Insider

Whisky chic: Penderyn Distillery, one of the smallest distilleries in the world, is located on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park on a spring of natural mineral water. As if that sentence didn’t make it sound attractive enough to warrant a visit

PENDERYN DISTILLERY HITS THE BOTTLE FOR INSPIRATION ASIA’S ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDA IS GOING PLACES CUTTING SOME RUG WITH TAI PING FIVE HIGH-RISE HOTELS TO CHECK INTO SOUNDING OUT NEW FURNITURE IDEAS IN RISØR TEN TOP TABLES FOR INTERIOR APPRECIATION FASHIONISTAS SHEIK THEIR BOOTY IN VILLA MODA’S ART GALLERYMORAG MYERSCOUGH’S DEPTFORD TRAIN OF THOUGHT UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE FOR HAWKINS/BROWNANDRÉE PUTMAN CHECKS BACK INTO MORGANS CARPET CAPERS IN CAMDEN AND A BEANBAG BIRTHDAY IN BELGIUM

Whisky chic
Penderyn Distillery, one of the smallest distilleries in the world, is located on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park on a spring of natural mineral water. As if that sentence didn’t make it sound attractive enough to warrant a visit anyway, it also now boasts a new visitor centre designed by David Archer Architects. The building’s facade has been clad in black-stained, whaney-edged, sawn-oak panels, from which visitors enter into a light, double-height white entrance lobby. It is the tasting room, however, lined in sawn timber with a hand-painted finish, where the space really comes to life. Barrels are stacked to act as space dividers, while a tasting bar in black slate with the same brass inlay dramatically replicates the motif on the Penderyn whisky bottle label.

Going green
In the development rush hour of the East, designers are leading the way and thinking of sustainable architectural solutions for new transport infrastructures

1. Shibuya Station extension, Tokyo, Japan

Environmentalist starchitect Tadao Ando’s station extension for Shibuya is inspired by that elusive vehicle that is the underground spaceship, or chichusen. Allowing fresh air and light to circulate via the atrium and a ventilation shaft, the glass-fibre, reinforced-concrete skin of the interior incorporates a water-cooling system. Although still in love with (environmentally evil) concrete, much of the station uses the material only as a facade for its customer furniture – and inside it is largely hollow.

2. MOMA Linked Hybrid, Beijing, China

It may have a dreadful name, but the Linked Hybrid complex is looking to be one of the finest and Greenest architectural projects in the world, and that in a city that now boasts the CCTV building and a host of other Olympic marvels. Designed by American architect Steven Holl, the 220 000m2 pedestrian-oriented Linked Hybrid complex is situated next to the old city wall of Beijing and aims to go against the grain of current Chinese urban developments by creating a porous building open to the public from every side. The 700 apartments will also boast geo-thermal wells – 660 at 100m deep – that provide Linked Hybrid with cooling in summer and heating in winter, and make it one of the largest Green residential projects in the world, aiming at LEED Gold rating.

3. Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport (Terminal 3), China

Positioned as a gateway to China and designed by Italian architects Massimiliano and Donna Fuksas, what is different about this transit hub of economic development is the incredible double-skin canopy intended to let patented natural light into the space and significantly reduce energy consumption, creating a pleasant and comfortable indoor atmosphere. With the first phase not due to be finished until 2015, the final completion date for the ambitious project will not be until 2035, an unheard of length of time for contemporary architecture to be in development, especially in China. Let’s hope we’re not all living in holograms by then, or teleporting instead of flying.

4. Dongtan Eco-city, china

Billed as the the world’s first eco-city, Dongtan will be sustainable not just environmentally, but also socially, economically and culturally. It aims to be carbon neutral, largely by producing its own energy from wind, solar, bio-fuel and recycled city waste. Clean technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells will power public transport. Dongtan will be a city of three villages, with homes for up to 10 000 people completed by 2010. It will be a vibrant city with green corridors of public space, ensuring a high quality of life for residents. The city is designed to attract employment across all social and economic demographics in the hope that people will choose to live and work there. All in all, Dongtan demonstrates to the world China’s growing willingness to work closely with the environment.

5. MTR network expansion, Hong Kong

Giant escalators and moving walkways come as par for the course in Hong Kong, a city renowned for the excellence of its transport infrastructure. But now the powers that be have decided to improve the system by adding, among other things, a terminus for the high-speed Beijing train service, which is anticipated to be in operation during 2012 and a loop line around Hong Kong Island. MTR is simply on a radical construction programme that will again change the face of Hong Kong and the way we explore it.

INSIGHT
Tai Ping, Hong Kong
By Henrietta Thompson

Handmade and bespoke, Tai Ping carpets are a seriously luxury proposition. Clients include yachtsmen and filmstars and Tai Ping carpets line some of the world’s most prestigious hotels, casinos and private homes.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the carpet-maker. To celebrate this fact the brand – which has been quietly revamping itself under new chief executive James Kaplan since 2003 – has been rolling out a network of showrooms around the world.

Since the first European flagship opened in Hamburg last spring, new spaces for Tai Ping has opened in London and Paris, in addition to its US showrooms in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and San Francisco. But the most recent new opening, in Hong Kong, is where things really start to get interesting for the manufacturer.

The company was founded in Hong Kong and the carpets are still made there. Furthermore, the brand is very much aligned to local Hong Kong culture, but until now the bulk of Tai Ping’s market has been in the West. Continuing local craftsmanship traditions and modernising them with the benefits of contemporary technologies, in the US and Europe Tai Ping is an exotic proposition – a Chinese luxury brand.

In China, however, the luxury market is only just emerging, and while Louis Vuitton, Swarovski and their like are making inroads, made-in-China still seems a little incongruous with the concept of high quality.

So why now? ‘Hong Kong has always been our home and up until now, we have only had small retail presence in Prince’s Building, one of Hong Kong’s premier high-end retail centres,’ says Simone Rothman, Tai Ping’s chief marketing officer, who is based in New York. ‘As in the US and Europe, we firmly believe and have proven through the success of our presence in Hong Kong that there is a need in the market in Hong Kong and Asia for a leader in custom luxury products.’

Tai Ping took the decision to celebrate its Chinese heritage during its rebranding process, a strategy that has served the company well as it now has outlets in 23 locations worldwide.

‘The luxury market continues to grow exponentially in Hong Kong and mainland China and we have already been servicing a mainland China project through Hong Kong,’ says Rothman. ‘With the opening of our first Tai Ping space in Shanghai, located on the Bund at Design Republic, we clearly believe that our vision will translate in the Chinese market.’

The showrooms themselves originate from the design of Tai Ping’s flagship in New York, designed by architect Matthew Baird. Each environment is adapted to the local markets, but Baird believes that the standard created in America works just as well in Hong Kong.

‘By eliminating the ubiquitous stacks and rolls of rugs and the stereotyped rug salesman, and replacing them with a gallery-like space, with well-designed, high-quality product and a high level of customer service, we have significantly raised the bar for showroom design in our industry,’ explains Rothman.

‘We believe that Hong Kong is the gateway to Asia. From Hong Kong, we will continue to develop new market opportunities throughout Asia. In Indonesia, we are opening a showroom this autumn with Trans-Living located in a high-end interiors furnishings retail centre in Jakarta.’

Tall Orders

While the West crunches its way through the financial downturn with budget boutique offerings, on the other side of the world business is booming. Sleeping under the stars takes on a new meaning in Asia, where several new hotels are high-reaching in the profile, stature and glamour stakes

1. Jumeirah’s han tang hotel, shanghai, china

Han Tang Hotel, Xintiandi, Shanghai is Dubai-based Jumeirah’s first hotel in China. Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, is has 309 guestrooms, suites and villas, but is a little more than a hotel. The new building also houses offices, residential complexes and retail space. The ‘most expected hotel’, according to World Traveler magazine, features interiors by Super Potato Tokyo, a Talise wellness spa and – as is now standard for any good hospitality behemoth in the East – a Chocolate Boutique.

2. shangri-La Hotel, Beijing, China

The Shangri-la Hotel, located within the new 330m-high Mega Tower at the China World Trade Centre development in Beijing, is another hospitality offering with exceptionally high standards. The design of the speciality restaurant, signature bar and lounge on levels 71-73 has been undertaken by New York-based multidisciplinary consultancy Tihany Design, famous for its celebrated design of the luxury five-star-plus hotel Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. The date of opening is yet to be confirmed.

3. Park Hyatt, Shanghai, china

Head and shoulders above all the competition is the Park Hyatt in Shanghai, which opened this summer. The 174 rooms of hotel heaven make up the world’s tallest hotel, spanning the 79th to 93rd floors of the Shanghai World Financial Centre. Created by Kohn Pedersen Fox, with interiors by New York-based Tony Chi and his team, the vision was to create a sophisticated, modern Chinese residence, paying respect to traditional Chinese geometry and architecture, while hopefully providing all the comforts of a stately home. Guests travel through a sequence of ‘gates, halls and chambers’ culminating in a courtyard, where daily life congregates or, more commonly, check in. The building is topped off with Shanghai, a 91st floor restaurant.

4. Westin HOtel, seoul, Korea

The basement level of the Westin Hotel, Chousun, Seoul, Korea, by Tihany Design, is now open, with the rest to follow next year. New public spaces in this 92-year-old historic landmark include a bar/lounge, three restaurants, executive lounge, grand ballroom, first-floor and basement lobbies, deli and flower shop. Completion date is yet to be confirmed.

5. W hotel, hong kong

W Hotels worldwide brings its signature whatever/whenever service philosophy, whimsical design and distinctive amenities to the city of Hong Kong with the debut of its first W hotel in China, W Hong Kong in West Kowloon. Creating a nature-inspired oasis within a nature-light city, W Hong Kong boasts 393 luxurious guest rooms with unobstructed views of the legendary Hong Kong skyline. It also boasts a state-of-the-art gym including the city’s highest swimming pool – a nerve-inducing 210m above street level. Guests can then calm their vertigo in the Hong Kong Bliss spa. Rooms feature designs by Australian consultancy G+A [Nicholas Graham and Associates] and renowned Japanese group Glamorous on alternate floors, making it tempting to change rooms at least once. Having now put the ‘chi’ into chic, W Hotels intends to expand throughout Asia with planned openings in Bangkok, Guangzhou, Macau, Shanghai and Yokohama.

INSIGHT
Beyond Risor, Risor, Norway
By Thomas AAstad

Matchmaking was at the top of the agenda at Beyond Risør, an annual design conference in western Norway, where the organisers had coupled up talented designers with leading manufacturers in an attempt to materialise creative ideas by injecting much-needed cash and industrial expertise.

‘Something happens when designers and manufacturers meet,’ says Johan Verde, one of Norway’s most successful industrial designers and creative director for Beyond Risør. ‘They exchange knowledge that generates networks; and the ideas they come up with can be the starting point for new plans and products.’

With this in mind, eight design groups (including established names alongside new talents) were teamed with four leading manufacturers as part of an acoustic-themed pilot project, Visual Noise. The teams were asked to produce pieces of furniture that would reduce noise levels in offices and other public areas, but still look stylish and illustrate the diversity of wood as a main component.

The results represent a new category for furniture that will be of particular interest to the contract sector, where acoustic damping solutions have generally been confined to wall-panelling and ceiling tiles. A number of designs now bound for production will be featured at the fifth annual design exhibition 100% Norway in London from 18-21 September.

Young furniture designers of the moment Tveit & Tornøe joined forces with wooden flooring giant Boen and textile artists Anne Bårdsgård and Merete Christensen to create floor tiles that reduce the ‘sound of steps’ – an absolute boon for anyone seeking to reconcile the conflicting demands of a penchant for parquet and neighbours downstairs. Furniture design duo Stokke Austad teamed up with architect MMW to produce dynamic and retro-looking new room dividers, with the help of manufacturer Bosvik, that wouldn’t look out of place in the swankiest private members’ club.

Norway Says combined with ongoing collaborator, furniture manufacturer LK Hjelle, and former intern Hallgeir Homstvedt to produce a sofa that separates a room both physically and acoustically with its oversized back rests, which can be folded down or zipped for varying degrees of privacy and quiet. And finally, designers Permafrost and Katharina Styren teamed up to develop an innovative and optically challenging shelving unit for manufacturer Stay Hov.

100% Norway takes place in London at 100% Design, Earls Court (Stand G30), and Designers Block, Covent Garden (ground floor) ten New Bars and restaurants

TEN NEW BARS AND RESTUARANTS

1. Maedaya Grill, Melbourne, Australia

Aussie practice Architects Eat has created an extraordinary interior for this new bar, inspired by traditional sake bottles that are secured by ropes. That means that the principal materials used for the main space are timber and concrete and – yes – Manila ropes, whereas an upstairs function room is a simple and stark Minimalist space with white-washed walls, Japanese black-stained timber flooring, simple timber benches and raw stainless steel canopies. The specialty here is Japanese sake – of which Maedaya stocks more than 60 types – and charcoal grills.

2. Sevva, Hong Kong

With a wraparound terrace and situated on the penthouse floor of the centrally located Princes Building, Asian style icon Bonnie Gokson – sister of Joyce Ma of designer boutique fame – recently introduced Sevva to the Hong Kong dining scene. Architectural designs were created by Tsao & Mckown Architects of New York together with local architect Team HC, while all interiors and tabletop accessories were sourced and created by Gokson herself. The result is a soulful, timeless, classic design with a twist. Introducing some of the best artworks of contemporary artist Candida Hofer, Gokson’s vision is to create a lifestyle concept for the restaurant introducing elements such as home accessories, food products, books and music. You can imagine how this place might become popular.

3. The Kingly Club, covent garden, London, UK

In London’s Covent Garden, the second Kingly Club from Dezzi McCausland has opened in a three-storey, glass-fronted venue on St Martin’s Lane. It’s all about cake and cocktails this time round. In the Black Room, the club apparently features the largest LCD screens of any bar in Europe, while a Japanese dining area downstairs is lined with giant aquariums. The adorable little yellow fish form a dynamic and – some might feel – slightly disturbing backdrop to the sushi and sashimi served up by the ex-Cocoon chef.

4. Omido, New York, US

Is it possible to eat well in New York’s Times Square? It is now that Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Café and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co have been joined by new sushi restaurant Omido. The sushi is getting rave reviews, but so too is the interior, by AvroKo. A world away from the neon and bustle outside, Omido is an oasis of timber panelling, accented by a dark, solid-wood sushi bar and rice-paper pendant lights.

5. Lotus restaurant, Hotel of Modern Art, Guilin, China

Lotus is another madcap addition to the myriad options already available in the global playground of the super-rich. The Hotel of Modern Art is part of the Yuzi Leyuan (Fools’ Playground), so called after everyone told the founder that he was an idiot to even think about opening an art project-cum-sculpture park in the middle of nowhere. The founder, Taiwanese entrepreneur Tsao Rhy-Chang, also has another major asset: an art-filled cemetery in Taipei. The park exhibits more than 200 sculptures by 140 artists representing 47 nationalities and the view from the Lotus restaurant is – some feel slightly irritatingly – of a 3m-high pair of concrete trainers in front of a stunning mountain panorama.

6. Toast, San Francisco, US

The latest restaurant from Stanley Saitowitz, who recently notched up his column inches with the award-winning Conduit, is a homage to everyone’s favourite food. The design tries to evoke, rather literally, the different textures and colours of a piece of toast over the walls and ceiling. The palette, as you’d expect, is beige and birch wood with warm yellow lighting.

7. Tokyo Curry Lab, Tokyo, Japan

Following the current trend for cooking laboratories and living kitchens comes the Tokyo Curry Lab. Created by Kundo Koyama, the restaurant is intended as an experimental arena for all things curry. Test tubes filled with spices decorate the interior while the curvaceous dining counter and retro-futuristic moulded orange ceiling reinforce the sense of experimentation. Slightly kitsch, yes, but it’s in Tokyo, so that’s merely contextual.

8. The Rum Diaries, Bondi, Australia

A low-lit haven of polished tables (which were once doors), wood- block menus and an array of tapas, The Rum Diaries serves lovingly cooked meats, masalas and ‘naked’ wedges – all this make up a fresh new dine/drink experience in Bondi. Designed by Emmy Award-winning designer Mark Bowey, and fronted by leading figures from Sydney’s mixology and nightlife scene, The Rum Diaries includes three rooms to dine in, each with a different feel. The front room is panelled with burnished dark wood and features the cocktail bar; the second room, a candle-lit affair, allows a good view into the kitchen where you can see the chefs doing their thing; and the Oscar Acosta room is a funky, comfortable area for kicking back among exposed brickwork, a white Queen Anne fireplace and an old, wall-length bookcase hiding secret doors.

9. Delicatessen, New York, US

Delicatessen, designed by ANYK, is a new bi-level restaurant with a low-key neighbourhood vibe. The aim is to bring the perennially popular concept that is international comfort food to Nolita. Fronted with a facade of stainless steel and glass garage doors that retract into the ceiling when open, the restaurant also features a sunken glass-roofed lounge featuring a vast mural by graffiti artist Juan Jose Heredia. Terry Richardson shot the menu covers and Charlotte Ronson designed the uniforms.

10. AHA at Hotel de la Paix, Cambodia

The excessively chic Cambodian Hotel de la Paix, a short high-heeled walk from Angkor Wat, has enhanced its reputation of fusing style, design and ambience as AHA (meaning ‘food’ in Khmer) and quietly become the gourmet’s best-kept secret. By working with local Khmer French design team Asma, the hotel has created a free-flowing space that features a 30m wooden wave wall and a ‘floating’ show kitchen.

Villa Moda
From the opening of Sheik Majed Al-Sabah’s first Villa Moda boutique department store in Kuwait in 2002 it has been a few short steps to the flowering of a promising new cultural infrastructure for the region. Now with a third store just opened in the city, a new art gallery in Dubai, a new Villa Moda store in Dubai Festival City, and 14 stores at The Gate at Dubai International Financial Centre, the speed at which the much-championed ‘Sheikh of Chic’ is bringing fashion, art and design to an area that has long been a cultural desert is phenomenal. In the new DIFC customers will be able to buy Tom Ford-designed dishdashas – a real first for an area that, while steeped in luxury, did not until very recently have a stake in the superbrands on this level. The store itself, based on the original ‘glass box’ Villa Moda in Kuwait, is all light, transparency and movement, with spaces divided into ‘glass aquariums’. Curated and art directed by the Villa Moda creative team, the development is a first for Villa Moda. ‘Combining retail, art and fine dining, our vision is to create a unique environment where consumers can enjoy a new concept in retail therapy,’ says Sheikh Majed. Art has always been a significant component of the DIFC’s strategy, and an essential element of the project will be its contemporary art gallery, which will host frequent exhibitions and – if all goes to plan – bring the world’s leading artists and contemporary designers to Dubai. The art gallery and the general art direction of the project is down to PFC Architects, the studio of Italian architect Pierfrancesco Cravel.

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