Turning the page of the calendar I surprisingly found out February 2021 starts on Monday. So, new week, new month. That may also mean that the last day of February coincides with Sunday, February 28th, which is, by the way, the birthday of Frank Gehry, famous Canadian-American architect. Actually, the second month of the year is lavish in prominent city planners’ birthdays, take Ernest Flagg, Walter Netsch, Gyo Obata, and Katharine Stinson. We’re not going to pay tribute to their oeuvres right now (maybe next time) but will rather devote this week Art Digest to the news of architecture and product design. Here we go!
D E S I G N
Shifty eyes, plump face: meet new AZ Factory logo by Micha Weidmann Studio
Fashion designer Alber Elbaz has recently become PH hero of the day: we mentioned Elbaz twice to mark the launch of his own brand AZ Factory at the end of 2020 and highlight its debuting fashion show, or rather, Show Fashion last week. So it’s the label, consumer platform, and just the concept by Alber Elbaz we’re going to touch upon this time. Like any newly-minted brand, AZ Factory needed a comprehensive graphic identity, which would show its unique idea and playful nature.
Now it seems like AZ Factory has found its voice or, should I say, face. The London-based Micha Weidmann Studio has created a custom logo for the ex-Lanvin designer’s label, which ideally matches it’s spirit and even reminds Alber Elbaz himself. The round shape of the logo illustrates the face motif, while a pair of big black dots on it play on the designer’s eyes that are never left unnoticed by the public because of the oversized glasses Elbaz constantly wears. The brand identity was created in close collaboration with AZ Factory itself and Andrew Black of agency Black, the founder of Micha Weidmann Studio says. So get ready to see AZ Factory pretty little motifs gazing at you from product brochures and swag bags and luring to pay a visit to the showroom 😉
A R C H I T E C T U R E
Art below the surface: an underwater museum opens off the coast of Cannes
If you’re a museum lover, what about taking a dive to enjoy the display? Just literally, traveling to the coast of Cannes, France, borrowing a scuba, and submerging at the 6-10 feet sea depth to visit an underwater museum by the artist Jason Decaires Taylor. Opened on February 01 2021, the subsea exhibition features 6 monumental sculptures, depicting portraits of local île sainte-marguerite members.
Each artwork is split into 2 parts, a strong and resilient one and fragile and decaying the other, which symbolizes the ambiguous nature of a human. The display also refers to the history of the island, which is famous as the main action scene for The Man in the Iron Mask narrative. Not long ago, there used to be just some marine debris and disused infrastructure in place of the museum. However, when the mairie de Cannes and the mayor of the city embarked on the project, it took them just 4 years to create an underwater cultural gem close to the sea coast. Since the site has been cordoned off the boats, your visit to the Jason Decaires Taylor museum as a diver or a snorkeler might also be pretty safe.
Sleeping on the street can be comfortable. Try ‘Ulmer Nest’
History proves architecture can be very socially conscious. Perhaps the apogee of the approach ‘lofty ideals meet everyday needs’ was reached in the beginning of the previous century (Bauhaus buildings are an excellent example of that). However, there is still some room for pure intentions in the world of urban planning. Six German architects have recently come up with an innovative model of a pod or an emergency shelter for homeless people. Made of timber, solar-powered, the pod provides sleeping opportunities even in ‘bitterly cold winter weather’.
Though ‘Das Ulmer Nest’ (that’s what the project is called) is not about living in the shelter or staying there for days, it will certainly succeed in keeping a person warm during one freezing night, so it’s better be taken as a ‘last resort’, cause you never know. Still all the necessary tech is provided by the design, including a heat exchanger, GPS sensors, smoke alarms, a motion detection, and secure locking systems. ‘Das Ulmer Nest’ has already been tested in a couple of locations across the German city of Ulm last year, however, the project team wants its expansion in and outside the country in 2021. Just in case, here are the names of the innovation creators: Patrick Kaczmarek, Florian Geiselhart, Falko Pross, Manuel Schall, Dirk Bayer, and Kathrin Uhl.
Zaha Hadid Architects to build a part of Beijing Exhibition Center
We’ve never doubted the potential of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), however, this time the bureau has surpassed itself or, at least, hit a jackpot. The world-renowned architectural firm has won the design contest to build the next part of the International Exhibition Centre in Beijing. Thanks to its proximity to the city airport, the Exhibition Centre enjoys popularity with international guests as well as the local exponents. Conferences, trade fairs, industry expos — the Phase II of the Centre will just expand the variety and degree of communication between the parties.
‘Integrated relationships between the exhibition halls, conference centre and hotel are echoed in the centre’s composition, arranged as a series of interconnecting lines and geometries that take inspiration from the textures of glazed tubular ceramic tile roofs within traditional Chinese architecture,’ that’s how the ZHA team explains the project concept. Some outdoor public spaces and landscaped gardens also promise to be included in the design, so that visitors of the International Exhibition Centre don’t miss contact with nature. According to the project plan, the site area stands at 63,74 hectares, while the average height of the center walls is 45 meters. Well, it will certainly take one time to see and evaluate the entire construction, when it’s ready, so should we just be patient and follow the news of Phase II.
On the cover: Phase II project of the International Exhibition Center in Beijing by Zaha Hadid Architects. Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects