Tag Archive: design inspiration and trends

  1. Thursday Salute to Originals: Keeping Craft Alive

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    Patience in today’s society seems to be dwindling. With more and more things becoming instantaneous, or very close to it – think emails, app downloads, fast food – we’ve been conditioned to expect almost immediate results, and we’re frustrated when things take more time than anticipated. While there are advantages to this quick pace, sometimes the value of time and patience, like that at the heart of of traditional craftsmanship, is disregarded because it doesn’t comply with this “on demand” philosophy. But just because quick is king, does not mean dedication to quality and perfection is entirely lost.  There are still many who take pride in their craft and are committed to perpetuating quality and perfection, despite the pressures of our instant culture.


    Kobayashi Kenkou, a Japanese carpentry group, specializes in meticulously planning out wood beam and column structures to eliminate the need for nails.  The structures then become works of art themselves, centered on quality, thought, and precise planning and construction binding the members together all completely free of mechanical fasteners. Take a peek at the below video for a glipse at just how calculated these wooden jigsaws truly are.

    But Kobayashi Kenkou isn’t the only group committed to quality. Another artist who uses time and skill to his advantage is New Zealand’s Barry Cox.  Cox crafted a church made entirely of live trees and plants. Meticulously arranged and planted, as the plants grew over the course of 4 years, Cox trimmed, bound, and weaved the saplings to form the walls and ceiling of the church. No doubt a tedious endeavor, but these beautiful results certainly wouldn’t be possible with an instantaneous mindset.



    Russian-born artist, Nikolay Polissky, is also dedicated to his time-consuming craft, creating series of handwoven structures that span the vast landscapes of Russia. Made from natural wood, tree limbs, and sticks, Polissky expertly constructs the pieces in a way reminiscent of a bird’s nest. These twig structures have gained such popularity, not only because of their strange and monstrous forms, but also because of their intensely intricate and laborious method of construction.




    Though extreme examples of patience, perfection, and craft, these artists prove that the value of craftsmanship is not lost. Although the trades are sometimes deprived the full respect that they deserve for defying our instantaneous culture, these artists and their works prove traditional craft is a vital part of the economy, art scene and construction; they are truly at the core of quality, impactful creations.  So for perpetuating these time-consuming, yet proven methods, we give our boldest salute! Next time you walk through a building or park, take the time to appreciate the details – the brickwork on the exterior, the stone tile layout on the floor, the perfectly matched mitered millwork corners. You may just see a world that you have never experienced.

    Image Credits: Bare Hands Woodworking; DeMilked (Japanese Carpentry); DeMilked (Barry Cox); Arch Daily

  2. Thursday Salute to Originals: Lite-Brite Reloaded

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    Each generation has toys that they call their own. Some are fads, only popular for a short period. But others have stood the test of time – think Slinky, yo-yos, Barbie dolls. One toy that has managed to bridge the gap between generations (and continues to captivate anyone with an eye for color and light like a moth to a flame) is the Lite-Brite.


    Marketing for the Lite-Brite and its simplistic light box design and glowing colored pegs began in 1967. But here in 2015, its popularity is still quite significant, with many adults remembering the toy with a sense of nostalgia.  Capitalizing on the evocation of these memories and the unforgettable visuals created with the toy, Hero Design, based in San Francisco, expanded upon the idea of the Lite-Brite and developed their art piece, Everbright.

    Everbright from Hero Design on Vimeo.

    Approximately 42 times the size of a standard Lite-Brite, Everbright consists of 464 LED dials (the “pegs”) that illuminate and change color when turned. Formatted in the similar honeycomb arrangement as the traditional toy, there are nearly endless visuals that can be created on this canvas. And after the user has completed their masterpiece, a single click of a button returns the board to a blank canvas (much easier than the tedious task of plucking out each individual peg from the black screen!).

    For merging cutting edge technology with a nostalgic concept, we salute Hero Design. And for not only serving as the muse for this artistic reworking, but for also inspiring generations of creatives, we salute Lite-Brite as well. Thanks for lighting up our imaginations and childhood memories, one peg at a time!

    Image Credits: TV Guy

  3. Impactful Entry Space: Virgin Lounge

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    In this Impactful Entry Space blog series, we will feature a designer or artist that has created an attention-grabbing design for the main lobby space of a building. Drawing inspiration from completed entry spaces around the world, we travel beyond the image by diving into the design process and concepts behind it.

    Today, we feature our interview with Tim Greer of Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects about the lobby design of Virgin Lounge in Melbourne, Australia.


    GPI Design: What did the lobby space mean to the building as a whole?

    Tim Greer: The lobby acts an important transition between the somewhat hectic airport concourse and the calm Virgin Lounge. The foyer and lounge aim to bring a sense of glamour back to air travel, with Virgin Australia repositioning itself from a budget carrier to a customer oriented airline. Although the lounge is not visible from the lobby, the aesthetic qualities of the lounge are evident in the foyer.


    GPI: What were your functional and conceptual goals for the lobby?

    Greer: The functional goals are to reduce customer anxiety by quickly orientating customers, in order to put them in control, and to provide them with easy access to flight information, whether by digital screens or lounge staff. The lobby has an important symbolic quality, which is part of the overall Virgin branding. The aesthetic values of the lobby are also found in the lounge and plane interior, with the ceiling motif used for decoration on the fabric of the seats, advertising and marketing material. The lounge has an aspirational quality, whereby non-customers walking past in the concourse, see a soothing, beautiful and pleasant environment, which encourages them to fly Virgin on their next trip.


    GPI: How did you use specific design tools (such as colour, form, materiality, lighting) to create the space?

    Greer: The ceiling, which is the most dominant surface of any interior, has been designed as a ‘net’, whereby the recesses between the ceiling panels conceal the myriad of services. These recesses also contain the concealed lighting, which evenly illuminates the space and appear like ‘rivers of light’ leading customers through the space. The custom designed furniture follows this geometry to enhance the seamless transitions between the different zones in the lounge. The floor is laid with natural stone for warmth and texture; the walls are lined in white color back glass, setting up subtle reflections, with spotted gum timber trim defining edges and corners. The ceiling is predominantly white acoustic plasterboard; with spotted gum timber panels signifying customer service points in the lounge. The overall experience is light and white, stemming from the branding objectives of calmness and expansiveness.

    GPI: What was the biggest constraint in turning the design into reality?

    Greer: The lounge had to remain in operation during construction, so all design elements had to be thought of sequentially. This led to developing the design as a series of components.


    GPI: What makes the space impactful?

    Greer: Airports can be perceived as a place of movement – place, luggage and people. The organic geometry allows guests to guide from one space to another, avoiding the clumsiness and confusion of travel.


    Many thanks to Tim for sharing the design inspiration for this space. Stay tuned to our next Impactful Entry Space interview coming up in two weeks. For more visual inspiration, follow our Impactful Entry Space board on Pinterest.

    Image credits: Brett Boardman via Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects 

  4. Thursday Salute to Originals: Food for Thought (And Your Wardrobe!)

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    Here’s one of the quirkier things we’ve seen this week – cleverly designed jewelry that allows you to wear your food as an accessory. Sounds strange, right? (We were a little puzzled, too.) Take a peek below at these odd, yet surprisingly versatile pieces.



    Little works of art in and of themselves, things like berries, cream puffs, and gourmet chocolates, are little treasures that are mostly touted for their taste rather than their structure and beauty. But these 3D printed rings by Tour De Fork present the perfect format for displaying the visual aesthetic and intricate detail of these treats, right on your fingertips. Simply affix the morsel on the ring, slip it on your finger and voila! Unique jewelry with a completely unconventional “gem.”



    But these unique jewelry pieces aren’t just limited to your fingers. Japanese design studio, FIFT, has designed a set of earrings that can be customized with any “jewel” you choose. Whether you’re inspired by that beautiful fall leaf or the lunch meat on your sandwich, you now have the opportunity to display whatever captures your eye – or fills your stomach.

    Though were not sure exactly how safe it is to wear food all day (we’re pretty sure that slice of bologna won’t be too tasty after being left un-refrigerated for hours, and birds might just think that juicy strawberry on your finger is their ticket to a free meal), the concept itself is actually pretty innovative. For creatively designing jewelry that can morph based on the wearer’s mood – or what they have in their lunchbox – and for redefining what we consider a “jewel” (aka food), we salute both Tour De Fork and FIFT. What other materials do we overlook that, if applied correctly, could have a unique place in the world of design and architecture?

    Image Credits: Design Milk; Tour de Fork; FIFT

  5. Thursday Salute to Originals: Captivatingly Creepy GIFs

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    With the rise of the internet, new popular trends have emerged and become a part of our everyday culture.  Fads like “memes,” cat videos and vines have woven their ways into our conversations and actions.  Another example of these trends is the “GIF” – short, soundless videos that are set to continuously loop.  While these type of video clips are often used for comedic purposes and rarely touted as a refined form of digital art, artist George Redhawk is proving the GIF can certainly hold its own in the art world.


    ­­­­­George Redhawk, also known simply as Redhawk, is a Native American artist that has been manipulating photos, art pieces, and other art mediums through the technology of GIFs for years.  While he does not consider himself to be an “artist,” Redhawk’s work has attracted millions of fans and is a way for him to show the world the way that he lives every day. He is visually impaired and experiences the world quite differently that most of us do. However, with the help of photo software created for the visually impaired, Redhawk is able to create beautifully creepy artwork that emulates the way that he views the world around him.



    Through hard work, passion and perseverance, Redhawk has managed to harness an art style that has touched and inspired his many followers and created an experience that will enthrall your mind and appease your sense of sight.  His art will force you to view the world and human form like you may never have otherwise. And for that, we happily give our Thursday Salute. Thanks, Redhawk, for being an original!

    Image Credits: Huffington Post

  6. Impactful Entry Space: Four Seasons Hotel Toronto

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    In this Impactful Entry Space blog series, we will feature a designer or artist that has created an attention-grabbing design for the main lobby space of a building. Drawing inspiration from completed entry spaces around the world, we travel beyond the image by diving into the design process and concepts behind it.

    Today, we feature our interview with Gary Thornton of Neo Light Design about the lobby design of the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.


    GPI Design: What did the lobby space mean to the building as a whole?

    Gary Thornton: The Main Lobby’s impressive double height central space serves as a welcome entrance portal and space to the Flagship property for Four Seasons, as well as providing a physical link to adjacent areas.  The central lobby feeds to the grand reception desk, waiting areas, and break out seating areas for relaxing near the bar.  A central space providing a plethora of options for the guests.


    GPI: What were your functional and conceptual goals for the lobby?

    Thornton: The lighting was designed to complement both the architecture and the interior design, as well as the overall client vision.  This included the expected standard of a Flagship property for the Four Seasons hotel group as the operator.

    Simply put, it was to set the standards for luxury hotels in the city and the world.

    Careful consideration was taken with the detailing to ensure that our lighting was incorporated into various elements of the architecture and interior design.  Hidden light sources were heavily used so that you see the lit effect, and not the light fixtures themselves.

    In a double volume height space maintenance of a busy hotel was always going to be difficult and inconvenient.  LED and long life efficient light sources were used to ensure that this would be kept to a minimum over the coming years and would reduce any impact on the running of the hotel.

    In particularly awkward spaces fibre optic light sources were utilised to provide the illumination at high level to reduce any potential maintenance issues here.


    GPI: How did you use specific design tools (such as color, form, materiality, lighting) to create the space?

    Thornton: Significant sculptural artworks suspended above the reception and within the centre of the space are carefully lit to bring them to life, highlighting their forms to create depth and interest in the large volume.

    A warm white colour temperature was generally used throughout the lobby during the day, with the low voltage AR111 lamp sources warming slightly towards 2700K as they were dimmed on the control system for a more intimate feel during the evening and night.

    Large metal screens that help form part of the hotel’s identity are made up of 50,000 individual pieces and lit with both in-ground uplights and downlights to add sparkle and drama.

    The screens on the raised platforms that flank either side of the lobby space are lit using linear LED lights hidden within the form that shimmer as you walk through, helping to create the feeling of privacy to the seating areas below.

    High efficiency cold cathode is concealed in coves to create an overall softness to the lighting with high output lamps on a timed scene set system being used to then focus on art and various other features within the space.


    GPI: What was the biggest constraint in turning this design into a reality?

    Thornton: One of the biggest hurdles was ensuring that we were compliant with all of the local codes and varying regulations that are present within Canada.  There was a lot of initial concern over which regulations were the exact requirements to be followed, ranging from Canadian (national), through to Ontario (provincial), Toronto (city), or Yorkville (district).  National codes set the minimum values for some aspects, whilst some others are superseded at district level.

    With a limited budget for light fixtures that was further value-engineered, we worked extremely hard to ensure that we complied with all of the necessary documentation without comprising on the design.

    Being able to meet and sign off all of these requirements was a huge milestone for us as the responsible consultant, and for Four Seasons to ensure that the hotel could open on time.


    GPI: What makes this space impactful?

    Thornton: The fact that it is just the first impression of the wider guest experience.  The lobby serves a stunning welcome point, yet offers multiple functions subtly linked together.  Carefully considered aspects of the interior design are brought to life with specially focussed lighting, and an automated scene set system ensures that the hotel looks as good as possible at all times.  The lighting gradually shifts throughout the day from a bright and airy space to read a newspaper in the morning to a more intimate and ambient space to meet for drinks or dinner.

    The lighting extends out from the lobby throughout the rest of the public areas and guestrooms in a similar manner, linking areas and bringing people on a journey through the hotel.

    Overall the lighting is a subtle yet important element of the hotel and helps to create the feeling of stylish sophistication that the hotel delivers.


    Many thanks to Gary for sharing the inspiration for this lobby design.. Stay tuned to our next Impactful Entry Space interview coming up in two weeks. For more visual inspiration, follow our Impactful Entry Space board on Pinterest.

    Image credits: Jim Byers Travel, Yahoo, Neo Light Design

  7. Thursday Salute to Originals: Architectural Camouflage

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    Talk about wearing your passion on your sleeve! Given our intense obsessions with materiality, these clothing items have us amused and inspired.


    The Architectural Camouflage collection is a range of clothing adorned with patterns of building materials. The geometries of white tile and marble are printed on the clothing at full scale, making the wearer blend into the architecture when standing in a space designed with those materials. The garments are available in full outfits – from shirts and pants to headwear and backpacks – making a bold statement from head to toe.


    The collection was created by Snarkitecture, an experimental art and architecture practice, in collaboration with Print All Over Me (PAOM). As the Snarkitecture team describes, ”architectural camouflage allows the wearer to create moments of architectural confusion through interaction with the built environment, making architecture perform the unexpected”. The wearer becomes a mirror of the space and an activator of dialogue between the body and its surroundings.



    The clothing pieces, available for sale in Snarkitecture’s online shop, have our wheels turning about what our installation experts could wear on the next jobsite. With the amount of variance in our natural onyx panels, we’d need quite an expansive range of colors and textures in order to match multiple projects – and likely a custom built walk-in closet, where our conference room used to be, for storing them all!

    Image credits: Design Boom

  8. Thursday Salute to Originals: When Crinkles Spur Creation

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    In architecture, crumpled pieces of paper have strong connotations that bring divisive opinions on Frank Gehry’s process of designing sculptural buildings. Critics take offense to the hands-off approach that places greater importance on form rather than function. Proponents of this type of process tout it as quintessentially postmodern and reflective of current technology. Whatever your stance on Gehry’s process, it’s probably a strong one. So whenever we see paper-crumpling used as a design inspiration, it piques our interest. And this time it comes in the form of a topic close to our heart… lighting design.


    The ethereal Proplamp is shaped like a crumpled piece of paper and is made from biodegradable nonwoven material. Users can change its shape, much like pruning a bouquet of flowers or tailoring an outfit.  The interaction is organic and completely dependent on the user’s intervention; creation is made accessible to the masses rather than the lone mastermind behind the design.

    [proplamp by margje teeuwen & erwin zwiers from Product Margje on Vimeo]

    Proplamp was developed in collaboration between Amsterdam-based designers Margje Teeuwen and Erwin Zwiers. Margje studied architecture but broke out of the mold by shifting her focus to emotional paintings of free flowing shapes. Erwin devoted his studies to furniture and product design, bringing a strong interest in materials. Proplamp was born as their paths crossed, described as a joining of “the feminine emotional research about paper shape and the masculine attitude of experimentation with new materials” (as quoted by LeFilRouge).



    Unlike a Gehry building which most experience from photographs alone, the lamp is at a scale accessible for the general public to add to their homes and work environments. Our biggest conundrum is finding a place to hang this lamp in our office that allows us to reach it for frequent editing – which, knowing the vast personalities and design philosophies of this team, will be essential as casual-turned-intense-debates about its shape are sure to ensue!  So for spurring conversation and creative intervention (and for highlighting our newfound need for a custom engineered conference table to hold the weight of our entire team as we debate over the lamp’s shape!), we salute the creators of Proplamp. Happy crumpling everyone!

    Image credits: Sam in Stul via LeFilRouge

  9. Thursday Salute to Originals: Patterns – More Than Just Wallpaper

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    Peter S. Stevens, an author who published “Patterns in Nature,” describes how there are finite ways that patterns can be structured. They can be described as repeating shapes or forms and are often thought of as the organizational skeleton of parts of a composition. Each pattern has an underlying mathematical substructure no matter where it is used, and they can help organize structures in a particular manner so that they are consistent throughout each motif.

    But patterns aren’t just simply limited to repeated aesthetic elements devised from human imagination, like wallpaper, a tile layout, or a tailored landscape. These orderly designs can be seen in other more surprising areas with patterns that rival even the best manmade motifs.


    Though at first glance, nature may seem to be more randomized – shapes of clouds or the heights of mountains never seemed all that orderly to us –  upon closer inspection, underlying patterns can easily be seen.  Take the inside moldings of a Nautilus shell. This visible patterning has developed over time attempting to explain order in nature, and creates the unique interior structure of this marine mollusk.


    Fractals are another one of nature’s patterns. In this type of pattern, a specific form is repeated over and over again in a radiating (or spiraling) organization. The fractal pattern can be seen in very small instances, like the center of a sunflower, but are also visible in much larger natural occurrences, like galaxies.


    On the other side of the spectrum, there are patterns in computers. Probably doesn’t seem like the most obvious arena for a design motif, but, here, patterns aren’t necessary used for visual purposes. Computer programming uses patterning to structure and govern a device’s operation.  With specific series of 1’s and 0’s, those strings of patterns (or codes) define the interaction between objects, which usually describes an overall pattern followed by an entire system and its relation. These simple patterns of 1’s and 0’s can even be used to determine a general solution to a commonly occurring problem.


    One creative computer coder, Alka Cappellazzo, has even used the inherent patterning of computers to create “patterned” artworks that seem to have no orderly structure at all. (Which actually starts to remind us of the underlying patterns in nature…..a plant or animal may seem random on the surface, but if you dig deeper, organized structure is at the heart of its being. Same goes for Cappellazzo’s creations. Crazy how things come full circle!).

    Patterns are used everywhere, and allow us to make connections, predict what is to come, and allow us to solve problems efficiently (and create some pretty awesome visuals, too!). For transcending category, scale, and imagination, we salute patterns and the mathematics at the heart of this design motif.

    Image credits: IMG Arcade, Telno Tumblr, IPoint Tech, Wanted Pattern Tumblr

  10. Impactful Entry Space: Hotel V Nesplein

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    In this Impactful Entry Space blog series, we will feature a designer or artist that has created an attention-grabbing design for the main lobby space of a building. Drawing inspiration from completed entry spaces around the world, we travel beyond the image by diving into the design process and concepts behind it.

    Today, we feature our interview with Mirjam Espinosa, hotel owner and designer, about the lobby design of Hotel V Nesplein in Amsterdam.


    GPI Design: What did the lobby space mean to the building as a whole?

    Mirjam Espinosa: The Lobby is the beating heart of the hotel, the centre. It is a unique place where Amsterdammers and internationals can meet and converge. With a bar, a restaurant, an open fireplace, a reading library, a terrace overlooking the Nesplein, and a small stage for events, The Lobby will become a beautiful example of a “Living Lobby”.

    This space is meant for all guests; hotel guests, tourists and locals. All type of guests would be able to spend the entire day in The Lobby if they pleased, not having to even leave once. It is a place where locals and hotel guests come to work, relax, socialize and enjoy a high quality drink, snack or meal.


    GPI: What were your functional and conceptual goals for the lobby?

    Espinosa: We wanted it to be the most important space of the hotel, located on the ground floor, close to the reception and in the same space as the restaurant and bar. In fact, the whole ground floor area is one big open space. This creates a buzzing atmosphere of people checking in and out, people having drinks or dinner, people working on their laptop etc. Hence the term: ‘Living Lobby’: a place where something is happening. We wanted this buzzing vibe to be picked up as soon as you entered the building. Whether you were coming in as a hotel guest or local.


    GPI: How did you use specific design tools (such as color, form, materiality, lighting) to create the space?

    Espinosa: With a style mixed between chic and raw, the interior of The Lobby breathes a warm and intimate atmosphere. We wanted to create a mix between industrial elements in luxury vintage, with an almost 30’s feel to it, setting. The repurposed theater chandelier in the entryway, the vintage rugs and couches, the old school bar and the library around the open fireplace contrast with the hard industrial pillars, the exposed pipelines and concrete floor and smoked oak flooring the reception area.


    GPI: What was the biggest constraint in turning this design into a reality?

    Espinosa: We didn’t have big constraints actually, but we did have some challenges.  The two biggest challenges were the budget and the time pressure.  We had a very tight schedule before the opening and our budget wasn’t that big. But despite of these two aspects we managed to put down a valuable and good product on the market and that was our goal.

    Another challenge was to create a subtle reference to the theatre, since The Lobby is situated in a very famous theatre district in Amsterdam.  In our opinion we succeeded to do this without being excessive.


    GPI: What makes this space impactful?

    Espinosa: What makes this space impactful is that we have actually succeeded in what we had in mind. The lobby area has become a very buzzing and pleasant space for our guests to pretty much do whatever in. It is very popular with the locals, which creates an amazing energy combined with the internationals. You pick up on this vibe as soon as you walk in the door, which is a great and welcoming feeling.

    We wanted the lobby to become the heart and soul of the hotel, and it has become just that. There is always life. From the moment you walk in you are feeling at home. We think that’s something everybody wants.


    Many thanks to Mirjam for sharing the design inspiration for this space. Stay tuned to our next Impactful Entry Space interview coming up in two weeks. For more visual inspiration, follow our Impactful Entry Space board on Pinterest.

    Image credits: Hotel V Nesplein