August 20, 2009


Motorbikes should leave me cold. Especially one with all its engineering on display. So why am I suddenly feeling all animal and hoping I look good in leather, wonders SpaceTM's Mark...

Because of the P120 Combat Edition Fighter, designed by Confederate. Obviously the fact it's built out of aircraft grade aluminium helps. If it had airbrushed flames curling around a 70's Heavy Metal band's logo then it would be a different story. Even so, should a minimalist really be turned on by the mass of exposed internal engineering? Surely a smooth aerodynamic shell would finish it off perfectly?

Usually I would think so. Yet the sheer guts of exposing its, well... sheer guts seems to have unleashed the Hulk trapped below the surface of the restrained minimalist. Such a complex Meccano project somehow appeals to the primal. The idea that such a bleeding-edge piece of tech can reach back through layers of time and manners and enrage my basic caveman feels really exciting and a little scary. Should I start hunting my own food?

And if you think my reaction to this piece of machinery is a little, erm... passionate, then read the manufacturers description below. They are actually allowed beat their chests as they are the cavemen who built it. If you are shocked by engineering porn then look away now:

'The Fighter clarifies opaqueness and nullifies hype with straight-forward true to concept certitude. At the source is a classic right triangle. Proportion is classically derived. Scale is middle way. Bearing exudes structural permanence. Human integration deploys yang energy, vitality, and power in the most simple, pure and direct form. Geometry is optimized for the medium and/or long disciplined journey of sensory heightened motion. Torque to weight is maximized. Engine, suspension and ergonomic luxury and ease of use is optimized. Materials utilization is the finest. Individual piece and component specification is highest and best. Craft preparation and specification is uncompromised. The aesthetic is fresh, industrial, sculptural, holistic and honest. The saddle of the Fighter is your place for those outings which require extended time, geography, meditation and distance.'

The P120 Combat Edition Fighter is a limited edition of 120.

August 13, 2009

On the bottle

Eccentricity and a love for trash are not qualities that I would normally entertain in a furniture designer but this chair by Pawel Grunert has me aching to give it a try, says SpaceTM's Mark

The SIE43 Chair was created for Milan's Eco Trans Pop exhibition from scores of PET bottles held together is a stainless steel frame. The phrase 'sculptural organic form' is an overused one in the world of furniture – and objects described by it would normally have me running a mile – but it describes this perfectly and I'm still here.

Much like the previously featured cardboard designs by Henry Pilcher, this transcends its eco and recycled origins to become a strong futuristic design piece in its own right. Practical too, as even the individual bottles can be replaced if they show signs of strain. It could be endlessly evolved and even customised if the replacement bottles were of a different colour.

Yes I suspect it may squeak, strain, bounce and pinch but it looks fantastic, has solid Eco origins and its form suggests it would be an interesting seating experience. I can even imagine an outdoor edition that would be fun and look great floating on SpaceTM's infinity pool.

July 25, 2009

Inner space

Some of the most interesting architecture at the moment is being born out of restriction. SpaceTM's Mark breathes in then relaxes at House 53 in São Paulo

As cities are being halted in their spread, architects are looking inwards and creating beautiful buildings on previously ignored small landsites. Architect Marcio Kogan's House 53 in São Paulo is my current favourite example.

In crowded cities, privacy can be a problem. Despite being on a slim 10m by 30m site surrounded by other builds, the privacy Marcio has created is obvious, with the dual layer of wooden walls. This minimalism is beautiful yet initially quite daunting for a visitor. When the building opens, it is spectacular. The second wall reveals itself to be wooden shutters for the upper floor, necessary for privacy yet adaptable and not as rigid as the first impression makes out.

Inside, the sense of space is heightened by making the most of the long sightlines the slim site imposes. A beautifully cantilevered floating staircase and low ceiling both serve to push this further. A swimming-lane pool adds water – and a quiet place to swim – as another element in Marcio's palette of natural materials.

The perceived ideal for modern architecture is a clean-lined construction cocooned and isolated in beautiful woodland. That type of site is increasingly rare and Marcio shows that an inner-city space's potential problems can be flipped and be turned into its biggest assets.

Photography by Rômulo Fialdini

July 8, 2009

Living on a box

The idea of furniture created out of recycled cardboard has been around a while. So where is it and why hasn't it taken off, wonders SpaceTM's Mark?

These designs by Australian Henry Pilcher prove how stylish it can be. Both the lines and construction are as strong as any other modern wood or plastic equivalent. These have eco-credentials and the repetition of a single shape cut out of such a ready material would certainly be cheap to manufacture. The abstracted hints of applied graphics also give the pieces personality and individuality.

Instead of just existing as a minor novelty answer to the environmental question, or as a material experiment by students or designers, someone really needs to take them on as fully realised products. Don't force me to have to try and make some myself.

June 29, 2009

Play Architect [002]

Anything that involves architecture in art always gets our attention. More so when it also uses LEGO says SpaceTM's Mark

The crumbling walls of Bocchignano in Italy have seen centuries of repair and addition as have the ancient walls in Tel Aviv and the war-scarred architecture of Berlin.

Above: Dispatchwork in Bocchignano, Italy 

Artist Jan Vormann has visited all these sites for his Dispatchwork project, filling and rebuilding the decay and scarring with plastic toy bricks. This deceptively simple motif is rich with comment on modern society's conflict with its past.

Above: Dispatchwork in Tel Aviv 
Craftsmanship versus mass production? Organic and natural materials versus harsh chemical plasticity? In Berlin, conflict itself is commented on by using a new generations' toy to rebuild the war damage caused by their forefathers.

Above: Dispatchwork in Berlin, Germany photographed by Kathleen Waak 
There is also a visual nod towards pixellation and new technology digitising, then corrupting and destroying our memories of the past.

May 25, 2009

Your Space [017]

"When I was asked to write about where my favorite space is in Paris, I found it almost impossible to narrow it down to one place. I lead private tours of the city and write a Paris blog, so I am always out and about exploring the city doing research and have acquired a large list of favorite places. I narrowed it down to the alleyway of trees in the garden of the Palais Royal. There is a certain serenity I feel sitting on a bench under the trees. I also love the symmetry and the way the trees are cut so perfectly square. When you stand on one end in the middle, it creates an ever so soft upside down 'U' at the end. It’s kind of neat to sit under the trees when it’s raining."

Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris who leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (, and also writes a popular insider's blog Checkout the pre-launch of his new Paris cooking classes

May 20, 2009

Play Architect [001]

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has teamed up with LEGO to release the first of the LEGO Architecture Frank Lloyd Wright Collection sets.

The models of Lloyd Wright's iconic Fallingwater house and Guggenheim Museum have been launched at an exhibition of the architects work at (unsurprisingly) the Guggenheim.

SpaceTM loves the idea, although is a little concerned that the bumps on the bricks at this scale somewhat ruin the clean lines of the originals. Maybe a model of Selfridges Birmingham would be more authentic.

The sets come with booklets of drawings and archive materials and (hopefully) figures of a frowning Corbusier and climbing Matthew Barney.

April 30, 2009

SpaceTM's Joe hearts negative space

I'm loving these clever pieces of furniture by Gareth Neal. They're currently part of his exhibition Urban Field at Contemporary Applied Arts, 2 Percy Street, London W1T 1DD until May 2nd.

Talking about his work, Neal says: "Within my work I am continually exploring the places that are just out of reach: below the skin, beneath the sea and outer space. Developing themes through observations in science and nature, I use fluid movement and repetition to produce decorative and sculptural forms."

April 26, 2009

SpaceTM talks to Timorous Beasties

Deconstructed Pisticule Lamp, 2009 
Timorous Beasties are one of the most original textile and wallpaper creatives in the UK today. Shortlisted for the Designer of the Year Awards in 2005 and one of Philip Treacy's favourite fabric designers, they recently caused a minor scandal on release of their new Edinburgh Toile, commissioned by the Edinburgh International Festival. (Don't you love a heated debate?)

Whilst launching lots of exciting new things in Milan Design Week, such as their new digi fabric and the 'Chester Chair', one half of them – Paul Simmons – managed to find time to answer some questions for SpaceTM in celebration of their forthcoming exhibition at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, inspired by the latter's John Ruskin collection.

What’s currently inspiring you?
Will Oldham also known as Bonnie Prince Billy and as The Palace Brothers.
Where is your favourite space?
Rossana Orlandi's Cafe in Milan
Country or city?
Victoriana or 20th century modernism?
Computer or pen & paper?
Pen and paper.
Tidy or messy?
If you could, would you invite Ruskin round for dinner?
Of course, but I wouldn't have him stay for too long in case he bored everybody! 

Timorous Beasties Presents A Bird In The Hand is at Millennium Gallery from 9 May – 25 October 

Some more work from the exhibition to enjoy:

Papillion de Nuit Chair Panel, 2009
Papillion de Nuit Fabric, 2009 
Woodpecker and Bug Chair Panel, 2009
Zag-Wing, 2009  

April 21, 2009

SpaceTM's Joe Talks Interior Decor With Our Lady J

Performer Our Lady J first made her name as the pianist in Justin Bond's backing band. Now she's striking out on her own with emotional renditions of tracks by Nine Inch Nails, Alanis Morissette and Dolly Parton. With London joining New York in falling at her knees, SpaceTM thought now's a good time to make her acquaintance and find out if she's a more Bauhaus or baroque kinda gal...

Where do you live?
Harlem. And I LOVE IT!
Ok, do you prefer... Minimal or ornate?
Well, glimpsing at my vanity alone, I would have to say "ornate".
Tidy or cluttered?
Tidy. "Hot tranny mess" does not apply here!
Country or city?
City... for now.
What's the favourite thing you own?
My computer. From the Apple Store. I'm obsessed with technology and how we're integrating machines into an essential part of are beings. We talk to, listen to and have sex with our computers as much as (or even more than!) we do other human beings... And I think it's beautiful.
What's your favourite kind of interior decor?
Right now in my home I have a mishmash of pagan, romantic and futuristic decor. Rich earth tones are the backdrop to golden statuettes. Sacred objects and alters live in harmony with the household necessities of the modern age.
And finally... where's your favourite space?
I'm always happy when I'm sitting on a piano bench. There's no place I'd rather be than behind the keys.

Gospel For The Godless at Southbank Centre, London, May 2nd,

April 20, 2009

High Life

What initially looks like a stream of pixels – or buttons on an early supercomputer – is actually an industrial car park shot from directly above by photographer Stephan Zirwes. Vertigo sufferers look away now, says an anxious SpaceTM's Mark

Google Earth has provided everyone with an insight as to how beautiful landscape can be when seen from various heights. Yet these views, however fascinating, miss the mannered selection found in Stephans work. His shooting height seems to be the perfect mid-way between improbably high and just low enough to make detail on the edge of recognisable. This is at its most revealing when focussed on expansive man-made areas.

They show the intricate way man orders and patterns his space, whether by design or by accident. Stephan reveals designs on a scale so epic that their creators on the ground could never really understand them or even know what they are creating.

April 13, 2009

Tenerife [002] Elemental

Crouching behind a main tourist area in Tenerife is a building with enough brute force to take on any of the world's architectural heavyweights, say SpaceTM's Mark

The Magma Arts and Congress Centre was certainly created for presence. Hewn out of monumental beaten-blocks of volcanic rock, it feels like architect Fernando Menis must have implemented pyramid-building techniques to make this possible.

Both he and the stone are local to the island and he certainly makes a statement about the island's force, both of nature and of will-power.

The design was informed by the weight of the volcano that dominates the island and the unusual desert landscapes created by it. Despite the definite feeling of solidity and confidence, any arrogance the building may have is washed away by the lightness of the free-flowing curved roof. This interaction echoes the way the sea and the rock landscapes affect each around the island.

The presence of the building cannot be denied. But it is really the attention to detail that brings this whole project true glory.

On approach, what first appears to be small slashes in a wall becomes inset glazed windows, stories and stories high. Huge slabs of concrete, that are so impressive from a distance, have false doors pressed into them as you get closer. Get closer still and the concrete contains small debris like nails and bottle tops. Whether through a telescope or a microscope, there is huge statement and tiny detail everywhere. I've never enjoyed such an immense building so minutely before.

The local stone gives way to a master-class in concrete usage and texture. Huge brutish slabs are used with their raw backs exposed and simply lined up in a row. The slatted spaces between them are then beautifully glazed, keeping the interior dark and cool. Vast stone expanses are hand beaten to serrated blade edges. Smooth wood-pressed surfaces butt up against primitive hand-beaten rock. The interactions in this building are endlessly fascinating. 

Yet all this raw expanse, contrasting texture and strong angle come into their own when they play with another of Tenerifes great forces. The light and shadow they create with the sun are both truly immense, finely textured and ever shifting.

Instead of just being inspired by what Tenerife has, Menis has created an island within an island that distills and exhibits what Tenerife can be when it is really at its best: when it is elemental.

Your Space [016]

"It very often depends on the company. I consider myself a fairly social kind of guy. I like having people around me, so it would have to be with someone. I’m very fond of water, so it could be in a shower, but it also could be by the ocean. I’ve just realised this sounds very new age."
Svein Berge [pictured right], one half of Norwegian duo Röyksopp

The single album Happy Up Here is out now on Wall Of Sound.

April 4, 2009

Tenerife [001] Shock and Awe

Where does a minimalist find joy in the jumble of tourist Tenerife? Suprisingly, gasps SpaceTM's Mark, absolutely everywhere

Tenerife has a reputation for the gaudy end of the travel experience. This is certainly justified. The cut-and-shut of architectural styles plastered with jumbled layers of signage turns tourist streets into a tumbling agony of colour and angles. Some areas would be a shock to the senses for even a hardened Brit-Abroad, so imagine the potential damage to the discerning eyes and nervous system of a staunch minimalist.

After the eye-rolling, gasping, tutting (and self-awareness that you are the only person wearing dark grey during the day) something life-affirming happens. Initially, everywhere is so wrong that it reinforces exactly how right you are. That anyone could do these things to a naturally stunning volcanic island makes you want to change the world that little bit harder. Indeed, instead of jumping on a jet to find the nearest John Pawson, the minimalist starts to do the exact opposite and seek out even gawdier areas to eye-roll, gasp and tut at. How right can this place prove me to be?

Then slowly (like eating chilli-peppers) each time you want to push the pain a bit further. The worse it gets the more you want and you feel the addiction start. Forget acres of white plaster and slate, look at that wall of badly printed towels!  The bad is so bad it twists and really becomes extremely good. You ache to get Martin Parr over to really do it justice.

And yes, you notice that intriguing sliver of modernist glass glinting on a distant hill; you adore that restrained surfers bar on the beach with simple decking, woven-grass seats and hand-painted box tables; you love the discreet restaurant with dark wood, white linen and modular cane furniture by Skyline... yes, here the diamonds in the dust are thrown into such sharp contrast that they become real shining gems. The good needs the bad to make it look even better. Then you can forgive the bad and it too becomes beautiful.

Then there is the real shock of a building so strong, awe inspiring and unexpected that it gives you one of the architectural experiences of your life...

I'm not sure whether Tenerife has a tourist board slogan but, if it hasn't, it should be this: Tenerife: Shock and Awe.

March 30, 2009

SpaceTM's Joe enjoys various silouettes

Self portrait

Victorian Railings