31 March, 2013

Nikari's 12 months furniture collection

Nikari Oy, founded in 1967, is a manufacturer of sustainable wood design products of exquisite quality. They produce wooden furniture and custom-made furnishings from local certified wood to public premises as well as private homes. The founder - master cabinet maker, designer Kari Virtanen has worked with the greatest Finnish architects and designers such as Alvar Aalto and Kaj Franck. Through decades his determination to concentrate on wood and its ecological benefits has gained Nikari’s great knowledge about Finnish wood and surface treatment materials like oils, waxes and soaps. Nikari runs also a workshop, located in the beautiful, unique Fiskars village in south-west Finland, in the oldest machinery workshop of the country.

Nikari’s “2012 designs for nature” furniture collection, comprises of 12 distinct pieces of furniture, uniquely designed by 12 designers for each month of the year. The project tells about Nikari philosophy and the Finnish wood design ideology of delicately manufacturing exquisite quality furniture and products of the local forests’ wood in Fiskars Village. Because number 12 is the number of the year (and it is the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 year, so definitely worth celebrating) and there are 12 months in a year, twelve designers or design studios were asked to study Nikari philosophy and give their comments to it in a form of a wooden product. They co-operated with the Finnish WWF and part of the sales price donated to protecting rainforests and forests globally.

Tiny's Giant sandwich shop

A dedicated sandwich shop that exists for about 14 years now, is Tiny’s Giant sandwich shop in New York. With a new owner, Tiny's Giant sandwich shop has a fresh energy, but is still offering all the same GIANT sandwich favorites from the last ten years. At the helm is Dave Currence. Tiny’s continues to offer affordable fare, catering to meat lovers and vegetarians alike, so anyone can fill up on sandwiches and salads for under $10. Open 7 days a week, from noon to 10 pm, with comfortable banquette seating for 24 guests and offering free delivery, they are the destination lunch spot in the Lower East Side, any day of the week.

29 March, 2013

La Distributrice

Montreal has known a boom of boutique coffee shops during these last two years. There is one however that does stand out, located in a very small and otherwise unlikely spot. Fit under a staircase at the corner of St-Denis and Mont-Royal, in Montreal, Canada, is Distributrice, the smallest espresso bar, probably in the world. La Distributrice is a pick-up only counter. For maximum efficiency, the menu is simple: latte, espresso, americano and homemade donuts. Awesome design, delicious coffee and great service.

Mom & Popcorn

In their own words : “We are an Old Fashioned Popcorn and Candy Shop Located in Historic Downtown McKinney, Texas. We ship our fresh popcorn and nostalgic candy all over the world”. That is true, and it is probably the specialization of the place that makes it unique and noteworthy. Hundreds of varieties of nostalgic candy fill the barrels, baskets, and candy jars throughout the store. In addition to the mouthwatering sweets, they also offer several different styles of homemade fudge. Old fashioned glass bottled drinks including RC Cola, Dr. Pepper, Coca Cola, and all the varieties of Frostie brand Root Beers and Sodas are also available. 

However, the true headliner of the store is the popcorn. Shoppers can sample any of the 45 different flavors of popcorn that are being made right there in the store. A wide variety of popcorn flavors is on offer, from savory and candied, to caramels and chocolate covered sensations, using only the finest ingredients such as real cheese, real butter, real vanilla and the finest Imperial sugars.

27 March, 2013

the Espinoza House in Chile

Integrated within the striking natural surroundings, this single family house derives its characteristics from the landscape around it, integrating, stone, wood and glass and opening up to the bay. Chilean architecture practice WMR has completed a wood and glass house overlooking the bay on the mountains surrounding Matanzas beach, in the Chilean central coast. The architects sought to integrate the building within its striking surrounding landscape, deriving its characteristics from the environment in which it is inserted. The house is dug into the hill in such a way that it allows for a patio invaded by the morning light, while offering protection from the wind and a view of the sea.

Next to the patio, the architects have inserted the kitchen, dining and living spaces in a lower level, all built out of stone, sharing the materiality of the mountains. The rest of the house's structure consists of a combination of oregon pine wood and steel beams, and opens up with large windows that overlook the beach. Here, a living space — conceived as a yoga room — is articulated with two bedrooms.

Taquería Canalla

Taquería Canalla, located in San Pedro, Mexico, has a seducing rustic charm, colourful tacos and top branding. Its signature sauces that particularly catch the eye - beautifully bottled in medicinal -style flacons designed by Mexican design agency, Manifesto Futura. In their own words : “Canalla is the result of many, is the representation of taco character, taco North Walker Ranger type, raw materials in each space, complicated nights, Sundays in the workshop, dozens of sketches and prototypes on the road. A difficult project but with much laughter and satisfactions”.

On their exquisite sauces, three out of the five (the avocado, coriander and chilli sauces) are available to buy, the remaining two, a 'red' tomato salsa and a 'green' tomato salsa have top-secret recipes and are more closely guarded - they don't leave the restaurant, but are added to your order. Try the 'Bañado' taco, packed full of roast beef and chorizo, topped off with a dollop of the exceptional coriander dressing. For the rest of the offered delicious tacos go here.

Black Cow vodka

Vodka (Polish: wódka, Russian: водка) is a distilled beverage composed primarily of water and ethanol, sometimes with traces of impurities and flavorings. Vodka is made by the distillation of fermented substances such as grains, potatoes, or sometimes fruits or sugar. [1] Basically they can be distilled from anything that can be fermented and finely distilled. Black Cow vodka is distilled not from potatoes but from cowsmilk. Created by Jason Barber - a farmer from Childhay Manor, West Dorset - the vodka, much to many drinkers’ delight, looks and tastes like the real deal. The process involves the milk being split into curds and whey. While the curds are used to produce the farm's award-winning Barber's 1833 vintage reserve Cheddar, the whey is fermented and distilled to create the clear, creamy vodka. [2]

In the world there are various alcoholic drinks that are produced by fermenting milk and dairy products. One originates from Tuva, a Siberian tribe, who use the milk from their mares to create the highly revered Araka vodka (and very difficult to find). Blaand was introduced to Scotland by Vikings. It is a fermented milk product made from whey (whey or milk serum is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained), and similar in alcohol content to wine. Kumiss, is a fermented dairy product traditionally made from mare's milk popular with the peoples of the Central Asian steppes. It is very similar to kefir.

Read a relevant tasting and review of the vodka here.

Converted waffle factory in Lille

La Braderie is a vast city-wide flea market that takes place in the streets of Lille, France, every September. It dates back to the Middle Ages, when the serfs were allowed once a year to sell out or exchange their masters’ unnecessary or old and given out possessions. Very close to the city centre, an old waffle factory has been renovated by interiors and fashion photographer Pascal Francois, to become his family’s home and place of inspiration and work. Most of the areas were kept open, with furnishings and furniture, collected over the years from the Braderie. 

The result was a comfortable place to live with children, which involved knocking down a section of the roof to create an open garden, that still retains the industrial look and feel of the old facility. Scandinavian design has been an inspiration, and it can be noted throughout the interior details and furnishings. Although most of the pieces are salvaged ones, they do not appear as oddities, since great care has been put into the actual arrangements to create rooms that are lively, but also very liveable. For example the kitchen combines a huge old fishmonger’s fridge that serves as the main kitchen counter with teak base units and metal cupboards from a junk shop on the wall.

21 March, 2013

the Internet in numbers [for 2012]

Pingdom is a Swedish company that specialises in monitoring uptime for online resources (server resources and actual websites). They also maintain a blog where as they say “also ramble and muse about technology in general, and the Internet and web technology, in particular”. One of the interesting data collection and collation that they do allows them to present an annual report on the Internet doings (The Internet in Numbers).

How many emails were sent during 2012? How many domains are there? What’s the most popular web browser? How many Internet users are there? These are some of the questions we’ll answer for you. To bring you these answers, Pingdom “have gone to the ends of the web – wherever that is – and back again, and compiled a list of truly fascinating facts about the year that was. Some of the numbers are snapshots taken during the year, others cover the entire period. Either way, they all contribute to giving us a better understanding of Internet in 2012”.

Some interesting measurements :
(visit the Pingdom page, to access the individual numbers’ sources, plus a wealth of more informative collected measurements on other topics as well, such as video & images traffics) :

2.2 Billion – Number of email users worldwide.
144 Billion – Total email traffic per day worldwide.
61% – Share of emails that were considered non-essential.
68.8% – Percentage of all email traffic that was spam.

634 Million – Number of websites (December 2012).
51 Million – Number of websites added during the year (2012).
87.8 Million – Number of Tumblr blogs.
59.4 Million – Number of WordPress sites around the world.
$2.45 Million – The price for Investing.com, the most expensive domain name sold in 2012.

2.4 Billion – Number of Internet users worldwide.
565 Million – Number of Internet users in China, more than any other country in the world.

1 Billion – Number of monthly active users on Facebook, passed in October.
2.7 Billion – Number of likes on Facebook every day.
40.5 years – Average age of a Facebook user.
200 Million – Monthly active users on Twitter, passed in December.
175 Million – Average number of tweets sent every day throughout 2012.
37.3 years – Average age of a Twitter user.

1.2 Trillion – Number of searches on Google  in 2012.
67% – Google’s market-leading share of the U.S. search market (December).

5 Billion – Number of mobile broadband subscriptions.
6.7 Billion – Number of mobile subscriptions.
59% – Share of global mobile data traffic that was video.

[Ref.] The Internet in Numbers report http://royal.pingdom.com/2013/01/16/internet-2012-in-numbers/, with links to previous years’ reports.

Scyscraper Construction curve

Global tall building completions drop, but uptick expected in 2013, in accordance to the updated survey of the CTBUH, for 2012. Noted in the survey, for the first time in six years the number of tall buildings completed annually around the world declined in 2012, as the consequential effects of the 2008/2009 global financial crisis became evident in tall building construction in many Western countries. Sixty-six buildings taller than 200 meters were completed during 2012, the third most in history, but down from the 82 finished in 2011. This number of completions was slightly lower than expected, with some projects under construction delayed or stalled. However, several of the projects forecast to finish in 2012 are now expected to complete in 2013 and 2014, with global completion numbers expected to rise again.

Hence in conclusion, there is no substantial indication of a tall building construction slowdown. As 2012 closes, the industry is on the cusp of another burst of tall building development. In total, there are 437 buildings taller than 200 meters under construction globally. It is likely the 2013 completion total will set a new record for tall building completions, surpassing the 2011 total. In addition, the quest to grow taller continues. Of the projects under construction, 59 will join the list of the 100 tallest buildings in the world; eight will likely make the top 10. There are also 10 buildings taller than 500 meters under construction, including three megatalls over 600 meters.

Despite the economic crisis, tall building construction is still an important driver for the revitalization of fast-growing urban centers around the world, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. At the same time, cities in Europe, South America and Africa are looking to grow vertically, while smaller markets like Panama City and Abu Dhabi continue to complete projects. The need to create efficient, high density districts for people to live and work is pushing skylines higher, and there is no evidence that those factors will subside any time soon.

CTBUH (the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat) is an international not-for-profit organization supported by architecture, engineering, planning, development and construction professionals. The CTBUH is the world’s leading body in the field of tall buildings and the recognized source of information on tall buildings internationally. It is the arbiter of the criteria upon which tall building height is measured, and thus the title of “The World’s Tallest Building” determined. Founded in 1969, the Council’s mission is to disseminate multi-disciplinary information on tall buildings and sustainable urban environments, to maximize the international interaction of professionals involved in creating the built environment, and to make the latest knowledge available to professionals in a useful form.

[Ref.] CBTUH 2012 survey, pub. Jan.9 2013 (go there for more information, diagrams and pictures) http://www.ctbuh.org/TallBuildings/HeightStatistics/AnnualBuildingReview/Trendsof2012/tabid/4212/language/en-US/Default.aspx
The report can be downloaded here.

Bob’s kitchen & juice bar

Now there's another cool eating emporium to add to the list : Bob's Kitchen. Bob is actually called Mark Grossman. He runs a small dinner and juice bar in Paris, France, that very quickly became one of the hippest places in town to have lunch, brunch or a smoothie.

He's also a cheery bloke and minor star after having two books published with his delicious muffin recipes (subtitled "different and authentic") and smoothies recipes (truthfully but verbosely subtitled "fruit and vegetables cocktails by an American in Paris"). If you live in Paris sometime between rich butter croissant in the morning and fat liver pate evening desire to feel, in traditional French cuisine is not just offered in abundance lightness and freshness, Bob’s Kitchen is the perfect antidote. Read some reviews here.

Changing daily, there is always an even vegan vegan soup and a salad (sometimes vegan sandwiches, bagels or a la carte, but since they are made ​​fresh, they can be modified on request yes). And the almost daily offered Veggie Stew (tasty, colorful vegetable stews) and Futo Maki (Japanese for "Big Role", filled with vegetables, mushrooms or fish nori rice rolls) are often vegan. Open from 8 in the morning until (be careful) 3 in the afternoon (on weekends from 10 to 16 clock) you can really into Bob's Kitchen wonderfully together with friends to a healthy breakfast, brunch or lunch. But even if you're traveling alone, you will find yourself at one of the long communal tables quickly in a family atmosphere. [1]

INAISCE aetherial quest

Invoking an anthropological spirit and aesthetic, New York-based designer Jona transcends the landscape of couture through his avant-garde label, InAisce. Imbued in signature hues of nuanced greys and arctic neutrals, InAisce aims to illustrate the ephemeral flux of nature and self in collections infused with a folkloric blend of tribal nomad and stoic sentinel.

InAisce began as a men's collection in 2009, emerging from Jona's desire to construct clothes for himself. The line's sinuous draping and streamlined silhouettes, however, effortlessly melded into androgynous geometry, garnishing a unisex following and establishing InAisce as a transcendent force. Blurring the lines between sartorial ingenuity and mythical intrigue, InAisce explores "homelessness" as a transient quest in search of one's origins with "Seeking Aether," the brand's upcoming Fall/Winter 2013/14 collection, comprised of collaborations with artisan Jason Ross of Artemas Quibble and shoe designer, Alessio Zero. Reflecting the ethos of the collection is South Sudanese refugee-cum-model Ger Duany, whose own epic journey makes him a natural fit. Read the rest of the interview on CoolHunting here.

20 March, 2013

Truth Coffee : steampunk roastery and café

A turn of the century warehouse building on Buitenkant Street, in the Fringe innovation district of Cape Town, was stripped back to its bare bones, and transformed into a Steampunk coffee roastery, café and barista training school. With the exception of the authentic vintage fixtures, all of the furniture was specifically designed for Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin. The top two floors were converted into creative studio office rental space. The 600m² ground floor was kept as Truth’s headquarters and needed to include a 120 seat restaurant, café, bar and kitchen, their newly acquired 3 ton Probat roaster, a barista trainee school, public event space, coffee bean warehouse, espresso machine workshop, management office, and restrooms.

The huge, fully functioning vintage roaster became the kingpin for the space. Once this was located centrally on the ground floor plan, everything else fell naturally into place. We surrounded the roaster machine with a 6m diameter circular steel shelving structure, reminiscent of a Victorian gasworks. With the exception of the authentic vintage fixtures, all of the furniture was specifically designed for Truth Coffee by Haldane Martin and his interior design team. The result is an iconic space with true Steampunk character.

18 feet & rising offices

As the UK headquarters for advertising agency 18 Feet & Rising, the offices were designed with a utilitarian aesthetic that can easily be replaced in a few years as the company grows. Studio Octopi were asked to incorporate four qualities into the space; emergence, vortex, action and illusion. On that account three principle zones were identified within the agency: work, socialise and pitch. Each zone was then supported by a secondary tier of: read, make and plan. The zones were defined by black stained plywood walls and woven vinyl flooring. These act as theatrical devices in function and appearance. As with theatre the design enhances the presence and immediacy of the experience.

The work desks were arranged within a cog form. On entering the agency, the end of the cog disappears out of view. It is difficult to perceive the space denoted as a work zone, there is an illusionary aspect to the design. Power and data was taken off the existing overhead supply and distributed to the desks throughout the low plywood walls. Break out spaces are scattered to the perimeter provide views across neighbouring buildings. To the inside of the cog, the kitchen opens onto a central café seating area. There is no reception; the café area fulfils this role. 18 feet & rising is probably London’s fastest growing independent ad agency, and thus it’s likely the design will be replaced within a few years. On this basis the fit-out is surprising, a little unnerving, and in places whimsical. Access more info and photos here.

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