Mini Camp


For those who pack light (and small), but still want comfort (especially while camping), MINI just unveiled a series of adorable add-ons and accessories (all concepts) allowing you to camp in tricked-out style. One in the series is a roof-top pop-up tent, which opens to create a cozy, lofted room atop your mini (shown). Another, the Cowley Caravan, is a vintage-inspired towing caravan, complete with room for couples to sleep including wood-paneled storage and a fan, and a complete camp kitchen when the hatch is open.

Emoji Architecture


In June, Artist Jennifer Wen Ma and lighting designer Zheng Jianwei used clever data mining technology to transform Beijing’s former Olympic swimming venue, the Water Cube, into a lovely responsive installation. “Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube” was rigged to display the I Ching and mood of the city each day, displaying as the artist said, “how we are all cells in this society, but we are interconnected.” Each day was first assigned an element by an I Ching master (heaven, water, earth, fire, etc), with a corresponding color and pattern. Then, emoji was collected from what was posted to a Chinese microblogging site, which shifted and altered the patterns and intensity of color on the building based on what emotions were trending, showing a beautiful representation of resident’s moods.

Mini You


Ten lucky Muji shoppers can soon have their very own little action figure of themselves, through a contest the Japanese shop is holding. Customers purchasing will be entered to win the chance to have their family scanned and 3D printed in miniature form. One lucky grand-prize winner gets a free trip anywhere in the world, to be met at their destination by the models of themselves.

Hiding Underground


While it may seem that architecture only continues to grow above ground, in height and size, several new structures are taking advantage of the space beneath our feet. Marchesi Antonori’s sustainable winery outside Florence, the Chianti Classico Cellar (shown) is a masterfully large and gorgeous space that keeps the wine cool and regulated, and visitors happy with a wine shop, restaurant and museum. Those looking for a timeshare if things turn sour can purchase space for an RV in the underground bomb shelter / park Vivos. And Tokyo bicyclists can safely and securely park and store their bicycles in an underground bike elevator. Simply swipe a smartcard to pay upfront and later locate your bike, and load it up on the elevator where it is transported to an open storage spot.

Tech-aided Travel


While we’d never advise travelling with your eyes trained on your phone, some new technology can enhance and make a memorable travel experience. “Paris, Then and Now” is an app that allows visitors to compare and contrast 100 years ago to present day, via augmented reality, over 2000 places of interest in Paris. For each location, explore photos and facts, and superimpose photos on what you see to learn about its layers of history. And Google is opening up views into realms that are unattainable with  its Street View Trekker team, who visited and documented the abandoned Japanese island of Hashima – “Battleship Island”. Watch as the team – complete with gear on their backs – navigate the ruins of dilapidated buildings, long unused and partially overgrown with gorgeous foliage.

Theme Week: Hide & Seek


Mid-summer never fails to make us daydream of luxurious stretches of time spent with a good book in a chaise lounge, cookouts on the grill, and favorite childhood past-times. Whether catching lightning bugs or playing tag we fondly remember outdoor summer games. So, this week we decided to play a game of Hide & Seek with the blog, where we’ll be sharing our favorite examples of architecture, design, fashion, and creativity that masterfully HIDE (remote, protective, subtle), SEEK (visionary, curious, adventurous)  – or both. Hope you have fun playing with us!

(Image of Hide & Seek by Thinkk)

Home in Berlin


With a concept of “More Home, Less Hotel,” the Linnen, a modern boutique bed & breakfast in Berlin provides a cozy, impeccably-designed retreat in the city. Design and service are at the heart of the six-room hotel, housed in a gorgeously renovated “Grunderzeit” building from the early 1900s. Pink backlit cabinets brighten the quirky cafe downstairs. Upstairs, room options include Industrial Chic, with tin ceilings and antique lamps; a Personal Log Cabin, complete with wood walls and fake birdhouses adorning the walls; and an elegant Royal Sleep room, with diamond-patterned walls and royal purple coloring.

Cité Radieuse


Le Corbusier’s iconic Cité Radieuse apartment complex, in Marseilles, is being newly updated and interpreted by a few designers. Industrial designer Konstantin Grcic recently completed the interior design of an original apartment there, furnished with several of Grcic’s own designs and large-scale black-and-white print-outs of a punk fanzine. And French designer Ora-Ito recently purchased the roof and solarium space of the complex, turning it into an exhibition space. It opened in June with an exhibition of large sculpture by architect Xavier Veilhan, on view through September.

Scientific Ice Cream

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We are always eager to try new kinds of ice cream – whether hand-churned or made laboratory-style via liquid nitrogen methods. The Fabulous Frozen Factory in Mexico’s San Pedro Garza García recently opened (cart shown above) with a carnival-lab design, complete with bright pastel stand mixers attached to liquid nitrogen tubes, so visitors can stand by and watch their treats be made. Similarly, at LA’s new Ice Cream Lab, each scoop is made to order using liquid nitrogen techniques, with flavors like Salt Lick Crunch – organic vanilla ice cream mixed with pretzels, caramel, and topped with sea salt.

Beautiful Power


If all industrial buildings joined with the landscape as well as the Hydroelectric Power Station Punibach, in South Tyrol, Italy, the world would be a more beautifully integrated space. Inspiring in its respect for the beautiful mountain scenery surrounding it, Monovolume’s 2011 project of concrete and wood slices and swoops into the hillside, elegantly forming the needed structure, without disrupting the natural beauty. Covered by grass on top and wood slats on the front, at night the building glows warmly, indicating its use as a power station.

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