Category Archives: happenings.

a very modern hotel.

Futurist, modernist, dynamic: the gull-winged TWA terminal at JFK airport is the epitome of mid-century design. Evoking a bird in flight, it is also a force in concrete construction. It was certainly a major influence on me during my architectural studies, as I poured over the images of this and other iconic modernist imagery by architectural photographer Ezra Stoller.

The TWA terminal was the last project by Finnish born architect Eero Saarinen (completed in 1962), who said of it:

All the curves, all the spaces and elements right down to the shape of the signs, display boards, railings and check-in desks were to be of a matching nature. We wanted passengers passing through the building to experience a fully-designed environment, in which each part arises from another and everything belongs to the same formal world.

It is this all inclusive design that gives the building its streamlined, organic quality; everything is considered, everything belongs (I particularly adore the sunken, built-in seating). It is perhaps this that became the building’s downfall; it was unable to adapt and expand.

The terminal is about to undergo a complete refurbishment as a hotel and museum. The photographer Max Touhey was given access to document the building alongside a team of surveyors using 3-D laser scanners. Touhey made 700 photographs, a few hundred of which were bracketed (several exposures of each shot are used to ensure the light is correct), or used in a time lapse video.

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TWA terminal, Eero Saarinen. Photographs by Max Touhey. Via wired.com; lattimes.com; somewhereiwouldliketolive.com

happy weekend.

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LFA Pavilion by Hall McKnight architects, Lewis Cubitt Square. Photography: Ed Reeve

The annual London Festival of Architecture has begun: a celebration of architectural experimentation, thinking and practice, with lectures, exhibitions, student shows and tours. This year’s theme is Work in Progress, and for the first time, a new initiative is launched, a Focus Country. Ireland is the focus, with two pavilions – including this beautiful yellow one – in Kings Cross’ new public space, the Lewis Cubitt Square.

London Festival of Architecture, June 1- 30 2015, various venues around London. More, here, and a useful round up, architecturaldigest.com.

Happy weekend.

mid century east.

Yesterday’s Mid Century East show at Erno Goldfinger’s marvellous Haggerston school was the usual trove of fabulous modernist finds. Apart from the pieces, what I love about the show is how everyone who attends is passionate about design. Dealers love what they do and love to talk about their wares. And, of course, the pieces themselves always come with a fascinating provenance.

A brief walk-through below, featuring just a few favourite pieces and their dealers; some known, others new.

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Mar-Den had the wonderful, on-end, angled brick wall as a backdrop in which to display, in the beautifully proportioned double-height space of the hall.

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Pink Flamingoes specialise in American design, and showed Eames classics in fabulous colours.

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Beton Brut specialise in architect-led design from post-War France, Italy, Netherlands and Scandinavia. I’m yet to visit their new showroom in East London but they have a very seductive  website in the meantime.

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Saunders Fine Art always tempt with their modern British and European art and also collectables.

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My favourite of the show was a pair of lounge chairs from the ‘50s, with a wonderful back-story, having been languishing with their original owners in the south of France until now. From The Kula.

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Lovely accessories at Fragile Design

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1934, named for Gerrit Rietveld’s ‘crate furniture’ series in 1934, has a tightly curated collection of simple, functional pieces.

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Gorgeous Vittorio Nobili Medea Chairs (and a few knock-out light fittings) at
Salone MCM

Dd you go? Any favourites? More mid-century show round-ups, here and here.

All images owl’s house london taken on my iPhone 5.

happy weekend.

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Christo
The Floating Piers (Project for Lake Iseo, Italy)
Collage 2014 in two parts. Pencil, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, fabric, enamel paint, cut-out photographs by Wolfgang Volz and map
Photo: André Grossmann

He’s back, and I’m thrilled, being a huge fan. The Floating Piers is Christo’s first work since the death of his wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude in 2009 (they were also born on the same day in 1935).

For 16 days in June 2016, Christo will reimagine Italy’s Lake Iseo. The work will consist of swathes of shimmering yellow fabric, carried by a modular dock system of polyethylene cubes floating on the surface of the water. The walkways will continue on land, connecting the mainland to the island of San Paolo. More, here

Other works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude include Surrounded Islands and, possibly his best known work, Wrapped Reichstag, completed in 1995. Happy weekend.

happy weekend.

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Koluma 01, architecture Peter Zumthor, 2007. Photograph, Hélène Binet, ammann // gallery

Tightly cropped and thick with atmosphere, Hélène Binet’s photographs capture the play of light on the structures of some of contemporary architecture’s leading figures, including Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind and Peter Zumthor. Binet is this year’s recipient of the Julius Shulman Institute Excellence in Photography Award.

Hélène Binet: Fragments of Light, February 28 — March 29, 2015. Woodbury University Hollywood Gallery, 6518 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028

lessons in modernism.

If I could be anywhere this coming week it would be Palm Springs for Modernism week and the Palm Springs Art Fair. Palm Springs is of course a modernism enthusiasts’ delight, with its plentiful single and split level homes, all shifting planes and open plan layouts, with big glass sections and cantilevered floors.

Instead, I’m rediscovering the work of one of my favourite proponents of the style, the Melbourne architect and writer Robin Boyd. His work and in particular his writing were hugely influential on me growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne. His two key tomes – Australia’s Home and The Australian Ugliness – defined for me everything that was wrong with suburban living.

One of his best known works is Walsh Street house designed by Boyd for his family in 1957. It now houses the Robin Boyd Foundation and remains in its original condition.

Walshst-backroomWalshst-diningroomWalshst-mezzWalshst-balconyWalshst-kids2Walshst-bathroom

Furnished with pieces designed by Boyd’s contemporaries – Grant Featherston and Clement Meadmore (whom I once met, and visited his home in NY) amongst others – it demonstrates the design principles championed in his books, utilising an introspective layout, with the main house and a separate children’s pavilion facing inwards toward a central courtyard. (This was in direct contrast to the usual model of building a suburban house in the middle of the block).

The finishes are bold and intense – deep, saturated colours and dark-painted brickwork walls; rich red woodwork, glimmering mosaic and even copper (how very contemporary..). Floor-to-ceiling plate glass, soaring ceilings and clerestory windows ensure light and nature are ever present.

An (almost) fitting substitute for a trip to Palm Springs…

Walsh Street House via Photographs, Eve Wilson

happy weekend.

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Fabulous abstract, graphic, black and white forms by Emil Kozak, in a new exhibition within Box in Denmark.

LYNfabrikken, Vestergade 49, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark, until February 15 2015. More, here.

season’s greetings.

snowflake_ohl Yuji Obata / Homage to Wilson A Bentley #4, 2005-2006 / 
Edition of 10 / Danziger Gallery, NY

here comes the sun.

olafur eliasson, contact, 2014
 image © iwan baan

olafur eliasson, contact, 2014
 image © iwan baan

I’m always deeply impressed by industrial designers who design products that function well and look good too, products that you can’t imagine being without (hello, toothbrush! hi, umbrella!). Here’s a chance to create something functional, beneficial, and hopefully, beautiful too. Natural Light is an international competition for design students to create a special edition solar lamp, with the intention of bringing sustainable light to areas in Africa where there is none. The original Little Sun lamp – a simple, vibrant-hued flower lamp – did just that. Thousands of Little Suns were distributed to nine African countries, replacing expensive and polluting alternatives such as kerosene lamps. littlesun_ohl.

Little Sun is a social business who produce sustainable lighting solutions for off-grid African communities; the artist Olafur Eliasson is a co-founder. Eliasson is probably best known for The Weather Project, the dynamic and captivating sun installation that inhabited Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2003-2004 (see his gorgeous current project at the Louis Vuitton Fondation, here) oe_weather-project

The Natural Light competition is a collaboration between Little Sun and Velux. Velux promote sustainable architecture and publish research into daylight, its effects on well-being and the environment. Their informative magazine contains useful information for designers on daylight and sustainable architecture, and of course they produce all manner of blinds.

Further details on the competition, Natural Light, here. disclaimer2

home of the year 2014.

An eyrie is defined as ‘the nest of an eagle or other bird of prey, built in a high inaccessible place’. A perfect moniker, then, for these two cabins, built on an inlet on the New Zealand coast, and awarded 2014 Home of the Year by Home magazine.

Barely larger than their four sheets of plywood, the cabins are off-grid and autonomous, their outsides burnt black. I love the description of the architects’ vision, a ‘poetic of small boats bobbing in a sea of grass’. There are no doors. One climbs up boulders and in through a window instead. Each comprises a tiny bathroom (both have showers that are outdoors), a kitchen, a sitting area and a sleeping loft. Each has two large windows and wooden hatches that allow ventilation of the bathroom and sleeping areas. A window in the ceiling allows a view of the night sky. The interior of one of the cabins is covered in honey-coloured ply; the other is inky black. A perfect owl’s house.

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Photography, Jeremy Toth (feature image, images 2, 3, 6) and Darryl Ward (images 4, 5)

Eyrie by Cheshire Architects, via. More cabins for living in, here and here