Attention Hong Kong folks – you need to get yourself down to this fab even next weekend!
Last night I was privileged to be invited to the VIP event to celebrate the Barbara Barry collections for Baker and Kallista. Barbara’s visit to Hong Kong has been long awaited. Looooong awaited, I tell you. So I schlepped my copy of her book into Central on a rainy night, and I was not disappointed. I am not at all embarrassed to admit I behaved like a star struck groupie when my turn to speak to her came. What a lovely, gracious and elegant woman she is. We had a brief chat, talked about Australia (that leg of her upcoming tour was cancelled, unfortunately), and she complimented me on my necklace (okay, I might have died and gone to heaven at that moment), and then I complimented her on her book….and I may have gushed a bit. Just a little bit…
All in all it was a fun night, I managed to catch up some people I hadn’t seen in a while, and of course thoroughly enjoyed hearing Barbara speak about her inspirations. Very inspiring indeed. What a way to start the week!
I was very fortunate to be invited to attend the Press conference for the upcoming Business of Design Week earlier this week. This year’s partner country will be Belgium, which as we all know has a long and creative history in design. I have visited this beautiful country twice myself and loved it both times, and count myself lucky to have a few lovely friends from both the French and Flemish speaking regions.
This year, in addition to expert speakers in the fields of Fashion & Apparel, Design for Experience, Space & Design, Design for Asia, Communications & Design, Product & Design and Culture & the City there will also be a new forum called Cities driven by Design…a topic very close to my heart.
There will be over 100 international speakers this year, some of the more well known include: Matteo Thun, Toyo Ito, Xavier Lust, and Hong Kong’s own Joyce Wang and Keith Griffiths of my previous employer Aedas.
2013 will be BODW’s 13th consecutive year, and myself having attended the last 8 years I can say it is a truly great event. So many inspiring speakers in town in such a short space of time gives Hong Kong an even bigger buzz (if thats possible?). So book your tickets, hotel rooms and get yourself an early bird ticket (until Nov 10th). I’ll see you there!?
Maison & Objet, the highly regarded biannual Paris fair that showcases the new and best of all things interiors and design, will start their Asian edition in Singapore, from next year.
I for one am pretty excited about this, although I have used the fair in the past as an excuse to visit Paris (not that one really needs an excuse). Who else is planning to go?
Its not often you come across someone who has pretty much crystallized every seemingly disparate thought you’ve ever had into something profound and meaningful. I had that moment last week though when I heard architect Daniel Libeskind present and had the opportunity to interview him.
I think it was Goethe who said “I call architecture frozen music”, and had he been alive today he may have been referring to the work of Studio Libeskind. Polish-born Libeskind was actually a virtuoso musician before he became an architect. He believes both art forms share a great deal in common, being crafted with perceptible and imperceptible human energy, and being partly ethereal.
His studio is responsible for some of the most iconic urban landmarks worldwide, including; the ground zero master plan NYC, the military history museum in Dresden, Jewish museum in Berlin, the Run Run Shaw creative media centre in Hong Kong, and numerous other commercial, residential and cultural buildings.
Libeskind’s presentation covered seven of his projects under segments entitled; Hand, Expressive, Heritage, Sculpture, Dialogue, Diversity and Rebirth. But it was during the group interview that he impressed me the most. Libeskind is an artist, a poet, and a philosopher. And I would have liked to have sat and talked with him for hours.
He touched upon a topic that has been on my mind a lot recently, that the built environment has a great impact on the mental health and well being of it’s occupants. We are living in an age where we are becoming more and more aware and concerned about our health, our food and where it comes from, and its nutritional content. I can only hope that in the future far greater importance will be placed on the impact of our physical surroundings. Where we live, where we work, and how we get around.
When asked about Hong Kong specifically, Libeskind called it a “daring” city, and suggested that its planners and designers needed also be daring. That the city should not just be a portfolio piece for starchitects, but that it needs to be more inventive, and perhaps a take some risks. Hong Kong is no long a city that trades goods, it now trades ideas, so a quantum shift is perhaps needed to get us into a new era, adding that cities that don’t make space for creative people have no future…
Crawford’s presentation is entitled “Why Interiors Matter” and she talks to the audience for 30mins about how a good interior can, and should, change how we behave and feel. Interiors are a microcosm of society, a frame, a world unto themselves and have a profound effect on our mental outlook, health and behaviour, but are often overlooked, or the left to the end when there is insufficient budget.
At the end, a question from the audience sparked an almost rhetorical response from Crawford. Everyone these days thinks they’re an interior designer. (Personally, if I have one more person tell me they think they have a calling just because they like to rearrange their furniture, or because they’ve helped a friend buy cushions, I’m going to quit, or give them a job!) Crawford’s insight: everyone thinks they’re an expert in interiors. But do we tell the chef in a restaurant to change things more to our liking? Do we tell a lawyer we didn’t like their closing statement? Better yet, do we argue with a doctors verdict? Disagree with a structural engineer? (Or try and negotiate with any of these other service providers on their fees?). It’s a good point.
The success of Studio Ilse’s latest project in Hong Kong, a low rise residential development – 226 Hollywood Rd (which I posted about here) – in my opinion, is a victory for all Hong Kongers. In a city where most residential developments are quite homogenous, hyper dense and high rise, 226 is a shining beacon. The developers – Blake’s – took a risk. They are the new kids on the property development block, and apparently several other old-school developers who are mentors told them it would never work. All of the apartments sold within weeks. Admittedly there were only half a dozen or so, but I think it still proves a point. That there is room for differentiation in a city like Hong Kong.
Crawford reiterated that a designer can only be as good as their client allows, and hopefully the courage and tenacity of this developer will be an example to other property developers around the world. To take risks, to do something out of the norm, and to help play their part in making our cities more livable and more attractive, for us and future generations. Buildings last a long time.
I thought I’d share a few photos sent to me of the recent London launch party for the Andre Fu carpet collection for Tai Ping. The event was held in an old church in the heart of Mayfair – personally I think the carpets are just as stunning as the building. What a beautiful backdrop…wish I could have been there!
…biennale that is!
The very first Hong Kong / Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism & Architecture, the theme of which is “City Mobilization: BYOB” (Bring Your Own Biennale), started at the beginning of this month and runs until the end of Feb next year (which is not that far away now, yikes!). The Biennale will be the first international event to be held on the site of the new West Kowloon Cultural Precint – over 46000 m2 of exhibitions and installations with some pretty exciting events and performances planned. Amongst others, Rem Koolhaas is in town for a few events as well as (I presume) the opening of the new Hong Kong office for his architectural practise – Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).
So make sure you get down to Kowloon or up to Shenzhen for some great art installations in between all the festivities and merry-making!
A quick glance at Patrick Blanc and you could be forgiven for wondering who the crazy looking little green-haired man was…a leprechaun?
In actual fact, Blanc is the botanist and designer who pioneered the use of vertical gardens in urban settings…and his presentation at BoDW was riveting.
The history of cities and modern urban development is a subject that is of great interest to me…I love cities and the built environment, which is definitely where my love of Architecture and Interior Design stems from. So Blanc’s discussion of the use of botanicals in cities to help purify the air is a subject also close to my heart, as well as many many others – a staggering 50% of the worlds population are now city dwellers!
Blanc has developed a system in which plants can be attached to a vertical structure without soil. Since the structure is so light they can be used for interior or exterior features of almost any size. Irrigation and fertilization is built in with the system and requires infrequent maintenance, the only catch is interior walls need artificial lighting.
The benefits of these lush and beautiful walls for everyone that inhabits or visits the city they are in are numerous. Not only do they look lovely (and often incorporate native species of the location) they, and the microorganisms that inhabit them, help improve the air quality by absorbing Carbon Dioxide and Volatile Organic Compounds. The system has been taken one step further and can even be setup for the plants to be irrigated by the recycled water waste from air-conditioners within the building.
Green was already my favorite colour, and while I’m not sure I’ll take Blanc’s lead and change my hair colour, I would absolutely love to see more of this colour in the form of vegetation in cities around the world – especially the concrete jungle that I currently call home.
An exterior facade – or “vegetal wall” on a Jean Nouvel building in Paris. Incidentally, Nouvel was the first architect to approach Blanc to use his vertical gardens on exterior building facades.
Another example of Blanc’s work, an interior vertical garden in the Sydney Qantas Lounge designed by Marc Newson.
In the same month readers were given a choice between a strip tease cover by Karl Lagerfeld – peel away cover to reveal Karls’ favorite model a la natural – or a flip animation by Philippe Starck.
Lenticular technology was used on this cover featuring a dress design by Hussein Chalayan that moved as you turned the cover.
Zaha Hadid’s cover involved die cutting may pages of the magazine to form a 3D sculpture inside the magazine.
Saturday night was the latest Pechua Kucha night in Hong Kong, one of the Detour satellite events to the BoDW this year. I don’t think I could have thought of a better venue for it myself – the old Police force married quarters. While these buildings have been gutted and are probably ready for demolition (they are on prime land after all…) – thankfully someone realised their potential as gallery space in their current state. While the Pecha Kucha speakers were doing their thing, an interesting crowd of people listened on either from the sandy “lawn” below complete with beach balls, or from the balconies of the apartments which housed a wide range of student and local artist installations. It’s nights like these, organised by forward thinking individuals, that will help this city reach its full potential and set it apart from the rest of Asia.
Here a few random photos I took of the evening…