About space

Books in the Bath

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A beautiful, abandoned 16th century hammam (Turkish bath) was recently revived into a contemporary art library as part of the Urban Dreams Festival in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The Art Today Association and Center for Contemporary Art’s archives were featured in the spiral wooden structure, which slopes up from the floor to provide a seating area with plush pillows. Bookshelves rise from the other side of the circle, with a computer station for searching the Center’s archives. The structure will inhabit the bath in celebration of the Festival for a month.

Tiny Style

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A group of 10 dollhouses are now decorated better than most homes, thanks to some of LA’s best interior designers who donated their vision and design to raise money for the UCLA Mattel Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute. The houses were auctioned off at the first annual Kaleidoscope Ball in LA, raising 1.8 million for the charity. Fashion designer Monique Lhuillier created a mini replica of her New York flagship boutique, complete with tiny racks with dresses, custom mirrors and tables and Waterford crystal chandeliers. Chris Barrett designed a contemporary beach house, including Bespoke furniture and a Noguchi coffee table.

Apertures into Art

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Frankfurt’s Städel Museum recently completed a huge renovation by Schneider+Schumacher that doubled its exhibition space by burying it under a beautifully domed glass courtyard, dotted with a grid of circular skylights to the galleries. The circular windows can be walked on above and peered into, shining daylight into the galleries along with integrated LED lights and built-in shading elements. The underground space is further enhanced with geothermic heating and cooling properties, making the beautiful addition energy efficient as well.

Getting to Net Zero

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Often when a museum adds an addition or undergoes renovations, the result can end up as a larger, less energy efficient conglomerate than before. But with its new building, San Francisco’s Exploratorium is going even greener, making it the country’s largest net-zero museum. In its move to Piers 15 and 17 along the Embarcadero, the building itself will serve as an interactive exhibit, showing off its Bay water heating and cooling system, rainwater collection, and 1.3 megawatt solar system. In the spirit of the museum’s mission to create exploratory, interactive experiences, its redesign educates visitors on green, efficient design.

Trash to Treasure

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We love seeing ingenuity to re-route potential trash from landfills to fabulous projects. Using everyday drinking straws, Italian artist Francesca Pasquali creates beautiful wall-installation landscapes (shown above). And students at Newcastle University in England recently built a pop-up cafe, with walls and chairs made up of recycled cardboard and plastic bottles. In Amsterdam, architects used the unlikely and ubiquitous shipping tool – the pallet – to create a chic office space for a Dutch branding agency, complete with desks, dividing walls, risers and stairs, bringing character and interest to the white space.

Flattened Architecture

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Sometimes architecture can be overwhelming in its grandiosity and presence. Portuguese architect and illustrator André Chiote created a series of posters that re-configures some of the most iconic, large architectural museums into simplified, graphic forms. Gehry’s Vitra Design Museum becomes a monochromatic, grey abstraction, while Mario Botta’s SFMoma’s stripes become its central element. Each is transformed into an elegantly flattened version of its former, looming self.

Japanese Revival

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Nano Architects, a Japanese firm, recently revived an abandoned building, using a conceptual “transplantation” method. The result is based on maintaining the former integrity of the space, while updating it to have both old and new coexist in harmony. Traditional japanese-styled quarters were restored, with traditional sliding doors and windows, and tatami mats. In contrast, a circular space was cut from wood planks to form the modern living room, with bright yellow highlights, modern lighting and a minimal feel. Both combine together to celebrate old and new.

Urban Revisions

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We have been admirers of urban interventionist artist Aakash Nihalani’s work for a while, and recently came across this gorgeous re-appropriation of a stop sign in New York. Nihalani is best known for his tape ‘graffiti,’ in which he makes public art on the fly, in witty geometric forms. He uses tape in ways we never would have considered, and adjusts our perspective on the world ever so slightly. We look forward to seeing an installation he’s working on with MTA Arts in Transit and Two Trees in the York Street subway station in Brooklyn. Check out this interview with him.

Instant Color

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What if you could change the color of your walls instantly, depending on your mood? This is the challenge addressed by Ron Arad’s “No Bad Colours,” a reflective light, color-changing wall panel presented at Salone in Jean Nouvel’s Project: Office for Living space. With Bluetooth, users can shift and program the wall colors, allowing them to fade slowly from blue to green, or change instantly. The technology used doesn’t require backlit panels, but rather operates with a pulse of electricity applied to a transparent fluid held between sheets of color. Check out a video here.

Living Judd

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Fans of Donald Judd will be excited to know that following a 3 year restoration process, his home and studio at 101 Spring in Soho (our neighbor) is opening in June for tours. The Judd foundation led the restoration, reviving the building while maintaining it to be shown just as the artist left it. Visitors can see the incredible lofted space, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, wood floors, and carefully crafted, and minimal furnishings. Impressive works of art fill the space – with Judd’s friends (John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin) and masters (Marcel Duchamp, Jean Arp) both.

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