Casaplata is an unusually fresh-looking, newly reimagined restaurant and cocktail bar in the old quarter of Seville, Spain.
While many renovations in the area have referenced the past and sought to express a historical revival, Madrid-based Lucas y Hernández-Gil avoided nostalgia and aimed for a fresh future-focused look.
The vision of the design team, enthusiastically approved by the young restaurateurs, includes brutalist grey concrete, exposed pipes and metal, but all accented with a soft, almost feminine pastel colour palette and rounded forms.
The result is a chic, minimalist and gently soothing space that bears the studio’s signature look of a white/monotone grey envelope, soft hues and rounded shapes as accents.
The designers say that they referenced the ‘poetic vision of everyday objects’ as expressed by the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi whose still life’s often featured granular, uneven grey backgrounds with everyday items, such as bottles, vases, pitchers and jars in muted, pastel tones.
Lucas y Hernández- Gil completed not just the architecture and design of the 100 square-metre (1,076 sq.ft) space that housed a café before but also designed the furniture and graphic design.
The complete transformation of the restaurant that now seats 70 patrons includes a false ceiling of silvery metal slats that absorbs noise and reflects light.
Casaplata is located in a residential area with shops that is close to La Encarnacion Square and its Metropol Parasol https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropol_Parasol, a set of six massive wooden ‘parasols’ designed by the German architect Jürgen Mayer, completed in April 2011 and considered the world’s largest wooden structure. The locals call the controversial structure Las Setas de la Encarnación (Incarnation’s mushrooms). Tuija Seipell
If you don’t like pink – the so-called Millennial Pink or any other hue of it – or if you don’t like chicken or lobster, then MaMa Kelly restaurant may not be your first choice in Amsterdam.
But, then again, you may choose to behave like the co-owner and designer of the place, Rein Rambaldo, and say “Why not?” and give it a try.
MaMa Kelly Amsterdam is a 1,000 is square-metre (10,763 sq ft), 230-seat thoroughly pink restaurant that serves only chicken and lobster and is located at the Olympisch Stadion in Amsterdam’s outskirts. Too large, too kitschy, too limited a menu, too far away. Not exactly a recipe for an immediate restaurant success. But the owners were willing to take risks.
Rein Rambaldo is the founder of The Hague-based restaurant design firm De Horecafabriek.
After many years developing and designing restaurant concepts, Rambaldo and his wife, Willemien, joined forces with experienced local restaurateurs, Singha Witteman and Bas Bloemink, and created the first MaMa Kelly in The Hague in 2010.
It is slightly smaller at 800 square metres (8,610 sq.ft) and seats 200 guests, but the menu is equally limited and the location equally unlikely. MaMa Kelly The Hague is located in an industrial area outside The Hague in an old cigarette factory. Funky industrial vibes, exposed pipes, blue-tone interior.
Rambaldo explains that the success of the first MaMa Kelly is due to the solid concept but it is also due to the operational and marketing style of the owners. The tightly-run ship relies heavily on social media, especially Instagram, in its promotion. It also relies on a highly technology-driven operation – from constant monitoring of guest and staffing levels to supply and cash flow.
They selected chicken as one of the key menu items as it is a widely accepted favourite. Then they chose lobster as a counterpart that is gaining popularity in Dutch restaurants and decided to base their menu on these two ingredients.
With the operations and systems well in hand, the owners decided to expand to the Amsterdam area. The pink MaMa Kelly is the result of that decision.
Apparently, pink is Willemien’s favourite colour, and as most restaurant decisions are made by women, the team decided to go for it. Why not? They had also encountered a few pink restaurants in their research that inspired them.
And to keep things interesting, Rambaldo says that there is secret bar in MaMa Kelly Amsterdam. It is only available for groups, and it is the only part of the restaurant that is not pink.
While we will not put pink on our favourite colours list any time soon, we do commend the team behind MaMa Kelly Amsterdam for being bold and solid in their approach. The world already has enough confusing restaurant concepts. Tuija Seipell.
A large, new restaurant, Gaga Chef, is turning heads in Shenzhen, China.
Not only is the interior elegantly understated, the Gaga (Shenzhen GAGA Catering Management Co.Ltd) brand’s latest concept also involves a rotating cast of international chefs and visual artists.
Gaga Chef was designed by Coordination Asia,the Shanghai-based design and architecture firm that has completed several other restaurant concepts for the Gaga brand.
The new eatery is located in the new MIXC Shenzhen Shopping Center, where high-end brands vie for the attention of affluent shoppers and diners. The brands that have stores in the center include Prada, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s and so on plus Gucci’s and Prada’s largest stores in the Asia-Pacific.
The 490 square-meter (5,275 sq.ft) restaurant has seats for 150 guest inside and 42 on the outdoor terrace.
Coordination Asia’s founder and design director, architect Tilman Thürmer, created the concept with key team members Vega li and Yu Yin
According to Thürmer, Gaga is an owner-managed cafe/eatery brand, established in 2013. He says that Gaga is Shenzhen’s most successful eatery for fusion cuisine with 12 restaurants so far.
Coordination Asia has designed each concept and won awards for several, including a Red Dot for the Wongtee Plaza in Shenzhen. Gaga has up to now remained in Shenzhen with its various concepts but is now expanding to Shanghai, Thürmer says.
Gaga Chef is, however, completely different from the other Gaga concepts. Our favourite aspects of Gaga Chef are the cool large-scale lighting installations – all created by Coordination Asia, as well as the lovely collection of seating.
The chairs all have a similar, slender-legged, light profile yet they come from three European design houses. They include Strike by Arrmet, Cyborg Club by Magis and the Beetle Dining Chair by the Danish Gubi.
Coordination Asia is currently developing the visual artist program with Brownie. Photographers to exhibit in the first year are Chinese, New York-based Fan Haoran, Jiaxi & Zhe and the Welsh Daniel Alford. The first visiting chef is Joel Bennetts from Sydney, Australia. Tuija Seipell.
BMW launches 300 Drones Flying Above The Skyline of Miami Beach - Vimeo
Many of us have watched the spectacular formations that small migrating birds such as swallows and starlings form in the sky. In a miraculous transformation their seemingly random flying settles into beautiful, fluidly undulating masses where thousands of birds move together as if they were one living organism.
Taking a representation of this spectacle into the sky above the ocean at Art Basel Miami Beach this year was the near-impossible art project commissioned by BMW and created by Amsterdam-based Studio Drift.
The project, called Franchise Freedom, is in practical terms a group of 300 lighted drones flying in orchestrated patterns in the night sky. Many of us have already seen small-scale iterations of this idea, of lighted drones flying in simple patterns in the night sky, but this was the largest group of drones ever attempted.
Drift’s founders Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta translated natural flight patterns of starlings into software specifically created for the drones. The project also benefited from ongoing university research focusing on flocking behavior and on the understanding of the principles of self-organization in nature.
In artistic terms, Franchise Freedom explored the ideas of individual freedom versus safety in numbers, and the sacrifice of the individuals versus creating the illusion of freedom.
We are all getting tired of clinically sterile, copycat concept stores that seem lifeless and completely void of adventure, story or history. And the sameness seems to be getting worse.
In a mall or high street one cannot tell one brand from another. Stores display the same colors, the same styles, the same products, the same materials – probably all made in the same place, too, somewhere in Asia.
Nothing inherently wrong with any one aspect of it except that it all adds up to a mind-numbingly boring experience. No wonder, then, that the only thing that seems to excite customers is a sale.
So, it is not surprising that we – and thousands of others – have already fallen in love with Roman and Williams Guild opened recently in a former Citibank space at the edge of Soho in NYC on the corner of Mercer and Howard Street.
It is a two-story, 7,000 square-foot (650 sq. metre) retail concept that is not just retail and not really a concept either, at least not in the tired, over-used meaning of the word.
We are tempted to describe it with another cliché: emporium. But perhaps here that old term really does serve a good purpose as the Guild does remind us of well-loved indoor food markets and bustling halls, souks and bazaars, and old merchant warehouses full of tribute from distant and exotic lands.
And yet, the Guild is completely modern and totally unlike any bazaar or souk or market. It is rich with worldly sophistication, cool finds, glassware and textiles, modern furniture and antique treasures, so yes, it is a furniture store. But it is also a restaurant, and an oasis with an Emily Thompson’s wild flower shop and a Phaidon creative arts library.
In the furniture showroom, the designers’ own The Founding Collection of furniture forms the basis. It consists of 40 pieces of furniture and 15 pieces of lighting, many originating from their interior design projects.
The restaurant is the French café La Mercerie, a partnership between Stephen Starr Restaurant Group and Roman and Williams. Chef Marie-Aude Rose, the former chef at Spring in Paris, will soon serve a full complement of French comfort food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Only coffee and pastries were available during the first weeks.
The owners of the Roman and Williams Guild, Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch are founders of the well known interior design firm Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors in NYC. Their work for Hollywood stars and hospitality brands is eclectic, multidisciplinary, rich, flexible, innovative.
Their interior design is seen at the Standard Highline, The Ace Hotel New Orleans, the Chicago Athletic Association and Lafayette restaurant New York, for example.
We strongly believe that Roman and Williams Guild represents the type of ‘concept’ that has a bright future. It has a real, natural coherence – not a forced, fake grouping of services and products aimed at a target group.
In this case, the natural coherence comes from Standefer and Alesch’s own loves and likes, their passions and creative ideas. What they create feels coherent and welcoming because it has been put together with their inner passion. Customers, guests and visitors sense that passion and feel compelled to participate in it.
In an article about the Guild, Standefer has been quoted as saying that there’s still a lot of creative energy in New York and that retail there is not dead, “it’s just a bit boring.” We agree and welcome Roman and Williams Guild to the new wave of un-dead, unboring retail. Tuija Seipell.
Just show us a description of a restaurant, store or hotel that includes the words “authentic experience” and “unique environment” – usually all in one breathless sentence – and we are already rolling our cynical, PR-weary eyes.
We envision fake me-toos and done-a-million-times-already concepts with boring and uninspiring gimmicks.
Sometimes we wonder how entrepreneurs can afford to even try such unoriginal concepts in today’s competitive market.
One such market where the uninspired need not apply is the trendy Roppongi district in Tokyo. Attempts at unique environments or experiences survive there only if they really do deliver what they promise.
After a year in business, the Nikunotoriko restaurant designed by Tokyo-based architect Ryoji Iedokoro seems to be an example of those that have succeeded there.
The restaurant’s name is translated as ‘under the spell of meat’, and the style of food offered is ‘premium yakiniku’ or premium grilled meat cuisine.
Iedokoro referenced the primal hunter humans who gathered inside a cave or outside in a forest to sit around a fire to cook and share their catch.
His attempt was to create an environment that evokes caves, forests and creeks where the patrons gather together to forget the urban bustle of the city and share a meaty dinner.
The two-level restaurant is located in a new building in the heart of the Roppongi area.
Each floor is about 65 square meters (700 sq.ft) in size and each seats about 20 guests.
The lower level is reminiscent of a cave with walls and ceilings moulded by hand with mortar. A large mirror creates a feeling of infinity as if the cave went on forever.
Under the 6.5meters (21 ft) long smoked-glass table is a riverbed made of recycled-glass gravel with the water created from over 1,000 glass tiles in a flowing pattern.
On the floor above, a forest is created of 126 steel pipes that also function as coat racks. Guests sit on the floor on cushions around a low table, just like around a campfire.
In Nikunotoriko Noppongi Ryoji Iedokoro has succeeded in creating a full-body experience with the food providing the taste and smell, and the environment giving the tactile and visual experiences. Tuija Seipell.
It has become a popular and trendy hangout for Bond-Street shoppers and the after-work crowd to enjoy French-style shared plates, desserts and bespoke cocktails.
By the fall of this year, the three owners, childhood friends, David Bellaiche, Gabriel Cohen-Ella and head chef Jeremy Coste, were ready for some changes.
The basement bar, known as Chez Chow was inspired by Teddy the Chow Chow, the pet of one of the owners. It was quaint and dark and needed a face lift.
The owners wanted the bar to continue to be decidedly different from the ground-floor main restaurant that has a clean, pared-down décor with white-washed brick walls, marble tables, stark light fixtures and leather seating.
Designers Christian Ducker and Tyeth Gundry of London-based Gundry + Ducker chose an optimistic, pastel-pink tone for the 34 square-meter (369 sq.ft), low-ceiling, windowless space.
The designers used rounded shapes, rich-blue velvet seating booths, light marble table tops, bright-blue flooring, see-through partitions, mirrors and bespoke lighting – all by Gundry + Drucker – to create a contrast for the floor above and to open up the dark bar.
“During the design phase of this project we were interested in 1940’s Hollywood for its combination of optimism and glamor, a deliberate contrast to the rough wood/industrial aesthetic still common place in London,” explains Tyeth Gundry.
The basement bar now seats 22 people in an open and bright setting that makes the space appear much larger than it actually is. Tuija Seipell.
Photos by Andrew Meredith.
Here are links to our articles on some of the other establishments with similar design elements:
We love design that makes a clear statement. Not a pretentiously pompous statement, but a statement that is deeply relevant to the project, has an element of freshness and surprise and sends a clear message to the intended audience.
It is not easy to do this. Too often retail design in particular becomes either a bland, characterless backdrop or an interfering, irrelevant ‘concept’.
And it doesn’t get much more difficult than it is in the wine business.
For anyone who has attempted to name a wine brand, or design a wine store, a wine bottle or a wine label, it becomes clear very quickly that creative options are severely limited by the traditional standard sizes, shapes, packages and display practices.
In addition, just about every wine cliché has been designed to death in stores, wineries and tasting rooms around the world.
All of this is to preface our surprise when we encountered Madrid-based Zooco Estudio’s work for Vinos & Viandas.
It is a 35 square-meter (377 sq. ft) wine shop located in Valladolid, an ancient town in the Castile and Leon region of northwestern Spain. It is surrounded by five wine growing regions: Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Toro, Tierra de Leon and Gigales.
In modern times, the town is also known, for example, for the Renault car factory and one of the world’s oldest film festivals the Semana Internacional de Cine de Valladolid or Seminci.
Zooco’s clever design is based on the form of an arch. References to arches and rounded shapes are easy to conjure up in the wine business: the underground cellars, vaults, casks, bottles, glasses and of course, the grape itself.
The design also references the serial, repetitive nature of storing and stacking of bottles, casks and boxes by using a set of ribs or partitions to create, very cleverly, a sense of both division and openness.
Zooco’s team of Miguel Crespo Picot, Javier Guzmán Benito and Sixto Martín Martínez combined these two basics, and by using a very limited palette of materials – wood, glass,stone – turned the small shop into an enveloping world of wine.
Folding tables, transparent glass and mirrors add to both the apparent and real size and flexibility of the space that functions not just as a wine shop but a space for tastings and other events. Tuija Seipell.
The recently completed Neobio Kids’ Restaurant in Shanghai is a pastel-hued world of balloon and cloud shapes that decorate the various activity areas.
The goal is to keep kids occupied long before and after they have finished their meals – a notion parents all over the world appreciate.
While the environment is decidedly for kids, the restaurant is also an adult-friendly place where parents will want to linger as well.
The 500 square-metre (5,382 sq.ft) restaurant was created by architect-designer Li Xiang and her team at X+Living. The Neobio restaurant is located at 3788 Duhui Rd, in the Minhang District of Shanghai.
It is part of the massive Neobio Family Park located in two buildings that include a large play centre, a party place, a library and areas for many other kid-friendly activities. The interior world of the entire complex is Li Xiang’s handiwork.
All of the areas have a distinctly story-world quality, but especially in the restaurant the inspiration was an ancient fairy-tale castle above which hot air balloons soar.
Various play pits are filled with balls, sand and toys, and different shaped crawling tunnels lead rom area to area. The tunnels are transparent for fun but the transparency is also a function of safety and peace of mind for the parents who can follow their kids’ movements from a distance without losing sight of them.
Li Xiang is a Chinese-born architect and designer who has studied in Malaysia and the UK. She established XL-Muse Architectural Design Limited in 2011 and changed the firm’s named recently to X+Living.
Her firm was also in charge of the much talked-about Yangzhou Zhongshuge bookstore where the brief called for the “most beautiful bookstore in China.” She has also created an eco-friendly furniture brand. Tuija Seipell.
It is a rare pleasure to run into a design project that stuns in its intelligent simplicity.
When the designers have had the wisdom, courage and tenacity to leave out everything that isn’t essential, everything that doesn’t belong.
We crave this clarity and simplicity more today than ever. With the ever-increasing array of technology and tools everything can be made more complicated – even if the apparent intention is to make it simpler, clearer, easier or more convenient.
And complicated is always easier than simple. It is so much easier and so tempting to just add one more thing. But by doing so, we confuse and inconvenience our audience and muddle our message, no matter what our medium.
Architects Henrique Marques and Rui Dinis of Parades, Portugal-based spaceworkers® achieved the elusive stunningly elegant simplicity with their work for the Damião de Góis Museum (Museu Damião de Góis e das Vítimas da Inquisição) in Alenquer, Portugal.
The museum is housed in the restored Church of our Lady of the Valley. The architects decided to give the beautifully aged brick walls their due prominence and kept the exhibit panels away from them by creating a simple tunnel with a series of black arches.
The sleek, matte black arches contrast with the surrounding surfaces without appearing glaringly modern or intrusive.
The arches seem to imply a route or a passage and they also have the feel of a protective canopy or container. The visitor never feels trapped in or constricted as daylight filters in through the openings between the panels.
The new museum is dedicated to the 16th century life in Alenquer, to the Jewish community and the Inquisition, and specifically to the life and work of the Renaissance humanist and historian Damião de Góis who was born there.
In addition to restoring and protecting the heritage of the area, the museum aims to increase tourism in the area especially from countries where de Góis travelled, including Belgium, Holland, France and Germany. Tuija Seipell.