Earth, Wind and Fur

From the hottest new collaborations to up-and coming events, designers and business deals, here is a round-up of essential water-cooler fodder to gossip over

From the hottest new collaborations to up-and-coming events, designers and business deals, here is a round-up of essential water-cooler fodder to gossip over


Wind power
It must be one of the most unusual collaborations of the year. For Paris Fashion Week in October, Issey Miyake’s catwalk show is to be designed by none other than inventor of the Cyclone –‘don’t dare to call it a Hoover’ – vacuum cleaner, James Dyson. We can only imagine how this one might have come about, but we surely would have loved to be a fly on the wall to that introduction.

Anyway, regardless of how it happened, according to the Japanese press release, the team has gone through a large amount of research to most effectively reflect the theme of ‘The Wind’. Roughly translated, it says:
‘The garments – combined with unexpected technology, such as ventilation – will represent a positive and active aspect of the wind and let the air circulate through a wearer’s body.

To reflect the collection’s philosophy, Dyson has been appointed as their collaborator, and he will be in charge of creating a stage set and device that sends out wind on to the catwalk. Like Miyake himself, Dyson strongly believes in a co-existence of design engineering and aesthetic beauty in products, and his contribution to the collection will certainly present fresh possibilities in fashion design.’

Pro-fur lobby
The much-anticipated 6 Columbus hotel in New York is mining the nostalgia for 1960s Modernism with a fake-fur entrance hall, futurama leather chairs and retro prints by fashion photographer Guy Bourdin. Designed by Steven Sclaroff, former director of Manhattan’s Aero Studios, all 88 rooms are lined with teak, have Eames bedside lamps, iPod docking stations and backlit circular mirrors in the navy-tiled bathrooms.

Crystal palace
Gareth Pugh, sponsored by Swarovski, designed the Moët Room at the BFC tent at the Natural History Museum, which opened during London Fashion Week. Other interiors of note for the occasion include the opera house at Holland Park, which became – in the words of WGSN – ‘a gold-themed 18th-century-style pleasure garden’, complete with ‘an LED-embedded gold balloon release’ designed by Usman Haque.

All change
In a bid to outrun the constantly changing nature of New York’s high streets, Canadian brothers Ben and Hall Smyth have created an innovative new concept called GrandOpening. The space in Norfolk Street, New York, will constantly reopen every three months, completely overhauled each time into a new business. The 37m2 space began in March as a ping-pong parlour equipped with full-sized table (and recording facilities so you can watch your performances on YouTube) – and the business was named Pong. The next incarnation will be as a drive-in movie theatre (which is, says our reporter, an ‘insane and incredible’ idea for the Lower East Side).

Effectual greenhouse
As of spring 2008, guests at the new Greenhouse 26 will be wrapping themselves in a certified organic towel, bedding down on certified organic mattresses and breathing in the results of a geothermal heating and cooling system. Or, if they are feeling dangerous, they might choose to sip an organic cocktail from the environmentally friendly roof garden. Greenhouse 26 claims to be New York’s first green boutique hotel. From developers Jack Ancona and Flatiron Real Estate Advisors, designed by Arpad Baksa, this 19-story facility will also use thermal breaks on room terraces as insulation from hot and cold air. Occupancy sensors will tell staff when rooms are empty for cleaning, and even the soaps and robes are to be certified organic.

Brazilian knack
The Fasano Hotel has finally opened in Rio de Janeiro after much anticipation. The hotel is a sister establishment to the classy SP Hotel and Restaurant and is similarly positioned to capture the design, art and media crowds in Rio de Janeiro. Situated on the spectacular Ipanema beach, it has 91 rooms as well as a restaurant.

Westside store
For over a year SCP has been seeking out an ideal location for its second London shop and the furniture manufacturer/boutique is now delighted to announce the opening of SCP Westbourne Grove, W2. Located 75m to the east of the junction of Chepstow Road, the new 200m2 shop has been designed by architect Munkenbeck Marshall. The minimal design works with natural materials, simplicity and light.

Art nouveaux
Sanaa’s New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York will open its new building on the Bowery to the public on 1 December, with 30 hours of continuous free admission. Founded in 1977, the New Museum is now one of the leading contemporary art institutions in the city, and since its inception it has changed exhibition spaces numerous times, getting bigger and more prolific with eachm incarnation. In its current location, on Broadway between Houston and Prince Streets, the museum’s gallery spaces do not allow large-scale works to be presented, and its presence behind an historic facade does not give it its own distinctive identity in the city. Its new home will double its size to 5575m2.

Rock and roll is dead
Lenny Kravitz is designing a bar for the Delano Hotel in Miami, and it is due to open in time for Art Basel in December. The rocker – who is reportedly also launching his own fashion label, and a whole lifestyle range – says he doesn’t want to cash in on his name, but is keen to find another ‘creative outlet’. With a couple of private homes and a penthouse recording studio already under his belt, he is working with two partners and is apparently ahead of schedule on the hotel project.

Fight club
La Gara is Brazil’s first bar and restaurant whose theme is the fight game. The decor is made up of punch balls, heavy bags and pictures of famous fighters like Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, and Brazil’s best pugilists. In the middle of the establishment is a ring where regular boxing and kick-boxing contests take place. On certain nights, lucky patrons can enter the ring and take on the house fighter. The restaurant serves Italian food and feijoada (a traditional Brazilian pork stew accompanied by rice and beans).

Somer loving
In New York, the design of the Bowery Hotel’s new restaurant Gemma was conceived by Taavo Somer of Freeman’s Restaurant and Store. It is divided into three rooms: a bar at the entrance, a dining room, and askylit dining space in the back. The look is rustic, but not twee, filled with retro Tuscan farmhouse touches, from the wood-burning oven and exposed wood beams to the wax-caked candelabras and copper pots hanging on the walls. Expect more of the same too, as its09. 2007 interiors bosses – the hoteliers Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode – recently brought New York the much-hyped West Village restaurant The Waverly Inn.

Building a reputation
If you are wondering why Richard Rogers is everywhere at the moment, it’ll be because he is the feature of a major exhibition of his work opening this November at the Pompidou Centre in Paris (which he designed), before heading to the Design Museum in London next April. A little revision to prepare you for the dinner party discussions: the 73-year-old was also responsible for the Millennium Dome (now The O2 centre) in London and the National Assembly for Wales, and was awarded the 2007 Pritzker Prize for Architecture this year. Current projects at the practice Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners include 175 Greenwich Street, New York, London’s Leadenhall Building and Bodegas Protos Winery in Spain.

Veg out
Eat My Garden is a new London-based firm led by landscape designer Sean Tuomey. The idea is that Tuomey will install and maintain an edible landscape for his clients, big or small: He’ll do window boxes from £30 or a mini estate with a swimming pool from £30 000. Using edible flowers, such as daylilies and nasturtiums, perennial vegetables, herbs and fruit trees, organic supermarkets will have a whole new raft of competition if his business takes off.

Sitting pretty
Who needs to colour co-ordinate? In the future you can have chameleon furniture that will automatically change colour to suit the setting so you don’t have to. Fuwapica, which means ‘soft and flashy’ in Japanese, was developed several years ago by staff and students at the curiously named Mongoose Studio at Japan’s Osaka University. They are, however, now touring the world and creating quite a stir, featuring a round table that incorporates a computer, an LCD display screen and light sensors that link to each of the four inflatable chairs.Place a vase of red roses on the table and the sensors will instruct the chairs to turn red. Mongoose Studio says that Fuwapica’s interactive technology is more than just a design exercise and will be available commercially within one or two years.

Murky reasoning
If one’s a novelty, two’s a trend. Visual Reference Studio’s Swamp Collection takes its inspiration from the depths of the Mississippi marshlands where their studio is located and brings us the Cypress stool, Duckweed lounge and Swamp bench/lounge. The organicshaped thermo-chromatic furniture uses heat-sensitive crystals to elicit a colour change when touched: black to blue, or red to violet. The stools also act as an in-house thermometer, guaging room temperature and changing the colour of the bench as a whole accordingly.

Milking it
Ronnybrook Farm’s old-fashioned bottles of milk and cream turn up in food photo-shoots and food programmes Stateside all the time. Now, however, they’ve decided to give the space itself a makeover and turn it into a Milk Bar. Part country kitchen, part old malt shop, antique milk crates can be pulled out to create extra seating and tables.


Wizards of Oz
In a bid to rival the one-stop-shop that is the Internet, perhaps, department stores are having a revival. Australian brand Myer plans to take advantage of the trend by adding a further eight stores to its existing 75 by 2009, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. The retailer, under new management, has also announced that it has succeeded in tempting celebrity designer Jayson Brunsdon on to its books – snaffling him from its rival store Down Under, David Jones, with a three-year contract. (The latter later claimed that Brunsdon’s departure was, in fact, because of ailing sales, so you can choose who to believe on this one.)

Fashion East
Another UK company to turn to the East, fashion retailer Karen Millen has opened its first flagship store in Bangkok as part of its plan for 30-50 Asia Pacific stores over the next five years. Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore are important prospective markets.

Armani emporium
Giorgio Armani’s new retail design concept for his A/X Armani Exchange brand is now being showcased in two new flagship stores: one on London’s Regent Street and the other in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. Part of an ongoing international expansion, the new stores bring the worldwide network to 119, and the Regent Street location is now the world’s largest A/X Armani Exchange to date, covering 1090m2 over two levels. The new design, according to Armani, underscores the contrast between dark and light, smooth and rough textures, and shiny and matt finishes in a manner appropriate to the A/X consumer.

Betting on architecture
Casinos have finally got the go-ahead in Singapore (Yay! says our correspondent, slightly worryingly). Thus, we’re going to see more hotels on Sentosa, such as W Hotel, and six hotels on the Universal grounds. There are new buildings by Daniel Libeskind and Rem Koolhaas rumoured to be getting the go ahead as well.

Tourist attraction
The poverty in Cambodia is not stopping tourism from taking root and hotels are setting up shop like it’s the new Ibiza. So far there’s Raffles and designhotels’ member, FCC. The latter’s new hotel in Phnom Penh (The Quay Hotel) is eco-friendly, and opens in December.


Nights at the museum
London’s Design Museum is committing itself to a new annual experiment with its Designers in Residence programme – launched during the London Design Festival. Emerging product and furniture designers are invited to transform areas of the museum with their work, and the results could become their springboard into the design world. For 2007, the lucky few include Sarah van Gameren, Chris O’Shea, Tomás Alonso, Richard Sweeney and Finn Magee – names to watch.

Room to grow
Away From Home, which runs from 6 September to 27 October, is a major exhibition and talk series set to happen at NLA, London. The capital receives some 15 million visitors a year from overseas and 12 million from other parts of Britain, and these figures are set to increase. With some half a million people visiting London for the Olympics and the ensuing increase in visitors, the Mayor’s advisors have attempted to ascertain the likely growth in demand for hotel accommodation over the next couple of decades. In an uncertain world, the best they can come up with are figures that show a need for anything from another 20 000 to 80 000 hotel rooms by 2026. While the big chains control 43 per cent of the market, boutique hotels like the Zetter and Malmaison hotels in Clerkenwell, and the Moran in Chiswick, provide interesting alternatives. How is the hotel industry responding to the increasing demand? Where are the new hotels to be located (72 per cent are currently in the central boroughs), and what will they be like? How is the current stock being updated? What will the hotel room of the future be like?

Addicted to speed
The sixth episode of the German Design Conference is coming up on 24-25 October. The theme this year is ‘acceleration and design’. ‘Acceleration is a key characteristic of today’s time. New products are reaching the market in ever-shorter intervals, promising more functions – only to soon be replaced by even newer developments. How do the new time-parameters affect product processes and stakeholders?’

During the two-day conference, businesses, designers and scientists will discuss the effects of acceleration on the design process, on product-development and on customer communication, and will present an outlook on future developments. The conference takes place in Berlin under the umbrella of the ‘Project Future’ initiative and within the framework of the Design Initiative of German Industry.

Walking the line
The line between art and design takes ever-more creative turns and never more so than during autumn in London. From 12-14 October, DesignArt London will be showcasing modern and contemporary design and furniture during the Frieze art fair. DesignArt London is being organised by Patrick Perrin, chairperson of the Société d’Organisation Culturelle, a body with experience of producing a number of leading international art and design fairs including the Pavillon Art and Antiques Fair in Paris. SOC will bring its expertise to London, putting the capital at the forefront of the contemporary design market.

Works in limited editions or one-off pieces range from the most renowned post-war designers Jean Prouvé and Le Corbusier to leading contemporary names such as Marc Newson and Zaha Hadid. These names will be joined by emerging talents such as Joris Laarman, FredriksonStallard and Maarten Baas.

The work on show is intended to attract serious collectors, curators, directors, dealers and artists, but it is hoped that DesignArt London will also broaden the public’s awareness of the contemporary furniture market. ‘DesignArt London will coincide with Frieze, underlining the synergy between art and design and the blurring of the functional and aesthetic.’

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