Imagine Autumn in Berlin. The days are getting shorter and darker; the weather is getting colder. But one event that’s part spectacle and part celebration of light continues to draw millions of tourists to this historic city every year – The Jahre Festival of Lights.


For more than 10 years now, the Festival of Lights has transformed the parks, streets and historic architecture into illuminated works of art – imagine the Brandenburg Gate illuminated with a neon skyline view of Berlin, or the Berlin TV Tower illuminated in brilliant hues of blues, greens, and reds. Light installations, 3D video-mapping installations and theatrical performance incorporate light as art to make this a multi media event.



For the 10 year anniversary in 2014 German art collective DUNDU put on a special performance (click here for video)   to mark the 10th anniversary of the festival, as did Grotest Maru, who performed an illuminated ‘facade dance’ (click here for video) 


With the success in Berlin Birgit Zander – the woman behind the concept and brand – and her agency Zander & Partner Event Marketing, are planning to expand it into an international network with cities around the world transforming through the beautiful and illuminating power of light as art. In November 2014, the first New York Festival of Light kicked off in the Big Apple adapting the model of the Berlin show to the American metropolis.




Sony’s Symphony Light

This lantern-style lamp won’t grant you any wishes, but Sony’s upcoming “Symphonic Light” combines light and sound in a ‘magical’ way. Designed as a table lamp or pendant, the fixture doesn’t include any parts that look like a traditional speaker — the integrated speakers fill a room with clear sound using the company’s “vertical drive system,” which pushes sound waves through the glass.

Sony's upcoming "Symphonic Light"

Sony’s upcoming “Symphonic Light”

Released at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai detailed the new tower-shaped gadget, part of the larger “Life Space UX” concept Sony is creating – a design philosophy meant to “make the most of living spaces” by integrating technology seamlessly into familiar items, starting with a 4K resolution projector released last September. Sony is intending to make products that “stimulate a deeper emotional response,” Hirai said.

Sony's Symphony Light

Sony’s Symphony Light

Voice of the Beehive



Wolfgang Buttress is leading a UK team to design the British Pavilion at the 2015 World Expo in Milan, the theme of which is “Feeding the Planet Energy for Life”.


The UK pavilion highlights the plight of the honeybee and ways in which new research and technology are helping to address challenges, such as food security and biodiversity. The UK pavilion draws parallels between human societies and the ecology of bees. Visitors meander through an orchard, discover a meadow of wild flowers and enter ‘The Hive’; which pulses, buzzes and glows according to live-streamed signals from a real beehive.


The hive is a 14cm cuboid aluminum lattice structure, raised-up on columns, with a spherical void hollowed from its interior into which visitors can enter.


The fine aluminum lattice is based on an abstracted-analogue of honeycomb, the effect is visually arresting and striking, yet permeable and delicate lending it an ethereal presence.


Accelerometers (vibration sensors) are used to measure the activity of a real bee colony in the UK, feeding real-time signals to a 1,000 RGBW LED light array.


Algorithms are used to convert the bee colony vibrations into the lighting effects. Each light is individually –addressable allowing for the hive to pulse and glow in response to the signals it receives, so acting as a visual representation of bee activity. Acrylic rods conduct light and from the LESs into hand blown glass bulbs which refract and diffuse the light. This unison of light and sound brings together art and science, through the research methods of Dr Martin Bencsik and the vision of Wolfgang Buttress.

(As seen in Mondo Magazine)


Karl Lagerfeld and His Pet Project Choupette

For those who have had the fantasy of being on the cover of Vogue, let this soak in… a cat has beaten you to it… but not just any cat. Oh no. The kitty in question is none other than Karl Lagerfeld’s beloved Choupette!


This is one high-maintenance, fierce, spoiled madam, who even has her own twitter and instagram account (@ChoupettesDiary) with more than 30,000 followers. Now she is collaborating with the Japanese company Shu Uemura to launch her own make-up line, Shupette, out in October. Among her particularities is her quoted ‘choice’ to eat at the table on her own special pillow next to Lagerfeld, her use of the Apple iPad, and her love of Colette shopping bags, antique lace, and Goyard.


She has two “beloved” maids, Marjorie and Françoise, who tend to Choupette (a task that includes taking care of her hair and other beauty jobs) and keep a diary of her activities and moods for the reference of Lagerfeld and an on-call vet. Of the two maids, Choupette is said to prefer Françoise.


In a TV interview Lagerfeld said that, much to his disappointment, there is ‘no marriage, yet, for human beings and animals’.


He added: ‘I never thought that I would fall in love like this with a cat.’


Choupette, who originally belonged to the French male model Baptiste Giabiconi, was given to Lagerfeld Christmas 2011, following a stay with the designer while Giabiconi was abroad.

Nendo – Chocolatexture Lounge at Maison et Objet Paris 2015

NENDO – the diverse and prolific Toronto based design studio was founded by lead designer Oki Sato in 2002 with 15 fellow designers from Wasedo University in Shinjuku, Japan.


Voted Maison et Objet Paris 2015 Designer of the Year, the studio was invited to conceive a special installation during the fair and created a thrilling and luscious display – the Chocolatexture Lounge.


Furnished with chocolate-colored tables, stools, chairs and a beautiful sofa to showcase the lush, luxe quality of chocolate, the furniture settings were surrounded by undulating screens – 2,000 aluminum pipes painted in varying shades of chocolate to create a rippling, molten chocolate wave.


The final detail – 400 limited-edition NENDO chocolate shapes; each piece with a shape and texture inspired by the sound of its Japanese name – the first sugar-based onomatopoeia? – smooth Sube Sube, crunchy Zara Zara… beautiful, inspired and delicious!

REPORT FROM MAISON&OBJET PARIS 2015 Part 1 – Trends and Design Inspiration


Part I: Handmade – Artisanal Impact; Techno; Material and Finishes – Organic meets All That Glitters
In what has become a tradition – and one of our design client favorites – here is Part I of our report on lighting and design trends and inspirations from one of the biggest European design shows.
As always, so much to see and share!


The artisanal movement that has been making its way through the lexicon of design/food/travel was reflected everywhere at M&O; a swing toward a sophisticated use of organic materials and finishes in a contemporary organic style, celebrating both material and craftsmanship – revealing all the details and processes and the artisan’s hand at work through perfect imperfection.


The MAISON&OBJET team presented in interactive lounges devoted to theme of ‘MAKE’ – Nature Made, Human Made, Techno Made – expressing the concept that “these days we don’t want to let things go anymore. Everyone wants to regain control. The home is increasingly attractive. Traditional expertise is restoring value to manufactured goods. The latest luxury can be seen in a return to the essential beauty of craftsmanship and perfecting materials….a contemplation of nature, the genius of the hand and the technological advances mark out the evolution of a world in the process of again.”



All That Glitters…
Brass and gold is a giant trend at the moment – polished brass and bronzes, burnished gold leaf; also mixed metals and solid brass construction – married with the organic – natural edged stone and wood, rock crystal and mouth blown glass.



Techno Innovation
Everyone across the industry has realized that LEDs are here to stay; first heralded as the solution to all lighting needs, manufacturers and designers are now working to refine and combine this new technology into every type of working environment.
The integration was perfectly demonstrated by marriages of traditional styles and modern tech – classic Murano glass and Austrian crystal with LED (lamping) and displays of OLEDs  (organic light-emitting diodes) in inspired formation.



Tokyo based Teamlab – a fascinating team of self-professed ‘ultra technologists’ including programmers, artists and architects –  thrilled with their fantastical immersive environment; a digital journey of light and movement.


COMING SOON – Report From Paris Part II
Stay tuned for M&O Designer of the Year, Trends – Color and Motif and a selection of design inspirations that have to fall under the ‘Just Plain Cool’ category!

Swimming Pool K – Grimbergen, Belgium


Swimming Pool K by Brussels based DMVA  Architecten was a work of serendipity and an example of the designers’ “Minimal Maximilism” aesthetic – design with a strong viewpoint executed with a minimalist sensibility.



In the midst of a renovation of a 17th century historic villa in the historic Flemish town of Grimbergen, a modern uninhabited schoolhouse became available next door – allowing the client to realize his dream of an additional guesthouse and a modern swimming pool and the designers to realize a breathtaking mix of old and new.



To support the weight of a rooftop swimming pool, the studio designed a system of fortified concrete beams and columns. They left the concrete exposed as a design element which completed the pristine, minimalistic white walls of the swimming pool it supported. The rest of the building became a mixed-use living space with an open kitchen.



The result – a hyper-modern rooftop swimming pool overlooking centuries-old cobblestone streets,  streets and churches. Minimal maximilism indeed.


Richmond, Virginia

Richmond MAIN PIC

We had a whirlwind trip through historic Richmond, Virginia.
An integral part of American history, this fascinating town is having a renaissance of economy, historic preservation, art and cuisine. Highlights – the brick former tobacco warehouses and classic wooden buildings – including the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Shockoe Slip neighborhood; the stunning architecture in Court End, Union Hill and Church Hill. Future developments include The American Civil War Museum that will encompass the historic buildings Battlefield Park including the Tredegar Foundry – an extraordinary Civil War artifact built in 1861.


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Van Gogh to Kandinsky + Calder = Fantastic LACMA

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Thank you LACMA for providing LA with a beautiful place where we can experience look, listen, eat and play with our fellow Angelinos. It was great fun to spend a summery Sunday afternoon visiting the museum and enjoying two fantastic new exhibitions: fantastic representation of the cultural dialogue between the post impressionists and cubists and the effect they had on the expressionists – all our faves (fauves?) – Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse up to Kandinsky and Marc – still so modern now…
And thank you Alexander Calder for balancing us out with light and color.
Thank you LA for being there and taking part.


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Shapeshifter – Sculpture Exhibition in Lower Hutt, New Zealand

On a recent trip to beautiful New Zealand we visited the Shapeshifter exhibit in Lower Hutt.
Over the past twelve years, the show has evolved to become one of the premier sculpture exhibitions in New Zealand and a significant part of the visual arts program for the New Zealand Festival of the Arts.

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