As the Interior Design Show came to a close on Sunday, Karim Rashid's quote, on the purpose of design, stuck with me: "Design is about the betterment of our lives poetically, aesthetically, experientially, sensorially and emotionally." A well-designed space has the power to shift our mood and transform our experiences.
Hotels and retailers have been cashing in on this for decades with slick concept spaces, but what about the common spaces we visit everyday? More designers are focusing on elevating the mundane activities of daily life by creating innovative spaces in unlikely places.
If only all bakeries and metro stations were this much fun:
Princi Bakery, Milan, Italy.
To me this space evokes a cross between Ancient Egyptian and Mayan architecture. I love the use of rough, natural materials and the monochromatic palette. Claudio Silvestrin Architects used sand coloured porphyry stone — smooth slabs on the floor and rough, textured slabs for the wall — to match the colour of the bread flour the bakery uses. A waterfall and seven recessed candles soften the monumental wall. Ceiling spotlights illuminate only the bread and a wall of clear glass is all that separates the customers from the bakers.
Mistral Wine & Champagne Bar, São Paulo, Brazil.
I'd be tempted to take my time picking out a bottle of red if the local beer and wine store looked anything like this. I love the use of wood and mirrors on the walls, and the bright backlighting. Architect Arthur Casas designed the bottle display system to show each bottle label-up, eliminating the need to handle the bottles. This long selection hall leads to a bar area for tasting and learning about different varieties.
Audi City, London, U.K.
Shopping for an Audi would be exciting enough in itself for me, but doing it in this new digital car showroom would make it extra special. Audi City has taken the more traditional car sales environment and transformed it into an imaginative, high-tech experience. All models are available in digital form on expansive wall screens, ready to be customized by shoppers through tabletop touch screens.
Toledo Metro Station, Naples, Italy.
The latest in the Metronapoli Art Station project — past designers include Anish Kapoor, Karim Rashid and Sol LeWitt — was undertaken by Spanish architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca. I feel like ascending those escalators would be like barreling headlong through an undiscovered planetary system à la Star Trek or Contact — it's probably not quite that exciting, but the mosaic walls would still make the morning commute more interesting.
Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany.
I haven't made it to Germany yet, but when I do this will definitely be on my must-see list. The five-storey open chamber is fit for a modern art museum — and qualifies as a work of art in itself. The all-white space features no direct lighting, allowing the books and visitors to bring the space to life.
Have you visited any extraordinary public spaces lately that have stopped you in your tracks? Comment below!