Although there is not a samovar in sight – neither anything resembling the ornate boiler of tea water - the two-month-old Samovar tea bar in The Mission area of San Francisco is most decidedly dedicated to tea. This is the fourth Samovar in owner Jesse Jacobs’ little empire (the other three are also in San Francisco), and clearly different from the others which are more traditional tea houses.
The Mission Samovar is a feast for the eyes and soul in its fine minimalist balance. What is NOT there makes this altar of tea-time contemplation so incredibly beautiful. The antidote to the bustling, loud, constantly connected coffee shop, this is “a retreat from the rat race” as Jacobs said in a magazine interview.
In addition to the highly edited selection of teas and scones, the central focus of this Samovar is the peaceful, almost prayerful atmosphere brought out by the exquisite surroundings.
The thick, white walls, against which hefty white shelves are suspended appear old and slightly weathered. And on the substantial shelves, in harmoniously spaced rows, sit the thick, white cups, custom-created by ceramists at Oakland’s Atelier Dion.
These handle-less cups are meant to be cradled in the hand, held and enjoyed, as opposed to held with the pinky pointing skyward, or clutched like a beer mug.
These cups informed the design of the store, skillfully executed by the style masters at San Francisco’s Arcanum Architecture.
The limited assortment of black, green, herbal and iced teas plus masala chai and matcha, is not made from dustings out of dangly bags with hot water poured on. Instead they are ceremoniously yet swiftly. - Tuija Seipell.
via Spotted SF
A science and engineering museum’s café project inspired interior designer and photographer Anna Wigandt to create a cool space for enjoyment and study, but she also invented a few products of her own.
The Science Cafe & Library is located in Wigandt’s home town, Chişinău (formerly known as Kishinev), the capital city of Moldova on the river Bîc.
The main features of the self-serve café and library are the jigsaw-puzzle table and the book displays.
The table’s inspiration, according to Wigandt, was German astronomer Johannes Kepler’s 1596 book, Mysterium Cosmographicum (Cosmic Mystery) that dealt with the proportions of celestial bodies.
The modular table’s various configurations allow set-ups from small: each café visitor can form their own work table, to large: lecture groups to gather around one big table.
The surrounding book displays are divided into eight topic areas ranging from Shipbuilding and Astronautics to Nuclear Science and Biological Engineering, each identified with the striking lettering.
The greatest achievement in this project, however, is the lighting. The designer ended up inventing a few engineering marvels of her own in the process. The chandelier was created specifically for the space out of 408 actual test-tubes. The same tubes were used for the pendants hanging from the meatal rigging above the table.
The celestial darkness of ceiling give the entire space an aura of being outdoors, under midnight sky. We also like the hexagons, chevrons and honeycomb patterns on the walls and floor. - Tuija Seipell.
CJ Hendry is an exceptionally talented artist. Plain and simple. She has blown us away and created a major reaction among the art-buying public.
Her large-scale, black-and-white, pen-on-paper images are simply astonishing. They are so incredibly detailed and perfect that it is hard to believe that they are in fact unique, one-of-a-kind works of art, and not reproductions of a photograph.
CJ Hendry’s creative process starts with the selection of the object, continues with taking more than 100 photographs of the object to discover the shadows and angles that best present the object, and then starts the painstaking two-week process of transferring the selected image onto paper with a pen, one scrible at a time.
We have never seen work like hers, and we have never ever encountered a response similar to what the reaction to her incredible work has been. And we are now her exclusive agents.
As soon as we post an image of one of her pieces on Instagram, it is reserved and sold in a few hours.
We have written about her work before, and were the first to show her work at our art exhibition in Sydney
But her current project of creating massive (1.8 x 2.4 m), photo-realistic, original pen-on-paper works of shopping bags of iconic brands – from Tom Ford and Hermes to Lanvin and Chanel - really has had us gasping for air.
Each piece is absolutely stunning and art buyers are competing to own them. Each piece is painstakingly drawn by CJ Hendry with only pen and ink. Each takes about two weeks to complete and there will be only one of each image.
The series of IT Bags will include 12-15 bags in total. Serious art collectors get in contact
CJ Hendry is exclusively represented by thecoolhunter.
Like shiny specks of sunlight reflecting off of a lake or a field of snow, San Pierre’s three distinctive pieces of wall art convey a sense of illumination, transparency and tension.
Each piece consists of a gentle halo of shimmery thread, circling a digitally printed disk of graded pastel colour.
The 3D aspect of these 100cm x 100cm works draws attention, and attracts light in interesting variations.
At different times of the day, or in different lighting conditions, the work appears slightly altered. The shadows of the thread grow longer and darker, the colour in the centre more intense.
There is a folk-artsy quality to the threadwork, but the neon-hued digital printing pulls the viewer into an entirely different direction. It’s this unexpected mix that creates a feeling of controlled tension.
The artist is London-born and –based San Pierre, who attended Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication studying product and furniture design and graduated with Honours at the age of 21. For the past 15 years, he has worked in fashion and advertising while developing his unique experimental artistic style.
The centre of the piece is digitally printed, then mounted to Dibond. The thread forms a thin pattern around the edge of the entire print. The thread has a slight shimmer when the light catches it.
100cm x 100cm.
Digital print on photographic paper mounted to Dibond.
M2 silver plated nuts and bolts.
Exclusive to thecoolhunter
Many of the trends we are seeing – and liking - in retail, hospitality, services and even urban planning, deal with smaller size because a strong, growing segment of us is tired of Big.
We want small, independent, pop-up, mobile, local, rogue. But – and this is an important but – we want it served up to us in a professional manner, we do not want amateur fumbling even from the smallest providers.
In essence, we want what we cannot have from the mega-malls, big boxes, airports, big brands or grocery giants. And that leads to another important ‘but’. We want small BUT we still want the big, too. Nothing new here, but it still seems that many brands, marketers and researchers have a hard time dealing with the fact that we are not black-and-white, either-or. We are both-and, plus a little extra.
You cannot divide consumer habits into age categories or behaviours the way you could a decade or two ago. We are indeed picking and choosing from each basket, and we will continue to do so, but we are choosing small significantly more often than we used to.
It is hard to imagine someone whose ideal living environment - city, town or village – would be a vast expanse of gigantic malls where global brands offer indistinguishable wares in boring lookalike stores, or where cavernous big boxes ply cheap goods stacked up floor to ceiling. Acres of parking lots; people always in cars. And actual “living” taking place separately in isolated enclaves, and working in yet another isolated location.
More and more frequently, we envision the ideal living environment as something quite similar to a traditional small town or vibrant village. Or a neighbourhood with people, services and work all within walking or biking distance.
We believe that this trend is going to get stronger and stronger, and it will be good for the businesses that understand their niche and offer their customers true value: something that is worth their money and time.
Small businesses are the essence of such neighbourhoods and towns. They are the glue that makes it all stick together. They bring people together, they create small oasis of lovely interaction.
But just like in the traditional small town, today’s small businesses must try harder. From the startup on, they must earn their place in the circle. The merchants and service providers in the old towns were professionals of their trade. They knew their customers, they respected them and they worked hard at earning their trust. The same is true today.
Big brands offer smaller
One aspect of this trend is seen in the behavior of many big brands that are opening smaller-scale stores, restaurants and hotels that are more intimate, offer a more tightly edited selection of products and services, are targeted and tailored to meet individual local markets, and usually also pay more attention to design and local tastes.
We are also seeing a renaissance of boutique-scale businesses; stores, hotels, restaurants and services that do not plan to grow bigger, only better. These are often one-store or one-hotel operations that gain a dedicated, loyal client base by understanding their customers better than their bigger competitor chains.
Unfortunately, many of these become so successful that the bigger competitors want to buy them out in order to either remove them from the market or to gain some of their halo. Usually, with such buy-outs, the aura of the independent, owner-operated business disappears and the previously so loyal clientele moves on. The heart is gone from the business and the clients can see it.
Of course, another much-talked-about aspect of this trend are pop-ups. Any brand worth their reputation has opened pop-ups by now, but it is still an appealing proposition for both brands and customers. Pop-ups liven up neighbourhoods, malls and streets with new, temporary offerings. They give big and small businesses an opportunity to test markets, products and services. They give businesses a chance to benefit from temporarily empty spaces. And they liven up potentially dead storefronts.
Pop-ups will still continue although we are also seeing some fatigue as some businesses now use pop-up as their chance to have regular blow-out sales and other repeating offerings that dilute the surprise factor and excitement of pop-ups. Perhaps there will be a new, more exciting reiteration of the pop-up that will bring back the excitement?
In the manner of the ice cream truck, milk man, shoe-polish box and hot-dog stand of the past, mobile offerings are also growing around the world. From food carts and mobile cafes to bike services and mobile pet spas, new, exciting businesses are popping up as mobile carts.
Many cities have been forced to alter their laws to accommodate these temporary, mobile businesses that often do not fit under the laws created for permanent, bigger operators. We think this is all to the good. While laws and regulations are necessary, they also need to become much more flexible and nimble to accommodate startups and small operators that add desirable flavor, excitement and convenience to their surroundings.
The small mobile business is tied to another aspect of this trend – locality. More and more people want to buy local, not just food but other products and services as well. And while it is difficult for a small, new operator to compete with the prices of an established, strong brand, we feel that local businesses and local initiatives will continue to grow in popularity.
What we do know as well is that whether a business is local or small, it still has to meet the needs of today’s demanding clientele.
Many small operators seem to believe that just because they are passionate about their business and because they want to do it, customers somehow owe them their patronage. That is not the case today, and it never was.
We will not part with our time or money – at least not repeatedly – if we are not getting great service and great products. Being small, local or independent will carry a business only so far. A loyal customer base will not develop out of pity or shame.
Professional branding is also a given today. And that does not necessarily mean having to spend a lot in the creation of logos and package design, although it may mean those as well. What it does mean is that if you are going to succeed, you will need to be able to charge a premium price. And to charge that price, you need to look and behave like a brand that knows who it is and what it does and why it exists.
Clear messaging, cohesive visuals, well thought-through customer experience, professional staff – all of these are important. And yet, you can achieve all this without having to appear or behave like a pretentious branding exercise with a fake story and dumb logo. It is all about knowing who you are, what you offer and why your valued customers should spend their time and money with you. All the basics of business still apply.
The last aspect of the Small is the New Big trend that we’ll cover in this article is what we’ll call Rogue concepts. They incorporate many of the other aspects of the trend with the added appeal of a grass-roots initiative.
The Rogue concepts add the empowering angle of people taking to the streets, creating their own “brands”, doing it their way, breaking the rules.
This, perhaps more than any of the other aspects, speaks to the true core of the entire trend. We are tired of giving our power – and time and money – to the Big Brand. There’s an undercurrent of sophisticated protest. Call it idle nonsense of the well-heeled, if you like, but we think it is part of a serious undercurrent. The world of Wall-E is not quite as absurd as we’d perhaps like to think and the power to change it is in our hands. - Tuija Seipell.
Images 1,2,3 - Happy Bones Cafe, NYC, images 4/5 - Grey Goose Pop up bar in Edinburgh., Image 6 - Intelligentsia coffee van, Image 7 - Sigmund Pretzels, Image 9 - LA Distributrice - Montreal, Image 10 - Omotesando coffee - Japan, Image 11 - Velopresso Mobile Espresso bar, Image 13 - Box Park - London, Last image - Homer Wine packaging
Francoise Nielly's massive, colourful portraits are delicious to look at. Even more wonderful – and particularly infuriating to those of us who have timidly dabbled in painting – is to watch her create them. She, in her confident, strong hand, wields her painting knife shaped like a miniature garden trowel, and makes painting look easy like cake frosting.
She paints her vivid, passionate canvases — some as large as 78 x 25 inches (195 x 62 centimeters) -- from black-and-white photos, further proof of her unfailing ability to interpret light, shadow, hue and tone by applying brilliant colours and daring strokes.
Born in Marseille, brought up near Cannes and Saint-Tropez, and now living in Paris, Nielly is at home among bold contrast and dazzling light. To add to her likeability, here is the list of her loves: Life, wide open spaces, sushi, blue lagoons, the Internet, humor, books, Paris, New York and Vancouver.
Six of her prints are available exclusively through TCH online store - 1000mm x 1000ml & 1200mm x 1200 metallic print on acrylic.
Architect and designer Helle Flou, founder of Copenhagen-based HelleFlou, was responsible for the design of the offices for the Danish Fashion and Textile association (Dansk Mode og Textil) and Kopenhagen Fur.
The offices are located in the fabulous 1835-built, heritage-listed A.N.Hansen mansion at the corner of Fredericiagade and Bredgade in the Fredriksstaden neighbourhood of central Copenhagen.
The move together of the two organizations established a anew home and innovation centre for their cooperative effort called KicK initiative(Kopenhagen Internationle Center for Kreativitet). KiCK’s focus is on collaboration between the European and Chinese fashion industry.
Flou’s design reflects the idea of a “Nordic Diamond.” In an interview, Flou was quoted as saying that she was inspired by “. . . the Nordic nature and a special Scandinavian light that gives a strong sense of history, atmosphere and experience. . . The diamond is hardy, but at the same time extremely elegant; with its beautiful facets it creates rigorous order and transparency at the same time. The two elements have jointly created the guidelines for a balanced and harmonious space.”
We agree. The neo-classical frame of the building is evident in the staircases, doorways and gold-painted accents and friezes. Contemporary and classic Danish designer furniture and fixtures fit seamlessly in the black & white, gold & gray colour scheme, and also help establish a level of easy and cool comfort. Natural light finishes off the harmonious, spacious design. - Tuija Seipell
Finally, an ideal case for your iPhone 5. Not just stylish, but cool and practical as well! These cases are meticulously finished and made of durable leather look-alike material in crisp, solid colours.
The unbeatable practicality comes from the solid clip that locks the phone onto the case safely, the removable strap that keeps your hands free when not using the phone yet assures the phone is immediately handy at all times, the card slots for credit or hotel key cards, and the best part: you can take pictures and talk on the phone while the case is closed!
Just this case, your credit cards and you are ready for shopping and sight-seeing, theatre or movies.
The passport, credit-card, boarding pass and pen case in the same materials and styles is the perfect, cool accompaniment of the iPhone case. In fact, this will be your favourite globetrotting set from here on!
Happy travels from TCH! Buy here
Working in a shared space - in a café or a rented-by-the-hour office - is nothing new, but sometimes a concept pops up that is worth a second look. Now into its third week of life, Joint Café + Workspace in Bangkok stands
out in its whiteness.
We will not speculate on what it will look like after a few months of coffee spills and foot traffic, but for now, it appears inviting like a new notebook, all ready to be filled with people, ideas and inspiration. The space, designed by Thailand’s 56th Studio, is located on the 12th floor of the Asia Hotel’s car park building.
The space is flexible and can be rented in various configurations for workshops, lessons or meetings. Joint Café + Workspace looks more like an office and less like a café, which may make it a unique proposition in that it will not become a coffee shop where people hang out for hours working on their laptops and tablets over one cup of coffee. - Tuija Seipell.