Architecture is slow. Toyo Ito won the competition to design the Taichung Metropolitan Opera Houseway back in 2005. Half a decade later, the project has broken ground! Ito and his office have spent the last five years not only resolving the design of the Opera, but proving the construction of the project’s aberrant geometry feasible.
But it’s hard to describe that geometry: the project is more organized than a sponge but more fluid than a beehive. Somewhere between these two biological models is novel architectural space; space where continuous surfaces envelop programmatic elements in a complex interplay between inside and out. And as exciting as the form of the project is, its success depends on its realization– the visceral flutter of cilia as visitors move through space.
It’s a realization that will take years to achieve. Currently set for opening in late 2013, we have three years to observe the construction of the steel matrix and concrete membranes, three years to kill before its curves echo the awe of visitors, and three years to prepare our stomachs.
In the midst of my usual chronic clicking syndrome I stumbled upon the Spring/Summer 2010-11 collection from Australian accessories designer Elke Kramer and immediately stopped in my tracks. Hello gorgeous colour, beautiful texture and quasi-ethnic style! With the evocative title The Shake of Ophelia, Kramer’s latest collection is “inspired by the story of a beautiful young girl born into a life of luxury and privilege at the turn of the 19th century, whose sense of adventure leads her to exotic lands.” The varied use of materials is amazing: tassels, resin beads and stones are integrated into the designs to produce unique statement pieces. Plus the styling of the lookbook is stunning, wonderfully summoning the narrative of nomadic life, exotic tribalism and high class behind the jewellery.
The thing really keeps me writing is finding innovative little projects like this one from Gareth Hughes called 2 Sugars. This is simply a concept that he created but I thought it was so clever I had to share. The idea is simple, a lot of people have to get coffee or tea or drinks for their co-workers but it’s often difficult to remember what everyone wants. Enter 2 Sugars which allows you to easily create users and then input what each one of them wants by simple clicking the options on the screen. There’s even the tiny detail of shaking the screen to clear your order, which could be really fun or frustrating. Either way I think Gareth needs to make this app a reality, don’t you?
My friends Liz Meyer and Gavin Potenza, who go by the artsy name of Script and Seal, have taken up temporary residence over on Friends of Type. They’ve only put up two pieces so far but I’m really enjoying what they’ve done nonetheless. My favorite is this image, Walk + Wander, which has sort of a Native American vibe going for it. It also feels a bit futuristic as well though, kind of jagged and distorted like a shitty, ancient printer. Be sure to stop by all week and see what else they come up with, I’m sure it’ll be beautiful.
What happens to temporary pavilions when the summer, fair, or exposition ends? Some are too pretty to tear down, like the Eiffel Tower, Sunsphere or the Palace of Fine Arts (designed by Bernard Maybeck for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco). Other pavilions just to rot in place like forgotten pumpkins. Some pavilions develop the wanderlust, like Daniel Libeskind’s 2001 Serpentine Pavilion that moved to Ireland. And rumor has it that Charles Jencks bought the 2008 Serpentine Pavilion designed by Frank Gehry.
Toyo Ito’s beautiful Serpentine Pavilion ended up in the parking lot of an abandoned power station in South London. I learned this while visiting London in October of 2007 and seeing the Serpentine Pavilion designed by Olafur Eliasson and Snøhetta. At the time, I was with my friend Claire and we started to talk about the previous pavilions when she told me that she had seen Toyo Ito’s 2002 pavilion from the top deck of a two-level bus on her way to work.
Claire and I thought there would be zero chance of us getting to see the older pavilion up close since it was dark by the time we arrived at the security gate in front of the relocated pavilion. Luckily, the pavilion’s new purpose was to raise interest and pounds to do something with the Battersea Power Station behind it. That particular October night, the pavilion was hosting a film festival. So happily, Claire and I paid a few pounds and sat through films I’ve entirely forgotten so we could be in the barely heated pavilion four years after its summer was supposed to end.
P.S. Here are more photos I took of the 2007 and 2002 pavilions.
Australian artist Jodee Knowles produces artworks that are visually alluring and yet slightly disturbing in their complexity. The subjects of her pieces are generally females whose portraits evoke strength and beauty, as well as fragility and unease. When asked to describe her influences during an interview with weAREtheIMAGEmakers, Knowles commented:
My works are taken from life experience and people in general, I spend a lot of time looking at peoples mannerisms and take their negative attributes and put them in my works. My work portrays my own existence, where extreme experiences, fear and obsession collide. I am always hungry for emotional experiences and am addicted to the chaotic environment of them. Each work represents and displays my connection with individuals who are involved in my life emotionally, and whose existence causes me to constantly question my own.
By drawing on the negative, Knowles sets up an exquisite tension in her work that strips back emotional layers that bleed on the canvas. Predominantly using ink and some watercolour effects, each piece captures the melancholy details, grimaces, pauses and ellipses of life.
Creating simple but memorable branding is difficult. Putting enough style and character into something without it being too precious is a fine line to tread but I think the folks over at Menosunocerouno have done it well with their work for Basanti, a tea brand from Mexico. There’s not much too it, some elegantly written words in chalk on black background, but the gloss of the bags and the matte of the coffee cups make it look quite nice. The effect is also quite nice on the clear cool drink cup with the drink itself acting as the background for the text. Very understated but beautiful at the same time.
This weekend I spent a lot of time listening to the Drifting EP by Mutual Benefit, a spooky and beautiful 4 songs. The closest I can come to a comparison would be The Antlers, but Mutual Benefit is a little more electronic feeling and perhaps a bit less melancholy. I’m currently writing this post on the bus while listening to it and it makes for some great traveling music.
If you only have time for one song be sure to listen to Here, the first song off the EP. If you like everything you hear be sure to download the whole thing for free.
In the same vein as so many of my friends and acquaintances I have a love/hate relationship with Swedish homewares giant IKEA; however, I love everything about their new book of baking recipes, Hembakat är Bäst (Homemade Is Best). Styled by Evelina Bratell and photographed by Carl Kleiner, the cookbook’s photography eschews only presenting the finished dish in favour of also capturing the ingredients in artfully arranged still life imagery. It’s a little like deconstructed food photography where intricately displayed piles of sugar, egg yolks and vanilla pods are works of art. As far as I can tell the book is only available in instore in Sweden, but hopefully it will also be released internationally. At least my stomach hopes so.
This week,we’ll be looking at three projects by Toyo Ito. Not in an attempt to span or summarize his impressive and prolific body of work, rather just three great and recent projects. The first project, suggested by Bobby, is the Tama Art University Library.
Completed in 2007, the library is the only place on campus (other than the cafeteria) where the students and faculty across all of the university’s disciplines interact. The most prominent design feature of the project is the irregular series of concrete arches that accomplish a spatial variety without leaving those spaces feeling disconnected or insular. In a superb series of photographs by Iwan Baan, you’ll see the library uses mostly low, curvilinear book shelves that allow visual continuity across the library. But there are moments where the bookshelves bloom into sculpted irregular grids that fill entire archways.
I’m used to libraries feeling like regimented canyons: tall, narrow spaces defined by stacked shelves, but the Tama Art University Library seems more mysterious, like a forest. There are moments in traditional libraries where you can see people on the aisles parallel to yours through the gaps between books. Ito has constructed a space that removes the veil of books that can separate us from each other, and we can simply talk under graceful arcs of concrete.
Maybe we’ll ask where the fire sprinklers and air conditioning are hiding.