Naturally building: Looking at buildings differently with Anne Holtrop

Delightful CBD branding, tiny worlds, making wise decisions and more

Interpretation and imagination with Anne Holtrop

Anne Holtrop, a Dutch designer currently working in Bahrain, is blurring a line between art and architecture which creates a wonderfully natural feeling to his projects. For example, Trail House, was a temporary work he created on an open piece of land behind a museum. The trails that existed there informed the shape of the space itself which traced the curves that already existed. It's an intuitive way of working, something he calls "possible architecture." He used a similar technique in the design of the Museum Fort Vechten which utilized the topology of the site to create a curving, bunker-like space, organically carved out fo the site and yet unified with it at the same time.

Over the last year he and his studio have been working with John Galliano on the Maison Margiela flagship store in London. The space is simply done and each element created is a playful contradiction of ideas. There are these large, gently curving walls that are made from gypsum cast in a mold made from fabric. The result is a voluminous divider that almost looks like a pillowcase that's been left on a line to dry. Again, I love that he's using something natural, and the sort of "chaos" of what might happen, to determine the final shape.

In the most recent issue of Apartmento, he has a great feature where he speaks about his a current project, Green Corner, that is quite literally being determined by the land itself:

"We cast concrete onto fragments of the land that are traces of the sandy landscape, and then we put those pieces into the building. Because of this process, the pieces have a flat side, but one side also has a relief with the shape of the sand. We produce the slabs in the same way, in-situ prefab. I like the fact of the building is being really produced by the site itself; the site of production is also where the building is."

So that's what I find so interesting about what he and his studio have been creating. Their use of nature, and the chaos of the process, and then pairing it with Anne’s knowledge of engineering, to create buildings and spaces and worlds that are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. If you’re looking to learn more about Anne and his studio I’d recommend the aforementioned issue of Apartmento, these interviews with Something Curated and this one with Kinfolk.

Earthly delights

Living in California I’m pretty spoiled by the wide variety of marijuana offerings. I don’t really partake much these days, I’m personally more of a wine guy, though I’d say the the weed market certainly gives a ton of room to do some really creative and wonderful branding. Case in point, Rose Delights, which are these great little CBD edibles that have fantastic flavors created by some wonderful chefs, folks like Enrique Olvera of Pujol and TFIB friend Nicole Rucker of Fat & Flour.

The creative mind behind the brand is Scott Barry, who is particularly well-known for his work at Sqirl, and who’s work I’ve admired for a long time now. There’s a certain sensibility to the overall brand, the packaging and the way everything is photographed, that really gives a sense that it’s from another time. Or that it’s timeless, borrowing elements like typefaces and patterns and visual elements, which feel familiar but you can’t really place where you may have seen them before.

A hidden place

Oslo based photographer Tine Poppe uses her talents to bring attention to social, political, existential, and environmental issues, creating beautiful photos that are gentle and ethereal. I was particularly drawn to her plant and nature based project Botanical Perceptions which imagines the environment from an ants point of view. This change of perspective creates a fantasy world that looks like her very own version of Alice in Wonderland. It’s also her interesting use of unique color palettes and low contrast in some of the images that really give that otherworldly feeling.

Choose wisely

The Brand Identity recently spoke with the guys of Berger & Fohr, a design studio based in Boulder, Colorado who do some incredible work. You may have seen their branding work for Atlas Institute, a part of the University of Colorado that’s doing some amazing work with technology. The system is super flexible and the collection of A’s they created are a very clever way to make the identity come to life. In their interview with TBI I really liked this very smart point which they picked up from the master himself, Massimo Vignelli.

Yes, we are a bit picky in choosing our clients, and selecting the ‘right’ clients is very important. It’s what enables us to balance both practices and maintain our enthusiasm. When we fail at client selection, something we’ve learned mainly how to avoid, we risk losing the balance. We got to know Massimo Vignelli near the end of his life, and he said something to us once that very much informs our approach to client selection, “Good clients bring better clients. Bad clients bring worse clients. Choose your clients wisely.”