Pod Antics
Waugh Thistleton has designed an environmentally aware, 70-seater eatery in the heart of London’s City. Pod, on Lloyd’s Avenue, combines a fast-food outlet with an environmentally friendly mission. The sophisticated design of the space leaves much of the existing structure untouched, only adding where absolutely necessary. A sweet chestnut-clad pod on the ground floor incorporates the kitchen, which is open to public view. The clientele is encouraged to recycle the various elements of their meal when they have finished. One bin is used to dispose of food for composting, then customers must wash out their food packaging in the sink, before discarding the containers in the second recycling bin. A third bin is supplied to throw away waste bound for the landfill. Best of all are the menu and graphics, designed by Neal Whittington of Present & Correct.

Object Beauty
A recent exhibition commissioned by the MGM Gallery in Oslo saw a collection of new limited edition pieces from prominent Scandinavian design group Norway Says. The items, which range from solid brass candle holders to a maple-wood pepper mill, are certainly collectable, but the consultancy protests loudly at the suggestion it is pretending to be an art collective, and explains that all the exhibited works are fully functional. Using its usual creative process, Norway Says has taken this opportunity to research materials and production techniques without the restraints of industrial rationalism and what’s often perceived as the marketplace for design objects. Every item was uniquely crafted by Norwegian small-scale industry.

Light Of God 
When Lighting Design International was bought in to relight Temple Church (which you may know as being one of the most historic and beautiful churches in London, or you may know as the church in Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code), the scheme it came up with apparently broke all the rules of lighting a church. Time those rules were updated, perhaps, says Deborah Wythe, LDI’s senior lighting designer. ‘Temple Church was built in the 12th century – way before electricity’, she adds. The brief was to refurbish and update all lighting to enhance the structure and LDI worked with English Heritage to design a scheme that would not cause further damage, and which would protect the fabric of the building from future deterioration. Another consideration was for the lighting to be removable or hidden when the church is used for filming. In a complex and sensitively produced project, designers Wythe and Graham Rollins replaced the old pendants with custom-made uplighters that sit on top of the columns, lighting up the ceiling and Gothic arches. Elsewhere, a new wooden bench and railings were designed to conceal bespoke LED lighting and catch key details of the architecture, such as the gargoyles. A number of the church’s stunning stained glass windows were backlit from outside, drawing greater focus and casting crisp shadows of the window frames on to the internal walls.


Assistant, the design group charged with the interior design of Tokyo’s Design Tide 2007, is also responsible for Timberland’s inspired Shibuya Koendori Store. Taking ‘recycling and ecology’ as its theme, the result is an indoor forest of driftwood trees from which garments and accessories can hang. The entire interior being constructed from otherwise unwanted materials – in the thriftiest fashion, even leftover bits produced during the construction were not wasted – Assistant wants the retail environment to get Timberland’s staff and customers thinking about the wider world environment.

Perhaps Voonwong & Bensonsaw found its inspiration at the bottom of a teacup when it designed the cloud-like installation for the new Space Furniture showroom in Kuala Lumpur. The striking sculptural canopy has been created from polystyrene cups, and ‘plays with ideas that are the current interests of this practice, such as modularity, light and materiality’. Not as quite as obscure as it sounds, the installation forms a backdrop to  the collection of bone china tableware, Setcast, by Voonwong  & Bensonsaw and Asianera, that makes use of the material’s light-reflective properties.

Fiat’s London flagship showroom
is worth a visit, whether or not you think the beefed up new Cinquecentos have nothing on  the perfection of the original. Although the Marylebone store unapologetically channels Austin Powers, and features exhaust-pipe-clad columns, it is fresh and entertaining in a way that car showrooms usually aren’t.
The space is split over two floors. The first – shag-pile carpeted – is where the vehicles are displayed. Upstairs an abundance of white space works for corporate meetings, fashion shows and exhibitions.

Considering the general aptitude for a good makeover in this sector, hair salons and barbershops have been surprisingly slow to innovate with their interior design. Enter Percy & Reed, a stylish new salon on London’s Great Portland Street, which has a moody New-York-loft feel, is furnished with vintage barber chairs, an original Panton ‘Flower Pot’ chandelier from the 1960s and Timorous Beasties’ wallpaper. You could happily sit and have them chop away at you for hours.

Excessively celebrity-populated Alpine resort Verbier has welcomed a couple of new venues lately that ought to spruce up the après-ski proceedings. Coco Chalet, with its hand-painted wallpaper, white fur curtains, leather booths, crushed velvet stools and gold leaf plaster walls will probably keep the flash Harries happy, but for those looking for something a little classier, there is an alternative. The Nevaï is a striking four-star hotel designed by architect and interior designer Yasmine Mahmoudieh, who has a host of five-star hotels and awards under her haut couture belt. A ‘fusion of cutting-edge design and Alpine influences’ sees a combination of traditional wood and high quality synthetics, while two penthouses each provide a spacious living room with fireplace, private entrance, state-of-the-art sound systems and a secluded terrace with a jacuzzi.

Not to be confused with New York’s recently opened New Museum, Philadelphia’s Newseum is a museum dedicated to the preservation of print media, and will open later this year. Built by architect Polshek, the museum features seven levels of galleries and has been created to foster greater understanding of the process behind the generation of news.

7. BLOCK 8
Be warned – Beijing’s Block 8 has drawn comments like ‘it’s just so much cooler than you are that at times it becomes a tad exhausting’. The complex comprises a Spanish diner, a Japanese restaurant and a club. The formula of ‘something for everyone’ should be a sure-fire hit when Olympics fans storm the town later this year.
The new VIP centre at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport is a tribute to the golden age of travel and, given that the centre is only open to royalty, ministers, state secretaries, diplomats, trade delegations and top international business directors, so it should be. Designed by Amsterdam-based Concrete Architectural Associates, the new centre contains a separate Royal Lounge for members of the royal family, a press centre, a Company Lounge, plus various receptions and meeting rooms. The Royal Lounge is huge, with considerable sofas, royal family pictures on the bookshelves and wallpaper printed with the national coat of arms.

Art communes are all the rage and the overwhelming popularity of Beijing’s 798 District has driven Chinese artists to search for new Utopias, one of them being Caochangdi Village. Located in Beijing’s outskirts, it was first spotted by contemporary artist Wei Wei Ai, who also designed most of the other compounds for galleries that moved in subsequently. The Wujiaochang 800 Art Space, housed in a new five-floor building in the university area of Wujiaochang, is another independent art cluster.
In Shanghai, former abattoir  1933 has been revamped into an entertainment venue that is now home to high-end art galleries and restaurants too. Amazingly, there are about 75 creative clusters in Shanghai, involving 3000 companies and 27 000 employees, in architecture, art and fashion.

Artists and art entrepreneurs in Singapore are taking things into their own hands as they venture into Old School – so named because the compound used to house an all-girls’ school. The place still looks, well, old school, since the new tenants have made their offices look like labs and classrooms. The compound houses guerrilla retail store Commes des Garçons, ad agency Saatchi Lab, marketing communications consultancy Mercury Marketing and Communi­cations, photography studios and one of Singapore’s most famous fashion designers, Wykidd Song.
Over at the neighbouring hill Mount Emily, another group of creatives has taken up residence, including glass artist Tan Sock Fong, sculptor Sun Yu-li, art gallery Monsoonasia Gallery, the Theatre Training and Research Programme, landscape architecture firm Colin K Okashimo & Associates, a landscape architecture firm and Oakdale, a visual communications company.

Pontus! is the latest in a series of restaurants headed by young chef Pontus Frithiof in Stockholm. Downstairs is the widespread gourmet restaurant, and on the ground floor is an oyster bar and drinks bar. It’s an ambitious and successful establishment, and the interior, by Strategisk Arkitektur in collaboration with Pontus Frankenstein, is pretty stunning.

Hiroshi Nakamura has turned a disused crème caramel factory into the new premises for a publisher and book shop in Tokyo. The long, narrow interior of Shubiya Publishing and Booksellers is emphasised with extended display tables. The books are arranged in chronological order on a series of design-classic bookshelves, with each shelving unit reflecting the period of the books it contains.

The Clarion Sign Hotel, which opened during the Stockholm Furniture Fair in January, was designed by Sweden’s most successful architect for the past  30 years, Gert Wingårdh. The hotel is a new landmark for the city.
More personal than anything the architect has realised before, it also exploits the timeless and sustainable qualities of Scandinavian design classics. The architect’s intention is for all the furniture to remain in place for at least 50 years, ageing with the hotel.

Nuance-Watson has launched the first travel retail Giorgio Armani Beauty Boutique in Asia. The 30m2 flagship opened at Hong Kong International Airport, an ideal location due to its ‘diverse and sophisticated passenger mix, with Chinese and Taiwanese purchasers representing a considerable proportion of the luxury cosmetics consumers’, according to the companies. The brand’s first standalone boutique in any airport worldwide, it includes Armani fashion, make-up stations, a skincare corner and a fragrance bar.

Aesop’s new signature pop-up store in Melbourne was entirely made of cardboard, from the display shelving to the counter tops. The temporary fit-out was put together in five days and designed by star interior architects Rodney Eggleston and Anne-Laure Cavigneaux of March Studio. Although the permanent design was supposed to be created in February, the cardboard seems to be serving its purpose better than expected, and will stay a little while longer – presumably until it starts to get soggy.
Karriere – a bar, restaurant and night club in Copenhagen’s meat district – is run by artists who have made their own art a large part of the social space. As a result, the venue’s design and functions are ‘artwork defined’, with the fixtures and furnishings creatively re-interpreted. Everything, including the tables, lamps, dance floor and bar counter, is a piece of art. ‘As a new space for the experience of art, Karriere is markedly different from the museum, art gallery or the local square with the lump of granite and iron plonked in the middle,’ reads the brochure.

A huge number of new retail premises have opened in Tokyo in the past six months, with Armani Ginza Tower one of the most notable. The brand new flagship store, designed by Massimiliano and Doriano Fuksas, is not far from the iconic Sony Building and even closer to fellow luxury purveyor Dior. Behind the striking facade are 12 floors holding the complete Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani collections, the Armani interior furniture line and a private bar on the top floor. It also hosts the first Armani Spa, with three private rooms offering three-hour courses that can run up to 60 000 yen (£300).

Set up for just 12 weeks over the Australian summer, The Pond is a pop-up bar that comes courtesy of Pure Blonde (the beer). Breathing new life into an ugly urban space, a derelict courtyard and a laneway has been converted with the cunning use of plants, recycled garden pots, and those Bose speakers that look like mushrooms. The Pond focuses on being environmentally sound and eco-friendly, and has the appeal of hanging out in someone’s (rather large) back yard. Designers offered anyone who donated an old plant pot a free beer. Other highlights include Tom Adelaide’s 27 hours of lo-fi audio bliss, a re-used silver birch grove entry, an organic food menu, a crop of hops and certified plantation-pine furniture that doesn’t give you splinters. It’s also rumoured that drinks are served in old jam jars.

Gucci’s new flagship store on New York’s 5th Avenue is also its largest. With more than 4000m2 of space, the store has had to be imaginative about filling it, and among other initiatives the interior boasts a heritage area to celebrate Gucci’s illustrious past, as well as a café. Part of Trump Towers, the store represents a throwback to opulence, but not at the expense of the environment. A considerate token has been the energy-efficient lighting provided by LED Folio throughout.

The country which allegedly boasted the fastest-growing number of high-net-worth individuals in the world in 2006, now sees the opening of St Regis Singapore and two new boutiques from luxury watch retailer Cortina Watch, one featuring display windows that can be adapted to different occasions, allowing customers to enjoy a new shopping experience each time they visit. The inaugural launch of Asia Luxury Travel Market in Shanghai last year is a sign that moneyed Asians are going places, but in case they ever think about leaving the country, Singapore’s new addition to its Changi Airport, Terminal 3, has been created to take full advantage. It has the first Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café outside Belgium, the first Ferrari travel retail outlet outside Europe, the first Fifa World store in the world, the first airport outlet for Apple and Sony, the first Vertu airport boutique in South East Asia, the first SK-II airport beauty cabin and the first Hard Rock Café in a major international airport.

Malmö restaurant Bloom in the Park has gone through a total makeover. In charge of the redesign has been Jonas Lindvall, one of Sweden’s most revered interior architects  (of the same generation as Claesson Koivisto Rune). After a few years out of the limelight, the makeover, which sees ergonomic Functionalism interact with the luxury of Baroque, is getting rave reviews.

The Ivy in Sydney, a $150m (£69m) behemoth, is well on its way to completion. Stage one is now ready with five bars and three restaurants open. The one-stop party shop will be finished in the middle of this year and will boast 18 bars, nine restaurants, a 1000-capacity ballroom, a 25m pool, complete with islands for bands, and a changing room/nightclub with five massive communal showers and its own DJ. There will also be a selection of high-end retail shops and a day spa that will offer everything from tattoos to botox. Hotelier Justin Hemmes apparently wants people to feel like they’re dropping over at his place.

Claska, one of the landmark design hotels of Tokyo, has just reopened after an extensive refurbishment. Although some of the original features remain, there are three new rooms designed by Kaname Okajima, ex-product designer at Idee, under the concept of Japanese Contemporary. The new Claska will be equipped with a multi-purpose studio for events and exhibitions and the ‘kio•kuh’ restaurant, with a new menu influenced by Japanese organic and macrobiotic food. It will also sell Claska-produced design products for the domestic and international market.

Design hotels have hit Hong Kong at last with young hoteliers Yenn Wong and Loh Lik Peng from Singapore. Yenn, who opened Asia’s first Philippe Starck-designed hotel in Hong Kong, JIA Hong Kong, launched its Shanghai counterpart in 2007 and will be opening another one on the holiday island of Krabi, in Thailand. She’s also launched Muse in Singapore, after the success of her first restaurant Graze.

25. ‘N’
‘N’, formerly known as Restaurant Nimb in the Tivoli Gardens, has opened in what has always been a classic Copenhagen hang-out. Mattheo Thun was initially responsible for the total make-over, but rumour has it that he left after a clash with the owners. Apart from a brasserie, the establishment will house a gourmet restaurant, deli, dairy shop, bakery, small chocolate factory, wine cellar and 12-roomed hotel.

One of the most anticipated new restaurant launches in Melbourne in the past six months comes from Maurice Terzini (of Icebergs and North Bondi Italian), who, with business partner Robert Marchetti, has just opened the Roman-style trattoria Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons. Unfortunately, it has opened at the casino. Even though Terzini has the midas touch, it will be interesting to see how it slots into the Melbourne dining culture with this address. Slick, black walls and tables are warmed up with earthy tiles handmade in Sicily. Three pods sit throughout the restaurant, each boasting its own mini atmosphere and unique music within the space.

As travel authorities anticipate the loosening of visa regulations for the Chinese after the Olympics, and with China’s increasing wealth, neighbouring countries are prepar­ing themselves to welcome the Chinese traveller. For one, Universal Studios is building a £1.6bn theme park and resort in South Korea. Seoul, well-known for its array of museums and design studios, is seeing a spurt in growth in the Shinsa-dong district with the setting up of cafés, studios and galleries.

With Singapore’s property boom, more homeowners are turning towards customisation and are taking pride in their own homes. New designer furniture stores have sprung up as a result and a couple, like Three3Three and Think Design, were opened by interior designers. Dutch designer Marcel Wanders also launched his Moooi Boutique there last December.

Lau’s Family Kitchen is a new little brother from the folk that brought Australia the famed Flower Drum (often voted one of the best restaurants in the country), but designed to be the affordable, everyday option. In a slick space that contrasts glossy timber and dark tones against industrial-chic exposed pipes, the restaurant is modest only by comparison with its elegant sibling.

Dubai couldn’t open more hotels, shops, bars and restaurants every week if it tried. Recent development the Submarine club has a notable reputation among the more arty and alternative of the city’s drinkers. Since converted warehouse club iBO, run by design group 9714, closed down last May, Dubai’s less mainstream crowd has been looking for a new home and they may have found it here. The Submarine has a retractable roof – which seems to be a trend in the Middle East, as Beirut’s most legendary club, BO18 also boasts one. Most of Dubai’s bars are located in hotels, so every time a new one opens, a flurry of new bars and restaurants cut their ribbons too. One of the biggest and most recent is Raffles Dubai, which has caused quite a stir, mainly due to its extortionate prices – more than £1000 for entry to their New Year’s Eve party – and also for its pyramid-shaped building. The glass triangular top contains the China Moon Champagne Bar, which, with its high ceilings, bad acoustics, black shiny floors and showy throne-style armchairs, is attracting ostentatious crowds.

The Intercontinental Dubai, Festival City, is a huge, high-end hotel with some very exciting new bars and restaurants. The hotel is located in Festival City, a multi-million dirham new mall, restaurant and marina complex, so its popularity will depend on how quickly people take to this entirely new end of town. However, already its Vista bar and Anise restaurant are rousing interest. Anise has been designed to create ‘a total sensory experience’, integrating the diner into the kitchen. Food is prepared and served from live cooking stations around the restaurant. Vista, by contrast, is a large and luxurious venue along the creek side of the hotel, framing stunning views. Its bar appears to be floating above the promenade at the edge of the infinity pool.

The Henry Jones Art Hotel in Tasm­ania bills itself as Australia’s ‘first and only dedicated art hotel’, and features a large selection of works for sale. These are primarily by contemporary Tasmanian artists, including graduates from the hotel’s neighbouring Tasmanian School of Art. More than 250 original artworks are displayed throughout the 50-room hotel. The hotel has already won 62 awards locally and internationally since its opening, so the next project from the developers is eagerly anticipated. It will be a property called Quamby, in Australia’s oldest surviving colonial house in the northern town of Hagley. The residence will be relaunching as a gourmet golfing retreat.

Williamsburg, NY, has been a hipster paradise for a while, but with the opening of the Hotel Delmona – Williamsburg’s first real cocktail bar – it has begun the process to maturation. Opened by Zeb Stewart, the person responsible for the interior of Manhattan eatery Balthazar, the design of Delmona has been dubbed ‘steampunk’.

Cult Finnish brand Iittala has kindly opened its doors on London’s Regent Street, giving many more people access to what has always been Skandium’s best-selling brand. Stocking every line in production by the tableware manufacturer, the 120m2 store was designed to be an extension of the brand’s values: ‘lasting everyday design, against throwawayism’.

Beijing’s Project H, completing this year courtesy of the Spencer Grey Group, which operates famous Beijing establishments like Alfa, Muse and Le Hugo, is already claiming to have the ‘best patio in Sanlitun’. The group has been launching the 1000m2 project in phases since January, and it is confident that the currently seedy Sanlitun will be a new draw, includ­ing developments such as five-star hotels, Armani and LV shops.

The new Bar Boulud, designed by Thomas Schleesser of the Design Bureaux, consists of a long and open passageway that resembles an underground tunnel leading to the main restaurant. Schleesser also designed the 15-seat table in the round, which was built by Aveum in Mexico City and is modelled on 18th- and 19th-century negociant tables where businessmen plied their clients with wine.

37. LEVI’S
Levi’s has established its presence quite royally in Istanbul by setting up shop in a traditional Ottoman building, the interior of which was designed by New Zealand architect Christopher Hall. With lighting created by Beirut-based PSLAB,
the store features custom suspen­ded fixtures positioned on two parallel lines, and the lights them­selves have long adjusting arms for directing the light where needed.

Afroart, located on shopping street Nybrogatan in Stockholm’s city centre and designed by the young and very promising duo TAF, is both elegant and rural. Founded in 1967 by Jytte Bonnier, Afroart has always specialised in Fairtrade products and projects from the third world, but, in 2003, when six textile designers took over, business boomed. This is the second store, and the designers have done a
good job with a low budget and a sustainable brief. Using local materials, and some canny recycling techniques, TAF used standard pine beams and fashioned them into a smart display system. The shelves, hooks and display boxes are not fixed and can easily be moved around in the grid of beams.

Commissioning a collaboration between two of Sweden’s biggest design players, Thomas Eriksson, and Stockholm DesignLab, sports chain Stadium has won itself 4500m2 of very smart flagship space in Gothenburg. Going by the name XXL, this interesting marriage of architecture and graphics is setting a new standard for an other­wise quite dreary commercial area.

Carrots, a boutique opened by two daughters of a farming family (hence the name), now occupies the premises of an old restaurant in San Francisco that was once used in Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The store retains many of the classic features of the original restaurant, featuring French literature interspersed with the clothing lines.

41. ECO
To recycle the most interesting (but probably least relevant) fact about the new Eco store in west London:
it was co-founded by everyone’s favourite Mr Darcy – Colin Firth. But why would a successful actor want to open a shop in Chiswick? Because he cares about the planet. And because Eco is the first of its kind – a store, showroom, consultancy and destination that offers inspiration, ideas and domestic solutions for those who want to lead a Greener life.

Nitty Gritty is a little Tokyo universe in a residential area of Stockholm. Although the store was established about five years ago, it has expanded along Krukmakargatan and today owns five stores. It’s interesting to see the original concept, because many of the city centre department stores are trying to copy its pared-down, eclectic style (among these, allegedly, is Pub where Nina Persson, of Cardigan-fame, art directs the third floor).

Giano offers the kind of homely welcome that is becoming more commonplace in New York eateries. The part modern, part old-world restaurant is named after the Roman god Janus, while the two-faced interior provides a modern entry that segues into something more rustic. The personal connection offered by the chef to guests adds to the old-fashioned eatery feel. Keeping with the homely epicurean feel is Bobo in New York – using a West Village brownstone as a bohemian European-style dinner party setting. Fending off any accusations of bad acoustics, the noise is apparently part of the ambience – the voices of the guests working with the interior to give the sense of a raucous dinner party. Complete with lopsided floorboards and paintings of aristocrats, the stage is positively 19th century France.

The much awaited, fabulous, 557m2 MAC Pro space in New York occupies an entire floor at 7 West 22nd Street. Comprising a retail/studio and full-blown training area, as well as an ‘experimentation facility’ for make-up, its dramatic, open layout is dedicated to the professionals. There is a mixing station where they can hone their skills and test samples, a reference library of magazines for serious research and a photography studio for recording the results. There is also a separate training area, a kitchenette and bathrooms with showers.

45. APRIL77
Fashion and record label April77 has opened a retail space not far from the company’s headquarters in Paris. In a circular space that calls to mind a turntable with dark vinyl-look floors and shiny steel beams, the metaphors are not subtle, but it still works. Vintage radios are dotted around the displays as well, just in case anyone doesn’t immediately get the link. Designer Brice Partouche allegedly tapped interiors guru Steven Thomas after reading a book on Biba (the 1970s retail legend that Thomas also designed).

Many private parties begin and end in the kitchen, so Berlin-based architect And Off decided it would also be an innovative theme for the interior of a private club in Stuttgart called, unsurprisingly, The Kitchen. Using a classic 1950s kitchen for the basis of the design, the architects covered floor, walls and ceiling in tiles. Intermittently, certain tiles were then extruded from the wall and used to disguise the sound system, as well as to create a chandelier and support random pieces of fruit.

Trailblazing its way as one of the most innovative design brands around, Swarovski established its new concept – Swarovski Crystallized – earlier this year. Housed over two floors (420m2) in part of the former Dickins & Jones department store on London’s Great Marlborough Street, Crystallized is a place where customers can go to assemble their own cut-glass pieces. The showroom, designed by Virgile & Stone, is defined by thousands of miniature transparent drawers, each containing a different shape, size and colour of cut glass, forming the perimeter along two sides of the shop. For added panache, peacock feather-covered black sculptures are set atop a number of internally lit black display cases in the middle of the store. Upstairs, the Lounge features a long, white table steeped in white crystal drops, and laid for a glittering dinner (where apparently shoes – placed on each dinner plate – are on the menu). Shanghai and New York are set to receive similar outlets later this year.

B&B Italia reope

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