tokyo: aesop store opening

in a relatively short period of time, aesop has become a fixture in tokyo's retail scene, operating stores in the most relevant shopping areas. still in expansion mode, the australian cosmetics brand has just opened its tenth standalone signature boutique in the scenic naka meguro neighbourhood. the store is situated along the tree-lined meguro river and once again features a specially designed interior, and this time by architect shinichiro ogata of local archotecture and design practice simplicity. similarly to other aesop store, the interior takes cues from the area's past, in this case it's geophysical history as an abundant water source, and very much linked to that fact, naka meguro's importance as a place for commerce and industry. 

the retail space measures a sizeable 110 sqm. [1,184 sq.ft.], and features a setting that beautifully balances old and new with display cabinets of teak and woven washi paper, and simple mid-century style furnishings. aesop's signature sink obviously is present as well, and comes in in the shape of a brass trough against a backdrop of concrete. at the back of the store an intimate courtyard can be found. as of coming fall, the store will add facial treatment rooms staffed by specially trained therapists, a novelty for the brand in the ;and of the rising sun. the new aesop boutique carries the full range of skin, body and hair care products. location: 1-13-9 kami meguro [naka meguro].

© takumi ota

venice: zaha hadid

© zaha hadid architects / photography: luke hayes

the biennale architettura 2016 in venice is in full swing, and this year's edition wouldn't be complete without a homage to zaha hadid, the lauded iraqi-born british architect who suddenly passed away earlier this year. the homage comes in the form of a well-documented retrospective, hosted by fondazione berengo at the storied palazzo franchetti, that celebrates hadid’s stellar career in architecture and design. the showcase presents many of the seminal paintings, drawings and models of hadid’s repertoire, conveying the ingenuity and dynamism of her architectural projects in a variety of media including photography and film.

through hadid’s designs, either built, under construction, in development or unrealised, the exhibition displays the often pioneering research and investigation that instigates and defines ther work of the architect and her london-based practice. the architect showed a keen interest in the russian avant-garde early in her career, exploring the compositional techniques of fragmentation, layering and porosity, and that have become evident in all of hadid's projects. the exhibition presents an intriguing mosaic of early projects within a landscape of models that integrates project typologies, formal composition, geography and chronology.

also on display are but three projects that helped to anchor hadid's stature in modern architecture: the vitra fire station in weil am rhein, cincinnati's contemporary arts center, and the maxxi museum of 21st century arts in rome. but that's not all. all works of zaha hadid architects' works in progress will be exhibited, including projects to be completed in the course of this year. additionally, the photographs of hélène binet, capturing the integrity and materiality of hadid’s projects, will be exhibited in a separate room.

also presented at the retrospective is code, the indisipensible programming arm of zaha hadid architects which researches tech developments and other new possibilities that could contribute to both the practice's creative output and collaborative opportunities. on display are examples that capture the overall advancements and how these have been incorporated in various projects [on through nov 27]. location: palazzo franchetti, san marco 2847 [san marco].

© zaha hadid architects / photography: luke hayes

new york: stutterheim store opening

© stutterheim / photography: seth caplan

stutterheim has made rainwear cool, and to such an extent, we've seen many of you out there flaunting it even when the sun is out. the brand's distinct style has gained a following across the planet, and it isn't surprising that following the opening of bigger store at homebase stockholm earlier this year, stutterheim has boldly crossed the big pond to plant a flag in new york city. the store occupies a ground floor space of a five-storey building from 1901, and measures a mere 275 sq.ft. [26 sqm]. indeed, that's quite compact, but what it may lack in size, it makes up with a clean modern interior dipped in a pristine white hue that complies with the aesthetic stutterheim's product line. wooden flooring and potted plants add a homey touch to the setting. the design of the store is a collab between the brand's art director andreas bergman and local creative practice bobby redd, and is clearly rooted in the tradition of scandinavian design. the new stutterheim store carries the brand's full range of men's and women's items. location: 232 mulberry street [nolita].

© stutterheim / photography: seth caplan

munich: acne studios opening

© acne studios

acne studios steadily continues its trajectory towards becoming a full-fledged luxury brand, and its latest store on munich's maximilianspatz bears witness to this well-planned strategy. occupying a 180 sqm. [1,938 sq.ft.] ground floor unit at luitpoldblock, a shopping mall set in a historic landmark building, it's situated smack on the city's golden mile of luxury shopping. the boutique's aesthetic strictly follows the brand's newest design codes of british architect sophie hicks that were first introduced at the store in seoul. the palette is understated and with a slight futuristic twist, captured by panels of shiny polished steel exposed concrete and rows of fluorescent lamps.

furnishings and fixtures comprise of matching, sleek tables and clothing racks, in addition to a handful of commissioned furniture by max lamb, the london-based designer who has also supplied one-off pieces for a number of other stores. the new acne studios boutique stocks the full range of men's and women's apparel, shoes and accessories collections. the opening precedes further expansion, with new stores scheduled to open in the course of this year in milan and san francisco, but also a third new york city outpost on the upper east side. location: maximiliansplatz 10 [altstadt].

© acne studios

singapore: manifesto

© taksu / tony twigg 

resettled in sydney after a lengthy residency in manila, artist tony twigg [1953] wields a multidisciplinary practice, but has become best known for his abstract sculptures crafted from found timber. a visual arts graduate from the college of fine arts in sydney, twigg has had over 40 solo exhibitions in australia, southeast asia, and also stateside, and his work is included in various museum collections. the artist now returns to taksu gallery in singapore for a fourth solo exhibition, entitled manifesto. opening on thu – jun 2 [6.30pm-10pm], the show presents a series of timber sculptures that represents an introspective reflection of sorts on his creative output so far, exploring new insights and possibilities to advance to the next level along the way. location: 43 jalan merah saga [holland village].

© manifesto / tony twigg

amsterdam: afura store opening

© afura

as in many dynamic cities, specific neighbourhoods are continuously on the move. the latter can certainly be said of oud west, an increasingly gentrified area of amsterdam with a fourishing retail and hospitality infrastructure that not appeals to a hipster audience from across town, but even from beyond the city limits. one of the recent openings of late that caters to such a demographic is afura. following an online presence and a number of pop-up installations in town to test the water, co-founders victor ter hark and len koster found an ideal location in oud west to establish their first permanent outpost.

the afura store occupies a ground floor unit of a red brick building from 1900, and features a whitewashed interior that contrasts beautifully with the pitch black lower façade. furnishings are few and simple, and comprise of sturdy wooden displays and shelving, and a suspended clothing rack showcases the coveted range of apparel items. adding a warm shimmer to the setting, is a chunky sales counter entirely clad in brass. the new afura store stocks a curated range of men's apparel, accessories and shoes, and the brand list currently includes coveted names such as harmony, daily paper, soulland, filling pieces and stutterheim. location: jan pieter heijestraat 164 [oud west].

© afura

singapore: hermès store renewal

© hermès

following an extensive renovation that took little over a year, hermès has reopened its store in singapore. situated at liat towers, a highrise mixed-use complex from the late 1970s, it's where the french luxury house first set up shop in the city thirty years ago. as said, the revamp was an elaborate job, resulting in not only a new interior and expanded retail space, but also a striking grid façade that's somewhat reminiscent of the renewed hermès boutique in beverly hills. the ornate statuette on the roof – if you should ask, it's a horse-mounted firework maker, and the character was originally created to mark the luxury brand's 150th anniversary back in 1987 – marks its special status as flagship store.

inside, it's four floors of signature discreet splendour, all designed by paris-based practice rdai, and with each presenting a different segment of hermès' elaborate luxury product range. given the total space of 670 sqm. [7,212 sq.ft.], it's the full package that's alluringly presented here in different settings throughout the premises. these different sections are, for the most part, tied in by pristine white floors and teak flooring. the ground floor presents leather accessories, fragrances, men's apparel, shoes and accessories, and going one floor up, by way of a meandering wooden staircase, shoppers will find women's apparel, bags, shoes and jewellery.

the third floor is home to the elaborate homeware line and furniture, and there's even a special corner with the brand's iconic equestrian gear. also situated here, is a lavish v.i.p. suite for the most discerning of shoppers. the top floor features aloft, the store's very own exhibition space. mind you, it's one of only five hermès stores on the planet that has such a gallery space on the premises. the venue's inaugural show, entitled how to disappear into a rainbow, presents an installation with an ethereal feel by singaporean artist dawn ng. location: liat towers, 541 orchard road, shop 01-02a [orchard west].

© hermès

tokyo: into the sun

© diesel japan / cleon peterson – glory [2013]

based in los angeles, artist cleon peterson is known for chaotic and violent paintings that symbolize a struggle between power and submission in today's volatile society. his dystopian vision is usually captured in monochromatic colours while they also channeling the sensibility of the early 1980s, complete with skinny ties and day glow colours. the artist graduated in fine arts and graphic design, and has had exhibitions at leading art venues across the planet, prior to landing his first exhibition in japan. the showcase is entitled into the sun, and opening at diesel art gallery in tokyo on fri – may 27. it presents a body of new work, including large-size paintings, all depicting an exploration of our new reality, a world where humanity is divided by war and chaos and where human values have broken down and been replaced by the ideology of war and revenge. indeed, not a very optimistic vision, but artistically it's certainly quite a sight to behold. location: cocoti building, 1-23-16-b1f shibuya [shibuya].

© diesel japan / cleon peterson – the shadows of night [2016]

new york: away pop-up store

© away / photography: albert cheung, frame

as an emerging travel brand that caters to a new breed of savvy travelers, away has a good notion of their needs and requirements. founders steph korey and jen rubio roamed the globe on a mission to explore the best options and possibilities. the quest has resulted in the carry-on, a quality luggage piece that not only covers almost any kind of wanderlust, but also features nifty extras. the duo are now taking their operations to a new level, and have cleverly embedded their trophy product in a newly launched pop-up concept store in new york city's noho neighbourhood. designed in collab with local design studio visibility,

the interior takes cues from renowned concept stores like colette in paris and london's goodhood, resulting in engaging, playful, and last but not least, good-looking shopping environs that sees the building's original shell matched with a varied palette of modern elements. the away store occupies an elongated ground floor space, and features two contrasting backdrops and settings that highlight the company's fave destinations, being tokyo and stockholm. accordingly, one side signals tradition and heritage through exposed red bricks, and opposite, by way of a sharply stuccoed wall, nordic understatement.

the space is furnished with similar chunky displays, but fully adapted to each side's strict design codes. three large suspended partitions, all in airplane window shape, playfully mark the division between the two store sections. so, what else is on the shelves? next to the aforementioned signature suitcase, the away blarf, a hybrid travel blanket/scarf will be available, in addition to a collab bicycle with tokyobike, a collab cosmetics box with cap beauty, and a curated range of compatible lifestyle products from japan and sweden. the away pop-up store will be open to shoppers through aug 31. location: 325 lafayette street [noho].

© away / photography: albert cheung, frame

amsterdam: zoku hotel opening

© zoku + concrete / photography: ewout huibers

with the arrival of the digital age, the dynamics of daily life have dramatically changed, and this is perhaps especially the case for the majority of creative professionals around the planet, whose livelihoods are every much rooted in this boom era. catering to this nomadic demographic is zoku, a nifty and acclaimed hospitality concept created by hans meyer and marc jongerius, two dutch professionals with a combined background in hospitality and finance under their belt. the zoku project – in case you wondered, zoku means family or tribe in japanese – was announced early last year, but only now has it really taken off, with the recent opening its first property in amsterdam.

the choice to open on home turf isn't accidental as the dutch capital is a leading hub of innovation, and as such it's home to an increasing number of new generation ventures, companies, and last but not least, the prerequisite professionals that make it all happen. anticipating the mobility and requirements of this demographic, zoku's design by amsterdam-based practice concrete intentionally blurs the lines adopted in traditional hospitality, creating not only a seamless transition between private and social, but also between leisure and work. but let's first talk about the rooms. a total of 133 pads are spread over five floors, and they come in four different categories, each featuring a different size.

at 16 sqm. [172 sq.ft.], the zoku room is the most compact, but features all the modern comfort and amenities to rest and work. interestingly, it can be rented as an adjacent room to the bigger zoku loft xl. mind you, all of the rooms boast cool contemporary design that maximizes the use of the space through clever solutions, such as a sliding staircase and elevated sleeping. the zoku loft comes with a full-fledged kitchen, and as its name already implies, it's slightly bigger. the zoku loft xl measures 30 sqm. [323 sq.ft.] and easily accommodates two. see the artworks? these can actually be swapped to better suit your mood or taste.

each floor boasts a so-called art library, allowing you to customize your private domain to a certain degree. at 46 sqm. [495 sq.ft.], the zoku loft xxl definitely is the op pad in the house, providing even a second sleeping space that's a complete bedroom. all rooms come with complimentary wifi, dimmable led lighting, and the equally stylish bathrooms feature a separate shower section. let's go back to the public areas and facilities, or in true zoku parlance, the social spaces. exiting the elevator on the top floor, a glass-encased corridor with lush plants and outdoor verandas leads to the beating heart of the property, offering sweeping views of the city along the way.

guests will find up here a playfully designed, hybrid social hub with homey touches that allows them to work, play and mingle. the bar, living room, restaurant and communal working spaces are each a seamless extrapolation of the other, and as such a perfect place to spend an entire day. obviously, free wifi is available here as well. and when it's time to do serious business, meeting rooms and a large events space are readily available on the very same floor. a european roll-out of the zoku concept is already in the making, with the next two properties scheduled to open in paris in the near future. location: weesperstraat 105 [plantage].

© zoku + concrete / photography: ewout huibers