Do you remember Tom and Jerry? The endless erratic cat and mouse chase that graced the TV screens of my youth has now, unexpectedly, served as inspiration for a holiday home. Jerry House, by Onion (what a great name for a studio!) was conceived when contemplating what Jerry’s ultimate getaway would look like—a huge block of cheese, full of twisting tunnels to hide in. The building echoes this vision with irregularly shaped and sized windows cut into both interior and exterior walls of the house. The windows give the house a toy-like, irreverent appearance, especially when matched with door-like shutters in the master bedroom.
And then there are the nets. The standard living areas of the three-story house are situated around the perimeter, while the centre of the house forms a void, intercepted with five levels of netting. The netting slopes at different angles on each level, to be travelled over by jumping, bouncing, hanging or climbing. Ladders run through openings in the nets, safely offset in their positioning, to allow the inhabitants to navigate their way from the top to the bottom of the building without the use of the stairs, if they so desire. Basically, the house has been turned into a massive playground. I have never seen a house like this before (though it does resemble Tomás Saraceno’s work, on a smaller scale). But now I can’t imagine why a holiday home would look any other way.
Jerry House is a wonderful, playful space where both kids and adults kids can act like kids. An important feature that allows for true exploration is the number of different possibilities available at any one time. In addition to the main area of netting, there are traditional stairs and tunnels connecting rooms through the walls, for the smaller sized folk. The family is free to disperse and enjoy solitude, or hang out within clear sight of one another.
Onion is an architectural firm in Bangkok, run by Arisara Chaktranon and Siriyot Chaiamnuay and their portfolio is full of interior design goodness.
If you strive towards some form of happiness in your life and love a good bargain, then Happycheap sounds like a perfect fusion of these two objectives. Happycheap is a recent enterprise by Swedish architect Tommy Carlsson. A quick search on Carlsson does not reveal too much about the architect, apart from a couple of websites—all in Swedish. I am sure that his name will be wider known soon enough, as more people find out about, and hop on board with, the Happycheap scheme. The idea emerged from the realisation that the only quality, beautifully designed homes in Sweden (and elsewhere, I imagine) fall into the unattainably expensive category for the average folk. Cheaper housing is seldom architecturally designed or aesthetically pleasing. Carlsson aims to fill this gap in providing well-built, beautiful homes that are affordable, making an impression in cookie-cutter suburbia.
The Stockholm house, situated by the Swedish seaside, is the first iteration of the Happycheap home. The house looks plain and unassuming from the outside, with its corrugated metal exterior and simple angular form. Inside, it is surprisingly spacious and light. The interior is out-clad almost entirely in thrifty plywood. It’s not a material I am accustomed to seeing floor-to-ceiling, but in conjunction with white walls, grey kitchen and splashes of blue throughout the home it looks homely and warm. The blue-stained plywood ceiling in the study is a fun touch. A staircase in the middle of the building leads to the second story, with open-plan living on both levels.
The Happycheap website offers a choice of three different house plans, of which this is the largest, at 110 square meters. A detailed breakdown of materials and costs for each option follows, it’s good to see this level of transparency. I’d happily settle in one of these abodes! Check out his website for more details, though you’d better speak Swedish or have Google Translate on hand.
Photography: Michael Perlmutter (7&11) and Andy Liffner (2—6, 8—10)
Studiopepe is a design studio based in Milan. Since their inception in 2006, the co-founders Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara Di Pinto have been busy with retail interior projects, window display styling, art direction for catalogues, consulting and a spot of product design of their own. The pair has developed an ongoing relationship with Milanese furniture store Spotti and has been invited to curate two exhibitions of the shop’s excellent collection of design objects each year. The current exhibit, Summer Tales, is a fresh and breezy arrangement of tropical colours, wooden furniture and contrasting textures.
In Studiopepe’s signature style, Summer Tales skilfully blends modernist classics with contemporary design, opting for a well-balanced colour palate with punches of yellow and lime green. Palm fronds grace the walls in the guise of wallpaper, while cuttings, potted palm trees and birds of paradise enliven the space. I love the the conversation between the two-dimensions and the three-dimensions, the natural and the human-made replica.
Soft curves dominate in the seating and furnishings, set off by the clean rectangular tables and grid-like bookshelves. Natural, textured textiles sit side-by-side with cool marble and polished glass, luxurious leather and touches of brass. Studiopepe has an exceptional talent for creating interiors that are meticulously thought-out, and yet feel completely liveableand cosy. It must help to have Spotti’s great selection of objets to play with. Have a look through more of their work here, so many dream homes to behold!
This project by Penda, an architectural studio based between Vienna and Beijing, is one I have had to spend some time with. What at first looks like a huge copper box, is in fact a fold–out space used by a Hong Kong storage facility to contain artwork and showcase it to potential clients in compact comfort and style. Kind of like Transformers, but on a much smaller scale, with more style and none of the robots or silly fighting. So not like Transformers at all…More like some kind of gadget for the James Bonds of the art world.
The monolithic copper object expands out to reveal a large display case, a hefty desk, plush seating and even a bar. The cold concrete-clad room quickly becomes a hospitable, sophisticated space. The room is not as empty as it first looked—we notice other hidden compartments: a pull-out chair perfectly moulded into the bench, copper light-fittings break up the vast concrete ceiling, a projector screen, also set in copper, is ready to descend. Though the copper container is the central focus here, the floor plans indicate a carefully planned out space with strategically spread out storage and seating spaces along the perimeter. I really love the combination of grey, utilitarian concrete and the warm, reddish copper. This provides a sufficiently blank backdrop, with the large, bare floor area giving a suitable platform to large sculptural objects, while the copper ties the space together and helps the client feel at ease.
Penda have worked on several other art spaces and were first runners up in the competition to design the Austrian Pavilion for the Expo 2015 in Milan. They conceived a large grid-like, wooden structural framework that would be covered in local plants, selected by the visitors. You can check out this projects, and others on their website.
Last week Anna brought us her review on Art Basel. As an art fair, it’s easy to forget about the business side of things, however that is indeed what the event is really about. So much so that luxury brands go to great lengths to design exhibits and displays to lure the wealthy patrons of the fair.
Such an exhibit was constructed for watch company Audemars Piguet and was housed at Art Basel and Art Basel Hong Kong in The Collectors’ Lounge. Designed by Mathieu Lehanneur, the showroom consisted of clean lines and illuminated, laboratory white workspaces. This was then boldly obstructed by giant papier-mâché boulders referencing the violent nature of the Vallée de Joux, the location where Audemars Piguet watches are fabricated. The idea of this rough, brutal nature paired against the precise, clean and expensive pieces of Audemars Piquet is a nice one, a contrast that is echoed by the rich blacks and the crisp whites within the display.
I really enjoyed watching the video of Lehanneur explaining his design process, and especially, how the rocks were constructed. Going out into Vallée de Joux to paint giant boulders with silicon sounds and looks like a one big design adventure, but how funny to see that take shape and resolve as an end product for designer, boutique timepieces. There’s something quite odd about it, and a little scary. From a process point of view I love it, and there’s no doubt that end result is gorgeous, but there’s something about a ‘collectors lounge’ and designer goods surrounded by art, that somehow puts a damper on what would otherwise be a beautiful designed showroom. Maybe Lehanneur’s crashing meteorites are actually a secret artistic attack on the designer, money driven world we live in. I’d like to think so, and for me would make the whole display just that little bit more successful!
You can see more from Mathieu Lehanneur by clicking here.