melbourne: the practical man store opening

© the practical man

these days, it's all about style and aesthetics, even when you're breaking sweat. running parallel to that notion, is the ongoing trend that blurs the lines between sportswear and leisurewear, influencing the dress codes and silhouettes of a growing demographic of urban dwellers across the globe. brett webster, simon cozens and jon weller are the three savvy entrepreneurs behind the practical man, an online retail business which anticipates this trend with smart and versatile offerings that look good on any occasion. the trio have a combined background in fitness, fashion wholesale, business development, and technology, and they're now taking their operations to a new level.

the company's first brick and mortar venue has just opened, smack in the middle of melbourne's central business district. the store is set over two floors, and local interior architecture practice tomoya & co. was enlisted to create a matching retail setting. the practical man aims to be a one stop shop for its target demographic, and the chosen look of the store is a seamless extrapolation of its presence online. it's clean, simple, and enables shoppers to easily navigate each section of the store. white is a dominant colour, captured by folded pegboard panels lining the wall, a sales counter and cabinets with a similar aesthetic, and display tables.

both the fluorescent tubes that seem to randomly dangle from the ceiling – but obviously they're not – and the modest splashes of colour, all add a playful element to the understated setting. what's on the shelves of the practical man? the store caters to savvy and fashion-conscious demographic, and as such it stocks a curated range of men's grooming products, activewear, accessories, sneakers and swimwear that can be found in most stores. mind you, both established brands and new labels from across the planet are stocked, resulting in a cool mix of items. currently available are names such as eysom, huez*, reigning champ, the white briefs and brandblack. location: 237-239 flinders lane, shop 4, entrance: off scott alley [cbd].

© the practical man

london: serpentine pavilion 2016

© serpentine galleries / photography: iwan baan

not surprisingly, this year's summer pavilion of serpentine galleries adds up to the preceding range of wonderful structures that have graced the lush greens of london's kensington gardens. danish architecture practice bjarke ingels group was invited to create the structure, and we dare say it has challenged itself by the aim to combine aspects that are often perceived as opposites: a structure that's free-form yet rigorous, modular yet sculptural, and both transparent and opaque. the company's acclaimed chief architect bjarke ingels decided to work with bricks, one of the most basic elements of architecture, but instead of using bricks of stone or clay, he used pultruded fibreglass frames that were first stacked on top of each other, and then pulled apart to intentionally create space in between them.

at the very top the wall appears as a straight vertical line, while at the bottom it has folded open, creating not only an undilating silhouette but also sheltering an evocative meeting place. all through summer, the pavilion will host an elaborate program of art events [open through oct 9]. but that's not all, folks. in tandem with the pavilion and its activities, four newly commissioned summer houses will be exhibited by architecture practices kunlé adeyemi – nlé [amsterdam / lagos], barkow leibinger [berlin / new york], yona friedman [paris] and asif khan [london]location: serpentine galleries, west carriage drive, kensington gardens [kensington].

© serpentine galleries / photography: iwan baan

bangkok: siam discovery store renewal

© siam piwat co. ltd.

with the arrival of new prestigious malls, bangkok's retail landscape has shifted into faster gear, inspiring existing shopping havens to step up their game. another important boost factor is tourism, and this year it's expected that thailand will be welcoming well over 30 million visitors. a large number will be spending some time in the bustling thai capital, and given its increasingly attractive retail infrastructure, they're likely to splurge while shopping as well. of all these visitors, the chinese are the fastest growing contingent, and they're already known in a few other destinations in the region as a force to be reckoned with it comes to shopping quality goods and seeking unique shopping experiences. 

siam piwat has been a major player in the thai retail scene for many years, operating a number of high-end malls and lifestyle retail concepts across bangkok. following a thorough redevelopment scheme that took little over a year to be accomplished, the company recently reopened siam discovery, one of the most prominent stores in its portfolio. the 40,000 sqm. [430,556 sq.ft.] complex first bowed in 1998, and quickly became a regular hangout for the capital's savvy shoppers. aiming to cater even better to the needs of this demographic, the multimillion dollar transformation isn't just a cosmetic one, but has a whole new retail concept at its core.

officially rebaptized siam discovery – the exploratorium, the department store has now more than ever become a place where to find coveted goods amidst a series of inspiring, design-led settings, all created by architecture practice nendo from tokyo. the building's new futuristic façade sets the tone, signalling the transformation from afar, and inside this manifests by way of differently themed floors with curated product sections, and spiced up with branded concessions. the first three floors are dedicated to fashion, beauty and lifestyle accessories, while the upper two floors showcase homeware and specialty stores, and even a spa.

obviously, siam discovery also has a few retail firsts up its sleeve. nike has opened southeast asia's only concept store on the premises, stocking a coveted range of products, including new tech products which are available here ahead of other locations. sportswear peer adidas is present as well, fetauring an interactive store concept with exclusive collections made available for fans. from the fashion front there's world of issey miyake, the first concept store outside japan by, yes indeed, issey miyake, and a flagship store by comme des garçons. leading design brands hay, tom dixon and kartell have also set up shop on the premises, and obviously, that's not all.

given the size and variety of the products, it's not hard to imagine the offerings feature over 5,000 international and local brands. siam discovery cleverly anticipates the digital age and the plugged-in lifestyle of today's shoppers by empowering them through digital technology to make statements about their preferences and experiences. an expansive digital wall which allows shoppers to feature their personal instagram accounts, bears witness to this.adding up to an elevated shopping experience are food and beverage outlets integrated within the various retail and activity areas. mind you, more than 2,500 sqm. [26,910 sq.ft.] are dedicated to such establishments across the entire building. location: 989 thanon rama I [siam].

© siam piwat co. ltd.

hong kong: joyce x ren hang

© joyce / ren hang

he may be living in one of the planet's most restrictive countries, but that doesn't deter cult photographer ren hang [1987] from making saucy frontal nude shots, a style that has established himself as an icon of chinese youth culture, but also evoked the rage of censor-happy authorities. the audacious lensman has now struck a deal with hong kong-based luxury retailer joyce, which will feature a selection of his work in windows of its three stores in the city. depicted are a number of portraits and nude still life photographs, all framed and interspersed with props, and presented as a full-fledged installation [on through mid-june]. location [1]: new world tower, 16-18 queen's road, ground floor [central]. location [2]: pacific place, 88 queensway, shop 232 [admiralty]. location [3]: harbour city, 3-27 canton road, shop g106 [tsim sha tsui].

© joyce / ren hang

london: dior homme store opening

© dior / photography: adrien dirand

this year, london is a focal point for the house of dior. not only has the french fashion house hosted its cruise 2017 collection amidst the imposing historic splendour of blenheim palace, a stone's throw away from the buzzing british capital, but it has also timed the event with the opening of a combined flagship store in the city's prestigious mayfair district for both its dior and dior homme collections. designed by new york city-based architect and longtime collaborator peter marino, it's an expansive store that covers four floors of two adjacent buildings on new bond street, one of the most coveted addresses in town. dior homme occupies the lofty basement section of the premises, featuring an understated setting that pairs pristine white walls, chevron parquet flooring, and sleek shelving and displays. the new store carries the full fange of the men's line's apparel items, accessories and shoes. location: 160-162 new bond street [mayfair].

© dior / photography: adrien dirand

seoul: sulwhasoo flagship store opening

© neri & hu / photography: pedro pegenaute

at the forefront of innovation, korean cosmetics have quickly gained a global popularity in recent years. one of the country's leading players in the field with a portfolio of more than 25 different brands is amore pacific. positioned as a high-end skincare brand among the range, and with a large following both home and abroad, is sulwhasoo. it has too seen a steep rise in demand and popularity abroad, and the recent opening of a prestigious flagship store in seoul undoubtedly banks on this new stature. the store is situated in shinsadong, a swanky shopping zone in the south korean capital that's brimming with high-profile boutiques, restaurants and art galleries.

the five-storey building it occupies was built in 2003 by korean architect kim hyo man, but features a brand new interior design by shanghai-based practice neri & hu. given the facts that sulhwasoo is a korean corporation and that its product line and contemporary innovations stem from asian values, a design concept was formulated that would both embrace and signal this specific heritage. as such, the design adopted the shape of a lantern, an object that's widely seen as typically asian. this has resulted in the addition – or should we say insertion? – of a brass volume that mimicks, albeit in duplicated form, the object's outline.

it meanders from the ground floor all the way up to the rooftop terrace, featuring many voids and openings, encompassing product displays, mirrors and light fixtures long the way. as sulwhasoo's trophy flagship, the store comes with additional features, and the main one being the spa facility in the basement. the facility boasts dark brick walls, earthy grey stone treatment rooms and crafted wood floors. each floor up, the palette becomes lighter and more open, inviting shoppers to interact and explore the retail store. obviously, the sulwhasoo flagship store carries the brand's full range of women's and men's skincare products and women's makeup. location: 650 shinsadong [shinsadong].

© neri & hu / photography: pedro pegenaute

beirut: the pond house

© carwan gallery / photography: rami hajj

founded six years ago by architects nicolas bellavance-lecompte and pascale wakim, beirut's carwan gallery started as a pop-up gallery dedicated exclusively to contemporary design. following a number of incarnations in both the lebanese capital and abroad, the gallery has found new premises in beirut's harbour-side bourj hammoud area. the venue's inaugural show by iranian artist taher asad-bakhtiari, entitled the pond house, refers to an indoor atrium with fountain that's central to traditional iranian architecture, and which serves as a cooling chamber where to relax during the blistering hot summer months.

as such, the showcase is directly inspired by the pond house of asad-bakhtiari's family residence in tehran, and led to the creation of a artisanal collection of modern tribal tapestries. a hybrid fusion of kilims and gabbehs, the tapestries have been woven by semi-nomadic tribal women using entirely naturally-dyed, hand-spun wool, unlike the traditional iranian carpet, iranian tribal weaves display simple patterns, and that's because tribal people weave what they see: the sky, the mountains, the earth, the animals. interestingly, the designer further stripped the tribal weave to its bare elements, creating a modern aesthetic all his own [on through jun 10]. location: d-beirut building, seaside road [bourj hammoud].

© carwan gallery / photography: rami hajj

amsterdam: waldeck bar opening

© framework studio / photography: peter baas

the dutch capital has always been known as a party town, but not one particualrly known for sophisticated establishments. but that has changed dramatically these past few years with a slew of alluring spots having popped up that wouldn't look out of place in either mayfair, saint-germain or the upper east side. and speaking of leafy neighbourhoods, amsterdam's very own equivalent would undeniably be the oud zuid district, and it's here where the city's latest design-led watering hole has just opened its doors. called waldeck, it sits strategically opposite the lush greens of vondel park along one of the quarter's main thoroughfares.

it occupies the ground floor of an early 20th century brick building with a glass annex dating from more recent times, and which allows floods of natural light into the premises. the setting, created by local practice framework studio, is a blend of mid-century design and sutble hints of art déco, and sees an elongated bar in a deep red hue with matching matching brass accents as waldeck's eye-catching centrepiece. directly opposite, inside the glass annex, cozy seating arrangements are situated below rows of brass spotlights. fluffy carpeting with a black + white banana leaf motif adds a whimsical tropical sensuality to the presmises.

the aforementioned bar is situated at the very core of the premises, and somewhat shields the lofty back section from street view. this has created ia more intimate atmosphere that's further reinforced by paneling in a matching prussian blue shade, fume-tinted mirrors and timber flooring. brass tabletops and other brass accents once again add a warm shimmer to the setting. waldeck's distinct sense of style is omnipresent, resulting in a lavatory setting patrons will undoubtedly find pleasantly matching. location: willemsparkweg 223 [amsterdam zuid].

© framework studio / photography: peter baas