Showcase: Kids at Play

When you think of toys, books, or virtually anything made for kids today, a slew of cartoon characters and action heroes probably comes to mind. Joey Ho DesignM4 Design Studio, and Brazilian architect, Guilherme Torres are among a few designers who have found a brilliant way to edit out all the media-imposed clichés in order to create thought provoking, interactive and vibrant spaces for children.

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Showcase: Family park in China

x+living explores the future layout of shopping malls with the newly launched neobio family park in hanghzou, china. following the success of the first neobio park, the shanghai-based architecture firm has now completed its successor, which occupies the first floor and atrium of the hangzhou star avenue phase II shopping mall. the project combines four major functional areas, each with multiple ‘accessory’ spaces, that transport kids in four completely different environments, tied together using a palette of pastel hues.

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Showcase: AppNexus's Playful Flatiron Office

The idea was to make the 67,000-square-foot space a kind of campus, she says, with various types of meeting rooms and informal places to hang out and get creative:

“People don’t necessarily work at their desks.”

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The result is sophisticated but intentionally not-quite-grown-up. Behold the ranks of vibrantly patterned skateboards mounted on a wall in the reception area—a nod to the young CEO and cofounder Brian O’Kelley’s commuter vehicle of choice. Let’s call them Bart Simpson–approved. Or take what’s universally known as the “cheese wall,” a reference to the Swiss cheese appearance of the large voids carved into this hefty freestanding partition, then outlined with rope lights. The upper  cutouts are painted in the AppNexus corporate color, a vibrant orange that O’Kelley intended as an homage to Princeton University, his alma mater. Cutouts closer to floor level are seating pods upholstered in vinyl in the same collegiate orange. Employees are invited to climb inside and cozy up with their laptops for an afternoon.

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Lounge chairs found in the library also appear in sofa form in reception, ready to welcome job applicants with lots of time on their hands. “They arrive very early, because they are very nervous,” Habjan explains, smiling sympathetically. Meeting rooms are strategically placed throughout to divide the rows of workstations into neighborhoods. Each room is identified by a name proclaimed in frosted-vinyl supergraphics:  “Chewbacca,” “Tetris,” “Zelda,” etc. In what has become an App­Nexus tradition, the names were selected by popular vote.

Project team: Vanessa Betancourt; Nicole Kent; Kenneth Bingham; Nisrine Naciri: Habjan Architecture and Interior DesignLighting Workshop: Lighting consultant. Design360; Drive21: Graphics consultants. Usis: Audiovisual consultant. Fiskaa Engineering: MEP. Arnold Group: Solid-surfacing workshop. JRM Construction Management: General contractor. Gardiner & Theobald: Project manager.


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Showcase: Beefbar Paris

restored vintage restaurant banquette seating

For those of us more comfortable in minimalist settings, a richly ornate interior can quickly seem like a blur. Just too much of everything.

Yet, we also love restorations, sensitive and intelligent repurposing of spaces and buildings that have their own intriguing histories and possess that elusive patina that is impossible to fake or create from scratch. And when a restoration works, we can forget all about minimalism.

curved bench seating

Beefbar Paris is definitely not minimalist but it is a restoration that works. The richness is an asset and the environment is believable, not fake or excessive.

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Seating Showcase: Alice & Fifth Nightclub

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The latest nightlife hot spot in Johannesburg is Alice & Fifth. It advertises itself as an underground avant-garde venue and the address for luxury dining.

It is a darkly masculine night club in a rich, retro style we have seen much of lately with its velvet upholstery, dark wood, brass fittings, heavy drapery and no windows.

Designer Tristan Plessis and his StudioA/Tristan Plessis Studio took client Milk & Honey Group SA’s straightforward brief and translated it into his own version of edgy decadence.

“The client wanted a sumptuous and decadent space juxtaposed with a raw unrefined underground edge, the feel was intended to be nostalgic  of a time gone by with a contemporary twist and a slightly dark undertone.” - Plessis

We like the overall balance of StudioA’s concept that occupies in total 1,400 square-metre (15,070 sq. ft) of space and seats 225.

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The dark coloring and the hard wood and marble are nicely softened by velvet seating and curved forms.

In addition to the sumptuous surroundings, the target customers who, according to Plessis, are “the well-heeled Sandton socialites, high powered businesspeople and politicians, and those seeking an adventurous night out” will be treated to a Johannesburg first: A supper club with live performances. Tuija Seipell.