Friday, 24 February 2012

Apartment Therapy

Thank goodness for Neometro apartment developments!  Amongst the jungle of mediocre apartment developments popping up around Melbourne, Neometro stand out for their contemporary designs with an edge.  They have teamed up with KPDO for the interiors of 41 Darling Street which is so fantasic as I feel that when apartments developments are designed soley by architects* and developers they can lack attention to detail and sometimes the spatial flow could be better.  As always it depends on the developer client and budget. (*note: not all archtects of course, the architects I work with are amazing and are not in this category!) I feel that there are a lot of missed opportunities out there and guess what?  Getting an expert that specializes in interior design adds major dollars to the sale price.  I'm not even kidding!  I've said it once and I'll say it again, we can't live on a facade.  When an interior designer is engaged in the early stages, we consider the planning to design versitile spaces that add to the everyday living experience.  With an indepth knowledge of interior materials and fittings we can specify the most practical and appropriate selections to add warmth and a sophistcated design aesthetic.  We know the world's best practice when it comes to interiors. 

And it doesn't come much better than KPDO (Kerry Phelan Design Office).  The spaces and materials are beautiful.  Of course this is not your average development, it's high-end and the location on Darling Street calls for it.  It is fun to dream though...

From the agent: Forty One Darling is a unique residence comprising four generous bedrooms, multiple living areas, multiple basement car parking with turntable, private lift, plunge pool, wine storage, multiple outdoor areas and more.

Open for inspection this Saturday 25th and Wednesday 29th Feb 2010.
Photos from KPDO and

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Go Sportsgirl!

Last weekend I met a friend at Topshop and we had fun looking at the crazy pattened leggings and bright hotpants whilst we chatted girltalk and generally had fun.  There is such a great vibe in the store.  Then we went for a little wander further down Chapel Street to Sportsgirl.  Not so busy in there...

Good ol' Sportsgirl.  I grew up with the brand and wanted to wear it before I was old enough to.  When I grew up I wanted to drive a Sportsgirl branded Barina (if you're were around in the '80s you'll remember those) And guess what?  I still love Sportsgirl. 

They have always moved forward and they weren't just gonna sit there whilst Topshop moved in down the street.  Look what they've done on their Chapel Street store windows, how very 2012!  Basically you can shop online by scanning the barcodes on the windows, now that's a different spin on window shopping!  It's a clever response to interact with online iphone shoppers  instore and also perhaps capturing the nightlife foot traffic.  I can imagine that after a few drinks along the bars on Chapel Street that some online shopping could be a very appealing idea!  (note: Drink and shop online responsibly!).  This is also a way to generate sales whilst the store fit-out gets a revamp. Imagine the possiblites of using these online barcodes on bus shelters, billboards etc.  Out of control!  I think it's fantastic that Sportsgirl are proactive and not complaining about the competition of online retailers. 
To get started all you need to do is download an app that reads the barcodes (have you seen those grid-like black barcodes around?) Sportsgirl have a guide on how to do it here
Top photo from Fab Sugar

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sustainable Housing

I came across this this beach house in Green magazine, I love the unpretentiousness of it.  Simple construction, basic materials and contemporary design.  To me, a beach house should be a place where you can get away, turn off the phones and really relax.  You shouldn't need to worry about a bit of sand on the floor or doing the dishes- just order some fish n chips!  This house by Gibson Judd is just that type of beach house.  It reinterprets the classic fibro beach house of the 50s & 60s in a contemporary way.

Gibson Judd "The shack functions as two linked pavilions. The main pavilion includes the kitchen/dining/lounge, a bathroom / laundry and one bedroom. The second pavilion houses two bedrooms and a bathroom."

It's a good example of an environmentally sustainable design.  This week is the Sustainability Festival in Melbourne and I went to check out the screening of 'Earthships', a documentary about architect Michael Reynolds and his team of interns as they build an earthship in Mexico.  The earthships (I love that name) use some garbage materials such as tyres, cans and bottles in the construction.  They provide solar power, catchwater, contained sewage treatment and a green house provides fruit & vegetables.  The orientation is important to heat/cool using thermal mass of the building and glazing.  There are some great ideas there, but if you're interested in sustainability then they aren't really any totally new groundbreaking ideas.
It's definitely a good thing to reuse garbage in new ways, however I wasn't sure that using aluminum cans as bricks is really the most efficient use of aluminum?  The cans are quite small and spaced far apart with cement around each can.  That's a lot of cement and perhaps the aluminum can be recycled to make other products?  I wondered about the sustainability of cement as a material, it basically holds the walls up.  Aluminum is a very poor insulator also, it doesn't keep heat inside in winter and lets heat inside in summer.  I feel like the sustainability movement has come a long way in 30 years and there are now new ways to achieve an environmentally sustainable building that doesn't necessarily have this kind of recycled garbage, kooky aesthetic.  Seeing this film may actually alienate the general public away from sustainable housing if they think they will need to live in a strange mud hut.  Is that too harsh?  Oh well...
Earthships have been built all around the world and Michael Reynolds claims that they work in every climate.  The website claims 'The Most Versatile and Economical building design in the world.'
What about cities?  According to the UN, half of the world’s population live in urban areas.  I'm a big believer in cities, and these types of buildings don't lend themselves to high-density living.  If everyone lived in an earthship the urban sprawl could go on forever and people would travel further and further to get to work.  Anyway, the film definitely got me thinking.  I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts, would you live in an earthship?

Photos from Gibson Judd and Earthships

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Light in São Paulo

Stop right there!  This house is a beauty.  The spaces are filled with light and there is a beautiful courtyard that merges seamlessly with the kitchen.  However there is no view outside at all, which shows that clever planning can give privacy and lots of daylight in an inner city location.  So very clever.  This house in São Paulo was originally constructed in the 40s and has recently undergone a renovation by architect Guilherme Torres.  I like it's compact size (130 m²) which still gives you everything you need and a closet room - now I'm in love!  I admit that there is no way I could live so minimally, I like things too much however I could totally live here.  I mean did you see that bath in the terrace.  I could so picture myself in that bath at dusk under the sky with a pile of magazines, some tunes playing and a couple of mojitos.  Oh yeah.  Amazing.
I love the materials on the facade and that pivot door- I love a massive pivot door, who doesn't? Gorgeous. 

Found on archdaily.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

New and Old

It's always so good to see a lovely old heritage building given a brand new life again.  This building in East London (the cool end) began life in 1910 as the Town Hall and has recently been renovated and extended to accommodate a 98 room hotel.  Rare Architects have respectively inserted the new additions into the building and have used a lot of glass as a way to allow existing building to show through.  All of the existing details were painstakingly restored to their former glory which gives the guest a feeling like they are staying somewhere special and unique.  I have to say that a 102 year old building isn't really that old, perhaps the building actually looks older than it is.  However this project is proof that we don't have to simply tear down a building to make way for something new, if we think differently we can cleverly use what is existing and appreciate it in a new way. 

The layering of the old and new is what really appeals to me.  I love the new extension juxtaposed to the old facade.  The laser-cut powdercoated aluminum skin is in total contrast to the heavy stone of the old building, it simply just works.  The scale is the same, both of the facades are richly detailed, the proportions are right and the new addition is of it's time.  A student asked me the same question yesterday, how to blend the old and new successfully.  Unfortunately there is no text book answer.  Perhaps it's finding a common element as I mentioned above, or simply the contrast between the old and new makes it work?  Maybe I'll show the class this Town Hall Hotel as a good example.
ps. How amazing is this indoor pool?  Loving the return of gold in interiors, so warm and glamorous!

Found on Yatzer

Monday, 13 February 2012

Big Love

Valentines Day is a funny thing isn't it?  A lot of people out there claim to absolutely hate it because it's so commercialized with its tacky overpriced gifts set-menus.  I'm on the fence with this one.  I hate all of that tacky stuff too, but it's still nice to write a little message in a cute card and have dinner with your valentine.  Even if it is just Nandos in the park, with a couple of ciders (hint hint).  So I thought I'd write a little Valentines Day post this year because I came across this image of a proposed Valentines Day installation at New York City's Duffy Square. Designed by Danish architecture firm BIG (bjarke ingles group) the heart reacts with peoples interaction.  I love the fact that in the US they seem to embrace every holiday wholeheartedly (pardon the pun).  Why not celebrate love? 

I hope that you have a lovely Valentines Day!

"BIG(heart)NYC' is a 10-foot tall cube-like structure composed of 400 transparent LED acrylic tubes enveloping a large red heart that is suspended within. the cylindrical components refract the surrounding bright lights of times square around the symbol of love. The interactive art piece pulses with a glowing red luminosity whereby, people's interaction with one another intensify the beating of the brightly, burning heart."
Found on Designboom

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Share it.

Source: Emmas Design Blog | Photography: Johan Carlsson | 
Stylist: Henrik Nygren & Susanna Nygren Barrett
I want to let you into a little secret I've been hiding for a while now.  I cheat.  Yes, it's true.  Since I found out how easy it is, I do it more and more and I haven't been caught yet.  So I thought I'd share with you how I've been cheating, it's called Share Design.  As a designer sometimes I need to source a good tap for instance, and there are just so many out there. So instead of flipping though endless websites and catalogues I go straight to Share Design and right there is a great selection of taps, no brass federation styles or ugly designs only the good ones.  Or if I need to find some inspirational images of dining rooms, they are all there too.  I feel a little guilty as a designer to just swipe the info from a website, but it's really good, promise! So now I want to share it with you too.  I feel better now I've admitted that.  Of course the selections are all in very 'good taste' so if a project requires something a bit unexpected and edgy I will search high and low for that unusual find, but it really is a great place to start.  It makes sense that the selection has been curated by designers, for designers.  From their website:

"Share Design is about two design professionals, as well as great friends, with a strong desire to share their extensive and sought after design experience and knowledge.  So whether you just want to find that great kitchen tap, that perfect white paint colour or how to achieve that Belgian look for your own home, Shareen and Miranda have done all the hard work for you."

Source: Skona Hem | Photography: Johan Carlsson | Stylist: Henrik Nygren & Susanna Nygren Barrett
Source: Emmas Design Blog | Designer: Agneta Enzell | Photography: Sandra Pettersson
Source: Emmas Design Blog | Photography: Johan Carlsson | Stylist: Henrik Nygren & Susanna Nygren Barrett
Source: Emmas Blog | Photography: Johan Carlsson | Stylist: Henrik Nygren & Susanna Nygren Barrett
Source: Emmas Design Blog | Photography: Johan Carlsson | Stylist: Henrik Nygren & Susanna Nygren Barrett
 Source: Domino | Photography: Melanie Acevedo | Architect: Levenson MacDavid Architects
  Designer: Ulla Koskinen


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