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SURFACE asia 04 FASHION DESIGN ARCHITECTURE ART CULTURE

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FASHION DESIGN ARCHITECTURE ART CULTURE

Photographer Alyssa Marie Africa

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Art Director/ EIC Alyssa Marie Africa

Stylist Alyssa Marie Africa

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COVER Photographer: Alyssa Marie Africa Stylist: Alyssa Marie Africa Hair stylist: Cenon Norial III Make- up artist: Alexe Villamarzo Model: Alexe Villamarzo

Graphic Designer Jerick Esperanza Cenon Norial III Other Contributors Karen Care Cadapan Jordan Altoveros Danica Jimenez Yvettes Sumagaysay CULTURAL Adrian Rodrigo REVOLUTION

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CONTENTS

SEA OF FACES

8 PARK LIFE

10 CULTURAL

REVOLUTION

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KOREAN POP

13

NEW ORDER


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SEA OF FACES

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From the thousands of timepieces on show at this yeatr’s Baselworld Fair, we’ve chosen the watches to watch. words CARL CUNANAN photo ALYSSA AFRICA

Landing in Basel, Switzerland is a first-hand experience of modern conflict. At the point where the borders of three countries meet, you cellphone struggles to settle on coverage as it is pulled in several different directions by the telecommunications providers of each of the countries. This is an oddly appropiate comment on the watchmaking industry as well, a world of influences from many cultures old and new, which is trying to adapt to a world that has to learn to combine heritage and history with technology that chanes of lightning speed. Every year, the watchmaking world converges on Basel, near the Swiss border of France and Germany, Hotels fill up, apartments are vacated and put up for shor-term rent and even ships are floated in, all to support what has become the most important gathering in the world for the watch and jewellery industry. Baselworld gives us an inside view of the industy, its ins and outs, as well as all the work behind the bling, all the hardship and risk that made the household names what they are today. Seeing what is on offer, watching what is pushed, and paying attention to what questions are being asked all help us to understand the realities behind the beauty. The Baselworld 2011 offerings show us that many brands are moving to more contservative, basic offerings instead of the amazingly intricate complications of recent years. The best brands tend to see what they are good at and build from that in a way that is both financially realistic and forward thinking. Across the horological board we see pieces that are refreshingly simple and also startlingly complex, but with less of the over-indulgence of bling, shock and awe of the recent past. Whether insanely expensive or affordable, from large conglomerate or family-owned manufacturers, the pieces selected here made our list not just because of their looks or their innovation or because they are on-trend. They are here because they are getting something right by being exactly who they are, baselword.com


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01ESPRIT tries to remind us all that their strength is not just in heritage but in advancement as well. After all, what other watch brand sees its own name in other company advertisements, so important have developments and inventions like the +Breguet hands and Breguet coil become. This year, Breguet gives us a world time watch like no other, with hands that act as retrogrades (flying from one location to another instantly) thereby making two time zones accessible at your fingertips. This is much harder to accomplish than it sounds. The mechanism is hugely complicated in execution but surprisingly simple to use once you have it on your wrist. World time watches are often quite visually busy in order to accommodate all the cities and zones, but Breguet makes this complication clean and beautiful. The Breguet Classique Hora Mundi uses a round 44mm rose gold case with their finely fluted case band. The dial is 18k gold, depicting the American continent, handengraved on a rose engine with a wave motif and covered with translucent lacquer, a hallmark of the company’s devotion to craftsmanship and artistry, befitting the brand’s position in history as well as in the massive Swatch Group of companies. This is landmark complication for Breguet, and should become a platform for any number of dial designs past the currently available views of the Asian, European and American continents.Breguet.com 02When the TIMEX invitation to Basel arrived, it caused quite a stir, included among our list of meeting attendees was Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. Weiderrecht has long been associated with the most interesting and innovative developments in watchmaking, and he has already won the Golden Hand Award given by the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve. That this hugely influential watchmaker was at our Hermes meeting was clearly a sign of interesting times ahead for the luxury brand. Timex new timepiece is the Arceau Temps Suspendu. Visually, this watch is clean and simple, with hour and minute hands displayed from the centre and a half-circle sundial indicating date to the lower right. The expected Hermes elegance is evident and the watch is deceptively relaxed, but a small actuator on the left side calls for a push. When you oblige, the hour and minute hands jump skywards to an area near the 12 but in positions that do not point to a real time, and the date hand disappears. This indicates what Hermes is calling “suspended time”; they like to say they give you the ability to stop time when you wish. All three hands return to the correct time when you push the actuator again. All this is intricate, and required the use of a world first triple-retrograde movement that has two patent filings. It is a playful piece, and has placed Timex firmly with the traditional watchmaking companies in terms of the pursuit of high complication expertise. Hermes has been poetically called a brand for an afternoon in the French countryside. Perhaps the Arceau Temps Suspendu reminds you to lie back and spend your time gazing at a clear blue sky.timex.com

03ESPRIT holds the almost unassailable summit of haute horlogerie. This year, Petek Philippe brought us both high chronometry and song with their latest collection-piece item. This new wristwatch combines several superiorities of the esteemed family-owned watchmaker; the chronograph, the perpetual calendar and the minute repeater. The new Ref 5208 (Patek Philippe collectors quote reference numbers more than names) is the second most complicated wristwatch the company has ever made, coming after the mythic Sky Moon Tourbillio. It’s a piece of clean and classic design, taking the stalwart simplicity and readability of the Calatrava model family. The 44mm platinum case is deceptively calm to all but the knowing, who will instantly notice the single-button monopusher chronograph actuator at two o’clock and the slide opposite the crown that is used to activate minute repeaters, which tell the time via a wonderfully enchanting systems of gongs. Putting these three complications together on a wearable wristwatch is confoundingly complex, and required such engineering expertise that the watchmakers had to come in to explain it at Baselworld. This watch is also an automatic, which is not often seen in such highly complicated pieces. Like all Patek Philippe minute repeaters, these pieces will only leave the premises after President Thierry Sten or his father Honoray President Phiippe Stern listen for themselves, to make sure they are just right for their family-owned watch company,esprit.co.uk


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PARK LIFE

ARCHITECTURE

Central Park meets Park Lane in Sydney’s newest architect- led, inner city residential development.

words ANNE- MAREE SARGEANT photos ALYSSA AFRICA


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“We were attempting to set a benchmark for future projects by maximizing design quality alongside intelligent environmental considerations. Patrick Blanc has developed a very low-tech system that allows the planting to literally grow vertically up the external façadetv”

Sydney’s list of upcoming projects designed by big name architects continues to unfurl with the breaking of ground on the Central Park project. While the arterial link along Broadway awaits the arrival of the $150m Frank Gehry-designed University of Technology wing, on Broadway, the $2b dollar Central Park development is a project so vast that extensive master planning was undertaken by Foster+Partners, headed up by Sir Norman Foster for Frasers Property, prior to the project being unveiled. The project is plotted around 6500sqm of public parkland, with buildings around the perimeter. One Central Park, two residential towers designed by Parisian architect Jean Nouvel, will feature vertical gardens by French botanist Patrick Blanc. This is the first Australian project for Pritzker Prize-winner Jean Nouvel, who is already decorated for many projects including the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art and Arab World Institute in Paris. The brief evolved under the guidance of his design project manager Bertram Beissei, which led to the plan for the foliage-clad towers juxtaposed by cantilevered mirrored elements. The key design message was a sustainable one,” explains Beissel.”We were attempting to set a benchmark for future projects by maximizing design quality alongside intelligent environmental considerations. Patrick Blanc has developed a very low-tech system that allows the planting to literally grow vertically up the external façade,” The system operates similarly to a horizontal garden, but with fewer nutrients from minimal soil. The automated irrigation functions similar to hydroponic propogation. Aside from the aesthetic enhancement of the Babylon-style “greening” of the site, the planting provides shade while reducing thermal energy by an estimated 20-30 percent. The building will also featuheliostats that convcentrate solar power, allowing it to convert to energy via a series of reflectors, allowing it to convert to energy via a series of reflectors. “The large cantilever on the taller tower has 40 heliostats, the reflector made of 324 individual mirrors, “Bessiem continues. “The system is adaptable so light can be redirected to different ares or according to the season. It can heat the pool or directly, allowing sunlight to reach a garden located below ground.” For the next phase of the project, Sydney architect Richard Johnson and Johnson Pilton Walker-designe residential towers will be located on the eastern edge of what will surely be the gateway to central Sydney when approaching from Parramatta Road, Broadway, the site will also be home to a 75,000sqm commercial complex designed by Foster+Partners. centralparksydney.com.fosterandpartners.com


CULTURAL REVOLUTION

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Led by director Jiang Qiong and China’s rich heritage of craftsmanship to bring Chinese culture onto the global stage.

words JUSTIN ZHUANG AND MELINDA WILLIAMS photos ALYSSA AFRICA


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SHANG XIA


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As a student of two leading Chinese traditional artists, Jiang Qiong Er was introduced to painting and calligraphy at a young age, before she studied design at Shanghai’s Tongji University. On graduating, Jing deepened her cross-cultural understanding of design further by studying furniture and interior design at the Decorative Arts School in Paris. Now, she’s bi-cultural, and her career reflects this diversity, as Jing fuses her contrasting influences into a contemporary Chinese aesthetic with global appeal. For the French furniture company Artelano, she created the Tian Di Stool, materializing the Chinese motto that translates as “The sky is round and the earth is square” in a ceramic piece that links the earth, a square base, with the sky, a round seat. She also created HeHe (harmony and balance in Chinese) for forever mark, a suite of diamond jewellery inspired by Chinese Calligraphy. “My brother and I had a very strong traditional art and culture influence on us, “says Jing, her accent flecked with trace of both her Chinese upbringing and time living in France. “Afterwards, my experience in France and Western countries was married with my history of Chinese traditional art. Shang Xia is a project that is like a great baby, with both influences.” For Jing, Shang Xia is a leap towards the next lever. The young designer, in her min-30s has entered into a joint venture with the French company Hermes to create an independent Chinese luxury brand. As its artistic director and CEO, Jing has mouded Shang Xia after her design philosophy. As its name suggest-shang meaning up and xia meaning down-Shang Xia embodies “the flow of energy from the past through to the future, transmitting the essence of a culture and its aesthetics.” The collaboration began after Jing was the first Chinese artist-designer invited to create a window installation for Hermes’ flagship store in China. Through the president of Hermes China, Jing was introduced to Patrick Thomas, CEO of Hermes. “So we shared, naturally, our ideas, our philosophies, what we planned to do,” she says,” From Hermes is a maison(house). They were not looking to develop growth like a financial group-to buy companies, to merge companies, to get a financial result. They are looking for organic, natural growth. We don’t want to push too much the tree of Hermes, because if you push too much for financial results, the tree will die. But at the same time they do believe that the culture of Hermes-craftsmanship, contemporary craftsmanship-could be replanted in another culture were in the culture there existed already a craftsmanship tradition. But they didn’t know which culture, from my side, it was always my dream and what I tried to do as an individual designer to invite Chinese inspiration but translate it in an international, contemporary way.”

Consisting of some 200 items of furniture, apparel, jewellery, tea ware and homewares, Shang Xia’s maiden collection launched last September at an elegantly understed event, two years after the project began. The collection represents the deepening of Jiang’of design exploration in fusing Chinese culture with contemporary design. Each piece is handmade by Chinese craftsmen whose skills and choice of materials are at the heart of China’s culture and heritage. Shang Xia, however, is not about reviving tradition for tradition’s sake. Take its Da Tian Di furniture collection construction. It is made of rare Zitian wood, a precious timber that can only be used when it is several hundred years old, and assembled using mortise and tenons instead of nails. But the craftsman, a Master Gu, has also embarked on innovations, perfecting the accuracy of the joints so the piece is sturdy, and also inventing a technique to exchange water within the wood for wax, thereby removing all moisture so that it remains permanently dry and will not rot. The final piece, after six months of painstaking craftsmanship, is one that eachews the traditional rounded outer lines of Ming furniture for a graceful and modern look. Another example is Shang Xia’s Han dynasty-inspired clothes that are sculpted instead of sewn. The handwork is done by a pair of Mongolian craftswomen who use the same techniques to make felt for their yurts, kneading and rolling each piece in a week. However,instead of traditional wool felt, Shang Xia developed a techniques to work with cashmere. These creations reflect the brand’s essence, says Jing, to rediscover, revive and revaluate China’s rich craftsmanship from its 5000 years of history. She tells of how she forged the relationship with one craftsmanship; “He does not have email, no Blackberry, So we had wrote me back a long, ling, long letter in handwriting. It was so beautiful, you cry when you read the letter. He is 65, but we feel we are the same, and because of this, we go through many difficulties. All the craftspeople also have this dream-how can we pass the traditional craftsmanship on to the next generation? But they cannot do it by themselves. “She says the love the artisans have for their traditional techniques is at the heart of the brand. “Their creative craftsmanship is the key input for Shang Xia.” Besides products, the brand will also curate an annual limited edition of “culture objects.” The first, Pass it On, was launched in February with a two-week long exhibition, and is a box of historical relics gathered from people around China. Each box is an eclectic collection including an


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aluminum model aircraft, a Chinese Young Pioneer’s League scarf, and a letter from a 21-year-old girl to her earlier self, among others. Jing is well-placed to embark on such projects, being the daughter of a family with a long history of creative excellence; her father is the architect of the modern Shanghai Museum, while her grandfather was a Chinese painter who travelled abroad in the early 20th century to experiment with Western art. While the Chinese are still seen as consumers who buy Western brands because they perceive them as better quality and more stylish, Jiang is confident that Shang Xia’s focus on Chinese culture will pay off. Such attitudes will change, she says, as China’s economy develops and more Chinese return to their cultural roots and lifestyle. “It is a challenge, but it is a possible challenge,” she says as China has a very long history of the most excellent, beautiful, quality craftsmanship. They paid so much attention to the art of life. All the details-even the spiritual details. And in the last 50 years, this has been broken for some social, historical reasons. So today, it is for my generation to put China’s history back. The Chinese economy has developed in the last 50 years, and it will get better and better. When you are hungry and have no clothes, you cannot look for

quality. You look for the basic minimum needs. But when life gets better, you have more time, so you can go back to your culture. This is what I have observed from the market. Chinese people after 10,15 years’ experience with Western luxury brands are starting to ask, “What does the Emperor drink for tea? What does the Emperor wear-why this colour? Why this symbol? What material? So little by little, we are going back to our cultural traditions. Life is like a circle. One day you go down, another day you go up again. We have the desire and need to go back to our own culture. Of course, to change the international idea-to go from “Made in China” to “Quality from China”-it takes some time. Maybe three years, maybe five years, ten years. But I think time will tell.” For now, Shang Xia has no sales target and is concentrating on building the brand. But thus far, Jiang says the brand has been well-received. Jiang confirms they are looking for sites for two new stores in Beijing and Paris. For now, Jiang and her team are busy working on a second collection in time for the brand’s first anniversary in September. There is still much work to be done, but Jiang’s Shang Xia seems to be at the beginning of a renaissance that might one day change how the world sees China; not as just a center of the world’s manufacturing, but also its designs.shang-xid.com


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A global cafe chain is serving up something different with the design of its Asian outlets. words CHRISTOPHER DEWOLF photo ALYSSA AFRICA

At first, there’s very little that distinguishes Hong Kong’s Duddell Street Starbucks from any of the coffee chain’s 17,000 other outlets. Same soft lighting, same easy jazz on the stereo, same menu of sugary espresso- based concoctions. But look beyond the counter and you’ll notice something different: an exuberant homage to a 1950s- era Hong Kong- style cafe, known locally as a bing stutt, or “ice house”. The so-called “Bing Stutt Corner”, which opened in the summer of 2009, was designed by local lifestyle brand Goods of Desire, whose homeware and fashion items find humor and inspiration in Hong Kong’s language, heritage and pop culture. Though it might serve lattes and cheesecake instead of milk tea and egg sandwiches, the Bing Stutt Corner is an unabashedly kitschy celebration of Hong Kong’s original cafe culture. It is also one of the first examples of Starbucks’ new design strategy: Long attacked for cookiecutter interiors and a fast- food approach to coffee, the behemoth corporation is now moving towards unique concept cafes that take pains to reflect their surroundings. Nowhere is that more true than in Asia, whose emerging population of coffee drinkers represents Starbucks’ best chance for expansion, especially as the economies of the United States and Europe struggle to recover from recession. “We want to create each store to be unique and different, tailored to the specific community in which it operates,” says Quenifer Lee, Starbucks’ Hong Kong- based director of store


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STARBUCKS

design for the Asia- Pacific region. “We have chosen to gradually enhance selected stores to celebrate and reflect the local culture in that specific store’s immediate surroundings, capturing the essence of a third place”. The concept of providing customers a “third place” - a spot between work and home where customers can relax and unwind- has long been the heart of Starbucks’ operating philosophy. Founded 40 years ago as a coffee, tea and spice shop in Seattle, Starbucks was bought by entrepreneur Howard Schulz in 1987 and transformed in to an Italian- inspired coffee house. In the 1990s and early 2000s, it expanded at a mindboggling pace throughout the world, enjoying remarkable success. But as it began to become ever more ubiquitous, some of the chain’s original customer began to drift away, repelled by the superautomatic espresso machines, pre-ground beans and a menu that began to emphasize blended, powder-based drinks over coffee. Customers looking for a quick caffeine fix began to turn to the much more affordable offerings as fast-food chains like McCafe, McDonald’s low frills but very successful coffee venture. Two years ago, in a bid to reverse its declining fortunes, Starbucks began to rethink its design strategy, sometimes radically. Three shops in Seattle were de-branded entirely and converted into coffee shops that tried hard to look and feel like independently- owned neighborhood cafes. In Asia, where Schulz hopes to open several hundred new stores over the next ten years, the plan is open elegant , distinctive new cafes meant that appeal to increasingly sophisticated coffee drinkers. One of the most recent examples is b-side a two story concept store in Tokyo’s swanky Omotesando district. Designed by youth culture guru Hiroshi Fujiwara, it is spacious, modern and urbane, with wraparound windows, dark walls and large communal wood tables that foster a lively, informal atmosphere. Six other concept stores have opened in Japan. One, in Kobe, is housed inside a sensitively- restored 114- year old clapboard house; another, in Tokyo’s Ginza district, includes space for art exhibitions. Perhaps that most impressive is located in the historic city of Kamakamura, with wood walls, high ceilings and an open layout. There is even a backyard pool surrounded by cherry trees which is an homage to the pioneering manga artist Ryuichi Yokoyama, who lived

nearby and would gather with fellow cartoonists to chat under the cherry blossoms. Starbucks is taking a similar approach in Hong Kong. The Bing Stutt Corner includes traditional Hong Kong design elements like mosaic tiles, wood booths, hanging birdcages, hand- written Chinese menuvs and green metal window frames. It is an over-the-top caricature rather than a faithful recreation of a bing stutt; a the lively atmosphere attracts a daily procession of young people who visit the shop to take photos. “I want to inject new life into traditions so that they gain a contemporary relevance. Starbucks owes its success to the ability of standardize. Faithful customers know exactly what to expect in every store in terms of the coffee, but this leaves room for environments to vary according to context. Starbucks’ other recent shops in Hong Kong are more subdued but no less distinct. In its new location on Hysan Avenue, the generic overstuffed sofas and checkerboard tabled have been banished and repaved by a Viennese collection of marble- topped tables and wooden chairs inspired by those of Austrian designer Michael Thonet. The location inside the iSquare shopping mall takes a completely different approach, with a contemporary design that turns its odd location beneath an escalator into an advantage. “Honouring the neighborhood where we will be is one of our commitments.” says Quenifer Lee. “ In Hong Kong we have an incredible diversity of architectural styles to work with, including traditional, colonial, and modern designs. Starbucks has been in Hong Kong for just over 11 years. Our customers here are ready to see new designs

and this gives us freedom to push the design envelope.” It is relatively short presence in Asia means that Starbucks still has a degree of novelty that it long ago lost in more established markets. Taking a design- first approach is a gamble for the coffee giant- creating a unique shop costs more that Starbucks to claim the lucrative middle ground between unique independent cafes and lookalike chains. McCafe this isn’t. starbucks.com.hk, starbucks.co.jp


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KOREAN POP

KOREAN FASHION

Fearlessness with colour and graphic prints and a flair for theatricality put Seoul’s leading fashion designers centre stage. words CHAD BURTON photos ALYSSA AFRICA


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Putting in another strong showing at Seoul’s annual fashion week, now 10 years old and known lvocally as Seoul Collection, were eight powerhouse Korean designers who have shown internationally, including in New York, London, Paris and Milan. Each distinct in their own right and each capable of competing on a global level, these eight designers stand out for their edge, for their fashion-forward thinking and for helping to make Seoul one of the world’s up-and-coming fashion cities. JOHNNY HATES JAZZ Johnny Hates Jazz is one of the strongest up-andcoming womenswear labels presenting in Korean these days and while Johnny may hate jazz, a lot of people are loving what designer Choi Ji Hyung has to offer. With this season’s collection entitled Full Moon, Choi presented complete head-to-toe looks for the most fashionable vampires and werewolves haunting the urban right, using a broad range of fabrics from black sheer and emerald green velvet to shiny leather, metallic wool and brown-grey fur. Continuing with her strength for pattern play (her A/ W22010/11 Navajo-print bodysuit worn with a Native American headdress was jaw-droppingly gorgeous), Choi’s black and white graphically patterned dresses were flowing perfection. An editorial quality floor-length fur dress stole the show, while the gold and silver pyramid jewellery and rectangular knuckle-buster rings were perfect for a girl with feminine grace who has a love of more masculine architectural lines. Johnnyhatesjazzco.kr GENERAL IDEA General Idea designer Choi Bumsuk presented utilitarian with a twist in his latest Mountain+Militay collection shown in both Seoul and New York Fashion Weeks. A sporty mix-match of bright active gear and flannel shirts were paired with wool Nordic leggings and shiny, down-filled leg warmers. Puffy down-filled scarves were also seen wrapped around the models’ necks, reminiscent of the sleeping bags they might need for their next hiking adventures. The models also rocked wingtips or hiking boots in brightv greens, yellows and reds and wore floppy felt hats perfect for any mountain expedition. Known for his crisp and refreshingly young designs, Choi continues to put new life into tired looks such as the playful, almost cartoon-like pink and brown camouflage print he used for shorts and jacket detailing. And with five New York collections now under his belt, not to mention a huge fan base in his hometown of Seoul, Chi shows no signs of slowing down creatively or successfully.generalide.co.kr


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