Wine tasting is passé and the English have already perfected the High Tea, and nothing surpasses the Japanese tea ceremony. So what’s next? The creative minds at L'Hôtel de Vendôme in Paris set their eyes on “High Coffee.” They don’t call it that, but it certainly looks and feels like it.
Every afternoon, superior gourmet coffee varieties are served according to the expertise of France’s Best Roaster of 2011, Antoine Netien, and Tom Clark, owners of Paris’s high-profile Coutume Café, and importers and roasters of vintage coffees.
Enticing the coffee-drinkers to elevate their experience to a sinful level of indulgence are dainty carts full of mouth-watering sweet delicacies created with the supervision of Luc Debove, Chef Pâtissier of the Grand Hotel of Cap Ferrat, that belongs to the same group as 1 Place Vendôme.
This culinary extravagance is served in the hotel’s deliciously prissy first-floor restaurant, 1 Place Vendôme with its magnificent views of the Place Vendôme. When the restaurant opened in 2009, it was Florence-based architect Michele Bönan’s first restaurant and hotel project in France.
Bönan created a completely customized, elegant setting in a couture-style theme with silver-studded black-and-white hounds’ tooth chairs, plush silk and velvet sofas, silver satin curtains, and cushions of pink silk satin with black and white ribbed motifs.
And to amplify the luxurious effect, all this is contained in a space with virgin-white walls, floors and ceilings. All furniture and fittings, including curtains, cushions and carpeting were custom-designed by Bönan and manufactured in Florence from fabrics by the Italian fabric house Dedar. - Tuija Seipell
Based on Dr. Seuss's final book (Oh, The places You'll Go) before his death, this is a story about life's ups and downs, told by the people of Burning Man 2011. Genius idea Teddy Saunders
Is there anything more basic, homey and familiar than a loaf of great bread? Yet it has become a luxury. More and more of us are sick of (literally and figuratively) the white, never-to-stale sliced bread in its never-to-biodegrade plastic bag.
We crave for fresh artisanal breads, natural ingredients, heritage grains, organic everything. Those who value great-tasting, healthy bread will pay for quality.
And with that quality and premium price comes the notion of design. Why should we buy that wonderful, healthy loaf at a horrible-looking bakery?
Hominess and hearty fare are great, but does the environment have to look so “homey,” too? Not any more. We are seeing more and more cool bakeries around the world.
Our fans and followers helped us track down a few examples that meet the requirements at least visually. If the loaves and other baked goods created at these establishments remain consistently as great as their environments, you can count us in as fans.
Blé, Thessaloniki, Greece
Blé Bakery on Agias Sofias in Thessaloniki, Greece, most certainly fits the bill. It was designed by the minimalist architects at Claudio Silvestrin Giuliana Salmaso (London & Milan). It has the world’s largest wood oven – gigantic, at 12 meters (almost 40 feet) tall!
And the bakery is built from cob made of white clay from Crete and Milos, plus sand and straw. Blé’s four floors house a patisserie, bakery, delicatessen and a wine and mozzarella bar.
Electra, Edessa, Greece
Another cool bakery in northern Greece is located about two hours’ drive form Thessaloniki in a town called Edessa. This central Elektra Bakery location is a prototype redesign of the family-run bakery chain’s stores.
The open, minimalist design by Edessa-based Studioprototype Architects helps to disguise the tiny space of 35 square meters (376 square feet) at a busy intersection.
The large outdoor seating area adds to the appeal, and glass walls link the indoors and outdoors to each other. Furniture by Xavier Pauchard and lighting by Tom Dixon.
VyTA Boulangerie Italiana, Turin, Italy
In Italy, the drama never ends. Not even in a bakery. VyTA Boulangerie, designed by Rome-based architect Daniela Colli, is located at the epicentre of busy urban life, the Porta Nuova train station in Turin.
With its contrasting light oak and black polymer surfaces the shop resembles a high-end fashion boutique or bar much more than it does a bakery steeped in tradition or natural ingredients.
Yet, it is an engaging environment with its large L-shaped counter, the stylized natural-oak “hood” over the pastry displays, and the hexagonal beehive detailing. VyTA Boulangerie has stores in Rome, Milan, Turin and Naples.
Princi, Milan, Italy
Of course, the dramatic dawn of the designer bakery took place in Milan. Princi, also designed by Claudio Silvestrin, offers organic breads and other goodies made according to traditional recipes. And it is open 24 hours a day and even on Sundays.
Owner Rocco Princi opened his first bakery in 1986. He now has four stores in Milan and one in Soho, in London.
Joseph – Brot vom Pheinsten, Vienna, Austria
In Vienna, Austria, the latest cool destination for lovers of organic bread is Joseph - Brot vom Pheinsten (Translation: Joseph – Finest Bread), located in the 1st district at Nagelgrasse 9.
This is the first retail store for owner Josef Weghaupt and master baker Friedrich “Fritz” Potocnik whose Joseph delicacies are also available at the city’s finest cafés restaurants, delis and shops. Corporate and graphic design by Martin Dvorak.
Baker D. Chirico, Melbourne, Australia
In Melbourne, Australia, cravings for chic design and amazing bread will be satisfied at two shops owned by Daniel Chirico. In celebration of the artisan baker, his second Baker D. Chirico store in Carlton, unlike the first one in St Kilda neighbourhood, has no coffee machine, deli or other distractions.
It is all about bread. And of course, about design, wonderful curving wood slats infusing light and warmth into the tiny space. Created by March Studio, also responsible for a number of Aesop store interiors.
Bécasse Bakery, Sydney, Australia
The chic, French-inspired Bécasse Bakery is located in the new Westfield Shopping Centre in Sydney, Australia.
It is part of a group of establishments, all located on the fifth floor of the centre and all owned by Justin and Georgia North: Quarter Twenty One restaurant, store and cooking school, plus Bécasse Restaurant and Bécasse Bakery.
The bakery was designed by Sydney-based Mima Design with principals Mark McConnell and Micheline Li Yoo Foo.
Panscape Bakery, Kyoto, Japan
In Kyoto, Japan, Panscape bakery represents the new look of bakeries. The tiny space, just over 26 square metres (280 square feet), looks sleek and clean in the understated, minimalist way the Japanese master so well.
Yet, with its select, massive components of cement and aluminum plus a half-tonne log, the space also exudes solidity and strength.
The concept, architecture and interior are by Osaka-based Hiroki Kawata Architects: ninkipen!
Komsufirin, Istanbul, Turkey
In its fewer than five years of existence, Komsufirin has grown to some 60 stores in Turkey and it sells predominantly pre-baked products, so it is by no means an artisan boutique enterprise, but we like the clear, minimalist interior, redesigned by Istanbul-based Autobahn.
The store name translates as “the oven in the neighbourhood” and Autobahn principals Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Cağlar used natural oak and white tiles to create a modern and visually spacey environment as a backdrop for the ancient process of baking.
Komsufirin is operated by the Doruk group and it is growing at a breathtaking pace, aiming for 350 stores by 2013 and 1,000 stores by 2020.
Helsinki Bakery, Osaka, Japan
One would expect to find Helsinki Bakery in Finland, but no, this one is located in Osaka, in the three-year-old Hankyu Nishinomiya Gardens shopping mall.
And not just the name, but also the white and natural-wood design have direct connections to Finland.
The store’s Japan-born designer Arihiro Miyake is based in Helsinki-Finland, and has studied in both Japan and Finland.
Simple, healthy and natural are the key words of the bakery and the Scandinavian design supports those notions perfectly.
Lagkagehuset Bakery, Copenhagen, Denmark
Lagkagehuset Bakery’s name translates as “pie house” but there is definitely no homey pie atmosphere in this location, designed by SPACE Copenhagen.
Lagkagehuset’s principals, Steen Skallebæk and Ole Kristoffersen, have been baking independently of each other since the early 1990s. But in 2008, they combined their successes in and started Lagkagehuset that now has 18 locations in Denmark. - Tuija Seipell
Is there anything that Marc Newson hasn't designed? We are running right out of superlatives describing one of his fairly recent collaborations, the Aquariva by Marc Newson luxury yacht. We tried looking away, yet here we are, talking about it.
Everything about the ridiculously cool and expensive arrow-of-a-speed-boat is a bit much. Yet it is also deliciously good-looking in its faux mahogany, retro turquoise upholstery and overall 60s vibe.
To create the Aquariva, the Australian-born, London-based mega-designer collaborated with Officina Italiana Design of Bergamo, Italy. It is the studio that for the past two decades has been in charge of designing yachts for Riva shipyards, established in 1842 by Pietro Riva. Riva is one of the brands in the Ferretti Group portfolio.
Aquariva by Marc Newson was introduced last fall but paraded again at the beginning of this year not at a lowly boat show or even a luxury yacht salon, but Arte Fiera, the 36th annual, historical art fair in Bologna.
Only 22 of these beauties were manufactured and they are sold though the New York-based Gagosian Gallery and also by Riva dealers, apparently at $1.5 million. The sales pitch is no doubt rich with superlatives and absent of the word recession. - Tuija Seipell
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Devetashkata Cave - Bulgaria
Ben Bulben at County Sligo, Ireland
Shark Island - Sydney
Baatara Gorge Waterfall, Tannourine - Lebanon
Abel Tasman National Park - New Zealand
Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia - Greece
Sichuan - China
In The Gardens of Prague Castle
Neist Point, Isle of Skye - Scotland
Aiguill e du midi, Chamonix, France
The Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve in Texas, USA
4 Hands - Etretat, France
Río Tampaón in San Luis Potosí -México
Six Senses Evason Ma’In Hot Springs, Jordan
Méandre - En-Vau - Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône)
Discovered a place we should include in Part 4 of Amazing Places? - get in contact
We'll be publishing Amazing Places as a book in late 2012
The incredibly beautiful "A Path in the Forest" by architect Tetsuo Kondo was a temporary installation in the Kadriorg Park near Tallinn, Estonia.
It was part of Tallinn's 2011 European Capital of Culture activities and in particular, part of LIFT11, a festival of 11 urban installations. All other installations in LIFT11 were selected through a design competition, but Kondo was invited to create the Path. It was realized in partnership with the EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee.
Kardiorg Park is an urban forest, only 15-minutes' walk from the Old City of Tallinn. While it has some intact treed areas, it is mostly an urban park of man-made structures and tended gardens.
With his light touch, Kondo created a 95-meter (311-foot) suspended walkway among some of the park's 300 year-old trees. The unobtrusive Path is similar to Kondo's 2010 work Cloudscapes for the Venice Architecture Biennale. Both works put humans on an uncommon level in relation to their surroundings, creating a new viewpoint and inviting further examination. - Tuija Seipell
Even those who are afraid of flying might enjoy the experience of piloting a Boeing 737 at the simmINN Flight Simulation Center in Stuttgart, Germany.
The reason for our confidence is two-fold. One: The aircraft does not leave the ground as the full-size replica of Boeing 737 with its Learjet 45x cockpit are firmly indoors. Two: The outside of the plane looks so cool that you will forget your phobias and just want to hop in and fly!
Frankfurt-based architect Boris Banozic is responsible for the concept, interior and graphic design of this center that is open to the general public. Yes, you, too can book a two-hour flight, piloted by Captain You and no crew! Now, if only an airline company picked up this concept as their head-office design, then we would be really impressed. - Tuija Seipell
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We return to the creative work of Supermachine Studio, the multidisciplinary design firm that architect Pitupong (Jack) Chaowakul established in 2009 in Bangkok.
Last year, we covered Supermachine's design of Bangkok University Creative Center.
This time, our attention was piqued immediately by the first images we saw of Supermachine's ideas for the rebirth of Saatchi & Saatchi Thailand's office.
Supermachine was the team of choice for Saatchi & Saatchi's regional creative director, Joel Clement, because he was looking for playful and unexpected design solutions. Clement wanted a space "that inspires, is genuinely fun to come to everyday, and that didn't take itself too seriously."
The agency's move to the Sindhorn Tower, on Wireless Road in Bangkok, was part of parent firm Publicis's goal to gather its affiliated companies in one building for shared resources.
The somewhat dated building, tight space (400 m2, about 4305 ft²) and the tight budget posed challenges that Chaowakul and team solved with bold ideas that leave much of the space open but accented by strong visual elements. This openness was also part of Clement's brief to Supermachine, as the previously scattered teams had to learn to work together and become one functioning family.
We love Supermachine's happy nods to motion and mobility. The reception desk is on wheels and resembles a big white bus. Bicycles work as the legs of a large glass-top conference table that is fully mobile. The meeting cabins that feel like train compartments. There is also the reoccurring visual theme in the shape of a racetrack, hockey rink or stadium.
A large outer wall is covered with small, white "wood pixels" that are made of wood recycled from the agency's previous office. With this wall, Supermachine achieved not just practical goals -- to cover the ugly red marble wall and to save costs by recycling materials from the existing office -- they also created a visual link to the organization's past.
Perhaps in a nod to even further into humanity's past, there is the "monster wall." Its main feature is a 20 meter-long (65 feet), lizard whose skin is constantly redecorated with current work and inspirational items. Its jaws work as a bookshelf. The monster has already become the agency's new mascot and will appear on a T-shirt soon.
In addition to Pitupong (Jack) Chaowakul, the Supermachine project team included Suchart Ouypornchaisakul, Peechaya Mekasuvanroj, Santi Sarasuphab, Kasidis Puaktes, Jetsada Phongwasin and Korthong Thongtham Na Ayutthaya. - Tuija Seipell