A Four-Story Home In Tokyo That Feels Like A Vertical Garden

Ryue Nishizawa Designed A Home That Doubles as a Vertical Garden

If there’s anything any home needs it’s an abundance of plant life. Studies show that plants help fight colds, clean the air, lower your blood pressure and make you happier overall. That said, could you imagine living in a multi-story concrete home that basically slender vertical garden? This is what architect and designer Ryue Nishizawa, one half of the design firm SANAA, has helped create.

Ryue Nishizawa Designed A Home That Doubles as a Vertical Garden

Tucked away in a tiny crack in Tokyo is this four-story home which mixes concrete and glass to create a series of terraces and balconies that blurs the line between interior and exterior. The home is united with a spiral staircase the punctuates the space from top to bottom yet still feels elegant, not consuming or overpowering the space.

It’s always fascinating to me to see how the Japanese utilize such unique spaces with such creative solutions. A space like this isn’t for everyone, though if you offered it to me I’d take it in a heart beat.

Ryue Nishizawa Designed A Home That Doubles as a Vertical Garden

Ryue Nishizawa Designed A Home That Doubles as a Vertical Garden

Ryue Nishizawa Designed A Home That Doubles as a Vertical Garden

Ryue Nishizawa Designed A Home That Doubles as a Vertical Garden

Ryue Nishizawa Designed A Home That Doubles as a Vertical Garden

Ryue Nishizawa Designed A Home That Doubles as a Vertical Garden

Ryue Nishizawa Designed A Home That Doubles as a Vertical Garden

Bobby Solomon

August 6, 2014 / By

The Manual Coffeemaker Brings Ritual and Lovely Aesthetics Back Into Coffee Making

Manual Coffeemaker

Manual Coffeemaker

The world of coffee makers seems to be a ripe field for new development. After decades of Mr. Coffee and the rising tide of K-Cups we’re starting to see a concerted effort to appreciate the time and effort it takes to create something of quality, specifically in this case, a cup of coffee. I’ve written about another “high-tech” coffee maker recently, namely the Ratio Eight, but the Manual Coffeemaker seen here is much more simple, more akin to the classic Chemex.

Manual Coffeemaker, or MCM, is a pour-over coffee maker that lives on the countertop in a home or office, like a low-tech appliance. Hot water is gradually poured through fresh ground coffee in a filter, and brewed coffee slowly drips into the carafe, or even directly into your mug.

MCM takes inspiration from manual coffee brewers of the past, but completely redesigns the experience with a new form. Other manual brewers have more in common with pitchers or kitchen funnels, while MCM is designed to be a beautiful freestanding appliance—an appliance you truly love to see on your kitchen counter day after day.

Personally, I find it hard to find time to enjoy such rituals though I appreciate what Manual is trying to do here. Plus it’s nice to bring more beauty into the kitchen. You can pre-order one for your own space by clicking here.

Bobby Solomon

August 6, 2014 / By

‘Cobrina’ – Elegant Furniture from Japanese Studio Torafu Architects

Cobrina by Torafu Architects

Formed in 2004, Torafu Architects are a Japanese studio founded by Koichi Suzuno and Shinya Kamuro. The duos work is fantastic, covering a broad and diverse range that includes everything from product design and architecture; to interiors, installations and film making. Recently they collaborated with the well-established Japanese furniture manufacturer Hida Sangyo to produce a furniture collection called Cobrina.

Cobrina by Torafu Architects

Cobrina by Torafu Architects

The name Cobrina comes from the Japanese expression “koburi-na”, which is used to describe things that are small or undersized. It’s a fitting name for a collection that is designed to be small and lightweight. For the duo, it was important that the furniture could easily be moved around – perfect for those who have compact living areas!

Cobrina by Torafu Architects

Consisting of nine pieces, the furniture is made in beautiful oak and each piece is characterized by its playful rounded shapes on both its surfaces and its legs.

Cobrina by Torafu Architects

I love the simplicity and the elegance of this furniture. The hat-stand that includes a small bowl for keys and wallet is a wonderful touch and the bright blue of the chairs adds a lot of great color to a perfectly restrained collection. More images from Torafu Architects can be seen on their website.

Philip Kennedy

August 5, 2014 / By

Haruki Murakami’s New Novel and its Delightfully Designed Cover

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Talking cats? Strange moons? Brooding teenagers? Yep, it’s time for a new Haruki Murakami novel. Next week the English-speaking world will be treated to the Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, the long-awaited novel of Japan’s critically acclaimed author. Published by Knopf and Harvill Secker of the Penguin Random House Company, it’s been eagerly anticipated since the release of Murakami’s best selling epic, 1Q84, in 2011. In preparation of the launch, we’re treated to an excerpt of the new book, as well as a look at the cover’s design—in which there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye.

Murakami is a contemporary Japanese writer—born in Kyoto in 1949, he currently resides in Tokyo. His works have been translated into 50 languages and his best-selling books have been published in millions of copies. His most notable works include Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Kafka on the Shore. The Guardian praises Murakami as “among the world’s greatest living novelists.” He’s kind of a big deal and happens to be one of my favorite authors.

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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. Newly released in Germany, Spain, and Holland, it has already topped the bestsellers in all three countries, and it sold over one million copies within its first week when originally released in Japan of April last year. You can read Slate’s excerpt from the new book, “Haida’s Story,” which is a story within a story that touches upon the nature of narration and how stories change the more we retell them.

“A return to the mood and subject matter of the acclaimed writer’s earlier work… A vintage Murakami struggle of coming to terms with buried emotions and missed opportunities, in which intentions and pent up desires can seemingly transcend time and space to bring both solace and desolation.” —Publishers Weekly

As with every Murakami release, I’m quite excited about the book cover’s design. If you’re also a fan of Murakami’s work then you’re familiar with the designs of either John Gall or Chip Kidd—who’ve been primarily responsible for the classic covers of previous Murakami western releases. Always beautiful and ever evoking the abstract, these works never fail to catch my eye, draw me into the novel, or give new meaning to the words on page.

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Unfortunately, neither designer was involved with Murakami’s newest release. But fret not; handling the new cover was Random House’s creative director, Suzanne Dean. She’s responsible for the fantastic work coming out of the publishing house’s Vintage Classics line, who previously commissioned the talented Noma Bar to redesign Murakami’s backlist. They’re some of the best-looking book covers in recent years. Under Dean’s guidance, the designs featured a circle motif, accompanied by a three-colored palette—in order to reflect the “seen and unseen” often portrayed in Murakami’s work. These covers were screen printed by hand to give a personal, softer edge, demonstrating the care that Dean puts into every piece under her guidance.

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A circular motif reappears for Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Dean states that the new cover is “an elegant abstract design, representing the five main characters.” The process began with her, as she recounts, “I cut out five circles and played with the position of each of them as physical elements away from the confines of a computer. I experimented with overlapping the circles to represent the interactions within the close friendship of the main characters. Gradually the design came together in a congruent and meaningful form.” Following the physical preliminaries, Dean transferred the design to Photoshop, where she could refine the color interactions and land on a look that quickly fell into place.

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Accompanying Dean’s cover is a set of stickers. Dean explains, “Tsukuru’s name means to make or build and this was a gift, a completely perfect match for an idea to include adult stickers for the book buyer to decorate the novel.” As a result, Dean commissioned five Japanese illustrators, who brought a uniquely Japanese style and knowledge of Japanese detail to the project. Each illustrator was given a character, and therefore a color, and asked to read the novel with that character in mind. They were then asked to create images reflecting their character, using their specific color.

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Mio Matsumoto: Colorless
“My drawing style here is very sharp and clean…Tsukuru is colour-less. But I thought he is influenced by the others so, based on the strong drawing line, I wanted to add all the other colours in his related objects.” Matsumoto graduated from the Royal College of Art and is currently living and working in Tokyo.

Fumio Obata: Blue
“I chose certain objects to illustrate from the text because of their noise, for instance Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas” was an inspiration for the first image I did.” Obata studied at the Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London, where he worked in animation for some years before deciding to concentrate on comic books and illustration.

Ryu Itadani: Red
“In all my images I carefully chose other colors to highlight red, so (hopefully) viewers can imagine that the images have something to do with red.” Itadani currently lives and works in Berlin.

Natsko Seki: White
“All the items had to be beautiful as she was, and show fragility and sensitivity.” Seki lives and works in London.

Shinko Okuhara: Black
“I worked with the colour by considering how to express the difference between the image of her full name “Eri Kurono” and her nickname “black” and her character.” Okuhara lives and works in Tokyo.

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As you can see, what at first looks like a very simple and basic book cover turns out to be a well-thought and involved process between many artists. The result is an exceptionally designed cover that readers can customize, turning the book into an interactive experience. Its design harkens day’s past and evokes nostalgia, something that I hope will only further my attachment to Murakami’s newest work. You start putting stickers on your own copy next week, August 12th, which you can purchase here (or here if you want the stickers and Dean’s design). Check out Murakami’s Facebook for release events near you.

Nick Partyka

August 5, 2014 / By

Hidden Treasures – 7 Camouflage Accessories To Help You Stand Out From The Crowd

Camo Accessories - The Fox Is Black

Modern day camouflage was developed in the 19th century as a means to disguise soldiers from the ever increasing accuracy of rifle technology. These days camo at is seen as an alternative to the more traditional patterns like plaid or check, and the seemingly endless variations continue to grow, creating a world of patterns.

1. Splash Camouflage Short Parka by wings + horns
It might be a bit early in the year for parkas but the pattern on this jacket is one of my favorites. The color combination has a “rusty river” vibe to it and the hood looks extra comfy, perfect for those rainy days. – Buy it here

2. Khaki Camouflage Baseball Cap by A.P.C.
Camo is usually best in small doses and this baseball cap from A.P.C. fits the bill. Made in Italy, has an adjustable buckle with a leather strap and would work style-wise with pretty much any outfit. – Buy it here

3. Bark Camo Porter x Staple Wallet
This collaboration between Staple and Porter is the perfect wallet: functional and stylish. It comes with two slots for cards, a main pocket for cash, and a snap pocket for change. – Buy it here

4. Triple C for J.Crew USB Phone Charger
One of the biggest dramas we face in our modern world is the mobile device that loses it’s charge before the end of our work day. Thankfully J.Crew has teamed up with Triple C to create a portable charger that’s stylish and let’s you browse Instagram all day long. – Buy it here

5. Leather and Suede Camouflage Sneaker by Valentino
Of everything on this list these sneakers by Valentino are by far the most extravagant. It’s made with a pairing of leathers and suedes that add a bit of luxury to the classic sneaker silhouette. There’s even spikes on the heel! – Buy it here

6. Jacquard Camo Weekender 3.0 by Killspencer
Another one of the objects that inspired this round-up, Los Angeles based Killspencer have been doing an amazing job on their bag designs and this weekender is one of my favorites. The jacquard woven cotton camo is one of the most unique I’ve even seen. One the top of my “to-buy” list. – Buy it here

7. Forest Camo Shoelace by Rastaclat
Last but not least are these camo shoelaces from Rastaclat, which feature gold tips for a little bit of bling. I think these are kind of ridiculous but they’d look great on a clean pair of black high tops. – Buy it here

Bobby Solomon

August 4, 2014 / By

Portfolio Update: OMFGCO

OMFGCO

A few weeks back Portland based OMFGCO (the Original Manufacturing Company for those who don’t know) made a substantial update to their portfolio, showcasing works from the last several years. Made up of duo Jeremy Pelley and Fritz Mesenbrink, these guys are churning out top-notch quality work non-stop.

OMFGCO for Beams Japan

One of my favorite parts is the design work they did for BEAMS, the Japanese clothing brand. The variety of logos and word marks they came up with are beautiful and I would wear any of them on a t-shirt. They also did an amazing job on a branding assignment for Union Way, a walking street in Downtown Portland that needed an identity system that seamlessly blended into the area. As you can see below this is a place that would make any designer drool.

OMFGCO for Union Way

OMFGCO for Union Way

OMFGCO for Union Way

See more of their fine work by clicking here.

Bobby Solomon

August 4, 2014 / By

Zim & Zou Create A Fox’s Den From Leather and Paper for Hermès

Zim & Zou Create A Fox's Den From Leather and Paper for Hermès

The art of window dressing seems like a fantastic job. Limited only by your creativity, you must bring together small worlds filled with beauty, nuance, and excitement. The duo of Zim & Zou, made up of French designers Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann, recently completed a rather stunning display for Hermès in Barcelona based around the idea of a fox’s den.

This Carte Blanche tells the story of a fox who moved into the window with all his personal objects, showing a bit of his life and personality. The leather fox is living in a human interior composed with furnitures all made of paper, giving a surrealistic aspect to the scene. Each piece of the window display was made by hand.

Zim & Zou Create A Fox's Den From Leather and Paper for Hermès

Can you imagine coming up with a concept as complex as this? The leather fox is astounding, perfect down to his little whiskers. The custom designed wallpaper makes all of the the cut paper objects like the clock and telephone really stand out, those blues and oranges are lovely. Zim & Zou should be quite proud of what they’ve created, I’ve never seen anything quite this impressive.

View more photos of the installation by clicking here.

Zim & Zou Create A Fox's Den From Leather and Paper for Hermès

Zim & Zou Create A Fox's Den From Leather and Paper for Hermès

Zim & Zou Create A Fox's Den From Leather and Paper for Hermès

Zim & Zou Create A Fox's Den From Leather and Paper for Hermès

Bobby Solomon

July 30, 2014 / By

Mareike Kanafani’s Brutalist Concrete Jewelry

Mareike Kanafani's Concrete Jewelry

It’s not often that I write about jewelry though these chunky baubles by designer Mareike Kanafani certainly caught my eye. I’d describe her rings as brutalist, utilizing concrete in really fascinating, geological ways. They’re like miniatures versions of breakwaters, only more beautiful and complex. Her brooches (below) look like the precious gems you’d see on a chandelier. I love that she gives each a bit of tint and color which makes each one feel unique. It seems as though she hasn’t created anything new in a while, I certainly hope that changes soon.

Mareike Kanafani's Concrete Jewelry

Mareike Kanafani's Concrete Jewelry

Bobby Solomon

July 30, 2014 / By

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