Monthly Archives: August 2015

Helsinki’s Holistic Interiors

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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