Sunday, 30 September 2012

‘New Hotel’, Athens, by the Campana Brothers

As the ‘New Hotel’ in Athens (property of the Yes! hospitality group) celebrates its first anniversary, The Style Examiner looks back on what has become one of the most celebrated hotels in the Greek capital. As the first hotel venture by award-winning designers the Campana brothers, the hotel features trademark interiors by the creative duo, including quirky bespoke furniture and handmade fixtures.

The 79-room hotel is a renovation of the former Olympic Palace Hotel located on Filellinon Street, close to Syntagma Square, and within walking distance of the Greek capital’s main sights and attractions. It also houses the ‘New Taste’ restaurant, and it offers a fitness area, as well as executive floors, a lounge and a penthouse suite.

Humberto and Fernando Campana led the design of the hotel, with the collaboration of 20 local students of architecture from the University of Thessaly. In line with the designers’ appreciation for restoring, recycling and sharing, the team was responsible for creating chairs, plates and side lamps. Working with the students for an insight into local culture, the Campanas focussed on three traditional Greek themes that were incorporated into the designs throughout the property. The first pays homage to Karagiozis, a mischievous folklore shadow puppet, with golden fairytale characters adorning the walls. The second theme embraces the ‘evil eye’, a bead charm used to guard against ill omen, with handmade glass eyes illuminated for an arresting effect. Finally, the third uses a wall collage of historic postcards to offer a glimpse of old Athens within a context of modern design. 

The bedrooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, bamboo floors and tables, while the bathrooms showcase solid brass washbasins in the shape of fragmented rocks. Corridors are covered in bark cloth from Uganda, a natural wallpaper produced by processing bark from the Moraceae tree. Many original features of the Olympic Palace Hotel have been retained, including the 1940s marble staircase. Located on the ground floor, the atmosphere of the ‘New Taste’ restaurant is inspired by the Campana’s ‘Favela’ chair, with columns covered in long narrow strips of wood, reminiscent of Brazilian shanty towns.

Yes! Hotels currently comprise four other properties, all owned by Dakis Joannou, a collector and admirer of modern art and design. The original Yes! Hotel, Semiramis Hotel, was designed by Karim Rashid in Kifissia, an affluent suburb of Athens. Twentyone Hotel, also located in Kifissia, explored creative ergonomic design; Kefalari Suites were conceived as serviced apartments set in a nineteenth century mansion building; and Periscope Hotel is a city resort hotel in the central and upmarket Athens neighbourhood of Kolonaki.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Teatum Jones Spring/Summer 2013: Unravelling Beautiful Sartorial Visions for the Future

When a fashion label comes to the fore and swiftly reveals not only extremely competent technical expertise but also a virtually perfect command of historical sartorial and cultural knowledge, the fashion world ought to pause and learn. As opportunities like this tend to happen once in a fashion blue moon, when they do, it is almost mandatory to heed. And investigating with pleasure is what The Style Examiner has done when observing the last three collections produced by the emerging talented design duo behind fashion label Teatum Jones who, with their Spring/Summer 2013 collection, have confirmed, once more, that theirs is an intelligent, pleasurable, and highly accomplished way to produce fashion.

Titled ‘From Democracy with Love’, the label’s latest collection embraces the potential creativity that the perception of dualities can offer in a dialectic process of investigation, debate, and overcoming impermanence to move forward in a constructive manner. In other words, designers Catherine Teatum and Robert Jones sought inspiration from romanticised visions of the future as nostalgically engendered by popular cultural manifestations of the 1960s, a process that had been investigated in previous collections (namely their Spring/Summer 2012 range) with great success but that has unquestionably achieved its best results in this collection.

Using the global political and cultural landscapes of the early years of the Cold War as inspiration, Teatum Jones observe the exchangeable and simultaneous roles of the villain and of the hero as societal constructs engendered by nationalistic propaganda, media platforms, and cultural manifestations. This millenary and universal reverse of dualities is applied with great success to luxurious silk-blend jacquard pieces woven with ice blues, pastel mints and dashes of gold that are simultaneously traditionally and utterly modern. In addition, porcelain-like chinoiserie drawings that depict architecture and imagery related to political and nationalistic ideologies of the 1950s and 1960s are cleverly introduced as an inquisitive and humorous Willow pattern in a process that interrogates classicism and futurism in the creative realm.

Silk shirt dresses with raglan sleeves present a contemporary elegance that transports their wearer seamlessly from day to evening, whilst the concept of duality inspires double-inverted pleat dresses revealing hidden layers of printed silks and the placement of calm, clean colours against controlled linear printed panels. Pleated dresses and dramatic couture capes conjure an overall image of luxury that contrasts with, and is further highlighted by, embossed silver chrome biker jackets and two-tone copper metallics as evidences of futurism. Fabrics included cashmere, leathery viscose, silk satins, double georgettes, and feather-weight opulent chiffons.

Having trained in Womenswear at Ravensbourne College of Design and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, the duo amassed years of experience with Luella Bartley, Warren Noronha and John Richmond, and met whilst working together on Menswear lines. Having made the decision to launch their own label, Teatum and Jones spent several years researching and developing their ideas for what they envisioned as a contemporarily relevant Womenswear brand. Their joint work made them realise how enamoured they actually were of one another’s sense of escapism. Besotted with the power of a story, and drawn to both romance and tragedy, the label’s collections reveal a compelling need to seek out beauty and refinement in what is ordinarily considered sinister or dark.

After being chosen as one of the 10 finalists for the Fashion Fringe competition in 2009, they launched their debut Womenswear collection for Spring/Summer 2011 in London, and showed as part of London Fashion Week’s official schedule for the first time in September 2011. However, instead of showing in the main space where throngs of bloggers, press and buyers gather, Teatum Jones chose to unveil their sophisticated collection in the Royal Society of Arts, a building designed by Robert Adams in the early 1770s. A few months later, they showed their Autumn/Winter 2012 in London’s department story Liberty’s in another intimate presentation.

Even though ‘From Democacy with Love’ (presented in the luxurious environs of The Dorchester Hotel in London) is only the label’s only fourth collection, it confirms that Teatum Jones is a sartorial force to reckon with in the London fashion world. The Style Examiner’s verdict is that their outstanding tremendous intellectual and creative skills really deserve a closer look by the fashion industry. 

Photographs courtesy of Teatum Jones

Friday, 28 September 2012

Postcards from the Edge: Sidewalks of New York

When visiting a city like New York, it becomes natural to allow one’s gaze to wander upwards towards the top of the highest skyscrapers. These impressive examples of architecture embody the human desire to literally grow and their scale causes admiration for the ambition to build inhabitable social spaces. However, one can sometimes find truly creative genius in the pavements of the city, like these playful and colourful Jackson Pollock-esque drops of paint looking almost lost amidst the bustle of the West Village.

© João Paulo Nunes / The Style Examiner

AMO/OMA's ‘Real Fantasies’ Film for Prada

AMO, the Rotterdam-based research studio (and counterpart to renowned architectural practice OMA), has conceived the film 'Real Fantasies' to illustrate Prada's Autumn/Winter 2012 collection. In the film, models are depicted within the context of a dystopian society where machines and jagged geometric landscapes project the future of fashion as a retrofitted past. Each scene depicts characters engrossed in oblique and possibly deviant power dynamics, and surreal images of slowly moving starry skies, shooting comets and rotating planets are set within spaces such as neoclassical train stations and baroque interiors. 

Images and film © OMA AMO / Prada

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Peter Zumthor Awarded the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture

Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has been named the recipient of one of the world’s most prestigious architecture prizes, the Royal Gold Medal.

Given in recognition of a lifetime’s work and awarded annually since 1848 by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by Her Majesty the Queen and is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence “either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture”.  

Peter Zumthor (Photograph © Gerry Ebner)

Peter Zumthor founded his award-winning architecture practice in 1979 in Switzerland. His most celebrated projects include the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria, the Therme Vals (thermal baths) in Vals, Switzerland, and the Kolumba Art Museum in Cologne. He designed London’s 2011 Serpentine Pavilion and is currently designing a house in Devon for philosopher Alain de Botton’s Living Architecture architect-designed holiday home scheme. 

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011, by Peter Zumthor (Photograph © John Offenbach)

Zumthor is known for creating highly atmospheric spaces through his mastery of light and choice of materials. His buildings, such as his small rural chapels and the Thermal Baths at Vals, are an experience for all the senses, with every detail reinforcing the essence of the building and its surroundings.

Peter Zumthor will be presented with the Royal Gold Medal on Wednesday 6 February 2013 at a ceremony at the RIBA in London, during which the 2013 RIBA International and Honorary Fellowships will also be presented.  

This year’s RIBA Honours Committee was chaired by RIBA President Angela Brady with architects Peter Clegg, Yvonne Farrell, Professor Adrian Forty, Niall McLaughlin and Sarah Wigglesworth.

Therme Vals by Peter Zumthor

Therme Vals by Peter Zumthor

Therme Vals by Peter Zumthor

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Converse Missoni Archive Project Sneakers Collection

Casual footwear brand Converse has announced the launch of the Converse Missoni Archive Project, which features a series of 20 sneakers created using dead stock fabrics from the Missoni textiles archive. The exclusive collection launches on Friday, 28 September 2012 at the store Colette in Paris to coincide with Paris Fashion Week

Designed to celebrate the collaboration between the two brands, now in its sixth season, this project features Converse's Auckland Racer and Pro Leather Mid models in collaboration with Missoni. Both sneakers are made of distinct Missoni fabrics that were used in the label's runway collections from 1994 to the present day and that are no longer available. An installation created by London-based artist Gary Card and a limited-edition hand-numbered hardback book (bound in the same terracotta canvas that lines every pair in the collection) accompany the project. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Nicole Farhi Womenswear Spring/Summer 2013

To show her womenswear collection for Spring/Summer 2013, British designer Nicole Farhi opted once again for the Art Deco surroundings of the Headquarters of the Royal Institute of British Architects in London’s Portland Place, wher two months ago she showed the menswear collection for the same season. With its seductive stone and wood details highlighted by faded brass and frosted glass, the interior of the building served as a very adroit scenario to a collection that inquisitively looked to the concept of layering strata to engender a stunning range of demure and yet highly elegant range of garments.

Inspired by Edward Burtynsky’s photographs of the marble quarries of Carrara, and by Tuscany’s light and its air that turns grey with marble dust, the collection resorted to a palette of chalk white, slate grey, almond honey, and flax yellow. Linear and sharp sequined embroideries applied in rigid vertical and horizontal layers mirrored the veins of blocks of marble, and pleating of varying scales and fabrics in shadowy tones and broken-up prints evoked the tiers of the quarry’s exposed walls.

Fabrics were dry and textured, occasionally tightly woven and with a crinkled, papery feel. Fine-pleated cotton and translucent organza were juxtaposed against light-weight silk nylons, and strips of soft leather provided a balance to sheer fabrics. The accessories range also followed the theme of the collection, with sunglasses with wood finishing, heavy wedges, and belts in tones of chalk and dusty mauve grey.

Photographs courtesy of London Fashion Week