Gio Ponti – A modernist master



The latter half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century were especially fertile for architects experimenting with the new materials and methods produced by the industrial revolution. These novel techniques induced a design agenda, which rejected historical models. The resulting modernism and its advocates proposed the abstraction of textures, decorative elements and craftsmanship. Industry was to replace the craftsman of the pre-industrial society. Adolf Loos’ manifesto «Ornament and Crime» is emblematic of this rejection of historical representation and decorative content.[1]

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The elimination of historical content in Adolf Loos’ manifesto is noteworthy for assessing Gio Ponti’s status in modern architecture. The diversity of Ponti’s work testifies to an inclusive form of modernism that goes beyond simply rejecting history and its representation in design. His work, often associated with modernism, is not devoid of ornament and craftsmanship. Color, materials, texture, appliqués and compositional formalism are all part of the multi-layered nature of Ponti’s work.


Ornament and applied decorative elements, rejected by Loos and the European modern avant-garde as archaic, are an important legacy of Ponti’s theories and should be recognized by a discipline that has often overlooked this form of modernism. He rejected this culture of exclusion and promoted a more open-minded view of design culture based on the inclusion of the historical and cultural attributes of materiality and craft.

Two Milanese collectives at work in Italy perhaps inspired Ponti’s form of composite modernism at the beginning of the 20th century. Gruppo 7[2] was a group of Italian rationalists who proposed an industrial aesthetic supportive of modernism and the Novecento Italiano[3] who rejected the European modern movement, suggested a return to Italian classicism for inspiration. These philosophical views seem to have been combined by Ponti to inform the layered textile-like composition of his work. The layered surfaces reveal a complexity that can be associated with Roman glazed brick surfaces. The constructive artefact displays its virtue of thickness along with its decorative value. This composition of wall versus surface, an interaction so much a part of Villa Planchart (1955, Caracas) also exposes Ponti’s denial of the modern value of material truth[4].

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The graphic adornment in Ponti’s work can also be linked to his time as director of The Richard Ginordi Ceramics Company from 1932 – 1930. Considering this position at the beginning of his career provides insight into Ponti’s outlook on design. Craft and surface, integral parts of ceramic production, are central in Ponti’s work. Along with the values of craft and ornament, he also developed an intimate knowledge of the difficulties in designing quality mass- produced objects. He treasured mass production as much as designing unique objects. He believed craft and industry were to be linked for a quality product to emerge.

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Born in 1891 and raised in Milan, Gio Ponti studied and eventually taught at the Milan Polytechnic. Interrupted by World War 1, he completed his studies in 1918 at the age of 27. His travels as an Italian soldier allowed him to visit some of Palladio’s residential works potentially commanding his use of classical compositional tactics such as axis, symmetry, rhythm, which are all apparent in Ponti’s work. Along with this classical content, his designs embrace the modern values of surface and light, flexibility and openness, and the abstract use of pure forms. It is this complexity that embodies the «Ponti style» associated with the modern Italian period. The Pavoni coffee machine and the Villa Planchart both iconic images of his work demonstrate Ponti’s whimsical nature and his capacity to bridge traditional and modern values.

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Ponti promoted an inclusive form of modernism and founded, on this basis, Domus magazine in 1928 along with Gianni Mazzochi, an artist involved with the Novecento group. Conceivably the most influencial Italian design publication, the magazine informed the masses about good design by revealing its capacity to emote on the same level as literature or theatre. The magazine is synonymous with modern domesticity and aesthetic in the field of Architecture even today.


Love architecture, both old and modern. Love it for its fantastic, adventurous, and solemn creations; for its inventions; for the abstract, allusive and figurative forms that enchant our spirit and enrapture our thought. Love architecture, the stage and the support of our life.

Gio Ponti, In praise of Architecture.

Along with being a very proficient architect and designer Ponti authored a series of treatises on Architecture, Amate l’Architettura or Love Architecture. Published in English as «In praise of Architecture», Ponti wrote generously about architecture, architects, materials, ornament, program, theory and exposed the true nature of his intentions. Ponti was a generous teacher. His great legacy of works, as important as they may be, can be considered marginal within the scope of his commitment to divulge architecture of inclusion that sees the beauty in simultaneous presence of tradition and modernity.

It is no doubt not a coincidence that a country that brought us Vitruvius[5] and Alberti[6] also gave us Ponti. All three embody the tradition of the architect as a thinker as well as a builder. In an era where taking sides was of the utmost importance, Ponti was able to develop an original and playful quality that bridged philosophies and crossed six decades and multiple disciplines.

Earlier this year Molteni & C, under the direction of Francesca Molteni released a limited, re-edition of some of Ponti’s coveted creations – showcasing the broad scope of Ponti’s work. The colourful motifs, striped surfaces, the weaved patterns or the fluid nature of his furniture all demonstrate his search for elegance and his obsession for detail and craftsmanship. He was in this respect a true Roman Architect, concerned with beauty, function and durability[7].



HOME Magazine discussed Ponti and Molteni & C’s new collection with Francesca Molteni in Milan.

Why Ponti – What inspired you to develop this collection?

We didn’t plan the re-edition of Gio Ponti, it just happened. We had the chance to visit his nephew’s studio and we noticed a wonderful bookcase, very elegant and modern. His nephew, Paolo Rosselli, told us it was designed by Gio Ponti for his house in Via Dezza in Milan.
We decided to look into his archive to find out other pieces, never produced before industrially. We discovered a real treasure: sketches, drawings, pictures and notes from the architect. We made an agreement with the Ponti family to reproduce some pieces, an entire Ponti collection.

It’s been said, making a sequel as good as the original is very difficult to do. However; Molteni & C’s revival has truly captured the essence of Ponti. How did you accomplish this?

It was not easy to redone today something made in the past. We decided to rethink the pieces in total respect of the Ponti soul but with a modern technique, something Ponti would appreciate. That was the challenge.

Ponti wrote many notes and made many sketches about his job. He was also the founder and director of Domus. So we could find out many articles in the magazine about the furniture. But we’re also having a wonderful relationship with the Ponti heirs. Two daughters, Lisa and Letizia, one son, Giulio, and many grandchildren. One of them, Salvatore Licitra, is the curator of the Gio Ponti Archives. They helped us a lot to make a collection as good as the original. But, of course, our technicians were very inspired to find out brilliant solutions for the collection of such a great master of Italian design.


You are a very multifaceted and creative individual. One of your passions is film making and directing. Do you find your artistic ability to tell and produce a story on film assisted you in conceptualizing and producing a furniture collection – such as the new Ponti collection?

Yes, I did many researches in the Ponti Archive, as I usually do in order to tell a story or to direct a documentary. The process was the same: finding out some interesting details, interviewing people, discovering the context in which the furniture were conceived, and then writing a new story with all these elements. I also convinced Molteni&C to produce five short films about Gio Ponti, his life and work, and to organize an exhibition, “Vivere alla Ponti”, with all the material we collected during the researches. Now the exhibition is travelling around the world with the collection!

How long did it take to produce the final Ponti collection?

It was a long process and it’s not ended. At least 3 years since the beginning, it started in 2010.

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As you are aware Ponti’s furniture is coveted by the top furniture collectors around the world. How did Molteni & C decide what pieces would be in the final Ponti collection?

We made some researches in the Ponti Archive, finding out the pieces that could be reproduced today, free of rights, and selecting almost 30 products. Then we chose the ones that could be part of a real collection, with the help and the artistic direction of Studio Cerri&Associati. Finally we made a special agreement with the Ponti heirs in order to have the exclusive rights to reproduce the pieces.

Will we see more revivals from Molteni & C in the future? If so – which other masters of design inspire you?

Molteni&C worked with well-known architects and designers since a long time. Aldo Rossi, Luca Meda, Afra & Tobia Scarpa, in the past, and Jean Nouvel, Studio Foster, Patricia Urquiola, Ron Gilad today. In the future we could think about some fantastic re-editions of their products from the ’70 and ’80.

What’s next for Francesca Molteni?

Many projects! I’m editing a documentary about Ron Gilad and his exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. It will be presented at the London Design Festival in September. I’m working on an interesting project to promote the Italian creativity in Brazil, and on a huge project for the next Salone del Mobile in 2014. With Molteni&C we’re planning some new revivals. There’s so much to do! We’ll see…


[1] «The evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from utilitarian objects». Ornament and Crime, Conrad U. Programs and Manifestoes on 20th Century architecture MIT Press, 2002, Cambridge

[2] Gruppo 7: formed in 1926 by Luigi Figini, Guido Frette, Sebastiano Larco, Gino Pollini, Carlo Enrico

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Rava, Giuseppe Terragni and Adalberto Libera, see Framton K., Modern Architecture a critical history, Thames and Hudson, 1980, London

[3] Founded in Milan in 1922 by Anselmo Bucci , Leonardo Dudreville, Achille Funi, Gian Emilio Malerba, , Piero Marussig, Ubaldo Oppi and Mario Sironi see Framton K., Modern Architecture a critical history, Thames and Hudson, 1980, London

[4] Material truth: the modern axiom «truth in materials» refers to a material being used for its constructive quality. The material does not «pretend» to be another. Each material should express its own nature and not be covered or hidden.

[5] Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman military architect and he authored De Architectura libri decem «the ten books on architecture» in the first century B.C.

[6] Leon Battista Alberti, a 15th century architect and author who reedited Vitruvius’ ten books as De re aedificatoria

« the art of building» see Kruft H.W., A History of Architectural Theory from Vitruvius to the present, Princeton Architectural Press, 1994, New York

[7] Vitruvius’ three pillars of architecture, beauty, functinality, durability (venustas, utilitas, firmitas) interpreted in Kruft H.W., A History of Architectural Theory from Vitruvius to the present, Princeton Architectural Press, 1994, New York




Photography ©Ponti Archives





















Ett Hem Hotel in Stockholm

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Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

Ett Hem, Built in the first years of the twentieth century, this building was home to a government official and his wife, a lady with a love for the aesthetics of Karin Larsson, who collected objects, textiles and furniture from all over Sweden. This was a time when the home became the focus of art and life, and design was integrated into the everyday. The influence of the Arts & Crafts, the romantic notion of national character and the delight in the design of useful things, combined with an impulse to embed a family in a place through architecture. All together this created a very special moment for domestic architecture in Sweden.

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Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

Ett Hem, built in 1910, dates from this moment. The house in Sköldungagatan was designed by architect Fredrik Dahlberg. With its protective brick shell it weaves a coat against the harsh Swedish winter. In its interiors it has both the robust, dark-timberlines rooms of public life, the masculine realms. And the feminine realm of the private.


Photographer ©Magnus Mårding


Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

Upstairs the house evokes the summery whiteness and lightness of Carl Larsson’s super Scandinavian interiors, feminine family spaces suffused with sun. Ett Hem has always been a container of beautiful things, the finest furniture, antiques and design. Today its spaces are inhabited not only by guests but by objects and art with real stories and histories, things that frame moments in a life.


Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

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Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

Like all the best Scandinavian hosts, Ett Hem is at home indoors and outdoors. The courtyard garden, a secret city wilderness, is a room every bit as important as the interiors, a place for relaxation and conversation, for a chilled bottle of wine or a steaming hot coffee. Personal touches are as important as the design in defining the everyday experience.


Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

Ett Hem is not the usual hotel. If Ett Hem is an idea of home, of comfort and security, of familiarity, the other is an institution, a series of services. Ett Hem is something very different. It is active, where the guests can subtly shift the conditions, the atmospheres, the conviviality. A hotel is passive, a place that exists with or without you.

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Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

While it has all the facilities expected today, Ett Hem is a place that allows the guest to become part of it. Guests are treated as friends of the family. They can turn on the television in the sitting room, borrow our car or take the dog for a walk. They can make themselves at home, help themselves from the fridge. The food changes with the seasons, the rooms warm up with stoves and cool down with a fresh breeze from an open window.

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Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

Ett Hem is connected to the street and the sky, to the city, it is not a machine cut off from life outside. Ett Hem is as glamorous as it is casual, but while it is a luxury, it is not a luxury hotel.


Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

The value of Ett Hem comes through the pleasure of proximity to beautiful things, of being in spaces that tell a story, and through an ethic of generosity and care. And to a degree, of being left alone to live in a very special house. This from the moment you step through the college door, enter the courtyard into the garden and go up the steps to the front door.


Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

In the entrance hall a fire is lit when it’s cold outside, and fresh cut flowers from the garden are arranged on the table. Check in and wait for friends by the fire. Ett Hem will feel familiar. It is a place to use as you please.


Photographer ©Magnus Mårding


Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

Downstairs in the sitting room there are sofas to sink into and games to play. The library, a room to disappear into, is stacked high with books you actually want to read. And the leafy glass house, where you can take breakfast during the day, or where you can enjoy a twinkling feast at night.


Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

Upstairs the bedrooms have a warm domestic feel with a sophisticated edit of vintage and new pieces in tactile materials such as cane, wood, leather and velvet. Each room has its own cocktail cabinet in gleaming brass.


Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

And throughout the house is the owners’ personal collection of art and photography. At the heart of it all is the kitchen. Furnished with a big table, comfy chairs and settles. It is

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a place to really feel at home. On open shelves everything is at hand. A generous fridge is full to the brim with tasty treats, healthy food, champagne and fine wine, yours to help yourself.

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Photographer ©Magnus Mårding

A house guest is both privileged and respected. Privileged to be party to an intimate private realm and respected as an honoured invitee.

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Photographer ©Magnus Mårding


“… I was a very bad cabinet maker because my father always said measure three times and cut only once; and I would cut three times without measuring…” he said as he giggled boyishly reminiscing about growing up and learning cabinet and furniture making from his father. Vladimir Kagan sits down with HOME Magazine and gives us a quick glimpse into the mind of an icon.

In those days it was almost expected that a son would follow in his father’s footsteps and continue running the family business; little did anyone know that his ground-up training with his father combined with a Columbia University education in Architecture would lead Vladimir Kagan to become one of the most recognized and important furniture designers of the 20th century; an Icon. “I really get a high when I take out my drawing board and

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do some drawings on it… its fabulous” he explains with his softened German accent. During the pinnacle of Kagan’s career every idea, concept, addition and revision started and finished on paper; I was curious to know how he has adapted to the advancement and integration of modern technology into furniture design, “it’s burning the candle from both ends…” Kagan observes, “I’m a great fan and learned the apprenticeship way and really value that experience, but it also limits you… it’s all discipline, it’s all restraint, it’s all knowing what you can and can’t do… today’s kids who go out designing with computers and stuff have no boundaries… so sometimes they come up with some pretty cool stuff which is beyond what I would have dared to do but at the same token a lot of it is junk… the best of all worlds is to have both”. “In my day the machinery we had in the cabinet shop were extensions of the hand… today’s machinery doesn’t relate to the hand anymore, it relates to the computer; I now really appreciate what the computer can do, and I always have somebody working with me who is pretty cool on computers… I can only tell them what I want but I can’t manipulate the buttons.”

While Kagan may be a little behind on technology and how to use it, his designs have never been behind; rather he has constantly stayed ahead of the trends, “I’ve always said I’m an upstream swimmer… I never went with the trends and was never very trendy I had a very good foundation in the start of my career… I didn’t start off wanting to design furniture as a furniture designer, I started to work always with a client and the client became the specifier and the instigator of a new idea… a lot of my early creations were the bi-product of specific requirements… so all along the way the needs of a client created impulses” When you look at a Kagan piece those impulses usually tend translate into fluid curves which is one of the signature aspects of a Kagan piece “when I worked with my Dad, he was sort of a Bauhaus type of guy he lived in Germany in the 20’’s and 30’s and was very linear… I became very involved with curvy lines because as an artist I used to look at trees and draw trees and plants a lot; I was intrigued and kind of interpreted those natural elements; also things like a young horse like a philly the way it stands with its legs flared for strength.. their all leg and little bodies you know; so a lot of my early cabinets were based on the natural impulses you can actually see on some of my early t.v. cabinets and bars where the little horse comes into play.” “ I had clients fortunately who were major art collectors because early on I had a showroom on 57th which was the art capitol of New York… and their needs were “Hey we’ve got these wall to wall Jackson Pollack paintings and we need the walls for art and we don’t want the furniture against the walls”, so I started to come up with designs of furniture that could be freestanding; primarily seating that is to say and that became what I call interior landscapes because the furniture could float in the space and you could sit in different directions to look at the paintings… so my Free Form designs were the bi-product of those requirements.

Kagan originals are still coveted today by the upper echelon of international furniture collectors and dealers with prices for his pieces on the rise. His prizewinning designs are in the permanent collections of the V&A London, the

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Vitra Design Museum and Die Neue Samlung in Germany, the Brooklyn Museum, the Cooper Hewitt Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Pasadena Art Institute, Baltimore Museum of Fine Arts, Chicago’s Athenaeum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Today Kagan still pushes forward, sitting at his drawing board on a daily basis. Recently in 2009 Kagan completed a collection of Fiberglass Chairs for Ralph Pucci which carried his signature Kagan lines; when asked about which pieces stand out to him as being most representative his core style Kagan reminisces “When I look back I think the most creative work were my wooden chairs like my rocking chair which kind of the apex of my sculpture period, and the multi precision recliners those were very unique pieces…” with that said Kagan looks to the future with great enthusiasm…” but for me the most exciting work are the new jobs that I get now… or when I come up with a new design of furniture… that’s the piece I love the most”.

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PRETTY PIG – James Boyd

James Boyd_PIG_HOME MTL_LR_18_MG_9842r LR

Photo by: Alejandro Lipsyk (Argentina)
Knoll sofa and Barcelona sofas in chalk color leather
1940`s Lamp
Marble tables by James Boyd Niven
Wallpaper: Missoni (vintage)

In the young and vibrant area of Palermo Hollywood, James

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has transformed a special 1905 Buenos Aires residence into a place he calls home; a place he calls Pig.

How did you develop the concept and approach for Pig?

I have done several private homes and I´ve named each one after an animal present in the decoration, in the form of a sculpture, a painting, etc. My latest home was named PIG because for my 30th birthday I decided to host a dinner at a friend’s house, and while walking through East London, I saw the cutest pig in the world at the “Les Trois Garçons” store and immediately it was love at first sight. Of course I got it not only because the piece was a gorgeous Victorian hand panted piece, but because I also admire their work so much. The pig soon became the “Mascot” of the trip and it travelled with us to Paris for fashion week and then back to Argentina, literally in the seat next to me since I was terrified it was going to break, of course the air hostesses found the whole thing quite amusing.

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Photo by: Ricardo Labougle
Sofa by James Boyd Niven
Crystal decanter
Rug : Silk 19th century (flea market)
Plate :18th century Wedgwood.

How did you find this house?

Back home, I felt the need to move to a house, since I had lived in apartments for quite some time, but I wanted to stay in the area. I was finding the scout quite difficult so I decided to get on my bicycle and hunt down something special. I saw this amazing old house and called the sign number, they had put the sign up that afternoon. Next day, I saw it and it was mine!

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Photo by: Ricardo Labougle
The console table is by Jean-Michel Frank
The tray is by Augusti in Paris
The silver tea set is Art deco Tiffany
The theater light is 1920 from an old movie house in Buenos Aires
The oil painting is from an Argentine artist Lidys.

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a vintage factory that closed down
The pictures are 1920 educational posters.

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Photo by: Ricardo Labougle
The office
The wooden swing is a scaled model from a factory in Buenos Aires
The ink well on the desk belonged to Ricardo’s great grandfather and is a prize for winning a race
The chandelier is Napoleonic
The lamp is Italian 1960`s.


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Photo by: Ricardo Labougle

You have a very eclectic approach to your designs – You mix exquisite vintage design and kitschy art pieces. Where do you get your inspiration?

My trips to Europe had a big impact in my style, what stuck on me the most was the English carefree sense of mixing styles, eclectic yes, but more than that, something I call the mad English way, something shows in my work. Like the neon that reads chau for now, is a joke I have with my friends that repeat that, meaning … moving on! It is about the sensibility of how things relate to each other when you are in a room. If it works it works; you can’t force things to be in a relationship.

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Photo by: Ricardo Labougle
The cushions of dogs from Portobello road
Dollection of insects and an antique Dutch painting
The forest backdrop is vintage supersized prints.


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Photo by: Ricardo Labougle
The kitchen
Collection of English plates stuck on the wall and ceiling
Collection of Fornasetti vases


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Photo by: Ricardo Labougle

Buenos Aires is home – are you based here full time?

I am born and raised in Buenos Aires, but I am actually English and Scottish decent.

I travel a lot for work Milan Paris and New York, but I have a soft spot for England, both London and the country.

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Photo by: Ricardo Labougle


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Photo by: Ricardo Labougle

“Find a job you like to do and you won`t have to work a day in your life” That`s basically how I do all of my projects, be it for myself or for a client. I am passionate and just love to work; it brings great pleasure, almost like the pleasure is in the hunt! I have chosen everything I have, even the inherited pieces that are edited, re upholstered, spray painted.

Another motto I have is “finish, photograph and forget” Meaning if it were up to me I would keep changing things all day long.

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Photo by: Ricardo Labougle
Silver wall paper from London
Horns are custom pieces by James Boyd
Console by late argentine artist Klem

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 01©Nicolas Matheus

Bayerischer Hof Hotel – Jouin Manku in Munich

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 01©Nicolas Matheus

©Nicolas Matheus

The Bayerischer Hof is to Munich what the Ritz is to Paris… a legend. Run by the Volkhardt family for over 100 years, it is the place to stay for visitors to the city. Established in 1841, at the behest of King Ludwig the 1st of Bavaria, the Bayrischer Hof is more than just a hotel, it is a palace. A city within a city, it has 340 rooms – of which 60 are suites, a cinema, five restaurants, a roof terrace, a spa and a swimming pool.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 014©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 032©Nicolas Matheus (2) copy

©Nicolas Matheus

The Volkhardt family maintains a close relationship with the design world, particularly with the interior designers who have lent their personal touch to the hotel: Andrée Putman designed the hotel spa, and Axel Vervoodt designed two restaurants, the Atelier, one Michelin Star, the Garden and also the cinema lounge of the palace. In 2014, thanks to a personal commission from Innegrit Volkhardt, it is now Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku who unveil a new project at the heart of the hotel: the Roof Garden restaurant (the Dachgarten) and Lounge, plus the Bird’s Nest situated on the floor above, on the roof terrace, which is an intimate dining space for six to eight people perched above the city, that is

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to be inaugurated in spring 2014.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 028©Nicolas Matheus copy

The three spaces entrusted to Agence Jouin Manku are busy areas that are used for numerous events. The Dachgarten in the day is used as the hotel’s breakfast room, and in the afternoon and evening it plays host to private and professional receptions. Agence Jouin Manku has completely reconfigured the area. Taking into account the requirements of the hotel’s clients of maximum flexibility and creating a restaurant that can be divided and partitioned in numerous ways.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 010©Nicolas Matheus

©Nicolas Matheus

The adjacent Lounge is accessible all day. The area between the bar and the restaurant changes function in reaction to the specific configuration chosen. Ideally situated along the main façade and running around both spaces is a large terrace – opening in spring 2014 – that unifies and frames the project while offering a magnificent view of the city.

Bayerischer Hof Hotel 11 (c)Nicolas Matheus

©Nicolas Matheus

The interior design therefore needed to be able to respond to numerous different configurations, while retaining its own identity within the hotel, and within the city of Munich. Located on the sixth floor, the main room faces the Frauenkirche cathedral. A long rectangular space, it benefits from an immense picture window with breathtaking views across the city to the Bavarian mountains beyond. The project’s design draws for inspiration on this city surrounded by forests. Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku’s idea was to give clients a vista within the room itself by creating an interior landscape that was both natural and fantastical, as if nature had taken over at the heart of the hotel.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 07©Nicolas Matheus

©Nicolas Matheus

They imagined a mineral horizon made of stone and snow, like a scene carved out of rock. The theme of the mountains was the starting point for the project – snow, frozen into uneven layers flanking the ravine, its smooth lines broken here and there under their own weight; rocks, sculpted by the wind and rain; and natural elements competing for space in a mix of tones, mineral and vegetal, green mixing with grey, and white glistening in the bright sunlight. But the natural world was not the only source of inspiration for creating the unique mood of this space.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 015©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

Munich is a city of antitheses, whose architecture has an eccentric character, whereby a building’s austere exterior facade often hides a lavishly decorated interior. Once inside, the ornamental detail, impressive in its refinement, is the first thing that catches the eye. Forms expand and multiply in the pictorial round, giving a sense of the importance of movement. The Bayrischer Hof is characterized by these same contrasts.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 06©Nicolas Matheus

©Nicolas Matheus

From the outside, it appears to be a fairly traditional palace. Inside, it is akin to a dynamic, animated city, where a host of styles sit side by side. All this variety comes together as a coherent whole when considered within the context of the surrounding city. This propensity to the baroque, the fantastical side to Munich, was a second source of inspiration for the interior designers. These are the ideas that led Agence Jouin Manku to dream up an imaginary interior landscape for this large rectangular space, in contrast with the exterior views of the town and the mountains beyond.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 029©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

The Roof Garden Restaurant

The particular feature of the Dachgarten’s large, 235 sq m, 139-cover, rectangular room, is its spectacular view of the city. To create an atmosphere that would be bright in the morning and warm in the evening, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku have lined the interior of the room in a way that progressively opens outwards, towards the views of the mountains in the distance.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 017©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

In the alcoves, fantastical landscapes have been made from a base structure of Siporex, sculpted and then plastered by l’Atelier Art Decorative. The leather banquettes were made by the German manufacturer Lindner Objekt Design.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 027©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

This interior envelope creates the structure of the room and covers part of the ceiling. Made of American walnut, this warm wood is used to define the room along with the rooms other principle partner which is fabric. The walnut lining covers the long stretch of wall opposite the picture window where three alcoves have been carved into the wooden wall. This is where the textured image of layers of collapsing snow features. On the walls of the alcoves, a dream-like landscape realised in moulded plaster, is a stylised representation of this idea.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 030©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

Lit by a clever play of lights concealed in the folds of plaster, it is as if bits of an unreal landscape have found their way into the building. The alcove’s design continues onto the floor in a much more subtle manner. The bespoke carpet shifts ever so slightly in colour. This pattern then continues through into the adjacent bar area. Completing the room’s envelope, the wooden ceiling opens up and begins to rise higher as it moves towards the windows, emphasising the idea of a space opening towards the light. Bevelled-edged ‘beams’ articulate the ceiling across the whole length of the room. inset between these beams are a series of overlapped folded panels, each wrapped in an off-white fabric dotted with silver creating a diffused a soft light also stretching towards the picture wind–ow, completing the ceiling.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 026©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

The room next-door to the restaurant is reserved in the day for the buffet. Here, the stone floor surges upwards to create two Le deseamos una buena lectura y, fundamentalmente, mucha suerte en esta hermosa aventura que esta listo para vivir en el apasionante mundo de los top casinos online online. large immovable console tables, whose uses range from the morning breakfast buffet, to an evening display area for sculpture. Capping the space is a copper ceiling – a nod to the copper pans favoured by chefs in the kitchen – reflects . two large volumes, this time descending from the ceiling in a shape perfectly mimicking the consoles below are two large hovering coffers that act as lights in the day and hide a woven copper fabric screen which descends during the evening transforming the consoles into large lanterns. Which brings us through to the Lounge.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 016©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 03©Nicolas Matheus

©Nicolas Matheus

The lounge

Here, the designers have created a new glass roof and a terrace (an extension of the Dachgarten terrace) to give a view over Munich’s town hall. Stone and porcelain are added to the existing palette of materials, to compose a space arranged around a huge, elliptical, double-sided fireplace. But the most striking element in this space is the use of colour. For the first time in their work, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku have used a strong colour, green; in monochrome on the walls, the floor, the ceiling … to create a mood that fits with the Dachgarten’s landscape.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 013©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

Around the central fireplace, which sits like a sculpture in the middle of the room, a stone floor extends upwards to create the structure for the semicircles of leather seating. The fireplace is an original mix of materials: moulded plaster constructed by Weibenböck for the upper section, with an elegant decorative mantel made up of a geometric arrangement of custom designed porcelain tiles.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 023©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 022©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

These porcelain strips also appear on the bar, their irregular, projecting edges giving it a sense of dynamic movement. At the same time they reflect light and refer to the manufacturing traditions of the region. By day, bathed in natural light thanks to the new glass roof, or plunged into a more fantastical ambience by firelight as evening draws in, the Lounge has a cosy atmosphere, its stylized landscape an imagined reflection of the world outside.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 04©Nicolas Matheus

©Nicolas Matheus

The bar is covered with ceramic faceted stripes, manufactured in France (Limoges). The high part of the bar is made of american nut tree, as per the top, it is made of Corian Design White, so as the wall behind the bar.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 09©Nicolas Matheus

©Nicolas Matheus

In spring 2014 the Bird’s Nest will be unveiled, linking the Lounge with the Blue Spa, designed by Andrée Putman. At the request of Innegrit Volkhardt, Jouin Manku extended their project up to the 7th and final floor of the hotel, where a single dining table will offer an exclusive, intimate dining space, high above the city.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 02©Nicolas Matheus

©Nicolas Matheus

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 012©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

Tables for six located in the restaurant’s alcoves feature the same materials as the restaurant fit-out; polished stainless steel and sculpted wood create a refined, elegant feel and ensure coherence throughout the project. The central tables have an extendable top in white Corian: four flaps can be folded away and fixed under the table to create either a square or round table.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 020©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

The chairs, manufactured by Somi Design are treated in leather with fabric backs. They are designed to be stackable and have a handle on the back allowing them to be moved around easily or for clients to hang their belongings.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 019©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

Their stone glass top and their wooded and polished metal foot are built around a piston that enables to choose the height of the table, be it for lounge time of dinner. The low stools are designed with a piece of bent wood that surrounds the leathered grey top.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 05©Nicolas Matheus

©Nicolas Matheus

For this project, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku have pushed the limits of their creativity to come up with a new architectural language, inspired by the city, colour and the natural world. The colour green, very present in this project, gives a particular energy to these two spaces, in this historic traditional palace. By placing their contemporary vision of a stylized landscape at the heart of a 19th century establishment, Jouin Manku has created an inspiring juxtaposition.

Agence Jouin Manku - Bayerischer Hof Hotel 025©Nicolas Matheus copy

©Nicolas Matheus

POSSIBLE_DOUBE SPREAD OPENING_2012-10_Comfort11_Yokohama_02_LR

Dream Team – Lang Baumann


© Lang/Baumann

It did not take long for Sabina Lang and Daniel Baumann to realize that they were the perfect match. Starting as very young artists in the background of the alternative scene in Switzerland, they have worked in collaborative partnership since 1990, and produced a series of artworks as the L/B duo. “Collaboration to us is a very normal thing, and even generally speaking it’s a common way of working especially for artists. Most artists have close friends or partners with whom they are in constant dialogue about their work. We appreciate the possibility to share our ideas and views and to discuss things, think them through and shape them together.”

Elements of architecture and design blend in their sculptures, installations, inflates and paintings, but they are really playing out in a wide field of art. Without the need to define themselves with established categories, context of art suits them fine and gives them freedom to create their game. Street Painting, Beautiful Steps, Comfort, Spiral, Beautiful Walls, Beautiful Entrance are some of the projects they are developing in series, or “tracks” as they call it. Working with different media, using different materials and ways of interventions, they express diversity of practice, but also a constant and special care of how their artwork interacts with people in space.


© Lang/Baumann

L/B work mostly in the sphere of public space, giving the spectator an opportunity to access their work and participate as an integral part of the project. That special care results in refreshing conditions creating transformations the spectator cannot resist. A new experience rolls over you while cycling in the underground tunnels of Zurich, crossing over and under the bridges in Buenos Aires, or passing through the visitors corridor at the Power Center Building in Bern. Metaphor, reality and perception mix into L/B’s work like natural ingredients.

You could be tempted to imagine yourself climbing the spiral stairs that hang from the ceiling in Abbaye de Montmajour in Arles or playing soccer between two goals anchored in a pond in Warsaw whilst running on the water.


© Lang/Baumann

Numerous projects, exhibitions, commissions, publications and awards reflect Lang/Baumann’s active presence in the art scene for over twenty years now, leaving “tracks” open to grow and go in a new directions. Some of them have left very long trips in the rear view mirror, like Beautiful Wall #1 in U.F.F. Gallery in Budapest, which was made in 1997, all the way to Beautiful Walls #28/#29 at the Wilhelm-Hack-Museum in Ludwigshafen which was only set up this year. Remaining fresh and fluid, Lang/Baumann keep offering familiar but new pictures of the world, where things you know and things you see intersect and overlap, inviting you to create that world together.

At HOME in Burgdorf, Switzerland we caught up with L/B to learn more about this dynamic duo.

How did the L/B together begin? Where did you meet? When did you decide to commence your creative collaboration?

We met in a squat in Bern and decided about one year later that we wanted to collaborate. The decision was taken after our first exhibition together in a small Gallery space in Leipzig where we presented individual works but had a common concept for the show. We thought it was more interesting to blur the lines of authorship between us than continue alone and already at that moment we were often doing performances where we were collaborating with musicians, so this way of working seemed to us perfect.


© Lang/Baumann

When commencing a new project – what occupies you the most? How do you discover your initial idea and what does your creative process journey look like from initial idea to the final realized project?

The first step is always to visit the site, to look, study and analyze it, getting influenced by it. Then we think of different possibilities of what we could do and try them out mainly by drawing using plans, but also using photos and found stories. Sometimes we then continue with models or renderings or we build prototypes. We like to stay close to production: either the work is done in our studio with assistants or we give it out but still supervise all steps. Planning and preparation work is done in a very detailed way so in the end we know exactly what needs to be done for the installation on site.

Creative Collaboration can sometimes be a very fine line between brilliance and disaster. Can you elaborate on some of the important elements that have fortified your creative partnership?

Collaboration to us this is a very normal thing and even generally spoken it’s a common way of working especially for artists. Most artist has close friends or partners with whom they are in constant dialogue about their work. We appreciate the possibility to share our ideas and views and to discuss things, think them through and shape them together.


© Lang/Baumann

The temporary intervention that you made this year in Valparaiso, Chile – Spiral #3 was embraced by residents like a symbol which reinstated the funicular. What was your experience during the set up of this sculpture?

Already during our first visit in Valparaiso we learned about the problems with all the funiculars that are out of service. The same time we found it interesting to make a work that would use this abandoned space as a base. We liked the construction of the rails and the possibilities they would offer to see the work from far and from varying perspectives. The curator of the project informed the community in advance about the intervention so people were prepared and really interested in following the process of installation. It was for us a great experience to see how they were involved and curious and also that they seem to like the result.

POSSIBLE_DOUBE SPREAD OPENING_2012-10_Comfort11_Yokohama_02_LR

© Lang/Baumann

Comfort #12 is a tube sculpture which in a its own specific way expresses the interior space of the ground floor open structure of the Wilhelm-Hack-Museum in Ludwigshafen, Germany. On the other hand, Comfort #11 is floating in Port of Yokohama, Japan at the back of a small boat and Comfort #4 rests at the top floor facade of a department store Bijenkorf in Eindhoven, Netherlands. From museums and galleries to public spaces – it seems your Comfort inflatable series speaks many languages – can you please elaborate on how you developed this series and what it represents?

Our very first inflatable work was a large group of huge breathing pillows. Then we continued with letter-shaped inflated that could be used to climb or sit on, these shapes then got more and more abstract before we finally began to make shapes that would interfere with the architecture and rather be structures and no longer individual shapes. The first one was Comfort #3: transparent cylinders that we would place in between windows so they would form a bubble on the inside and the outside of each window.

Lately, we use long tubes and work with them on facades, inside spaces or to cover a roof or a full building. They are so simple constructions and need to find their “comfort” in a space. What we like about them is that they are so flexible and allow us to completely change the image of a place. But even if the size of the volumes and the transformation of the space looks dramatic: it’s only air and can be removed very fast.


© Lang/Baumann

Your latest work is Street Painting #7 in Jules Simon Street, Rennes, France. You literally painted the street with a road paint using bright and strong colors. Can you tell us more about this particular project and your general approach when creating these street paintings?

In 2003 we have realized our first painting on a street. The street was a small country road in the middle of fields in the Jura Mountains. In rural landscapes particularly, but also on smaller (pedestrian) streets in cities, the surface is often empty without any signalizations. To use this surface as a sort of canvas we find interesting. The viewer is obliged to cross the work, walk over it to get near but can never see the entire work and get a full overview. Immediately

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the viewer becomes part of the work, as well as the painting becomes part of a landscape.

For Street Painting #7, the curators of the art space 40mcube in Rennes proposed the street Jules Simon to us. This is a very central spot in the city and interesting because surrounded by contrasting facades on every side: typical old housing facades on one side, a large modern 60ies building with shops and cafes on the opposite, a huge historical building that was a former post office on the head. We tried to create a geometry that would consist of stripes permanently changing the direction. So it seems almost like a spatial topography even though it’s completely flat. The painting begins directly along the sidewalk, spreads out like a carpet and ends in a slightly zigzag outline in the center of the street, towards the parking area.

You often use the word “Beauty” (“Beautiful”) in the titles of your works and you have said in the past “…sometimes we think it is a word that shouldn’t belong to the vocabulary of art…” What is your definition of beauty?

Beauty is an empty term. We do not know how beauty could be defined in general as it requires many merging factors and is very subjective. What we like about it and the reason why we use it is that it implicates a cliché of art on a very basic level of surface.


© Lang/Baumann


Time Machine – Joana Vasconcelos at Manchester Art Gallery

Big Booby_#2_2011_LR

© Joana Vasconcelos

Manchester Art Gallery is staging the UK’s most ambitious exhibition of works by Portuguese contemporary artist Joana Vasconcelos. Primarily a sculptor, she is renowned for her sense of scale, choice of materials and mastery of colour. A meticulous craftsmanship connects all her work which is ambitious, seductive, humorous and exuberant. Fresh from her success representing Portugal at the 55th Venice Biennale, Vasconcelos brings her seductive and subversive large-scale sculptures to Manchester for an exclusive site specific exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery.


© Joana Vasconcelos

This major new show features over twenty of the Portuguese artist’s most significant sculptures, which fill the gallery’s major exhibition spaces, adorn the exterior of the gallery and act as interventions with the gallery’s permanent collection in spaces across the whole gallery building. The exhibition includes new and recent works, the majority of which are previously unseen in the UK.

The exhibition features the world premiere of a monumental new textile work that has been specially commissioned as a site-specific installation for Manchester Art Gallery’s atrium and staircase.Vasconcelos’ major new commission, Britannia (2014), comprises brightly coloured organic forms that cascade down the gallery’s stairs from the main exhibition galleries and spill over the balconies into the atrium.


© Joana Vasconcelos

Britannia is composed of many fabric elements including knitting and crochet, fine silks and cotton velvets (referred to as Manchester cloth across much of the world), recycled clothes and industrially produced textiles, embellished with Portuguese tassels, crystals and beads in a riotous patchwork of patterns, shapes and textures, hanging in striking contrast to the straight, clean lines of the glass atrium. This new piece from the iconic ‘Valkyries’ series is inspired by a previous work, Contamination, which was originally conceived for the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo in 2008 and reconfigured for the historic Palazzo Grassi in Venice in 2011.


© Joana Vasconcelos

For the first time, three of Vasconcelos’ large-scale vehicle works are being shown together.Lilicoptère (2012), originally conceived for the artist’s major solo presentation at the Château de Versailles in 2012, is a Bell 47 helicopter adorned with pink ostrich feathers and Swarovski Crystals and crafted with gold leaf, fine needlework rugs, walnut wood, and wood grain painting.


© Joana Vasconcelos

War Games(2011) is a black Morris Oxford car covered in toy rifles and LEDs, and filled with brightly coloured soft and plastic toys which squeak and move endlessly. www.fatimashop (2002) is a tricycle van filled with factory made luminous statues of the Portuguese Catholic religious icon Our Lady of Fatima, accompanied by the video Fui às Compras (Gone Shopping).


© Joana Vasconcelos

Another three of Vasconcelos’ sculptures entitled Full Steam Ahead are also shown together for the first time. These kinetic sculptures in the shape of flowers have steam irons for petals, which open and close to mimic the movement of real flowers. Red, yellow and green, the colours of the Portuguese flag, the sculptures slowly unfurl, hissing and releasing steam to create a dramatic, hot and humid robotic flower garden. Two more works have also been selected to create a playful dialogue with the architecture of the building and public spaces.


© Joana Vasconcelos

The sculptures Tutti Frutti (2011) and Fruit

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Cake (2011) from the series “Treats” are positioned outside Manchester Art Gallery on either side of the building (Princess Street and Nicholas Street). These works, an oversized ice-cream cone and a giant cupcake, are made from plastic toys used by children to cast shapes in sand.

Tutti Frutti_2011_LR

© Joana Vasconcelos

Fruit_Cake, 2011_LR

© Joana Vasconcelos

New and recent works are also shown within Manchester Art Gallery’s collection displays. These interventions are carefully placed to create unexpected, humorous and thoughtful connections with both the historical architecture of the building and with works of art from the city’s collections. Joana has created a new addition to the three-dimensional series of “Crochet Paintings”, True Faith (2014), which is produced in response to the gallery’s 18th century works.


© Joana Vasconcelos

William de Morgan wall tiles on display in the Pre-Raphaelites gallery are referenced in a new piece from Vasconcelos’ “Tetris” series, Cottonopolis (2014), made with tiles, crochet and various fabrics while a new work for the “Cement Sculptures” series, Bond Girl (2014), has also been created in response to the gallery’s sculpture Atalanta (1888) by Francis Derwent Wood and the painting Eve Tempted (1877) by John Spencer Stanhope (both on display in the Victorian gallery). This new work, a female figure, cast in cement, recalls classical statues of the sensual female form and is vibrantly painted, then decorated with crochet and hand-made net.

Cottonopolis, 2014_LR

© Joana Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos said: “It is a privilege to see my work go on show in Manchester Art Gallery’s remarkable spaces. I am particularly proud of the dialogue established between Manchester Art Gallery’s collection and my works, as well as the interaction between the city’s history and traditions and other realities of entirely different provenances – such as those specific to my homeland. Time Machine will certainly be one of the most challenging and noteworthy shows of my career.”

Maria Balshaw, Director of Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester and Manchester City Galleries said: “We’ve been following Joana’s career since her extraordinary debut in Venice in 2005. I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to bring the most spectacular of her works together and create a new Manchester commission. We know our audiences will flock to see this major international star.”


© Joana Vasconcelos

This exhibition has been generously supported by Arts Council England. Alison Clark-Jenkins, Director North, Arts Council England commented: “We’re very pleased to support this major new show at Manchester Art Gallery. Joana Vasconcelos is an exceptional international artist and the opportunity to see work of this scale and ambition in the city reflects Manchester’s important role in bringing contemporary culture to as wide an audience as possible.”


© Joana Vasconcelos



©Hilaire Helene

©Hilaire Helene

Les Haras de Strasbourg is a hotel and restaurant project unlike any other. Composed of a the four-star hotel and Michelin 3-starred chef Marc Haeberlin’s first brasserie, les Haras allies architectural creativity and technological innovation with philanthropy, an unprecedented mix for a historic redevelopment project in France. As conceived by Agence Jouin Manku, the interior design for the hotel and brasserie is characterised by its authenticity and modernity, a particular idea of luxury and comfort inspired by the equestrian world, restrained and subtle. They have deliberately chosen to limit the range of materials used; solid wood, natural full hide leather and blackened or brushed metal to transpose the original life of this emblematic Strasbourg building into something resolutely contemporary and simple, whose architectural details attest to the studio’s creativity.


©Hilaire Helene

Built in the mid 18th century, the former National Stud in Strasbourg constitutes a remarkable group of buildings of which the facades, the roofs, the monumental entrance gate and the grand stables built in the classical style, are all classified historic monuments. Founded in 1621, the city’s Equestrian Academy was initially a riding school for young well-to-do French and Germans students from the University of Strasbourg. Les Haras occupies an important position in the city of Strasbourg. Located in the Petite France area of the city, its buildings follow the line of the city’s medieval walls, close to the historic ‘Hôpital civil’. The building has three wings : the first includes the original grand entrance to Les Haras and lodgings for the master equerry.The second wing, perpendicular to the first and set back from rue des Glacières, formerly housed the stables and manege.The third building, alongside rue des Greniers, originally housed the Royal Stables. The group of buildings has been subject to a number of alterations over the years, which can easily be seen in the architecture. It was the construction of the Royal Stables at Les Haras that enclosed the courtyard on its north side. A veritable horse hotel, the building accommodated up to 32 stallions. The generous single-storey pink sandstone façade is characterised by six full-height moulded arches that frame a central portico. In front of these grand stables stretched the open air riding school, essential for training the riders. In 1752, the first buildings for the National Stud were completed; the indoor school, the stables and the lodgings were all the work of architect Jacques Gallay.

4226©HilaireHelene (2)

©Hilaire Helene

Once home to the king’s horses and a renowned Academy, with its grandiose architecture and unusual spaces, the site presents an attractive image of the history of France. Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku’s aim for the overall project was to come up with a wholly contemporary response to the historic site with which they had been entrusted : a project with an appropriate and pared back aesthetic, whose every detail referenced modernity, sophistication and comfort. The buildings’ beautifully restored majestic facades project a perfect image of 17th century architecture and speak of the nobility of the stallions once stabled in the stud. Jouin Manku chose to create a marked contrast between the exterior and interior of these buildings switching from the classical grandeur and history of the facades to a decisively contemporary interior. They have also employed many subtle references to the world of horses and stables conveying elegance and comfort in an understated way – without succumbing to an overly literal reference to the equestrian world, it is nonetheless omnipresent.

Agence Jouin Manku ©HilaireHelene 4400 (2)

©Hilaire Helene

As soon as the visitor arrive, they are invited to discover the extraordinary history of this site. A giant mural by graphic artist Philippe David (also creator of the visual identity for Les Haras) evocatively and with humour, tells the story of the project. The horse, presented as an epic hero, a royal figure, is associated with images referencing science and medicine. Man also features, as rider or scientist, making his mark on the site. Finally Alsace is evoked in a scene cut from sheet metal : a flight of storks and the protected tree that still grows in the Les Haras courtyard, a Sophora Japonica, one of the oldest trees in the city.This mural is a sort of surrealist collage, the ‘exquisite cadaver’ of the project, made from a piece of laser-cut blackened steel and sheets of sandblasted and screen printed glass that stand in front of raw brick and stone walls. The image reveals itself by stages and with a play of shadows depending on the viewer’s position. The materials create an opalescent transparency, plunging the visitor into a fantastical world.

Agence Jouin Manku ©HilaireHelene 4409 (2)

©Hilaire Helene

The mural sets the tone for the hotel while welcoming guests. The lobby desk is made to measure, cut from wood and covered with a sheet of leather. Opposite is a lounge area with a large sofa, seats and tables, the same furniture that features in the hotel bedrooms and the brasserie. Opening directly from the lobby is the breakfast room that serves as a bar during the day and in the evening. The central element here is the manger-like stone counter that is used for a variety of purposes depending on the time of day. The floor, the walls and the ceiling are all covered in wood, giving simple warmth to the space.

Agence Jouin Manku 3911©HeleneHilaire Brasserie Les Haras

©Hilaire Helene

Upstairs, to add warmth to the immense space and to screen service areas, Jouin Manku have designed a micro-architecture covered in saddle leather : a 30 sq m yurt, almost five metres in height, creates a cosy dining space without being a private dining room. The yurt, open at the top to reveal views of the timber structure, has a wonderful convex shape, its curves and layering referencing various pieces of a saddle. On its outside, the soft brown leather covering the yurt gives it warmth. Inside, the structure of wooden bars that hold it together are covered witha textile that looks a little like a saddle-blanket with its lozenge shaped quilting. Full of light, it draws the eye, its generous proportions allowing all sorts of configurations for the tables inside.

Agence Jouin Manku 3888©HeleneHilaire Brasserie Les Haras

©Hilaire Helene

Around it, tables, banquettes and armchairs are designed, like those on the ground floor, to remind one of the horses’ stalls and the stables. Lighting for the project has been designed by L’Observatoire International who have created a soft, warm ambiance for the diners. Complementary to the small and relatively low number of windows in the roof, it is a clever play of indirect and filtered light. Finally, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku wanted to respectfully celebrate the building’s exceptional timber structure; on the first floor, original structural floorboards have been exposed around the edge of the walls. In acknowledgement of this history, the upper level appears to float above the ground floor level, as if this contemporary intervention could be lifted out of the building without marking its architectural heritage.

Agence Jouin Manku 3905©HeleneHilaire Brasserie Les Haras

©Hilaire Helene

Marc Haeberlin’s brasserie occupies the former Royal Stables, a building classified as an historic monument both inside and out. It boasts 800 sq m of exceptional interior space, 13.5m high and crowned with an unusually beautiful original timber roof structure. How do you transform a space like this into an inviting brasserie worthy of the talent of Marc Haeberlin? Working within the restrictions of the site, the project concentrates specifically on conserving existing details. Jouin Manku wanted to expose the fabric of the building, to show off the timber frame and joists, to retain the original render upstairs, reuse the floor tiles and play around with the grand doors to create an entrance lobby. As a direct response to the monumentality of the site, Jouin Manku’s design plays with a sense of scale and light. It is important for the visitor to be able to take stock of the exceptional historic dimension of the site without feeling dwarfed by it. Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku have embraced these proportions as a key element of their project. They have employed a series of creative and spectacular devices to help define areas within the building. Conversely, the palette of raw and natural materials is deliberately limited : blackened raw steel, patinated zinc, unfinished oak, and full hide leather are the four materials used in the restaurant.

Agence Jouin Manku 4285©HeleneHilaire

©Hilaire Helene

The hotel’s 55 rooms have different configurations depending on their location. A contemporary extension designed by Denu et Paradon adds capacity to the hotel. This new wing, built in red brick, contrasts well with the rest of the site and gives guests the choice between a contemporary space, or alternatively, in those rooms under the eaves, to rediscover the same ancient timber beams that feature in the brasserie. In the bedrooms, Jouin Manku very subtly develop the equestrian references to create simple, restful spaces with all the facilities expected in a four-star hotel. However, you won’t find desks laden with connections or bulging sockets. All the convenience of modern technology and connectivity is carefully concealed in a fitout in keeping with the history of the site. Here in the hotel bedrooms as elsewhere in the project, Jouin Manku has been meticulous in its consistent use of the same materials, in order to reinforce the overall design concept.

Agence Jouin Manku 4348©HilaireHelene

©Hilaire Helene

Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku have designed an oversized

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headboard finished in saddle leather that wraps around both sides of the bed, covering much of the wall, not dissimilar to the walls of the yurt in the brasserie. To either side, certain layers of leather lift up to reveal switches and connections for electronic devices such as mobiles or tablets. Behind the pillows, leather is replaced with linen, a simple natural textile, which is also used for the curtains. Another little allusion to the history of Les Haras; the curtain drawpulls are finished with plaited horsehair or straw brushes.

Agence Jouin Manku 4371-1©HilaireHelene

©Hilaire Helene

« A project with an appropriate and pared back aesthetic, whose every detail referenced modernity, sophistication and comfort. »


©Hilaire Helene

« Yurt, detail : Natural golden brown calfskin leather from the Haas tannery, assembled and quilted by hand by Corler. »

Agence Jouin Manku 4335©HilaireHelene

©Hilaire Helene

The whole ensemble is luxurious without being ostentatious, a simplicity of shapes and materials that create a very modern retreat. Continuing the theme of natural materials, Jouin Manku has chosen oak floorboards with a simple wool rug beside the bed rather than the usual carpet found in most hotels.

Agence Jouin Manku 4293©HilaireHelene

©Hilaire Helene

The bathroom door, also in natural wood, slides

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Agence Jouin Manku 4378©HilaireHelene

©Hilaire Helene

Jouin Manku also designed all the bedroom furniture; the desk rests against the wall, a curved piece of metal and a length of timber, the same as that used for the bathroom door. A small wood and leather stool with two elements that nest together, alludes to the shape of a vaulting-horse or a saddle stand. This project reveals the creative strengths of Jouin Manku’s design studio. With a deliberately limited palette of materials appropriate to the history of the site, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku’s subtly evocative scheme succeeds in creating a modern, sculptural decor with no sacrifices to comfort or conviviality. The elegance of the project comes from its clean lines and the clarity of the designers creative approach, which is particularly illustrated by features such as the brasserie staircase or the yurt. The overall scheme creates a contemporary vision where the horse may be king but he will wear no crown.

Agence Jouin Manku 4281©HeleneHilaire

©Hilaire Helene

To the right, the restaurant kitchen is open to the dining room. Because the space could not be partitioned, the kitchen has been treated as an independent element inserted into it. Like spectators watching horses in a dressage arena, the diners can watch the chefs at work in the kitchen, creating a convivial atmosphere while being the first element that greets the visitors. At the foot of the stairs to the left is a furnished lounge area housing an ellipse shaped bar in patinated steel where clients are invited to have a drink before or after their meal. The rough finish of the bar harks back to the buckets of grain in the stables. The wood and leather furniture evokes saddle stands. Behind the bar is a line of traditional copper beer casks. Sitting parallel to the bar against the large windows lie ten or so tables. The bespoke banquette seating is inspired by the idea of horse stalls and provides an additional eating area on the ground floor.

Agence Jouin Manku 4269©HeleneHilaire

©Hilaire Helene

The ground floor and grand staircase on the ground floor, the flight of stairs rising up to the first floor is the first thing that catches your attention. The 32 wooden steps, their visible structure made of raw blackened steel, wind up over six metres high, cutting a generous stairwell into the ceiling allowing visitors immediate views through to the timber beams above. This stunning staircase embodies the idea of a building that has been stripped back. The spiralling oak volutes accompany and conceal people as they go up or down the stairs. The treads themselves are carefully detailed : a projecting edge on the lower steps morphs into a ‘V’ shape on the upper steps, a graphic representation of the dynamics and speed of movement up and down. A simple finish has been used for thewood : uncoloured and

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untreated, it is simply waxed to allow it to age naturally over time. The curves bring the material alive, as if its spiralling shape hugs and protects its users, revealing the poetry of the project.

Agence Jouin Manku 4263©HeleneHilaire

©Hilaire Helene

Maxime Frappier_Featured_1Biblio-Laure-Conan-StephaneGroleau-301_LR

Maxime Frappier – Moving up in Montreal

Biblio-Laure-Conan-StephaneGroleau-301_LRThere are still little things that remind me I am definitely not in my 20s anymore. Case in point: A few weeks ago, I was in the beautiful city of Montreal taking a leisurely afternoon stroll in the Old Port along the St. Lawrence River. Summer was still trying to pretend it was present, but the crisp, cool Autumn breeze gliding across the river’s edge told me otherwise. As I made my way through the old city, a couple of people, who I think had to be university students, walked past me; I could not tell you what they looked like if you paid me, but I can tell you that one of them was wearing fluorescent turquoise pants, bright orange sneakers, a bold yellow logo-emblazoned T-shirt and an oversized white baseball cap, which completed his fall/winter prêt-à-porter ensemble. It is not that I dislike bright colors, but I realized (at my age) I would never wear all of them together. Maybe I would choose one as an accent, but not all four colors at the same time. And when you go fluorescent, well, I think one fluorescent color counts as three regular colors, so this student was wearing 12 colors at once, relatively speaking. It became clear to me that now, in my 30s, I am truly starting to appreciate the understated black T-shirt and dark blue jeans, or the black suit and crisp white shirt. Whether it be fashion, architecture or design, it is the subtle afterthoughts that I find most interesting, the little details you do not necessarily notice at first glance, but when you take a second look, you say, “Wow, that’s really nice.”

Keelung international arbour_croquis_LR


A few days after my stroll/pop-up fashion show in the Old Port, I read that the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada announced the recipient of its 2013 Young Architect Award — Maxime Frappier. I didn’t know what to expect when I started to research him. I do have to admit that with the word “young” in the title I had a flashback to my “fashionista experience” of a few days earlier. Once I finally saw Frappier’s work, my fears were alleviated. There it was: the black suit and the white shirt — understated and timeless design with subtle, detailed afterthoughts that made me say, again, “Wow, that’s really nice.”

Keelung international arbour_1102_LRWhen you first meet Frappier you have no choice but to smile — it is contagious. There is a warmth and genuineness that beams from his eyes. Frappier’s jovial demeanor is a balance of charm and the subtle confidence of an architect whose star is on the rise, and rising fast.

Frappier graduated in 2000 from the Université de Montréal School of Architecture. In 2006, he co-founded ACDF Architecture, which now comprises 35 professionals. He works on projects throughout Canada and Asia, has won several awards and has been published in more than 30 international magazines. Since 2005, Frappier has been a guest professor at the Université de Montréal. He has also been a frequent guest critic at both Laval University and Dawson College. His teaching methodology is based on an intuitive approach that builds upon the use of physical modeling, 3-D modeling and videos. He has also been a guest instructor at the University of Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.

Keelung international arbour_MOUNTAIN_LR

I think it is Frappier’s confidence that intrigued me most. At 36, he shows the characteristics of an architect possessed of many, many more years of experience. Refined and sophisticated, Frappier’s work does not rely on over-accessorising or “multiple fluorescents” to grab your attention; it is the understated details in his work that allow the pureness of his visions to come to life and grab the attention of observers and those who enter his environments. I was curious where Frappier’s strong inner conviction about his approach to architecture and design stemmed from. When asked, he referred back to his childhood and how his experiences as a boy had influenced his body of work to date. “You have to be yourself,” he said in his baritone French-Canadian accent. “There is a point in life where you start understanding who you are, your emotions. I remember when I was young I was always playing outside alone — always alone. I was always creating scenarios. I would throw the ball against a brick wall — back and forth but alone. My sister is a high-profile pianist, and when we were younger she was practicing piano six to seven hours a day, and I was throwing the ball on the brick wall while she was playing piano. For her, my ball was kind of a metronome.”

Centre des mÇtiers Mintos_CitÇ collÇgiale_mc_9_LR

Frappier’s solitude as a boy may have contributed to his confidence, but he also acknowledged being aware of his senses at a very young age, which played a large role in his development and growth as an architect. “I grew up on an orchard, and sometimes my brother and I would take big boxes of wood and build little houses. At one point you say, ‘This is me, this is my past, and I love this.’ On our orchard, we had three natural springs, and they all ran into a small canal. At the end of the canal, there were mint plants — I just recall the smell of mint! I would sit there and just smell the mint and put my feet in the water. I was a tomboy, you know, I liked playing sports, but I also loved being in mint! I never said that when I was younger, but probably already at an early age I was open to my senses.”

Soccer complex_Photo 002_LR

As confident as he may be, Frappier also admits that there must be a balance: Not always being in control is healthy, and accepting moments of vulnerability often leads to great design. “I feel to be a good designer you must be confident enough to reveal to many, many people what you think; you must be open to being vulnerable, in a zone where you are not always in control.”

With a growing list of international clients and multiple projects in Asia, Montreal, Vancouver and Las Vegas, Maxime Frappier is definitely revealing to the world who he is and what he thinks about architecture and design, and I have a feeling we are all going to like it. I was able to meet with Frappier at his Montreal atelier where we sat down to discuss architecture, design and life with a touch of mint.

Soccer complex_pers-grande_LR

Outside the parameters of architecture and design, what sources do you draw from for inspiration?

Everything. Preparing an apple for my kids, doing the lawn, walking and playing in the snow, watching a fashion show or even simply looking at people — I am inspired by everything around me.

This is a big year for you. You are the recipient of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s 2013 Young Architect Award. Congratulations! Can you remember the moment when you felt that you had “made it” and your determination and perseverance had paid off? Is receiving this award, that moment? Was it a particular project, commendation from your peers? What was that moment?

I can’t say I have made it. This is certainly a very prestigious award, but for me and for all my collaborators at ACDF, we see this as a tap on the shoulder saying, “Keep up guys, you are on the right track.” There have been several key moments in the past year, and this one is certainly important. I should say that we have been also lucky since the first project we built — a small office building and warehouse for a company fabricating concrete sewers — for which we won a Canada General Governor award, one of the most prestigious awards in Canada. We kind of built our confidence with this project. More recently, another keystone moment was being shortlisted for the New Keelung Terminal [in Taiwan] among some of the best international firms, such as Mecanoo, Asymptote and Neil Denari. We did not win, but we felt capable and most of all comfortable working on these kinds of high-profile mandates. I have to say that one of the most flattering moments we recently experienced was being invited by peer architects to work and lead the design on a very interesting and large-scale project in Vancouver. We hope this is only a starting point.

You like to make use of physical modeling, 3-D modeling and videos as a part of your design approach. How do you feel your design approach sets you apart from your peers and counterparts?

I am not really trying to be apart from my peers but simply working with what we feel is needed to communicate our ideas, since architecture is all about being able to transcribe ideas to paper and computer, and to organize together all of your ideas in order to build it. You can have the best ideas, but if you cannot communicate them to your collaborators, clients, investors or any other stakeholders, you will not build any great project. I believe that the physical models we are doing are very important. Even if they are sometimes very sketchy, they have the power of tying everyone to the concept. They also contribute a lot to the seduction play with the client. Craft is very powerful; it keeps the imagination alive — you never show a final render before having presented the design process and all these very important conceptual models and sketches. The design process is more important than the result since it creates the story, which all the project stakeholders have to embrace.

Vancouver urban resort_model_LR

Architecture is an art form. While the technicalities of architecture can be taught through formal education, do you feel the “art” of architecture can be taught, or is this an innate talent tangible only to those born with it?

I’m a teacher at University Montreal, so I can answer that. Out of 12 or 15 students, you really have one out of 15 who is really a “natural” artistic-approach architect — meaning it’s easy for them. These students don’t have any kind of blockage in front of a white page; they are sensible, they are capable of feeling stuff or understanding their environment. I really think that architecture is all about being able to be sensible to our environments. This sensibility is difficult to teach; it’s difficult to teach how to be emotive and sensitive. However, some very good architects have a pragmatic approach, which is based on reason and calculations — a sequential design approach — like you are going from point A to point B, but they will not jump to point C before having resolved point B. They have a one-step-at-a-time process, and sometimes the design is very interesting. I’m probably more the type to jump to point C and then come back to point B, then jump to point F, and come back to point A. I have an approach that is a bit more sketchy. It’s really based much more on emotion, feeling and intuition. Can you teach that? I believe you can, but I would say that there’s really only one out of 15 who really can capture what is the essence of a creative architect. I feel to be a good designer you must be confident enough to reveal to many, many people what you think. You must be open to be vulnerable, in a zone where you are not always in control.

Maison Du Maroc

Is there a location in the world where you would like to design a project but haven’t yet?

Wow, this is a very difficult question. I have traveled so much in Asia and in the Emirates for

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the past five years. We have recently designed projects in Vietnam and Indonesia, and a few are about to get built, so Asia should be the right answer — but it really depends on the type of building. A villa for sure on the West Coast; an office tower in an emerging Asian city such as Jakarta. But if I have to choose one destination, and I know it’s going to be a little hackwork for some “pure” architects, but I have to say Vegas! Vegas, for having the chance to build an iconic project being totally the opposite of the “Vegas approach.” Kind of a big challenge, don’t you think?

Cultural Centre _Taichun_Taiwan_park view_LR

What does Maxime Frappier’s house look like? Can you describe the exterior and interiors?

My god, let’s say it is similar to what an apple pie is for me (comfort food). My house is in a town called Mont-Royal in the center of Montreal Island. It’s a very simple house built in the ’60s with generous areas and many bedrooms, nothing more. To be honest, I am dreaming every day to build my own house. I will probably build one in Saint-Donat (north of Montreal) in the near future. If I could get a Vegas project, it would probably help a bit.

St-Eustache Library_20_LR

Most of us don’t get the opportunity to physically see and touch the thoughts and ideas in our minds. How does it feel when you visit one of your creations in person?

Not much, since I have seen it so many times in the 3-D model. It also can be deceiving since it takes so long to build a project, and sometimes you are already somewhere else in your design mindset when a project gets finished. But it’s true to say that it is very pleasant. I feel most of the time as excited as I was when I was playing, as a child, with my woodblocks creating the highest tower of the world — just on a different scale I should say, no?

At this point in your career, is there a particular project that you are most proud of — built or un-built?

Un-built: I must say our latest design for the Taichung City Cultural Centre International Competition. We thought this concept was strong in regards to the symbol we were referring to, and in regards to an interesting promenade. Built: The La Malbaie Library (a very simple object that frames amazing views toward the St. Lawrence River) and our recent Saint-Hyacinthe Centre Aquatique.

Do you have any fantasies or accomplishments that you would like to achieve outside of architecture? If you weren’t an architect, what would you do?

I would probably be an opera singer! Baritone base. Or I would be a producer of fashion shows. I love fashion shows!





© Shanna Jones

Truth Coffee HQ in CapeTown South Africa approached furniture and interior designer Haldane Martin to design the interiors of their cafés including a new 1500m² headquarters in Cape Town Fringe innovation district.

The goal was to deepen Truth Coffee’s brand identity and promote their coffee roastery business through interior design.

Haldane Martin came up with Steampunk as an appropriate conceptual reference, as both coffee roasters and espresso machines display elements of romantic, steam powered technology. Steampunk’s obsession with detail and sensual aesthetics also captured the essence of Truth Coffee’s product philosophy – We roast coffee. Properly.



© Shanna Jones

David Donde, the main face behind Truth, loved the idea, as this Victorian futuristic fantasy style and literary philosophy resonated strongly with his “maverick inventor” personality. David worked closely with us throughout the design process, and he and business partner Mike Morritt-Smith, physically built many of the designs that we developed for them.



© Shanna Jones


© Shanna Jones


© Shanna Jones

A three story, turn of the century, warehouse building on Buitenkant Street was chosen by the Truth partners to be their new headquarters. The building was stripped back to its bare bones, exposing beautiful cast iron pillars, Oregon pine roof trusses and floors, and original stone and brick walls. We also opened up the ground floor façade onto busy Buitenkant Street with a series of tall steel and glass doors. Most of the buildings natural, aged patina was kept intact and complimented with raw steel, timber, leather, brass, and copper finishes.


© Shanna Jones


© Shanna Jones

The top two floors were converted into creative studio office rental space. The 600m² ground floor was kept as Truth’s headquarters and needed to include a 120 seat restaurant, café, bar and kitchen, their newly acquired 3 ton Probat roaster, a barista trainee school, public event space, coffee bean warehouse, espresso machine workshop, management office, and restrooms.

The huge, fully functioning vintage roaster became the kingpin for the space. Once this was located centrally on the ground floor plan, everything else fell naturally into place. We surrounded the roaster machine with a 6m diameter circular steel shelving structure, reminiscent of a Victorian gasworks.

The leather top main bar, clad in pressed tin ceiling panels, is located symmetrically in front of the roaster shelving. Purpose designed overstuffed, leather and steel, chairs, barstools and copper clad tables create a formal raised dining area in front of the bar. A series of 5 horseshoe shaped, deep buttoned, high backed, banquet seats run down the right hand wall of the space. Each private banquet seat surrounds a leather clad, long, narrow, profile cut steel table.

A small cocktail lounge of blue leather chesterfield couches and a crazy pipe bookshelf is located behind the original industrial lift and a raw steel staircase that leads to the upper floors.



© Shanna Jones

The front café space is dominated by the longest table in Cape Town, a 7.2m long communal table with swing out stools. It is built from industrial pipe, malleable castings, and a table top made from Oregon pine reclaimed from the buildings stripped out ceilings. A flickering candle bulb lighting and power cable installation hangs over the table, cleverly providing laptop and cell phone charging access for the café patrons.

Further café seating is provided by the vintage French worker chairs. The over scaled cog teeth on the edges of the Café tables tops, encourage groups of patrons to engage tables together to facilitate larger informal gatherings.

The barista coffee school is located in the front right hand corner of the space and has a coffee & sandwich hatch open onto the sidewalk for passing pedestrians. Vintage steel stools and old worn school desks placed on the sidewalk create the ideal environment for a quick coffee break for the creative entrepreneurs that work in the area.

The kitchen, public event space, coffee bean warehouse, espresso machine repair workshop, and management office is located towards the back of the space


© Shanna Jones

The owners of Truth Coffee demonstrated their understanding of the value of taking a concept all the way through to the finest details by allowing us to treat the restroom spaces with the same Steampunk aesthetic – exposed copper pipes, Victorian tap levers, pull chains and floor tiles, spun brass basins, and brass shaving mirrors. The Little Hattery also created the most outlandish Steampunk uniforms and hats for the eccentric staff to complete the look.

With the exception of the authentic vintage fixtures, all of the furniture was specifically designed for Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin and his interior design team.

The result is an iconic space with true Steampunk character.


© Shanna Jones



An absolutely stunning project from Architect David Hotson and Interior Designer Ghislaine Viñas. It was completed last year – but in case you haven’t seen – check

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© Eric Laignel


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© Eric Laignel




“Zaha Hadid, Zaha Hadid, Zaha Hadid.” Try it — you’ll like saying it, too. Other than being the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize in its 26-year history, Hadid’s approach and interpretation of architecture has transcended the expected, shattered the typical and given the world her very personal new definition of architecture — dream catcher, dream maker, transporter.

When I see a Zaha Hadid project, I feel like at any moment Harrison Ford and Sean Young will be landing in slow motion on some type of futuristic space-mobile, hearing the theme song to Blade Runner playing in the background. Maybe that’s a crazy description that I should keep to myself, but there is no denying that the future is in the present in Hadid’s work.

A prime example is the Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany (winner of The Royal Institute of British Architects European award in 2006); the Guangzhou Opera House (2010) in China; the Stone Towers in Cairo, Egypt (currently in development); or the Maxxi Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome, Italy (winner of the 2010 Riba Stirling Prize).

Hadid was born in 1950 in baghdad. After getting a degree in mathematics at the american university in Beirut, Hadid enrolled at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London in 1972. Upon graduation, she began working with her former teachers, Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis at the office for metropolitan architecture, becoming a partner there in 1977. In 1980, she began her own London-based practice, and the ’80s would mark a new movement in architecture. Hadid and a handful of forward-thinking peers (among them Frank Gehry, the team at Coop Himmelb(l)au, Peter Eisenman, Daniel Libeskind, Rem Koolhaas and Bernard Tschumi) were all taking strides away from the traditional “comfort zone” of architecture. It was at the seminal 1988 deconstructivist architecture exhibition at the museum of modern art in New York where Hadid presented the future in the present. Her ideas about architecture’s new frontier were presented in impressionistic, abstract paintings rather than in conventional architectural drawings. When asked why, Hadid explained that conventional architectural drawings could never convey the “feel” of her radical, fluid spaces — but paintings could.


It’s difficult to categorize Hadid’s work. A constant chameleon, she seems to break the traditional rules of the built environment. Where does it begin? Where does it end? Maybe it’s the uncertainty or insecurity one feels at not being able to quickly define her environments that stimulates our senses and keeps us wanting more. A Hadid environment supplies those who enter one with a highly addictive creative opiate: a space untouched or contaminated by status quo fillers. It is her rare ability to capture the future in her mind and make it a reality in the present that sets her apart from the rest; she is an architectural futurologist. Random fluidity collide with

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expansive open air and morph into what she calls “space.” It’s this “new fluid, kind of spatiality,” as Hadid describes it, which hooks the “users” of her space and keeps them coming back for their fix. It’s been said that falling in love is never as good as the first time, but Hadid’s elixir provides the first time every time.

While the future may be present in her work, Hadid’s journey from the past to the present has not been as fluid as her buildings. Beyond the physical difficulty of engineering and constructing one of Hadid’s creations, she has had to overcome the emotional lows of being rejected, neglected and even ignored at times. One of the most memorable instances was the competition for the 1994 Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales. Hadid had won the competition. However, after her victory, conservative provincial lobbyists and local politicians caused funding to be formally rejected in December 1995, which in turn canceled the project altogether. It was a real blow to her and her team.


Hadid has had to struggle more than most because of a “boys club” mentality within the architectural community. “diva” has been used quite often in descriptions of her, and at first glance, this could be taken as an insult, but when i look up the Latin origin of the word diva, i get this: “via Italian from Latin: a goddess, from divus — divine.” A modern interpretation of the word (outside of opera contexts) comes from urbandictionary.com. Its no. 5 definition states, “a diva is a woman who has self-confidence, self-respect, and hella swagger. She knows who she is and exactly where she is going. Her style and attitude are on point even when she is not trying. People typically gravitate to her because they respect her swagger.” Yeah, you read correctly “hella swagger,” and if being a diva means Hadid has had to power through her obstacles using her self-confidence, self-respect and strong character, then maybe “architectural diva” is an appropriate description.

When asked what best describes the essence of Zaha hadid, she replied simply, “hard work.” And that hard work sure has paid off. In addition to being the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, the list of Hadid’s awards and accolades goes on and on. She is a four-time Riba award winner (2005, 2006, 2008, 2010), a recipient of the Praemium Imperiale Award (awarded by the Japan art association in 2009) and two-time Riba Stirling Prize recipient (2010, 2011), among many other honors. Her firm of 350-plus employees, who share her futurist architectural vision, is working on current projects (too numerous to list all of them here) being developed in Europe, North America, South America and Asia.

I spoke with Hadid recently, and she offered HOME Magazine a glimpse of the future, today.


HM – Outside the parameters of architecture and design, what sources do you draw on for inspiration?

ZH-My ideas come from observation: of the site, of nature, of people moving in the city. A lot of my work was based on drawing research — looking at abstraction, geology, topography and archaeology. Our more recent work investigates organic morphology — cells and biology — but always looking through geometry.
Science has been the most fruitful inspiration, in particular the whole paradigm of complexity and self-organization. We also look at lot at nature’s systems when we try to create environments, at her coherence and beauty.
HM -During your career there have been moments when you have had to make “a conscious decision not to stop.” Can you remember that moment in time when you felt that you had “made it,” or when your determination and

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perseverance have paid off? Was it a particular project, an award or commendation from your peers?


ZH -When I was neglected or ignored, I always thought it would be a passing phase. There were moments when I felt extremely down, but my depression never lasts very long. I am fundamentally an optimist, and I knew I would eventually come out of that situation. In 1994, we entered the competition for an opera house in Cardiff, [Wales]. We submitted it; we got a call announcing we won it — and then the incredible jubilation in London that turned to great sadness when the project was canceled. It devastated us, and I had to pick up the pieces. And, actually, in that period in ’95 to the late ’90s, we did one competition after the other — and we didn’t win any. But they were great projects.
In practice, I still experience resistance, but I think that keeps me focused. It’s not as if I just appear somewhere and everybody says “yes” to me; it’s still a struggle, despite having gone through it a hundred times. You have to constantly fight to get a better building.

HM – In 2004, you became the first female recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. While architecture can be considered “genderless,” do you feel your femininity has helped set you apart from your male counterparts?


ZH – Perhaps it was my flamboyance rather than being a woman that gave me such determination to succeed, but I have always been extremely determined. This determination was not only because I am female. I think it is so important to keep focused in any profession. As a woman, you need the confidence that you can carry on and take new steps every day. So, I really believe in hard work; it gives you a layer of confidence. You now see more established, respected female architects all the time — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes the difficulties are incomprehensible. It’s still very difficult for women to operate as professionals because there are still some worlds you have no access to. It’s not necessarily always great, but it keeps you in place, and it also makes you think and do things in a different way.
In the last 15 years, there’s been tremendous change, and now it’s seen as normal to have women in this profession. I don’t believe that much remains of the stereotype that architecture should be a male rather than a female career.

HM – Post-1980s and deconstructivism, how has your design methodology changed? Has your current body of work moved away from deconstructivism? How do you define your present design philosophy?

ZH – The work started off as juxtaposition and superposition, then moved on to planar and then volume. Then I thought … of the building as a “landmass,” and that mass is like a landscape that meets ground creating no obstacles, giving ultimate mobility and ultimate fluidity. So, that’s how it developed. I think the layering and porosity was always there in my work, to layer everything many times. Some things flow through the project, some things disappear.
I would say the designs became more extreme because they had to accommodate so many different needs in one solution, and it was obviously non-Euclidean geometry. People say, “Why are there no straight lines? Why no 90 degrees?” This is because life is not made in a grid. It could be interesting at times to have a grid imposed on a terrain, but if you think of landscape, it’s not even and regular. But people go to these places and think it’s very natural, very relaxing. I think that one can do that in architecture, and it’s particularly appropriate for civic buildings because it has to do with movement, how you move from one space to another, how you understand a building.
I think contemporary society has reached new levels of complexity that can no longer be adequately addressed in the compositional terms of orthogonal blocks. Consequently, our architecture is operating with new concepts, logic and methods. Space is being replaced by the notion of continuously differentiated fields. Space flows continuously from inside to outside and interpenetrates. Our architecture shapes space by composing volumes and planes in space.

HM – Architecture is an art form. While the technicalities of architecture can be taught through formal education, do you feel the “art” of architecture can be taught or is this an innate talent tangible only to those born with it?


ZH – Doing my early drawings was slow, as they required tremendous concentration and precision. This whole system of drawing led to ideas, putting one sheet over another and tracing, like a form of reverse archaeology. This precision can be taught, and it leads to the detailed research and experimentation that helps exciting projects to develop.

But working on the computer is a very different process and less transparent. It’s incredible the savings in time computing has brought to architects, but I still think that the lack of the power of the hand by using computers has taken something away. Of course, a lot has been added in terms of complexity, but I think something is lost if we stop drawing or sketching. When you sketch, you are constantly discovering and experimenting with new ideas.

HM – Is there a location in the world where you haven’t designed a project but would like to?
ZH – London always inspires projects that are unpredictable. There are still all these quirky situations within the city. We did a project more than 20 years ago at the Architectural Association where we drew lines through the city on a map and then traveled along these lines documenting everything. It was a very interesting project because, first of all, it showed that certain things were aligned with each other but that other things — when you jumped from one level to next — were tremendously varied. These extreme adjacencies are what make the city so unique. It’s a great city that has become very layered. Unlike most European cities, there are still large gaps in the city that allow for a major urban intervention on an interesting scale.
I still think that a lot could happen in London. There was an attempt in the postwar modernist period to change the urban geometry and the urban matrix, but these became ghettos. A key research project of the last 30 years has been the “ground” project — a critique of how the modernist era ignored the “ground” by lifting buildings off the ground. We could return to these areas now, not to fill them in, like in Brasilia, but to add another layer to them and animate them.
There are enormous sites in London currently being demolished for the Crossrail rail link, so there is a question about how to deal with very large buildings on these sites. There is tremendous potential here. And in some situations in London, the more radical it is, the more appropriate.

HM – What does your house look like? Can you describe the exterior and interiors?

ZH – I didn’t design my apartment. It’s not one of my projects. My old home in West London had a flood, and I had to move quickly. I decided to move closer to my office in Clerkenwell, East London. One of the benefits is this new space is much larger than my old home and can hold some of my own larger furniture pieces and paintings, including the Aqua table, Iceberg bench, “Moraine” sofa and a reproduction of

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Malevich’s Tecktonik painting we produced for my 2006 Guggenheim exhibition in New York.

I would love to build a house for myself one day. Normally, architects build a house for themselves either early in their careers, when they have fewer inhibitions and can make mistakes without being judged too harshly, or when they’re about to retire.

HM – Your

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schedule must be crazy! How does Zaha Hadid unwind?
ZH – Time is very important. Some people are very conscious of it, of not wasting it. But it can paralyze you. Time doesn’t stop when you’re trying to meet a deadline — and the intensity of working under such pressure can create great work, but you need to allow time for things beyond work. It’s important to keep focused to achieve in any profession but also to make time for your friends and family.

HM – Most of us don’t get the opportunity to physically see and touch the thoughts and ideas in our minds. How does it feel when you visit one of your creations in person?

ZH – It’s a great feeling and always fascinating. You always feel you know the project intimately, but no matter how long you work on a project, no matter how many times you draw the building, you cannot predict everything — and there are … fascinating moments in the completed projects that are very exciting and unexpected.

HM – You seem to have achieved many of your dreams and goals. Do you have any fantasies or accomplishments that you would like to achieve outside of architecture?

ZH – I think I could have done many things — but maybe not all that well. I’ve watched architects become philosophers — bad philosophers — and others who wanted to become politicians, and then painters who wanted to become architects. It’s very fashionable now to become an architect. When I was younger, I used to make my own clothes. I bought silk from China and used it to wrap myself in it, and I experimented with different materials to make my own jewelry. I think that hopefully I would have been OK as a fashion designer. I have no idea what my designs would have looked like. I focused on architecture.

HM – What word or phrase do you feel best describes the essence of Zaha Hadid?

ZH – Hard work.


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