From a concrete creation in Chile to a cosy studio in New York, we highlight eye-catching architecture.
When designer Sjoerd Vroonland received a call from Casper Vissers – the co-creator of Dutch design giant Moooi – to join him and his wife Suzy for dinner, he had a suspicion that they were hatching a plan. He was right. The couple spent the evening laying out pages and pages of ideas for a new furniture range gathered over decades of travelling together – everything from photos of a bed in an old Amalfi coast hotel to inspirations from Japan. Could he help them realise their vision?
Nearly four years later, and after a long search for the right suppliers, Breda-based Revised has been revealed to the public. It offers sofas in burgundy and aquamarine, marble side tables and walnut wardrobes from a new showroom in its home city. The origins of the brand also mean it is an intensely personal project and “not entirely Dutch”, says Vroonland, who has been designing furniture since 2010. Everything is first drawn by hand and eventually locally machine-manufactured. “There are no straight lines in this collection,” adds Vroonland. “Every design is curved and shaped to make people want to touch it.”
These are the products of three perfectionists and it shows. Suzy, an interior designer, points to touches such as Italian-woven fabrics used for the upholstery and nuts and bolts powder-coated in sand or rust colours. “There’s really a detail thing going with us,” she says with a laugh. The business of design has always been a huge part of her and Casper’s life so when he stepped down from Moooi in 2015 after 14 years, starting their own brand “was a natural evolution”.
After taking their time to build the company up, their plan is to keep going at a careful pace. They have plenty of designs in the pipeline and certanly aren’t in any rush to meet the industry-wide frenzy to annually produce a new collection for Milan Design Week. “I think everybody should do it like this,” says Vroonland. “All the brands are going too fast in my opinion.”
The new year is only just upon us but the building that may well define the design dialogue for 2019 is basically complete. In spring the wheels of the 4,000-tonne shell that encloses New York’s new (and massive) cultural building The Shed will whir into motion and an architectural spectacular like none before it will open, quite literally, to the public. The telescoping steel-and-polymer outer shell, which rolls out to form a huge concert arena and events space over the building’s forecourt, is just one of many design triumphs for a project described by its architects as “an elastic space for a future unknown”.
For a scheme more than 10 years in the making this is a brave manifesto, pioneering in its willingness to look at the future as a notion that no architect (no matter how smart) has the gift to predict. The Shed achieves its purpose – as a venue for cutting-edge theatre and visual-arts exhibitions – by designing around the infinite possibilities these disciplines may conjure up in the decades ahead. New York-based Diller Scofidio & Renfro, in collaboration with the Rockwell Group, has created one of the most adaptable and functional major public buildings of the century. Walls retract, allowing for ambitious set designs for performances, façades double up as projection screens and the electronics embedded in the building for exhibitions and concerts (and future concepts that might blend the two) is easy to adapt as technology evolves.
Blockbuster buildings have taken a backseat in recent years, as works with sustainability and social value point to a smarter future for the industry. But The Shed’s ambition as a leader in design innovation, as well as the poetry of practicality that defines its form, could make it the project that ushers in a new dawn for statement architecture.
Designer Anna Karlin had been hunting for a new studio without any luck. Sky-high rental prices in Manhattan weren’t helping but a member of her team convinced her to take a look at a place opposite a regular lunch haunt in Chinatown, just around the corner from her original space. She fell in love with the building straight away and the rest is history. Well, not quite.
“It was a burnt-out print shop; there was fire damage,” the 33-year-old British expat says of the space her firm moved into last year. “We had to do new electrics, new plumbing, new ceilings, new floors – everything.” To make it feel less like an office for her six staff, desks designed like kitchen tables face a cooking area stocked with a healthy supply of booze bottles – testament to the frequent dinner parties thrown here.
The L-shaped ground floor features the aforementioned studio space tucked out of view from a long, thin shopfront that functions as a showroom. Downstairs there is a workshop. In between the exposed-brick walls are pieces from Karlin’s collection, which she describes as “useable sculpture”. The objects are diverse, spanning glassware, lighting and furniture. “It’s that tension between the natural and the man-made; the familiar and the unfamiliar,” she says of the amorphic style of her work. “We’re really basic as humans and what we respond to is actually very elemental; we like to think we’re way more complicated than we are. So something like the Lava Light? That’s real lava rock that gets scanned and then the same happens to the metalwork – and then they’re carved to perfectly interact.”
The same idea is at play with Glyph, the standout piece from the designer’s portfolio. It features sculptured lighting hanging from pegs above a hand-carved bench. The lights are highly original – but the pegs and the Shaker influences of the bench create something Karlin likes to call “domestic and familiar”.
- Dimple lamp
Playing on the idea of fusing two worlds – also seen in the Lava Light – here round marble nestles in the “dimple” of the glass.
- Seed pod lamp
A huge standing light with a long, slender neck, finished in glass and steel.
- Curved chaise
Curved steel creates the ideal recline, sitting on a single large sphere. As for back support? A series of cotton-and-linen-blend bolsters.
Perched on a clifftop north of Santiago, Elemental’s Casa OchoQuebradas (Eight Ravines) overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The project forms part of Eduardo Godoy’s ambitious Ochoalcubo private development, which showcases the work of eight Japanese and eight Chilean architects across eight coastal houses. Alejandro Aravena, a Pritzker prize-winner and director of Elemental, wanted to explore the rugged surroundings through a hilltop structure comprising three volumes: one horizontal, one vertical and one hollow. Stacked against one another and lined with wooden panels and floor-to-ceiling glass walls, the concrete blocks exude a certain primitivism while subtly maintaining an air of luxury.
Pentagram, known for graphic design and branding, is expanding its remit with the addition of sound artist and designer Yuri Suzuki as a partner in its London office. Suzuki is no stranger to the world of branding: he’s taken his musical approach to helping previous clients such as Panasonic and Disney.
Why does an agency that has a focus on graphic design need a sound designer?
These days communication is really diverse – it’s not only visual. The meaning of “communication design” spans into augmented reality, technology and sound.
What is it about sound that can connect a customer with a brand?
My projects are about people experiencing a brand through an installation. And while a visual experience takes some time to understand, using sound is more immediate. It’s more direct.
How can architects improve their buildings through sound?
White noise of a lower frequency can be used to make a public space more relaxing.