Not all design inspiration comes from private homes and apartments. Public spaces, which are often created by top architects and designers, offer a wealth of stylish décor and design ideas for your own home. HomeDSGN brings you an array of hotels, office buildings and other public environments that feature stunning interior design elements, alluring ambiance and innovative lighting. With a little imagination, these elements can be incorporated into any home interior design.
By Courtney • Apr 18, 2019
In the bustling urban area of downtown Chicago, Perkins+Will has recently completed a workspace renovation for the Skender Construction Offices that’s designed to inspire its employees to work a little differently than they might be used to!
Compared to their old space, these new offices are much more community-oriented. They have a much more open layout throughout the entire office space, fostering an easier time working together amongst employees when necessary. Project partners can find a common area or a secluded corner to discuss their work in or industry associates and clients can meet with experts in interesting, less traditional places that the regular “stuffy office” might not offer.
Besides just renovating an older space, the company actually moved their office as well, meaning the entire area around the office is also new to their staff. Of course, this requires a touch of adjustment, but it mostly signals a fresh start in their vibrant new workplace. This move was part of the ongoing positive evolution that Skender sees for their company and its employees.
To start, designers actually met with company leaders and their employees and let the people who will be using the space at ground level weigh in about what kinds of changes they wanted to see and how their needs might be met even better than they are already. This discussion process gave company representatives at all level some small hand in the office’s new redesign.
The central feature of the new space is a sort of workplace social hub at the heart of the office. This is where staff, from their private work areas, are easily and quickly connected to a thoroughly collaborative environment with plenty of space for different groups to work in at once.
Extending off that central space are three smaller but still spacious and very diverse spaces that might be used for a number of multifaceted purposes. These range from group meetings, break time, private moments, or simply a change of scenery. Sometimes industry events and town hall meetings are even held in the new meeting rooms at Skender. At any given point, the new spaces might house up to 600 people quite comfortably.
Lighting and decor play a huge role in the atmosphere of the office as well. Large windows provide natural light but interestingly shaped and clean, white LED lights are placed throughout the office for function and decor as well. The furniture, which is quite decorative, hits somewhere between homey and mod, giving employees a day to day change of scenery but also a sense of familiar comfort.
Because the office is so unique in its open concept and collaborative tenets and layout, several industry and client related tours have actually been requested and lead since its completed. This has allowed an increased networking opportunity for all professionals involved while also letting the companies show off their fantastic new space.
Photos by Hall + Merrick Photographers
Net Marketing Offices created in Tokyo by DRAFT Inc. as a comfortable work environment for employees of a rapidly growing company
By Courtney • Mar 15, 2019
Net Marketing Offices, located in Tokyo, Japan and recently created by DRAFT Inc., are a shining example of design techniques in fostering productive, comfortable work spaces that prioritize employee experience, making their work day more enjoyable and benefitting their work ethic.
In this space specifically, designers and clients went out of their way to establish an explicit work and leisure balance. Perhaps the clearest example of this was their inclusion of an in-office relaxation spa that employees are encouraged to use as they need! This space even offers licensed acupuncture. Between that and the way the office presents versatile and creative options for workspace depending on one’s style, as well as easy access to calming natural light, makes working in this office feel a lot less like… well, work.
Net Marketing is a company that hit its stride and grew very rapidly indeed, which is part of the reason designers and clients wanted to incorporate an element of relaxation into the average fast paced work day. The work spaces of the office are divided across two separate floors, with a third floor above that hosting a space specifically designed to help employees unwind and refresh when necessary. Each person might choose where they feel best working that day.
The open space on the third floor is a versatile one. Some might use it as a quiet break area, but many others visit the space for personal working time or group work. The office occasionally hosts events there as well. In the event that an employee feels as though they need further relaxation to benefit their productivity, they can seek out the office’s acupuncture services or even use the spa area to take a short nap. Health and wellness are an explicit priority here.
Because the nature of the work done in the office requires a high instance of group work, designers aimed to created a space where meetings, large or small, can be conducted easily, comfortably, and efficiently. Communication was a huge priority as well. This is why the team established a layout that enables employees to switch simply and freely between places, working styles, and atmospheres.
In addition to their own personal desks, employees in this office are provided with and free to use a number of other work spots, such as sofas, modern seats in nooks and corners, and standing counters. This setup also lets people easily interact with each other, enabling a free flow of information between them and making for smoother group processes. Of course, in such a free space, there is always a sense of respecting each other’s work styles and need for quiet or conversation, letting people collaborate better but also opt out of engagement when necessary.
In order to let as much natural light reach as many of the office’s rooms and corners as possible, designers chose to divide what spaces are delineated using glass partitions rather than opaque walls. This allows sunlight to travel from room to room as the day goes on. Rather than framing these partitions with harsh black lines, the team opted for brown and neutral shades in their supports to make things feel more casual and less hardened and industrial.
To bolster the use of quite natural materials in the space (you’ll notice heavy accents of wood and mortar, for example, plant life has also been incorporated into the office’s decor scheme and aesthetic. Besides being proven to improve prolonged indoor experiences, greenery helps amp up that casual, spa influenced theme and sense of comfortability.
Photos by Katsuhiro Aoki
Sydney’s Raine & Horne Offices by PMG Group designed to encourage employees to embrace new ways of working
By Courtney • Mar 15, 2019
In the heart of Sydney, Australia, innovative designers PMG Group have created a fantastic office space for the real estate company Raine & Horne as part of an initiative to encourage their employees to embrace new ways of working.
From the outside of the project’s plans, one of the primary goals was to bring employees out of their offices and into more open spaces in order to facilitate a more flowing, collaborative work environment that cubicle style offices simply aren’t built for. Besides that, the team wanted to create a space that blends company history and a familiar, trusted brand with bright, modern spaces and aesthetics.
Upon entering, visitors can already tell that the office is bright and fun. Natural light reaches every corner and highlights a wall of prints featuring historical moments in local real estate, showcasing to clients that the business evolves quickly with the market but still knows its roots. Nearby, a lovely and casual deck area is available for staff and clients to enjoy in their spare time.
In keeping with the natural light and the way it brightens up the space, designers chose to incorporate a lot of greenery into areas of the office. These are dotted around the more formal workspaces and the slightly more casual meeting areas, including the window seating, break booths, and tiered group seating. Many different kinds of group meeting spaces are available depending on what the employees need for the task at hand.
In the areas that are actually designed for more private work, the colour scheme is neutral and natural in a way that is quite calming. This contrasts well with the pops of colour you’ll find in more public areas of the office. Wooden elements and reclaimed timber add a sense of warmth and familiarity. Some spaces have received a more dramatic update than others; the bathroom, for example, was once compared by an employee to the one at “grandma’s house” and now it’s one of the most modern spaces in the place.
The emphasis on keeping an historical aspect in the space continues beyond just the entrance in a beautiful way. Printed graphics, artifacts, and local memorabilia dot the social spaces and line the walls near the tiered seating, private work zone, and throughout several meeting rooms.
Photos by Oliver Ford Photography
Located in Morioka, a city in the Tohoku region of Japan, is the brand new Nagasawa Coffee, a shop that was designed by ARII IRIE Architects to incorporate the process of making its product into an actual part of the whole purchasing experience.
When the owners of the original shop came up with the idea of moving it into a bigger space so they could include a recently purchased 1960s vintage roaster in the decor scheme, a much bigger plan started to form. They ended up developing the vision of a whole new shop where guests become privy to the actual process of roasting and making their coffee from scratch, more like an open workshop space than just your average coffee shop.
When the designers came onto the project, they sought a way to enable the clients’ vision in the simplest, most space efficient way possible. A primary element of this minimalist but pleasing spatial concept is the big terrazzo table where most of the customer service is completed. This table is 6 metres long and 1.5 metres wide, making it quite sizeable indeed.
Despite being large, this service table is, in fact, space efficient because it is so multipurpose and so much can centre around it. besides being a service counter and a table to sit at, the desk is also an active tabletop where live roasting takes place, with packaged, unroasted, and roasted beans are all stored, displayed, and prepared within full view of the customers’ curious eyes.
The new shop, despite having a bigger square footage, is still decently small; in fact, it has a lower ceiling than the previous space. This doesn’t interfere with customers’ ability to enjoy the space at all, but designers still wanted to counteract that visually in order to keep the space feeling balanced rather than short. This is why they’ve kept them primary counter quite low.
The counter isn’t quite low enough to grab anyone’s attention for its lacking height, but it does create a sensical space between its tabletop and the ceiling, which is only 2.8 metres high. Situating the tabletop where most customers’ attention will be fixed lower draws their eye line downward and away from the ceiling. Additionally, the lower height makes the primary counter feel like a bit more of a stage on which a dance of some kind is taking place.
Across from the ever-important counter is where the vintage roaster we mentioned previously lives. It is on full display and curious customers are encouraged to look at it up close and take in all its mechanics and details. Between the counter and the roast sits a long, lovely smoothed granite table that guests might use as social and communal space. Slightly more individualized seating can be found at the front of the store, near the edge of the counter.
Thanks to the difference in look and aesthetic between the vintage roaster and the clean-edged, modern looking furniture, like the table and its accompanying minimalist stools, the whole shop is bathed in a stunning contrast between vintage and contemporary. The effect is nothing short of stunning and that, combined with the experience of witnessing the entire coffee bean process, really makes Nagasawa coffee stand out.
Photos by Kai Nakamura
Converted historic house becomes Belgian Bed and Breakfast Entrenous thanks to Atelier Janda Vanderghote
By Courtney • Mar 11, 2019
Next to the lovely green grasses of Citadel Park in Ghent, Belgium, a beautifully historic house was recently converted by innovative designers Atelier Janda Vanderghote. Now it’s the stunning Bed and Breakfast Entrenous!
This impressive and inviting B&B, which presents guests with a unique blend of classic architecture and modern lines and decor, features three sizeable guest rooms. On the outside, the home’s original facade has been restored with a sense of reverence for its historical aesthetic. The inside, however, has been entirely renovated in terms of style and decor, with several necessary updates for longevity, but the layout and general structure is much the same, giving the original historical aesthetic some ongoing presence.
In the same way that old meets new in this lovely B&B, there’s also a strong sense of public meeting private. The lower rooms where a family might usually meet to eat and bond are social spaces here, where guests share space and spend time together. On the top floor, however, large private bedrooms provide visitors with their own space to sleep and unwind.
Throughout the house, concrete plays a large role in decor and theme. It is exposed in the walls and beams, for example, contrasting well with wooden detailing and pops of brightly coloured paint in some rooms. The concrete involvement makes the inside of the house feel solid and safe.
Around the back of the house, another type of blending takes place. Here, a glass facade makes the public spaces near the back of the B&B and the sunny, inviting backyard feel cohesive. Here, a wooden exterior decorates the rear facade, giving the yard a different feel than its other side where the concrete is bare. This frame, which has an alternating window-like pattern to it, also provides a bit of extra shade and privacy to the exterior sides for the private rooms on the top floor.
In terms of decor, you’ll once again experience both contrast and blending. Firstly, you’ll notice that all of the floors on the ground level are smooth concrete but, as you move upstairs, you’ll find that the floors here are wooden instead. As far as blending and cohesiveness is concerned, the colour blue is what ties the whole home’s interior together. Whether it’s a chair, a shelf, or a painted accent wall, you’ll find at least one element in each space that centres the colour and ties the home together.
Photos by Tim Van de Velde
By Courtney • Mar 4, 2019
Nestled into the ground floor of a multi-story commercial building, the Five Flowers florist (say that five times fast) boasts beautifully large windows that face right onto the bustling Ukrainian sidewalk out front. Thanks to Nottdesign, the store’s interior matches the cheer and charm of what it sells since its recent renovation!
Five Flowers is located in Óblast de Dnipropetrovsk, where it sits in a slight relief into the floor, lowering it slightly below the street’s pavement. This seemingly unimportant detail actually made it simpler for design teams to divide the store into two volumes; a warm area for customers and business and a cold zone for storing flowers that need less balmy temperatures to stay fresh.
The warmer zone of the store is located closer to the entrance because the dealings that happen in that space are less affected by temperature changes that occur when the front door is opened, depending on the weather outside. This zone is an open space that includes a greeting area, a table for bouquet making, and several spots to display stunning indoor flowers like the ones clients might purchase and display in their homes.
The cold zone of the store is more isolated to achieve temperature control. It sits at the back of the store, raised slightly above the ground (which is, as we mentioned before, slightly depressed compared to street level). This room helps keep certain kinds of flowers fresh and perky, particularly if their stems have already been cut.
In terms of aesthetic, this space is clean, minimalist, and very neat looking. It’s got a slightly industrial inspired feel to it with its emphasis on concrete and black piping and this contrasts beautifully with the delicate nature and fragility of the fresh flowers set on display in both the warm and cold zones.
Materials aren’t the only thing that create contrast in the space; designers also chose to get creative with shape! This can be seen in the way that the clear cut lines of things like the desk play visually against the round tables in the display area and the spiral staircase just past the door.
In keeping with the fact that they sell something natural, designers chose to keep the bulk of the material finished in Five Flowers quite natural as well. Grey porcelain stoneware interacts with bronze shades in the details. The neutral colours of these things allows the flowers that are set out on display to pop in a way that’s cheerful and uplifting!
Photos by Serhii Hotvianskyi
Resources Publicis Russia office space created by VOX Architects to provide a true experience in design and texture
By Courtney • Feb 27, 2019
The company Resources Publicis Russia is a collaborative effort between several designers. Located in Moskva, the goal of their Resources office is to act as a media holding department for various teams and individuals. They recently decided that, for the sake of clients and employees alike, the aesthetic and atmosphere of their offices should complement the quality of their repertoire. That’s how they came to work with VOX Architects!
The first goal of the design team was to create something that could be both eye catching and also professional looking. Since this particular department often deals with matters of important business and finance, teams felt it was important to keep things serious and impressive looking, even as they aimed to establish a decorative and comfortable sense of space as well.
Situated in the Bolshevik business centre, this office occupies 870 square meters. Designers wanted to convey the eclectic and forward thinking minds and attitudes of the employees involved with the company on every inch of that space! They chose to do so using expressive textures and colours in unique, attention grabbing combinations.
Perhaps the thing the catches the eye the most upon entering the office is the front desk, which is shaped and painted to look like a solid gold bar. This was the central piece that the rest of the office was designed around. In the air around the desk, you’ll notice lamps hovering around the reception that are shaped like little clouds. This combination of images might seem random, but consistency is created by the fact that both of these things are mirrored in the drawings all across the walls.
Moving from the reception area into the working spaces, you’ll notice a fluid, open format. This allows employees of any kind- be they special departments, IT techs, or top managers, to collaborate and communicate freely. In addition to uniquely shaped lamps that give the space character, the open office spaces are well lit naturally thanks to large windows that are double glazed for good insulation.
Another unique feature of the office is the conversation area. This is a space generally understood as being a good break or collaborative meeting space, while the others are saved for quite or private work time. Noise is controlled despite the open format layout thanks to sound-absorbing panels built right into the walls. Employees often conduct meetings or video conferences by these panels.
Of course, any good workplace that truly values productivity and employee morale knows that break time is pivotal as well as work time! That’s why designers included several coffee points throughout the office. This way, brief or longer breathers can easily be taken between working sessions, actually helping to keep people on track when they’re at task. Besides the coffee points, employees also have access to a full kitchen and several informal or social areas that boast comfortable couches and even hammocks!
Despite all these impressively modern features, the original building the office is built in is actually an historical one for the area. For this reason, designers chose to preserve several original elements, like many of the walls and the already-built loft style of the office’s main shape. Many of the industrial looking functions on the ceiling are new as well; rather than masking or moving them, designers chose to simply paint them blue in order to mimic clear morning skies. This themed is extended beyond the vents and pipes by the presence of colourful columns and stripes on several walls that were inspired by the sunrise.
Photos by Sergey Ananiev
By Courtney • Feb 25, 2019
On the water’s edge in Christchurch, New Zealand, innovative design teams at Ignite Architects recently finished a public project called the Woolston Community Library. This library is perched on an old, traditional transport route between the village or Christchurch itself and the old ferry terminal.
The aptly named Ferry Road was the home of the original Woolston Community Library, first built in 1871. After the severe earthquakes that took place in Christchurch over the course of 2010 and 2011, many buildings in the area were rebuilt, but the Woolston Community Library was one of the very last to receive its transformation.
In its transformation, designers aimed to keep the aesthetic and atmosphere of the new library in line with that of the larger area. Woolston is a working-class town with a cozy, residential feel to it that has been there seemingly since the beginning. The town used to be the epicenter of several of New Zealand’s industries, including rubber, gelatine, and glue. The library sits on the other side of residential growth from the factories that still remain there today. Designers on this project aimed to build a new version of the library that stayed authentic to the style and feel of the town and the original version.
The building’s design has three main areas: a stunning outdoor courtyard, the main library, and a diversely used community hall. Where a driveway used to sit, a pedestrian street has been established in order to connect the main road to the brand new carpark. There is also a pedestrian street connecting the library to a daycare centre, making the whole space even more useful for modern urban families.
In direct reference to the original building, the new library is made from clean red brick, like much or the current and remaining local architecture of Christchurch is. This new building’s facade, however, is a slightly more modern take on traditional craftsmanship in that it features intermittent protruding bricks for awesome visual detail. These designers made sure to source all their bricks locally, solely from brick manufacturers in the South Island of New Zealand.
The outer courtyard presents a stunning blend of asymmetric brick, exposed steel beams rising high over the benches, and a timber canopy that’s referential of the historic buildings still left in the area. Rather than being fully exposed, the seating area there is shaded by a singular Japanese maple, which extends its branches out from where it’s planted in the centre of the courtyard.
The two main internal spaces of the library are more diverse than they first appear. This is thanks to the way folding glazed doors are featured along the longest walls of each, allowing them to be section off from or opened onto each other and the courtyard. This creates a fantastic blending of indoor and outdoor space and gives group using the library for different things more flexibility.
Natural materials like brick, timber, and concrete follow you through the doors of the library and into its main spaces, but visitors experience more contrast here. That’s thanks to the bright pops of colour featured in the kids’ area! Even the regular adult sections bear some pops of their own thanks to wall art provided by local artists whose work reflects Woolston’s industrial history in vivid detail.
Perhaps the most diversely equipped space in itself, even before you move the walls around, is the community hall area. It’s an open room that featured peg-boards, its own AV system, and spring floors, making it great for events and community gatherings of all kinds. The hall even has its own accessible and fully equipped kitchen, as well as large, clean bathrooms.
Overall, the building is truly unique for the way in which designers managed to simultaneously pay homage to the history of both the site and the wider area while also keeping the project itself quite cost-effective despite meeting the community’s public hall and resource centre needs. The involvement of personality-filled style and employment of local craftsmen in the building and decor processes were a fantastic added bonus!
Photos by Stephen Goodenough
By Courtney • Feb 21, 2019
In the city of Juiz de Fora, in the Minas Gerais region of Brazil, innovative design company Ateliê de Arquitetura Líquida recently completed an office transformation for nutritional company Loja Alimentar. This company provides nutritional supplements and natural food products to hospitals and the general public alike, concentrating on authenticity, ethical ingredients and production, and clean eating.
Originally, the two streams of product within the company were distinct from each other and the building of this office was the first step in sort of amalgamating the running of the two under one head. As a result, designers helped figure out the best way to brand and communicate the goals or two different target markets in the same physical space when clients visit for meetings.
The first part of the storefront and office space (this unique spot functions as both) is dedicated to products aimed at hospitals. Stark white finishes are featured heavily here, mimicking the medical atmosphere that hospital working clients might be used to. At the same time, more neutral finishes like wood and even a splash of colour here and there is included to keep things from looking too clinical and divergent from what the brand itself offers and represents.
Across the space, clients walk themselves through a transition from medically influenced atmospheres to the roots of where the company started; whole and natural foods and supplement products. A visual and material transition happens here as the white elements in the decor and furnishings become less and less and the wooden finishes take their place.
Besides establishing a dual aesthetic that suits each of the companies markets alike, designers aimed to maximize storage and make organized used of every single space available. This is evident in the lovely recessed shelving units visible on almost every wall. Designers chose to make these from a blend of metal and woodworking, using local raw materials wherever possible according to whichever suited each side of the store best.
Of course, colour and material wasn’t the only area of decor the team concentrated on. They also sought to create a sort of personalized mosaic that communicates the goals and focus of the brand by creating custom stickers affixed to white tiles on one accent wall. This whole section boasts the company’s signature colours, looking like an art piece and a branded display all at once.
Despite the element of medical sphere targeting, Atelier really did want to keep their space warm and friendly feeling. Two primary elements helped with this. Firstly, the wooden veneer traveling from the floor, up the walls, and straight across the ceiling served to warm the space up by leaps and bounds. Additionally, great lighting to highlight the products was provided by clean, white LED lights set right into the shelves, rather than shining down from the ceiling and making the whole space at large look a little too blinding.
Besides the storefront, the building bears some more private working spaces as well. Across the division of public and private, you’ll find a pantry, meeting room, office spaces for business workings, a private staff toilet, and storage. The aesthetic and decor choices follow the same schemes as you see in the public storefront, creating a sense of consistency between the two aspects of the business. Just in case this blended sense between the two becomes distracting on a given day, however, a set of recessed sliding doors can be pulled shut to create a sort of makeshift wall.
Photos by Bruno Meneghitti
By Courtney • Feb 20, 2019
In the Chinese streets of Tangshan City, the Greentown Tangsham Blue Bay Town Life Experience Hall was created by GOA to blend luxury living areas with access to upscale commercial settings and fresh, new community settings and spaces.
Beside what the Hall actually has to offer, part of its draw comes from its architectural design and exterior decor schemes. Between the swooping arches and the wonderfully reflective water features out front, the building has a lot of draw and appeal before you even get inside. Triangles are a huge theme over all, both in the plot of land the hall sits on and in the shape of the hall and some of its peaked corners.
When designers first started considering how the building should look and be constructed, they decided they wanted to combine the concept of building a unique city landmark with the idea of following neo-Chinese styles. That’s where the eye catching multi-layered structural concept you see in the final product came from; it was the perfect shape and concept to combine accessible public space and contemporary urban life.
Besides simply looking pretty, the reflecting pool out front actually serves a spatial purpose in terms of space division. It is placed to create a sort of frontal courtyard space that is also a buffer between the regular city streets and the more elegant experience inside. The water is like a transitional area guiding visitors into the quieter zone inside.
Within its awesome structure, the building is split into three main “volumes” according to function. The largest of the three spaces, which faces the main city road, features a living space where units may be rented temporarily for different long or short term lengths. Perks of renting here include access to a specialty catering service and an activity centre that where several different community events take place per week.
The second volume, closer to the main entrance of the overall hall, feature the life experience hall. This space is used as a sales department. Even today it is still in its early stages of functioning and will eventually feature luxury shops, giving those who rent in the hall and those who visit right off the street outside an upscale shopping experience.
Finally, a third volume features services surrounding resources for more active living requirements. These include a supermarket, a restaurant, a fitness room, and a physical examination centre, among other services. The goal in this volume was to provide things that might be essential services for people living in the area but that also might be conveniently placed for those walking by not expecting to find such full service shops in that area of town.
From the entrance to the back end of the hall, lovely transitional spaces are situated between shops, activity spaces, and services. These spaces are designed to give visitors a break from their usual urban surroundings, letting them relax in courtyards that are lush with greenery between fantastic umbrella shaped arches that swoop over lovely social benches.
Photos by Yilong Zhao
By Courtney • Feb 19, 2019
Thanks to creative design and architectural teams at Suppose Design Office, Airbnb Tokyo’s head office officially has a new home on one of the busiest streets in Shinjuku, Japan. With its combined goals of created productive and functional workspaces that are also enjoyable, and tying in the company’s philosophy of being able to “belong anywhere”, the team really established a space with distinct personality.
In conceptualizing their space, even before they began building, designers decided to aim for making a space that feels a bit like a neighbourhood. From the friendly reception area that greets both guests and employees every day, to the break areas that are inspired by cheerful outdoor cafes, to the wooden paths that lead from meeting room to meeting room, the entire atmosphere is simple, fluid, and comfortable to be in.
Rather than simply establishing the floor plan and layout themselves as a design company, this team actually decided to get employees of their client company actively involved. To do this, they interviewed actual Airbnb Tokyo employees to get their take. From here, they chose what kinds of communal work tables, adjustable desks, project tables, and private or semi-private phone booths would be included. This makes for a space that the people working there feel truly comfortable in.
In terms of the actual productivity spaces, one of the primary features of the office is the Engawa, or the elevated platform in the centre of the office. This features tatami mats that are inspired by traditional Japanese culture, once again working on that theme of belonging wherever you are. In this space, employees are encouraged to remove their shoes, sit cross legged on their cushion, and face the spectacular view the platform affords them.
In adapting an already existing building to an office group that wanted a more diverse space, one of the biggest challenges was dealing with the very low ceiling that’s typical of Japanese architecture in that area. Rather than trying to build an entire new ceiling, which wasn’t possible, designers created the illusion of a higher ceiling by painting it black and dropping the lights a little lower, as though the space behind and above the lights extends much higher up.
As with all Airbnb offices, certain elements are inspired by different iconic cities that the company has well known listings in. In the case of the Tokyo office, several meeting rooms were actually themed after different cities, including Barcelona, Prague, and Tiajuana. This truly harnesses the sense of traveling the world but finding yourself able to work in any “city”.
Photos by Studio Periphery
By Courtney • Feb 18, 2019
In renovating the stunning Restaurante Teide, a staple in its neighbourhood in Valencia, Spain, design teams at Horma had one primary goal; they aimed to renew an old family tradition in order to give it a modern new feel that will help it last.
The Teide restaurant is the kind of family business that has been passed down from generation to generation. Throughout all that time, they never lost the sense of the core values they’ve always operated the business according to: well-being, proximity to the community, tradition, and quality. The only thing left that needed a little bit of rejuvenation was the pace itself.
As a result, design teams decided to try and develop a concept that feels more contemporary but also a little more timeless and fresh, without losing the elegance the restaurant has always maintained. Like many businesses in Spain, the restaurant features a cafe up front, but for many years the cafe space actually kind of masked the restaurant, which lies to the back. One of the biggest changes was that designers decided to bring a clear sense of the restaurant right up to the main entrance so it doesn’t get missed.
Even though designers wanted to bring the restaurant to the front of the visual space a little more, they still used colours, materials, and visuals to create some kind of separation of space and mood at the same time. The idea of was to make the two parts of the business communicate in a cohesive way while still provided a little bit of differentiation, since a cafe and a restaurant have very different moods.
In the restaurant space, which received a bit more of a transformation than the cafe, an emphasis was put on natural elements that might make the space feel comfortable and welcoming. This was achieved through the inclusion of stone flooring, and polished walnut furnishings. Teams added colour by setting everything against a backdrop of sea blue walls, helping to establish and elegant environment that’s a little more timeless than the previous look.
Within the update, designers aimed to tie the sense of local community into the look of the restaurant a little more. For that reason, they opted to source all of their stone and wood locally, feeding back into their local economy in a great way. These materials are evident all over, but particularly in the low separation wall that still provides some division between the cafe and restaurant spaces.
Outside, a series of locally styled luminaries provide a little light in the evenings for the patio area. There’s also a huge emphasis on vegetation and the inclusion of local greenery, creating a sense of tranquility and social calm. Because these plants are dotted throughout the cafe and restaurant spaces as well, a lovely atmosphere or harmony business-wide.
Photos by Mariela Apollonio
AXEL Hotel designed by El Equipo Creativo in Madrid to give guests a different visual experience in every room
By Courtney • Feb 15, 2019
Perched amidst the busy streets of Madrid, Spain, sits a new hotel that’s specifically designed to give its guests even more of an awesome escape than usual. That’s all thanks to the way unique thinkers at El Equipo Creativo chose layouts, themes, and decor schemes that differ in every room, making each space you enter feel like a complete transformation!
AXEL Hotel sits in the heart of a trending area called El Barrio de las Letras. Here, it pulls from various cultural and style references with the aim of giving its visitors a visual experience that’s nothing short of “explosive”. Originally, the goal of drastically swapping aesthetics between rooms was to create an overnight spot where guests can breathe out, feel free, and simply have fun in a way that is tactile and attracts all different kinds of people with varying tastes. Designers wanted to make sure people could enjoy their private rooms and the public spaces in the hotel alike!
A lot of the fun textures, patterns, and colours combinations one encounters in the AXEL hotel are actually a lot more than just fun; they’re really also historical references! This is evident in the way the rooms’ decor schemes, furnishings, and features display styles typical of all different eras in time from across the world. This emphasis on history contrasts fantastically with the fact that the hotel sits in one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the country.
The building itself is also a historical piece. The hotel was build in a renovated 19th century building that has long been a part of the street’s architectural fabric, so designers aimed to conserve many of the most interesting original elements. These things include the already lavishly decorated ceilings, some of the intensely coloured walls (as was fashionable at the time the building was first built), and most of the clearly baroque details.
At the same time as they wanted to preserve historical architectural details, designers were intent on weaving in a sense of Madrid’s social and customary culture into the new hotel’s aesthetic as well. This desire accounts for the presence of details clearly influence by or depicting bull fighting, and the mantilla garment typically worn by local women who lived a gypsy lifestyle.
As if a fiery aesthetic that’s rich in culture and history wasn’t enough, the hotel actually has a message and positive social impact as an undercurrent for its business as well. This lies in the fact that the AXEL hotel chain was originally designed specifically with LGBTQIA communities in mind. The intention in creating a space with the queer community in mind was to establish positive venues based on freedom, welcoming of sexual diversity, and prioritizing of love and acceptance.
As one travels through a hotel, they experience a sort of diversion and dialogue all at once. There is, of course, cohesiveness in the overarching sense of wild acceptance, but there’s also a communication establish in the way moving from room to room tells a sort of stylistically historical story. At the same time, the aesthetics of each space are so wildly different that moving from one place to another feels like a completely different place than where you’ve just been. This is achieved primarily by the use of eclectic colours, materials, and textures all in unique combinations.
At the same time as the hotel’s decor references history and culture, it also weaves some elements of popular culture into its fabric! This can be seen on the walls of various common areas, which boast pop art and cinematographic or musical posters. The goal here was to create a festive and carefree atmosphere for guests immediately upon walking through the doors. Guests will also encounter neon lights, eclectic word art, literary references, and nods or winks to various plays.
In the interest of building communication between vastly varied spaces and telling a story even as styles diverge, guests might notice a common detail between all of the different rooms and atmospheres if they look very carefully. That’s because designers actually chose to include some kind of small gold detail that’s only just noticeable in every single room, no matter its theme or scheme. This cohesive detail is small, but it creates a sense of blending rather than things just appearing random or haphazard.
Besides its fancy social lobbies and common rooms and its thoroughly energetic looking suites, the AXEL Hotel also boasts several carefree and cheerful feeling restaurants, as well as its own club. Each of these spaces follows the same philosophy of acceptance and diversity as the rest of the hotel, making them playful and friendly to spend time in.
Photos by the architect.
Diversely structured Girassol Building built by Reinach Mendonça Arquitetos Associados to provide fluid, changeable workspaces
By Courtney • Feb 14, 2019
The city of Sao Paulo in Brazil, in the area of Pinheiros, has recently become home to an innovative new office building that practically defies physics. Thanks to Reinach Mendonça Arquitetos Associados, the stunning Girassol Building, a commercial and office space with a very unique layout indeed, is one of the first of its kind in the country!
This building is located on a steeply hilled stretch of land in the Vila Madalena neighbourhood. The goal of the building was to provide a versatile work and collaboration space that would not only suit but could also actively adapt to the needs of a company’s employees. Designers achieved this by building office that might be divided into smaller areas one moment and then opened and merged into larger, more fluid spaces the next.
One the outside, the building looks just as interesting as its functions on the inside. This is thanks to visible large slabs that are supported on each side by impressive pillars, almost like an old temple but more cubic. Visitors enter the building into a central area that acts as a sort of “nucleus” from which different rooms can be accessed, giving the whole place a sense of free flowing movement or circulation.
Throughout the three floors of the building, workspaces can be not only changed in their size but also easily rotated in the furnishing layouts and decorum to face different ways. This helps improve ventilation and maximize sunlight in each room. If a working group would be better served seated facing towards or away from the large, sunny windows, they can easily shift how they please!
In keeping with the concept of being fluid and open, the entire frame of the building is composed of pristine, crystal clear floor to ceiling glass. Employees and visitors also have access to a small balcony to enjoy some fresh air on breaks. On the outside of this balcony, a special set of shade-like doors as fastened to make sure that those inside have the option of less sun and increased privacy when necessary. These doors feature perforated plates that establish a screen effect without making the office inside feel closed off.
On the very top floor, another feature makes the building even more unique. Here, the roof is constructed with thermo-acoustic tiles which help illuminate the core of the building. This happens when light enters the glass covered wood, brightening not only the rooms below it, but also the centre of each floor and a lovely garden that separates the front and back of the top floor itself.
This upper garden isn’t the only lovely green space within the Girassol building. At the very bottom, way down in the basement, another uncovered garden is rooted, covered by an artistic looking glass panel that lets the lush, stunning greenery down below stay visible to floors above. It’s like a perfect finishing touch!
Photos by Tony Chen
Outdoor Care Retreat designed by Norwegian group Snøhetta provides visitors with natural, peaceful healing space
By Courtney • Feb 12, 2019
In the lush forests of Norway, outside the city of Oslo, design and building teams at the prestigious Snøhetta group have built the stunning Outdoor Care Retreat in order to provide those who visit its location with a natural and calming experience where they fully relax and heal from the stresses of daily city life. The structure itself appears to lean towards not just the beautiful trees, but also the bubbling sound of the Sognsvann creek. This bolsters the peaceful aesthetic of the entire space, both inside and out of the retreat itself.
Despite its apparently remote location, this retreat itself actually sits only a hundred meters down the road from Norway’s largest hospital, Rikshospitalet, which is the Oslo University Hospital. The retreat was originally built as part of a collaboration between two of the hospital’s important branches; the Department of Psychomatics and CL-Child Psychiatry.
The space is most often used in two primary ways. Firstly, many patients stay there as a quiet, semi-private place to enjoy low pressure treatment and quiet contemplation of different kinds. Secondly, many patients use the retreat as a welcoming, comfortable place to spend time with friends and relatives away from more intimidating hospital settings.
The retreats cabins are actually open to any patient connected to the hospital for their treatments or care. The retreat is not, for example, reserved for individuals who fall only into certain disease groups (even though reservations for the rooms are managed through a booking system, similarly to a leisure retreat).
In contrast to the monumental size of the main hospital, this affiliated retreat is a mere 35 square metres of space made primarily of natural materials. The buildings of the retreat itself were purposely built by designs to mimic the playfully haphazard construction of wooden stick cabins that children might make during an afternoon playing in the woods.
The purposely asymmetrically designed buildings that make up the retreat are formed as though they’re made of skewed building blocks. This includes the much larger main structure, which is expected to turn grey with time and weathering. This was purposeful too, designed to help the building begin to blend in with its beautifully natural surroundings as though it’s part of the landscape itself as well.
Because Snohetta has long made an overt commitment to creating only socially sustainable designs, particularly when building public spaces, the retreat’s cabins are entirely accessibly for users of wheelchairs and other kinds of mobility devices. The angled entrance, which is made of black zinc, is even large enough to fit whole hospital beds if necessary!
Inside, the cabin features a main room, a slightly smaller room that is most commonly used for treatment and conversation time, and a sizeable bathroom. The interiors are clad entirely in stained oak which gives a comfortable sense that the outdoors have been brought right inside. Natural colours and materials aren’t the only feature, though. In the empty movement space, colourful and uniquely shaped pillows are available to be stacked and moved around freely. This is intended to give children the chance to build forts, climb stacks, or simply lie down and enjoy a view of the trees and sky through the main room’s circular ceiling window.
Should visitors wish to actually physically open the space to nature even more than large glass windows, natural materials, and skylights already do, those windows can slide open fully. This allows damp, calming forest smells and the sounds of trickling water to wander right into the cabin, which is particularly refreshing on warm days that feature a breeze.
This cabin retreat might be a fully integrated space that operates as part of the main hospital’s campus, but its slightly more remote location allows it to feel like a place all its own. The natural aesthetics and open air spaces feel almost magical and give visitors of all ages and experiences a safe, calm place to simply breathe.
Photos by Ivar Kvaal
New learning centre of youth course providers Coding March completed by XuTai Design And Research to reflect the company’s values
By Courtney • Feb 4, 2019
In the bustling city centre of Shanghai in China, a company called Coding March, which provides young people with extensive coding courses, recently opened the doors on their new learning workspace courtesy of innovative designers at XuTai Design And Research.
Amongst their topic repertoire, Coding March provides lessons in basic programming language, scientific research, competition counselling, and even robotics! Designers wanted to ensure that the theme, atmosphere, and style of this newest workspace provided students with everything they could need to succeed in these fields while also meshing with other buildings on the Pudong campus, like the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.
This particular learning centre in a two storey, rectangular building that features a Japanese barber shop on the ground floor. The entire second floor, however, belongs to Coding March. The goal was to create a flexible and fully equipped space in which students will experience the best possible learning conditions. Designers created spaces that could transform their function depending on the needs of students, making several multi-purpose rooms that might be lecture rooms one hour and then student exhibition rooms, reading and study rooms, or staff offices later in the day.
In terms of aesthetic, head designers felt inspired by stars and the way you can trace patterns in the stars when you look at the sky, but they sky is still always changing, evolving, and interesting to look at from different angles. They decided to make a space that, while familiar and easy to use enough to be comfortable, was also adaptable and exciting, with plenty of visual interest. That’s why they chose to use mixed materials, glass, and light with pops of bright colour.
One of the best parts about the space is that the use of shape feels almost more experiential than it does purely visual. These pods, hallways, paths, and criss-crossing spaces aren’t just designed to look cool; they’re actually meant to change how you feel and what you use your space like when you encounter new, differing areas throughout the building. The use of contrasting materials and bright shades keeps things fun and lively, helping people feel productive in their learning.
Because designers wanted to incorporate the outside facade of the building into their overall experiential vision, the barber shop has actually been included in the recent update as well. The first floor of the learning centre besides that includes a reception desk, a waiting area for parents of students, and some storage. It also features an impressive looking staircase that leads you upwards to the classrooms. The shape of the grandiose stairs greets you when you enter past the interesting pattern of the building’s exterior.
The children targets by the programs at Coding March are quite young; grades one to six, in fact. It is the hope of the designers that they visual stimulation and the immersive feel of the adaptable classrooms, as well as the way the bright green scheme mimics the lush spaces outside and other pops of colour grab attention, will encourage the kids to use all of their sense while learning. If nothing else, they’ll experience the beauty of design in their breaks between studies!
Photos by Hao Chen
Arquitectonica designs a stunning example of architectural genius for the University of Miami in the Thomas P Murphy Design Studio Building
By Courtney • Jan 23, 2019
There’s something so satisfying about a prestigious school’s design building existing as a stunning example of architectural ability itself, which is exactly the cases at the University of Miami! Located in Coral Gables, Florida, the breathtaking Thomas P Murphy Design Studio Building by Arquitectonica serves to enable and inspire students to learn and work hard in their field in order to make their grandest visions a reality.
Designed by a local firm for the University’s school of architecture, the Thomas P Murphy building was built in tribute to the father of a notable local construction company’s founder. Coastal Construction, Arquitectonica, and the architecture school at the University of Miami are no stranger to working together, so it only makes sense that the partnership resulted in something so beautiful. For example, the Arquitectonica partner in charnge of the project was also faculty at the University once upon a time, as were his parents who also originally founded his firm. The personal touch and level of care that went into this building is evident.
The first thing you’ll notice walking towards the building, before you’ve ever even taken a step inside, is the roof. Here, a massive, wonderfully curved slab of concrete covers the study spaces and their occupants. The look of the piece seems to flow in a way that’s surprising for such a large piece of such heavy material.
On one side, the edge of the lovely concrete wave extends past the edge of the building in order to provide shade for students studying and enjoying a break outside. It creates a covered patio area that runs alongside the floor to ceiling windows set into the walls for maximum natural light and sunshine where the students inside work.
The apparently raw and rather minimalist appearance of the structure itself is not unintentional. Besides the way it looks rather industrially stylish instead of unfinished, the building’s unique combination of visible glass, metal, and concrete serves as a teaching tool! Professors are able to point out some basic examples of modern architectural techniques, as well as examples of solid construction and sustainability strategies, right there in the building surrounding them.
The building itself is nestled in the centre of campus, right at an intersection where a pathway connects students to the Metrorail. Despite its quite busy location, it doesn’t appear crowded or unwelcoming; instead, it provides some sunny outdoor seating on its grassy plot on nice days.
Inside, a lobby extends right into an open concept student area intended for work, study, and group meetings. Uniquely shaped tables and chairs provide differently structured but comfortable spaces that serve all kinds of purposes, depending on the students’ needs. Throughout the rest of the space, red curtains hang from the high ceiling, letting students and profs create more private group spaces for learning and discussion.
For more formal but also hands-on projects, a square module provides students with a studio space that’s wide enough to accommodate a large variety of desk configurations. This means students can break the tables up into individualized work stations or bring them together for tasks that require more group-based seating.
The intention of creating such a diversely laid out and multi-purpose space was to create a sort of interconnected and yet specific space; a “campus within a campus”. Designers wanted to cater specifically to the needs and strengths of design and architectural students without making them feel segregated from the rest of the campus, hence the open concept spaces, outdoor social seating, and glass walls.
The Thomas P Murphy building might be pleasant to look at and functional to operate in, but its more than that as well. It’s actually a shockingly durable building for all its visual appeal! Besides the obvious strength of its concrete floor, frame, and ceiling, the building provides additional protection against Miami’s hot and wet climate in the form of hurricane-resistant panels built into its glass facade.
Additionally, this stunning building is also energy efficient! Despite the way the undulating roof wraps around one end in order to protect those inside from the heat of direct sunlight at certain points of the day, the rest of the glass facade ensures that no artificial light is actually required by those studying inside during daylight hours, making it a greener building than most.
Photographs by Robyn Hill