Category Archives: News

Cocktail bar “suspended between sea and sky” draws upon nearby Mediterranean

Architect Gae Avitabile has designed the interior of Civico 29, a sea-informed cocktail bar in the coastal town of Sperlonga, Italy.

Located halfway between Rome and Naples on Italy’s western coast, the bar features colours and materials informed by the nearby seafront, with blue motifs and wave-like forms dominating the space.

Gae Avitabile's Civico 29 interior with blue gradient-coated cocktail bar
Gae Avitabile designed Civico 29 to mimic the experience of being on a beach

Avitabile transformed the oceanside building, which previously contained an ice cream parlour, into a bar that aims to recreate the sensory experience of being on a beach.

“The space was used as a gelato ice cream parlour with simple, traditional interiors which were not evocative of the location,” Avitabile told Dezeen.

“Not being able to work on spaces and volumes – both in physical terms due to the small size, and because of the limits imposed by the council – I changed my point of view and began to think in terms of a project which would find its own dimension in multi-sensoriality,” he continued.

“For me, the sea is light and colour, sound, touch, taste and smell.”

Blue bar interior with curtain inspired by ocean
The space was transformed into blue-toned cocktail bar

The project was heavily influenced by the local area and uses a minimal material palette.

“The materials are unusual for the setting, and have been chosen to give life to my multi-sensory project,” Avitabile commented. “Despite this, the perception is that of strong links with the location.”

Oceanside cocktail bar by Gae Avitabile leading to exterior seating area on terrace
An outdoor terrace has seating overlooking the sea

Visitors enter through a wide opening that leads to the main space. The room contains a long bar with a wave-like form coated in a blue gradient that mirrors the view of the ocean outside.

“The bar, its sinuous shape reminiscent of the movement of the waves, is an implicit reference to the sea and draws inspiration from the area’s great pieces of architecture,” said Avitabile.

A lamp by Munari inspired by fish traps is suspended over the counter, contained in a white metal mesh structure, while a layer of traditional European hollow bricks filled with white lime and covered with resin lines the floor.

Light blue curtain in cocktail bar with white caged lamp
A white lamp and a blue mesh curtain feature in the space

Surrounding the space is an aluminium mesh curtain created by Kriskadecor that lines two of the four walls, chosen by Avitabile due to its movement being reflective of coastal breezes.

“[The curtain] moves with gusts of wind and creates an elegant sound reminiscent of a coastal breeze,” Avitabile commented.

Green wallpaper with exotic patterns in bathroom of cocktail by Gae Avitabile
A small bathroom sits beside the main bar space

To the side of the main space is a small bathroom with wallpaper coated in exotic motifs. Large openings on the opposite side of the bar lead to an outdoor seating area overlooking the ocean.

“I deliberately avoided indoor seating, partly due to the small area available, and partly because enjoying the panorama remains the linchpin of this project,” said Avitabile.

Other cocktail bars featured on Dezeen include a Shanghai bar covered in over 1,000 insects by Atelier XY and a gender-neutral cocktail bar and salon in Kyiv designed by Balbek Bureau

The photography is by Carlo Oriente.


Arquitectura Nativa creates rammed-earth retreat for retired archaeologist

Arquitectura Nativa has completed a home in Mexico for a retired archaeologist and their partner, using “rudimentary and artisanal techniques” that help the home blend into its surroundings.

Casa Martha is located on a steep and rocky site facing the ocean in La Misión, a small village situated roughly halfway between the cities of Tijuana and Ensenada, in the Baja California region of Mexico.

Three-storey rammed earth building on Mexico hill
The La Misión home by Arquitectura Nativa stretches across three levels

Three levels step down a hill, forming the living spaces for a couple and their guests.

Local architect studio Arquitectura Nativa laid out the most public areas of the home on the lowest level. On this floor, there are two guest bedrooms, a dine-in kitchen and a generous outdoor patio facing the street.

Many of the materials used in the home, such as the artisanal wooden shutters and rammed-earth walls, were chosen for their hand-made qualities and appropriateness to the building’s context.

Rammed earth home with wood folding doors by Alfredo Navarro Tiznado
The public spaces can be accessed through the folding doors on the house’s lowest level

“Casa Martha is modelled with deep sensitivity and respect for its surroundings,” Arquitectura Nativa principal Alfredo Navarro Tiznado explained.

“The main construction element is compacted earth. In this way, the site and its topography are consolidated as the raw materials of the project,” he added.

Light-filled open-plan living space by Alfredo Navarro Tiznado
An open-plan living space takes up the second floor

“The first level is divided into two areas, the visitor area made up of two rooms and the study area that can function as a painting and carpentry workshop or as a garage,” Tiznado explained.

A breezeway open to the elements separates the two halves of the home. At the back of the property, two smaller courtyards ensure that every space gets natural ventilation and daylight.

A flight of stairs flanked by rammed-earth walls leads to the intermediate level, which the architect described as the “heart” of the home. This is where the main living space is located.

An open-concept kitchen, living and dining room are flanked by glass walls, which open out towards the landscape and are shaded by an overhanging concrete slab.

Rammed earth home in Mexico by Alfredo Navarro Tiznado
The home is surrounded by a sheltered walkway

A walkway surrounds the home that can be closed off with wooden shutters.

“This lattice generates protection from the prevailing winds, as well as a component of privacy towards the interior,” Tiznado explained.

Roof terraces on three-storey building in Mexico by Alfredo Navarro Tiznado
Outdoor terraces can be accessed from the upper floors

These handcrafted panels also create a “play of light and shadows,” Tiznado added.

The studio also laid out two terraces on the roof of the spaces below, offering the occupants a variety of places to enjoy the outdoors.

Wooden door and rammed earth walls
Walls of rammed earth and doors made from wood let the building blend in with the site

The topmost level is significantly smaller than the two lower floors and is reserved for the owners.

The second-storey perch offers the best views of the surrounding landscape and is separated from the guest rooms to give all occupants plenty of privacy when using the 310-square-metre home.

“The main chamber has a view of the context’s landscape — in this space, the interior is blurred with the exterior,” said Tiznado.

Rammed earth home in Mexico by Alfredo Navarro Tiznado
Wooden shutters help modulate the sun

Other recent buildings in the Baja California area include a private residence that was converted into a hotel by Paolo Sarra and studio Punto Arquitectónico, and a hotel that combines modern design with traditional influences by Max von Wertz.

The photography is by Oscar Hernández Rodríguez.


Holky Rády Architekturu creates “fun” but compact ice cream shop in Brno

Arches and undulating surfaces fill this small ice cream parlour, which Czech studio Holky Rády Architekturu has designed in the city of Brno.

Called Ještě Jednu, the shop has a footprint of just 29.5 square metres but accommodates a kitchen, ice cream bar, freezer and coffee corner.

Steel counter with undulating front in Ještě Jednu ice cream shop
Arched forms feature in the interior of the Ještě Jednu ice cream shop in Brno

Local practice Holky Rády Architekturu – meaning “girls who like architecture” in Czech – said it wanted to make the interior a “fun” environment using the building’s arched openings and ceilings as a starting point.

This motif is picked up throughout the shop in the form of sweeping lighting fixtures and stainless steel sinks, where staff and customers can wash their sticky hands.

Fridge with ice cream tubs next to stainless steel sink in Brno shop by Holky Rády Architekturu
Its serving counter is fronted by a fluted white concrete panel

The prep kitchen is separated from the main ice cream bar using a glass partition, which reflects the shop’s pendant lights and makes the space appear larger.

“People behind the glass become the alchemists who prepare the frozen delicacies,” said Barbora Kudelová and Kristýna Sirováa, founders of Holky Rády Architekturu.

Coffee machine on counter of Ještě Jednu ice cream shop
A reflective glass partition separates the kitchen from the ice cream bar

A calming palette of desaturated pastel colours was selected to allow the ice cream offering to stand out, while cool stainless steel surfaces reflect their surroundings.

The studio also incorporated subtle design references to the local area and to Italy – the birthplace of gelato.

These include the serving counter, which is fronted by a fluted white concrete panel that recalls both classical columns and the pillars of a 13th-century church nearby in Brno.

Similarly, the shop’s stainless steel sinks nod to the water fountains that are often found in the streets of Italian towns and cities.

View from counter across Brno ice cream shop by Holky Rády Architekturu
Stainless steel sinks offer a place to wash sticky hands

Other ice cream shops featured on Dezeen include Little Sky in Melbourne, which was designed to capture the “theatre of gelato”, and an Instagram-friendly store in central London that features cloud-like ceilings and neon signage.

The photography is by Barbora Kudelová.


Rockwell Group blends Japanese and Spanish design in Nobu Hotel Barcelona

New York studio Rockwell Group has mixed references to traditional Japanese crafts and the work of Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi in its interior design for this hotel in Barcelona by American hospitality brand Nobu.

Located in the former Gran Hotel Torre de Catalunya near Barcelona’s main train station, the 250-room hotel is topped with a Nobu sushi restaurant on the 23rd floor as well as incorporating a pool, spa, meeting rooms and event spaces.

The Spanish outpost marks the thirteenth hotel opening from Nobu, which started as an upscale Japanese fusion eatery in New York in 1994 but quickly expanded into a celebrated chain of restaurants and hotels spanning five continents.

Sofas and armchairs in front of a staircase in the lobby lounge of Nobu Hotel Barcelona
Above: guests enter Nobu Hotel Barcelona through a lobby with a lounge area. Top: among the hotel’s 250 rooms are a number of suites

Architecture and design firm Rockwell Group has worked with the hospitality chain for almost 30 years, designing its first location in Manhattan followed by another 25 restaurants and eight hotels.

In Barcelona, Nobu sought to create a location that blends the best design features of its restaurants with nods to the city’s architectural heritage.

In response, Rockwell Group created a “collage of materials, textures and spaces” within the hotel, paying homage to the colourful mosaics in Gaudi’s Park Güell as well as the traditional Japanese craft of kintsugi, which involves mending broken pottery using metallic lacquers.

Seating area surrounded by woven screen in hotel lobby by Rockwell Group
A woven screen snakes its way from the facade into the double-height lobby

“The fusion of these two arts felt natural and makes the property feel truly unique and grounded in its place,” Rockwell Group principal Eva Longoria told Dezeen.

“We envision the environment as an abstract landscape, in which every element and detail is crafted in an unusual and unexpected way, much like Nobu’s cuisine,” added the firm’s partner Greg Keffer.

From the street, the hotel’s entrance is framed by tall bamboo trees set behind a wall of rammed earth.

Wooden spiral staircase in Nobu Hotel Barcelona
A grand spiral staircase connects all of the hotel’s public areas

A bright orange woven screen designed to evoke Japanese Shinto gates wraps the entry vestibule and continues inside to create a connection between the hotel’s interior and exterior.

The screen leads guests into a double-height lobby lined with textured limestone and wood. The space is anchored by a dramatic brushstroke artwork – a recurring feature in Nobu’s interiors – that hangs behind the check-in desk.

Off to the side, a grand spiral staircase connects all of the hotel’s public areas including the ballroom, lobby and meeting rooms.

Bedroom with wooden bed frame in hotel designed by Rockwell Group
Millwork features heavily in the guest rooms. Photo is by Cristina Garcia

In the lobby bar, a monumental stone counter is lined in pale gridded wood reminiscent of traditional Japanese joinery, while a pair of central columns is clad in cracked stone with gold-coloured infill in a reference to the kintsugi mending technique.

The lounge is framed by a gridded wooden structure similar to the one found in the bar. But here, it is stained a deep indigo blue.

In the guest rooms, Rockwell Studio combined millwork pieces with leather and bronze-coloured detailing, while slabs of stone and travertine with bronze inlays feature in the bathrooms alongside frameless glass-panelled showers.

A moodier atmosphere reigns in the suites, where sofas sit on plinths and millwork is finished in saturated lacquer colours. The presidential suite is organised around a sculptural Japanese tea hearth made of roughly carved stone.

Bathrooms in the suites also include a traditional ofuro soaking tub, which is separated from the shower by screens clad in ceramic tiles.

Detail of built-in storage in bedroom of Nobu Hotel Barcelona
Bronze-coloured detailing accentuates the rooms’ built-in storage. Photo is by Cristina Garcia

The hotel’s meeting rooms feature views down into the lobby for a casual, connected feel, while sliding wood panels can be used for conjoining or separating different spaces.

A Nobu sushi restaurant sits at the top of the building with panoramic views of the Catalan capital. Its kintsugi-influenced ceiling consists of live-edge walnut panels intersected by gold-coloured veins.

Over the backlit onyx bar, a cracked blue ceramic ceiling complements columns clad in kintsugi sculptures made from blue and white ceramics.

Bathroom of guest suite in hotel designed by Rockwell Group with wooden details
Millwork details also show up in the bathrooms. Photo is by Cristina Garcia

Nobu opened its first hotel in Malibu in 2017, with the aim of bringing the atmosphere of a traditional Japanese inn to the coast of California.

Since then, Nobu Hotels has opened 12 more outposts including a beachside resort in Mexico made from locally sourced stone.

The photography is by Ricardo Labougle unless otherwise stated.


Pyton Place exhibition shows how the Bauhaus influenced Norwegian design

Oslo-based collective Pyton showcased more than 50 examples of Norwegian art, design and craft at the Pyton Place exhibition during London Craft Week.

Pyton Place set out to tell the story of how modernism impacted traditional craft practices created in Norway, and the objects that were produced as a result.

Dining room in Pyton Place
The exhibition was organised like a home

Presented in Cromwell Place from 11-15 May, the exhibition paired the distinctive pine furniture of mid-century Norwegian designer Edvin Helseth with objects and artworks by the likes of Sigve Knutson and Tron Meyer.

According to Richard Øiestad and Are Blytt, the two Pyton members behind Pyton Place, the aim was to show that the modernist movement was not just a generic style, but also resulted in a range of diverse, highly crafted works.

Bedroom in Pyton Place
A “faux-Norwegian-cabin-style” wall system divides the space into zones

“For us, this show is about artists and object makers working primarily with unique pieces,” they told Dezeen.

“It is the relationship between their chosen materials and their intellectual concepts, and the connections all these have to the world around us.”

Fireplace and seats in Pyton Place
Sculptural stools by Sigve Knutson, Julia K Persson and Sverre Gullesen were featured

The exhibition references its setting – a Georgian apartment – by organising the objects in relation to the rooms they occupy. There are five zones: sleep, eat, lounge, work and arrive.

This arrangement references the manifesto of Hannes Meyer, the second director of the Bauhaus school, which set out 12 motivations for how living spaces should be organised.

Shelves in Pyton Place
Pine furniture by mid-century designer Edvin Helseth features throughout

The Bauhaus played an important role in Norway’s adoption of modernism, Øiestad and Blytt explained.

In the early 20th century, when the country had a strong social-democratic political stance, young Norwegian designers were attracted to the innovative spirit of the Bauhaus.

Many of those that left to study returned to become professors for a post-war generation of students. Among those students was Helseth, who combined his modernist learnings with carpentry skills taught by his family.

“Helseth is a designer that all the members of Pyton have been fascinated with for a long time,” said Øiestad and Blytt, “due to his very modern and unique way of making modernist furniture in pinewood.”

Wooden screen in Pyton Place
Artworks include a tapestry by textile artist Elisabeth Haarr

“His furniture designs have a brutalist appearance, continued Øiestad and Blytt. “At the same time, they have a hint of refined Japanese wood craftsmanship; assembled with no glue or screws, they are held together with only wooden plugs or joints.”

Helseth’s designs were featured throughout Pyton Place. They included a folding dining table, a modular shelving system, an elaborate desk and a simple tea trolley.

Desk in Pyton Place
Lina Viste Grønli’s All The Pens flanks a desk by Edvin Helseth

To complement these works, Øiestad and Blytt designed a “faux-Norwegian-cabin-style” wall system that helps to clearly divide the five different zones.

They then added a range of sculptural and functional objects and artworks, both historic and contemporary, revealing the scope of creativity that Norway has produced over the past 100 years.

Wooden screen in Pyton Place
Works by Henrik Ødegaard and Nebil Zaman dominate the entrance zone

Historic pieces included a range of pewter objects by Gunnar Havstad, including a bottle described as “perfect in its shape and proportions”, and a tapestry by textile artist Elisabeth Haarr.

“Elisabeth Haarr’s tapestry from 1973 is something that really bonds with us intellectually; a sharp work of art in itself, but at the same time a historical timepiece of feminist history within the Norwegian art scene,” said the curators.

Oda Iselin Sønderland Hespetre
Oda Iselin Sønderland presents a watercolour painting, Hespetre

Contemporary works on show included some pieces by Pyton members, including an aluminium television stand with an eye detail by Øiestad, a pair of graphical stools by Blytt and bird-inspired furniture pieces by Henrik Ødegaard.

Other highlights include a mouth-shaped stool by ceramist Julia K Persson, a pen-covered curtain by artist Lina Viste Grønli and Oda Iselin Sønderland‘s watercolour painting, Hespetre.

“Oda Iselin Sønderland’s mystic motives blend elements of dreams with crafting,” said the curators. “Her works connect with growing up, youth culture, and the life circles through drawing.”

John Skognes Tea set Edvin Helseth Tea trolley
A trolley by Edvin Helseth displays a tea set by John Skognes

The exhibition was supported by Norwegian Crafts and was one of the headline events during London Craft Week. Øiestad and Blytt hope that visitors left with “a lust for a less-generic-living”.

“We hope this show could help people to remember that culture should be included in our daily lives,” they added.


Olson Kundig’s New York office includes a timber cityscape table

Earthy tones and a wooden table in the shape of a cityscape feature in Olson Kundig’s first New York office, which was designed with sensitivity to the 100-year-old building it occupies.

Located in Midtown Manhattan, the office is spread across the 10th floor of a mid-rise tower constructed in 1923.

Sculpture in central living room
The office features a central living room with a sculptural table

Olson Kundig – a studio with its primary offices in Seattle – created the interior to be its first New York City hub with a material and colour palette that responded to the building’s 100-year-old history.

The open-plan office is defined by a central “living room” that features a 144-square-foot (13-square-metre) wooden table on wheels with a statement geometric cityscape.

New York office
The cityscape was informed by the office’s New York location

Created from raw timber offcuts, the table is divided into quarters for different configurations. It was designed by studio principal Tom Kundig and fabricated by Spearhead.

“The design was the result of a conversation Alan [Maskin] and I had about our teacher, [the late architect] Astra Zarina, and our fond memories of gathering around the table at her home in the centre of Rome,” Kundig told Dezeen.

“She always had a big pile of candles in the centre of the table, similar to the abstract masses at the centre of our table.”

“We want to foster the same spirit of conversation and sharing between colleagues and collaborators in this new office space, so it was a natural place to draw inspiration.”

Kitchen at Olson Kundig office
An unenclosed kitchen is also located adjacent to the stations

A series of wooden workstations are arranged across the open-plan office, while conference rooms feature around its perimeter. An open kitchen is also located adjacent to the stations.

Platforms are positioned above the workstations offering a display area for sculptures and models. According to the studio, this continues its tradition of integrating art into everyday life.

The office interior was designed to reflect its Manhattan location, rather than mirror the firm’s flagship office in Seattle, according to Kundig.

“The existing shell of the office was largely concrete and glass. We added wood and warmer tones to soften the space, with natural materials to add texture and interest,” explained Alan Maskin, partner at the studio.

Artwork in Olson Kundig
Artwork is displayed around the office

A mixture of vintage and contemporary furniture was sourced locally from locations in Brooklyn and Tribeca.

Like the Seattle office, the New York space will also host various art events, tying the otherwise-unique locations together.

Olson Kundig furniture
Wooden elements define the space

Olson Kundig was founded in 1966. The firm has completed multiple international architecture projects including a beach house with louvred shutters in Sydney and a timber floating home in Seattle.

Another practice that designed its own studio is Urselmann Interior, which created its office using only biodegradable and recycled materials.

The photography is by Angela Hau.


Studio McW carves up “post-lockdown” London home extension with darkened oak joinery

Umber-coloured oak joinery divides the interior of this end-of-terrace home in London’s Willesden Green, which has been extended and refurbished by local architecture firm Studio McW.

The two-storey Aperture House now features an additional pitched-roofed volume at its rear, that can be accessed via the main home or a second, less formal entrance set at the side of the property alongside a small planted courtyard.

Wooden cabinet Aperture House with rectangular cut-out
A darkened oak cabinet sits under Aperture House’s pitched roof

The residence’s owners, a journalist and a psychiatrist, worked from home throughout the coronavirus lockdowns of 2020 and grew to dislike using their kitchen, which was visually cut off from the rest of the house and the outdoors.

They tasked Clerkenwell-based Studio McW with establishing a more versatile “post-lockdown” extension that can be used for cooking, dining, working and entertaining.

Dark oak kitchen interior by Studio McW
The cabinet transitions into low-lying cupboards in the kitchen

Studio McW’s approach sought to find a middle ground between a more sequestered layout and a vast, open-plan space, which can often feel impersonal according to the firm’s director Greg Walton.

“I think lockdown has certainly compounded the failures of modern open-plan living,” he told Dezeen.

“Open-plan layouts offer little privacy and occupants can feel a bit lost in the room. Residential architecture needs to work harder to meet new demands.”

Chair on a brick floor in Aperture House
Walls throughout the extension are finished in plaster

In the case of Aperture House, this is achieved using blocks of dark-stained oak joinery. The largest is a cabinet, which is nestled beneath the eaves of the roof and acts as a divider between the external entryway and a small dining room.

At its centre is a rectangular opening that offers a place to perch and remove shoes on one side, while in the dining area it acts as a reading nook and an additional seat when hosting larger gatherings.

“By using joinery to break up the spatial layout you have the opportunity to create, in the same room, separate spaces to eat, cook, welcome visitors and relax whilst still maintaining a form of connection,” Walton said.

View from kitchen interior by Studio McW into garden
In front of the kitchen there is space for a lounge area

The cabinet transitions into a low-lying oak cupboard in the kitchen, which allows residents to rustle up meals while keeping the garden, guests and each other in sight.

To the side of the kitchen is a series of taller oak cabinets, interrupted by another nook where small appliances like the kettle and toaster can be tucked away to keep the counters free of clutter.

Just in front of the kitchen, Studio McW made space for a lounge area where the owners can retreat to work or relax during the day.

Oak kitchen cabinetry with small nook in Aperture House
Another opening in the joinery provides room for small appliances

Rather than installing glass doors all the way along the home’s rear facade, Studio McW opted to front the extension with a pivoting glazed panel.

“I think the ubiquitous sliding or bifold doors across the rear of a London terrace are becoming an unromantic ideal,” Walton explained. “They don’t offer places for respite and repose, there is no shadow or play of light.”

“In this house, openings in the new extension are set back within deep, angled brick thresholds, which are designed to focus views and draw in light at specific times of the day.”

Pivoting glass door next to chair in home interior by Studio McW
The extension is fronted by a pivoting glass door

Another example of this is the off-centre skylight that punctuates the extension’s roof and casts shafts of light into the plaster-washed interior.

“Just like in photography, the apertures in a property affect focus and exposure,” Walton said.

“Often, the act of bringing light into a home is interpreted as putting in as many windows as possible. But in doing so you create all the characteristics of an overexposed photograph.”

Extension of Aperture House by Studio McW
The door is set within an angled brick recess

A growing number of homes are starting to reflect the effects that the coronavirus pandemic has had on people’s lifestyles.

Earlier this year, the co-founders of Studiotwentysix added a plywood-lined loft extension to their own family home in Brighton to make room for more work and rest areas. With a similar aim, Best Practice Architecture recently converted the shed of a Seattle property into a home office and fitness room.

The photography is by Lorenzo Zandri


Space Caviar creates “liquid landscape” inside Uzbekistan pavilion at Venice Art Biennale

Italian studio Space Caviar has constructed Dixit Algorizmi: The Garden of Knowledge, an indoor garden with reflective steel steps for the Uzbekistan pavilion at this year’s Venice Art Biennale.

The installation at the Uzbekistan National Pavilion mirrors the interiors of the Quarta Tesa, an old shipbuilding warehouse at the Arsenale – one of the international contemporary art exhibition’s two main sites.

A room that resembles an Islamic garden
Dixit Algorizmi: The Garden of Knowledge is the country’s first pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale

The layout of the 500-square-metre garden is informed by the garden at the House of Wisdom, an academic centre in 9th-century Baghdad where medieval scholars, including the renowned Persian mathematician Muhammad al-Khwarizmi, studied.

Visitors at the 59th Venice Art Biennale can walk across the shiny floor of the installation and sit on glossy steps around what resemble traditional water basins.

A warehouse with reflective flooring and hanging plants
Space Caviar drew on the forms of historic Islamic gardens

“Gardens are very important in the tradition of Islam and the Arabic tradition in many parts of Central Asia,” said Joseph Grima, co-founder of architectural research studio Space Caviar.

“While today we’re accustomed to thinking of buildings and enclosed spaces such as research labs and universities as the space for the production of knowledge, in the days of al-Khwarizmi, gardens were typically the points of encounters, of discussion,” Grima told Dezeen.

The Uzbekistan pavilion at the Venice Biennale
The pavilion is inside the Venice Arsenale

Space Caviar constructed the interiors of Uzbekistan’s first pavilion at the Biennale in Venice from pine wood and sheets of stainless steel, which Grima chose to create the illusion of water.

The material choice also means that when the installation is dismantled at the end of the seven-month-long Biennale, the steel can be melted and turned back into metal sheets once again.

Steps inside the Uzbekistan pavilion by Space Caviar
Stainless steel covers the floor

“Stainless steel was chosen to create the effect of walking on water — one of the perceptions that you have when you are inside the pavilion is that you are in a liquid landscape,” Grima explained.

“This was one of the effects that we wanted to achieve with the pavilion, we wanted to create a landscape that was kind of a miracle, that suggested a dream more than a literal garden,” he added.

“We see it as a technologically augmented landscape in that sense.”

Throughout the Venice Art Biennale, the Uzbekistan pavilion will host a program of workshops and public events on the history of technological development in art with digital artists such as Andrés Reisinger.

Visitors will also be able to listen to Uzbek piano compositions against a backdrop of floral sculptures and hanging clouds of sea lavender by Berlin-based Studio Mary Lennox.

The interior of the Uzbekistan pavilion
The steel will be melted into sheets and reused when the pavilion is dismantled

“We tried to transform our pavilion into an Islamic garden so that visitors could sit by the water, listen to various sounds, smell the air and enjoy the botanic installation,” said Gayane Umerova, executive director of the art and culture development foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

“The Islamic garden is a place of rest and reflection par excellence, it provides means for contemplation through sensory experience – aromas, plants, water,” she told Dezeen.

“Undulating waters and ambiguous lines together with plants and smooth surfaces offer a meditative yet contemporary attitude to the interior of the pavilion, bringing together traditions and new technologies,” she continued.

Sea lavender hanging above reflective floor
Bunches of sea lavender hang from the ceiling

Genoa-based Space Caviar was founded by Joseph Grima and Tamar Shafrir in 2013. The studio focuses on the intersection between design, technology, critical theory and the public space.

Previous projects have included an algorithmic journalism machine that produces magazines on the fly and an exhibition at Biennale Interieur that explored how perspectives on the home have changed over time.

Last year Grima took part in the Dezeen 15 virtual festival, where he proposed a new type of non-extractive architecture that conserves the earth’s resources.

Photography is by Gerda Studio.


Marcel Wanders draws on Dutch history for overhaul of Schiphol airport lounge

References to Dutch culture and history are woven throughout the VIP centre of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, which has undergone a maximalist revamp by designer Marcel Wanders.

The airport lounge comprises a sequence of rooms including a library, drinks bar and smoking room, all designed by Marcel Wanders and his studio to have a distinct theme.

“We wanted each room to be able to exist on its own,” explained Gabriele Chiave, the studio’s creative director.

Red armchair next to book stand in Schiphol VIP centre
Replicas of famous Dutch paintings are displayed in Schiphol’s VIP centre

“Of course, the main thread throughout is Dutch heritage and culture,” he continued. “But we decided on main themes like art and innovation that inspired generations of designers.”

“This travellers’ lounge offered an opportunity to share Dutch culture with the world,” Wanders added. “It introduces people to our history and our masterpieces.”

As travellers enter the VIP centre, they come into a relaxed lounge area designed to loosely resemble the national Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Brown armchairs in front of white and yellow painted wall with Dutch master replicas in airport lounge designed by Marcel Wanders
The workroom features trompe l’oeil walls

Displayed on the walls are replicas of paintings by different Dutch masters, set against backlit glass walls that were installed a decade ago during the last renovation of the lounge by local practice Concrete Architects.

Across the room are banks of coffee-coloured sofas, which like the rest of the furnishings throughout the centre were selected in collaboration with Dutch design brand Lensvelt.

Blue-and-white room in airport lounge designed by Marcel Wanders
One of the seating areas was designed as a celebration of Delft Blue pottery

More reproductions of significant Dutch artworks are found in the centre’s workroom, where travellers can sit down with their laptops or take private phone calls.

Here, a trompe l’oeil effect on the walls creates the impression that the room is finished with traditional boiserie, half-varnished in a rich yellow ochre hue.

Another lounge area showcases digital portraits of famous Dutch cultural figures – both real and fictional – including artist Vincent Van Gogh, violinist Andre Rieu and cartoon bunny Miffy.

Guests can also retreat to the VIP centre’s Delft Blue Salon, which takes its name from a style of Dutch tin-glazed pottery that’s typically adorned with intricate blue-and-white designs.

Living up to its name, the room was fitted with patterned blue wallpaper panels and dotted with a few Delft Blue vases.

Smoking room of Schiphol VIP centre with brown leather armchairs
The smoking room hints at the Netherlands’ connection to the tobacco trade

Elsewhere in the VIP centre, there’s a smoking room that nods to the Netherlands’ historical ties to the tobacco trade and a seating area designed to reference Amsterdam’s canal houses, with a streetlamp-style light and fake stained-glass windows.

Other amenities include a library, drinks bar, games room and a serene sleeping room.

Lounge area of airport lounge designed by Marcel Wanders with orange and purple seating and fake stained glass windows
Amsterdam’s canal houses informed the look of this lounge

Wanders is known for his striking maximalist aesthetic, which can also be seen in his interior design for Doha’s Mandarin hotel with its mismatched patterns and oversized furnishings.

Stateside, the designer has previously created a diamond-patterned facade for the Louis Vuitton store in Miami, referencing the brand’s iconic monogram logo.


Vipp sets up one-room hotel inside ex-pencil factory in Copenhagen

A factory that once made Denmark’s classic Viking school pencils now contains a one-room hotel conceived by homeware brand Vipp.

The 90-square-metre hotel – which is aptly called Vipp Pencil Case – is situated on the factory’s ground floor and accessed via a sun-dappled courtyard.

Kitchen interior of Vipp Pencil Case hotel in Copenhagen
The hotel room is arranged around an open living and dining area

This is one of six hospitality spaces that Vipp has established for design-conscious travellers – others include Vipp Shelter, a pre-fab cabin nestled along the shores of Lake Immeln in Sweden, and Vipp Farmhouse, an 18th-century dwelling located in a rural pocket of Denmark’s Lolland island.

The interiors of Vipp Pencil Case is the work of Danish designer Julie Cloos Mølsgaard, who spent a year curating a neutral yet warm space that she felt sat comfortably within the industrial setting.

Kitchen interior of Vipp Pencil Case hotel in Copenhagen
Guests can gather around a large oak and stone dining table

At the heart of the hotel room is a light-filled living and dining area. To one side lies a powder-grey edition of Vipp’s V1 kitchen suite, where guests are invited to rustle up their own meals.

To the other side of the space is a large oak dining table with a Jura stone countertop, and a number of storage cabinets that hold extra crockery and cookware.

Bedroom interior of Vipp Pencil Case hotel in Copenhagen
The bedroom lies behind sliding doors

Woven baskets, ceramic vases and contemporary artworks have been dotted throughout as decoration.

“Vipp Pencil Case is not your average hotel room – more like a studio or atelier, it elicits an artistic ambience and holds a rare quietude in the heart of the Danish capital”, explained Mølsgaard.

Bedroom interior of Vipp Pencil Case hotel in Copenhagen
Paintings on the walls give the hotel an artsy studio feel

A set of tall sliding doors can be pushed back to reveal the bedroom, which has been dressed with a couple of marble-topped side tables and a plump white seating pouf.

Light streaming through the building’s expansive crittal-style windows is dampened by floor-to-ceiling Kvadrat curtains.

The wooden floorboards that feature here and throughout the rest of the hotel room are meant to nod to the materiality of Viking pencils, and the fact that the building also once served as a showroom for wooden flooring brand Dinesen.

The room also includes a sleek shower room that’s been almost entirely clad with jet-black tiles.

Bathroom interior of Vipp Pencil Case hotel in Copenhagen
A bathroom is clad in jet-black tiles

Viking’s former factory is located across the water from central Copenhagen on Island Brygge. This is not Vipp’s first intervention on site – late last year, the brand transformed another part of the factory into a supper club where chefs from around the world can host intimate dining experiences.

Its interiors were also designed by Mølsgaard, who filled the space with wooden furnishings and tactile rugs and cushions.

The photography is by Rasmus Hjortshøj.


RCKa designs Nourish Hub to tackle food poverty in London

Architecture studio RCKa has transformed a row of vacant shop units in west London into a community kitchen and learning space that hopes to reduce dependency on food banks.

Located on the Edward Wood Estate in Hammersmith, Nourish Hub provides the first permanent home for UKHarvest, a charity that uses food as a tool for social impact.

Nourish Hub by RCKa
Nourish Hub is designed to feel open and accessible

With Hammersmith & Fulham the London borough with the highest dependency on food banks, Nourish Hub’s ambition is not only to provide food for vulnerable local residents. It offer opportunities for people to practice cooking skills, learn about nutrition and access jobs in the food industry.

The space includes a commercial kitchen, a teaching kitchen and a flexible space that can be used as a dining room, workspace, classroom or event venue.

Red and yellow chairs in Nourish Hub by RCKa
A flexible interior can be used as a dining room, classroom, workspace or event venue

RCKa’s role was not only to plan the interior, but to find ways of empowering the local community to get involved in the facility and make it their own.

The design strategy focused on making the space – which previously housed a post office and a supermarket – feel as accessible as possible.

Facade of Nourish Hub by RCKa
Vibrant colours and bold signage make the space more welcoming

The facade can be opened up, thanks to sliding glass doors and a serving hatch, while bright colours and bold signage create a friendly feel throughout.

“Getting people through the door is the first challenge, so the Hub had to seem open and welcoming to the entire community,” said RCKa director Dieter Kleiner.

Serving hatch at Nourish Hub by RCKa
The facade integrates a serving hatch and large sliding doors

When developing the design, the architects decided against a traditional community engagement programme. Instead, they hosted a range of pop-up activities to attract the interest of local residents and learn about their experiences.

They started by painting a graphic mural over the old shutters. They also set up an outdoor kitchen, created playful questionnaire cards and hosted workshops with children.

“It wasn’t about co-designing the space with local people; that wasn’t what we needed,” explained project architect Anthony Staples during a press tour.

“We had three aims: to raise awareness of the project, to test ideas and to establish a local identity.”

Ceiling mural in Nourish Hub by RCKa
A ceiling mural design came out of a children’s workshop

In one children’s workshop, participants created graphic designs out of raw fruit, vegetables and grains.

One of these designs is now painted on the ceiling, while another has been turned into ceramic wall tiles.

Teaching kitchen in Nourish Hub by RCKa
The training kitchen includes wheelchair-accessible surfaces

For the interior layout, RCKa took cues from Victorian kitchens. The teaching kitchen takes the form of a large island, while open cabinets display tableware and cookbooks.

“We were really inspired by old-fashioned kitchens, which are very performative,” said Staples.

“Everything is on display, so when you go in, you feel like you want to touch and grab things.”

Kitchen counter in Nourish Hub by RCKa
Open shelving was favoured over cupboards

The space is furnished with wooden tables, and chairs in bold shades of red and yellow.

There are also various details added in to make the space accessible to a wide range of users. These include lowered surfaces that cater to wheelchair users and a curtain that supports those with specific privacy needs.

RCKa and UKHarvest workshops with children
The children’s design workshop also provided graphics for ceramic wall tiles

Yvonne Thomson, the CEO of UKHarvest, believes the concept can help to tackle issues of food poverty and insecurity, which impact an estimated 8.4 million people in the UK.

The project was realised with funding support from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, as well as the borough, but the target is for Nourish Hub to become financially self-sufficient within three years.

“Great care has been taken to create a versatile space that enables us to facilitate positive change and meet the needs of different community groups,” Thomson said.

RCKa and UKHarvest community engagement
The architects began the community engagement process by painting the old shutters

RCKa compares the project with its previous work on The Granville, a community centre with the purpose of providing accessible workspace for local startups.

Staples believes these types of projects could easily be replicated across the UK, to bring change at a large scale.

“This project is totally replicable,” he said. “We could roll them out in a lot of London boroughs and beyond.”

Photography is by Francisco Ibáñez Hantke.


Oku restaurant in Mexico City features “floating tables” made of wood and steel

Curved booths are suspended over a dining room at a Japanese restaurant in Mexico City designed by local firms Michan Architecture and Escala Arquitectos.

The sushi eatery is located in the upscale neighbourhood of Jardines del Pedregal, across from a famed church known as Parroquia de la Santa Cruz del Pedregal.

Oku restaurant
Oku is a sushi restaurant in Mexico City

It is the second Oku restaurant designed by Michan Architecture. The other – which features a cave-like ceiling made of huge concrete lights – is found in the district of Lomas de Chapultepec.

For the Pedregal location, the architects worked with another local firm, Escala Arquitectos. The team aimed to elongate the space’s proportions and take advantage of its height.

Restaurant by Michan Architecture
The restaurant is Michan Architecture’s second of its kind

Rectangular in plan, the eatery has two levels. The lower level encompasses a sushi bar, indoor and outdoor seating, and a back-of-house zone.

Additional seating is found upstairs, where a series of “floating tables” are arrayed along a corridor.

Floating tables
“Floating tables” are arrayed along a corridor

“The mezzanine level features individual tables hung from the existing structure, giving guests a unique dining experience,” the studio said.

Two of the tables hover above the sushi bar, and two extend over the outdoor terrace. Each has wooden walls that enclose a single booth.

Curved staircase
Curved stairs connect Oku’s two levels

A similar enclosure was used for the stairs connecting the restaurant’s two levels.

The dining pods are supported by light steel members that are welded into the building’s existing steel structure.

Above the mezzanine is a drop ceiling with curved cutouts that expose the steel framing and add height to the space.

Moreover, the openings provide a “sensation of cutting and pasting the ceiling onto the tables”, the architects said.

Black lighting fixtures
Cylindrical black lighting fixtures hang from the ceiling

Hung from the ceiling are cylindrical, black lighting fixtures, which merge electrical cables with structural elements.

Throughout the restaurant, the team used neutral colours and clad surfaces in pine, pigmented stucco and panels made of glass-fibre-reinforced concrete (GFRC).

Oku pine wood restaurant
The team used neutral colours and clad surfaces in pinewood throughout Oku

The effect is a “light and open atmosphere that plays with polished and raw finishes”, the team said.

Other Japanese eateries in Mexico include Mexico City’s Tori Tori by Esrawe Studio, which features elements inspired by Samurai armour, and a restaurant by TAX Architects in the coastal town of Puerto Escondido that is topped with a thatched roof.

The photography is by Alexandra Bové.