Meet The 2016 Winners: Smartvoll

Posted on July 21, 2017 by Gemma Norris

The next in our ‘Meet The 2016 Winners’ blog series features Austrian-based firm Smartvoll. Their project, Loft Panzerhalle, blew the judges away in the Residential Interiors category and here we speak with founding partner Christian Kircher to find out a little bit more about the team and their spectacular winning project…

The Smartvoll team

How did Philipp and yourself come together to form Smartvoll?

We got to know each other at the technical university in Vienna. Having been grouped together for an intense 6 month design workshop, we bonded playing an old school computer game called SkiJumpDeluxe during our breaks. After that we started collaborating on both university and real-life projects, we wrote our master thesis together and founded the predecessor of Smartvoll the day we stepped out of university.

Loft Panzerhalle – Winner – 2016 WIN Awards Residential Interiors category

Loft Panzerhalle has received international acclaim. What is it about the project that you think has been so well-received?

I think that people have realized and acknowledged that design is not just about aesthetics and a project can achieve very deliberate goals if you program it in a way that follows a distinct vision. It’s also become clear that people are generally fed up with designers & architects giving the same well known answers to even better known challenges. Furthermore we’re now approached by people who actually see taking a risk not only as a danger but as a chance, who are bold and willing to really go with us where no man has gone before!

What was the greatest challenge when embarking on the project?

Definitely getting the project built. We perfectly modelled the whole staircase in 3D and thought that the formwork for the concrete would be 3D milled out of polystyrene or similar (in a very modern way of working with 5 axial robots who cut away from the polystyrene). After the first bids were brought in the whole team saw that it was basically not feasible, since all company’s who bid, were afraid of the complexity and adjusted their prices accordingly. This continued for a couple of weeks and suddenly voices arose suggesting that we do it in wood or steel – which would have been a horror. The client then said: ok, having watched 3 carpenters on the ongoing construction site, I reckon they are efficient enough to complete the work in 3 weeks in a direct labour contract (so without a bid or indication of how much it will cost). The carpenters pulled it off and completed it in 3 weeks, which for us was a brilliant example of what you can achieve as an architect if you have a great client who shares your vision and is proactive. In the end it was not an uber-modern robot who did the work but an old fashioned handcraft, paired with a lot of engagement and experience by the carpenters.

What are you working on at the moment that you’re particularly excited about?

It has been a great year so far for us, since we have been designing one project after the other and that’s really what we like most. In an old Warehouse we are building one of the longest swimming lanes in Austria that is surrounded by moveable crane-like platforms that can adapt the space to fit an array of sporting activities. In south Austria we are planning a Community Center which takes a radically new approach to rebuilding a community and counters the donut effect that many villages currently experience in Austria. Right now we are working on a water-based fitness contraption which has the potential to change the mechanical way we train. Diversity excites us!

You’re based in Vienna, a city renowned for its stunning architecture both old and new. Is
there a particular space or building in the city that inspires you?

We love to live in Vienna but we tend to look abroad for inspiration. For example, we were stunned by how informal old buildings sit side by side with brutalist and British high-tech architecture in London. It’s a complete contrast to the way Vienna literally embalms its architectural heritage and we firmly believe that you can only evolve by exposing yourself to the unknown.

What would you say to anyone considering entering the WIN Awards now?

Just do it. We have started way too late entering the awards circus and for a long time we did not realize what a door opener this really is. Especially with all the international platforms and awards around, there is no need to limit yourself to the boundaries of your immediate neighborhood! Apart from that Steven and the WIN gang are a great bunch to hang out with!

Meet The 2016 Winners: Chu Chih Kang Space Design

Posted on June 30, 2017 by Gemma Norris

For this week’s ‘Meet The Winners’ blog post we speak with Yu Shan Su of design practice Chu Chih Kang Space Design, winners in the WIN Awards 2016 Retail Interiors Greater Than 200 SQ.M category.

The concept behind your project Fangsuo Bookstore was so beautiful – can you tell us more about the story?

I always aspired to design a bookstore when I was young. Taikoo Lu Chengdu were building a new shopping area which surrounded the historic Daci Temple. The very well-known Buddhist, Xuanzang, practiced in the temple before he started his journey to India which inspired the classic Chinese novel “Journey to the West”. The location of Fangsuo Bookstore is in the basement just beside the temple. The story immediately fired my imagination; Xuanzang stored precious scriptures in a secret cellar under the Daci Temple. In ancient China scriptures symbolized knowledge and wisdom and this became the overarching theme for the project.

Fangsuo Bookstore in Chengdu

The judges were awe-inspired by the sheer scale of Fangsuo Bookstore, what challenges do you face when tackling a project of this size?

It was indeed a big challenge. For such a huge space in a basement a floor-in-floor structure was forbidden and many stairs were required for fire safety. There was the additional difficulty of how to make customers aware that there was a bookstore in the basement. Lastly, a great challenge was to make customers ‘visible’ in such an expansive space so the store did not feel empty.

The aim was to keep visitors in the store for as long as possible. Firstly, to achieve this we included 2 coffee shops; secondly, the staircases were given multiple functions for people to sit on and relax. Lastly, an iconic landmark was placed by the entrance encouraging visitors to take photo’s and share on social media.

I solved the problem for my client whilst still keeping the legendary story: a cave hiding precious knowledge. But I think the most decisive was the story, a story of our culture and of our history. There were no cliché elements to make it “Chinese”, but people could get the story and the atmosphere while entering the store. I think it is the most successful part of the design.

Fangsuo Bookstore in Chengdu

Your work ranges from Exhibition to Retail to Residential projects, is there a particular sector that you enjoy working on most and why?

Not at all! My friends all know that I am a curious person; I love a challenge and have no patience for immutable things. Therefore so long as the concept is interesting, no matter what type of space it is, I will do it.

After the success of Fangsuo Bookstore in Chengdu, to be honest, many people came to me for bookstore design. Some even requested “do something that looks like Fangsuo Bookstore in Chengdu.” Of course I rejected them. Regardless of the sector I want to be producing something different each time, otherwise it’s simply no fun!

Fangsuo Bookstore in Chengdu

What’s the next project you’re working on?

My next project is a public space on the first floor of the Tao Zhu Yin Yuan tower located in Taipei, Taiwan and designed by the architect Vincent Callebaut. I was invited by the GAA Foundation to exhibit the concept model for the project during Venice Biennale. It’s perhaps unusual to exhibit an architecture project at an art show, but to me, the space itself is a huge art piece. Rather than creating a modish design I’m approaching this project more as an art piece with the concept of the circle of life at it’s centre.

Chu Chih-Kang exhibiting at Venice Biennale

Our 2017 categories will soon be coming to a close. What would you say to anyone considering entering the WIN Awards?

Practically, it has been a fantastic way to publicize my own project. In particular I was really happy to hear the judges’ feedback. The concept of Fangsuo Bookstore in Chengdu is related to Chinese history and legend and I am thrilled that the jury panel understood and appreciated the concept from their point of view.

Don’t hesitate, enter the WIN Awards now!

Meet The 2016 Winners: Joanne Motee

Posted on June 16, 2017 by Annalisa

This week our blog comes from Melbourne, Australia where we catch up with Joanne Motee, interior designer, stylist and winner of last year’s WIN Awards Cafés category, with her beautiful design for the Mister Hoffman Café.

Named after the street it’s located on, Mister Hoffman won many plaudits from our jury, who concluded: ‘The compositions are thorough and composed. There are some quirky items in there as well – altogether a very optimistic project’. Here’s what Joanne had to say to us….

Joanne Motee collecting the WIN Awards 2016 Cafés trophy

You grew up with creative parents who would regularly redecorate your home. Now you have a home of your own, do you do the same?

I spend a lot of time creating inspirational and functional spaces for amazing clients – turning job sites into homes, and spaces into beautiful places where people enjoy and congregate. So the focus when I am home is to feel clear and inspired at all times, along with all the things I love; regular bed linen, floral arrangements, scatter cushions…changes are made almost every week.

Mister Hoffman – Winner – 2016 Cafés category

You have worked on many beautiful projects including Mister Hoffman, a café in Melbourne and winner of the WIN Awards Café category 2016. Do you work on international projects as well, or do you prefer to work locally?

I am very honoured and humbled to have been recognised for great design for Mister Hoffman by WIN, and enjoyed attending the ceremony and meeting amazing creatives.

I love a variety of works and curating different styles, so working overseas allows me to extend myself and collaborate with local designers, clients and suppliers. I have executed many successful projects in the US and UK and am currently working on some exciting future retail spaces in Asia. Thankfully the WIN Awards allowed me to connect with many inspiring people and I am looking forward to designing for a Maltese architectural firm I have been following for some time. The prospect of working on a project in Malta excites me, as it is both my heritage and source of inspiration.

Mister Hoffman – Winner – 2016 Cafés category

How does living and working in Melbourne influence your design?

Design in Melbourne is highly valued by the public, which means as a community of designers we are constantly pushing the boundaries. I find the multicultural diversity in Melbourne quite influential with strong blends of classic and contemporary meetings, allowing me to create fearless and soulful interiors.

Lost in Seasons

This year you have entered the WIN Awards with Lost in Seasons, a retail space in Melbourne. Tell us about this project.

Yes! Fingers crossed as Lost in Seasons is a compelling brand based on trend clothing for any season. Executing the brand’s identity for Lost in Seasons was both rewarding and challenging. Working with clients who have total trust in your design and understanding of their brand allows for an amazing outcome. Adjacent to the tourist-attracting South Melbourne Market, Lost in Seasons is a crisp, artistic and clever design in a limited space.

What next for Joanne Motee?

I want to create cohesive and immersive experiences through thoughtful curation of spaces. I feel blessed to have such creativity, so next is an amazing café project, retail stores in Hong Kong, a boutique hotel in Bali and clever residential designs.

Lost in Seasons

Do you ever switch off from designing, and if so, what might a typical diversion be?

Strangely enough, I am at my most creative when I am free of mind, I find it both relaxing and uplifting to be in these moments. A typical diversion for me would be family and travel.

What is your biggest extravagance?

My continuously growing collection of dresses.

Thank you!

Meet The 2016 Winners: Nicemakers

Posted on June 9, 2017 by Annalisa

Amsterdam-based studio, Nicemakers, founded by partners Joyce Urbanus and Dax Roll, was joint winner of the WIN AWARDS 2017 Hotels category with their stunning project: The Hoxton, Amsterdam.

Made up of five 17th century canal houses, the building was once home to the Mayor. It is now a stunning hotel with 111 rooms across five floors.

Described by the jury as having a ‘measurable sense of space, of place and flair’, The Hoxton is just one of many projects undertaken by this dynamic duo to win international acclaim.

We interrupt Joyce’s travels to discover what Nicemakers is up to now…

Joyce Urbanus & Dax Roll

What projects are you currently working on?

A great hotel project in the centre of Paris. It is privately owned and will have around 80 rooms with a lovely inner garden which all the rooms are facing. The design is ready; we are currently building the Mock-up Room.

We are also working on a jewellery store in New York, a new-to-build hotel in Amsterdam, and a couple of great residential projects; from an 1800 Century farmhouse in the East of Holland to a Brutalist – style penthouse of 550m2 in Maastricht.

The Hoxton – Joint Winner – 2016 Hotels category. Image Credit: Alan Jenssen

Nicemakers works on a wide range of projects across all sectors, is there any sector that you haven’t tackled yet that you would like to?

Dax is still waiting for a boudoir to do the design for!

Will you be looking at product design in the future?

Yeah, that is definitely on our agenda. For almost every project we do we design a lot of custom -made items, so it is definitely not something new for us.

The Hoxton – Joint Winner – 2016 Hotels category. Image Credit: Alan Jenssen

What advice would you give to young architects and designers thinking of starting their own practice?

Make sure that besides design, you also develop your skills in listening and understanding your client and their brief. Go and visit buildings, try to understand the energy of a space and make sure whatever you design is aligned and well thought of.

Research! Know about the history, or the future, or just the area. There are great products, suppliers and developers in every country that you work.

And…be ready to give everything you have; it will take a great amount of energy, it’s 24/7 full-on. But always feel the confidence that you’ve ‘got it’…. it will go with a lot of up’s and downs.

Amsterdam City Apartment. Photo Credit: Alan Jenssen

What does a typical day look like?

There is no typical day, one is always different from another.

What’s next for Nicemakers?

Being consistent in keeping up the quality of work, with the love that we feel for our projects and clients, as we do now.

Amsterdam City Apartment. Photo Credit: Alan Jenssen

Would you say that working in Amsterdam inspires you?

Yes, it’s a dream city. Cosy and international. Our HQ is on one of the Canals, we have an amazing big garden in the back, what else could you wish for?

Can you name a few of your favourite places in Amsterdam?

Toscanini and Café de Klepel are our all-time favourites. That’s where we celebrate the good things in life with the best service and amazing food and vino.

Restaurant Jacobz

I’ve read that you love to travel. What places would you love to visit that you haven’t already?

We’ve seen quite a lot that we wanted to. There are quite a few places that will take a longer trip than just one week, like Peru, Argentina, and all the rest of Brazil we haven’t seen yet. But for now we also would love to discover more of Europe. It’s all next door…

Where are you happiest?

Every few weeks we try to go to a little house we always rent on Ibiza.  It’s a place just surrounded by nature and where the sun goes down every evening right in front of you. We cook meals, we read, we go for long walks, just be together and sometimes speak about new ideas. But most of the time we just empty our minds to maintain a strong focus and clear vision… and just feel really happy.

Thank you Joyce!

Meet The 2016 Winners: Dan Schofield

Posted on June 2, 2017 by Annalisa

This week we meet successful designer and WIN Award winner, Daniel Schofield. Born in 1986 in Royal Leamington Spa in the UK, Dan studied graphic design at college, going on to work as an apprentice at a local carpentry firm. He later left to take a degree in furniture and product design at Sheffield Hallam University in South Yorkshire, and graduated with honours.

Dan established his own studio in Sheffield in 2012, which then moved to London’s fashionable Greenwich district in 2013. Dan’s aesthetic combines simple, functional works with strong narratives, or as he puts it: “If an object can connect to its space, material, surroundings, function, and user, then it will gain personality and longevity.” We find out more about what makes this talented young designer tick…


You were one of the youngest designers to win our WIN Awards Furniture Category. What did winning the Award mean to you?

It’s great to be awarded from a panel of designers you really respect and admire so it was very humbling, and also very unexpected.

The judges said of Joist Table, ‘A really clever, simple and scalable design that unusually adds something fresh to the world of tables’. How far into the design process did you realise that you were creating something special that was both practical and beautiful?

I came to the design after my carpentry apprenticeship, it’s a similar construction method we used to build houses so scaled down architecture really so the practical side of it has always been there. I think when an object works well it’s always intriguing so I didn’t try to force the aesthetics in that sense, I just let the materials and construction do the talking.

You have designed a wide range of beautiful products, from a glass carafe with silver coins, a spherical light which splits into two halves, a pocket mirror designed to store small belongings, to tables made from marble offcuts. Where does your inspiration come from, and is there a product that you would like to tackle next?

My inspiration usually comes from trying to solve a problem, whether that be from a material or functional perspective, or just trying out new processes or materials to me. There are too many things I want to design and am working on lots at the minute so it depends what gets released next!

Your background is graphics, construction and design including restoring historic houses. How has this experience influenced your approach to product design today?

I think the time spent studying graphics has helped me give a more refined view, whilst being in construction allowed me to study and play with materials and how things go together, especially on an architectural scale, I think this also helps with race and proportion. It was never planned but I think the two complement each other quite well.

Moving on to you…How do you like to unwind after a hectic week, and where might we find you out of hours?

After a busy week it’s nice just to sort my life out! Do some exercise, have a nice meal, catch up with friends etc. Out of hours I’m usually in bed, at a gallery or playing football.

What would you like to own that you don’t already possess?

Tough one, there is quite a lot I don’t already possess. Furniture-wise maybe a Poul Kjaerholm PK22 chair.

Meet The 2016 Winners: TomMarkHenry

Posted on May 24, 2017 by Gemma Norris

Interior design practice TomMarkHenry, founded by Sydney-based trio Jade Nottage, Cushla McFadden & Chloe Matters, scooped up two WIN Awards in the Bars and Retail Interiors categories as well as making the shortlist for Emerging Interior Practice of the Year. We catch up with Cushla McFadden, who attended the WIN Awards 2016 Ceremony at London’s Design Museum, to learn a little bit more about this exciting practice in the first instalment of our winners blog series.

Chloe Matters, Jade Nottage and Cushla McFadden

1) Firstly, we love the name TomMarkHenry! What inspired the name and how did the 3 of you come together?

We met whilst all students. TomMarkHenry is named after three inspirational men in our lives who have played a fundamental role in shaping our values and ambitions.

It’s also tongue-in-cheek and unexpected that it’s three women behind the business, which reflects our personalities and approach to design.

1888 Certified – Joint Winner – 2016 Retail Interiors Less Than 200 SQ M.

2) The judges praised the use of natural materials in your project 1888 Certified, which was a joint winner in the 2016 Retail Interiors Less than 200 SQ. M category. Would you say this is a key feature in your work?

Natural materials were definitely a key element of the design for 1888 Certified.
The design concept relates closely the client’s ethos of an honest and transparent brand with integrity. We drew on these qualities for the interior palette. The materials selected are natural and raw with an emphasis on craftsmanship.

3) What have you found is the greatest challenge when embarking on a new project?

We love a challenge! Responding to a brief in a completely new way that has not been considered before is something we try to bring to every project. Getting those first ideas across the line is always a challenge, but we put a lot of research into our projects first so our designs can always relate back to a strong and considered concept.

New Essentials, Barangaroo

4) You were amongst a cohort of Australian designers that performed exceedingly well in the WIN Awards last year. What is it that makes Australian design stand out on a global stage?

It was so exciting to see so many great Australian designers represented at the WIN Awards last year, several of which have since become our friends! Collectively, I think we take a genuine approach and this comes across in our projects. There is a fantastic design community in Australia, we share lots of great ideas and inspiration and are proud to see each other doing so well on a global stage.

Dead Ringer – Winner – 2016 Bars category

5) How did it feel to come top in two categories in the WIN Awards & what would you say to anyone considering entering now?

Surreal! I would say you never know what the judges are looking for, so why not throw your hat in the ring.

 

The deadline to enter the WIN Awards 2017 is 9th June. Click here to enter online now.

Designer chic in the heart of Marrakech

Posted on December 16, 2016 by Annalisa

Imagine staying in a hotel owned by British Designer Jasper Conran, now imagine that hotel is 19th Century riad in the heart of the ‘red city’s’ Medina with a courtyard garden planted with banana, orange and lemon trees, and the sound of birdsong.

Now imagine reading a book in the shade by the pool or admiring antique furniture, textiles, lighting and art from Jasper’s collection some of which were acquired from the personal collections of Yves Saint Laurent, and you have the L’Hotel in Marrakech, Jasper Conran’s first hotel opening and a charming new retreat for design savvy guests.

The restoration has been executed using local craftsmen and traditional materials. An atmosphere of timeless relaxed grandeur has been created, white voile curtains flow on the terraces giving privacy to the generously proportioned suites. Simple whitewashed walls, high zouak ceilings, warm, soft, restful colours and unfussy decoration give a relaxing feeling of charm and serenity.

The roof terrace offers extraordinary views of the Atlas Mountains and the skyline of Marrakech. It is a place to unwind after a day’s foray into the souks, and somewhere to lay out on sun loungers. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea can be taken under the pergola. Cocktails can be enjoyed amongst orange blossom and fig trees, a wilderness of honeysuckle, bougainvillaea jasmine and scented roses whilst watching the sun go down over the snowcapped mountains.

Bill Amberg Studio introduces the new Common Collection

Posted on October 14, 2016 by Annalisa

Combining CNC technology, traditional saddlery skills and hand stitch detailing, the Bill Amberg Studio launched their first seating range, the Common Collection, during London Design Festival 2015. For 2016, they presented two new additions to the range; a bar stool and a coffee table. These new versions have been designed especially for contract interior application.

The Common Collection arose from the need for modern leather furniture that would be ideal in a home kitchen, coffee shop, a hotel lobby or workplace. Combining traditional leathercraft techniques with CNC, the first collection of stools and a bench employs simple craft techniques to create a robust yet lightweight seating range.

The new Common Bar stool and Common Coffee table, features a lightly padded English bridle leather top. The edges have been turned and trapped, creating a soft edge detail and comes with a lacquered base and solid oak legs. This variation from the hand-stitched collection adds a new functionality to this group and their application in a variety of settings.

The Common Collection highlights the Studio’s ongoing experiments in the creative application of leather; a modern, organically contoured family of furniture that will complement a home kitchen and workspaces alike.

www.billambergstudio.com

Emil Eve Architects designs Caro Somerset lifestyle store, café and B+B

Posted on July 29, 2016 by Annalisa

CARO SOMERSET is a new lifestyle store, café and B+B in Bruton, Somerset designed by EMIL EVE ARCHITECTS with colours, fittings and styling by owner Natalie Jones.

The Grade II Listed highstreet property has been extensively reconfigured, refurbished and extended to become a new destination in Bruton, home of Hauser + Wirth and The Chapel.

The store and café inhabit the ground floor front rooms. The historic character of the building has retained, creating a series of unique spaces where unusual designer products are displayed on bespoke furniture and coffee and beautiful Bakemonger cakes can be enjoyed perched at the counter or relaxing in the calm salon.

Behind and above the public spaces, a family home and b+b accommodation have been created. To the rear, a large larch-clad extension houses an open-plan kitchen and living area with contemporary detailing complimenting the historic building fabric.

Contractor: GDW Building & Renovations
Construction cost: £150,000

http://www.emileve.co.uk/

Photo Credits : MARIELL LIND HANSEN

Eclectic hospitality furniture for SushiSamba, London

Posted on July 22, 2016 by Annalisa

Bill Amberg Studio have recently undertaken a challenging project developing hospitality furniture for the highly acclaimed Sushisamba restaurant in London.

The challenge was to come up with a series of furniture that makes use of the space with efficiency while maximising the number of seats that can be accommodated comfortably. The project brief required them to present three different types of tabletops, two different sizes of banquette seats, and two kinds of waiter’s stations. Further, the client asked that Bill Amberg and his team ensure the furniture reflected the multicultural and eclectic style of cuisine in someway too.

Working to a very specific brief, the design team was also faced with spatial constraints onsite; located on the 38th floor, it was vital to consider the space available for transporting the furniture up to the restaurant space in the lifts. Getting such large furniture pieces to the restaurant levels was not an easy task and so the design team had to be very careful while dimensioning everything so that it could fit in the lift and through the corridors.

For the banquette seats, the wooden box cases have been designed to be as less intrusive as possible by capitalising on the space available. Carefully designed ultra-thin surrounding boxes kept the dimensions and weight in touch allowing easy installation and ease for the future if a layout change should become necessary. To solve the issue of transporting the large banquette seats into the building, a mechanism was included to the wooden box so the seats can be separated during transit and placed back onto the wooden boxes efficiently on site. Further to the detachable seats, a set of wheels on each component further enabled ease of transportation from the workshop to the restaurant floors.

Further to the banquettes, the client requested that the studio design two bespoke waiter stations that would merge in with the rest of the interior space whilst supporting the high level of staff activity. Inspired by Japanese Shoji screens, the waiter station has been made to the specific dimensions of each of the objects it will store, with every ledge and drawer in place for a very precise purpose, based on the input from the waiting staff themselves. Even the rubbish compartments have been thoughtfully designed with water-resistant inside surfaces for easy cleaning. A separate back compartment keeps wires separated away neatly whilst castors on the base provide easy movement around the dining areas. Finally, a special finish is applied to the outer surfaces to ensure they are resistant to damage and daily wear.

For the dining tables, a precision laser cut wood technique was incorporated to achieve an embellished design on the surface. A high glossy finish was created by adding extra layers of lacquer to maintain the original look against daily wear. Each piece of furniture from the dining tables to the staff stations, were custom made by specialist manufactures sourced by the Bill Amberg Studio to ensure they were of the best quality and made to last.

www.billambergstudio.com