Review: SFMOMA extension by Snøhetta

By Penny Craswell

The new extension of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta presents a soaring, monumental face, despite the challenges of a restrained site. Spanning over 10 floors, the new extension nearly triples the exhibition space of the museum, creating white, light-filled gallery spaces connected by wide timber stairs.

24. SFMOMA façade of Snøhetta expansion; photo © Henrik Kam, courtesy SFMOMA

 

The old and new interiors are seamlessly integrated, with the new extension appearing to hug the side of the existing building, a series of brick-clad symmetrical volumes designed in 1995 by Mario Botta. In contrast to the bold, regular forms of the Botta building, the new design is introverted, expanding into the space but with its outer peripheries pinned back, clad in a white, rippling facade. Read more

Review: Little Creatures Hong Kong

By Penny Craswell

Little Creatures is the latest Hong Kong restaurant by Charlie & Rose, a Hong Kong-based creative studio led by Australian designer Ben McCarthy. The venue is the first Little Creatures outside of Australia and is situated in Kennedy Town, where the cuisines range from seafood to Italian, to Mexican-Japanese fusion, all situated within a stone’s throw of Hong Kong Harbour.

Front facade of Little Creatures Hong Kong by Charlie & Rose. More on The Design Writer blog
Front facade of Little Creatures Hong Kong by Charlie & Rose. Image: supplied

 

Previously a warehouse space, the restaurant interior retains some of the original’s industrial grunge, overlaid with blonde timber joinery, bespoke furniture and some big, decorative red pipes that run through the space. Part of the brief was to create facilities for an on-site brewery and the gleaming metal brewing equipment takes pride of place behind the bar. Read more

Review: M+ Pavilion in Hong Kong

By Penny Craswell

The first permanent exhibition venue in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District has been completed – the M+ Pavilion, designed by three Hong Kong design teams: VPANG architects ltd, JET Architecture Inc and Lisa Cheung. The leaders of each team, Vincent Pang, Tynnon Chow and Lisa Cheung, first met in New York in 1999 and, despite their careers developing separately to this point, took this opportunity to come together, winning the competition entry to design the building.

Cantilievering over the grass, M+ Pavilion Hong Kong. Image: Courtesy of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and M+, Hong Kong
Cantilievering over the grass, M+ Pavilion Hong Kong. Image: Courtesy of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and M+, Hong Kong

 

The pavilion is set within the Art Park and offers a tranquil escape from the busy city centre, with gleaming facades that mirror the surrounding greenery of the park. The building is situated on a grassy slope with the upper level exhibition space cantilevering over the lawn below and offering views of the city and the harbour. Read more

Small concrete in Hong Kong

By Penny Craswell

Two recent graduates of architecture from Hong Kong University have created All Goods of Concrete, a new range of products exploring the use of concrete in small-scale objects and accessories. Yip Yi Kwan Jennifer and Lee Ka Anthony first started to experiment with concrete when building architectural models at university.

“Concrete appeared to be a dirty and difficult material to handle at the time,” says Jennifer. “Only when we started using it to make study models did we appreciate its simple and pretty texture.”

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In February 2016, the pair decided to extend their university experimentation with concrete, inspired by architects such as Tadao Ando who use it at a larger scale, pushing the boundaries of the material into industrial design and home decoration.

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Top 5: Conceptual rugs

By Penny Craswell

Rugs don’t have to make a big statement to be beautiful – many of the best rugs are designed to be subtle, with one concept differentiating it from the crowd. These five new rug ranges are made from a range of materials and with a variety of design ideas, all of which are successful in their originality and soft concept.

1. Armadillo&Co is an Australian company, founded by Jodie Fried and Sally Pottharst, producing hand-made, fair trade and sustainable rugs. As well as benefiting from the long tradition that their weavers in India, Nepal and Pakistan bring to these hand-knotted rugs, Armadillo&Co is also committed to social responsibility, supporting their weavers’ communities through building schools and other social programs. More on Armadillo&Co

Heirloom Collection, Persian Knot Rug, Babylon in Sterling Bronze by Armadillo Co. The Design Writer blog.
Heirloom Collection, Persian Knot Rug, Babylon in Sterling Bronze by Armadillo&Co. Image: supplied
Latitude collection, Berber Knot rug, Savannah in Chalk by Armadillo & Co. The Design Writer blog.
Latitude collection, Berber Knot Rug, Savannah in Chalk by Armadillo&Co. Image: supplied


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Tiny Sydney terrace, opened out

By Penny Craswell

A four-metre-wide terrace in Sydney’s Surry Hills has been transformed from a dark, cramped space into a light-filled home with clean lines and balanced proportions thanks to architecture practice Benn & Penna.

Sydney Terrace by Benn & Penna. Photo: Tom Ferguson
Sydney Terrace by Benn & Penna. Photo: Tom Ferguson

The new bedrooms and bathrooms are located above an open-plan living space that opens onto intimate garden spaces at either end of the property. In order to increase the liveable space in the house, these have been treated as outdoor rooms. Read more

Iittala relaunches in Australia

By Penny Craswell

The popularity of Finnish design brand Iittala in Australia might not have come as a surprise to International Brand Manager of Iittala Siru Nori during her recent trip to Australia to rerelease the brand. But the ubiquity of Iittala glassware – in particular classic designs such as the Ultima Thule from the 1960s – and the number of collectors that the brand has here might have been less expected.

Iittala X Issey Miyake. Image: supplied
Iittala X Issey Miyake. Image: supplied

Perhaps the enduring power of Iittala is due to its timelessness – many of these collectibles look just as good now as they did when they were first released. The Alvar Aalto Vase is a perfect example of this, retaining its relevance thanks to its sculptural, architectural form without dipping in and out of fashion as so many other pieces do. Originally designed in 1936, this vase is mouth blown in Iittala’s Finnish factory where it takes seven people to make one vase. Read more

Design and Indigenous Australia: Lucy Simpson and Nicole Monks

By Penny Craswell

As a source of inspiration for designers and architects, Australian Indigenous culture should not be underestimated. At a recent talk on shield carving by Andrew Snelgar and Simon Penrose at the Art Gallery of NSW, I saw first hand the beauty of traditional shields, tools and weapons made by hand. I also learnt about practices such as the harvesting of timber from trees – up to two thirds of a tree can be removed without killing it.

 

Dhina digital print scarf. Image: courtesy © Lucy Simpson
Dhina digital print scarf designed by Lucy Simpson. Image: courtesy © Lucy Simpson

Two contemporary Indigenous designers drawing on Indigenous Australian traditions in their practices are Lucy Simpson, a textile and graphic designer who sells scarves, textiles, jewellery and objects under the name Gaawaa Miyay, and Nicole Monks, a designer working across art, interiors, fashion, set and surface design (Lucy and Nicole are both participants in the Arts NSW 2016 Indigenous Design Mentorship scheme facilitated by the Australian Design Centre). Read more

Object stories: Sprint chair by Sean Dix

By Penny Craswell

The Sprint chair by Hong Kong-based US designer Sean Dix is a lightweight, stackable chair and stool with a simple profile that belies its complexity. Originally developed specifically for the Bar Veloce, an Italian bar in Beijing, the series was named after the Vespa “Sprint Veloce” which is an Italian design classic.

Sprint chair by Sean Dix for Zenith. Image: supplied
Sprint chair is a stacking chair by Sean Dix for Zenith. Image: supplied


The origins of Sprint as a bespoke design for an interior are characteristic of many of Dix’s industrial design projects since he also runs his own interior design practice and often will design products for an interior that subsequently have a life of their own. For Dix and his team, the opportunity to feed industrial and interior design projects off each other brings many advantages, both creatively and for the business. Read more

Review: Connecting creators at Factory Design District

By Penny Craswell

It was bad luck that the worst storm to hit Sydney in decades happened to coincide with the most exciting new design event to make its debut in the city this year. Factory Design District is the brainchild of Kobe Johns who brought her previous experience on DesignEX and London Design Festival to the event, which ran over three days as part of Vivid Ideas.

Johns now runs joinery workshop JP Finsbury with her partner (in work and in life) Adam Price and envisaged Factory Design District as a way for manufacturers and makers to connect with the design industry and the design-loving public.

Factory Design District, held in Sydney in June 2016. Photo: Fiona Susanto
Factory Design District, held in Sydney in June 2016. Photo: Fiona Susanto

The mission of the event, which included stands by some 30 exhibitors, was to start a dialogue between those people who work in timber, metal, fabric etc. and those who are curious about the process of making, or who may want bespoke or off-the-shelf Australian-made and designed goods. Read more