Friday, October 29, 2010

A dream of a salon...

Imagine a dreamscape where architects are given space and means to create a hair salon such as this.

The work is a gift from Osaka based architects Atelier KUU. To see what more can come from not only salons but dentist offices and dog groomers, check here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Doors of (a New) Perception

Doors are more than a transition; They've become an accessory in themselves. Below, the Outline from Lualdi. Note how the door is not flush within the frame but extends beyond the plane of the wall and into the room.

The Drive from Lualdi below, a sliding door system utilizing a telescopic track installed directly on the wall. Rather than disappearing into the wall when opened, the door remains a visual feature of the room.

The Rasomuro Collection disappears, continuing the plane of the wall.

In this interpretation, the line of the door undulates.

Above, from the Zen Collection of GD Dorigo includes laser etched graphics.

Other variations of texture, color, and style:

Again from Lualdi, the Swing Collection, using glass to create transparency, luminosity, and depth.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Mother of All Gardens

Below, two public gardens with grandiose ambitions: Real Mothers, both.
First, Alnwick Garden of Alnwick Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Northumberland. Ten years ago the gardens had been left in a state of neglect. Following the death of her husband, the Duchess of Northumberland, Jane Percy, took up the cause to build a public garden to cover the 12 acres within its walls. To create a garden with funds worthy of the castle's grandeur she established the Alnwick Garden Trust. The objective was to raise the estimated budgetary requirements of £70 million ($140 million U.S.). Presently, the project stands at two-thirds completion and the Duchess continues to pursue funding for the remainder from both public and private donors.

The grounds are being re-imagined by Belgian garden designers Jacques and Peter Wirtz, by some accounts the modern counterpart to the designer of the gardens Versailles. Their style nods toward the classic with its use of pergolas, yew topiary, boxwood, and imposing hedges but also includes many more avante details as well. It's the most ambitious public garden created in Europe since World War II.

Other features include this cascading serpentine hillside fountain, a rose garden of 1000 flowers, a "poison" garden with 100 varieties of toxic plants, a $7 million tree house, many suspended walkways, and a bamboo maze.

British sculptor William Pye was commissioned to create 8 stainless steel water sculptures for the project.

The castle of Alnwick is a celebrity in its own right: It served as a stand in for Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter movies.

If Alnwick represents the Mother of All Gardens for the modern era, then Chicago's Lurie Garden in Millenium Park may be the Mother of All Urban Meadows.

The overall landscape architecture was designed by Seattle based firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol
, Piet Oudolf, and Robert Israel. The garden was to serve as an homage both to the land's prarie past and the city's motto, Urbs in Horto, meaning “city in a garden.”

Millenium Park also features some impressive architecture as well: Above, Frank Gehry; Below, Renzo Piano.

As any garden designer knows, nature is the final arbiter. Designs on paper are experimental as all is subject to Her whims. Same here: Certain aspects of plant designer Piet Oudolf’s plan required altering to accommodate initial overzealous tree-planting. Recently, staff has done much work to remove a number of aggressive trees.

A river of Salvia purples.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Implantations of Patrick Nadeau

You could say Paris-based architect Patrick Nadeau infuses his designs with vitality and mean it literally. His inventive use of plant material serves as an integral part of his structural and visual vocabulary.

The material in this case is Spanish moss, often seen suspended from larger trees in the southern and tropical U.S. Otherwise known as
Tillandsia usneoides, it's an epiphytic bromeliad or "air plant." This opportunistic plant has the ability to absorb it's moisture and nutritional needs from the moist air. One of the few living things that may actually enjoy the humidity.

Outdoors, Spanish moss often provides shelter for bats, jumping spiders and all manner of unpleasant critters.
Indoors, Nadeau is able to create a softening canopy that responds graphically well with light, natural and otherwise. With this, Nadeau effectively expands the interior designer's palette.

For more on the above, check Boffi Solferino here.

Nadreau also experiments other varieties of non-soil dwelling plants and other containers as well. His bold mixture of strict modern lines in his architecture and furnishings and the various flora at his disposal all merge into a kind of joyful and controlled entropy.

Above, an undulating wall unit/bookshelf.

A wall garden of his design for the offices of Louis Vuitton.

A rendered view of a proposed terrace for Louis Vuitton's offices.

In another residential interior vision, plants peer out from table tops, from a terra cotta totem, and a suspended wall screen of pots. Bits of life stand against the sterility of a white field.

In this design under construction in Sillery, France, a living roof and walls act as insulation from both the elements and sound in this hill-shaped "Wave" House.
Plants have been selected for aesthetics and their natural resistance and low maintenance qualities. (This roof salad consists of a mix of grasses, leafy succulent, thymes, lavenders, and other small perennial plants.) Also included is mist irrigation and a water recuperation system.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Going Round Again

On a (most likely) cold Russian night in 1915, Ukraine-born artist Kasimir Malevich would have his perceptions forever marked with a revelation:
I felt only night within me and it was then that I conceived the new art, which I called Suprematism.
Suprematism would become an art movement focused primarily on the square and circle. Visually, Malevich's revelation would become something like this:

Kasimir Malevich, Black Circle (ca. 1920s)

Not exactly a Road to Damascus moment, still, it was a revelation that'd indelibly mark the history of art to follow. Ninety-five years forward and the inspiration of Suprematism continues; this time name-dropped as an influence by the German couturier Wunderkind:

It looks as if the circle is coming 'round again.

A constellation of orbiting pavers above, and a labyrinth of barrel cactus below.

A wedding bouquet:

Wherever it may be, the circle/sphere will always find itself acting as a satellite in a rectilinear universe. Its gift to any setting is its ambient tension.

It's shape is both a footprint and a radiation: An homage to its symbol of strength and eternity as well as the ever-present goddess Luna.

It can be the comforting image of the egg or the royal lineage of a formal garden.

Friday, October 1, 2010

An Ottoman Empire

Poufs: Footstools, if you didn't know (I didn't). Those below are the creation of Dutch artist/designer/writer Christien Meindertsma.

Also known as the "Urchin Pouf":

Each piece is knitted by hand using natural wool and giant-sized needles. Presumably, the sheep are of the usual dimension.

She also creates rugs using similarly olympic-scaled cables.

The "Aran Rug":

Christien Meindertsma also has a new book. It's called "Pig 05049" and it may just change the way you look at manufactured everything. Juicy tidbits: Did you know that beer is often filtered (to remove cloudiness, a natural occurrence in the processing) with a gelatinous material made from rendered pig fat? Or bread dough is conditioned with a product rendered from porcine hair? The ubiquitous pig also shows up in soap, shampoo, and toothpaste as well as bullets and cement. (Bullets? As if they weren't un-kosher enough.)

See her TED talk on the book here. (Well worth the investment of 8:54 minutes of your time.)