is all but over, yet all of us still need a letterbox, a mail box, a mail slot... a something where our daily hard- copy mail, and even an occasional long-distance post card from our globe-trotting friends, can be delivered.
But what if we don’t want just “something”? What if we want a stylish, cool, fun, “look-at-me!” mail box that matches our stylistic tastes? Try to find a mail box that is anything other than supremely ugly and you will come up with nothing.
The concept of Koo Koo was developed by Bill Playso who saw the glaring need for a stylish and cool letterbox. he invited industrial designerJustin Hutchinson to help bring the concept to life. the result of Koo Koo letterbox by Playso. Designed and manufactured in Melbourne, Australia
Koo Koo is a stylized bird-shaped letterbox that does not take itself too seriously, yet it has serious curb appeal. It is a conversation piece outdoors and in. Expect to see Koo Koo indoors as often as outdoors. Maybe for internal mail in the office? A suggestion box for your customers? And even the box in which Koo Koo is shipped and displayed is a designer creation in itself. Expect the shipping box to live a long life as well, as a storage box that does not have to hide.
Great design moves people, conveys feelings, evokes a reaction, triggers memories, delights, goes against convention, breaks new ground and surprises in a positive sense.
Zinc powder-coated metal body, compact laminate magnetic side panels.
Base model is $330 and $420 for the optional compact wood laminate side magnetic panels. They can be purchased from our brand new online store here. (free delivery)
We are on a quest for truly transformed urban spaces. We are looking for instances where a council, city, town, municipality has taken the initiative, come up with the funds and actually transformed a mediocre, unused, ugly space into an inviting and fun public environment.
The spectacular reincarnation of High Line in New York from an impossibility to a cool urban environment comes to mind. Or the transformation of an ugly view-blocking concrete barricade between skyscrapers and beach to a colourful seaside promenade at Paseo Marítimo de la Playa Poniente in Benidorm, Spain.
Or the 324 meter-long meandering bench (world’s longest, apparently) by Studio Weave on the seafront at Littlehampton in the UK. It is not just a bench, it is an experience and an environment.
Or Copenhagen’s Skuperkilen neighborhood, where in a decidedly urban and straight-forwardly artificial way the designers and planners at Topotek1, Bjarke Ingels Group and Superflex invaded the entire available space to create a delightful expression of the various cultures and backgrounds represented by the area’s residents. Superkilen received the Institute Honor Awards for Regional and Urban Design by the National AIA Awards 2013.
We need more councils that have the vision and passion to do these things. We need people to demand and rally for them, and we need visionary designers, architects, planners and artists to design and propose and speak for them. Let’s just do it!.
Should anyone need an excuse to travel to Naples, we can offer the perfect one: Go there to explore Metro Napoli’s Art Stations. (That’s subway or tube stations for the rest of us.) The Art Stations program has been going on for some time with artists, designers and architects, including, Alessandro Mendini, Anish Kapoor, Gae Aulenti Jannis Kounellis, Karim Rashid, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Sol LeWitt contributing.
What drew our attention is the 13th Art Station of the Naples Metro system, the Toledo Metro Station, that opened finally after many delays in September 2012, during the European Week of Sustainable Mobility. It was designed by the Spanish firm of architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca.
The station is on Via Toledo (Via Roma), one of the main shopping streets in Naples. A second entrance to the Toledo Station will open in February 2013 in the Spanish Quarter, Quartieri Spagnoli. Oscar Blanca also designed the public squares above the two metro entrances.
The Toledo station is one of the deepest in the line at 50 meters, and it is themed around water and light. The art of the station, curated by art critic and former Venice Biennale director, Achille Bonito Oliva, includes two mosaics by the South African artist, William Kentridge, as well as Light Panels Robert Wilson and works by Francesco Clemente, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Shirin Nehsat and Oliviero Toscani.
We especially love the deep, blue, sparkling crater that connects the ground level with the great lobby 38 meters below. No wonder that The Daily Telegraph included the Toledo Station on its Europe’s Most Impressive Underground Railway Stations list. - Tuija Seipell
See also: Metro Station Drassanes, Barcelona
The Cool Hunter Pop-up boutique series starts this month in Melbourne, Australia continues in Sydney in December, and in 2013 we will be setting up temporary boutiques in New York and London.
THE COOL HOUSE at Rokeby Studios, Melbourne - 29 Nov - 2 Dec
THE COOL HOUSE at Pacific Bondi Beach, Sydney - 7 Dec - 16 Dec
Introducing the irresistible mix: The exclusive Penthouse display suite at Pacific Bondi Beach in Sydney, the coolest and newest photography studio Rokeby in Melbourne, a group of select exclusive feature sponsors and the design-savvy audience of The Cool Hunter, combined with an unexpected, limited-time designer product shopping experience.
In Sydney: Catching the wave of the temporary boutique phenomenon, The Cool Hunter (TCH) will refit the Pacific Bondi Beach Penthouse Suite for an unprecedented and unforgettable 10-day (including 2 weekends) event where potential buyers can not only view the suite but buy any and all of the furnishings, accessories and artwork.
In Melbourne: Rockeby studios becomes the setting for a 4 day designer shopping experience featuring the latest in home and housewares, designer accessories and unique products for the discerning home.
For the guests, shopping at THE COOL HOUSE at Pacific Bondi Beach penthouse and at Rokeby Studios will be unlike any other shopping experience – a striking break from the mind-numbing sameness of stores and malls around the world.