Month: July 2013

Cora Büttenbender

Q&A with… Cora Büttenbender

I immediately fell in love with Paris-based Cora Büttenbender‘s photographs when I spotted them on Pinterest. Her compositions are perfectly balanced, depicting still lifes, lazy mornings in bed, or simply beautiful interiors. She even makes a group if children’s dinosaur toys look pretty, not to mention a bleak rainy window on a train! I had a chat with her to find out a bit more about her work… Whats your background? How did you end up doing what you are doing now? I became a photographer because of a good friend of mine. My plans to go to France as an au-pair failed, so I asked her advice. Become a photographer! she answered. And she was right. Where does your inspiration come from? I work, live and travel between Paris, Milan and Germany. I like airports, being a nomad, discovering, communication, design, exhibitions, minimalism, fashion, small things, food, family, friends, the desert, the sea, the horizon, simplicity and every colour. What is your favourite thing to photograph? It was soon clear to me that I would …

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Cellebroeders student accommodation by a2o architecten

Belgium-based a2o architecten has converted a vacant building on the Cellebroedersstraat in Hasselt, Belgium into student accommodation and a shop on the ground floor. The former shop has been transformed with new wooden cladding that extends to the mono-pitched roof and framed white windows. The floors have been divided into student accommodation units and the rooms are separated by light walls. Each room has a removable unit containing a kitchen, shower, and toilet as well as a space to sleep on a small upper level. a2o architecten said: “Our approach in this case was more like a performance in town. Over a period of three months, the building was stripped and given a new dress. The temporariness of the performance was underlined by the materials used: a wooden facade, light walls, et cetera. Whereas one would expect that this approach is only possible inside, this project shows that it can also intelligently be applied to the outer shell.”   

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Social Housing, Paris by h2o architectes

I previously featured a great little office space by French h2o architectes in the 18th arrondissement in Paris (you can see it here). The office space is formed entirely of grey boxes, which make up the desks, shelving units and storage. I hadn’t heard much about them as a practice before, so I was interested to see another project drop into my inbox. The project takes up a slim site on Rue Godefroy Cavaignac in Paris. The brief was to revitalise the image of the building on the street and provide new social housing to the area. Taking inspiration from the surrounding 19th century buildings, the facade features similarly proportioned bow-windows and a cream finish. h2o has carefully positioned the balconies to direct views down the adjacent Parisian streets. There is also a courtyard and planted patio visible through the open doors of the ground floor. h20 commented: “A page is turned, social life is reinvented.”  

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Saunalahti School, Finland by Verstas Architects

As readers of this blog will know, I am a sucker for anything Scandinavian, and that includes it’s architecture. Helsinki-based Verstas Architects has completed a new school in Espoo, Finland’s second largest city. Saunalahti is an entirely new neighbourhood of Espoo. The new school provides a social meeting point for the families living in the area, with classroom spaces as well as a day care centre, preschool and a youth house. The school also houses a public library and in the evenings and weekends the workshop classrooms, gymnastics spaces and school playground are used by the locals and several clubs. “The openness and the sense of community can also be seen in the architecture”, explains architect Ilkka Salminen. “The heart of the building, the multi-purpose dining hall is the space where all users meet. It opens up to the large school yard like an amphitheatre.” The building itself is formed of fair-face concrete walls and smooth, curving oak veneered ceilings- sensitive and natural materials that remind me of Alvar Aalto’s work. A large glass wall connects the school …

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Celestine Eleven

Conceived as an “alternative luxury store”, Celestine Eleven is a new retail experience in London’s Shoreditch that aims to offer visitors the means to live well in all spheres, whether aesthetically, intellectually and spiritually. It aims to soothe your mind as well as your fashion tastes, all in one trip. With roots firmly grounded in “counter culture”, founder Tena Strok has curated a selection of designer womenswear, from JW Anderson to Penelope Chilvers, as well as rare photography editions, books, and a selection of jewellery. There is also an apothecary selling natural skincare, vitamin supplements, herbal teas and edible products such as raw goji berries and chia seeds. And if that wasn’t enough, Strok has brought in renowned facialist Alexandra Soveral to offer a variety of relaxing treatments. This isn’t simply a shop, it’s a whole way of living. The shop itself was designed by Copenhagen-based More Office. The design compliments the concept behind the project, with raw and urban materials like concrete and untreated wood. I particularly liked the copper clothing rails and adjustable light fittings. …

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Beach in the East

Yasmin Sewell, former chief creative consultant with London’s Liberty department store, has teamed up with style sales agency Paper Mache Tiger to create Beach in the East, a pop-up summer shopping destination in a disused swimming pool in Shoreditch. Walk down a quiet street just off Old Street and you are greeted by a sign saying ‘Pool Area: No Smoking, No Running, No Petting’, down some stairs and you reach a quiet hub of fashion activity. Each item has been handpicked by Sewell and some pieces have been designed especially for the event. There’s Sophie Webster sandals, Cecile t-shirts, Thomas Tait print tops and some colourful Sheriff and Cherry sunglasses, to name a few. The vibe is laid-back, California meets Shoreditch, with windsurfing sails overhead and lots of graffiti in the changing rooms. It was nice to see some affordable new labels such as Ancient Greek Sandals that I hadn’t heard of before, a welcome break from the usual names. If this is anything to go by, I’m sure it won’t be long before Sewell has …

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Stop Look Listen: Three things to do this week

There’s some great things happening in London this week, I know most of you will be flocking to the London parks to soak up the sunshine but here’s my pick of three cultural things to do, including the must-see Richard Rogers exhibition at the Royal Academy. STOP    What: Richard Rogers RA: Inside Out Where: Royal Academy, London When: Until October 13 You might be surprised to see three brightly coloured ducts outside the Royal Academy’s classic facade. They are in fact a symbol of one of Britain’s most prolific architect’s work, that of Richard Rogers, who celebrates his 80th birthday next week. ‘Inside Out’ reveals the man behind the architect and the ideas behind his pioneering buildings, such as the Pompidou Centre in Paris with Renzo Piano, Lloyd’s of London and the Law Courts in Bordeaux. The exhibition explores his career, from the influence of his Italian family and childhood in Florence to his contribution to the debate on public spaces and cities today. (images my own) LOOK What: Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life …

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Aesop opens Covent Garden store by Ciguë

  French architect Ciguë has completed London’s sixth store for  skin and haircare brand Aesop in Covent Garden. I went down at the weekend to have a look and fell in love with the hexagonal green floor tiles that feature engraved white patterns and mimic a lush forest floor. Ciguë, who has designed five other Aesop stores in Paris and London, was inspired by four key references: a Virginia Woolf quote, a Francis Bacon painting, a Henry Moore sculpture, and an excerpt from Beauty and the Beast, “We are very curious about history, and very attentive to transformations. We look out for old know-how and poetry in functionality.” The store is extremely light and features whitewashed walls and in-built shelves which blend into the sides of the store. Nothing but the exposed copper plumbing touches the ground, giving the allusion of an endless shop floor. The green colour is replicated in lush vegetation which climbs the walls from an interior window box, complementing the neighbouring gardens of Saint Paul’s Church. Aesop also has a great little A-Z guide of …

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The Spirit of Utopia

I’ve written a review of The Whitechapel Gallery’s latest exhibition The Spirit of Utopia for Disegno Daily. Ten international artists and collectives have created a series of playful installations that range from a live pottery studio to a futuristic greenhouse. Read the review here.  

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A furniture project by Muller Van Severen

  Belgian duo Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen describe their furniture collection as “landscapes for living in”. Their latest work is a quest for intersections, fusing a table, a staircase, a lamp, a seat, a chaise longue and shelves in one functional composition. In 2011 visual artists Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen decided to cross the lines of their individual disciplines -photography and sculpture- and embark on a mutual ‘furniture project’.  Together they developed a series of unique design pieces, minimal in form and detailing but maximal in its usability and use of materials. They say: “Whereas design mostly finds its origin in plasticity and form, we consider material to be the source from which a piece of furniture grows.  We have made a selection of different coloured marble stones that we combine withe metal profiles and coloured polyethylene cutting boards.  The colours-but also the patters in the marble stone- give the furniture movement, some kind of gracefulness.  This makes every piece of furniture unique.”