beirut: starch store renewal

© burau / photography: charbel saade

as the driving force behind starch, fashion professionals rabih kayrouz and tala hajjar have been guiding young lebanese designers towards a successful launch and introduction in a highly competitive market. an integral part of the foundation's annual programme is a presentation of the designs of these budding talents in starch's very own boutique in downtown beirut. as if to mimic fashion's seasonal cycles, the boutique setting transforms annually, and for the latest presentation, the aforementioned duo tapped architects candice naim, fadi mansour and lea helou of local practice burau to create a matching retail environment. interestingly, the architects have turned to the lebanese capital's urban surrounds, and its downtown area in particular, for inspiration, singling out an omnipresent element that often induces a sense of irritation with pedestrians and car drivers alike: road blocks.

comprising of a simple construction of five steel bars, x-shaped at either end and connected horizontally, this specific object has been abundantly duplicated to construct an installation, entitled unbounded, that fully transposes its original purpose. no less than 91 steel modules have been pre-assembled and allow endless configurations. some of the modules have been dipped in a textured, shimmering finish, adding a subtle sparkle to the intricate installation. additionally, matching benches have been designed, inspired by the same object and its. the renewed starch boutique carries designs by 17 emerging lebanese designers, and its current evocative incarnation will remain open until april of next year. location: rue said akel [saifi].

© burau / photography: charbel saade

tokyo: ginza six mall opening

© curiosity

indeed, we've been going on and on about the abundance of alluring flagships and boutiques at ginza six, but we haven't yet talked about the luxury mall itself. a major urban redevelopment project similar to the upscale roppongi hills complex halfway across town, it isn't surprising that mori building co. is once again behind such a prestigious endeavour. the japanese property development firm teamed up with sumitomo corporation, another behemoth in corporate japan, and l catterton real estate, a luxury retail developer that's partly owned by the lvmh conglomerate, to further enhance the ginza area's stature as a luxury shopping destination.

the land of the rising sun may have been outranked by china in recent years as the region's biggest market for high-end goods, it very much remains top of the bill in terms of customer sophistication. but let's go back to ginza six mall, shall we? straddling an entire block on bustling chuo dori, the neighbourhood's main thoroughfare, it features a total of 47,000 sqm. [505,904 sq.ft.] of floor space, spread over six underground floors and 13 above-ground floors – mind you, floors seven through twelve are set as office space – and is built on the former site of matsuzakaya department store.

the structure has been designed by japanese architect yoshio taniguchi, who has given it a façade inspired by traditional japanese norenbut the mall's central atrium features a sophisticated interior design by french architect gwenael nicolas of tokyo-based practice curiosity. the design here is similarly inspired by local culture, but it's paired with futuristic architectural elements as well, creating a subtle balance. the asanoha or hemp leaf motif has been used for the ceiling of the atrium, and this is also reflected in the design of six faceted light sculptures. washi-inspired fabric covers the three-dimensional sculptural ceiling, and adds up to the splendour.

the atrium is further adorned by a pattern of spiralling lattice strips that provide the premises a dynamic edge. the intricate project has been pulled of with the assistance of artisans and artists, and to keep shoppers mesmerized by visual splendour, ginza six unsurprisingly appointed fumio nanjo, director of mori art museum, to create a rotating art programme, showing an inaugural installation of suspended dotted pumpkins by none other than yayoi kusama. the connection of ginza six to the lvmh conglomerate is evident as no less than ten of its luxury brands have opened up shop here, including dior, céline, loewe, kenzo and fendi. additional features of this super mall include an underground noh theatre and event hall, and a lush 4,000 sqm. [43,056 sq.ft.] rooftop garden. location: ginza six, 6-10-1 ginza [ginza].

© curiosity

los angeles: tombeau tokyo

© nobuyoshi araki – tombeau tokyo [2016] courtesy of little big man

both revered and reviled, nobuyoshi araki [1940] always strikes a sensitive chord with his evocative, if not highly provocative, imagery. opening today at little big man gallery in los angeles, is the japanese photographer's tombeau tokyo exhibition. on display are 471 black + white works from araki's eponymous series which feature a large number of still life depictions, comprising mainly of floral compositions with various objects and sex toys blended in. viewed alongside the historical context of vanitas paintings and historic dutch flower still-life paintings, araki’s photos bear resemblance, but differ in that these blooms are no longer at their lush best, but in faded fetid form. within this withering foliage lie toy monsters that are set to corrupt this garden of earthly delights. additionally, a series of colour photographs titled photo-mad old man a 76th birthday, photos of noted dancer and muse kaori are exhibited. the lensman has documented her since 2002, shooting pictures on her birthday [open through jul 15]. location: 1427 east fourth street, unit #2 [downtown].

© nobuyoshi araki – tombeau tokyo [2016] courtesy of little big man

brussels: mad brussels relocation

© mad brussels / photography: maxime delvaux

better known as a bastion of eurocrats and a platform for high-profile political skirmishes, the creative side of brussels, and its many other appealing edges for that matter, are very often overlooked. the mad brussels institute  mad is short for mode and design  is an incubator of all things design and fashion, is funded by the public sector, and aims to promote the belgian capital's budding creative sector. as of late, the organization has relocated to an impressive new home in the very heart of the city, occupying a complex of three existing buildings on the historic nieuwe graanmarkt. measuring an expansive 3,000 sqm. [32,292 sq.ft.] spread across multiple floors, the complex is elaborate and elongated, stretching all the way to the next block.

the buildings have been largely retained, but were then spatially redeveloped by v+, and paired with interior designs by rotor, obviously two practices based in the belgian capital. the front building, erected in the 1970s, and has been given an additional floor, and accommodates exhibition, event, and also work spaces. the second structure has more industrial features, and flaunts the transformation's understatement at its best. the back side of mad brussels comprises of additional spaces, including a number of apartments, and features a separate entrance. the palette combines many shades of white, captured by a wide variety of materials, textures and patterns.

as said, mad brussels is a multi-faceted venue which fosters local creativity, and that's very much reflected in its varied programme. the inaugural exhibition, entitled occupation: designer  brussels vision on design, is an absolute highlight, exploring the various creative practices of annelys de vet, bas smets, benjamin loyauté, laurence soetens, thomas lommée + christiane högner, and xavier lust, all designers who live and work in brussels, but work across the planet. additionally, mad brussels offers the city's budding creatives a set of services to improve their skills and to successfully launch themselves in a competitive global market. location: nieuwe graanmarkt 10 [central brussels].

© mad brussels / photography: maxime delvaux

seoul: the selby house

© daelim museum

a photographer, illustrator, artist, author, and last but not least, an avid blogger, todd selby has firmly anchored himself in the upper echelons of fashion and design. thanks to a quirky and personalized approach that's clever, amusing, in addition to being far removed from the usual tedious deference, his scope is widely seen as a sign of the times. in a current show at daelim museum in seoul, fittingly entitled the selby house, the multi-tasker exhibits his key photographic works, expressive illustrations, video works, and also new large-scale installation works created especially for the exhibition. it offers visitors an immersive visual experience, and to such an extent that parts of the venue have been fully transformed, from entrance to exhibition halls, garden and café, creating an environment that lives up to the name of the showcase.

on display is a collection of some 230 photographs, from early works portraying the private spaces of celebrities to the dynamic studios and creative kitchens of figures from the worlds of fashion and cuisine. in the following space, selby is presented as an illustrator and storyteller, featuring drawings of everyday topics such as animals, food and nature, infused with his own unique colour and pure energy. in the so-called selby's room, recreations of the artist's own living room, bedroom and studio provide a peek into his private lifestyle. going back to his childhood days, the selby's jungle section presents the artist's childhood dreams and memories [on through oct 29]. location: daelim museum, 21 jahamun-ro 4-gil [jongno-gu].

© daelim museum

singapore: holystic sneaker laundry opening

© holystic sneaker laundry

having grown up with the world at their fingertips, millennials are the most visually inclined demographic, and appearance is key in almost any aspect of their budding sphere. offering a service that adds to the glorification of this generation's ultimate trophy possession, the opening of holystic sneaker laundry shop at singapore's wheelock place mall is a well-timed one. the island state is home to a thriving community of sneaker aficionados, and it's one that could certainly use some help in maintaining a crisp appearance. it occupies a compact booth on the shopping center's ground floor, expertly equipped to tackle the grittiest of sneakers, but there's an additional studio in the bukit merah neighbourhood where most of the work is done.

the holystic team comprises of crafty professionals who are equally passionate about sneakers. totally living up to its name, the shop's list of services is quite comprehensive, ranging from basic dry clean and mid-soles de-yellowing, to deodorizing – obvious, no? – and sneaker repair. generally, turnaround time for basic sneaker cleaning takes at least five days, but customers can opt for express service at an extra charge. and that's not all, folks. staff also provide customization services and hold workshops in sneaker id stencil tagging and sneaker care and cleaning for those with an above-average interest in their prized possession. location: wheelock place, 501 orchard road, shop 01-k3 [orchard west].

© holystic sneaker laundry

amsterdam: sarah van sonsbeeck

© oude kerk / photography: gert-jan van rooij

initially trained as an architect, sarah van sonsbeeck [1976] later transfered to amsterdam's renowned gerrit rietveld academie, following a trajectory with more artistic objectives instead. interestingly, van sonsbeeck's very first artwork spawned from being subjected to loud neighbours in a specific phase of her private life, and ever since, she's had a fascination of silence as a conceptual phenomenon, discovering a connection between architecture and visual art along the way. van sonsbeeck is the first of a new series of contemporary artists to exhibit at oude kerk, the oldest structure in the dutch capital, who will incorporate the ornate medieval backdrop in a presentation that not only connects past and presence, but also lends it a new cultural relevance. the showcase, elaborately entitled we may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now, is anchored by the artist's sojourn on tristan da cunha, a remote island situated in the vast expanse of the south atlantic ocean.

both its geophysical isolation and the variety of washed-up debri and objects have left a deep impression, and it's one that van sonsbeeck has now artistically linked to europe's current problem of seafaring illegal immigrants. opening at oude kerk on fri – may 19, the exhibition presents the floor of the church covered in a grid of gold, and which upon further inspection turn out to be space blankets, the very same objects that have become a fixture in today's media coverage of the mass migration. three sizeable replicas of a beached oxygen tank that the dutch artist found on the island, are featured in a separate installation, and similarly to the recycled use there, they're chimed with hammers, alluding the urgency of this ongoing humanitarian tragedy. location: oudekerksplein 23 [centrum].

© oude kerk / photography: gert-jan van rooij

valencia: brassa de mar restaurant renewal

© francesc rifé studio / photography: david zarzoso

situated on a sun-kissed stretch of mediterranean coast, valencia taps right into its many riches, and boasts one of spain's most buzzing culinary scenes. given the rice fields south of the city, it's traditionally linked to paella, arguably the country's most iconic dish, but there are obviously a lot more flavours to explore and savour. restaurant brassa de mar opened its doors nine years ago, and it has been a fave meeting place for gourmets from near and far ever since, but this year, owner and hospitality entrepreneur josé miralles decided it was time for something new. situated on the second floor is a newly created dining space, designed by francesc rifé studio, a practice based in barcelonabaptized rice club, the name is not only a nod to the region's main staple crop, but also references the main ingredient of its delectable menu. 

an elongated space of 400 sqm. [4,306 sq.ft.] with windows on one side facing the glistening expanse of the mediterranean sea, the sleek aesthetic is largely defined by a gradation of earth colours and latticed panels of poplar wood. the latter element not only divides rice club into separate sections, but as sliding window blinds, these panels also allow a play with light. a long corridor runs across one side of the restaurant, connecting the bar + lounge area to a variety of dining sections, ranging from semi-secluded booths, to open-plan dining spaces and a room for private culinary events. as said, the menu at rice club features rice as its main ingredient and a special menu to go with it, it also takes full advantage of the rich variety of local produce, including marine delicacies, offering fusion-like dishes that have clearly been inspired by miralles' asian travels. location: avinguda mare nostrum 50, second floor [alboraia].

© francesc rifé studio / photography: david zarzoso

tokyo: trilogy of water 2

© fondation d'entreprise hermès / photography: nacása & partners inc.

known for his intricate concoctions of found objects, abraham cruzvillegas [1968] has participated in a series of high-profile showcases around the planet. for each of these presentations, the mexican artist often incorporates local materials, ranging from stone and cardboard, to buckets and plastic, waste material and iron scraps, and even animal excrement and plants. all of these elements often reflect the history, politics, society and economy of each location. cruzvillegas launched the water trilogy, a series of solo exhibitions held in three places throughout 2017, and the second chapter is currently held at the exhibition space of the hermès flagship store in tokyo. the presentation here is an eclectic one, inspired by isamu noguchi's furniture designs, while also incorporating autonomous structural concepts, such as architect buckminster fuller's tensegrity principles and fibonacci numbers. additionally, a number of works will be exhibited that further blend a myriad of ingredients taken from local and exotic cultures from across the globe [open through jul 2]. location: hermès, 5-4-1 ginza, eighth floor [ginza].

© fondation d'entreprise hermès / photography: nacása & partners inc.

tokyo: denham store opening

© denham

the ginza district in tokyo arguably has the highest density of designer boutiques on the planet, and given this global shopping stature, it's a relevant location for luxury and premium brands to gain a presence there. amsterdam-based denim brand denham initially dipped its toe in the japanese capital's luxury retail scene when setting up shop four years ago at omotesando hills, and has now stepped up its efforts by adding a new outpost in ginza six, the city's newest hub of luxury. situated on the fifth floor of the highly prestigious shopping mall, the store occupies a 210 sqm. [2,260 sq.ft.] unit that features denham's signature interior design that pairs modern design elements with carefully spurced vintage furnishings and props.

shop fittings include vintage lamps, recycled wood floors and a japanese totan corrugated roof. also to be found on the premises is a denim lab, equipped with a vintage union special 43200g sewing machines, and offering a full service menu, including a handwash laundry and drying room, and a custom sewing service where your denham trophy can be hemmed and artfully patched up, in addition to denham's very first specialty coffee bar in the land of the rising sun. the new denham boutique carries the brand's full range of men's and women's denim collections, collab pieces, and last but not least, the complete collection for kids. extrapolating the momentum, the dutch brand will be launching a new ginza wash in its made in japan collection coming november. location: ginza six, 6-10-1 ginza, fifth floor [ginza].

© denham