That’s what the team at Ministry of Design asked themselves, says founder and director Colin Seah, when they got the chance to design a Durasport sporting goods flagship in a new mall in Safdie Architect’s Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore. Their answer? Make the space an experience, make furnishings as high-performance as the products themselves, and—like any good athlete—ensure flexibility.
The result is as much an R&D lab as a shop, with 2,000 square feet divided into four zones of activities incorporating state-of-the-art products (co-curated by Ministry of Design) and futuristic displays that include virtual fitting rooms, foot-powered climbing walls, and bicycles ready for a test-pedal.
“The custom display system required lots of design and prototyping,” Seah says, “but it enables a wide range of products which are different in shape, size, and display requirements. Also, each time Durasport brings in new products, they are able to ‘clip in and clip out’ to configure a new shelving display.” All that, plus new visual identities such as mylar shopping bags, silver foil name cards, and acrylic display tags create a true exercise in retail relevancy.
Musen Design has made a name for itself throughout Taiwan for its artful residential interiors. The firm’s signature minimalism recently transformed a former restaurant in a rundown building into vibrant new location for Turning Around, the salon of a well-known stylist in Tainan.
The 1,000-square-foot space, with an addition 300-square-foot exterior space, utilizes the original arched, load-bearing wall to form separate salon and social spaces that retain illumination from vast windows overlooking a neighboring park. “Because of the surface lighting and reflections from the custom mirrors, the pure, white theme, which met the proprietor’s demands and also suits the brand, brims with life,” says design director Eric Cho.
Small details add interest, such as a small forest of potted plants arranged throughout and metallic wallpaper applied to the interiors of the arched passageways between spaces. “We applied gold lacquer in some details,” Cho says, with a nod to the previous incarnation of the space, “which lets the shop’s customers enjoy a visual feast along with their salon service.”
The small town of Healdsburg, named after its founder Harmon Heald, might have established itself in California’s verdant Sonoma County nearly 250 years ago, but it feels perfectly in tune with the times. Surrounded by vintners such as VML Winery and Jordan Winery, the town boasts an attractive central square bordered by three-Michelin-star restaurant Single Thread, gourmet bakeries and ice cream shops, and a pair of Piazza Hospitality hotels—Hotel Healdsburg and H2Hotel—designed by David Baker Architects.
Now comes a third: the Harmon Guest House, whose 39 rooms form pods around a glassed-in central courtyard and have patios or balconies facing the town or trees. “The site is narrow,” says DBA associate Brett Randall Jones, “so we made a unique room type, with an open bathroom that guests walk through to enter the main space of the room. The ceiling height, floor-to-ceiling windows, and generous depth make the rooms feel expansive.”
Harmon Guest House’s rooms are furnished with custom pieces and mid-century classics in palettes drawn from the landscape. “The window seats in each room turned out to be the perfect cozy spot for lounging,” says associate/interiors lead Julie de Jesus. “The custom daybed and pillows, the pendant, the windows with slats, and the table and chairs work to create this perfect space within the room.”
And just in case visitors desire more perfect spaces, the town’s only public rooftop bar can be found upstairs, with intoxicating views of nearby Fitch Mountain.
When a financial services company needed new offices in Greenwich, Connecticut, its executives wanted the design to embody the firm’s focus on developing long-term client relationships. The headquarters’ ambience, they decided, should not only continue to look fresh as those relationships matured, but also include nods to hospitality to make clients in a jittery financial market feel comfortable.
“The architect, Dan Radman, had developed a layout that fostered a strong connection between reception and the board room and another conference room, which are client-centered spaces,” says Lucy Harris, principal of her eponymous design firm. Her team polished up the 10,850 square feet with investment pieces that include Charlotte Perriand sconces and concrete side tables by Francesco Balzano.
Executive offices line the perimeter, with open workstations within, all in what Harris calls “a high-contrast palette of white walls, dark furniture, and architectural elements as it felt fresh, clean, and dramatic.” And just in case the pantry and conference rooms are full, private lounge areas are carved out by slatted walls next to reception. “They open up and connect spaces by giving views and light,” Harris says, two qualities any client might appreciate.
Arielle Assouline-Lichten founded her multidisciplinary design firm Slash Objects six years ago, the same year she began her petition to the Pritzker Prize for laureate status for Denise Scott Brown. (The committee had shamefully ignored her in 1991 when honoring her husband and business partner.) Since then, design and activism have gone hand-in-hand for Assouline-Lichten: Her Slash Objects line of furniture projects joins bold, clean lines with an emphatic focus on recycled, reimagined, and reinvigorated materials.
This year, she’s receiving an award of her own—though it’s not her first laurel, by far. After graduating from NYU, she earned a Master of Architecture from Harvard with commendation, studying under Toyo Ito. She went on to work at Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Kengo Kuma and Associates, and Snøhetta before serving as Principal of OfficeUS at the Venice Biennale. Last year, her Coexist Collection won Best in Show at the NYCxDESIGN Awards presented by Interior Design. This year, she’s again in the spotlight as recipient of Bernhardt Design and WantedDesign’s American Design Honors.
Clearly, she’s busy. But Assouline-Lichten took a few minutes off her packed schedule to talk with Interior Design about following in her mother’s footsteps, the appeal of rubber, and the state of the design fair ecosystem.
Interior Design: When was the first time you really noticed the design of an object or space?
Arielle Assouline-Lichten: Well, my mom is an architect, so I grew up with her pointing things out. You kind of never think you’ll follow in your mother’s footsteps, but then somehow inevitably you end up here! All of our trips were about dissecting spaces. Once you have that lens it’s hard to remove. She was very pedagogical and wanted to show you what she can see. That was always a background.
ID: What made you decide to follow in her footsteps?
AA: I ended up at an architecture firm doing graphic and interactive design in Denmark, BIG. That’s kind of an outlier office anyway, in how they work. My previous conception of architecture was very different—and probably more accurate! But I really wanted the skills the architects had, making 3D objects. That’s where the revelation came: There was this moment where I realized that there was this whole other realm of built objects.
ID: Which you now tend to make of rubber. What’s the appeal?
AA: I’ve wondered that myself! It started when I discovered it while working on this interior architecture project. What I love is that it’s creating this new project from, basically, waste. The idea of it having a new lifecycle is very appealing to me. I want to see rubber through, to see all the things I can make it do. And then do that with other materials as well.
ID: What’s your studio like?
AA: I like a space to feel very organized before starting a project. And then I make a huge mess! But in order to really get thoughts flying it has to be super clean, everything in its place, all the chemicals lined up and all the boxes labelled. Then we start playing, and hopefully come to a productive conclusion. My happy place is walking into a studio when everything’s clean and put away. It’s rare!
ID: What are you showing at WantedDesign this year?
AA: Well, the idea with the show is to contextualize the new daybed within the Coexist collection and its intersecting of different materials and geometry. I want to situate everything together and make it feel like a comprehensive overview.
ID: And there’s no hardware in the pieces, is that right?
AA: It’s true for most of the pieces. They play with balancing weight distribution and being thoughtful about how the parts are connecting. Of course, some parts are welded together, but the assembly is four pieces that come together and notch into place. We think a lot about sequence of assembly. I really like to think in the most pared-down methods possible, so the concept of the materials meeting becomes about intentionally fitting pieces into one another.
AA: We’ve got a pop-up with the Scope x the Webster, and after that a number of new products and a comprehensive range of tableware accessories and planters. Things are getting larger in scale, more voluminous.
ID: If you could work with any material, limits notwithstanding, which would you choose?
AA: I’d love to get larger in the furniture realm and do substantial outdoor pieces. I’ve had this dream of doing a very concrete-and-rubber monolithic collection for the outdoors. With the daybed, we finally brought upholstery in wool. There’s something really beautiful about concrete and wool, the roughness and delicate boucle coming together.
ID: You’ve obviously had great success with the design fair model. What do you think its advantages are?
AA: It’s nice that there’s this consolidated audience. Otherwise it can be really difficult to disseminate information if you don’t have a well-oiled PR machine.
ID: But it has its drawbacks as well?
AA: What’s cool about Wanted is that the Terminal building has so much character, but it’s hard to create the right atmosphere [at other places] under florescent lighting and bad carpeting. Salone in Milan has all these shows happening in amazing spaces around town. I’d love to see that happening in New York.
In gray Seattle, sometimes you have to find light within. Specifically, inside the 29-story 520 Olson Kundig refreshed for Tishman Speyer’s 1,000 workplace tenants. “Creating a light-filled space drove every decision we made,” says Kirsten Murray, FAIA, a principal and owner of Olson Kundig.
The first clue can be found, appropriately enough, at the entrance. It is announced by a white steel canopy that shines in stark relief against a stacked bond pattern of Shanxi Black Granite cladding, accessorized with Brombal stainless steel doors and storefront, and bog oak custom door pulls.
Inside, walls are clad in five different sizes of solid poplar panels, installed in varying patterns by the local manufacturer, WW Wells Millwork. Seating pays homage to the mountains and forests beyond the city limits, capturing the natural beauty of the Northwest. “I like the degree of subtle textures we were able to explore—glass, wood grains, stone veining—within what is a monochromatic color palette,” Murray says. As usual, Olson Kundig is full of bright ideas.
Tucked into downtown Córdoba, Argentina is a residence known in the neighborhood as “the little house with the yellow door,” and one look explains why. But the sunny touch against the darker gray façade isn’t the only bright idea architect Mariclé Scalambro had while renovating the 1930 property.
Decades of neglect had left the place in tatters. “I wanted to bring this old and abandoned house into the 21st century,” she says, “but keep its original, charming soul.” Mostly, that meant removing a dropped ceiling to reveal an enviable vaulted space with room for a mezzanine in which an office/library can also serve as a guest room. A custom kitchen, bathroom, and dining area comprise the public areas, with a bedroom overlooking a patio. Meanwhile, the yellow—which the designer calls “Cheddar”—returns to cover an elegant spiral staircase, with railings that climb up and transform into a desk.
Who hasn’t entertained the fantasy of going off the grid and dropping everything to run off to an island somewhere in the Mediterranean or the tropics? Interior architect Jurjen van Hulzen of Amsterdam-based The Nieuw actually did it, however: He transformed a 100-year-old dilapidated warehouse on Ibiza into a loft-style getaway.
After gutting most of the original structure, van Hulzen created an open space with south views of the valley for socializing; two bedrooms on the darker, cooler north side; and a yoga platform on the roof, with interior beams made of the local Sabina tree. Walls are chalk and mud-plastered stone, which offer a rough contrast to the polished concrete floors and powder-coated steel frames on the ample windows and doors. In collaboration with Ibiza Interiors, he reinterpreted the traditional Spanish floor in herringbone patterns of terra cotta for the bathroom.
Best of all, the Campo Loft is literally off the grid, with a private well for water and solar panels powering hot water, floor heating, and electricity—making this home away from home entirely self-sufficient.
Like a lot of New Yorkers, restaurateur Soa Davies Forrest and chef Lisa Giffen have headed toward the enticing sunsets and glamorous settings of Los Angeles—in this case, for Audrey at the Hammer, located on the ground floor and patio of the Hammer Museum as part of the institution’s renovation and expansion overseen by Michael Maltzan Architecture.
LA- and London-based Fettle Design worked with Maltzan on the vivid 3,000-square-foot, 115-seat space. “It takes inspiration from the clean lines and renowned installations of the museum itself,” says Fettle’s director and co-founder Tom Parker. “This meant that the restaurant and courtyard needed to set the stage for a multitude of strong components,” he adds, not only enticing the Hammer’s art fans but also LA foodies to view it as a destination on its own.
The project also serves as a canvas for Cuban artist Jorge Pardo’s tiles, which pop up across the walls behind banquettes, and his pendants, which cluster inside then flutter into the courtyard, suspended from trees. “If you look closely,” Parker says, “you can see that the lights are banded by color, with the red, orange, and white versions suspended at set heights.” They’re an artful installation in their own right.
Keep scrolling to view more images of the project >
Berlin-based Mykita arrived with aplomb on Crosby Street in 2014, but its new SoHo location nearby on Broome Street proves the sunglass and eye-frame specialist’s future is even sunnier than expected. The two-floor, 1,590-square-foot flagship juxtaposes space-age white walls and neon with industrial red steel and warm oak.
Designed in-house, the interiors “reflect the way handcraft and high-tech are brought together in our products,” says founder and creative director Moritz Krüger, “but it also draws from New York City itself and the way this city brings together ultra-modern architecture with, for example, Tudor revival or Victorian.”
Repurposed airline trolleys and eye-popping display walls house the brand’s collaborations with Maison Margiela, Martine Rose, and many others. In a nod to the previous location, Krüger says, “we took the neon installation from the ceiling with us. The neon graphic that makes me think of James Turrell now sits on the wall right by the consultation area,” which he calls “the heart of the shop” in the heart of SoHo.