simon’s snow plough

My BFFs from Perth are current skiing in Vail. I wonder if they have seen anything as cool as this on the slopes? Since 2004  Simon Beck has been stamping his mark on freshly fallen snow at the Les Arcs ski resort in France. Distinctly geometric pattern are created footprint by footprint. Taking somewhere between six hours and two days to complete, his endurance comes from years of competitive orienteering which also helps him in the precise mapping process which often begins on a computer before he’s able to mark landmarks in the snow that guide his precise walking patterns.

To see more of Simon's tres cool snow art check out www.facebook.com/snowart8848

VM Europe
12/03/2013

‘Wouldn’t it be love-er-ly’ if it was here and not there!

Chanel beauty stores appear to be making in roads into Australian suburbs. Opening this Thursday at Westfield Carindale (Brisbane), at the new look Highpoint (Melbourne) next week,  and already well established at the likes of Chadstone and Westfield Bondi Junction, if you can't afford the fashion you can certainly pop a lippy and nail polish in your purse without breaking the bank.  In July 2012, CHANEL launched a unique pop-up beauty boutique in the heart of London’s Covent Garden. In 2013, now a permanent resident, CHANEL celebrates their new perfumery through the scent of flowers (seemingly the perfect location if you recall Audrey Hepburn as the flower seller, Eliza Doolittle, in My Fair Lady).

The Brits celebrate Mothers Day in March (down here in Oz we do it in May). If you happen to be in London next weekend, from Friday 8th March to Sunday 10th March, the CHANEL flower stall will be selling bouquets of blooms used in the House’s most celebrated fragrances. A hand written message by a calligrapher on a Camellia embossed card, with a choice of quotes from Mademoiselle Chanel, as part of the deal. Very nice indeed.   via www.telegraph.co.uk

     
Chanel VM London
05/03/2013

Design & the Bottom Line

Mid way through last year the owners of a 'run of the mill' cafe in Kew decided they wanted to 'get a bit groovy' and appeal to a more urban bod / 'Yummy Mummy' type living in this well-heeled leafy suburb. Some good advice from a regular coffee client (an architect) was ... "engage a good interior designer and work with what you've got". Comer & King got the gig along with very modest budget (nothing new there, but in this case spent with maximum effect ... which is why you call in the expert in the first instance isn't it? ).

Once a new name, brand identity and colour palette was established and the interior concept agreed the C&K team got busy. A couple of dodgey old doors were replaced bright blue new ones (hard to miss as you are driving down High Street and the owner's loved the idea ... "we thought it was brilliant - we really stand out on the street now"). Freshly painted tones of steel blue, charcoal and taupe gave the dining spaces definition. A side board was painted and relocated.  Popular pop blue Tolix chairs, new tables, some fab light fittings, an oversized clock, a collection of plates with friendly food motives (hand drawn by Cameron Comer) and a bicycle bolted to the wall completed the transformation. Seating was reconfigured to provide 20 more seats (70 in total).

The owners are delighted with the results, both aesthetically and from a customer perspective (they are voting with their feet and wallets ... which was the intended outcome of the exercise).  Without wanting to appear too nosey about their business, I understand they are now grinding through a lot more kilos of coffee each week and a strong Saturday trade has been established (a poor trading day before the make over) (FYI there were also line ups out the door and down the foot path in the first few weeks after re-opening which has now settled into a solid, sensible pace!)

Initially regulars thought the cafe was under new management. They soon figured out it was the same owners and same chef serving up their familiar favourites. Within a week or two word had got around and they were back ... along with a whole swag of new customers who had not considered it an option previously.  I do love the pulling power of good design. Done well, it makes a big difference to the bottom line. Nice work by Comer & King who did both the branding and interior.

Fat Penguin, 713 High Street, Kew East, Melbourne.

To see more gorgeous interiors work go to www.comerandking.com

And for a peek at what it looked like before the make over ...

House & Contents … Event 7 – 10 March 2013

Ivan Iwanoff was a Western Australian architect of note in the 60s and 70s.  One of his masterpieces, 53 Shannon Road Dianella (Perth) is up for sale. When it comes to retailing, The Ivanoff Project is right on target. It's a sales event that goes beyond the mainstream approach. Part pop up shop, part exhibition, part educational and part social, if you cannot afford to buy this stunning property, but have an appreciation of mid century architecture, then you are welcome to a viewing as something else may catch your eye (and be within your budget!). The owners of the home have collaborated with Marisia Lukaszewski, curator and founder of Aesthetic Alliance, to source a fabulous selection of homewares and accessories that will be for sale throughout the 'open for inspection'.  Over 100 designer objects by 25+ contemporary Australian artists compliment the property. Retailers take note - this is what we mean by a sales experience!

Opening night is a catered event and has already sold out (sorry). The house and contents are open to the public 11am to 7pm from the 7th to the 10th of March 2013.

53 Shannon Road, Dianella, Perth.  For more information contact: theivanoffproject@gmail.com

 

 

Other Perth
25/02/2013

International Coup for COOP

Late last year I sat down to chat with Rowena Cornwell about her approach to interior design, and to find out more about the Balfour Hotel for which her firm, COOP Creative, had just won Best Hotel Under 50 Rooms, the only Australian hotel to be recognised at The International Hotel & Property Awards in London.

The Balfour is part of the Spicers Group and is essentially a nine room ‘home away from home’, albeit a quite luxurious one, located in New Farm, inner Brisbane.

Whilst small in scale, the Balfour is a big experience, one that is both quintessentially “Queensland at heart” but also exudes a casual European elegance. It was not quite what I expected and, for me, personally very satisfying to discover.

Cited as one of COOP’s favourite projects to date, Rowena says she loved the challenge of transforming a classic wooden Queenslander built in the 1920’s into a modern yet sympathic space. Fundamentally, Cornwell says, the project was about domestic scale architecture with a commercial use.

POD: How would you describe your design approach in one sentence?

RC: I’m always looking for the beauty, or potential beauty, in a space.

POD: From what I have seen of your work, I would describe it as considered, classic and contemporary. It appears to me you create relevant spaces that feel both special yet immediately familar and informal. The Balfour speaks volumes about the calibre of both your approach and of course your client.  Did she give you a fair amount of freedom here?

RC: She is an international business woman who has travelled extensively for both business and leisure.  She was clear about all the things she felt were important to a boutique hotel experience.  We had worked together on other projects in the past so she was confident we could deliver what were essentially pretty small rooms and spaces and still meet the 'experience' expectations she had for her future guests.

POD:  Prior to the hotel, the residence was a boarding house then a back packers. Those words conjure up images of a rabbit warren to me!  What condition was the building in, and how much of a challenge was it to see the potential beauty?

RC: A rabbit warren indeed, and a filthy one at that! It was covered in years of grime and uncaring, but the house had great bones. Our challenge was to create nine guest rooms, a lounge and dining space, a reception area and small conference facility within a fairly small footprint, as well as car parking including DA access, and an entry statement worthy of the hotel’s positioning.

POD: The entry is to the side and well down the driveway, a conventional approach would have been to put it at the front of the building?

RC: We wanted to create a real sense of arrival. The drive is fundamentally a leafy lined lane way that brings you down to the heart of the hotel.  Guests are ‘greeted' by a doorman  sculpted by a local artist, “he’s the person in the room if you like”. Reception is directly upstairs, which is the anchor between the lounge and the dining space. The guest rooms are delineated by a corridor,  providing a sense of separation from the public spaces. The lighting and darker palette in the corridor helps create this separation and a sense of drama before entering the bedrooms.

POD: What was your biggest challenge with this project?

RC: Fire rating! New legislation introduced in Queensland after the Childers Backpackers fire put more demands on a finite budget.  It is a timber home, we could not go any higher than 2 levels and there were lots of challenges with marrying the existing building and a new structure, complying to building codes and achieving a beautiful resolution of the space.  In addition to this we also had south facing bedrooms, so getting natural light into rooms was a key consideration throughout the design process.

POD: I read recently where Megan Quinn, the founder of Net-A-Porter (and another successful Brisbane girl to boot!) imagined a 1950’s bell boy carrying parcels and boxes for a stylish woman as the inspiration behind her packaging which proved to be a huge part of Net-A-Porter’s success story.  What were your first thoughts when imagining the possibilities for the Balfour?  Was there a single image that summed up your vision or started the creative process for this project?

RC: Before studying Architecture, my first degree was in fashion design. Fashion is a natural starting point in my design process. I’m also quite good at day dreaming about the possibilities ... who might use the space, what sort of lives they lead, how they might feel when staying in a space I have created ... for the Balfour my starting point was a beautiful PRADA advertisement. At the time the image just crystalised my thoughts about colour and style, and all the possibilities ahead. The beautiful jewel palette inspired the soft furnishings and the soft blue / grey finishes.

POD: The result is an interior that is soothing and cool without being cold. The subdued lighting and slivers of natural light offer a subtle respite from the Queensland sun (summers can be brutal in this part of the world). The rich velvets and palette remind me of some of the modern hotels I have visited in Milan. The more I think about the hotel, it has a rather contemporary Milanese feel about it. How do you view the hotel now that it is completed?

RC: The spaces have been 'lived in' for a little while now and these days I tend to think of the hotel as rather like staying at a rich Uncles' house. It is a place you know you are going to enjoy and have a bit of a special experience, one where you are keen to pack your bag and go, and feel a little sad that you actually have to leave. It's a personal experience and a pleasure to stay there.

POD: Your work is an inspiration. Congratulations again on your Award and thank you for taking the time to share this story with POD readers.

COOP is a Brisbane based design practice. To see more recent projects in retail (Westfield Carindale), residential and commercial go to www.coopcreative.com.au

 

Lusting over a Louboutin and a Choo or Two

After spending a rather extravagant 6 weeks on a global snoop for inspiring retail experiences I must say at the end of it I returned home foot sore and sadly underwhelmed. It was tough to find something new out there. I have decided that future explorations will have to be to emerging markets. The use of technology was on my eye-spy agenda. Where it was used for Christmas decorations I gave it the big thumbs down (Barney's Electric Holiday ... a clever concept but not a good in store experience in my opinion ... it just didn't feel like Christmas). Happily the Lord and Taylor department store on 5th Ave used technology to provide a new shoe shopping experience for me. Australian department stores still have floor staff who have to go out the back to check if the shoe is in stock in the required size. It's a slow and lousy experience.  Lord and Taylor have floor staff with hand held devices, they take your name and  then scan any shoe you like.  They can tell you immediately if they have stock in your size. If they do, and you want to try it on, a customer support person pulls it from the back of house and within minutes it has arrived on the floor without the sales person leaving your sight.  Now if only they had more size 11.5's in stock ... sadly I left empty handed.

A Peek at Pollock

In addition to being on the global snoop for what's new in seasonal decorations and retail, I have cooked and styled a couple of food shoots with uber-fab international photographer, Robyn Lea, whilst here in New York. Robyn recently photographed the home and studio of Jackson Pollock in East Hampton, Long Island.  Being a serious foodie, she was interested in more than just the art side to this editorial. The Foundation provided some favourite Pollock recipes which I whipped up and Rob worked her camera magic on this week, including making fresh bread from scratch - haven't done that in years - it turned out a treat!

VM Food New York
24/12/2012

Happy Holidays

Bloomingdale's get's my vote for the happiest holiday campaign I have seen in my 'festive season world tour'. The outdoor and print media is immediately recognisable around New York. Being a fan of the illustrator, Jenny Bowers, naturally I had to collect all 6 fab carry bags.

Christmas VM New York
22/12/2012

City of Light

Paris is the City of Light. The Place Vendome did not disappoint with a contemporary take on twigs & trees that sparkle this Christmas.

VM Paris
18/12/2012

Bon Marche in Black & Gold

Le Bon Marche's Christmas theme celebrates the architecture of Paris with tres cute back lit minature buildings scattered throughout the store. The main void has a rather minimalist take on bells. Contemporary, simple and dramatic, I think you needed to be there to appreciate just how effective it was.

Le Bon Marche VM Paris
18/12/2012