Why Street Art Matters

18 Jan


Some city councils get it, others don’t. Tapping the creative talents of street artists, illustrators and graphic designers is an effective and cool way to make bland public spaces, old buildings, bridges and car parks new again, and to freshen up the concrete jungle.

It is also an effective way of keeping graffiti away. Plus it draws attention to the building or structure as “potential” not as something to be hated. Maybe it will even bring a buyer, a new occupant or additional creative ideas about how to revitalize the building? Anything but the current dilapidated state of abandoned spaces!



Street artists and muralists bring with them vibrant and a new perspective that architects or designers may not have. This does not mean that millions need to be spent to upgrade the buildings immediately, all you need is vision, courage, local creative talent and some colorful paint like these perfect examples here. Our subscriber list reads like the Who-is-Who of city councils around the globe. So here’s a challenge to you: You need to step up and change the face of your city. There are way too many ugly, run-down buildings, bridges, tunnels and walkways that can be completely transformed into exciting and fun environments with some creative input.




Dudes Factory – Berlin

8 Mar

Arnaud Loix van Hooff and Heribert Willmerdinger, both from the advertising world, have opened Dudes Factory, at Torstrasse 138 in Berlin’s Mitte. This is as much a storefront for consuming and buying art, as it is a workshop, collaborative space and exhibition venue. Cooperation, experimentation and co-creation are the driving forces resulting in a constantly changing selection of one-of-a-kind products and art pieces.

The two owner “dudes” invite a new artist or designer in each month, and nurture, challenge and direct the artists to create new, experimental works for the store. They also created the Dudes LAB software, the creative platform that lets users change the artwork or combine it with the work of other artists.


Bank of Moscow’s Offices

10 Feb

The interior design of Bank of Moscow’s offices in central Moscow’s Kuznetsky Most area (Kuznetsky Most street 13) retains the building’s great historical bones and matches customized adornments to them.

The office — one of the Bank’s many offices — occupies 7,000 square metres on the third floor and in the previously unused mansard (attic) space. Moscow-based designer, Alexey Kuzmin, retained by architectural office Sretenka for this assignment, used the space’s key feature, the large, hexagon-shaped central hall, as the defining point. He placed the client services functions in this grand, open area to evoke and retain the elegant feel of the entire building.

 It is windowless, so Kuzmin created a stained-glass ceiling, that echoes the forms and style of the building. Everything in the client zone was customized, including the tall wooden doors with glass, stained-glass windows, chandeliers, oak paneling for walls and ceilings and the marble floors.
Kuzmin located the staff offices on the wings or balconies surrounding the client zone. The dividers in the office area are made of glass with wooden arches around them.

The attic had no historically significant features and it was designed as a typical, effective office. Glass dividers allow light into the space from the small narrow roof-top windows. The ceiling is made of fire resistant panels, covered with birch veneer. The white office furniture is by Vitra.
The storied building has housed the Tretyakov Trading House (same Tretyakovs that are behind the Tretjakov Art Gallery) and the expansive shop of the famous Russian photographer, J. Daziaro. Over time, the Kuznetsky Most area has changed from an upper-class shopping district (early 1800s) to financial district (mid 1800s), to Bolshevik and KGB offices, and back to elegant shopping (since 1980s).


Mark Zuckerberg meets Jesse Eisenberg for first time on SNL

31 Jan

A Gentlemen’s Club Office

28 Jan

Pool tables, free beer and “casual everyday” dress code may have become the desired and appropriate work environment in many companies, but for some, a gentlemen’s club atmosphere works better.

London-based architecture and design firm SHH created this elegant office in London for an international investment company. The offices are located in a five-storey Georgian townhouse connected to a two-storey mews by a partially covered walkway. Several marble-inlaid fireplaces, marble mosaic floor tiles and beautiful ceiling cornices were kept from the previous occupants but the rest underwent a thorough modernization.

The resulting milieu is imposing and somewhat intimidating. Its dark, black-and-white photography vibe harkens back to some secret storied past, yet the contemporary treatments, especially the dramatic lighting pieces return the thoughts back to today.

Some of the light fixtures are by Modular and Foscarini and the statement chandeliers were custom-designed by Michael Anastassiades.

Custom-work, limited-edition pieces and classic furnishings such as Eames chairs accent each space, giving stunning jolts among the calm opulence.

Showing up in dated jeans or worn-out sneakers (unless you are Steve Jobs or Richard Branson) in this space would not seem appropriate, and should cue sports be allowed, they would most likely be the English Billiards variety.

Founded in 1992 by David Spence, Graham Harris and Neil Hogan (the S, H and H) of architecture and design firm SHH is now a practice of more than 50 people working globally on architecture, design and branding projects.

Many of SHH’s retail, hospitality, nightclub and office clients are in the luxury category, but their client list includes also names such as Sheraton, Adidas, Pizza Hut, Aphostrophe and McDonald’s.


Detroit 2011: Porsche unveils 918 RSR

25 Jan

Porsche has stolen the floor at the Detroit motor show with the quite sensational 918 RSR.

The RSR is a blend of the 918 Spyder road car and the hybrid tech of the 911 GT3 R hybrid we drove last year.

It looks brilliant – the closed cockpit making it look shorter and more purposeful than the 918 Spyder – and it’s got cool orange stripes, and bears the number 22, which was the winning number of the Porsche 917 K that won Le Mans 40 years ago with an average speed of 138mph, not beaten until Audi did it last year. Also, the fan sits over the engine, exactly like the one on the 917’s flat-12.

The 918 RSR uses a V8 from the RS Spyder racer, tuned for 563bhp at 10,300rpm (!). There are two electric motors for the front wheels – they’re independently powered to give torque vectoring to improve cornering – and max power is 767bhp when the driver pushes a button to activate the electric motors. It’s a six-speed paddleshift transmission for the V8.

The electric energy comes from a flywheel in the ‘passenger’s seat’ linked to a motor/generator to turn electric energy into flywheel energy and vice-versa. The flywheel spins to 36,000rpm.

By contrast the road 918 has a battery hybrid system instead of the flywheel. Batteries allow fairly large quantities of energy to be stored; it can do 15 miles of gentle driving on its batteries before the engine starts. The batteries can also be charged from the mains.

But, explains TopGear magazine Man of the Year Wolfgang Duerheimer, the RSR uses a flywheel because, crucially, the energy can be got into and out of the flywheel faster than it can be with batteries, so the electric kick out of a corner can be bigger. Also, the flywheel is lighter than batteries.

At the moment there’s no racing category that the 918 RSR is eligible for, but Duerheimer says Porsche is talking to the authorities about making rules to fit the car. ‘We think there should be a new impulse in racing, new technologies.’

By the way, Porsche hasn’t exactly opened the order books on the production 918 Spyder, but it has said it will build the car. It won’t say when (we hear about two years) or how many (but 2,500 non-binding ‘letters of intent’ have been signed by potential customers) or how much it’ll cost (er, lots).

Via TopGear

Grace E Bikes

24 Jan

E-bike sales are increasing every year: they bridge the gap between bicycles and motorcycles as personal urban transport. Most e-bikes lack a design sensibility or structural integrity, but Grace e-bikes look set to change that.

The Grace Pro Race is powered by a pedal-assisted engine, which can attain speeds of up to 45km/h and pump out 500 to 1300 watts. A handlebar-mounted computer houses two headlights in a CNC-machined block of aluminium, and provides information including the level of charge in the lithium ion cells. The motor is encased within the rear ‘hub’ and is virtually maintenance free—meaning no oil changes. And with an axle-mounted motor, there’s no loss of power through a transmission, either. Requiring a one-hour charge, the motor is capable of around 30-50 silent, emission-free kilometres. For those of us who require precise colour co-ordination, the frame is available in 64 colours, with variations available for the computer and waterproof battery case.

The Pro Race is one of three models in the Grace family but will only be produced to order: the production series consists of the more approachable ‘City’ model, and the short-inseam-friendly ‘Universal’ model. This Teutonic behemoth may be viewed as intimidating by some; but it’s interesting to note the Grace moniker is a reference to Grace Kelly.