amsterdam: de bijenkorf store renewal

© de bijenkorf

since it inception in 1870 department store de bijenkorf has grown into a prominent fixture in the dutch retail landscape. its offerings have always been categorized as upscale, but only since being snapped up by british luxury retailer selfridges six years ago has the department store embarked on a transformative trajectory to become on a par with international luxury standards. de bijenkorf currently operates seven branches across the netherlands, and its flagship store is located in the historic heart of amsterdam. setting the trend for all other stores, the store in the dutch capital also is an international showcase, and as such its format has been thoroughly tweaked, redefining luxury and style to an unprecedented level for the home market.

de bijenkorf's transformation has been in full swing during the past few years and it's now reaching its final stage with the reopening a refurbished ground floor, obviously the most prestigious section of the premises, and now awash with swathes of white marble and sleek furnishings and displays. next to counters laden with cosmetics, it's here where luxury brands have been given maximum exposure to showcase the latest bags and accessories in a number of branded shop-in-shops. beckoning avid local and a growing platoon of foreign shoppers are illustrious brands such as gucci, prada, tiffany & co., céline and dior. the extensive redevelopment will be finalised coming november, and by then a considerable number of additional shop-in-shops will have joined. location: dam 1 [centrum].

© de bijenkorf

st. barth: winds of changes

© art saint barth

sunny st. barth isn't exactly a tedious place, and although luxuriating on a beach or super yacht is the main objective for most who come here during the summer, art saint barth adds a refreshing cultural bonus. the annual event aims to lend the island an aura of cultural coolness, and it has once again lured paris-based designer jean-charles de castelbajac to its shores for an exhibition. opening on sat – jul 30 [6pm-8pm] on the beach outside eden rock hotel, an iconic luxury property on the island and home to eden rock gallery, is de castelbajac's exhibition winds of changes. the showcase presents a series of ten flags, in addition to japanese ink drawings on lightweight cigarette paper to tell stories imagined and serene scenes with literary evocations such as robinson crusoe, the sea, strange animals and wild nature, all far away from all the turmoil of today’s society and captured on a triptych canvas. the designer's works represent hope, and the idea that the wind carries these images of hope around the planet, with messages of sharing, fraternity and love. location: eden rock hotel, baie de st.-jean [st. barth].

© art saint barth

los angeles: vanessa seward store opening

© vanessa seward

the coming of age of vanessa seward, the womenswear brand of the eponymous argentine designer, has just accelerated with the opening of a third boutique in los angeles. the designer first gained the global limelight creating women's capsule collections for french contemporary label a.p.c., but since the latter entity invested an undisclosed sum of money, the vanessa seward brand is making its mark on its own at an accelerated pace, also on the retail front. located in a lowrise structure on fashionable melrose place amidst other leading brands, the store occupies 93 sqm. [1,000 sq.ft.] and features another interior design by laurent deroo, the paris-based architect who also created all of a.p.c.'s boutiques worldwide.

the elongated space is relatively narrow, but the addition of an expansive skylight optically widens it, allowing in plenty of daylight along the way. directly below, a trapezoid marble display is installed which follows the countours of the skylight. it's flanked on either side by wooden panels –lacquered in a glossy dark blue with brass finish on one side, and as a contrast, entirely clad in brass on the other side. apparel pieces and shoes are respectively showcased on wall-mounted racks and shelving. the new vanessa seward boutique carries the brand's full range of clothing, shoes, bags and accessories.

interestingly, the store also comes with a musical selection that was specially chosen by seward's hubby, french musician and producer bertrand burgalat. the store opening in los angeles marks the fashion brand's global retail expansion, and it doesn't come as a surprise that later this year two additional standalone boutiques are scheduled to open one in london, and a third parisian store in the tony neighbourhood of st.-germain. location: 8407 melrose place [west hollywood].

© vanessa seward

milan: céline store renewal

© céline

french luxury brand céline first opened a boutique in milan's prestigious duomo district in 2006. two years later, phoebe philo's joined the company as creative director, and since then the house has gone from strenght to strength, becoming one of the planet's most influential fashion brands. the brand's newest retail design code, introduced with the opening of a new flagship store in london in 2014, have now finally been applied to the milanese store. but that's not all, as an entire upper floor has been added, increasing the total retail space to 320 sqm. [3,445 sq.ft.]. the shop façade is included in the transformation, and now features large windows framed by precious iroko wood.

inside, the understatement continues, captured by clean lines and the use of natural materials. walls and ceiling a dipped in a pristine white hue, paired with terrazzo flooring. furnishings are few, comprising of onyx-clad cabinets and displays, in addition to travertine shelving. the ground floor presents céline's coveted bag collection, small leather goods and eyewear range. one floor up, the setting is a tad more lavish, featuring marble flooring with a diagonal parquet pattern of eleven different types of marble, and walls covered in beige arenino. additionally, danish artist thomas poulsen a.k.a. fos created specific furniture pieces for both floors. this setting forms the backdrop of both the ready-to-wear and shoe collections. location: via montenapoleone 25/2 [duomo].

© céline

moscow: tekhnikum restaurant opening

© tekhnikum 

the restaurant scene in moscow continues to be on a roll, and that's perhaps a surprising feat given russia's current economic woes. but there certainly remains a demographic for which life remains insouciant, and each day is to be seized like there's no tomorrow. although not specifically catering towards the city's upper crust, the newly opened tekhnikum restaurant, or rather gastrobistro, on ulitsa bolshaya dmitrovka, certainly boasts has look of an upscale eatery, but is in fact a lot more accessible. it's part of white rabbit family, a chain of happening muscovite restaurants led by entrepreneur boris zarkov, and each featuring a different format and culinary theme.

but let's go back to tekhnikum, shall we? local architecture practice form designed a stylish interior that perfectly reflects its format. expansive floor-to-ceiling windows show generously off the indoor setting, and lure in passers-by. the lofty space is clearly inspired by mid-century aesthetics, but it's paired with a variety of modern light fixtures to lend it a distinctly contemporary feel. in the back section of tekhnikum, accessible via two archways, a large open kitchen is situated. the aforementioned archways feature a striking mural by leading russian artist dmitriy aske that's reminiscent of iconography from soviet times.

the artwork depicts chefs at work, and certainly vies for attention with the buzz of the kitchen crew in the back. part of a new wave of stylish but accessible eateries in the city, tekhnikum's menu is decidedly cosmopolitan. created by vladimir mukhin, a celebrated chef who supervises the culinary side within white rabbit family, and includes a wide variety of simple tasty bites that are all easy to combine in one dining session. dishes include alltime favourites such as grilled chicken, skewered corn cobs, cod with mashed potatoes, but there's also a lot to choose from in the dessert department to accommodate sweet tooths. location: ulitsa bolshaya dmitrovka [tverskaya].

© tekhnikum

melbourne: house of voltaire pop-up store

© house of voltaire

as the retail extension of studio voltaire, a well-connected london-based contemporary art organisation offering trophy artworks, homewares and fashion pieces by leading creatives, house of voltaire has built quite a reputation through a number of pop-up editions in the british capital. and now, for the very first time, it has taken the format down under. set up in collab with qic global real estate, the temporary retail space has popped up at the former le louvre townhouse, the swanky former premises of the eponymous luxury retailer. set across various levels, sophisticated settings have been created that form the perfect backdrop for the highly exclusive trophies that have been selected for this antipodian editon.

in celebration of the opening, a number of artists have collaborated with leading british fashion designers to produce new and unique products, including ceramics by roksanda ilincic, hand-knitted sweaters by april crichton and nicolas party, simone rocha and kim gordon photographs, slogan sweaters by jeremy deller and prints by eddie peake. and that's not all, folks. adding a culinary element to the pop-up venue is the dining table, a 12-seat private dining room by acclaimed chef peter gunn. serving both lunch and dinner, it presents a setting that's similarly spiced up with art and design pieces which are all for sale. all items are for sale in store and online, and all proceeds support arts charity studio voltaire [open through jul 24]. location: 80 collins street [cbd].

© house of voltaire

online: newd studios

© newd studios

newd studios is a pilot project of stevie vos and mareille schouten, two young creative professionals based in amsterdam. while traveling in india, the lack of wifi access forced the duo to ditch their smartphones and truly immersive themselves in a life on the road. prior to embarking on this trip they had had an outfit made, comprising of a shirt and slacks, suitable to withstand the country's blistering heat. interestingly, the suit became the starting point of many a casual chat on the street and inspired the wandering dutchmen to launch a clothing line that would be equally engaging. newd studios' first collection, named tall king, offers three of such suits, each comprising of a shirt and matching slacks. to add an urban touch, the designers collaborated with talented local artists steven van lummel and tim mastik who pitched in with distinctive graphics for the fabrics. each suit is manufactured in a limited edition, and is exclusively available online.

© newd studios

vienna: we bandits store opening

© viu 

since its inception, the we bandits store has accommodated vienna's more adventurous fashion crowd by initially stocking happening scandinavian and korean brands. the offerings were showcased in a number of pop-up venues across town, but in 2012 founder sophie pollak decided to set up permanent shop in the city's mariahilf area. very recently, we bandits has expanded with a second store in the neighbouring, and equally cool, neubau dsitrict. we've actually mentioned it in a previous post, but the store is worthwhile featuring separately. as said, the store is a collab effort with swiss eyewear brand viu which occupies the ground floor space, but when venturing up the stairs, shoppers find themselves in the exclusive domain of we bandits.

light and bright, the interior design codes as defined by viu owner fabrice aeberhard seamlessly extend to the upper floor, and this is evident by many corresponding design details. the space, largely defined by an atrium which provides peeks of the floor below, is similarly whitewashed and uncluttered, featuring just a few and simple furnishings. apparel is presented on suspended racks and mannequins, and accessories are featured on wooden displays. we bandits carries both men's and women's apparel, footwear and accessories, and now predominantly stocks contemporary scandinavian brands, including henrik vibskov, veja, won hundred, uniforms for the dedicated and sandqvist. location: neubaugasse 36 [neubau].

© viu

beijing: lucky bar opening

© robot 3

sometimes it's worthwhile to stray from downtrodden paths, although we can imagine that in the case of a sprawling city like beijing, wanderlust requires a certain audacity and navigation skills. in huilongguan, a residential suburban neighbourhood in the north of the city, a funky little establishment popped up that may lure locals to its doorstep with its offerings, but we're particularly smitten with its new silvery guise. despite being named lucky bar, this isn't really a drinking den, but restaurant specialized in skewered meat dishes. indeed, a barbecue bar. the location, measuring a very modest 76 sqm. [818 sq.ft.], is totally inconspicuous, and was previously occupied by a ramen shop.

local architecture practice robot 3 was enlisted to create a transformation from shop to eatery, and has done so by initially drawing inspiration from the restaurant's geographic location and its socio-economic significance in the greater urban context that is the chinese capital. but in the end, the architects settled for the conclusion that design can be a transformative force that's able to creates new perceptions. given the limited budget, they thus created a cocoon-like setting out of panels of corrugated metal, covering the walls and ceiling of the elongated space. recessed walls and a circular ceiling cut-out are backlit, and add a visual twist, whilst concrete flooring balances out the shimmer and shine.

furnishings comprise of a service counter – replete with a whimsical component: a living tree – up front near the entrance, in addition to simple and sturdy metal tables and chairs that can accommodate up to 24 guests. a number of pendant lamps provide additional lighting. at the far end, cordoned off by a transparent plastic curtain, a private dining section is situated that seats an additional eight people. as said, lucky bar is carnivore heaven, featuring a menu dominated by skewered beef, pork and lamb chops, but fish and veggie options are also available. location: 43 kexing xi lu [huilongguan].

© robot 3

london: citizenm hotel opening

© citizenm / photography: richard powers

four years after opening its first design-led property in london, situated near tate modern in southwark, citizenm has crossed the river thames to open a second and even more ambitious hotel in the city area. it's a highly coveted location a stone's throw away from the historic tower of london – we've heard quite a few hospitality chains had their eye on this spot – and citizenm tower of london, as the new hotel is aptly called, has gone the extra yard to meet expectations and deliver a matching format. the hotel has a modular structure, featuring 370 rooms spread over eight floors, and which all have been built offsite as separate units.

however, the result is solidly coherent and you wouldn't know if we hadn't told you. rooms are high in style and comfort, and feature all amenities you need. the wall-to-wall xl king-size bed guarantees a good night's sleep, and each room comes with a rainshower cabin and a flatscreen tv with free on-demand movies. needless to say, wifi is complimentary throughout the premises. the interior design, created by amsterdam-based practice concrete, accommodates hotel guests with a number of welcoming public areas and facilitites. the ground floor is where guests enter and check in at designated terminals, but it also features five homey spaces, replete with comfy seating areas, a television, and even a fireplace, where to relax, mingle, or if you really, really must, get some work done.

all furnishings are by vitra, the hospitality chain's partner, and comprise of classic designs by renowned designers such as charles and ray eames, jean prouvé and verner panton. shelves are filled with books on travel, art and design, and a curated range of objects that whimsically ooze british heritage. a new feature which is being introduced is coffeem. situated close to the entrance, and right next to the exit of one of the city’s busiest tube stations, both hotel guests and locals will be able to get freshly brewed coffee and pastries from one of the baristas. canteenm is an open kitchen format with a signature-style bar that's open all day and night. stocked with a variety of bites, ranging from sushi to salads, and spicy curries to carrot cake, it caters to any craving, while in the evening even cocktails are served.

another innovation is collectionm, a retail concept stocked with a curated collection of travel accessories, books on art and interiors, and design objects. interestingly, all items can be delivered to your home. also situated on the ground floor is a workspace with communal tables, and imacs and printers are free to use. at the back of the hotel is an outdoor terrace, furnished with picnic tables, which looks onto an ancient roman wall, a reminder the capital’s rich history. the top floor is home to cloudm, a cool bar set in a double height space with floor-to-ceiling windows and a wrap around terrace that offers a sweeping views of the british capital's iconic skyline. located on the two top floors of citizenm tower of london are eight meeting rooms, fully equipped with all necessities, but also oozing a style that seamlessly matches the rest of the premises. location: 40 trinity square [city].

© citizenm / photography: richard powers