Page 1


First published in 2017 by BB PUBLICATIONS

Š B.B. Publications 2017 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book. ISBN 978-1-905904-38-9 Designed by




Architecture & Integrated Service Practices 10 TRAVIS PRICE ARCHITECTS








36 FACE2050









Bespoke jewellery








pictorial ‘walkabout’ through the rich

architecture and design landscape of the world, hence its title, DESIGNSCAPES.

In as much as architecture is an art form

in its own right, and given its continual and collaborative interaction with other art forms, we have also included profiles of a few international art advisories.

DESIGNSCAPES does not limit itself

to a particular style, concept or size of projects profiled – indeed, by its very

definition and stated remit, it embraces

variety with an emphasis on excellence, innovation and sustainability.

Each profiled architect and designer has offered a deeply personal, often

philosophical rationale for their approach, and selected to showcase their most significant work to date. We’ve





introduction by US architect Travis Price,

who argues the case for restoring the

'spirit of a place' and whose practice co-sponsors and develops global designbuild





We hope the reader will be as inspired by this book as we have been compiling it.

The conversations on which each feature was based have been a revelation,

and the interaction with the featured professionals, a true privilege.





his edition was conceived as a




THE TALE OF THE TONGS INSTALLATION Inishturk Island, County Mayo, Ireland “The Gathering of the Clans and the Peat Fires of Embrace”


he archaeology of tomorrow is being shaped by and evolves from the architecture of today. My work is about an expedition into time itself, a neverending pursuit; searching backwards while creating forwards. My lifelong vessel for such a journey has been a passion for making architecture. On the voyage, I have sought the meaning of time largely through building and nature. Equally, the search for the timeless and mythical within a modern world has kept me passionately in awe of time’s unending powers.

a modern world. I have danced with the daemons (and the demons) of design to the music of the three lenses. I am also delineating these lenses for the layman so that he gets a glimpse of what we aspire to in the world of architecture today. It is not a theoretical speech but rather, humanistic.

Being seen by the unseen while seeing the unseen is my design mantra.

We live in the blessed curse of “an interesting age, one that is transforming at an unprecedented rate. It is paramount that we architects, artists and designers find a common spiritual language, one that is collectively global yet poetically particular.

The inspired world of architecture requires dreamers whose dreams define the reality of what CAN be. So, too, at one time, the archaeological and architectural history of creating what has been was someone else’s dream. I dream in time when I dream about space. While on the journey, three lenses of temporal perception have continually encapsulated my views and my work:

Stillness, the eternal mythical time Movement, the transient, changing aspects of time and Nature, time’s perpetual constancy. They are always at play and when I find them co-existing in harmonious balance in my own work and the works of others, I feel moments of completion and elation. The majority of my architectural works seeks equilibrium of the three lenses in



As well, I am proffering the lenses as a working tool for my fellow architects, to further a dialogue for an emerging architectural language for the twenty-first century.

In concert with my architecture, one year at a time, I have built 25 global installations with my students to teach them and others how to see the enduring cultural stories in architecture. I learn far more than I teach, it’s my other office, my shrine of poetics that feeds all that I love and do. Teaching the design-build expedition course (Spirit of Place – Spirit of Design) with architectural students has constructed a myriad of cultural legacy markers around the world, each built in an astonishing 9 days! The Spirit of Place Design Build expeditions span the globe consisting of metaphysical sweat lodges in British Columbia, a floating house on the Amazon in Peru, a star-gazing temple at Machu Picchu, a Snake Shrine in

Nepal, and numerous Celtic sacred retreats in western Ireland. These design-build expeditions tap into our deepest histories. They stir the spirit through a number of projects spanning several continents and cultures: a modern, Venus-dedicated temple on Pantelleria, Italy, on the lake where Circe laid with Odysseus; a shamanic haven of the Finnish Kalevala epic; the great gathering of St Patrick’s mysticism in western Ireland near Crough Patrick and, more recently, helping the pre-Incan Mhuysqa Tribe has re-discover itself near Lake Guatavita in Colombia. There is, in the modern world, a definitive assault on the human spirit both culturally and in the built environment. There are diatribes of dystopian dysentery that need an imminent infusion. I pray I’m stirring up a buildable antibiotic. It’s a trail to be blazed, armed with ecology, technology, and most importantly Jungian mythology. I tend to sculpt architecture on axis with the human story, both ancient and modern. To be sure, what we dream today will become the architecture of tomorrow and, without a doubt, shape our spirits for centuries to come. On the voyage, we must not only be careful what we dream, but even more careful about our chosen lenses of perception. After all, that is where architecture begins and ends, mankind’s legacy hovering between the dual infinities of time. ■







“What we dream today will become the architecture of tomorrow and, without a doubt, shape our spirits for centuries to come.” TR AVIS PRICE

THE KALEVALAKHETO INSTALLATION Seurasarri Island, Helsinki, Finland A Home for Vainaimonen - Shamanic King of the Kalevala Epics and progenitor of Gandalf” DESIGNSCAPES




T RAVIS PRICE RESIDENCE Washington DC USA 'A Sadhu Floats upon a Tree Eating a Rock'  WADE DAVIS WRITING STUDIO Washington DC USA 'The Pueblo Kiva of the Earth meets the Tholos of the Greco Mind' A RNHOLZ SLAVIN RESIDENCE Washington DC “Books and Life Spring to the Forest”

F LOATING HOUSE INSTALLATION on the Peruvian Amazonica 'Floating in the 10,000 Senses'

H AYES RESIDENCE West VA USA “Two Trees - One River”





ON PLANET BURCH If you are shooting for the Moon but find the path overly circuitous, your luck might send you into the orbit of ‘Planet Burch’.


ts eponymous creator has propelled many a project into the stratosphere of global success using sound judgement and a good dose of old-fashioned intuition, exactly as frontier-breaking mavericks have done since times immemorial. Christopher Burch is a fascinating study in what happens when style melds with substance: a debonair man with an unerring knack for identifying concepts that capture the zeitgeist to become world-class brands, incubated and funded by his Burch Creative Capital vehicle.


It is, in fact, a global universe of brands that runs the full gamut of contemporary culture and also includes that ultimate one person brand, Ellen de Generes, in the shape of her ED style label.

‘Creative’ is an operative word in Burch speak. His Forbes profile states, rather one-dimensionally, that he made his fortune in fashion and Burch himself, when asked whether he had more success with fashion or property, cites the former after a moment’s hesitation.

ED must have been a no-brainer for them both – she is already an iconic figure with a much admired personal taste and vision which, when properly packaged, could spawn a global empire; Burch is a savvy investor who maximised the potential of his former wife.

His second name is, to many, instantly recognisable for the iconic brand he co-founded with his former wife Tory but the man is much larger than this, or even the sum total of the brands he’s pioneered. Like all creative people, he comes across as somewhat unconventional but unlike most, he is capable of self-deprecating humour.

He speaks warmly of de Generes, “an amazing creative talent”, and here is the crux: there has to be chemistry between him and the individual(s) behind the project – to engender what he describes as ‘creative leverage’.

The Burch portfolio of investments is an interesting ecosystem of companies


that focus on anything from investment advice, to health care, to clean energy, to entertainment, to publishing, to social networking, to organic food and luxury bottled water, to a spade of innovative tech apps, to yes, you guessed it, design and fashion, and even a high end branded hotel group.

Which is why, when pressed on the formula of success, he says he is good at analysing people –an entirely plausible assertion because, taking a great idea and transforming it into a disruptive



force requires more than just numbercrunching. His Cocoon9 project is a good case in point. A building model for the 21st century, it turns traditional living on its head by compressing all that a millennial is likely to need into one neat, environmentally friendly, pre-fabricated pod with seriously cool, à la Burch, credentials in the style and new tech stakes. Having built, renovated, enhanced and launched countless properties, Burch is now focused on the Indonesian island of Sumba and the NIHIWATU resort there which he acquired together with SouthAfrica born hotelier James McBride in 2012. NIHIWATU has since been voted as the best hotel in the world but also represents an interesting exercise in philanthropy. The hotel is a generous supporter of the Sumba Foundation, which does all the things a community-focused project does, i.e. improving the lot of the local population through a mix of jobs and



medical facilities, alleviating poverty and building sustainable infrastructure, but with an important twist. While the hotel is ultra-luxurious, it is, Burch says, but a dot (with a tiny carbon footprint) on an island twice as large as Papua New Guinea.

you’ve accomplished) is something most philanthropic foundations aim for, but few achieve as spectacularly as Sumba does. The island’s rugged natural beauty, its inhabitants’ capsule lifestyle and resource-based economy, as well as the “Burch Touch” undoubtedly help.

Understanding the complex interplay between introducing the modern world to one that remains as primitive as it was hundreds of years ago, Burch keeps intervention – and help – proportionate. For the ultimate “disrupter”, he takes care not to disturb the environment because a small tip of the scale reverses the effect of the ecological approach.

Christopher Burch is also a major supporter of a very particular program at the NYU Langone medical center, called the Care Curriculum. The initiative places emphasis on the relationship between care professional and patient, an often overlooked component that promotes health and wellbeing, and educates physicians in “the art of providing medical care”.

Using the philanthro-capitalist model that is well-established in parts of Africa, he has instilled in guests of the resort a culture of taking active interest in the wellbeing of the islanders. The impact on visitors, while not so easy to measure, is immediate and often greater than the impact on the islanders, says Burch. Fostering the giver syndrome (of feeling good about something admirable

Ultimately, Burch is someone who not only understands, but has the capacity and wherewithal to shape popular cultural perceptions and expectations – a formidable quality because, creating and building “sexy” brands does not always guarantee success – turning them into cultural references, integrated into the fabric of society, does. ■




Christopher Burch, a quintessential arbiter of style and serial entrepreneur, has teamed up with Edwin Mahoney, the head of a multi-generational family-owned custom building company – and an old friend of Burch’s – to re-define 21st century design in the shape of high tech luxury pods that are as elegant as they are functional and versatile.






ocoon9 uses the pre-fab concept, reinvented and adapted to the exacting expectations of environmentally conscious Millennials. Prefab, modular structures have, in fact, been around for some time and many architects have experimented with this type of construction. Brad Pitt used it in New Orleans to house hurricane victims. Below Christopher Burch and Ed Mahoney (CB and EM respectively) elaborate on how Cocoon9 addresses contemporary aesthetics and space imperatives.

does not have to mean compromising smart design, quality construction, and fine details. Cocoon9 use sophisticated fabrication and fixtures that make the space versatile and economical, and carbon footprint reducing options like solar panels. We are addressing the future of how people want to live: sustainable luxury. That being said, as we develop this we understand that there is a much bigger market in affordable luxury. We really believe that once we have proof of concept we want to move down market.

Is it a case of saving time and space without compromising on functionality Why do you believe the concept will gain or have Millennials made a collective traction in the mid to high-end market? leap towards pared-down, streamlined CB: I have always been fond of great aesthetics? design. It is what inspires many of my CB: All of the above. We serve a investments and projects. I especially market of homeowners, hoteliers, and look for opportunities that combine developers who are time, money, and high design with smart technology. energy conscious, and at the same time This seems natural for prefab homes. appreciate a clean design. There is a lot happening in this specific industry, but we are taking a different Framing nature as a work of art through approach. Consumers, especially the the use of floor to ceiling windows Millennials, continue to become more and minimal space partitioning are a conscious about use of space - no strong trend at the moment. Cocoon9 unnecessary footprints that contribute appears to be the ultimate synthesis to energy consumption - and they want of pod living – has it been developed to incorporate eco-friendly features into to capture the zeitgeist or to cater for their environments. But small and green specific situations (add-on space, remote



resorts, community or time-sensitive projects, etc.)? CB: The Cocoons are designed for people who value both form and function at a luxury level. When a prospective buyer sees a Cocoon for the first time, many creative opportunities come to mind: a pool house, a second home on a vacation property, or a unique experience as a hotel or resort, to name a few. We like to think our Cocoon houses will fit into every environment, be it urban communities or the countryside. The factory-built construction allows for speed and precision where weather delays, materials, and labor costs might otherwise be a challenge. We feel lightness and brightness is important to the consumer so we highlight that in our design. Have you used Cocoon9 structures in any of your properties/properties you’ve invested in? CB: Yes, I currently have a Cocoon in the backyard of one of my homes that accommodates an overflow of guests, and also serves as a pool house. We have added a rooftop garden of box hedges, so it looks like it disappears into the surrounding landscape. Solar panels may also be added, or owners can use it for rooftop entertaining.







What is, to you personally, their most appealing aspect? CB: One of my favorite aspects is the versatility of the design. Our architect put a lot of thought into the interior casework and the layout of the footprint, so it can transition from bedroom to office to entertaining space, and more, very easily. How are Cocoon9 structures sustainable/ energy-efficient? How are they versatile? EM: They are luxury, pre-fabricated structures with sophisticated fixtures and sustainable materials: • Precision-engineered for cutting edge technology, space-saving design, and energy efficient features. • Eco/Energy features such as LED lighting, low-e insulated windows, FSC-certified wood (approved forests), non-toxic, nonVOC (volatile organic compound) materials, passively heated/cooled environment where the room constantly equalizes for a consistent room temperature. • Hidden casework allows for versatile furnishing (such as a bed and shelves and desk) • H igh Tech options include an Appcontrolled entertainment system, swivelling TV, ethanol fireplace. • Light, airy, 9-foot floor to ceiling windows bring the outdoors in. • Custom options are available for flooring, cabinetry, plumbing fixtures, exterior siding, and counter tops. • T he roof can accommodate a garden or solar panels. • Designed to ship anywhere in the world. • Easy to drop in, easy to move out. • Can be used as a primary residence, recreational space (pool house, home office, etc), for multi-unit residential developments or hotel rooms/villas for a resort.

What type of materials are they built with? EM: The Cocoons are premium steel structures able to withstand seismic and hurricane wind forces with continuous insulated wall panels and exterior clad siding available in fiber cement, wood, metal, or stone tile options. If they are modular, could one add on creatively or just in a linear fashion? EM: Yes, they can be stacked, staggered, or several can be interspersed around a landscape garden, internal courtyard, common space, or pool, etc. In your opinion, is minimalist lifestyle the future or will people still build traditional statement homes 50 years from now? EM: Whether pre-fabricated or custom, homeowners are becoming increasingly conscious about use of space, smarthome technology features, and energy efficiencies. I believe that quality advances in those areas are what will inform the home of the future. What is the most remarkable Cocoon9 project/order to date, how and why? EM: We recently installed a Cocoon9 Studio at a private residence in New Canaan, CT. It is a very unique site with hairpin turns, surrounded by wetlands. So we worked with a logistics company to map out the entire transport to the site, including the positioning of a crane. The unit is the homeowners’ recreational space to complement their primary residence on the property. The Cocoon cantilevers off a stone retaining wall at one end of their pool with great views of protected land. The homeowners use it on a daily basis as a home office and gym, as well as for entertaining guests. ■

Contact: Ed Mahoney Email: Telephone: +1 610-527-6584






Marc Whipple of eponymous Whipple Russell firm is the architect credited with creating some of the most remarkable, dramatic, and sustainable contemporary homes on the West Coast of the United States.





Laurel Way


lthough well-travelled and exposed to a multitude of cultural influences (as the son of a former diplomat), he refuses to be defined by a single specific style – rather, his approach is to transcend all styles, creating unique homes with their own DNA and unmistakeable pedigree.

endeavour to eliminate the barriers between outside and in, sometimes with expansive sliding glass walls, outdoor eating and entertainment spaces, or with carefully framed views, and the manipulation of natural light. When there is a view involved, the horizon line becomes an important attribute.

His projects do have a few recurrent signature elements in common, notably the use of contrasting textures, smooth next to rough stone, rich wooden panels against glass and glass reflecting water combined with fire.

The majority of clients’ commissions are based on seeing existing built designs and the Whipple Russell sense of aesthetic, however, from the architect’s perspective, each new project represents a unique opportunity to explore new materials and methods tailored to the clients’ vision.

The immediate experience upon entering even a very large space is its inherent weightlessness, a floating quality. Glass walls that open entire rooms to the outdoors, engaging site lines throughout the home often extending to the horizon line, extruded skylights and clerestories, and extraordinary views to the outside are consistently at play. Whipple Russell is a quintessentially West Coast architect in that the firm caters to primarily Californian clients who spend much of their time outdoors. The seamless indoor-outdoor transition, one of the mainstays of modern design, is taken to a whole new level: the designs



The style derives from the all-important floor plan based on how the clients live in small and large ways. This is where decisions regarding use, light and the day-to-day performance of the spaces are made. “During every phase of a project we ask ourselves these five questions: • Have we listened deeply to our clients? •H ave we drawn from our breadth of experience? •H ave we distilled the design to its most simple, appropriate form? •H ave our plans and systems provided clarity and peace of mind for our clients? • Are we exceeding expectations?"



Summit House

The world’s collective sense of aesthetics is increasingly shaped by contemporary art which are an important dimension in WR designed homes, not least because many clients go to them with an art collection already in place. The Summit House project is a good case in point. “We created a 3D version of the artwork so the owners could have a good sense of what the final effect would be from style and scale to the colour palette and how we will illuminate it. We also carefully consider how much sunlight and foot traffic each piece will be exposed to. Not just art, but all contemporary forms of visual and physical expression fold in on each other, inform the spirit of a period… the zeitgeist of an age. As an example, the advances in glazing and stonework have impacted our designs tremendously. This kind of influence is fluid and is what makes architectural design exciting and challenging.” Summit House is an art object in its own right - a vision of glass, slate, stucco and metal - and at the same time built to the highest of sustainability and new tech standards. The private home is the envy of the areas’ longer established and famous residents.

Another distinctive and jaw-droppingly artful creation of Marc Whipple’s is Mandeville Canyon House, originally built, in fact, for husband and wife artists. “While both were very passionate about every detail, he wanted contemporary and she longed for romantic. This plan called for open, cleanly outlined spaces that flowed one into another. The play of light does bring a romantic element; we used the warm, clay coloured walls with many deep extruded portals to create sculptures of light in constant variation. Based on time of day, these shafts of light dramatically change the character of the interior space.”

Created for a sportsman owner, Benedict Canyon is an open-plan house built for entertaining, but also including a photography studio and a gallery space suitable for hanging the client’s large art projects. The project began with an empty hilltop lot and required a 10-foot high retaining wall to create a sturdy level pad for building. Again, the view is expansive, with a long roofline and windows on all sides bringing the outside in, inviting a cool dip in one direction and some ball play on the long field of grass in the other direction. Laurel Way is a dramatic building on the Beverly Hills skyline that has a floating 



Benedict Canyon



Laurel way

island quality about it, with a moat-like water feature around the entire property and cascading landscaped terraces. “The terracing was an engineering necessity needed to stabilize the pad we had created for the building site. The moat-like water surround serves several purposes; it places a water feature close to the house providing water views from many different rooms. But more importantly the moat preserves the astonishing view by eliminating the railings the Beverly Hills building code requires. And finally, it also adds the feeling of a protective boundary.” This complex and visually stunning building is a feat of engineering brilliance and symmetry, artfully mixing curves with straight lines. The moat circles along the built line, ending at a zero edge infinity pool whose mica finish adds a mirrored effect of the surrounding landscape. The flame features throughout provide a stunning counterpoint to the water. Marc Whipple has designed some of the most exceptional contemporary homes on the West Coast, each of them pushing the boundaries of imagination and the ultra high performance that his clients expect and demand. Choosing just a few to illustrate the point is a real challenge. ■

Whipple Russell 631 N Larchmont Blvd #4, Los Angeles, CA 90004, USA Telephone: +1 323-962-5800







Based in Europe and Asia FACE2050 is a multidisciplinary design firm that crafts high quality architectural products with efficiency and care. The studio’s unique, versatile and novel approach to small, medium and large scale projects comes with a high level of creativity, synergy and commitment to each client’s aspiration. Its ingenuity in advancing building typologies, adaptive reuse of existing buildings and promoting the agency of architectural space attracts both recognition and blue-chip clients globally.






lorian Schätz, founder of FACE unites architecture, construction and engineering. The German-born architect graduated from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and worked with some of the most renowned architects in Rotterdam, Los Angeles and Vienna. His approach to architecture is through an innovative, analytic and strategic design method with an emphasis on materialilty, performance and liveability. His diverse international spectrum of work consists of cultural, residential, commercial projects as well as masterplanning exercises.

a rapid adaption to the fast changing environment. This allows us to turn constraints into new opportunities.” says Schätz, who is one of the authors behind the celebrated project “1000Singapores - the Model of a Compact City” at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. He also created the iconic Light Years Ahead Audi Pavilion at the Marina Bay in Singapore. The author of several books holds a position for Design and Construction at the National University of Singapore and owns a patent for the world’s first multi-storey aircraft parking system built in Seletar Airport.

“In fast growing Asia, our focus is on modern living, the future of workspaces, modular building elements and smart cities. The world undergoes a huge transformation and we require

INSPIRATION “Inspiration comes from seeing and observing. Each design is a collage of impressions, places and phenomena,” says Schätz, “I borrow light and shadow;

Florian Schätz | Architect, Urbanist and Author



Three Generation House, Germany

the golden shimmering in a dim light, the roughness of old industrial plants, the smell of wood in Kyoto, the empty sharpness in Edward Hopper’s painting, the fading away of the chanting in the monastery at Le Thoronet. Impressions are distilled and become the presence of a room through diminution. Creative impulses often result from conversations with incidental contacts, clients, my students – or simply over a glass of wine.”

THE ASIAN CHALLENGE Emerging Asian Cities, says Schätz, are todays equivalent to the American Cities in the last century, attracting a vast number of people and spearheading new technology. His analysis of urban dwelling, shown as the “8 Points of the Compact City” at the Cité de l’Architecture in Paris in 2015 led his studio to develop a

Three Villas in the Sky | Singapore



“Each design is a collage of impressions, places and phenomena.”

New Asia Bar, Germany

potential architectural response to the explosive building growth in the region. Massive urbanization requires innovation in material technologies and the building industry. His research is on modular building elements and 3D printing of tropical facades. The green vertical village is a compact solution for high rise real estate in emerging Asian Cities. Built on a podium with a public park above the streetscapes vertical greenery, sky gardens and sky bridges surround community living in multi-storey buildings that offer mixeduse opportunities for both living and working. “The concepts of the green vertical village re-evaluates the way we want to live in the future. It seeks to preserve the sense of community that is in danger, because of the anonymity in 



the growing megapolis,” states Schätz. The vertical village offers spaces where occupants meet and exercise in public zones or can grow fruits and vegetables in front of their homes.

Hofgut Boutique Hotel, Germany

“Like sociological micro power plants, buildings are becoming 24/7 instruments for culture, employment and urban farming,” says Schätz. “This leads to a stunning mix of programs, users and technologies. We design buildings as urban resorts that integrate work, facilities and lifestyle.

Sustainability, local analogies and environmental solutions are core principles throughout all the projects. “Currently working on residential projects and boutique hotels we respect the vernacular of a region and we urge clients to contract local craftsman mainly using local materials”, says Schätz. “Globalisation flattens culture. We achieve distinct quality of place through distilling and reactivating local traditions. FACE goes that extra mile to see and make a difference - and that creates more value to the investments of our clients.” ■

We want to enhance the quality of urban life. We have only one planet to live and therefore we must protect our environment. FACE takes care of environmental responsibility in the early stages of each design” states Schätz.

FACE | Büro Florian Schätz Adress: 03 Westbourne Road 02-03 138943 Singapore Tel. Singapore: +65 8233 3025 Tel. Germany: +49 8532 516335 Email:

Green Vertical Village, Malaysia






Stephan Maria Lang is a Munich-based, internationally acclaimed architect whose work is strongly influenced by the Japanese Wabi-sabi aesthetic which is broadly defined by elegant simplicity, contrasting textures and integration with nature, and is based on our propensity to perceive beauty in asymmetry and imperfections.





ang is the founder of the eponymous practice which undertakes a vast variety of projects, the most notable among them being his groundbreaking residential property designs on Lake Starnberg, some 25 km from Munich. The German counterpart of Lago di Como, the area attracts affluent home owners who commission buildings of vast proportions, highest architectural credentials, and a certain work of art quality. In fact, Lang defines them as sculptures in that they are never perfectly angular and that they never fail to surprise in their complexity and vibrancy. Influenced by Californian modernism of the 1940s and 50s, they are at the same time distinctive for the “madein-Germany” quality of materials, detail and project execution. There are a number of fundamental concepts that underpin Lang’s ethos as an architect.





The first is his integral approach to the project: he designs building, garden and interiors in a holistic way which gives his houses a natural “float in the landscape” quality on the outside, and a free flow, relaxed atmosphere on the inside. The analogy is that of an elegant, welltailored and well-worn suit – artfully crafted, yet supremely comfortable and perfectly fitted to its owner. The second is the element of contrast: between rough-hewn stone and smooth white walls; complexity and simplicity; solidity of exteriors and lightness of interiors; intimacy, cosiness even, amid the most generously proportioned spaces. The Ammersee house project is a perfect illustration of the above, with its rugged stone surfaces juxtaposed against smooth slick veneers.

The third element is that of surprise and a touch of fantasy: a box-like absolute perfection feels like a hotel, Lang says. His projects are Pippi Longstocking-like in their quirkiness, all the while retaining classical elements reinterpreted by Lang through the use of modern materials and technology. House S’ interiors are punctuated by secret partitions; doors disappearing into walls; alternating narrow and wide spaces; little corners, window benches and niches, all adding intimacy to an otherwise intimidatingly sized living space. Intimacy is an important theme for Lang – ultimately, his projects are designed to be lived-in, rather than as grandiose showpieces.

These recurrent elements notwithstanding, the final result is a creative collaboration between architect and client, reflecting the latter’s individuality and combining classic tenets with contemporary aesthetics. Perfection, even when it is deliberately imperfect, is in the details and the last 20% of the process equate 80% of the total effort, says Lang. The buildings’ quiet (as opposed to loud) opulence and seamless connection to the landscape; their flexibility, allowing for interiors to change with time and use; the whimsical intertwined with the timeless; their intelligent composition and undeniable artistic merit make them an important and intelligent legacy of 21st century architecture. ■








Robert M. Gurney’s architectural practice is dedicated to the design of modern, meticulously detailed and thoughtfully ordered residential and commercial projects that are sensitive to site, program and budget. Materials are employed with honesty, integrity and ecological awareness. Interior spaces are active and intricate, tranquil and minimal.




obert Gurney has defined the philosophy of, and approach to the “modern order houses” (see “Modern Order: Houses by Robert Gurney” monograph) thus: “The vast majority of houses constructed today are anemic replications of beloved houses built in a bygone era. Synthetic reproductions of time honored materials and thoughtless design process predominates. Wooded sites with rolling topography are leveled and rendered treeless. Molded styrene, plastics with embossed wood grain, and foam covered with resin reduce materials to flat, superficial images. Vinyl windows with artificial muntin bars are employed with no regard for orientation. This greatly compromises our sensual gratification and ecological awareness. Once exposed to natural forces these houses will deteriorate rapidly and require great and unnecessary expense to repair or replace. Environmental illness and unfavorable response to synthetic materials, carcinogenic adhesives and suspect plastics will reinforce the notion that we respond to natural materials physically as well as psychologically. Our office believes that architecture must break from unnatural and unhealthy imitation.” Gurney has robustly articulated views on “revivalist” architecture, not only because he steers clear of anything imitation and/or pastiche, or because he simply caters to the shift in our collective aesthetical sensibilities towards modern design. His approach is underpinned by analysis and utilizing the resources of current technology, as well as being defined by creative ingenuity.



Becherer Residence located on rolling farmland pasture




Residence located on Tred Avon River is elevated to protect against future flooding




 Fitch O’Rourke Residence located in Washington, DC

“Whether working in complex historical districts or on a vacant site, the design process involves an understanding of site specific issues of location, landscape, history, availability of materials and construction methods, while including considerable client interaction. Design solutions arrive through the thoughtful manipulation of light, colour, texture, form and geometry, culminating in architecture that is simultaneously complex and distilled. An understanding of current technology, attention to detail, and awareness of location, landscape and history, lead to design solutions that respect historical, topographical and regional context, without being revivalist.” The Robert Gurney buildings share a “sensual gratification and ecological awareness” element and the architectural practice’s collective body of work has won more than two hundred and seventy local, regional and national design awards.


4 Springs Lane House designed to capture distant mountain views

Wissioming House located in suburb outside of Washington, DC



Robert Gurney himself has served as a member of the AIA Northern Virginia Chapter Board of Directors, Design Committee, Schools Connection Committee and the Virginia Society State Design Committee and is currently a member of the VSAIA Honors Committee. He was elevated to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 2002. ■




Ecuadorian-born architect Gabriela Liebert and her Hamburg (Germany) native husband, Kai Liebert are the founders of Home Vision DNA, a fully integrated design studio cum developer group that specializes in residential, hospitality projects and mixed use buildings in Miami, Quito and Hamburg.






he firm’s ethos is suggested in its name: whatever space you inhabit, be it residential or commercial, it should have a strong sense of home and be a reflection of who you are as an individual. Gabriela Liebert, whose family pedigree is firmly steeped in design and architecture, sees her work as interpreting the client’s vision, adding her own sense of aesthetic to each project. “Architecture is a form of art, and the architect is an artist. My intention is to achieve an architecture of dignity and honesty that tells the story of its occupants, honours the architectural past of the city, includes the best of the present urban community, while still moving into the future.”



Achieving this sense of “home” in commercial or mixed use projects is part of the studio’s own DNA as well as its stated objective. “I believe a home achieves its highest purpose when it evolves from the role of physical shelter into a space of emotional wellbeing. It has to provide rest and capture the unique expression of its occupant’s life vision. This feeling of comfort and self-worth must extend beyond the front door. Your neighborhood is important; a home is connected to the greater urban tissue of a town or city – not an isolated cell. In most cities, despite their excellent location, downtown neighbourhoods have lost their borders and scale.



“I believe every

design has to balance elements of architectural memory, the latest technologies, materials and advancements in engineering in order to make the building relevant in the future.”

The result is a place that is hard to live in and emotionally arid. Mixed Use projects are one way for architects and developers to provide busy cities with an ideal “micro neighbourhood”. Unique places where people can live, work, play and meet everyday shopping and lifestyle needs within easy distance. As a developer and architect I aim to achieve a sense of home by: carefully balancing housing, hospitality, office, retail, recreational and commercial needs; designing sensible and generous indoor-outdoor spaces for social interaction, leisure, art viewing and landscape; appealing to the emotions of DESIGNSCAPES


the residents and visitors by including elements of the architectural memory of the city; inspiring Hope by giving positive glimpses of the future through the latest technology and forms that invite motion.” Local Team building is a priority for Home Vision DNA. Both partners have strong networks in their respective “mother” cities Hamburg and Quito and reliable strategic partners in Miami. They choose projects carefully, always looking to have control over the scheduling, purchasing the best equipment and software. Futuristic DILIDO HAUS in Miami Beach (on Dilido Venetian Island), a

landmark project of Home Vision DNA, was conceived as the founders’ family home and designed as the expression of both the owners’ personal story and architectural history. The idea was to build upon the strong foundations of Miami’s rich history, geography and culture, while using the latest construction technologies and high quality materials. “The façade is a synthesis of the concepts guiding the design. I found three sources of inspiration for achieving the minimalist façade of Dilido Haus. First, the rich history of Miami Beach architecture. Secondly, the precision, honesty and sustainability of German

design and engineering. Lastly, my own family story, the unique personal attribute of the end user and an essential aspect of home design.”

windows and doors resist 177 Km/h (110 miles per hour) winds. The first floor is elevated 75 cm (2.5 feet) above the 100 year flood plain.

Dilido Haus is an abstraction of elements and proportions characteristic of the Miami Modern style, better known as MIMO, which evolved at the end of the 1940’s from Art Deco and Streamline Architecture, styles that were highly influenced by Futurism. Its form includes long dynamic lines, suggesting speed and a desire to be a type of machine for living or a cruise liner.

Dilido Haus followed strict sustainability construction parameters. The house is LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Green homes are built to substantially exceed the performance levels offered by conventional, codecompliant new homes. In this respect, Dilido reflects Liebert’s principle of “building with high-quality materials and craftsmanship, expressing modern thinking and employing current technologies”.

Additionally, the house has an open attitude to the modern city, embracing its busyness by creating a welcoming, transparent relationship to the street. In order to comply with Florida’s strict construction codes, Dilido Haus’s exterior shell and slabs were built using poured in place concrete. Due to the soft, sandy terrain of the island, more than 30 pilotis, approximately 12 meters (40 feet) deep support the foundation. The glass

Reconciling timelessness with modernity without compromising one or the other in practice is the greatest challenge for any architect.

moment. Timelessness is the sense of lasting forever, a continuous line from the past to the future. I believe every design has to balance, in a concise and clear way, elements of architectural memory, the latest technologies, materials and advancements in engineering in order to make the building relevant in the future. My projects must TELL the story of the present moment through meeting the programmatic needs of the occupants and projecting today’s human vision.” The partners’ dream brief/project? “Any project that would not need to worry about gravity or any kind of engineering! We hope that our next projects will also clearly address our current priorities for design and architecture.” ■

Liebert’s focus today is on modernity. “Architecture must serve the needs of the community and residents on the present




Maryann Thompson is an architect based in Massachusets whose work has global resonance, in that it espouses a broad aesthetic philosophy of architecture as an art form, providing a sensorial human experience that involves site, building and environment.





Bluff House


er projects are underpinned by a thoughtfulness that goes well beyond the conceptual and the academic or the clichéd spirituality of the day. They are contemporary, but not generically so. Her use of that most quintessentially East Coast American material, natural timber, is quite distinctive, as is her ingenious take on the traditional wooden house, deconstructed and reinvented with a lot of light added in. Do we have more affinity, at a visceral level, with natural materials than with man-made ones? MT: Yes. Modern space is interesting to me, because the boundaries are less well defined. It represents our striving for being unrestricted, open and free, mentally as well as physically. Architecture reflects an inner state of mind and yet I feel that modern architecture can feel cold. So I attempt to give warmth to modern space with natural materials. The presence of wood in a project is visceral to me. I can feel the difference in a room that has wood surfaces and structure. Could it be a spiritual quality of warmth that wood



brings to a space? Recently there has been a lot of academic attention given to the concept of “thermally active surfaces”. The question, “why does a metal object feel cooler than a wooden object even though both are in thermal equilibrium with the atmosphere” is interesting to me. All materials have thermal conductivity. When a metallic body is touched, being a conductor of heat, the warmer human hand’s heat gets absorbed by the metal and we feel cold. In the process, it’s the metal that gains heat. In the case of wood, as its conductivity is lesser, it doesn’t transfer the heat from the hand to the wood and so we do not feel cold near it. Our bodies do not lose energy to wood surfaces. This is one reason that wood feels good to be around. This is the reason why I use it as much as possible on my interior surfaces. I also use wood to create ambiguity between inside and outside spaces. By using a natural material inside the visual and psychological, the boundary between outside and inside becomes ambiguous.



The Foote school




“Modern space

represents our striving for being unrestricted, open and free, mentally as well as physically.” I like to wrap the exterior skin into the inside of the building to further this sense of inside/out. Sometimes this happens with the wood surface of the roof plane entering the building at the ceiling. Sometimes I use the vertical surface of the exterior wall to wrap in. Bringing light in from above is another strategy to create the sense that one is in an in-between inside/outside space. In the natural world, light comes to our bodies from above. It is only when one goes inside a building that we experience light from the side - through windows in the walls. In all my projects I bring light in from above, through the use of clerestories or skylights as much as possible to further the sense of an architecture that participates in the exterior world. Light from above also lets the play of the weather, the changing cloud cover, the sun and the rain have a stronger presence in the interior space. In the schools we do, this is very important to the life of the child that

spends so much of the day indoors. Awareness of the changing weather patterns activates the brain. Many studies have been done that show that students do better at standardized tests when they take them in a room with windows as opposed to in a room without. I feel that the changing patterns of light and shadow in a room with ample light keep an underlying section of the brain alert and activated, limiting the potential for boredom in a school setting.

• Rooms following the daily path of the sun • light from above • Unfolding spatial sequences

If, and when architecture is a form of art, how does it address functionality beyond the emotional response? How do you, in your own architectural projects? MT: I like to use the architectural intervention to heighten a sense of the site, of the place in which the building exists. I use techniques such as framing views, a thickened and layered threshold between inside and outside, and a complex relationship to the ground plane to accentuate the place that one is in.

This way of moving through a building creates moments of stasis along the path that ground the viewer in the experience. It helps to prioritize the subjective experience (vs the objective experience).

I am interested in celebrating the “genius loci” of a particular place. Using light as a “medium” in the projects is also a strategy to heighten the presence of the sun and shadow in the building. Hopefully the building becomes a ground against which the phenomenological qualities of the site play. I am trained as a landscape architect as well as an architect and bring landscape thinking to the work we do.” What are the key elements underpinning a Maryann Thompson design? Is there an overriding aesthetic that identifies them unmistakably as your projects? MT: Heightening a sense of the site through the architectural intervention:

The Children’s School, Connecticut

I really like to work with unfolding spatial sequences and you will see this in many of my projects. The unfolding sequence starts in the landscape at the approach to the building and continues through the entrance and then the interior of the building.

Commonsense sustainable solutions are used in all our projects. Deep overhangs to keep the summer sun out but let the winter sun in, cross ventilation using the stack effect (operable windows up high that pull the hot air up and out stimulate cross ventilation). Opening to the south and creating a thermal mass for passive solar strategy. If you had to pick two projects that you feel are most representative of your philosophy and approach, and have a legacy quality about them, which ones would they be, why and how? MT: The Childrens School in Connecticut, because of its use of light, boundless space and the unfolding spatial sequence it employs. It is south facing with large overhangs. The radiant floor becomes the thermal mass. The Walden Pond Visitors Center, because of its use of wood and light from above. The way it nestles in the landscape. Facing south with large overhangs. ■ 741 Mt. Auburn Street, Watertown, MA 02472






Studio Madouh designs cutting edge contemporary urban developments in the Gulf area that incorporate rich cultural and historical context, and the use of local materials, along with a strong environmental ethos.







tudio Madouh is an Architecture and Design intensive studio based in Kuwait and founded by Architect Naser Madouh. Madouh has worked on a number of award-winning projects in the United States, Asia, Europe and the Gulf region. He is a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute, NY and has a Master of Advanced Architectural Design degree from Columbia University. He has held teaching fellowships at Pratt Institute and has co-taught design studios at Kuwait University. He is a member of Kuwait Society of Engineers. We asked Naser Madouh how this combination of elements impacts on his approach as an architect in the region and also, what the impact of his designs is on the urban landscape there? “When a region steeped in tradition evolves and develops rapidly on a macro scale, multiple tangible and intangible values get either reshaped, preserved and celebrated, or crumble away on a micro scale.



Materials, being the evolving tangible, hold a natural inherent value in terms of use and representation. Raw materials in particular reflect not only vernacular heritage but also, a certain intelligence developed over time, therefore offering scope for further exploration. Inhabitants of buildings, on the other hand, are the evolving intangible, living as they do in a regimented, traditionally contextualized lifestyle that has little reference to contemporary design. In this context, architects today have a great responsibility in terms of educating, connecting and making use of new opportunities/technologies to present creative solutions along with daring evolutionary design. Understanding the existing environment, carefully predicting how it will evolve and redefining original use is part of the equation. Transforming spaces is a mix between breaking them, blending nature with the man-made, manipulating circulation

Residential Nasima

patterns, and/or slicing all of the above into one another to produce a fine and unique combination that allows both continuity and introduction of the unexpected, exciting and progressive in a final shape of architectural or interior design, furniture, or even speculative thought-provoking study.” The Gulf is justly renowned for some of the most innovative and spectacular architectural projects in the world and there is no shortage of iconic, futuristic landmarks there. Where does Studio Madouh fit in this competitive urban landscape? “Embracing and/or working in parallel with a plethora of challenges is at the heart of our work. We believe strongly in a comprehensive initial evaluation between current and future requirements. Building upon a comprehensive dialogue with the client we establish the basis of the concept and the project’s future appearance and performance. In the end what we create should represent what it does in terms of functionality and



spirit. We also believe in longevity. Iconic buildings are not only aesthetically pleasing, but contribute value on an architectural, environmental and investment scale, as well as efficiency and functionality for its inhabitants.”

are traditionally and culturally enclosed in the conservative Gulf region, but also the the interior, contributing to a feeling of openness and connection with nature. Introducing these elements even just on an urban scale is always a major drive in our work.”

How important is the integration of landscape in contemporary urban living in general and in the Gulf area in particular? “Yes, landscape is one important element because it simply relates back to nature. In our projects, we make sure that inhabitants have an immediate interaction with the core idea of the project, whether landscape, light and water by way of natural elements, or program, circulation and functionality.

Is there an overarching aesthetic in the Studio Madouh designs? “Our aesthetic approach is never stagnant, always evolving. As new materials, techniques, and challenges or even emotions are poured into the work, the outcome keeps changing. If we had to describe our work in one word, however, it would be unconventional. The word encapsulates all the conflicting design forces that drive us

For example, as climate keeps changing and becomes more volatile, we feel we need to introduce more water surfaces and fluidity within environments of contemporary airconditioned dwellings. These contradicting elements represent the backbone of a successful acclimatised building in our particular region. This improves not only the aesthetic perception of the exteriors, which



in each project, whether it is sharp angles culminating in curves, or white monotones weaved in with rich colourful materials, or exposure contrasting with privacy, the trick is that fine line that gels them together.” Naser Madouh is both a practitioner and an educator at international level. He has created a fascinating body of academic work that may look futuristic, but in architectural

“I recognize that what was once considered luxury will soon become a necessity.” terms, the future is “now”, in the sense that sustainability has to precede the tipping point of climate change. Madouh feels that the realm of architecture represents a constant crossover between education and practice. Theoretical exploration fuels practice and vice versa. It’s only a matter of time before speculative projects get realized entirely or partly some place. ■

Villa May




Gaurang Khemka is the founder of Singapore-based architectural practice URBNarc. Although associated with large scale urban developments, as the name suggests, Gaurang transcends one-dimensional definitions and is just as likely to be involved with the design of private residences, high end resorts and institutional buildings.

Gaurang is a designer architect. It is impossible to typecast him because versatility and creativity are central to his approach (he doesn’t believe in either specialisation or signature style). In so far as every architect subscribes to a particular ethos, his is underpinned by a number of guiding principles: creating something that “belongs to the place”; never losing sight of the human dimension both in terms of scale and the socio-economic context and treading lightly on the ground. “Architects should design for people, not just for glory”, he says, “and the outcome should lift the human spirit”.



The overarching aesthetic of his buildings is contemporary yet timeless, often incorporating historical and vernacular references, but combined with modern materials and catering to today’s functionality expectations. A good example of the above is a project dedicated to the Indian community in Singapore – a contemporary building set in the historic Chinatown area. One of the most distinctive features of the building is its glazed geometric façade inspired by the baoli, a traditional Indian step-well that is a water source and meeting place for village communities, and a building typology that had fascinated Gaurang since his childhood.



Indian Heritage Centre, Singapore

He strongly believes that compromising the authenticity of traditional elements is dangerous and has added subliminal layers that give the hotel a sense of belonging to Bali. This is apparent upon visiting the property and more importantly done in a manner which still conveys a timeless contemporary essence to this building.

Alila Seminyak, Bali

During the day, the double skinned façade acts like a mirror reflecting the vibrant streetscape of the adjacent conservation shophouses.Come nightfall, it reveals the rich hues of the interior mural walls as colour-changing LED lights dance to the rhythm of classical Indian music, creating a glowing lantern for Little India. The centre was designed as a living museum where visitors start at the 4th level and after viewing the interior gallery step out into this double skin volume where they can see the rich tapestry and urban environment of Little India before stepping back into the



galleries at Level 3 and so on. This sequence of engaging the visitor with the internal galleries and the exterior fabric of the city makes this a truly urban solution. Gaurang may eschew being typecast as an architect, but his experience with bespoke hospitality projects has contributed to his ongoing relationship with the Alila Hotels and Resorts Group, itself renowned for exceptionally well designed hotels around the globe. The Alila Seminyak hotel in Bali, designed by Gaurang and completed in 2015, is today an iconic landmark that has won

a number of awards for its unique design and sustainability credentials. Gaurang states that Bali’s infrastructure is over-stressed and the island has lost connection with its traditions to some extent because of intensive development. To counter this, he introduced culturally rich key Balinese elements such as rice paddy fields, traditional carving and batik techniques, a secret garden, a winding drive and other subtle metaphors such as the traditional Balinese concept of paying homage to the three layers of Nista Madya and Utama- the Low, middle and high respectively - to the hotel.

The building mirrors the traditional Balinese residential compounds, a cluster of buildings centred round a courtyard with a temple. Gaurang very carefully organized a series of room blocks and public facilities around an existing temple and also worked with local craftsmen to restore and celebrate this relic. The hotel is a cluster of buildings interconnected by naturally ventilated corridors which remove the need for air-conditioning. This strategy of planning helps break down the mass of the hotel and also offers the guest a connection to the landscape and the ocean, delivering a complete sensory experience.

In addition, the hotel has surpassed all earth check and sustainability standards and has managed to replace almost 85% of the original land cover back into gardens using a series of vertical, roof and micro gardens. The building has used 100% local, recycled or reclaimed materials and Gaurang worked closely with local artisans to craft a signature timber screen with no metal joints that is applied as a motif through the property, creating a unified experience. This emphasis on sustainability is a driving ethos for Gaurang and he continues to push this agenda in all that his firm designs. URBNarc has been commissioned to develop a range of hotels, resorts and residential projects in Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, India, Maldives and most recently Europe. We will be seeing more of this unique blend of modernity, tradition and sustainability that defines the practice. â–




Opening a private architectural design studio in a city like Sydney will always be a challenge, given its iconic reputation. Josephine Hurley, a relatively young professional with extensive experience under her belt, is undaunted.





Photography by Tom Ferguson


hat does it take to make a mark there? “It is a privilege to work in a city that is rich with landmarks designed by distinguished architects. In order to make a mark I believe you have to remain honest with yourself and your client. You have to respect the public domain and its rich layers of building fabric. You need to appreciate that you are never designing in isolation and that no matter how or big or small your project is, you have the capacity to change and enrich someone’s life. Ultimately, you make a lasting impression if you exceed your client’s expectations.” Hurley’s projects have a distinctly modern yet timeless aesthetic about them. They are both contextual and reflective of each client’s personality. Achieving timeless quality without compromising historical or cultural context is contingent on a sound design philosophy. Hurley believes good design is relevant to the present yet sustainable for decades, or even centuries after it was originally conceived. “Timeless design is all about not getting caught up with current trends and what is ‘fashionable’ right now. I encourage my clients to engage with materials which speak of the site. For example local stone, natural



timbers or, as was the case in the Surry Hills Apartment, the existing fabric of the building. A key aspect of creating a timeless design is selecting materials and furniture pieces that are of quality and substance as they will bring enduring character to the finished product. In the immortal words of Oscar Wilde, ‘fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.’” In this context, giving old buildings a much needed face lift without obliterating their identity represents a particular challenge in a vibrant modern city such as Sydney. The Surry Hills Apartment is a good case in point, located as it is in a heritage building, a listed former tea factory. The client wanted the architecture to be a backdrop that would adapt to the needs of whoever occupies it at any one time. The concept employs a collection of restrained and understated installations that uncover, retain and celebrate the existing heritage fabric of the building. A refined and highly-considered minimal material palette of warm grey, timber and smooth white integrated surfaces was chosen for its cost-effectiveness, but also for durability and practicality. The project is not only sustainable, but recycled.



It is highly functional yet full of charm and character. “Key to this project was being respectful to the existing building and its character. We approached this project by removing unsympathetic layers that had been added over the years and stripped the building back to its core structure. The new works were treated as installations that let the existing building breathe. The material palette was restrained to let the existing fabric take centre stage.” Kingfisher house, a brand new waterfront house, is another interesting project which is built on a steeply sloping DESIGNSCAPES


site that could be perceived by some as a challenge. Hurley saw it as an opportunity, with the obvious constraints leading to a design solution that is rich, bespoke and speaks of place. The project is the most representative to date of the JHA practice in that it emphasizes the strong connection between site and owners. The house is conceived at a human scale to comfortably accommodate its permanent, empty nesters as well as their five adult offspring when they visit with their partners and children. JHA responds well to complex sites which require intelligent design solutions.

Surry Hills and the Kingfisher House presented very different opportunities yet the results come to illustrate the practice’s design strengths. The very consistency in the outcomes speaks volumes about the architect’s integrity and has netted JHA some heavy weight client testimonials. ■

Josephine Hurley Architecture Address: PO Box Q536 Queen Victoria Building Sydney NSW 1230 Tel: 0423 177 290




The Singapore-based Chang Architects practice, founded in 2000, focuses on avant-garde design and on adding value to, and enhancing clients’ lifestyle. Each project’s objective is to co-exist harmoniously with nature and the environment.






he firm’s ethos is based on the premise that great design is firmly rooted in mind and heart. The goal is, therefore, to create something innovative and engaging that uplifts the human spirit, respecting the unique characteristics of each project. The practice handles primarily private residential projects in Singapore. Over the years, their repertoire has



covered the full spectrum of the landed housing typologies - from the intermediate terraced houses, to semidetached houses, to bungalows and ‘high end bungalows’. The practice is guided by the following stated principles: • Always anticipate your next best work – for the best is yet to be

• Be bold and daring in design ideas • Design not just from the mind, but the heart as well • No repetition of design • Stay cutting edge and at the fore • Uphold the spirit of innovation and creativity • Compete with no one, in order to be someone • Love people, use money; instead of love money, use people. ■



“Architecture is an expression of love ­— the love for service, the love for nature, the love for the environment, the love ­­to connect, and the love of the human spirit and of life itself. Success of a practice is measured not by figures, but by the degree of love being expressed in the works of architecture.”






Wolf Design Studio is a boutique architectural design firm located in Southern California that specializes in innovative high-end custom spaces. Wolf Design’s open, modern spaces take advantage of the California lifestyle by blurring the line between indoors and out, creating homes where living space and nature become one.





“We want to create architecture that others can aspire to or admire. We believe that “legacy architecture” does not have to adhere to a particular style, rather it is about creating something incredible and timeless - architecture that transcends style and trends. We strive to create something that can be passed on to generations of a family.”


he firm believes that bringing the outdoors in is informed by both a fundamental need and location/ landscape, particularly in areas such as California, Spain, Southern France, etc., where the climate accommodates indoor-outdoor living. Derek Wolf, the firm’s founder, believes this concept goes beyond just looking outside - homes are no longer just a shelter from the environment but a part of it. Additionally, people want to be connected to each other. In the past, homes tended to be created as a collection of smaller spaces where one could escape, but what drove the really exceptional homes were the large communal spaces. Life is different now and what we find with our clients is that people don’t want to be isolated, but rather, be more connected both to nature and to family when they are home.



Derek Wolf believes that designing contemporary and modern spaces allows the firm’s clients to express their individuality without being restricted by a traditional style or specific elements such as doric columns or mansard roofs. The studio works closely with them to define the program of the space and determine their needs and wishes, creating a truly unique one-of-a-kind custom space. Attention to detail and sense of scale are key to building a beautiful and lasting home. An integral part of our design process is envisioning how our clients experience their space as a whole; how they live in it, how they move through it - the views, the furnishings, the spatial relationships. Privacy is also of utmost concern and a key driver in the design process.


Wolf Design thinks outside of the box, pushing the boundaries of design to maximize the potential of each property and creating a legacy. The firm’s residential portfolio includes singlefamily homes ranging in size from just over 2,500 to 30,000 ft 2 . The featured project, and most representative of the firm’s residential portfolio, is 1188 Roberto Lane. Located in Bel Air, California, this 6,200 square foot home takes advantage of the lot’s spectacular 180 degree city, canyon and partial ocean views. Derek has always been interested in the techtonics of architectural geometry and how they can be expressed in the vertical and horizontal elements of a piece of architecture. The project illustrates this interest perfectly. ■






Aijaz Hakim is an Indian-born and based, US-trained architect whose background places him in a unique position to approach projects from a twin perspective: his international outlook and the cultural influences of Asia, combined with the knowledge and use of advanced technology, modern design methods and latest building materials.






ijaz Hakim Architecture (AHA) is today a leading name in architecture and design both in India and internationally, creating with equal dedication and authenticity a very diverse portfolio of residential and commercial projects. This fusion between multi-cultural and traditional, bespoke craftsmanship and new technology, confidence and pragmatism contributes to the underlying strength of the practice. Hakim, who worked with a number of illustrious names on the West Coast of the USA prior to setting up his own firm



in the 1990s, says the experience showed him the infinite possibilities of steering any project in the desired direction. “India, on the other hand, is a whole new planet: backward in some respects, yes, but at the forefront of technology at the same time. Each day presents different challenges, the biggest being motivating people to push the boundaries. This country teaches one to be patient, pragmatic, but above all it teaches you to perform and achieve with very limited resources. Building on both experiences I have reached a fine-tuned balance that allows me to execute projects not just in India, but internationally.”

AHA are in advanced talks with Panchshil Realty, one of India’s leading developers, to work on the YOO branded villa project in India (YOO being the pioneering partnership and lifestyle vision by John Hitchcox and Philippe Starck). They are also in the process of re-imaging a Starck show apartment into a fine dining Italian restaurant. AHA is an integrated approach practice in that it considers the impact of the interior on the outer shell and views the structure as a whole, designing 'from inside-out'. “We focus on the interior of the project first, shifting to the outside at the later stages of design.






It is very important to consider the interior design in the practice of architecture because it is the space our clients interact with most and what they commission professionals to deliver. The form of the building obsesses traditional architects, their training limiting their vision to the building and not much else. Some place an emphasis on the quality of the space within their design and most try to integrate exterior with interior, adding sustainable features to the building, but the vast majority dedicate their time and effort to the exterior structure. If architects were capable of applying the same amount of thought to interior design, there would be no need for a

separate discipline. I have seen many important, externally beautiful and even landmark buildings failing due to the lack of thought given to interior design. This discrepancy is especially striking in Dubai, ‘the capital of extravagance’. “Most great architects and designers can put their expertise to any style, however today’s global trend and collective aesthetic point to a minimal, clean, streamlined modern look with flowing spaces, a lot of natural light and of course an emphasis on sustainability. While AHA subscribe to the essential minimalist aesthetic, what ultimately dictates their approach is that most unpredictable of factors: the client’s personality. “Great clients contribute

positively. The rest focus on bang for the buck”, says Hakim. “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This straight line is the easiest to draw and build. It is also the cheapest to construct. The fewer the lines, the faster you can complete the project. This is the essence of minimalism and mostly what we would like to follow in our design. All this without compromising the essence of the space imagined.” Hakim is a non-conformist, hands-on/ fully involved head of the architectural firm. The rich tapestry of his life experiences, both personal and professional, translates into unique and characterful projects. ■






Todd Willoughby set up his eponymous practice in Virginia in 2013 with a particular focus on sustainable design and remote retreats. Some of his projects involve a sensitive approach to renovating or remodelling period properties for which the state is justly renowned.







e asked Todd if the renovations are a “variation on a theme” or totally contemporary in style. TW: I strive to approach each project individually, without preconceived notions of style. I believe the aesthetic “direction” of each project should be informed by balancing existing conditions, historic and cultural context, and the client’s needs and vision. This approach often leads to contextual variation rather than adhering to a strict “style”. BB: Is room “Hall Renovation #1” done to follow a more modern look or to achieve a more sustainable footprint, or does this vary from client to client? TW: The client for the “Hall Renovation #1” project was interested in updating a Colonialstyle house that was originally built in the early 1970’s. The existing house was composed of many compartmentalized rooms common to the 1970’s home design. The solution for updating the house involved removing walls that separated and divided spaces, resulting in a more open and free-flowing floor plan. The kitchen and master bathroom were enlarged and fitted out with new, energy efficient fixtures and equipment. The intent of the design was to update and improve the house without making it starkly modern against the home’s existing Colonial style. The Legasea House, on the other hand, was a complete rebuild after hurricane Ivan. BB: The façade apart, what was changed/ re-imagined in Legasea House post-hurricane Ivan? TW: Legasea House was built using the existing concrete foundation system of the previous house which was destroyed during hurricane Ivan. The previous house had several issues which we changed /improved /re-imagined. Structurally, the house was improved with additional steel connectors to resist increased hurricane wind forces. The windows used were rated for higher wind speeds, higher impact force resistance and higher energy efficiency. The house was designed to maximize natural passive cooling systems by orienting rooms and windows to capture prevailing winds, vaulting ceilings to move and ventilate warm air, and utilizing light coloured roofing to lessen solar heat gain.





And the most representative project of Willoughby’s practice and his approach as an architect? TW: Currently, the Eagle’s Nest project, a four bedroom, timber frame, rental house located at the Inn at Kelly’s Ford in Elkwood, Virginia is the most representative project of my practice and approach as an architect. The building represents a mix of traditional craft and contemporary design. Natural materials of stone and heavy timber are balanced with contemporary materials of fiber-cement siding, standing seam metal roofing and



energy efficient windows. Rooms are “rightsized” creating comfortable and inviting spaces. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are energy efficient and high performing thereby reducing potential environmental impact. The Eagle’s Nest is nestled amongst the trees on a scenic hilltop with views of the natural surroundings of the site including a major water tributary of the Rappahannock River. The building was sited to minimize its impact on existing vegetation, grading and water sheds. ■

Willoughby Design, LLC P.O. Box 651145 Potomac Falls, VA Telephone: 703.472.4006 Fax: 703.404.4727 Email:




The ethos of Equipe Lamas is designing beautiful, solid and comfortable human spaces with geometric simplicity, in harmony with the context.





Photography by Haruo Mikami


uy Lamas, the founder (1987) of the eponymous architectural practice Equipe Lamas, is a native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil and holds a degree in civil engineer at FUMEC and a master Degree in business at the University of Brasilia (UnB). Samuel Lamas, his son, holds a degree in Architecture and Urbanism at the Universitá degli Studi di Roma 3, Italy. He has previously worked with Massimiliano Fuksas and is now the creative director of Equipe Lamas which is a fully integrated practice, undertaking from civil construction and urbanization to architecture and interior design projects.

“ We bring nature

to architecture and each element of the building constitutes its functioning.”



HOUSE 28 The 850 m 2 property is located in Lago Sul, Brasília DF and was constructed in 2016. Built as an extension of the arid and lush Cerrado Biome landscape, this was conceived as a family home and a refuge of tranquility and connection with nature. The 7ha plot enabled the architects to spread the built area and create extensive gardens, with generous windows connecting the interior to the surrounding landscape. A variety of perspectives is revealed as one walks through the house. The rooms have different heights that define the spatial hierarchy. Extensive walls define fluid spaces and openings positioned in all directions to integrate the living areas. The large windows frames are mostly positioned east-west and the walls north-south. This orientation allows for a dramatic natural light effect during sunrise and sunset. Independent bedrooms facing east ensure privacy for family members and all suites have a balcony and a metal trellis for climbing plants. The windows there, when opened, serve as seats both for the bedroom and the balcony.



The landscape colours are reprised in the use of interior materials. Next to the terrace under an old Jatoba tree, is the rectangular white marble conversion pool with a bench along its entire length and flanked by a wooden deck. The house has impeccable sustainability credentials: rainwater is directed to an underground reservoir serving the garden irrigation system. Solar panels heat the water and the pool throughout the year and tilting windows allow cross ventilation and natural light in every room. The interior is done in a playful and relaxed spirit with pieces designed by Samuel Lamas and masters of Brazilian and international design: Sergio Rodrigues, Jorge Zalszupin, Tenreiro, Jean Gillon, Geraldo de Barros, Lucio Costa, Lina Bo Bardi, Campana brothers, Vico Magistretti, Charles Eames, Antonio Bonet, Pollock and Achile Castiglioni among others. The landscaping is an extension of the surrounding forest, with native trees and shrub masses that flower throughout the year. In the central garden, a native tree Erythrina Mulungu, known as coral tree, creates a veritable carpet of red flowers. â–







Luke Trujillo, founder of architectural practice Trulinea, is a Colorado man. A pedigree architect who earned his stripes in big commercial offices in LA, he returned back home, drawn to the beauty of the mountains and the laid-back lifestyle that his clients expect him to redefine and capture in a succession of high end residential projects.






elluride Colorado attracts wealthy urbanites who have added a cachet of affluence to an already spectacular destination. Trujillo interprets the romance of the place almost intuitively, creating homes that are based on rich vernacular tradition yet infused with modern language. His is a grass root-driven architecture that captures the poetry of the mountains and uses locally sourced materials (stone, wood, metal), making him a lifestyle architect to whom clients relate on both personal and professional level. He describes himself as “more artist than engineer” and defines his style as “modern Telluride mountain” which is narrow enough and specific enough to make him the go-to architect of choice in the area.

MDC LOT 27 The MDC project has been four years in the making and is a building of legacy proportions and significance that has been conceived and designed as a multigeneration family home of some 10,000 ft2. With direct views of the spectacular Wilson Peak, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, and surrounded by distinctive Colorado trees, the design and building of both the exterior and the interiors is a testimony to Trujillo’s strength as an architect: reconciling the diametrically opposing ideas of the two spouses to produce a coherent building of unique design that “cranks up the lifestyle to a whole new level”. Characteristically for Trujillo’s projects, the house is at one with nature to the extent that it “belongs” in, and cannot be anywhere else other than, Telluride.

Trujillo reconciled the difference in ideas (the husband aiming for a traditional look, while his wife favoured a more contemporary concept) by including both clients in the process of selecting materials and creating an impressive domain with a substantial mass and heft to it, but with a lightness of composition on the inside. The interplay between different shades of large stone slabs, wood and metal is visually stunning. 3D modelling software was used to draw every surface, angle and space and the clients were guided through the entire process. The result is an outstanding, compoundlike home that ensures the privacy of its occupants and provides an arresting, ultra-comfortable and sustainable landmark in an area that has no shortage of beautiful homes. ■










Roderick Anderson, CEO of Sarco Architects, is a second generation architect whose credentials for building spectacular homes on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast are backed by an impressive array of awards, and client endorsements to match.






ementing this kind of reputation in a Central American country that boasts two coastlines: one on the Pacific and another, less well developed but no less beautiful, on the Caribbean Sea, is no mean feat. Costa Rica is one of the world’s leading renewable energy destinations with rainforests of astounding biodiversity and beauty. This has attracted a growing number of investors and ultra-high end villa owners who value privacy and the sustainability ethos that underpins building development.

all components in one is understanding the natural elements, the climate conditions and the microclimates created at different times of day that each require their tailored design solution. Anderson understands the language of the land in each particular project and his clients articulate this ability quite eloquently: “The power of having design and execution in one hand became obvious as we walked into the completed home: form and function in perfect symbiosis taking advantage of the sun, the shade, ocean and nature only a local fully appreciates.”

Buying a slice of tropical paradise is just the beginning of an exciting journey whose pitfalls are best avoided through using an architect specialized in this type of design, and versed in navigating the administrative “jungle”.

The romance of Costa Rica is enhanced greatly by its environmental credentials and its government’s ongoing efforts to preserve the phenomenal diversity of its flora and fauna.

When quality, functionality and comfort are paramount, the key to achieving

Mindful of the fact that once a foundation is laid, one is already disrupting the





“We prefer a property that is natural and untouched.” environment to some extent, Sarco Architects go to great lengths to minimize the impact on nature and wildlife. They ensure that their clients avoid the typical strategy of many lower-knowledge developers who cut flat “building pads” out of sloped mountain terrain in order to try to maximize sales potential. “We prefer a property that is natural and untouched, and we like to use a design strategy on sloped terrains where the home is elevated and “perched” above the ground. This minimizes the need for any heavy excavation, allows for improved natural ventilation under the structures reducing interior humidity,



and for a maximum preservation of the undisturbed land below the home’s structure maintaining natural conditions of surface water flow and even wildlife corridors.” For homes that rely heavily on wood elements as part of the architectural language, Sarco Architects use locally-sourced teak, grown from FSC-Certified plantations. There are sizing limits to teak wood that is cut at a fairly young tree age, but the environmental aspect of a material that is local and renewable is very positive. Locally-quarried marble/limestone is also used for projects with a style that

accepts a marble-like material for floors and walls. “Costa Rica has some beautiful exotic hardwoods, but these are rarely from renewable forests so we try to avoid their usage in a philosophy of environmental responsibility.” To address the different priorities of clients - each requiring a slightly different design approach - Sarco have developed a First Steps plan, dubbed the Needs, Options and Site Review. This provides an initial analysis – a “get to know and understand the client” - combined with an on-site property review and zoning and restrictions check. The approach aims to increase the work up front, doing proper homework and analysis early on in the process, and making the needed adjustments later on so as to meet the client’s vision and financial goals.



Sarco Architects have created some very bold designs, many in the middle of the tropical forests, and although the firm has no “house style”, there is clearly an overarching aesthetic, articulated by Roderick Anderson thus: “We like to create modern designs with a distinct tropical and natural feel. We use a combination of materials to create an interesting palette incorporating exposed steel, very large glass surfaces, stucco concrete surfaces and accents with natural local stone or wood. We constantly strive to maximize the blurring of indoor and outdoor

spaces and to bring the natural landscape as part of the home’s interior.”

a very small ridge point, and the rest, a sloping terrain at an angle to the ridge.

The feature property, Casa Magayon in Peninsula Papagayo, Guanacaste, was built on an elevation and overlooking the ocean with a spectacular green roof and a cantilevered deck perched over the ravine. Anderson describes it thus: “This specific project is one I am particularly proud of. The brief was to design a very informal, open home, creating a close connection between owners and nature. The natural terrain was a sharply sloping hillside that turned into

We broke up the home into separate modules connected by covered outdoor bridges and open atriums, which allowed us to articulate the design and adapt it to the natural shape of the land. This created an outdoor space that enjoys a natural shade cast by the home’s main structures and is protected from the hot afternoon sun. This design strategy successfully allowed us to reduce the air conditioned areas of the home by around 30% with all associated energy savings.”

Casa Magayon was selected as the project that is most representative of the Sarco aesthetic, with a timeless legacy quality about it. “This is our most recent “5-Star, Best Architecture Single Residence Costa Rica” award winner at the International Property Awards, in London, because it incorporates our best design strategies to minimize the impact on the natural environment. The design aesthetic incorporates colours from the surrounding landscape and uses this colour palette

in the exposed steel and window framing. The home works seamlessly with the natural flow of the terrain and allows the owners to experience a close connection to nature from all areas.” As interest in coastal Central America and the Caribbean region grows, Sarco Architects have broadened their reach to make their international design expertise available to clients in Panama, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic where they have been contracted as the architect for a large-scale high-end residential resort. ■



“We constantly strive to maximize the blurring of indoor and outdoor spaces and to bring the natural landscape as part of the home’s interior.” 131



The architectural studio pursues excellence without being restricted by typological projects, with current work ranging from single luxury residences to educational buildings.





Photography by Wieland Gleich


ira Architects was established in Santiago de Chile in 2003 and in Cape Town, South Africa in 2009 by Chilean architect Luis Mira. Luis Mira was a visiting lecturer at University of Cape Town between 20072012 where he initiated design and build projects that continue today as part of the architectural education curriculum.

PAVILION IN SILVERHURST This is a free-standing building annex to a property in Constantia, Cape Town used as entertainment space, guest accommodation and a car collector’s garage cum show room. The existing main house is an iconic residence conceived by well-known local architects.



Part of our brief was to be consistent with the architectural language of the building which we reinterpreted through using similar proportions, structural frame and materials. The site and surroundings are beautifully landscaped and the presence of massive old trees makes it very special. The new building establishes a volumetric dialogue with the ‘forest like’ garden. The building faces north, looking towards a lush green belt in close proximity. The design unveils the views and creates reflective surfaces that extend the experience of being in this landscaped setting inside and outside. The access to the building is at road level. The car show room has a continuous front

glass façade overlooking the green belt. The entrance hall is visually connected to it. The stairs design provides an effective transition from the car show room to a home environment. The lower level is defined by a lounge, dining room and kitchen, followed by two guest bedrooms on each side of the main space. A butler’s room and equipment and service area are also at this level, with separate independent entrances from the back of the pavilion. All these rooms open up to an internal landscaped courtyard that provides extra light and ventilation, featuring a green wall that complements the outside landscaping right in the heart of the interior.



HOUSE IN CAMPS BAY The house was conceived as a holiday home for a single individual who entertains overnight guests frequently. It had to be versatile enough to work as an open plan studio, yet morphing into a succession of private spaces when full of visitors. The privileged position of the plot and the generous climate of Cape Town informed the design process as did the brief, which was ‘all rooms of the house with a sea view’. The views are towards the ‘geographical room’ of Camps Bay with the Atlantic Ocean, Lion’s Head and Table Mountain



in the backdrop. The design intent is applied by framing views towards the sea (rooms) and opening up spaces (terraces) to look at the mountains.

the passage, connects the bedrooms; the other is built inside the main bedroom as part of the en-suite area. These two courtyards are reflective of sea views.

The concept rests on creating a subtle journey through the open spaces and the interior that constantly interacts with the landscape and merges within the design, never revealing the entire building at a glance.

Neutral and natural materials are used in a bid to bring the outdoor inside, contrasting the exuberant landscape with a ‘blank canvas’ interior. This is achieved by ‘peeling off’ the volume of the interior spaces towards north and the southern hemisphere sunlight.

In order to give all front rooms of the house access to the sea, and to bring fresh air, light and circulation into the back of the house, two glass walled courtyards were introduced at ground floor level. One courtyard, built around

The ultimate concept of luxury is the constant extending and opening of the inside spaces to fully integrate the unique and exquisite South African climate. ■





Whereas architecture is considered a perfect synthesis between art and science, the altro-studio team aspire to reflect, on the one hand, facts and phenomena close to the real world surrounding us (expressed by new techniques and materials) and, on the other, interdisciplinary studies involving music, philosophy, literature and, above all, the figurative arts.

altro_studio was founded in 1998 by a group of people prepared to work in an interdisciplinary environment. From the very start, altro_studio began to research movement as applied to the home, ranging from temporary housing to major urban projects. We mainly addressed new concepts of flexible, transformable, eco living space, in order to understand the new, functional and structural needs of the individual. For this and other reasons, altro_studio focused its research on new technologies (mainly linked to automated systems) and innovative materials, and investigated the problems of environmental sustainability. Whereas architecture is considered a perfect synthesis between art and science, we aspire on the one hand to facts and phenomena close to the real world surrounding us (expressed by new techniques and materials) and, on the other, to interdisciplinary studies involving music, philosophy, literature and, above all, the figurative arts. Art has always expressed political, cultural and social thought and has always been considered as avant-garde compared to architecture. Figurative art has always been an essential part of architecture. This is the tool, which distinguishes a true architect from a simple technician of architecture. Our objective is to offer concrete answers to the numerous problems that affect the world we live in,



i.e. immigration, mobility, climate change, desertification, hurricanes and the rise in water levels, or even events, such as virtual communication via the creation of networks, computerisation and the computer. Lastly, we aim to concentrate our observations on the transformations produced by social change in recent decades, and on new ways of living public and private, collective and individual space. Our architecture can be defined as experimental in the sense that we analyse the perceptive and emotional aspects applied to architectural space. We are speaking here of phenomena concerning the metropoli. Our research sets out to be a possible response to a series of events or, in some cases, a prediction to achieve utopian solutions. We work in “extreme” spaces, placed “outside” traditional, architectural rules. These are spaces, in which the concept of phenomenon is contaminated by some fundamental, philosophical ideas (of Foucault, Deleuze and Merleau Ponty), based on the bond between environment-subject-individual, but also by mathematical or scientific rules, which have always been the tools of architecture. We work on spaces characterised by antinomies, which are part of the written



and spoken language, such as: openclosed, inside-outside, visible-invisible, chaos-order, rational-organic, up-down. These contrasting terms (a timehonoured subject of philosophical studies) never achieve the typical equilibrium of tradition, an aspect which gave the individual emotional security (classicism searched for equilibrium between proportions, between empty and full spaces, etc.). On the contrary, they actually find a reason to exist in the most extreme conflict and contrast, by creating new, different tensions, capable of arousing rather disorientating conditions for the individual, as disorientating as the world in which we live. In order to achieve extreme spatial conditions, we use movement as a tool to highlight a complex architecture, the main feature of which is not static. We have developed our research on this specific topic in two directions. The first deals with the movement of the individual as he wanders around the space. It is represented by a vacuum, a smooth space, which creates the principle of visual perception, and in which the fundamental element is the pathway. As he crosses the territory, the individual is made aware of the space to the extent that architecture becomes an item of clothing he can wear and carry around with him and then abandon in the territory once he has used it. The second refers to the movement of architecture the moment it acquires subjectivity and replaces the individual. By moving architectural parts or elements in the space (by sliding, rotating, slipping and overturning), it is possible to reach infinite spatial conditions in a brief lapse of time without any particular spatial quality prevailing over the others. For us this represents a different way of perceiving space, in which architecture



no longer expresses itself by searching for shape, which for us takes on a deductive character, but by means of a pure, simple gesture. Only by action can we achieve ever-changing expressiveness. To reinforce this concept, our architecture becomes “poor”. We use simple, essential shapes, supported by the use of simple, low cost materials, but also using highly innovative technology (systems of automation). All this does not exclude the scenic, illusory aspect, which architecture produces via everyday gestures. Sliding screen-printed windows, rotating drawn walls, lights, which by continually moving change the perception of space to create special optical effects. Each architecture transforms into a theatrical work, which has no beginning and no end, and has no predetermined plot, but expresses itself freely without a script. For this and other reasons we can affirm that ours is in actual fact a “kinetic architecture”. To study or resolve an architectural detail becomes interesting for certain aspects regarding composition. For example, the Miesian cross pillar is broken into four parts to allow the walls to slide, or the volume is broken to enable the same movement. New types of homes are created, such as the semi-duplex, or the double-face space, or yet again the semihypogeum. Lastly, it is fundamental to realise that these structures are designed to answer the canons of biocompatibility and self-sufficiency. More specifically, the architecture of movement is characterised by natural or recycled materials, whereas architecture in movement is constructed via systems of automation, intelligent systems able to respond to technologically innovative living comfort.

HOUSE, IN CASTELLO Restyling and restructuring of a single family home in Largo Coltellacci, Castel San Pietro Romano


he project began with a close investigation into the architectural features of the place. The house is located at a height of 800 metres to the east of Rome, in the ancient acropolis of Praeneste (today’s Palestrina) 70 km from Rome. Today, Castel San Pietro Romano, the place where Comencini’s “Pane amore e fantasia” [Bread Love and Dreams] was filmed in 1953, is a tiny, compact village with very narrow streets and roughly plastered houses. The old town walls, which wrap around it from the fortress dating back to the year 1000, highlight a series of superfetations built in the 50s, which jut out on the main road. The house represents one of these and is set out on five levels. Its height gives a wonderful 360 degree view of the surroundings.

Previously, the old town wall was hidden inside the house between the first superfetation and the original nucleus, dating back to the early twentieth century, which caused the total visual loss of the historic remains. The first step was to divide the series of superfetations and the old house in order to read the sequence of interventions made over the years. A decisive link between old and new is now guaranteed by the presence of a 10m-high and 90 cm-wide, glass window, which enables the walls of the old town to be viewed once again. The old, completely plastered house now has exposed, internal stone work, whereas outside the original plaster has been restored. The annexe (the volume of superfetation), connected to the rest of the house only via a spiral staircase,

has been restored and plastered, leaving only the part coinciding with the historic wall in stone. Minimal intervention divided both volumes on the inside with glass or coloured walls to allow all the materials and constructive technologies used to be seen. Conceived as intersecting, horizontal and vertical levels in order to create an ever-changing, spatial conception, the walls are divided into three levels inside the original nucleus, with a living room, kitchen and bathroom on the ground floor, whereas the two upper floors have a bedroom, a living room, a study and their respective utility rooms. Everything within the original nucleus is visible, even the roof. A large, iron bookcase can be seen entirely, as it rises



up all the levels as far as the metal sheet and girders of the roof. The annexe is also divided by glass walls to give a hydro-massage relaxation area with a changing room, a bedroom, a study and their respective utility rooms.

HOUSE IN VIA LUNIGIANA 2012 The apartment stands in piazza Bologna, a district to the east of Rome, featuring buildings dating mainly back to before and during the Fascist period. The building is a block, constructed in 1928 with the typical finishes and mouldings of the period. The idea was to respect the period features, yet provide a modern, innovative look inside.

The perimeter wall of the house kept its original details, which can be seen: the old, dark grey cornices ceiling stuccos, in contrast with white walls.

has still and the

The central nucleus of the house features a sequence of moving, translucent and opaque walls in different colours to make the space extremely flexible and dynamic. The sliding glass door, in particular, which divides the day from the night zone, opens up to a space with the typical colours of the period: dark grey and ochre yellow, which pick up the original floor colours (ochre and grey crushed marble in the bedroom and a nailed parquet flooring).

There is an original, 30s stained glass in different, lead-bordered colours at the end of the night zone access area.

THE ABODE FOR THE OUTSIDE The shape of this 80 m 2 house is organised into a grid spanning 3.0x3.0 metres, which occupies the entire plot. The pure, geometric shape (the parallelepiped) is simple, seeing that this, like all our other projects, is not based on the search for an architectural form. It is conceived exclusively as something changeable. What counts is the expression of a concept represented in its essence. The frame uses a system of automation to become a place of movement, a space

in which the expression of movement entrusted to architectural elements generates a dimension of the indefinite, a space outside itself, a place in which total absence reigns. The walls slide along the steel floor tracks of the grid. They have also been designed as recycled, 6 cm-thick, insulated aluminium panels (with low environmental impact), which can modify the space and change the perception of it in a relatively short space of time, passing from total closure to an absolute, complete opening, and vice versa. The variation in the terms movement-space-time is determined by a computer placed in the centre of the house.



Inside-outside, open-closed become extreme spatial conditions, inside which covered-open, open-non-covered spaces and open-closed spaces take shape. If the external envelope remains closed, the internal space can be modified to make it more flexible and adaptable to the various needs. The only fixed elements are the reinforced concrete platform, a base, on which the sliding tracks for the walls are placed, and the volumes of the utility rooms. The theme of movement prompts the modification of some of the architectural elements. For example, the pillar imitates

the traditional Miesian cross and is divided into four parts to allow the walls to slide over the cross points. The pillars can also be erected outside the house to increase the domestic space by adding opaque or transparent modules both vertically and horizontally. ■

altro_studio via Libetta 15, 00154, Roma Tel: 06 45434612 Email:




Daaahaus is a fairly unique team of creative professionals: architects, interior designers, product designers, graphic designers and innovators, offering a complete multidisciplinary service and approach.






he practice was established as an experiment a decade ago by Keith Pillow whose background is in marketing and branding with a focus on real estate. His life-long fascination with design and architecture compelled him to take on the interiors of a project that his consultancy was handling at the time as a challenge and by way of motivating a member on his team who wanted to study interior design. “We started taking on small projects, but as our reputation grew, the experiment became a full time job and a vocation. I was brought up in an environment of interior design, project management and industrial engineering. In the 80s my father used to take me with him to work, both at the factory and on sites. The family business specialised in metal and aluminium aperture fabrication. Later on, my father got involved in shop fitting out. Although at the time I thought this was a pretty stressful job, I now believe it is in my blood. My mother, on the other hand, always had a great sense of style and good taste, and enjoyed doing mini projects at home. Today I use my flair



and passion for design and architecture, combined with my marketing and branding expertise, to lead a team of designers and architects in Italy and Malta to create unique concepts.” From the outset the Daaahaus concept was underpinned by placing lifestyles at the forefront when taking on residential projects, and culture and consumer behaviours when undertaking commercial projects. While most designers subscribe to the above in theory, their approach tends to be “based primarily on aesthetics”, says Keith Pillow. His background means that he perceives design and architecture from a different angle. The Daaahaus model is today validated by most architects focusing on branding and experiences before getting down to rules and spatial planning. “When we design a house we don’t ask clients what style they favour because they either have no preconceived idea or if they do, it is based on what they have

seen in a magazine. We, on the other hand, fill in a questionnaire, asking them questions about everything that informs their lifestyle, from music to favourite movies, to culinary preferences, etc. Our job then is to come up with a design that best fits their lifestyle. Mostly they are surprised and love what we propose. Spatial planning and materials are therefore a form of expressing a lifestyle rather than a trend or a signature style we try to impose on others. When we work on commercial projects, be it a hotel, a café or an office, we research the target market in detail to create a unique selling experience that fits. When a client has an established idea of what he wants, we ask to sit down with the chef (in case it’s a restaurant) so that their priorities are reflected in the ultimate design.” People today have different expectations of their homes and of commercial spaces in the sense that space in general has to be multi-functional and incorporate the ever-evolving new technology. Lifestyles change at great speed and what is relevant



today may not be so a year from now, the same applying to aesthetics. The great thing about Daaahaus is that they do not act as style enforcers, nor do they define themselves as style innovators. “We try to innovate all the time but not at the cost of not being relevant. We are curators, creative artists helping people to live in nice spaces. Design is for us a professional tool for making people happy. We help create emotions and lasting WOW memories. We do not always follow up on the latest design trends - these have the habit of changing continually because manufacturers, like fashion brands, need to sell new things. Marketing budgets are there to create new styles in order to influence consumers, and this applies both to the fashion and the architecture/interior



design industries. Anything that is well researched and curated is a classic and remains relevant. In fact, even trends follow classics. It’s just that they are commercialised to make people feel the need to change. When clients come to us they find that we handle things differently and irrespective of what style of kitchens all the showrooms are trying to sell at that particular moment. Even if what we propose might be similar, it is not trendmotivated. To illustrate this point, I am refurbishing a post-modernist town house and while I personally love post-modernist architecture, the project is interesting because of the client’s well-defined interest in this style and era, which means the result will remain relevant and a classic.”

Relevance is more of a challenge in the design industry today than ever before. “The 1990 was a bit of a free for all”, says Keith Pillow. “People wanted a complete change and instead of evolving, blending styles we saw a lot of completely extreme design propositions. In these last 10 years however design and architecture have evolved and I think there is more respect for the past with a good vision for the future. We are seeing a lot of sober designs blending styles and mixing old with new. This is relevant in my opinion as it embraces culture and projects the future.” Mitigating the short-termism of passing trends a good designer/architect makes sure that the client gets return on investment which is as important as, if not more so than aesthetics for both home owners/developers and commercial space clients alike.







“Less is more. Classics are classics for a reason - when a design evokes a nostalgic feeling, it engenders emotions compelling people to want to buy. I have seen cases when developers or owners have spent a fortune on design, yet when they try to sell, the design works against them rather than adding value. This is because it is too bold, too commercial or looks dated. On the other hand, when a property is well curated, in a classic style (be it postmodern, minimalistic, or even with a touch of retro), it more often than not acquires this nostalgic aura, with a sense of belonging. We set great value by that which makes us feel good. Design adds value if it gives a sense of belonging.” On the contentious subject of what is the overarching priority when designing something bespoke: style v.functionality; uniqueness v. life enhancement, Keith Pillow says, “This is a very tricky question. I think it all depends on the context, of the where and the when. Most times it is 70 % functionality and 30% style, but we have worked on bespoke items that are 100% style as the remit called for signature pieces. Nor are we in the business of enhancing life. There are



others who specialise in that. Our job is to create something unique that makes lasting memories.” Given the underlying theme of timelessness, we asked Keith Pillow to identify the Daaahaus residential and commercial projects that in his opinion would best illustrate this concept, and to describe what makes them outstanding in this context. “I would cite the two most recent projects as I feel that with learning and improving, all our subsequent work is better than the previous. These are two very different projects, one being the renovation of a post-modernist terraced house mentioned earlier and the other, the modernising of a historical villa with mature gardens and lots of valuable antique furniture into a classy modern home for a very young affluent couple. Both projects were challenging and unique. In terms of a commercial project I would definitely choose the featured Macina project. I have been working with my team on this for the last 3 years and have personally been involved in

it for 7, trying to find an investor so I can complete this property I fell in love with. The Macina is a unique design and architecture project involving the restoration of an old circa 1500 seafront fortified building into a luxury boutique hotel. The original architecture was so unique that our remit was to keep as much of it, enhancing it with contrasting minimal / bold interventions. The newly completed Hotel Cugo Gran, Macina is a testament of taste, quality and luxury, reflecting the lifestyle of the guests that will be staying in the ultraluxury suites. Combining natural and traditional materials with clean modern lines, the design juxtaposes the truly old and of historic value with the new. Boasting amazing and intriguing communal spaces, high vaulted ceilings, ample natural light and unobstructed marina views, minimal design was sufficient to create a sense of accomplished luxury. With the use of high quality materials and signature furniture pieces, every space, even stark white walls, speaks volumes, exuding elegance and uniqueness.

“Our job is to create something unique that makes lasting memories.” Designing a contemporary hotel space in this exceptional period building called for a strong palette of raw natural materials and a great amount of respect for the structure. Each room and corridor is unique and so required bespoke furniture and carpentry throughout. The materials had to be strong in character, of high quality and well balanced like the building itself. We used laquered raw steel, limed oak, Carrara marble, slate and lava stone, Maltese hard stone and custom tinted glass and mirrors - contemporary materials that sit elegantly within the walls of Macina, reflecting light and colours within the building. Daaahaus team designed custom furniture crafted by local craftsmen and carpenters for every space. For other pieces we worked with reputable

European designers to source unique lighting and finishing touches in every room. Tom Dixon, Flos& Louis Paulson lights complement hand tufted wool rugs, Scandinavian furniture and bespoke Italian sofas and beds. Bathrooms, lined in contemporary natural slate, with large walk in showers, marble vanity units and separate dressing/wardrobe space, are in stark contrast to the chalk white walls and limestone throughout the building. Some feature very luxurious stand alone bathtubs. The rooms are impressive both in size and appearance. Large vaulted spaces with arches, mezzanines floating above huge custom bathrooms, and historical industrial features from Macina’s former life as a 14th Century ship repair building are on display.

Rooms and common areas are bathed in natural light through custom linen curtains; upholstery is in soft wools and fine woven fabrics; beds are of exceptional quality. Whilst every room has the same design elements, it is still very much a one off. Each light switch, railing, chair, artwork and pillow was hand-picked by our designers to create a very personal boutique experience. The Macina building and its location are among the most spectacular on the Maltese Islands. The history, the Grand Harbour and the views of Valletta make this an incredibly special place. We want everyone who comes to stay or dine at Macina to feel just as special and to have every modern luxury and convenience they would expect.” ■




Quada’s founder, Richard Bellman, is a developer of high value country houses just outside London, but with a mission that is intended to move the country house style on beyond copying 300 year old Georgian and Palladian designs.






rchitecture is not supposed to stand still, but that’s what it has effectively done with the UK country house. It’s about time that architecture for large imposing houses in the country looked forward for its design references, not backwards. You wouldn’t want to pile all today’s latest automobile technology and design into a twenty year old supercar, so why do the same thing for your house? The reason is that contemporary architecture in the last fifty years has limited itself to design statements, to sculptures, that are impressive to look at, but do not make for a comfortable home. What Quada does is to take the best of modern design and materials and produce a living environment which is warm, intimate and functional as well as exciting, modern and relevant.” Bellman has form when it comes to designing and executing his vision. He built Blue Jay in Claremont Park, Esher last year, a 13,000 sq ft understatement of soaring central atrium spaces set in an acre of historic walled gardens that was the only house of its size and value to be sold in Surrey in the first six months of that year. The latest in the “Quada Series” is Harford Manor, a 23,000 ft2 “superhome” with a further 10,000 sq ft of outbuildings, set in a 40 acre equestrian estate just outside Windsor, Berkshire.



Its elevated location, with views of Windsor Castle to the east and within 5 minutes of the M4, would appeal to buyers who are on the market for an exclusive and prestigious country property that is a hop, skip and a jump from both Central London and Heathrow. The main house, approached via a gated, tree-lined driveway, comprises 6 en-suite bedrooms, staff accommodation, two kitchens (one for the chef, another for entertainment), a double height central galleria, dining hall, split level sitting room, cinema, library, gallery, orangery, indoor swimming pool and leisure complex. The ground floor consists of a flow of open spaces that can be partitioned off at a flip of a switch, the whole exuding opulence and a certain lightness of touch at the same time, very much in tune with contemporary lifestyle. Modern art pieces complete the interior. A nod to the traditional is the second floor clubroom/study, with its wood paneling and panoramic views over the estate. The beauty of the house is in the detail – the quality materials used throughout: solid meranti wood frames and Dichroic coloured glass; bespoke fumed oak feature doors with satin brass inlay; Calacatta and Carrara marble;Moleanos and Camilla classic ceramic tiling;



“ It’s about

time that architecture for large imposing houses in the country looked forward for its design references, not backwards.”

Dornbracht shower and bathware; worktops in RosaZaric marble and Nero de Ormea stone; specialist joinery. The outdoor is a dream: an all-weather tennis court, of course, formal and semiformal landscaped gardens, a helicopter landing pad... Unquestionably though, the estate is remarkable for its equestrian facilities, including an indoor riding ménage (previously used for training by Team GB dressage Olympic medal winners in



2008), stabling with 10 boxes, grooms’ quarters, tack room and hard standing, direct access to bridle path affording connection to two high goal polo pitches at Gadsbury Farm owned by Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Thai owner of Leicester City F.C. The environmental credentials of the property are no less impressive – in fact, the functional heart of the house look like a ship’s engine room. The house has the latest touch screen-operated whole house control system, and a highly

sustainable design, with environmental energy provision from ground source heat and cooling and whole house heat recovery system. Harford Manor is a unique property and at the same time typical of the type of project Quada invests in and develops. The commonality – and ingenuity – is in sourcing off market sites that have an inherent value because of their location and size, and in creating homes that are modern, functional, sustainable and jawdroppingly spectacular. ■




Marla Wasser, the Toronto art advisor and founder of Pursuits Inc., has three decades of building relationships with galleries, artists, dealers and collectors under her belt.





ursuits was established in 2007 as a result of Wasser identifying a gap in the market – a disconnect between Canadian collectors and galleries representing international artists.


differentiates Pursuits as an advising company. There is no greater confidence a client can feel than knowing that their art advisor is supported by nationally important institutions.

“This opened my eyes to a wonderful opportunity to use my passion, experience, and relationships to facilitate the development of an international art advisory here in Canada. Pursuits creates a bridge between Canada and the rest of the world for clients to purchase art in a trustworthy and transparent environment.”

“The personal relationship developed between an advisor and a client is built on a foundation of trust and having the support of museums separates me professionally from other art advisors.”

Pursuits is conceived as a bridge to art from across the globe, spanning many different time periods, genres and mediums.

She is also the Arts Contributor at the national lifestyle magazine, Bay St Bull (

Wasser’s depth of knowledge in working within museum environments extends to all aspects of the collection process, from intellectual dialogues to logistic details. “The development of an intellectually stimulating and engaging museum show is a labour of love; seeing it grow and evolve until you have the opportunity to present it at an institution is an incredibly rewarding process. Through the development there is also the technical component at a very high level, relationships with galleries, collectors and artists to lend the works to the exhibition, logistics, legal, accompanying literature, educational programs and of course, the installation. My clients know I have the support of major public institutions and as Canada tends to be more conservative, this adds an important layer of confidence.”

Her role as an independent museum curator who has developed exhibitions (The Art, Inspiration, and Appropriation of Andy Warhol, RAM: Rethinking Art and Machine) supported by major Canadian national museums,

Provenance has always been a contentious issue in the art world and a good advisory necessarily assumes the role of an art sleuth, providing in-depth research on the artist, their market and the work produced.

While access is essential to sourcing high quality artworks, navigating a world with limited transparency successfully only comes with experience, which helps mitigate risk for clients. Marla Wasser’s credentials are indisputable. She is an executive member of the Association of Professional Art Advisors (APAA), http://www. and has held positions on the Canadian Art Foundation Art Advisory Committee, the North American Acquisitions Committee for the Tate Museum in London, and the Art Gallery of Ontario’s smART Women.

Private collection featuring artists Tom Wesselmann (left); Yves Klein (centre); and Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari (right).



Curating and research are the foundation of Pursuits consulting practice. Her most recent museum exhibition, ‘RAM: Rethinking Art & Machine,’ received the prestigious Waterloo Art Event of the Year Award http://www.



“As an extension of the art advisor service, I help extend clients’ relationship with art into the real world in a number of ways. I will alert them of up coming exhibitions in cities they’re traveling to, connect them with gallery owners abroad, and introduce them to artists they’re keen to meet.”

With contemporary art, having access to the primary market/purchasing directly from the artist’s studio makes this a non-issue, however, with the secondary market, provenance is more relevant than ever as art sales are conducted on so many different platforms.

and are protected in a world without transparency.”

An advisor can protect the collector by providing transparency but also by asking questions so that their client doesn’t have to. Is this gallery honest? What is the provenance? Will this artist’s market be manipulated? Is the work a fake? Will this artist’s work have value in 10 years?

At a basic level one is able to access auction results directly from the auction houses (the secondary market). Art professionals engage in a more sophisticated level of research, using fee-based resources on data sites such as Artprice, Artron, Artnet.

“I am constantly reviewing information and examining relationships to ensure that my client is getting the best access and financial guidance. In today’s market when art is so highly coveted, the role of an advisor is to have the established relationships to get the right discounts and most importantly, the right art works. On so many levels a collector faces potential issues, for one, a new art collector will often not get a discount because the gallery doesn't know them and doesn’t feel obligated. A collector has to be protected and know they’re acquiring works intelligently. There is no status quo from one person to another on how you put value on an artwork; a new buyer won’t be privy to the information and access that I have.” “Ultimately, the art world is about relationships because when you think about what art is, there’s a human scale of what is being created. If an artist can only create so many pieces in a year they become extremely coveted, galleries want to know that they’re selling it into a good collection and won’t be “flipped”. The art world is a tricky place so having relationships puts you in a position where you have access to the best

The Internet has undoubtedly been a game changer in the world of art, both in terms of information access and research tools, and has created new opportunities.

“What separates the men from the boys are the highly developed relationships within the art industry ensuring access to very important data that is not available in the open market or online.” The art market is continuously looking for more efficient ways to make informed decisions and address concerns about transparency. According to the 2016 Deloitte Art & Finance Report, the prevailing challenge for the development of the industry remains its unregulated nature, its overall lack of transparency, and issues in sourcing and finding reliable art-related knowledge. The growing presence of online databases notwithstanding, transactions at the higher end are still primarily completed through private channels and this means that, for the time being at least, a large portion of art market information remains unavailable to the public. Advisories such as Pursuits are a vital component for successful and smart collecting, providing transparency and guidance.

an asset class. However, the absence of transparency means that manipulation can be easily done at every level of the industry as information is only accessible through the open forum of the secondary market, which includes the auction houses. For example, if dealers are collaborating to boost an artist’s value on the open market they can do this by buying 2 or 3 works at auction at a totally inflated price. My experience allows me to protect clients from market manipulation and I think it is the responsibility of every advisor to go past the auction results, dig much deeper into the private dealer network and other confidential art relationships in order to do so.” The way we perceive art has changed dramatically in the last century and so has the way we perceive value, both emotional and financial. When it comes to determining the market value of an artwork important factors include: • Authenticity/condition; • Provenance; • Importance of the artist in art history; • Period of the artist’s career – some periods are more desirable than others or are considered more important; • Subject matter of the piece – is there a WOW factor?; • Where has the work been shown (local vs. international); • Has the work been published?; • Publication of a Catalogue Rasionné – this has a strong influence on value as it defines a lifetime of work and shows transparency towards specific works that are still attainable (not owned by museums).

“Art today is perceived as a commodity and an extension of one’s portfolio. It is

Private collection featuring artists Jeff Koons (left) and Alex Katz (right).





Artists working closely with their galleries in the primary market can have their careers created and influenced through the perception of value in the eyes of the collector based on gallery representation and how important or famous the gallery is. The value of an artist is equally determined by factors such as: • Demand and shortage of supply; • Exhibition history; • Sales success; • Standing in art history; • Is the artist collected by museums or influential collectors?; • Has the artist acquired any awards or grants? “In summary, creating art value is more closely tied to a financial business model than emotional response. Collectors are the economic engine that fuels the art market. They are heavily influenced by gallerists and art dealers that they have built trust and relationships with, although emotions can definitely play a role in their art purchasing decisions.” In the age of new tech art has to reflect and incorporate it, and museums and institutions play a key role in bringing and sharing innovative ideas to the world. The new world demands creativity and innovation, and the best way to nurture minds capable of this is to merge the arts and sciences, to create more rounded learning experiences. Innovation through the unification of art and technology broadens and challenges/changes perspectives. Art makes innovation in science and technology possible by linking the latter to the human experience, while artists help people see and experience the world around them in new or different ways through the use of technology. “On a very personal level, creating a new media exhibition was an opportunity to open the doors to different global



communities in understanding how art and technology work so closely together. “RAM: Rethinking Art & Machine,” is an original exhibition that is travelling across Canada throughout 2018. It has been an incredible experience for me to work so closely with the participating artists Angela Bulloch, Jim Campbell, Manfred Mohr, Alan Rath and Daniel Rozin as the exhibition continues to evolve with each new museum community. ( ram/)”

EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS RAM breaks down traditional boundaries between art and technology, science and creativity, material and virtual reality. The interdisciplinary works span the late 1960s to the present. These artists are not only important contemporary figures, but could likely prove to become significant figures in art history. The pioneering work of these visionary artists will become the norm in years to come. RAM challenges preconceptions of new media and tests assumptions and will convert people to a new understanding of how art and technology interface and interact – changing the way people view this genre of art. RAM explores the humanization of machines and celebrates the pioneering artist’s deeply personal visions. Technology (the computer) is a tool for the artist, often in the background – it is an extension of their practice and thus their creative output is extremely individual. One of the most important points RAM conveys is the relationship that artists have with technology. At times technology can be viewed as utilitarian and cold. Through education and exploration, RAM aims to change these perceptions, which is why the focus of this exhibition is the humanization of machine. The Art advisor as an educator is instrumental in instilling a sense of

responsibility into collectors who are modern day mecenes, patrons and trend setters all in one. Pursuits advises: “Don’t get caught up in trends or hype: buying “soon-to-bediscovered” artists or breakout art about to become “the next big thing” often proves to be the exception and not the rule”. “One of the things a new collector would usually ask is, what’s happening in the art world? Who’s up and coming? Whom should I be collecting? Where’s the value? I answer the same to everyone - I don’t work like that. I don’t deal like that – I deal in you first and foremost, I need to find out what’s important to you and your aesthetic, and dig deep. From there I’m able to extend into different opportunities that will have a connection to your personal life. From there I tap into my longstanding and deep relationships with galleries, artists and dealers, all the while avoiding fleeting trends and manipulation.” Pursuits advises: Think of art as you would a venture-capital investment: like start-ups, works of art are unique; some prove to be successful while others are susceptible to the volatility of the market. Art has no balance sheet or earnings to help determine its ‘true value’ so engaging an art advisor is the best way to determine the fair market value of the artwork. “There will always be risks in any investment and it’s important that clients go into the process aware, with eyes wide open, so that they feel confident in the purchases they make. An advisor can protect you by providing transparency so that you understand everything around the purchase and the process of acquiring a work.” Pursuits advises: Look at the big picture: when contemplating art as an investment, it is crucial to have a holistic view of

Private collection featuring artists Richard Pettibone (left); Tim Noble & Sue Webster (centre); and Tom Wesselmann (right).

one’s investment assets, future cash flows and other tangible assets like existing art collections. Before purchasing a piece Pursuits always examines the exit strategy in order to mitigate risk. “I think that on an intellectual level the initial aesthetic attraction (between a collector and a work of art) is really important and empowering. Past that, my role as an advisor is to connect the client with the artist, to understand that artist’s story, what they are saying through their work. The only way to

do this is to dive into the artist’s life and connect on a very personal level. That will become a process and when someone comes into your home and asks you about the work, you have a story that connects to the piece and what’s motivated you to be drawn to that artist’s work is incredibly personal. Only when you understand who the artist is can you understand what the work is about. The intellectual perspective of art, in terms of what a client chooses to live with, can directly introduce elements of different

cultures, history, politics, etc. right into someone’s home. Art can be an extension of your ideologies, with collections taking on a life of their own; they’re shaped one work at a time, based on the client’s tastes. These seemingly one-time choices can stimulate conversations with people for years to come.” Pursuits is the facilitator and connector, working with the client to develop their dream collection - finding the art they love, in a highly personal and confidential manner. ■




Alexandra Mollof Fine Art (AMFA) is an independent art advisory service specializing in international modern and contemporary art.






ith offices in London and Sao Paulo, AMFA has carved itself a niche as THE art advisory for Brasilian art collectors as well as those interested in the art of South America. The importance of having an art consultant in today’s globalised market cannot be underestimated. “The art world is a fascinating and exciting place, but it can be daunting and intimidating, too. Artists and galleries are more accessible than ever but knowing where to start is not immediately obvious. We all have an instinctive idea of what we do or don’t like, but most buyers need reassurance when it comes to establishing the investment value of an artwork and its future relevance. The art advisor’s job is to filter and identify ‘pockets’ from which the client can choose, in the



knowledge that they are buying from a vetted selection. Aside from crucial advice on price and quality, a good art advisor ensures their clients access. New collectors might not be aware that galleries have long waiting lists for their most coveted artists: purchasing power does not always translate into the ability to buy a particular work. The journey of learning about artists, their techniques and visions of the world, which is in itself enriching and stimulating, can be made more enjoyable with the right guidance.”

or auction houses, and the clients’ best interests are always at the heart of every negotiation. By aggregating the budgets of all their clients, AMFA represents a buying force larger than any individual budget, which allows them to offer privileged access to the best pieces at the most favourable discounts.

AMFA prides itself on its objectivity and on building long-lasting relationships with clients, some of whom have been with the consultancy for over 20 years.

With over two decades of experience and a vast network of contacts amongst galleries, collectors, museums, auction houses, press and dealers, AMFA is privy to inside information on major museum exhibitions and institutional projects, which enables it to identify, ahead of others, potential shifts in an artist’s market.

AMFA offers a fully bespoke approach: it works for its clients, not for galleries

“Discretion is key in everything we do. In fact, most of our clientele has been



brought to us by private referral and word of mouth from our existing clients, a great testimony to how they value our advice.”

and registered with the relevant artist authorities, thus increasing the artworks’ long-term relevance and value.”

The art world brings together an array of actors – artists, museums, journalists, dealers, curators, collectors, auction houses, galleries, art fairs, biennales – creating a structure that is both opaque and unregulated.

AMFA also offers comprehensive advice and assistance on the management of artworks: packing, shipping, insurance, VAT, framing, installation, restoration, cataloguing, authenticity, valuations – all vital aspects of the proper running of an art collection and of its future. AMFA works with architects and interior designers to advise their clients on acquisitions.

“While it is important to watch how large players move in the market, it is essential to stay true to one’s taste. It’s proven that when buying art at high prices one’s preferences, one’s own ‘voice’ tend to be suppressed. We always encourage our clients to choose pieces that they love and will love living with, while making sure the ‘investment’ side is covered. Our role is also to make sure the works belonging to our clients are loaned to museum shows, well reproduced in catalogues,

“Collecting is the logical evolution for successful people who have achieved a high level of material comfort and who find another way to express themselves through art. There are almost as many reasons for buying art as there are buyers of art, primarily (but not only): including, but not limited to:

• Art is a safe investment; • Art works are easily moved among various homes; • Art opens new spiritual horizons and new perspectives on the world; • Art is stimulating, pleasing, challenging, shocking, appeasing; • Art symbolizes status and sophistication.” Buying art can also become a lifestyle; with an increasing number of art fairs and biennales every year, as well as frequent gallery openings and parties, the art circuit has become a great way to network and meet new people. “At AMFA we believe in collaboration and exchange. Art collecting is a reflection of one’s personality, background, culture, interests and inspirations. It is an interactive way to look at the world and, for this reason, most collectors want to live with their art, sometimes even going as far as creating spaces for specific pieces, moving walls or even building new homes to accommodate their collection. We partner with interior decorators and architects, working hand-in-hand with them to make sure that the artworks and living spaces complement one another in a way that reflects the lifestyles and personalities of our clients.” Alexandra Mollof has been active in Brazil since the early 2000s and, with Brazilian partner Paulo Petrarca, was the very first art advisor in the country to open bridges to the international art markets. “Brasil as a rich and sophisticated culture, that is a true reflection of its diverse origins, and which expresses itself in unique ways through its music, architecture, design and, of course, its art.” In parallel to the commercial aspect, AMFA has organised and collaborated



on a number of institutional exhibitions in São Paulo. The consultancy’s knowledge of the historical as well as the vibrant contemporary art scenes in Brasil, coupled with the logistical support that it provides for the importation and exportation of artworks, have largely contributed to giving AMFA a prominent position in the Brasilian art market. Using its large network in the region, AMFA has been able to source high quality historic and contemporary Latin American art at advantageous prices for an international clientele. The consultancy is, for now, the only experienced structure in the region that can offer a full service of art advisory as well as of collection and logistical management. ■

“The journey of learning about the artists, their technique and vision of the world is in itself enriching, stimulating and more enjoyable with the right guidance.”

AMFA ( is part of the Society of London Art Dealers ( and its founder, Alexandra Mollof, is a patron of Tate (, Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo Assis Chateaubriand ( and on the board of MADE (




Trailblazing it ‘her way’ Poonam Soni created her eponymous brand in 1989, driven by a compulsion to design unique pieces of jewellery in a bold fusion style.






orn in India, a country renowned for its rich traditions and fine craftsmanship, she set out to break the conventional mould and establish her own “Red Carpet” collection of high impact pieces that frequently become the conversation. Widely recognised as a pioneer in the field, she uses different mediums (platinum, precious and semi-precious gems, leather, shells, enamel, gems, treated brass, crushed gold) to produce collections that are aesthetically strong, colourful and highly distinctive.

 A snake sautoir in diamonds and platinum

One of these collections, ‘Gaudi Revived’, was inspired by the works of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi and won the patronage of the Spanish government. Each piece was sold with an authenticity certificate bearing the Spanish emblem. Art remains one of her major inspirations and she collaborated with Laxman Shreshta, one of India’s leading artists, to frame his miniature bejewelled canvases in necklaces and cuffs, one of which was so intricate, it sold to Collectors Worldwide. She is widely credited with breaking the Indian tradition of acquiring jewellery solely as an investment but as an art form of its own merit. Poonam is an avid collector personal favourites being tanzanites, pale aquamarines emeralds in silvery tones. She



of gems, kunzites, and pale owns an


 Soni’s Flagship Store in Mumbai, India  A Galloping Horse Wristlet from Poonam Soni Art Collection

exquisite collection of octagonal emeralds bought from a royal family.

of Sothebys at an Abu Dhabi event sponsored by Sheikh Al Nahyan.

Known as the “queen of platinum” (she created a unique collection for the Platinum Guild), Poonam explains her partiality to it: “It is an emotional metal that is perfect for diamonds and has the most beautiful ethereal white colour in its pure form. Platinum is timeless and does not weaken with age.”

Poonam Soni designs highly stylised jewellery for the world’s beautiful people, for movie stars and for royalty, and her highly experimental and idiosyncratic style never fails to capture the imagination.

Her typical client is a collector of one-ofa-kind pieces that are destined to become heirlooms – quintessential and timeless jewellery that is impervious to trends.

 From ‘Monochromes’ A Canvas by Laxman Shrestha jewelled into a necklace



One such timeless piece is the Falcon broach she created for Prince Albert’s Eco Art non-profit organisation. The broach, hand painted, gold studded with ‘Thewa’ a traditional Moghul art form, and encrusted with exquisite gems, was auctioned off by Lord Poltimore

Michael Kors, legendary fashion designer, endorses the Soni collection thus: “Soni brings an artists’ eye for colour, detail, and imagination to her magnificent oneof-a-kind pieces.” One of Poonam Soni’s most cherished memories was a meeting with Linda Fargo, the stylish gate keeper of America’s most premiere luxury store, Bergdoff Goodman. As Soni presented her jewelled collection at the iconic store, Fargo remarked that the designer was as “ beautiful as her collection of jewels.” ■



ďƒ&#x; The Gust of Wind necklace


Astratelli jewels are immediately expressive. Works of art in their own right, each and every one tells its own story. Sometimes a rare gemstone acts as inspiration; other times just a ramble in the woods. But whatever the source, they are always filled with fun and wonder.

WEARABLE SCULPTURES Designer Domini Hogg explains. She has always had a fatal attraction for fine gemstones and a knack for picking out the most expensive stone within minutes. For her, jewellery offers a unique canvas and painting palette. Miniature wearable sculptures in precious materials, jewellery is restricted by certain dimensions that force artists to be more succinct and resourceful with what they wish to express.



A SYMPHONY OF COLOUR AND LIGHT The precious materials offer incredible depth and beauty. We are used to seeing opaque colours and transparent materials in everyday life, but the three-dimensional colour we find in high quality gemstones is a rare pleasure. Their depth of colour combined with warm reflective gold and the light captured eternally inside the stones is a symphony of colour and light of a quality only seen in fine jewellery.



THE ARTISTRY OF NATURE A qualified gemmologist, when Domini spots a stone she likes, it is love at first sight. She can look at a stone and know immediately how she would like to tell its unique story. The rare dendritic quartz in The Gust of Wind necklace above was just such a stone. The moment she saw it, she knew instantly that it had to be framed in gold as the masterpiece of nature it was. Named after one of her favourite Renoir paintings, The Gust of Wind, the stone closely resembles the French artist’s work. This necklace is an expression of wonder at the artistry of Nature. Similarly, a broken trapiche emerald morphed into the wings of two joyous birds shooting up above the clouds.



VEGETABLES IN GOLD It isn’t only about the gemstones, though. Some Astratelli designs are made with gold alone, for example the Romanesco earrings were cast in gold directly from the vegetable itself. These earrings form part of her Spice of Life Collection which recontextualises the beauty of food we eat so often without a second thought. Cast in gold we are made to marvel at their overlooked beauty and appreciate the world afresh.

With a sixth sense for her customer’s individual style, Domini delights in applying her creativity to bespoke commissions and her own collections alike.” ■




The world of Sybille de Margery is one of subliminal elegance rooted in the designer’s own pedigree and honed through creating some of the most outstanding interiors you are ever likely to set foot in.





Images © Fabrice Rambert


and rigorous training at the prestigious Ecole Boulle.

Champagne in Champillon and a Hotel Particulier in Paris.

accomplished beauty and as an unmistakable status symbol.

Objects and furniture designed by her and produced in collaboration with other high end brands are so distinctive that they are collectible in their own right.

Her approach is underpinned by a wellarticulated philosophy, immediately distinguishable in all she does.

Sybille, whose brand is sparingly and stylishly epitomised by a single handdrawn S, dresses the ultimate trophy properties: iconic hotels, grand period residences and palaces, where the madeto-measure is an expectation rather than a luxury.

She does this supremely well and the list of her projects reads like a Who’s Who in famous hotels. Bernard Arnault’s Hotel Cheval Blanc in Courchevel, The Grand, Sofitel Legend in Amsterdam, Old and New Cataract, Sofitel Legend in Aswan, Egypt, Mandarin Oriental in Paris and Geneva, Hotel de Paris in Saint-Tropez, Le Barthélemy in St Bart’s….

o the manor born” could have been coined for her – she is, after all, a scion of the Taittinger family-run group that previously counted the legendary Le Lutetia and Le Crillon among its portfolio.

The art of distilling the quintessence of a place in the language of design is the sum total of many components: background, intuition, creativity, culture, experience



Her current project is the Royal Atlantis Residences in Dubai and on the drawing board are a Cheval Blanc in Oman, a Park Hyatt in Marrakech, a Royal

The signature of the interior designer is revealed with femininity and affirmed in furniture designed for Pouenat Galerie. She elegantly orchestrates a dialogue between metal and noble materials such as Calacatta marble, Murano glass, lacquer, oak and Zebrano wood. The pony skin, walnut and bronze baby chair is an extraordinary piece, both for its

Being creative with simplicity Modernizing the traditional Making technology attractive, and colours elegant Designing for harmony and comfort This constant interplay between the traditional and the contemporary creates the unique blend of opulence and functionality, sophistication and comfort, historical detail and light that is her signature.

“I’m not looking to leave

my imprint on everything I do, I’m more interested in revealing the soul and uniqueness of a place.” 187


Images © Yann Terrer

THE ROYAL ATLANTIS RESIDENCES, DUBAI The famous Kerzner Group brand, Atlantis, is dubbed “the iconic crown jewel of The Palm, Dubai”. In entrusting the interiors’ design concept of The Royal Atlantis Residences to Sybille de Margerie, the group has signalled a commitment to pursuing a path of sophistication that is unmatched in the Emirates. Commissioning the high priestess of Parisian chic to reinterpret luxury in an



area already synonymous and replete with ostentation is both a sign of confidence in the market and in her ability to introduce subtlety and refinement to grandiose architectural projects that are conceived to impress. The interior architect defines her brief thus: “Our goal is to provide a different luxury experience that is refined and timeless”. The design is inspired, she says, by “the change of light and colours

from morning to evening in the city”, something that struck her on her first visit to Dubai. Her signature elements: light, texture, colours, world class craftsmanship and the use of precious materials to achieve new degrees of brightness and “shine” in an ocean-front concentration of shiny buildings culminates in a very distinctive and memorable showpiece of spectacular proportions and inimitable style.



© George Apostolidis

© Veronique Mati

THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL, PARIS A hotel that epitomizes the Sybille de Margerie signature style is The Mandarin Oriental, Paris. “Mandarin Oriental wanted to share a uniquely Parisian viewpoint with their guests. While we wished to respect the city’s history and heritage, our challenge has been to take these qualities and give them a contemporary twist.” For Mandarin Oriental the interior architect chose to blend a very modern, uncliched version of Art Deco with the architectural style of the building. Sybille de Margerie worked with presti-

“I see my work as a sensual quest for comfort, and the pleasure of the finest quality in the smallest detail.” DESIGNSCAPES


gious artists and craftsmen to bring this exceptional project to fruition. Era-specific textures, such as lacquer, crystal and gold leaf; Man Ray photographs reprised in rooms and corridors; bespoke handcrafted embroidery in suites by Maison Lesage, the same house, which has been supplying embroidery for the biggest names in haute couture since 1924. The hotel being at the epi-centre of Paris’ haute couture quartier, Sybille de Margerie has emphasized this connection through her attention to intricate detail, signature colours and high glamour, with dramatic results. ■

52 Avenue Victor Hugo, 75116 Paris Tel: +33 (0) 1 40 55 70 70 Email:



 The WHAKAIRO sideboard, beloved of European architects and designers for the richness of detail and the story behind the concept.



lma de Luce is a collection of beautifully crafted design pieces that give a classic dimension to contemporary interiors of exceptional pedigree. The brand is a celebration of traditional Portuguese craftsmanship infused with eclectic cultural references that give each piece a distinct historical context. The limited edition pieces carry the apt tagline “Feel the memory” precisely because they emphasize our emotional connection to the past.

bar on Portuguese crochet craft, and so on... The traditional skills of Portuguese craftsmen come into their own with Alma de Luce. The highly individual, handmade objects are an art form of their own. The full range of noble materials is used, from wood to metal, glass, leather, crystal and gold leaf, as well as Corian, a nod to innovative technology.

The five signature collections are named Place, Tradition, Myths &Legends, Symbol and Personal.

Alma de Luce pays frequent tributes to the artisanship of the people who make the collection happen through their skills, passed on across the generations, their passion and determination.

The design concept of each piece begins with a particular story which inspires it. Thus, the EL BAIA counter is based on LA BAIA palace of Marrakech, the LUNGTA console on Tibetan prayers, the ACOMA armchair on the Acoma Pueblo sky city, Mexico, the ENXOVAL

A highly individualized interior is the ultimate goal in the niche market of ultra high end residences. The very definition of luxury in this context is owning a piece that no one else does. In addition to the collections being limited to 30 units, each piece can be personalized



 The ACOMA armchair  The ENXOVAL bar, their emblematic piece  The POLONCEAU dining table

and customized based on the client’s requirements. This could mean from adding a name or a date to transforming an existing piece into something that serves a different function. The exceptional quality, timeless appeal and sheer uniqueness of the Alma de Luce pieces make them both highly collectible and avidly collected. The HISSAN ARABI folding screen, for example, is at Coco Chanel’s former Paris home (now owned by a prominent American fashion tycoon). “The world of Alma de Luce” is, however, more than a collection of beautifully crafted objects. It is a particular aesthetic approach to interior architecture and design that reinvents nostalgia, pivoting it to create iconic contemporary pieces for homes of great distinction. Featured here are some of the brand’s most celebrated pieces. ■








Annette Frommer is a Belgian-born and educated, Israel-based designer whose interiors are defined by poise and a certain cultured luxuriousness. Rather like their multilingual and worldly designer they exude polished sophistication and elegance. An Annette Frommer interior is all about classic and timeless opulence, yet highly functional and strongly reflective of the client’s cultural background, aspirations and aesthetic sensibilities.




nnette’s global clientele has an intuitive aesthetic appreciation for her style even though she insists that: “Timeless elegance does not necessarily mean one specific type - elegance can come in a variety of designs and characteristics. Whatever the intrinsic content of the style, it is important that it’s done in good taste and with sensitivity.” The final result is, she says, ultimately a reflection of the client’s personality and lifestyle. Her vision and experience ensure that potential pitfalls and oversights are avoided so that a dream project develops into a practical and accomplished reality. Often, the underlying brief is to maximize the value of an existing property and this is when she goes for the totally unique and anything but understated, allowing her imagination free reign to come up with an exceptional concept, above and beyond the client’s expectations. Annette works with talented Israeli artists and craftsmen, however, when further expertise is necessary she turns to Italy. An example of this can be seen in the basement of a Jerusalem home



with an elegant billiard room, an inviting and relaxing lounge and bar area, complemented by an adjoining state-ofthe-art wine cellar. Having won the bathroom award in the International Design & Architecture Awards 2016, Annette describes the design process below in the context of the entire home. “I always aim for harmony and beauty so that a subtle and effortless sense of luxury is achieved. This was my objective for the bathroom and since the client was looking for grand sophistication I chose natural materials and allowed these to take center stage. By utilizing a predominantly white marble laced with delicate grey veins, a pervading sense of light was achieved which feels grand and modern at the same time. Cladding the room with natural and symmetrical Statuario marble slabs lent an elegant and artistic aspect to the space, befitting the style of the entire property. The same stone was used again for the molding of the bath, as well as the frames of the shower door and the windows, creating a calming consistency to the overall scheme.”



When asked to define the word “luxury” from her own perspective as a designer, she says, “The word “luxury” has many connotations such as lavish, extravagant, grand and many more such adjectives. To me however, luxury is the ability to provide beauty, harmony and a sophisticated design aesthetic that does not feel contrived or artificial. I want my clients to enjoy sumptuous and comfortable living that feels natural, genuine and effortless.” The one project that most aptly illustrates her approach, vision and style? “I always look for projects to challenge me and the following is one that truly appeared almost impossible to accomplish. It was a private mansion project in the suburbs of Jerusalem that



had come to a halt after two years, as the client was unhappy with it. I was commissioned to review the plans and complete the project utilizing the existing layout and partitions. The basement was especially testing as the client wanted to transform it into a prominent aristocratic drawing room/ lounge reminiscent of old England. The space was long, narrow, windowless and dreary, with impractical low ceilings. The challenge, therefore, was to revamp with extremely problematic givens. After much thought and extremely careful planning all the joinery was outsourced. Special attention was given to detail as exemplified by the finely designed and crafted Italian woodwork

including carved wooden posts. The bespoke joinery was manufactured in Italy, while the assembly was handled jointly in Israel . After long nights and even longer days of coordinating this major project, the end result speaks for itself. This project exemplifies my credo that design is intimately tied to functionality, place, client aspirations, as well as cultural traditions.” ■

Annette Frommer Interior Design Telephone: +972-3-6199055, +972-54-3976005 Email:




Pascale De Backer Email:

“All my designs have a strong meaning, a reason for being, and a goal: my challenge is to make people discover it.”


 TABLETTO is a seat in the shape of a pill taken out of its medicinal context and made of soft foam with rubber coating. It was conceived to make people more conscious about using medication.  BEACH COCOON is an inflatable relaxing chair made of transparent PVC that can be used in a swimming pool, on the beach or in the garden.

 LIGHT BOOK reflects my abiding fascination with books. It is a sphere and a reading lamp that you can open and close like a real book and position horizontally or vertically. It is made of 5 acrylic pages with white dimmable LED lights. The cover is in black linen. Light Book is a small, precious lighting object that can give your space a poetic dimension.


ascale De Backer is a Belgian designer and an interior architect who turns dreams into reality. “I create poetic designs that sit between art and functionality. My aim is to add a conceptual dimension to design in order to give people a new perspective on design, its meaning and content. I create objects, spaces, installations that interact with light, material and sound and expand the spirit. I design objects that radiate poetry and illuminate the soul. I want to create iconic interiors that are powerful, meaningful and unique, and that reveal a deeper essence; designs that are surprising and thought-provoking and aweinspiring (think of a child’s reaction to seeing the moon for the first time). I want to break with convention and approach design from an unexpected point of view. All my designs have a strong meaning, a reason for being, and a goal: my challenge is to make people discover it.” ■



 EMPTY THOUGHTS. This design honours the book which is fast disappearing in our digital society. Empty Thoughts is a small side table of handmade white books. The mirror underneath reflects the emptiness of the books. The pages respond to the air and seem to wave through. The glass on top is removable. Empty Thoughts is made of handmade paper books.






Aspen Leaf Interiors is a three partner studio headed by Marcio Decker based in trendy Truckee, California, 20 minutes away from Lake Tahoe. Established in 2004, the design firm has grown in stature and reputation, its dramatic interiors setting a new standard in creativity on America's West Coast.





arcio, a graduate in interior architecture and design in San Francisco, is also an accomplished artist of Brazilian background which accounts for the creative vein that runs deep through all Aspen Leaf projects, whether commercial or residential. Incorporating latest technology and using 3D renderings, the team excel at amplifying and lighting up spaces, achieving truly unexpected interiors that are, at the same time, a reflection of their client’s personality.



Aspen Leaf makes a virtue of not having an established style, defining style as a combination of factors such as the client’s comfort zone, the architectural program and the building space. Marcio’s personal sense of aesthetic is shaped by his artistic side and manifests itself in Aspen Leaf’s interiors with a certain subtlety. His influence is seen in the detail: the properly designed ceilings, the open spaces and the coherence of the “entire envelope”. Clients are aware of this on a subliminal level and many trust him as a lifestyle curator at large.

We picked two of his latest projects to feature in the book, Martis Ski Getaway and Donner Lake Retreat. Martis Ski, a ski -in, ski-out property, is perched on a hill and owned by a developer who gave the design team a blank canvas and free hand to curate beautifully staged spaces, and choose everything from the art down to furniture and bedding. The result needed to be unique and edgy yet comfortable. Marcio drew inspiration from the surrounding landscape: the light’s reflection in the snow, the trees, the colour of the bark...



“We are driven by the client and provide solutions rather than a specific style.”





The result is a stunning interior that juxtaposes the snow covered exterior with the warmth of a walnut floor and reclaimed oak ceilings. The kitchen has a European feel to it, while the large steel-clad fireplace is a statement piece in its own right. The elegant light colour tops and well-lit common spaces are a recurrent theme in Aspen Leaf interiors. Donner Lake was designed for a couple with two children whose brief was simplicity, comfort and room for family entertainment. Marcio opted for soothing greys and whites, clean lines



and textural woods. Concrete fire places, exposed steel beams, pewter counter tops and textured cement convey a sense of solidity and contemporary chic at the same time. Aspen Leaf Interiors designed some of the furniture and some of Marcio’s art works can be seen in the open plan kitchen/dining area. Aspen Leaf’s interiors are modern classics with the capacity to surprise and inspire – a far cry from the identikit minimalism that dominates interior design today. ■

Aspen Leaf Interiors Address: 10075, W. River Street Truckee, CA 96161 Tel: 530-338-1088 Email:




Aaron Stewart is one of two founding partners of the eponymous lifestyle brand that’s taking the world of interior design by storm; the other is Fernando Rodriguez and theirs is a truly inspirational story.






ts beginnings are fairly conventional: a young Puerto Rican with a creative streak gets sent to Boston to obtain a business degree because his family has decreed that he should. His subsequent career is a study of a seesaw balancing act between pragmatism and his love for all things design. Rodriguez’s first professional job postgraduation was with the Boston Ballet where he spent 4 blissful, if not financially profitable years. As reality started asserting itself, he did a 360 degree volte face and took a



corporate job at Colgate Palmolive which he credits with a great learning curve, exposure to analytics and generally running a business. Pharmaceutical giant Glaxo headhunted him next and he gave the company 13 years during which he climbed the corporate ladder, accumulated experience and moved to NYC.

something that took him to all the design capitals of the world and helped him learn the wholesale side of the fashion world. A Tori Burch regional directorship followed, with the responsibility of managing 12 stores, but more importantly, giving him a taste of being involved with a superbrand and joining the world of a big league empowered team, supported by top notch experts.

At age 40, he had another epiphany and quit his job in order to join the world of fashion. His particular set of business skills helped and he became brand manager at a men’s fashion brand,

Rodriguez’s last job was as an associate publisher and fashion director of Modern Luxury magazine. At this point, he and Aaron Stewart were a power couple in NYC design circles, with Stewart working

for namesake Martha Stewart as her VP of design. As the intensity of their respective careers built up, they began spending more vacation time in Puerto Rico.

spend some time on the island by himself. A Kansas native who had lived in NYC for two decades, he was ready for a clean break from the corporate pressure cooker.

store that offered high end aspirational yet affordable luxury. The design duo could tap into a market that didn’t exist yet was ripe for development.

An idea, suggested by a family member, started germinating and Aaron in particular got sufficiently seduced by it to

Their move to Puerto Rico was well thought out. The island offered potential in that it didn’t have the kind of concept

Stewart and Rodriguez acquired a 3000m 2 store and proceeded to stock it with an exceptionally well-curated



collection of high end European brands: KELLY WEARSTLER, JONATHAN ADLER, KIM SEYBERT, MATOUK, SFERRA… Their combined experience, flair and savoir faire led to commissions for branded residential developments, a business center, design homes and a new hotel in Puerto Rico. They were invited to design the King and Queen of Spain’s suite on the island in 2016. Media coverage swiftly followed and they scooped the top award for best international store. Today, Aaron Stewart Home works with cutting edge artists, incorporating their works into the brand’s designs. It also develops joint collections with exceptional, heritage quality brands, such as the leading tableware artisanal producer La Cartuja de Sevilla which can trace its origins to 1841. Reflecting on the vertiginous success of their brand, Rodriguez strikes a philosophical note. He acknowledges the value of those preparation years that have given him and his partner a solid grounding and business acumen. But, he says, there comes a point in life when you identify an opportunity and are ready to take it to the next level. “Having the confidence to listen to your inner voice, ignore detractors, and eliminate the white noise is key at this point. Take the opportunity with both hands and make your new life.” Aaron Stewart and Fernando Rodriguez have done just that and shaken the world of interior design in little more than five years (at the moment of writing). ■






One of the most versatile designers on the East Coast of the USA, whose interiors are aesthetically eclectic and characterized by a subtle fusion of different cultures, Michele Safra is herself a product of Middle-Eastern roots with a South American dimension and of privileged European upbringing.






er background allows her to relate to international clients of varied back-grounds and tastes, and has come to define her approach: mixing styles to create a look that is at once individual and cosmopolitan. This, she says, mirrors the way her personal life has evolved over the years. “I believe that it is essential for a designer to have an inherent understanding of their clients’ cultural background and lifestyle in order to create a space that is not only beautiful and functional but



that also speaks of them and reflects who they are or want to be. It is what makes a space unique and gives it a soul. As far back as I can remember I have been exposed to a wealth of cultural references: museums, galleries, art, travel… the type of experience that cannot be acquired through school or college alone or in the space of a few years. It is what gives one an innate sense of style and makes it possible to design for the ultra high end market with ease and confidence.”

Her striking interiors are punctuated by rich detailing, ornamentation, and underlying opulence, even in the pared down contemporary style or ocean front homes. They are a testimony, she says, to the synergy between client and designer, but also to her undeniable talent for infusing the minimal with warmth and ingenuity. Individualizing a home is a skill that requires time and research. She often scours flea markets and showrooms, pre-selecting pieces - an exercise that







“The shoe has to fit the foot! Contemporary doesn’t need to be sterile or austere.” is only possible by tuning into clients’ personality and tastes. “It is my job to understand what the essence of a client as an individual is and then use my creativity, expertise, editing skills and my personal sense of aesthetics to design a space that retains that essence. To be able to “get” a person requires good listening skills, experience, a bit of psychology and an ease with forming a rapport.” It is difficult to pick a single Safra interior to feature as “most representative of her

style” because they are all so unique to the owner. Her latest project (at the time of publishing), is a house in Coconut Grove, Miami, designed for a young family. The Brazil-born husband wanted a relaxed ambiance with a Brazilian flair to it, while his Californian wife preferred the vintage look combined with contemporary Italian style features. Safra’s job was to create a cohesive and balanced whole that incorporated both elements. Quite apart from the fact that this a fairly typical brief for her, Safra’s own overarching aesthetic is to

“mix things up” up and add touches of handmade ethnic objects and pieces of furniture from all over the world. Another ingeniously designed project is an apartment in the prestigious 15 Central Park West in New York City. Used as a small pied-a-terre by various family members of different generations meant that it had to appeal to all and be fit for the purpose. The result is a comfortable, functional, unpretentious, chic and cozy space – in fact, epitomizing THE Safra interior. ■






Didius Design is a turnkey interior design studio based in Moscow, with clients in and beyond Russia who are partial to their distinctive Great Gatsby style, epitomised by a screen with a life-size image of Leonardo di Caprio in the eponymous role. The screen is in a private villa and the villa, like many of their projects, is an idiosyncratic mix of contemporary whimsy and opulent art deco.





“We always calibrate the percentage of opulence features used in each interior we create.”


hile opulence is a defining feature and a running thread through most Didius designs, there are splashes of ultramodern chic woven in the overall lavishness motif (Dubai villa). This, the designers say, is a juxtaposing device that puts in relief the beauty of art deco, triggering an emotional response from the viewer. Sochi Villa, on the other hand, was built as a beach vacation home and is distinctively contemporary, the design geared to emphasizing the fabulous sea views. The result is a reflection of the client’s brief and Didius’ aesthetic vision. Their client base informs the primary objectives of the interiors which are: WOW factor and functionality.



“We usually focus on good positive emotions, but also work very hard on ensuring that each interior is functional and comfortable. We never compromise between beauty and functionality.” The statement interior is where Didius really shines and where their forte unquestionably lies. Creating a perception of status is especially relevant when working on ultra-high end restaurant and/or hotel projects. The designer duo use rich and rare materials such as snake/eel skin, ostrich leather, hard and exotic woods, semiprecious stones, rare marbles, crystal, exceptional quality fabrics and finishes with different prints and ornaments,







“Modern is a wide-ranging concept. We create inspiring interiors that are not only beautiful but interesting and deeply layered.”

bespoke molding, gold. Furnishings also come from power statement brands, although bespoke pieces are designed and hand-crafted for some projects. Objets d’art are also incorporated subject to clients’ brief. The Grozny villa is a perfect illustration of a palatial home commissioned by a client who wanted his home to convey his personal status. The 400m 2 interior is an example of Didius’ ability to translate an idea into an object of jaw-dropping glamour and luxuriousness. The sumptuous interiors are punctuated by Caspiani Tino furniture in matte gold, wood and leather finish. The lighting is by Reccagni Angelo and Voltolina and accessories by Chelini. The natural wood finishings are hand-made in glossy gold lacquer. The solid wood Turri walls are in white and brown matte lacquer with

marble effect or gold matte varnish. The columns are Verde Antico marble, while ceilings are finished in Tuscania decorative paint with a patina effect. The floors are in Botticino Classico marble and the hard wood parquets made by art craftsmen. The extent and sheer voluptuousness of the project cannot be overstated and the result speaks for itself. And what of the current prevailing aesthetic that is informing minimalist contemporary interiors? “‘Modern’ is a wide-ranging concept. We create inspiring interiors that are not only beautiful but interesting and deeply layered. Even in the most modern of our projects, the overall result has to remain indicative of client’s status, his individual needs and idea of what opulence means and represents.” ■






Rosa May Sampaio is a leading interior designer whose projects span both North and South America. She has been creating both residential and commercial spaces in the USA, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina for two decades and is an undisputed master of her trade, with countless exhibitions, professional trade shows and publications to her credit.





starkly at odds with many of today’s pared-down contemporary interiors.

“It is very important to finish each job with an unexpected touch - a detail that injects wit and magic into an otherwise carefully planned project.”

“My interiors are architecturally and geographically defined, and vary from the purely classical to the dramatic contemporary, with primary consideration for my clients’ lifestyles.”


n Art History graduate from the prestigious Ecole du Louvre in Paris, Sampaio has also studied in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, and this cosmopolitan background informs both her approach and the aesthetic of her designs. Sampaio’s interiors are highly distinctive and memorable for their studied elegance, intricate detail and ornamentation; the mixed colour palette and rich textures, even in the simpler, cottage-style homes,



There is a strong eclectic character and uniqueness to every Sampaio interior, and at the same time the kind of intimacy that is often lost in large scale contemporary spaces. She achieves this through architectural clarity, working to a varied scale, striking a harmonious balance between old and new and the bold integration of art. “It is very important to finish each job with an unexpected touch - a detail that injects wit and magic into an otherwise carefully planned project.” And while her interiors are identifiable for their unquestionable refinement, she

says there is no “Rosa May Sampaio style”. “I create interiors for my clients. They are going to live there, after all, so I would like them to feel at home and comfortable!” ■








Orkun Indere Interiors, founded in 2007, is an award-winning, creatively driven design consultancy that specializes in residential and commercial projects. Orkun Indere caters to a vast variety of clients, each with their own requirements in terms of style, budget and timing, and provides a wide range of design solutions for different project conditions.





Orkun İndere Interiors Tel: +44 7427477086 Email:

Orkun İndere, Architect and Designer


rom brief to completion, the emphasis is on co-operation with the client throughout the design process in every minute detail, especially on residential projects. Central to the firm’s philosophy is creating spaces that are individual, comfortable and aesthetically appealing, all the while balancing the evolving brief, between technical drawings, budget analysis and the more subtle detail such as ambience. Orkun Indere, supports this design approach with unique and bespoke furniture and accessories, along with art works and antiques. For an accomplished finish, built-in joinery designs complement the contemporary and period pieces. The bespoke furniture is designed by Orkun Indere and the goal is to achieve a quality that is both timeless and innovative. Quality is, in fact, constantly reviewed at all stages of manufacturing and installation, whilst itemised budgets and detailed programs of works are carefully monitored. Ultimately, the aim is to enhance clients’ lifestyles and ensure the stage on which they play out their lives is representative of who they are. ■






RPW Design is ranked consistently among the world’s leading international interior design practices within the specialist realm of hospitality design.






aving conceived and implemented unique interiors for luxury hotels, cruise liners and private members’ clubs, RPW Design has been a trusted partner to the top players in the field of luxury hospitality for close to three decades. The secret behind this lasting success is grounded on a thorough approach in the creation of not only elegant, but also enduring interiors that enhance client’s asset value in a comprehensive manner.

This mantra has been nurtured throughout all levels of the practice and is enshrined in the firm’s mission statement. Ariane Steinbeck (Managing Director), Elizabeth Lane (Director) and Jan Wilson (Founder) are the dynamic trio behind RPW Design. Having come from a diverse range of backgrounds within interior architecture and hospitality they have been able to create a thriving practice nurturing a multicultural team at the top of their craft.

THE FAIRMONT ST ANDREWS The creative process behind RPW Design’s renovation of this Luxury Golf Resort has been influenced by the area’s history and the rich and varied landscapes of St Andrews. Extensive care was given to the sourcing of local materials and products to give this vast property a keen sense of place and identity. Observing the scale of the previously under-used atrium, roughly 60m long and 15m high, with panoramic windows on one side overlooking the North Sea coast, RPW knew this would be the most challenging area in the hotel to re-design. By deciding to focus on the creation of more intimately scaled areas within the atrium such as the restaurant, library and lounging areas, RPW created a sense of intimacy while preserving the grand feeling of the atrium, which has an alternative use as an impressive gathering space for large functions.

Photographs by Sim Canetty-Clarke





Photographs courtesy of the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane

THE LONDON MARRIOTT HOTEL PARK LANE Housed within a Grade II listed property in London’s Mayfair this five-star hotel property needed to be repositioned within the local market, thus a lot of care had to be given to the historic features of the building whilst bringing them up to speed with current five-star requirements. Through the careful selection of quality materials and reworking of room layouts, RPW’s aim was to enhance the sense of luxury and increase the number of suites, making the hotel memorable to guests and the envy of its Park Lane competitive set.



Both the guest rooms and public areas were inspired by classic ‘townhouse’ interiors. The rooms mark a considerable departure from the traditional corporate hotel room design towards a look and feel more like a coveted Pied à Terre than a luxury hotel. By working closely with the hotel’s asset management team, the end product is one which represents a considerable achievement, combining classic design, marketing direction and long term ROI vision whilst significantly exceeding guest demands. ■




Young Viennese interior architect Sabrina Haindl is a graduate in interior design and furniture construction, trained in carpentry. She enjoys a professional challenge and is curious, passionate and reliable, but also eminently logical in her approach.


he carpentry training comes across very strongly in all of her designs (wood cabinets, parquets, traditional libraries, etc.) and is a defining feature of her interiors. “Wood is absolutely essential to me as a material. It radiates calm, but can still be exciting, minimalist or serve multiple purposes at the same time. I always and automatically envisage the most important elements, the essentials, being made of wood. I then adapt the rest to fit. Timber, especially solid timber, is timeless. And this timelessness, the longevity, is a core tenet of my designs and interior decoration concepts.”



Having this practical background as craftsman represents an important advantage. It helps identify and understand certain steps of the work process and grasp how things work and why some things may not work. That said, Haindl is just as likely to challenge her sub-contractors and often push them beyond their comfort zone with cutting edge ideas. “When you think beyond the usual constraints, almost anything becomes possible. There is this aphorism that often crosses my mind: everyone kept saying it was impossible, until this one person came along who didn’t know and just did it.”

In terms of materials other than timber, Haindl uses what’s relevant to the project at hand, the primary consideration being the client’s requirements. “Every design needs an eyecatcher”, she says, “It could be the coloured concrete bathroom floor, an exciting full-surface Dekton worktop for the kitchen, waterproof wallpaper with a floral pattern for the shower or a bar top made of reclaimed wooden planks from an old barn. The list is practically endless. The most important thing is for the customer to be happy with the result and to feel at home with all the chosen materials and



“I love details. Details are like little secrets unveiled, but only to the keen eye of a really alert observer.” the textures. After all, it is a client’s inner sanctum that I design in close cooperation with them”. With a number of interior designers to choose from, carving one’s space on the international design stage is crucial, whether through a specific approach or an overarching aesthetic that defines the results and the brand itself. Haindl subscribes to the belief that function should precede form. “I always put the needs of my customers first and work out my designs from there. I get my inspiration from just about everywhere, films, magazines, fairs and also social media. I also consider myself to be pretty anti-conformist. I don’t want to use something for my projects that everybody

has or believes they must have. I love to mix and match: the classics with young designers, innovation with tradition. I just take this special something from everything I find.” Detail is important to her in the sense that it is both a benchmark of functionality and a subliminal perception of quality. “I love details. Details are like little secrets unveiled, but only to the keen eye of a really alert observer. Just about anything can work as a detail: the furniture handles, a picture, wallpaper or fabric, a piece of decoration, the texture of a surface. In the end, it is the details that lend soul to an interior design. A harmonious overall impression is always the sum of its parts. Best-

case scenario: the individual features of the customer’s personality are reflected in the details of the finished design.” Haindl’s most representative project is “Penthouse K&V”, both as a first project and because it provided a stylistic blueprint for all those that followed. The cooperation with the client was particularly fruitful and inspiring, especially when it came to common understanding of how vitally important details are. The other key components were the high-quality materials that perfectly fit the purpose at hand and the innovative design elements. “Realising the concept was really intense but at the same time it was great fun and very exciting.” ■





Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.