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The CowaRobot R1 is a smart suitcase that stays by your side anywhere you go

Follow Me


The CowaRobot R1 is a smart suitcase that stays by your side anywhere you go

Culture > Design


 

Follow Me

December 9, 2016

At peak travel times, dragging your weighty suitcase through a crowded airport is one of the most annoying things imaginable. But what if your carry-on could follow you around like an adoring puppy, keeping your hands free for your smartphone and a latte? It’s not a far-fetched idea relegated to science fiction any more – a group of robot enthusiasts have developed a handy autonomous smart suitcase, the CowaRobot R1, which is set to make your next trip that much easier.

Equipped with a variety of future-forward technologies, the R1 includes a system dubbed “Co-Eye”. With the help of a depth sensor, sonar equipment and cliff-detection monitors, the R1 can find its own way and avoid obstacles. It can communicate via a wristband and will follow by your side at a top speed of 4.5mph. The wristband also works as a keyless remote to lock and unlock the case. Even if the R1 gets lost, a GPS chip inside enables the suitcase to navigate its way back to you. 

The R1 measures 21.6 by 15 inches (meaning it fits in the overhead bins), weighs less than 5kg and has a 33-litre capacity. Its removable battery pack powers it for 12 hours – and can charge your other devices. You can also control and monitor the R1 by a mobile app, available for iOS and Android, that gives you information about the R1’s current location status and battery life – you can even activate an intelligent lock system. If you don’t feel like using the smart mode, no worries; you can just pull out the handle and switch the case to manual mode. 

The R1 ushers in a new wave of baggage innovation. While owners should rightfully be gleeful, airport staff may have a new job on their hands – keeping “suitcase traffic” in order.

Images: CowaRobot

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Dasha’s Smasher: Garage Museum


Russian billionairess’s Rem Koolhaas-designed Garage Museum wows Moscow

Dasha’s Smasher: Garage Museum


Russian billionairess’s Rem Koolhaas-designed Garage Museum wows Moscow

Culture > Design



Dasha’s Smasher

July 10, 2015 / by Ben Windsor

Above image: Garage Museum in Gorky Park, Vestibule

Garage Museum in Gorky Park, overview

Garage Museum in Gorky Park, overview

The opening of Moscow’s striking new Rem Koolhaas-designed Garage Museum of Contemporary Art last month was a decisive moment for Russia’s global cultural ambitions. 

Founders Roman Abramovich and his wife Dasha Zhukova, along with director Anton Belov, and chief curator Kate Fowle, hosted over 500 international guests from the fields of art, entertainment and business, and representatives from many of the most prestigious global institutions.

Top American dealers Larry Gagosian, David Zwirner and Jeffrey Deitch all travelled to Moscow, as did Shanghai-based Xin Li, deputy chairman of Christie’s Asia. The museum’s patrons also include Hong Kong’s Silas Chou and Sir David Tang. 

Zhukova has grand plans for Garage, which she regards as a place for people, art and ideas to create history. “When I came up with the idea to create an art institution in Moscow, I could never have imagined that Garage would become what it is today,” she said at the opening. 

Founded in 2008 by businesswoman and gallerist, Zhukova, Garage is the first philanthropic institution in Russia to create a public mandate for contemporary art and culture. Originally housed in Moscow’s renowned Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, designed by architect Konstantin Melnikov, from which the gallery took its name, in 2012 Garage relocated to a specially commissioned temporary pavilion in Gorky Park designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. 

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The new structure, designed by Pritzker-prize winning architect Rem Koolhaas and his OMA studio, has transformed the park’s famous Vremena Goda (Seasons of the Year) restaurant created in 1968, into an imposing, sci-fi art space. The building had been derelict for 20 years before Zhukova bought it. In this part-preservation project, some original Soviet mosaics were retained and decorative tiles and brickwork were also restored. 

The 5,400 square-metre structure features a state-of-the-art façade of a translucent double-layer of polycarbonate elevated two metres above ground that wraps around the retained concrete structure of the restaurant. 

There is a ground floor space that opens onto the surrounding park and two 11-metre wide vertical sliding panels that rise seven metres above the rooftop terrace when fully extended. 

There are five exhibition galleries, an auditorium, public library, children’s area, and bookshop - Garage’s much-patronized café has also been retained.

Koolhaas was excited by such a prestigious challenge: “Preservation is increasingly important in our approach to existing cities, so we were delighted to work on turning the virtual-ruin of Vremena Goda into the new home for Garage. 

We were able to explore the qualities of generosity, dimension, openness, and transparency of the Soviet wreckage and find new uses and interpretations for them; it also enabled us to avoid the exaggeration of standards and scale that is becoming an aspect of contemporary art spaces,” he says. Zhukova is similarly enthused: “I am certain that our collaboration will help us create a new vision for contemporary art in Russia.

Garage Museum in Gorky Park, Education platform

Garage Museum in Gorky Park, Education platform

It is quite a vision, too. Garage will have Russia’s first public library devoted to modern and contemporary art, including “unofficial” art from the Soviet era, providing a glimpse into the country’s alternative art history. There will also be an archive of documentary material relating to the development of contemporary art in Moscow, St Petersburg and other Russian cities since the ’50s. Several commercial galleries across the country have donated their archives.

If Garage is to succeed, it must function as a two-way street. While, as the first such contemporary museum in the city, it must focus on bringing international contemporary art to Moscow, it also has to “produce internationally important projects from Moscow,” says curator Kate Fowle. 

The exhibition programme is testament to Zhukova, and the country’s ambitions; interactive shows by Japan’s
Yayoi Kusama and Argentina’s
Rirkit Tiravanija with Slovakia’s
Julius Koller; a series of displays from the Garage Archive Collection, photographs of the Moscow underground art scene from the ’70s through ’80s by conceptualist George Kiesewalter of Moscow, and works by Taryn Simon from the US, as well as a site-specific installation by Germany’s Katharina Grosse, among a host of other offerings. 

Kusama, the world’s most expensive female artist at auction, is making her debut in Russia, immersing audiences in her sensory and psychological environments. Connecting Garage to the place, she has created a large-scale public artwork, Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees, to guide visitors through Gorky Park.

Outlandish, otherworldly, and fired through with artistic and national ambition, Zhukova’s Garage is a supreme statement of intent, a silver bullet that hits the artistic and aesthetic sweet spot.

Images x 3 courtesy of OMA

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Set in Stone: 100 Contemporary Concrete Buildings


Concrete and the finest buildings created from it

Set in Stone: 100 Contemporary Concrete Buildings


Concrete and the finest buildings created from it

Culture > Design



Set in Stone

July 10, 2015

Concrete was first used in ancient Egypt, the Romans mastered its use, and with their fall its secrets were lost until the early-19th century when methods for making the “artificial stone” were rediscovered in Britain.

It has its detractors and proponents, yet when properly handled this “liquid stone” is one of the noblest of materials in contemporary architecture. Its many forms make it malleable, durable, and suitable for some of engineering’s most prodigious feats.

This two-volume edition highlights some of the finest concrete architecture of recent years. Including examples by starchitects such as Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron and Steven Holl, alongside Russian newcomers Speech, respected up-and-coming international architects such as Rudy Ricciotti from France, and artists such as James Turrell, who turned the famous concrete spiral of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim in New York into the setting for one of his most remarkable pieces.

100 Contemporary Concrete Buildings
Philip Jodidio
Hardcover, 2 vols. in slipcase, 24.0 x 30.5 cm, 730 pages
Published by Taschen
(taschen.com)

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The Visionary: Pazo Ho


How Pazo Ho’s foresight sharpened Hong Kong’s eyewear culture

The Visionary: Pazo Ho


How Pazo Ho’s foresight sharpened Hong Kong’s eyewear culture

Culture > Design



The Visionary

May 29, 2015 / by Natacha Riva

Most Hong Kong stores were selling licensed brands of optical wear, like Gucci, Prada, or Dior, but nobody was selling original optical brands,” says eyewear pioneer and Visual Culture owner Pazo Ho, on the city’s ocular offerings when he set up in 2008. 

But Hong Kong being one of the global cities with the highest per-capita glasses-wearing population, Ho saw room to cater to a different, more discerning market. “Many people appreciate the traditional handcrafting of frames and innovation in frame designs.  We wanted to introduce something completely different,” he says. 

And so he did.  Visual Culture, an iconic eyewear and lifestyle store for the chic and avant-garde - which counts film directors Peter Chan and Wilson Yip among its clientele - was the result.  Now with six stores in greater China, its cutting-edge artisanal eyewear collection, gallery-decor shop atmosphere, and experienced optical professionals, the brand provides a platform for eyewear lovers who share its passion and appreciation for arts, design, culture, and 500 years of optical history. 

With 25 years of merchandising experience, Ho, a registered optometrist who started as a trainee in an optical store in 1990, always wanted to push his career to a higher stage. He worked his way up, across a selection of the city’s optical shops, and became manger of an Optical 88 branch in Macau.  Optical 88 are the largest optical chain store in Hong Kong.  As a result, he knew the products and services customers needed and, just as importantly, appreciated what was lacking in the local optical market. 

“We searched the world looking for special eyeglass brands, but not the obvious names. We wanted those with limited production who were not seeking world renown, but who worked hard to make the best glasses in their respective cities.” 

That passion has seen the introduction of names like Japan’s Hakusan by Megane, America’s Moscot, and England’s Oliver Goldsmith, none of which had previously been available in the city, and all with a particular provenance. 

Hakusan, established in 1883, still makes all its frames by custom order. The Aoyama-based brand was a favourite of musician John Lennon, 

who, while on a trip to Tokyo with wife Yoko Ono, bought their ‘Mayfair’ model in 1979 and subsequently had nine pairs of bespoke frames made.  New York brand Moscot is an institution celebrating its 100th anniversary - five generations - this year. Its signature aesthetic - classic design mixed with downtown New York City culture - was the go-to brand for Hollywood films during much of the 20th century. 

Goldsmith is often credited as the man who invented ‘fashion eyewear’. He was the first to work with fashion houses to create one-off pieces for catwalks, the first to regard sunglasses as fashion accessories and his signature black spectacles were favoured by Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn among a host of 20th century icons.  “We want people who come to our stores to appreciate the history and culture of the brands,” says Ho. 

It would be easy for Ho to sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labours, but ever the game-changer, he’s making new moves again.  Ho’s latest venture is new concept store Cult, an extension of the Visual Culture brand with stores in both Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui. Targeting younger, more savvy customers, Cult drives the store concept in a more imaginative and energetic way, directly appealing to the next generation of art and fashion conscious eyewear devotees. Brands like Yohji Yamamoto, ill.i Optics by will.i.am, Anderne, Boston Club and Ush will be the pick of the bunch. He has also discussed opening stores in Japan and Taiwan. 

He likes to give back, too. An experience visiting Kunming in Yunnan Province and meeting local people who live at high altitude and have cataracts caused by exposure to the sun, inspired Ho to donate money for cataract operations in the province. Ho also photographed the experience to help raise awareness and inspire others to donate money for more operations. The visionary in action.

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Marine Dream: The Azimut 50


The Azimut 50 yacht leaves the competition trailing in its wake on the high seas

Marine Dream: The Azimut 50


The Azimut 50 yacht leaves the competition trailing in its wake on the high seas

Culture > Design


Azimut 50 Flybridge starboard view

Azimut 50 Flybridge starboard view


Marine Dream

above image: Azimut 50 Flybridge Upper deck

May 29, 2015 by James Oliver

Agility, power, elegance, and choice: the Azimut Flybridge Collection is the world’s most extensive, with models from 45 to 100 feet; each distinct, each with a versatility that enables the owner to personalise the interior with their choice of fabrics, leathers, and wood finishes. Different models but the same refined elegance of Italian design. 

Now the collection has been expanded to include the brand new Azimut 50. This 16-metre yacht brims with the Azimut appeal and quality courtesy of designer Stefano Righini and contains everything which sets apart the Avigliana-based brand.  The wide bow area deserves special attention. It is unique in its class to be equipped with a bench for six people, in addition to the sunpad. The tenderlift, fitted as standard, has a net capacity of 380kg. 

Carlo Galeazzi designed the interiors, creating a boat whose secret weapons include its surprising interior spaces. Notable is the large saloon window which further adds to the unique sensation of being completely immersed in the marine landscape. Customisation is king, and the designer being Italian, a client can opt for the refined fabrics and sophisticated weaves of Loro Piana, Missoni and other Italian fashion icons.  High fashion meets the high seas. 

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Saloon

Saloon

Azimut is a brand of the Azimut|Benetti Group and together with Atlantis, Magellano, Flybridge, S, and Grande collections its global reach extends to 68 countries offering an extensive range of yachts. The prestigious yachtmaker also won the title of Luxury Yacht Star Performer within the Hurun Report Best of the Best Awards 2015.  This ranks the most popular brands according to Chinese consumers of luxury goods.  Already established in Dalian, Shandong, Shanghai, Fujian, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, to provide superlative pre- and post-sales assistance the brand has developed new partnerships in Hunan and Hebei provinces. 

So look out for Azimut’s appearance and its 50F, at two high-end marine and luxury lifestyle events in China this year: So! Dalian (June 18-21) and So! Hainan (Dec 3-6).

Among the events programmed for the second So! Dalian iteration will be China’s premier Beach Polo World Cup being organized in association with The Polo Life from Florida and the second Annual Golf Tournament in partnership with the Legacy Club, sailing courses, match racing, sea trials and top-end riding lessons provided by Dalian Liangyun Equestrian Club.

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Flight of Fancy: Aviation Furniture


Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s bespoke aviation furniture landing in Dalian

Flight of Fancy: Aviation Furniture


Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s bespoke aviation furniture landing in Dalian

Culture > Design



Flights of Fancy

April 24, 2015

Tired of the carbon footprint your Gulfstream private jet is leaving in its wake? Then think different and sacrifice speed for sustainability by transforming the parts of your aircraft into striking and functional furniture.

Call it ultra-high-net-worth upcycling, but that’s what MotoArt does by design, turning parts of decommissioned commercial and military aircraft - wings, fuselages and tires - into conference tables, room dividers and coffee tables. And now the California-based company has just opened an 8,000sq ft showroom in Dalian’s Xinghai Square on the mainland, which aside from serving as a traditional retail outlet, can also be hired for corporate events.

MotoArt’s client list reads like the Fortune 500, ranging from General Electric, Microsoft and Red Bull, to Leo Burnett, Universal Music and Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s little wonder given that the company takes bespoke design to such altitudes while offering clients a chance to own a piece of aviation history.

Chinese travellers, according to CEO David Hall, have been discovering MotoArt and wanting the same back in China. “China is a growing market for American design and there is an element of kid in a candy store with our designs,” he says. Aviation is also growing rapidly in China, with more than 80 airports being built across the country in the next decade.

Among MotoArt’s signature pieces – and its most expensive – is the 747 Cowling Conference Table, right, (US$75,000) featuring a polished Boeing 747 jet engine as its centrepiece. The table seats 12 and has optional data ports to allow users to charge their devices during meetings.

The rarest items are the World War II B-25 Bomber Desks, “some of which come with original bullet holes still in them,” says Hall. MotoArt’s most popular products are its personal 737 Cowling Desks, and the large 747 cowling for corporate reception desks. For good measure, there’s also a Jumbo 747 Sleeper bed.  Which exec worth their air miles wouldn’t want a Gulfstream 2 work desk?

In fact, the permutations for personalisation are almost endless, but MotoArt can’t say yes to everything; for now the sky is still the limit. The day we spoke with Hall, a client had emailed a picture of a Michelin tyre from a NASA Space Shuttle, asking if he could create a small coffee table from it. “We turned this one down,” says Hall, regretfully. “We represent series’ of limited-edition functional art. Any one of our products you see on our website, we must have at least a few of any one series. We don’t have an inventory of Space Shuttle parts,” he says, “Yet!”

MotoArt has showrooms in California, Australia, Malaysia and now Dalian. Has anyone got some Chang’e 3 moon rover parts? (motoart.com)