Monday, 31 October 2011

Foster + Partners Unveil Designs for Kuwait International Airport

The new designs for Kuwait International Airport by Foster + Partners have been developed to significantly increase capacity and establish a new regional air hub in the Gulf. The state-of-the-art terminal building will not only provide high levels of comfort for passengers but will also set a new environmental benchmark for airport buildings. Its design is rooted in a sense of place, responsive to the climate of one of the hottest inhabited environments on earth and inspired by local forms and materials.
The terminal has a trefoil plan, comprising three symmetrical wings of departure gates. Each façade spans 1.2 kilometres and all extend from a dramatic 25-metre-high central space. The terminal balances the enclosure of this vast area with a design that is highly legible at a human scale.

To further aid orientation, the building is planned under a single roof canopy, punctuated by glazed openings that filter daylight, while deflecting direct solar radiation. The canopy extends to shade a generous entrance plaza and is supported by tapering concrete columns whose fluid, organic forms draw inspiration from the contrast between the solidity of the stone and the shape and movement of Kuwait’s traditional dhow sailing boats. The concrete structure provides thermal mass and the roof incorporates a large expanse of photovoltaic panels to harvest solar energy.
The design of the proposed airport also features a new landside access sequence from the south in the form of a lush oasis, with strands of drier planting and species native to the desert climate extending further away from the terminal. Inside, the different functions are arranged over three floors: departures, arrivals and baggage areas. The design intends to draw on the region’s culture of hospitality and welcoming guests to Kuwait by establishing an arrival sequence for passengers that includes a baggage reclaim area surrounded by cooling cascades of water.

Foster + Partners have designed a flexible masterplan for the site, with the terminal strategically located to anticipate and enable future expansion. The airport will initially accommodate 13 million passengers per year, with the flexibility to increase to 25 million passengers and to accommodate 50 million passengers with further development.

Photographs courtesy of Foster + Partners

Georgia Hardinge Womenswear Spring/Summer 2012

At the recent London Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2012, designer Georgia Hardinge was responsible for producing one of the most striking womenswear collections. Inspired by Cubist art and with nods to art deco architecture, Harding’s elegant clothes relied on layers of printed chiffon seductively draped across the female body to accentuate shapes in a graceful manner.
Predominant flowing maxi dresses contrasted with a range of tops and mini-skirts architecturally conceived in rigid yet extremely elegant structures. The colours and geometric patterns chosen for the garments were inspired by Cubist paintings and evoked the work produced by artists such as Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso: shades of grey and white were enlivened with flashes of burnt orange, putty, and cobalt blue throughout sheer fabrics to provide a sense of depth and scale. At the same time, cubes, pentagons, and triangular shapes provided form and function to the collection while also allowing a sense of depth and ambiguity.

Born in London, Georgia Harding graduated from Parsons Paris School of Art and Design in 2008. Her graduate collection received the Golden Thimble, an award for best designer. She was recognized for creating highly technical and structural pieces which showed her creativity for contemporary design. Her talent was praised by designer Georgia Hardinge Womenswear Spring/Summer 2012 who described her as ‘little pieces of fresh poetry’. Continuing her success, Samsung chose her to create a one-off collection for their advertisement which was aired worldwide. Since her return to London in early 2009, Hardinge has been involved in numerous projects and has delivered four collections under her own label.
In July of 2009, she was chosen to take part in ‘All Walks Beyond the Catwalk’, a project set up by Caryn Franklin and Erin O'Connor to challenge the expectations of ready-to-wear imagery by showcasing a variety of age, shape and sizes of models. The catwalk event also included designers such as Mark Fast, Hannah Marshall and David Koma. She went on to show her designs in September 2009 as part of independent fashion showcase ON|OFF alongside London Fashion Week. The following season, she exhibited her Autumn/Winter 2010 collection with the support of a promotional fashion film. Hardinge’s Autumn/Winter 2011 first stand-alone runway show at Vauxhall Fashion Scout was greeted with astounding success, allowing her to receive a merit Award and be described as ‘one to watch’.
There is little doubt that, since its foundation, the Georgia Hardinge brand has been moving at a deservedly growing pace. As examples of recent key landmarks, Hardinge has had her label’s debut London Fashion Week catwalk show being sponsored by Vauxhall Fashion Scout, has been commissioned by L’Oreal to make six dresses for their Colour Trophy Grand Final Show, and has received sponsorship from Swarovski to work with Charlotte Stockdale on a project to take place in November 2011.

With such talent, it is no surprise that Georgia Hardinge’s collections can now be found in retailers as far afield as Australia, Dubai, Japan, Qatar, and the US. At The Style Examiner we very much hope that Hardinge will remain ‘one to watch’ for a very long time.

Photographs © 2011 Christopher Dadey

Sunday, 30 October 2011

New York: The Audacity of Architectural Hope

“As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not its match in any other country in the world.”  
Pearl S. Buck

Very few places inspire the whole world for its sheer scale, vibrant pace, elegant surroundings, and impressive architecture as New York City.

Every time one sets foot in New York, one realises that this is the city that has it all: the most beautiful urban park in the world, fantastic art galleries and museums, excellent restaurants and a fascinating mix of nationalities and languages. However, what makes you love New York more and more every time you visit is the inimitable, audacious architecture.
Central Park, New York City
New York has always been a paradise for architects and interior designers. This promised city has offered the possibility to grow and excel in its creative heights for generations. If real estate moguls profit from property prices, it is the communities of residents and visitors of this fortunate city that benefit from being able to inhabit and experience such outstanding architecture.

New York stands out not only because of its well-designed office buildings and museums, but also in its landscaped parks and secluded corners of Manhattan and outer boroughs, carefully respected and promoted by the city’s residents for many years.
Central Park, New York City
Central Park, one of the best examples of landscaped architecture in the world, opened in 1859 and rightly became a National Historic Landmark in 1963. The designs by Frederick Law Olmsted (landscape architect) and Calvert Vaux (architect) allowed for hundreds of acres to become an oasis of green socialising space for decades, and currently attracts over 25 million annual visitors. With its lakes and fountains, and innumerable depictions in films and TV series, Central Park has become a dear and familiar space throughout the world, framed by blocks of apartments and offices that surround it.
The High Line, New York City
The High Line, New York City
More recently, the High Line redevelopment has attracted numerous visitors who enjoy the experience of the city it allows, as well as great views of the Hudson River and New Jersey. Built on a section of the former elevated freight railroad of the West Side Line along the lower west side of Manhattan, this green space has drawn more attention to one of the most charming parts of New York. The joint work of James Corner Field Operations (landscape architects), Diller Scofidio + Renfro (architects), Piet Oudolf (planting design), and Buro Happold (engineering design), the High Line has quickly garnered a warm place in the hearts and minds of New Yorkers and tourists. Its creative designs over an elevated structure stand for a modern reinterpretation of the mythical hanging gardens, landscaped structures to appropriate and enjoy nature in man-made settings.

These green spaces in a city renowned for its high rise developments serve as a way to remind inhabitants and visitors to look both down from the soil and up to the top floors of skyscrapers reaching for the clouds.
The Rockefeller Center
The Rockefeller Center, designed in the 1930s by architect Raymond Hood and others, typifies this ambition to embrace space both horizontally and vertically. The Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings covering 22 acres between 48th and 51st streets, and it has also been declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. This Art Deco wandering maze of offices, shops, entertainment areas, and public transport links is still listed as one of the largest private building project ever undertaken in modern times.
The Chrysler Building
A few blocks south stands the elegant Chrysler Building, designed by William Van Alen, and also a magnificent example of Art Deco. Its top floors covered in ribbed stainless-steel cladding represent Van Alen’s own ambition to reach for the stars by depicting a radiating sunburst pattern with triangular vaulted windows. The silvery metal used on these top floors decorated with flying eagles allow for the building to stand out in midtown New York, as a beacon of hopeful design.
Bank of America tower at One Bryant Park
More recently, the angular elegance of the Bank of America tower at One Bryant Park, by Cook + Fox Architects, became another example of New York’s intention to promote architecture as the embodiment of creative hope. Renowned for its environmentally friendly design features, One Bryant Park typifies a new architecture of stylish design pushing forward the notion of the office building as box. Its twisted angles allow for the building (currently the second tallest in the city) to become different as one walks towards it, particularly in its reflection of light and shade.
IAC Corporation Building
Downtown, in Chelsea, the 2007 building designed by Frank Gehry to house IAC Corporation dazzles and grows on one’s perception of it. On a first view, the shocking white and grey tones stand out in the area and are accentuated by a seemingly irregularity of its jutting structures. However, the more one looks and the more one stands close by to see how the light of day diffuses the awareness of space, the angularity of the building becomes extremely dynamic. As the building stands facing the Hudson river on 11th Avenue with 18th Street, it acquires an almost naval dimension, with its 10-storey towers becoming sails ready to take the space outwards. The interiors reflect this with office and meeting spaces allowing the possibility of facing the river.
Guggenheim Museum
Guggenheim Museum
New York City also dazzles with buildings designed to host art collections and exhibitions that have pushed forward architectural design over the twentieth century. An example is the Guggenheim Museum, which opened in October 1959 to a storm of criticism. Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs deserved the dubious pejorative comments that they were obfuscating the art collection and attracting visitors to the building for the architecture alone and not for the art on display. However, visitors soon realised that it was precisely the ingenious internal spiral construction of the building that allowed the relationship between art and human gaze to become more intimate. In a way, the opening of the Guggenheim half a century ago marked more than a bold step in architecture; it was also the birth of a post-modern, contemporary, and democratic appropriation of art by the individual.
Whitney Museum of American Art
A few years later, and a few blocks north, Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer saw his designs for the Whitney Museum of American Art come to fruition. In 1966, and after decades of moving, the impressive collection of the Whitney family was housed in this stunning building. With its cantilevered spaces jutting onto Madison Avenue and its small windows, the museum resembles a medieval fortress that protects its inner cultural treasures. This image is only strengthened when watching visitors to the cafe and shop on the basement level from a moat-like ground floor area that connects the city to the building via a bridge.
Museum of Modern Art
In more recent years, Yoshio Taniguchi’s complete redevelopment of the Museum of Modern Art only confirmed its collection as occupying the top ranks of artistic curatorial quality. Anyone who visits MoMA for a few hours cannot leave the building and its collection behind without feeling inebriated by the scale of the building and the intelligent layout of the rooms and access areas.
The New Museum
Downtown, in the Bowery, SANAA architects have recently offered the quirky and graceful New Museum, the building that made this brilliant architectural practice win the coveted Pritzker Price in 2010. With its reflective cladding and alternating boxes, the New Museum literally shines on the Bowery. Its bright interiors and the top floor Sky room, with its South-facing balcony, stand out in an otherwise downtrodden (yet fashionable) part of Manhattan, housing an impressive international and eclectic collection.
Cooper Union building
Cooper Union building
But it’s New York’s latest major addition to the education scene that seduces the most. Morphosis’s Cooper Union building, designed to house its new academic building, reinterprets the architectural landscape of New York while questioning the assumption of space, lines, and overall design. By literally cutting into the facade of the building, almost in a curious reinterpretation of the city’s grid-like street layout, architect Thom Maine’s clever design pushes form and space usage forward like very few buildings. Its irregular internal staircases and external cladding are extremely seductive in the way they break traditional notions of architecture and space, yet keeping a very green agenda for the building. With its wink to the history of architecture and the more recent post-modern definition of space, the building stands for the playful elegant definition of what New York in itself is: an audacious cradle of creative hope for generations of architects and those of us who appreciate the urban space that surrounds us.

Learn to Labour and to Wait: The Wonderfully Crafted Leather Accessories by Cristoffer Dellstrand

We have recently discovered the label c.dellstrand and have come to regard it as one of the most exciting businesses around that focus on producing outstanding leather accessories for men about town.

Founded in 2010 in Paris by Swedish designer and craftsman Christoffer Dellstrand, c.dellstrand has been producing accessories inspired by the pure lines of Scandinavian architecture and interior design. With a passion for true craftsmanship, products are patiently produced in the spirit of ancient manufacturing traditions and reject the notion of collections produced under seasonal pressures.

For Dellstrand, the production of a unique accessory begins with the uncompromising choice of material. The philosophy underlying this initial step is that an accessory is constructed in a way that allows its material to speak by itself and age in its due course. During the design process, consideration is shown to the properties of the material in order to bring out the best in each product. This is evidenced in how the shape of a product takes form through the folding of the leather or by the ways in which parts are stitched together.

The leathers used by c.dellstrand come from European tanneries, and are handpicked to always meet the requirements of the company, whereas the recycled fabrics are sourced from various markets. The materials are all assembled in an atelier in Paris and, incredible as it may seem, every single step in the process is made by one man. The leathers are hand cut and carefully sewn, and the edges are painted and polished by hand, following rare techniques that have been used by craftsmen for centuries.

Dellstrand’s products can be seen as a reflection of his thinking and the admiration for simple processes and long-lasting products. Ultimately, none of his unique pieces is finished and leaves his atelier before it is considered perfect. Cdellstrand’s leather accessories can be purchased from the brand’s website and in selected stores in France, Italy, and Sweden.