Wednesday. 9/2/2022

The Monocle Minute
On Design

Opinion / Nic Monisse


It can feel as though receiving an education at a place that’s steeped in history gives students an advantage – as if one can learn by osmosis from those who came before them. That’s something that appears to have rung true for students lucky enough to study at one of the original two campuses of Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture at Taliesin, before it split from his namesake foundation and moved to a new location in 2020.

The Taliesin estate in Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Arizona offered an education that combined architectural theory with actual construction. In the early days, this involved students helping Wright to build the school (and, perhaps rather cheekily, the architect’s home). But it soon evolved and students at Taliesin West built their own on-campus abodes, allowing them to test ideas and live with the consequences.

The result? A campus where new pupils could study among other students’ built work, giving young designers a chance to examine and understand the work of others – and even contribute to that legacy.

It’s a legacy that the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation now wants to restore. Last week, it announced the launch of the Taliesin Institute, a new design school that will offer new classes at both sites and continue Wright’s ethos of “learning by doing” – and, hopefully, learning by osmosis. Judging by the calibre of previous graduates, such as John Lautner and Victor Sidy, this can only be a good thing.

The Project / Norwegian University of Life Sciences

Animal instincts

From opera houses to museums and schools, Danish architecture firm Henning Larsen is well-versed in designing ambitious buildings for a variety of uses. And while each structure presents its own specific set of demands, they don’t get much stranger than the need to create hallways big enough to accommodate dead moose.

This was the case when the practice was commissioned to create a new veterinary building for the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, which needed to host investigation and operating theatres for live and deceased animals of all sizes. “The ceilings on the ground floor are 7 metres high, because that’s the length of a dead moose hanging from a crane,” says Karoline Igland, head of department at Henning Larsen’s Oslo office.

Image: Einar Aslaksen
Image: Einar Aslaksen
Image: Einar Aslaksen

Featuring a façade made from 300,000 hand-cut bricks, the building is one of the most advanced veterinary-science schools in Europe, hosting the aforementioned operating theatres as well as laboratories, classrooms, aquariums, hydrotherapy pools and riding halls. But, despite the sheer number of functions (and the height of the ground-floor ceilings), the structure doesn’t feel overwhelming or institutional. Loosely separated into eight wings that top out at four storeys each, the resulting spaces feel small in scale, creating an intimate and inviting environment in which to learn.

Design News / Finnish Design Shop, Finland

Northern star

When the Finnish Design Shop, the world’s largest online retailer of Finnish and Nordic design, set out to open a new logistics centre, it was important for the building to reflect the company’s appreciation of quality design and craft. The new centre, located in the city of Turku, features a dark-concrete façade designed by Avanto Architects, large windows that open up to the surrounding coniferous forest and wooden elements made of fine sawn Finnish spruce. The interiors are by Finnish studio Joanna Laajisto and feature well-known Helsinki brands such as Artek, Iittala and Nikari.

Image: Finnish Design Shop
Image: Finnish Design Shop

Aside from hosting the shop’s headquarters, the building is also home to a showroom displaying a few items from its catalogue and a restaurant run by celebrated chef Sami Tallberg. Such an ambitious development for the company shouldn’t be surprising: the new centre will help it meet the growing demand for Finnish design around the world. “We have enjoyed 40 per cent year-on-year growth and sell to over 180 countries,” says CEO Teemu Kiiski.

And despite its online roots, Kiiski says that the company still sees bricks and mortar as crucial to its offering. “We believe that a physical presence is important, even if you’re online,” he says. “It offers a window into our world and gives us a chance to host our customers.”

Words with... / Emil Dervish, Ukraine

Raising profile

Kyiv-based architect Emil Dervish is known for his renovation and restoration work in the Ukrainian capital, breathing new life into its Soviet-era structures. But with political tensions rising in the city, things are set to become more challenging. To find out how he and other designers are adapting to this changing climate, Monocle visited Dervish at his studio in Kyiv for Monocle On Design.

From an architect’s perspective, what makes Kyiv interesting?
We have many old buildings and structures but their condition is not good. There are a lot of poor-quality new structures being built and the government doesn’t see this as a problem, but the people who live in Kyiv do. I think it is probably part of the evolution of the city but despite this, we are now seeing some new buildings that are starting to work with the city, respecting the old architecture. There are new developers here who are thinking differently to how people were five or 10 years ago; they’re studying and working with European architects, which is a nice experience for Kyiv. So, while there is a problem, I believe that we know how to fix it.

You mentioned that architects and people in Kyiv have a respect for the old buildings here. One of your own projects, Reytarska Circle, sensitively restores one such building. Can you tell us about it?
It’s a new gastro-concept space on Reitarska Street and was a Soviet building from the 1980s. It was destroyed by an ugly renovation in the 2000s; it’s a round building that they broke up with lots of walls and partitions. I decided to open it up, so that we could see the round structure again.

The process of designing and building can be lengthy. Do you ever think about the political situation in your long-term project planning?
I don’t think about the political situation every day because it takes a lot of energy and time. But I know what’s going on in our country. The situation with Russia and our borders is not good for business but we need to produce good work and we shouldn’t stop. There’s a temptation for people who live in Ukraine to leave but we need to stay here and protect our lives and our projects. It’s important to be here. It’s not very comfortable but we must.

For more from Dervish, tune in to tomorrow’s episode of ‘Monocle On Design Extra’.

From the archive / Kundo 2000S flip clock, Germany

Waking dream

It’s generally agreed that you shouldn’t sleep with your smartphone in your bedroom – but that’s hard to avoid if your device doubles as your alarm clock. If you don’t want to wake up to a screen, however, it’s worth remembering that there are some stylish analogue options out there, such as this cubist Kundo 2000S flip clock, manufactured in Germany in the early 1970s.

Illustration: Anje Jager

Unlike with a typical flip clock, the digits that show the time and set the alarm don’t sit on flaps that drop as time passes. Instead, they slowly rotate around a concealed internal cog. The mechanics might seem a tad complicated but the technology has passed the test of time: after half a century, the originals that pop up for sale are almost always ticking along in perfect, punctual condition.

In The Picture / ‘Louis Vuitton Manufactures’

Masters of craft

Curious to see where one of the world’s leading fashion houses makes its wares? Then pick up this new book by Paris-founded publisher Assouline. This elegant, large-format hardback, finished with a silk cover, takes readers into remarkable locations where some of the maison’s shoes, accessories, watches and fragrances are made – including a jewellery-making studio on the Place Vendôme and a leather workshop on a Texas ranch.

Image: Michael Bodiam
Image: Michael Bodiam
Image: Michael Bodiam

Featuring photographs commissioned exclusively for the publication and an introduction by author, historian and fashion journalist Nicholas Foulkes, it’s a 400-page celebration of savoir-faire and careful craftsmanship, offering a rare glimpse into the backbone of a luxury fashion house. Published in French and English, it is now available in bookshops across Europe, and in Korea and Japan from April 2022.;

Around The House / Util KGT Storage Box, Portugal

More in store

Portuguese furniture-maker Util has come up with a clever idea for home storage, with a design that is decidedly compact. Created by Camille Paillard and Romain Voulet of French studio CP-RV, this versatile storage box can function as a breakfast tray, fruit bowl, desk organiser or simple container for children’s toys. Fashioned out of aluminium and available in five colours, from a neutral ivory to a vibrant marine blue, it is easily stackable and portable, and can even be attached to the wall to create impromptu shelving.

The duo were after a very practical solution and drew inspiration from their own residence within Marseille’s modernist Unité d’Habitation housing complex, which was designed by Le Corbusier. “Each apartment is conceived with a great deal of storage that is well integrated within the architecture and very useful,” says Paillard. The KGT Storage Box gives people outside Unité d’Habitation that opportunity too.;


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