beirut: starch store renewal

© starch / photography: charbel saade

beirut is home to a surprisingly large pool of creative talent, and just as anywhere else they need a place to shine. this is where established fashion designer rabih kayrouz, creative consultant tala hajjar and solidere – a corporation that rebuilt huge chunks of the city's downtown area – stepped in. seven years ago they set up starcha foundation that helps launch emerging lebanese designers. and starch does so with an annual program and a rotation of debut collections where four to six young designers are selected each year. these lucky few are guided through the process of developing their collections, as well as promoting their collections. and to make that last bit happen, the starch boutique was opened in one of the lebanese capital's most prestigious stretches of real estate.

as if to mimick fashion's volatile trajectory, the store interior changes at a synchronized pace, and for each metamorphosis the foundation picks a new architect from that talent pool. for this new season young architect elie metni was enlisted to create a matching retail setting, and he came up with a concept that's based on the interaction of shoppers and the 70 identical modules he created. as the sole fixture in an austere whitewashed space it's the store's focal point, and simultaneously serves as a display for the designers' creations. interestingly, not only the garments can be snapped up, the same counts for each of these multi-configuration modules. the starch boutique is currently stocked with garments and accessories by this year's fashion designers joe arida, nour najem, sako dersahagian and yasmine jaberlocation: saifi village [saifi].

© starch / photography: charbel saade

online: palladium x the explorers

© palladium

as the perfect footwear to travel, explore and what not, palladium launches a new and fun-infused palladium x the explorers series. over the next two months, two explorers will go on a journey through europe, uncovering hidden cultural grounds in eight buzzing cities. at each location, local insiders will show you the ropes and let you in on local underground gems that are ready for you to discover this coming summer season. the kick-off will be in palladium’s very own cradle of lyon in france where benjamin pelloux and philippe correa de albuquerque, the frontmen of webzine and creative agency paperboys, will guide you through unexplored territory in a city where street artists comb the neighbourhoods for hidden canvases, and producers build edgy music venues on abandoned sights. armed with a camera and a notepad, explorers georgia lewis anderson and emmanuel cole will set off across the continent in search of the undiscovered. local cultural heroes will guide the duo through the cities’ undercurrents, from forgotten landscapes to burgeoning art, food, music and fashion scenes.
 
by way of articles, sizzling shots and cool short documentaries, the stories of the local uncharted subcultures are told. the result will be an unparalleled present day digital road map, navigating europe’s freshest underground scenes. it's pretty much the lowdown on the peeps, stories and cultures that you don’t normally hear about, the interesting stuff you only discover when you arrive with no plans, and the landscapes you find when you scratch below the surface. after lyon, palladium's explorers will head for antwerp, bristol, copenhagen, florence, istanbul, budapest and hamburg. curious? well, you can join them and follow their journey daily on facebook, instagram and twitter, and check #palladiumexplorers to see when the explorers land in your hometown. they might actually need you to help them navigate the local undergrounds, so make sure to tune in and give tips! and if you do, you could win some awesome prizes along the way. bon voyage!
 

hong kong: msgm store opening

© i.t

hong kong's retail scene is one of asia's most sophisticated, and its proximity to what now is the planet's biggest luxury market – yes indeed, that would be china – has further boosted its retail scene in size and diversity. but when only taking the local shoppers into consideration, both young and somewhat older, they know a thing or two about brands, quality and global trends, and they're certainly not afraid to spend. retailers are very aware of this susceptibility and the very best among them are constantly on their toes to cater to their highly discerning fashion needs. following the opening of the very first off-white store, a veritable scoop we've talked about in a previous post, leading retailer i.t innovates yet again by opening up shop for msgm, a milan-based brand whose popularity has continued to soar among a young global demographic.

this new outpost, measuring a little over 100 sqm. [1,076 sq.ft.], features an aesthetic designed by msgm's creative director massimo giorgetti. it's similarly minimalist as the milanese mothership, but the use of specific materials and display of abstract artworks by thomas raat infuse it with a sense of luxe – hey, this is hong kong! –  that's on a par with the string of other i.t retail units on the same block. the dutch artist is actually the first of a rotating schedule of creatives who will be having an in-store showcase. the new msgm store stocks the brand's full range of men's and women's apparel and accessories, in addition to a specially designed collection of five exclusive items, including a backpack, slippers, a cropped sweater and two one-piece dresses. location: 57 paterson street, shop a [causeway bay].

© i.t

berlin: dóttir restaurant opening

© dóttir / photography: stefan korte

few cities match the cosmopolitan vibe of berlin, and this element has put a spin on many aspects of city life, generating a level of creativity and innovation that seems quite effortless. all this also extends to the realm of hospitality, and although the german capital is already aplenty with cool establishments catering to an in-the-know demographic, the trend is ongoing and continues to spawn noteworthy new places. one of the interesting newcomers of late is dóttir, a nordic restaurant by hospitality entrepreneurs stephan landwehr and boris radczun. the duo are probably best known for pauly-saal, a cult dining spot we've talked about in a previous post.

situated on the ground floor of a corner building in the mitte district which had been empty for many years, it features two rooms, divided into a bar, a dining area and an open kitchen. when weather permits, and this will usually be in the summer season, guests can dine al fresco in a charming hidden courtyard. the restaurant's aesthetic is an adaptation of sorts of the building's original elements, and this makes it all the more appealing if you ask us. design elements include the original plaster walls, freshly-installed old wooden floorboards and a bar made of yellow travertine. furnishings range from antique furniture, as well as a mix of 1930s and 1950s objects to tailor-made sofas.

adding a highly personal note to the setting are a number of contemporary artworks from the owners' private collections. for dóttir, for this new venue they collaborate with victoria eliasdóttir, a young chef with icelandic, danish and swedish roots. her heritage has been the inspiration for dóttir's culinary concept, and not surprisingly, the menu reflects a wealth of nordic produce, flavours and preparation methods. but quite interestingly, it's spiced up with tricks that eliasdóttir has picked up during sojourns elsewhere on the planet. location: mittelstrasse 40 [mitte].

© dóttir / photography: stefan korte

amsterdam: artdeli gallery opening

© artdeli

although dynamic in many ways, amsterdam's art scene has gradually become somewhat sedate and uninspiring. mind you, there's still an abundance of local talent and a solid education system, but it seems the city's existing infrastructure lacks new opportunities to engage and inspire an audience through art, and in such a way, that it's followed up by a deliberate – or should we say passionate  purchase. cultural entrepreneur jessica voorwinde knows a thing or two about art and design, and her newest endeavour certainly implies an opinionated view on the dutch capital's current art scene. wittily called artdeli, the art historian boldly launches an innovative venue in the canal district, one that anchors the oh-so serious wheeling and dealing of art in a fun-infused context of hospitality and retail.

the venue occupies a monumental late 19th century building, and spread over three lofty floors visitors find an exhibition space exclusively dedicated to contemporary art and design, a sleek marble-infused bar by designer lex pott, a dining spot which serves a concise range of tasty bites, and last but certainly not least, a shop brimming with coveted design merchandise. but at the very core of artdeli is art, and the planned schedule of rotating showcases will be curated by various curators. the venue's inauguration show, entitled de stille kracht ['silent force' in english], it features an eclectic variety of cherry-picked artworks by cathelijne broers and maurice seleky, the first two of the aformentioned range of guest curators. location: rokin 93 [centrum].

© artdeli

milan: fondazione prada relocation

© fondazione prada / photography: bas princen

fondazione prada is a cultural exponent of sorts of luxury fashion house prada. founded in 1993, its aim is to analyze present times through the staging of contemporary art exhibitions as well as architecture, cinema and philosophy projects. the foundation operates an outpost in venice, and here in milan it has had a venue for many years in a former bank archive in the heart of the city. but that location is temporary, and on sat - may 9 the institute will relocate to even bigger premises on the outskirts of town. fondazione prada has found a new home in a former distillery, a complex of seven industrial buildings from the early 20th century. 

the existing warehouses, laboratories and brewing silos have been complemented by three new structures, including a museum for temporary exhibitions, a transformable cinema building and a tower, all under the supervision of dutch starchitect rem koolhaas. obviously, the dimensions are enourmous. if you must know, the total built area is 18.900 sqm. [203,444 sq.ft.] of which no less than 12.300 sqm. [132,400 sq.ft.] is dedicated as exhibition space. the entrance building is home to two new facilities developed through special collaborations. the first is accademia dei bambini, an area for kids and designed by 18 students from the école nationale supérieure d’architecture de versailles.

the second facility is bar luce, a hospitality concept by american film director wes anderson, and one which oozes the distinct vibe of old milanese cafés. interestingly, architectural and decorative details from the original structure have been paired with key elements taken from galleria vittorio emanuele, one of milan's landmark buildings in the duomo area, creating a meticulously patterned decoration for the top half of the bar. the so-called torre, a ten-storey gallery space intended to display the permanent collections, will open at a later stage. the relocation being a much anticipated and festive occasion, fondazione prada will present an impressive series of special events.

artists robert gober and thomas demand have both created site-specific installations in dialogue with the venue's imposing industrial architecture and the new spaces within. film director roman polanski explores the cinematographic inspirations behind his artistic vision, and which have been translated into a new documentary and a series of film screenings. furthermore, cherry-picked artworks from prada's vast art collection will be presented in a series of thematic exhibitions. the serial classic exhibition, curated by salvatore settis and anna anguissola, completes the program. the project, whose display system has been conceived by koolhaas' architecture practice oma, focuses on classical sculpture, and explores the ambivalent relationship between originality and imitation in roman culture and its insistence on the circulation of multiples as an homage to greek art. location: largo isarco 2 [ripamonti].

© fondazione prada / photography: bas princen + atillo maranzano

paris: les bains hotel opening

© société des bains / photography: paul raeside

the preferred stomping ground of global movers and shakers in the 1980s, les bains douches to this very day represents the golden age of parisian nightlife, filled with nocturnal debaucheries. similarly to new york's studio 54, the club was extravagant, pretty wild at times, and whoever was allowed in, partied at least till the break of dawn. originally built as a full-fledged private bath house in 1885, the establishment was popular among influential fin de siècle circles, establishing that prerequisite notoriety that every leading establishment has very early on. but the golden era that a happy few are still raving about to this day started in the late 1970s when entrepreneurs jacques renault and fabrice coat transformed the place into an playground for a motley demographic of celebs, creatives, fashion models and other hedonists from around the planet.

david bowie, jean-michel basquiat, grace jones, andy warhol and mick jagger are but a few of an endless string of illustrious regulars who bestowed an almost mythical status upon the club in its prolific heyday. in the decades that followed its reputation slowly faded, and the premises were ordered to close down in 2010 as cracks had been detected and the building was deemed unsafe. but only one year on filmmaker jean-pierre marois comes into the picture, not only to set up a foundation to save this iconic landmark of parisian nightlife, but also to launch an audacious redevelopment. the renewed les bains remains true to its roots as a club and restaurant, but has also tweaked its formula to include 39 stylish rooms and suites, including one lavishly designed, 80 sqm. [861 sq.ft.] penthouse, replete with a private hammam and outdoor terrace.

architect vincent bastie restructured the building, adding light-filled courtyards, terraces and balconies, and interior architect tristan auer took care of the retro-inspired design of the pads. to keep matters adventurous and fresh, the design of the restaurant and club was entrusted to renowned agency rdai. the dining area  this is the domain of celebrated chef philippe labbé  is a rather stunning space dipped in a deep red hue, adorned by giant ceiling blobs and stalactite pillars. the club may have been sized down, but it has retained its edgy vibe of days gone by, featuring white cracked tiles and a matching checkerboard dance floor. completing les bains' bold makeover is the establishment's new brand identity, created by its creative director alexander kellas. location: 7 rue du bourg-l'abbé [étienne marcel].

© société des bains / photography: paul raeside

berlin: 15

© dittrich & schlechtriem

since graduating from berlin's universitat der künste, artist klaus jörres [1973] obviously didn't feel the need to move away from germany's main art hub that is the german capital. an undisputed rising star, his minimalist canvases offer an intriguingly modern dialogue between flickering nuances of white and the analytical clarity of filigree lattice structures. further refining his artistic style, graphic minimalism is taken to an intriguing new level without compromising the alluring rigidity and interplay of lines. what's emphasized is a tension between calculation and contingency, between the visual dynamic of computer-generated templates and the haptical presence of the objects. the artist currently shows a new body of work at dittrich & schlechtriem gallery in berlin. presented at the exhibition simply entitled 15 are six large-size canvases that exemplify the aformentioned artistic transition [on through jun 20]. location: tucholskystrasse 38 [mitte].

© dittrich & schlechtriem

melbourne: the milton bar opening

© ari hatzis

melbourne's elwood area has seen rapid gentrification these past few years, and it's now home to an increasing number of professionals who prefer its laid-back beachside location over the city's hugely popular but overpriced neighbourhoods north of the yarra river. the arrival of a moneyed demographic has already instigated a transformation of the cityscape by a number of new buisnesses, and one that has wowed this picky crowd since its recent launch is the milton. set up by vincent sciglitano and giuliano buttazzoni, two veterans from melbourne's hospitality scene, the place is conceptualized a wine bar with a culinary options. for this project, sciglitano took on the design of the bar – he actually collaborated with local practice biasol: design studio – while his partner, the chef from an establishment next door, selected the menu's wines and cheeses.

an elongated space of 190 sqm. [2,045 sq.ft.], the milton boasts both indoor and outdoor sections with an edgy contemporary feel. the building's original façade has been retained, and this consideration for its history is also evident inside. the setting is one that harmoniously blends the old and the new, featuring a mix of exposed red bricks, brass fixtures, blackened steel wine racks and carrara marble table tops. an elongated and beautifully tiled bar is paired with wall-mounted tables for two, while the back section features a lounge area lined with sofas below a slatted roof. a true bonus is the secluded patio at the far end. the milton lists an impressive number of wines on the menu, both from down under and renowned vineyards abroad. these are complemented by quality cheeses and a wide selection of gourmet bites. location: 134 ormond road [elwood].

© ari hatzis

new york: helen levi x bruichladdich

new york: helen levi x bruichladdich

at a time when collaborations are common in the design hemisphere, the concept of a partnership has become more formulaic than a true collision of worlds. that is until a small batch whisky company located on a remote island off the scottish coast comes together with an american potter to produce a unique series of clay vessels. ny based helen levi recently partnered with scottish malt brand, bruichladdich and created a collection of ceramics that are equal parts charming and functional. a photogrpaher by trade, helen has been producing inventive ceramics for a few years that have been picked up by the likes of steven alan home, mociun and various commissions for local nyc eateries. and after travelling to the scottish isle of islay last summer [where bruichladdich whisky is made] the designer fell in love with the local habitat, including three types of traditional drinking vessels native to the area: a tumbler, a bottle, and a quaich - which is a handled bowl used to drink whisky in the 17th century

as a result a partnership was born and after travelling throughout the usa to collect clay materials, the whisky series was launched in tandem with the scotch malter. the natural clays used have only subtle visual differences but interestingly in islay, the different varieties of barley used in whisky production have various effects on taste. after much trial and error, the potter was able to come up with the perfect balance. not only do these babies look great, but they enhance the spectrum of flavors bruichladdich are renowned for. so whether you're a seasoned whisky drinker, a ceramic enthusiast... or both, this unique collection of cups and bottles are a must have accoutrement for any modern gathering. helen levi for bruichladdich is available at the primary essentials in brooklyn and online at helen levi.