Yearly Archives: 2015

Desert Storm


What are the quintessential elements for a Miami-inspired beach club in Western Australia to be boss? Well, it needs to be fun, fabulous and fresh, with a great vibe and flow between spaces. Architect Frank Iemma and interior designer Jenlin Chia of Oldfield Knott Architects have achieved all this and more at the Matisse Beach Club in Scarborough.

Six rainbow-inspired cabanas stand like painted ladies, an ode to historic Australian beach huts on Victoria’s Brighton Beach, along one side of the pool. Available for hire, they are kitted out to provide an unforgettable entertainment experience for private guests.


Complete with bars, meeting rooms, dining, DJ booths and dance floors, Matisse is further characterized by the Adan collection by Teresa Sapey for VONDOM. Vertex and Frame tables and chairs, and Faz loungers also add to this clever, irreverent space. By night the furniture is LED lit, a feature for which VONDOM are legendary for.


If you fancy a jaunt to the Matisse, to lounge on designer furniture with cocktail in hand and your crew in tow, then let us know, we want to come too!


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Vondom and I


A brand that is synonymous with avant-garde furniture, pots and lighting, VONDOM has arrived in New Zealand and we’re on cloud nine about our exclusive representation of this chic, boundary-bending brand.

Founded in the early noughties in Valencia, VONDOM have forged an epic reputation in what is a hugely competitive market for high-end, modestly priced furniture. Under the transcendental art direction of Ramon Esteve, their seismic success is due to a progressive approach to what furniture needs to be in 2015.

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Working with some of the worlds most esteemed designers helps too. From Teresa Sapey to Karim Rashid, Stefano Giovannoni, Javier Mariscal, Ramon Esteve and JM Ferrero, VONDOM scour the globe for designers who’ll become ambassadors of their unique spirit, “What counts is their passion for shapes, culture and the vanguard. They transform each piece of furniture into an exclusively “Vondom” mode of expression. Nothing is random, everything happens for a reason”.


All collections are unveiled at prestigious design fairs in Milan and Paris. VONDOM is similarly notable for being one of the first furniture companies to create illuminated furniture for both indoor and outdoor use.  Achieved through the use of energy efficient LEDs, lighting can operated via remote control or android phone for programmable colour LED lighting.


VONDOM’s entire product range is engineered from roto-molded polyethylene, 100% recyclable and extremely durable, polyethylene can withstand harsh climatic extremes. The techniques employed in the molding process also allows for an array of colours and matt or lacquered surface textures. Distinctive organic shapes are also made possible, evident in the swath that is the modular And bench, a breath-taking ribbon of seating, that could swirl its way to infinity if one had the space.


And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, maybe this will; VONDOM’s planter pots range from small to huge, making them a fabulous commercial product, perfect for malls and public places. Equipped with an optional inbuilt watering system these too can be illuminated.

View this intoxicating brand here, available now through UFL



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A Thousand Words


UFL Group can now be found on Instagram. Follow us for an insight into our universe, everything from the globe’s most beautiful commercial interiors, to sublime new furniture designs sweeping Europe, to boundary-pushing designers and free-thinkers.

There are many perks to our job, not only are we involved in creating some exceptional spaces, but we help the who’s who decide on what’s what when it comes to specifying only the best in European and locally made furniture.

And of course we end up with many beautiful photographs (like this one of an inflatable dolphin and the new TUBE chair by Eugeni Quitllet for Mobles114) and it is a crying shame to have them tucked away in a dusty folder on the desktop. So we are delighted to be able to share our world with you, to give you an insight into what we see, and do, on a daily basis.


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Bo Bardi’s Bowl Makes The Cut

In 2011 Arper launched a public relations initiative to encourage brand awareness. Arper wanted to focus their attention not only on products but also on concepts or cultural ventures that mirror the same values as the Italian furniture manufacturer; the preciousness of a sober style, and the ability to innovate and place people at the centre of every project. The initiative originated with Arper’s belief that design and creativity are a voice for universal discourse.

Arper_EditionBardisBowlChair_03Photo courtesy – Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi

Their first undertaking began by shining a bright light on the life and times of Italian-Brazilian Modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi. Described by British architecture critic Rowan Moore as “the most underrated architect of the 20th century”, Bo Bardi’s work went somewhat unnoticed during her lifetime.

lina_bo_bardi_portrait_1978Photo courtesy – Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi

Arper worked closely alongside The Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi, a foundation which was established in 1990 to promote Brazilian culture and architecture through exhibitions, publications and lectures to an international stage, to bring Bo Bardi the posthumous recognition she deserves. The Sao Paulo Institute is located within the Casa de Vidro (The Glass house), which Bo Bardi designed in 1950 as a home for her and her art-critic husband Pietro Maria. After Lina’s death in 1992, Pietro donated the house to the Institute.

16_54_24_658_BARDI_S_BOWL_CHAIR__sketch_02Photo courtesy – Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi

Due to similarities in their approach to design, Arper responded to Bardi’s vision expressed through her work; the pursuit of the essential and authentic, by making the decision to manufacture her 1951 Bowl chair.  The Bowl chair is a hollowed-out half-moon form that rests on a metal ring with four legs. The chair is stylistic, adjustable and incredibly innovative. At the time of its design the piece was never produced and only two versions of the Bowl chair existed; one in black leather, the other in clear plastic. By carefully studying what limited drawings the artist had made of her design, Arper’s in-house artisans were able to exemplify Lina’s Modernist classic using 21st Century technology and materials.

domus-lina-bo-bardi-023ARQd0113_Francisco-Albuquerque-dec-1950Photo courtesy – Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi

A limited series of 500 Bowl chairs produced by Arper is running in conjunction with a world-wide exhibition “Lina Bo Bardi: Together”. Arper’s version of the chair is available in black leather and a fabric version in seven different colourways, each with solid or patterned options for cushions.

LBB_biography_singleimagePhoto courtesy – Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi

Profits from the sale of the chairs will go to the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi of São Paulo, the custodian and promoter of her valuable work. This pioneering project represents Arper’s commitment to creative endeavours that have a profound impact on the culture of design.

988562_925803527442981_3984867808859862842_nmodern-relaunch-of-colorful-bowl-chair-designed-in-1951-1Photo credits – Marco Covi 


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The Science of School


Within educational environments, learning spaces are as important as the lessons themselves. Dynamic, functional environments, aid and instigate new discoveries through various styles of learning.


In 2014 our friends at Arper investigated this concept in their LIFE Brief No 4, Vol. 1. Masters in the art of interpretation, Arper’s job is to design furniture for specific activities. Furniture which allows people to do that activity faultlessly within a designated zone. Much of Arper’s furniture is designed for contract spaces; offices, universities, and hospitality environments. Places where the furniture must do its job, otherwise everything from performance to comfort and productivity suffers.


In designing these environments, hours of consideration has gone into figuring out how humans work, learn and relax. For example, from primary schools to universities, there is a science to creating spaces that support the endeavor of education.

When a student walks into a building or a classroom and feels (albeit unconsciously) that care has gone into creating an inviting and stimulating space, students are more open to being actively involved in learning.


A classroom should be a place where a person is intellectually challenged but simultaneously feels emotional security. Support for academic, creative, sporting and social pursuits, must all be catered for. Whether studying for exams or completing an assignment, the environment should provide for the quest for knowledge if there to be any purpose to its existence.


Whatever subject an education embodies, the right equipment, furniture, and learning materials need to be condensed in a specialised space; from ABW, break-out spaces, quiet spaces, learning labs, one-on-one talks, group interactions and full class discussions. In dining areas, chairs and tables can be arranged for small gatherings of students to larger groups for communal meals. These spaces form a foundation for each student — not only as physical support structure, but also as a mental sanctuary that paves the way to a student’s future.


And it’s not only the student’s requirements that must be considered. How a learning environment functions is of equal importance to the teachers, staff and parents who make up an educational community. In order for teachers to do their job effectively, a classroom must operate as a space for instruction, reflection and discussion with students and colleagues. Space helps shape a scalable society of thinkers, where students learn a range of skills from collaboration to creativity, innovation, risk management, presentation skills and perseverance. These factors confer to create a setting ideally crafted for raising the people of tomorrow.


As Arper’s exclusive distributors in New Zealand, UFL are proud to embody Arper’s ethos down under. Think of it as future-proofing, or creating indemnity as we send our upcoming generations out to shape a brave new world.

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Helsinki’s Holistic Interiors


Joanna Laajisto Creative Studio is the genius behind the renovation of Michel Restaurant & Cocktail Bar, formerly König, situated in the heart of Helsinki’s shopping district. Rated one of the world’s most liveable cities, Helsinki boasts a world class hospitality industry, and the space has been transformed into a natural but polished haunt, perfect for any time of the day or night.


Laajisto is an interior designer who cut her teeth within a highly competitive scene in Los Angeles, designing large-scale commercial projects for an international architecture firm. Notable not only for her sublime design aesthetic, Joanna is also LEED accredited, making her an expert in environmental and energy efficient design. Her belief is that successful design is an all-encompassing experience and the work of her studio is driven simultaneously by functionality and aesthetics. Their belief is not to clutter the world with unnecessary objects but to reveal the undisclosed beauty of a space and enhance it through creative solutions.


This wholesome philosophy is particularly poignant in an epoch of fast-paced consumerism, where last season’s purchases, are this year’s landfill. Not that you would want to discard anything JLCS curate; their interiors are of a calibre that one would want to revel in forever, just as they are. With a transcendent understanding of colour and form, Laajisto’s projects are noteworthy for their clean, uncluttered lines, pared with deluxe lacquers, exquisite lamps and tribal textiles. Contemporary yet timeless, interiors that are balanced, simple and exude warmth.


The Piece-de-Resistance at Michel is a Statuario marble and stainless steel cocktail bar sitting in the centre of the space. Arrestingly beautiful with strong geometry, it divides the restaurant into various dining and drinking areas which feature furniture in Ash and Beech timber by Andreu World, in particular the Smart Chair and Moody Barstool. A green wooden panelled wall, inspired by the traditional 1940‘s outdoor kiosks that can be found all over Helsinki, nods to the past then drags it into the present day, propelling it into the limelight for all to behold.


The bathrooms at Michel look good enough to set up a table and chairs and eat your dinner in. Once again marble steals the show on all walls and light features. A huge wash basin designed by Laajisto herself dominates and black minimalist hardware provides sleek contrast against the softness of the stone.


Michel’s makeover emphasises JLCS’s position as a trailblazing, environmentally savvy designer of spaces that will continue to inspire for decades to come.


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Sancal’s Sound of Music

Sony Music 5

Until recently the Spanish HQ of Sony Music was located in a dilapidated building harking from the 1980’s (think tiny offices and lots of beige) on Madrid’s city fringe. Sony’s powerful brand identity was distorted by the site and the staff were hampered by operational problems caused by the dated interiors; a chronic misuse of space, no ability to accommodate future strategies, and a lack of meeting rooms and breakout spaces. In short, a complete overhaul was long overdue.


Enter British architecture firm AECOM’s Strategy Plus Team. And, a shiny new locale in Paseo de la Castellana at the heart of Madrid’s CBD. AECOM’s mission was to create an uplifting, modern environment that embodied Sony’s values and the digital age of music, inviting a more sociable and ABW environment. AECOM have fostered a reputation for creating innovative spaces that increase productivity, collaboration and culture.


The strategy AECOM enlisted was to shift the internal culture away from isolated work zones, to a highly collaborative space with music at its heart. AECOM delivered an integrated and flexible office, one which enables recording artists and the label’s support teams to work closely together, including an in-house amphitheater for artists, the press, clients and employee’s for performances and events.


Sony HQ has been drenched in a vivid colour palette and playful furniture by Spanish manufacturer Sancal, known for their off-the-wall, trend-setting styles. Pieces include the Boomerang Chill lounge chair, Tab occasional tables, Tea lounge chairs, Chat ottomans and Pion stools. The pieces are small works of art, little offerings of form and function within this hub of spirited creativity. The icing on the cake, where Sony’s employees take ownership of their brand, living and loving it every day.


Photo credits Manolo Yllera

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Educated Design in Singapore

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The recently completed SUTD, Singapore University of Technology & Design, pays homage to the changing requirements of today’s learning institutions. Several curvaceous and colourful buildings comprise the University, which was designed by UNStudio and DP Architects and operates in conjunction with MIT. Offering an exclusive multi-disciplinary education that focuses on Architecture and Sustainable Design, Engineering Product Development, Engineering Systems and Design, and Information Systems Technology and Design, SUTD amalgamates the best practices and values of East and West.


Two special spaces within SUTD are the library, which has been equipped with ENEA’s Lottus Wood chair with white polypropylene shells and seats upholstered in light brown or turquoise fabric. And the cafeteria, furnished with more Lottus chairs and the new Lottus AL Table with its sleek cross-base.


A highly sustainable building, SUTD incorporates numerous passive design strategies designed to counteract Singapore’s tropical climate. Natural ventilation systems have been applied throughout the building, as well as cooling techniques, covered walkways, louvered facade shading, and extensive sunlight to the interiors due to the site’s clever orientation. SUTD embraces Singapore’s natural climate and landscape through the incorporation of facade planters, green roof terraces, sky gardens and numerous green zones planted with native trees and flowering plants.


Ben van Berkel from UNStudio explains “The design for the SUTD consciously avoids over-articulation and instead focuses on infrastructural qualities, on connectivity and the creation of an open, transparent and light facility that responds to the requirements of the contemporary campus. In this way the architecture of the SUTD does not attempt to overwhelm the students with a singular vision, it instead enables them to develop their own architectural language for the future. From the exterior the SUTD academic buildings look like somewhat dense, separate blocks, but they are in fact experienced in a completely connected and open way”.



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Sounding Board


Yet another feather has been placed in Arper’s already brimming cap.

Parentesit, the acoustic, modular wall panel system designed by Lievore Altherr Molina, has been awarded a coveted Iconic Award, in the Wall, Floor and Ceiling category for 2015.

The Iconic Awards which are in their third season, are organised by the German Design Council. The competition recognizes visionary architecture and products across architectural and manufacturing industries, and winners are selected from a number of outstanding international submissions.


As functional as it is modern, Parentesit speaks the same slick, minimal language that defines Arper’s entire collection. The bold design is deceptively simple, yet Parentesit significantly reduces peripheral noise, and by proxy creates calm zones in busy environments. Optimally suited for commercial environments where privacy and quiet spaces for concentration are vital, the panels can also be tailored to conceal speakers and lighting on clients’ request.


Available in three elemental shapes; circular, square and oval with a horizontal or diagonal split, the geometric forms can stand-alone or be paired for greater impact, and are available in single colour or dual colour versions.


Parentesit is being finalized, and will be in production and available from UFL from late 2015.



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Home Away From Office


Hotel Bella Sky in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, offers outstanding architecture designed by 3XN Architects. One of Scandinavia’s largest hotels with 23 floors, 812 rooms, the Bella Sky symbolizes the identity of the modern Ørestad area and marks the city’s increasing importance on the international convention and congress scene. The sculptural profile and visibility of the hotel from the various corners of Copenhagen, make it an important landmark within the city.


Offering an abundance of new accommodation, two towers reach up 77m, and lean out at a staggering 15 degrees in each direction. 3XN also designed a large portion of the hotel’s interior, and in that regard have aimed to set the Bella Sky apart from other hotels. Where most international convention hotels have a formal and impersonal style, 3XN wanted to address this by designing the interior in a style reminiscent of a Scandinavian home with warmth, light and a connection to nature.


Located within the hotel are work spaces that provide all the resources of an office away from home. Group seating areas, white boards and long work-tables are ideally situated for brainstorming or company-wide briefing sessions. In-house catering eliminates the need to leave the site for lunch, and hotel amenities make it easy for a diverse group to come together and focus on work related projects. As 3XN explain, ‘When we travel, we all need a space where we can work and meet with clients. With a group of people and all of our computers, it can be a challenge to find a space that is large enough to accommodate a group and that has all of the amenities of an office when you’re abroad.’


Featured within the activity based working spaces is Arper’s Catifa 53, the Nuur Table, Pix Table, Pix Ottomans and the Catifa 60



Photo Credits – Salva Lopez

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