Travel

Inspired by Copenhagen

It is no secret that we love Scandinavian design, so naturally we would be drawn to the Danish capital of Copenhagen! This charming city in Denmark is not only a design mecca, but could easily be considered utopia with its bold urban planning coupled with impeccable architecture. Its rich history is beautifully captured in its well-preserved historic buildings and each neighborhood has a unique character. Not only can you spend days appreciating all the old and new architecture, but there are plenty of design houses and public spaces to also meander through. There is no doubt that all design enthusiasts should visit Copenhagen and absorb some Danish design inspiration! Keep reading for our recommendations for your next visit.

Architecture

We have mentioned him many times before, but Bjarke Ingles and his namesake firm Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG) is a superstar in Copenhagen. Not only is it his hometown, but many of his iconic projects are also located here! Hop on a bike or take a 15 minute metro ride to the new neighborhood of Ørestad and you will easily spot three of BIG’s residential projects – VM Mountain, VM Houses and the 8 House. If you are on a budget or just want to experience living in one of these buildings for a few days, we suggest trying Airbnb! We had a fantastic stay in the 8 House and it was the perfect opportunity to experience living like a local. While you are in the neighborhood, be sure to take a peek at all the other new architectural masterpieces such as the Bella Sky Hotel. We love this neighborhood for its connectivity to nature with many trails, parks and public spaces!

Design

There is a certain timeless simplicity to Danish design and we cannot get enough of it! Copenhagen is filled to the brim with Danish design shops that will make you wish you could bring it all home with you. In central Copenhagen is the Strøget pedestrian shopping street which is home to Hay House. Here you will find contemporary furniture and other objects for the home in their light-filled two storey showroom which is sure to inspire you to make some changes to your own living space. While you are here be sure to check out the view! A few steps away from Hay House is Illums Bolighus, the premier hub of Danish and international design in Scandinavia. Hours can easily be spent going through their floors filled with furniture, décor, light fixtures, kitchen and bath articles and gifts. When you are here, be sure to check out the extensive Fritz Hansen display, Tom Dixon light fixtures and Normann Copenhagen homewares! Finally, spend a few hours learning about Danish design at the designmuseum. Not only will you find a room full of designer chairs on display (or as I like to call it, chair heaven), but you will learn about how the Japanese influenced Danish design!

Public Spaces

A unique aspect about Copenhagen is the many public spaces throughout the city. We are not surprised that it is the most bike able city in the world as everyone seems to be on a bike or on foot! Some of our favorite public spaces include the Copenhagen Street Food market on Paper Island. Here you can grab a bite to eat from one of the international food trucks inside the market hall then relax outside on the deck in the sun overlooking the city’s waterfront with views to the iconic Opera House. For those who love books, The Black Diamond is an extension to the Royal Library and is an architectural masterpiece in its own right with its juxtaposition of old and new. From the outside, the shiny black façade reflects the sea and sky at the harbor front and from the inside you can see the quirky maritime inspired pedestrian and cyclist bridge Cirkelbroen from your table at the café. If you get the chance, cycle out to the hip neighborhood of Nørrebro to visit Superkilen park. A celebration of diversity, BIG designed this park to exhibit interesting things from around the world such as a fountain from Morocco as well as fun pieces such as a boxing arena, octopus slide and swinging benches. Fun for those young and old!

Where would you like to visit in Copenhagen? Let us know in the comments or using the hashtag #area3designcopenhagen

 

 

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BC Staycations with a Design Twist

Everyone loves a good vacation, but what if we just don’t have the time to escape far away? Luckily, there are many exquisite places to visit right here in beautiful British Columbia – a staycation if you will. Staying relatively close to home doesn’t mean that you can’t have it all. These two dream-worthy staycation destinations are sure to be on your bucket-list for a weekend of rest and relaxation!

Scandinave Spa

Engulfed in a lush spruce and cedar forest on the edge of Lost Lake in Whistler is the Scandinave Spa. Boasted as an authentic Scandinavian Spa, this day spa is sure to invigorate and cleanse your body and mind. While alternating between saunas, steam baths, hot baths and cold plunges in hydrotherapy, you can take in the incredible mountain vistas. At 20,000 square feet, the Scandinave Spa is filled with relaxation rooms, sauna and steam rooms, massage rooms and even a café. If you also want to squeeze in a tan, the various terraces stacked up the hillside offer plenty of deck chairs and hammocks for you to relax in. Another feature we love about Scandinave Spa is their Eco Spa which emphasizes green and sustainable alternatives. A design feature is their green roof which ensures that there is efficient heating, cooling and insulation year-round. This is definitely a place you can easily spend a day in while you are visiting Whistler!

Sparkling Hill Resort

As the name suggests, the Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon, BC is truly sparking with over 3.5 million Swarovski crystal elements. This $122-million resort was funded by Gernot Langes-Swarvoski and is the brainchild of Austrian, Hans-Peter Mayr. Sparkling Hill is the perfect blend of North American pampering with a therapeutic European approach. Situated on Mount Royce, the resort has sweeping views of the Okanagan Lake and Monashee Mountains which can be enjoyed from each of the 152 suites. Complete with custom-designed Kohler soaker tubs, crisp white linens and natural wood finishes, each room is warm and features streamlined European inspired design. The resort’s 40,000 square foot KurSpa is where you will be spending your time. This European-inspired spa, clinic and wellness center has seven unique aromatherapy, steam and sauna rooms. Each steam and sauna room are a different experience and a true work of art. To top it all off, you can pick your choice of nozzles and showerheads, colors and scents in the Experience Showers. No detail was missed here as the serenity pool also has underwater music! If this resort doesn’t already sound like heaven, each stay also includes a full, hot breakfast in their PeakFine restaurant. Their menu is sure to delight especially paired with a local Okanagan wine. If casual is more your style, the Barrique & Java is a café and pastry shop by day and wine bar by night. What is there not to love about this place? If you still have money to burn, make a stop at the Swarovski Gift Shop. This very opulent and award winning resort was designed by the talented SSDG Interiors Inc.

BC Staycation

Where do you want to go for your next BC Staycation? Let us know in the comments.

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Who Says You Can’t Camp in Style?

Summer is in full swing with lots of sunshine and many long and warm days. For those of us who are the outdoor types, you may have already gone for your first camping trip over the Canada Day long weekend. If the idea of camping in a tent in the middle of nowhere makes you want to run in the other direction, may I suggest glamping? Glamping – short for glamorous camping – is perfect for those of us who would much rather sleep in a comfortable bed, but wouldn’t mind an experience surrounded by nature. British Columbia is home to a wide selection of glamping options, offering different levels of luxury as well as price-point. Here are some glamping locations that we would love to visit!

Free Spirit Spheres

On the bucket list of people from all over the world is to stay in one of the three orbs offered by Free Spirit Spheres. Located near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, this little getaway is suspended from treetops in a tranquil rainforest. A treehouse for adults, these orbs offer a magical experience for guests who get an immersive experience amidst a lush green canopy. Although the orbs are small, they are cozy and provide a very comfortable stay. A compostable toilet, showerhouse and sauna are also just steps away, creating a full glamping experience.

WOODS on Pender

Looking for a relaxing island getaway with the family without sacrificing wifi, a comfy bed and a hot shower? Then WOODS on Pender Island is perfect for you. You can choose to stay in one of 6 Airstreams, 3 Rustic Cabins, a Shasta Airflyte or one of the 9 Lodge Rooms – each a truly unique stay. You get the camp experience – tranquil with stunning scenery and wildlife – complete with the amenities of a hotel. Accommodations include Beautyrest beds, Apple TV, Towels and luxury toiletries and a hot tub (some even have a private one). If you decide to leave your room, the grounds has the Coffeehouse Restaurant where you can grab some comfort food with a handcrafted cocktail or glass of BC Wine. Adventure a bit further and there are also hammocks, a games room, outdoor recreation areas, fire pits and hiking trails. Who wouldn’t want to spend a few days glamping here?

Tent Suites in Halfmoon Bay

A sanctuary overlooking the Pacific Ocean, these tent suites are purely luxurious. Take in the Sunshine Coast scenery from your private deck or enjoy activities such as yoga, swimming and scuba diving. If you are in for an indulgent experience, there is also an onsite spa. Choose from one of two luxury tent suites which feature a king-size bed, fireplace and heated slate floors. Take a soak in your outdoor tub and take in the breathtaking views from your suite. These tent suites are the ultimate adult getaway in style without the kids.

Glamping

Where would you like to go glamping? Let us know in the comments below.

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Design Highlights from Palm Springs

Well I recently went on a family vacation to Palm Springs. Like most of you – I had heard many things about this destination over the years (and it’s all true). This is a fabulous destination if you love the sun, golf, tennis and laying by the pool. During the day you can explore the city by hiking or taking in the sites via the world’s largest rotating tramcar or visiting the many neighborhoods. I would have to warn you though if you are a night owl and looking for much excitement after 9 pm you will be sadly disappointed ………… But, we still looked around and found a few fun places to have a drink like the edgy Hard Rock Hotel (great design)! Then a nightcap at the mid-century modern desert boutique Ace Hotel.  Without realizing when we booked our trip a few months back, I was lucky enough to be heading down during Moderism week!!!! Wow what an awesome surprise! Unfortunately my travel companions don’t share my same love of design so I ended up excusing myself for half a day to visit the Bauhaus twenty -21 exhibit on display at the Architecture and Design Center (sure wish Vancouver had one). They even had many of the original classics such as the Le Corbusier LC1 Sling Chair and the cantilever L. M. Van Der Rohe chair to sit on and test out.  Sadly by the time I had realized what events were happening about town and at the camp it was too late. Had I known –  they had guest speakers from the hit show Mad Men along with a mini set, walking tours, double decker architectural bus tours, a series of lectures on the history of Herman Miller and various parties. Big hint – if you head down next year be sure to buy your tickets in advance as everything gets sold out well in advance. However I did manage to capture a great lecture “What Midcentury Looks Like Now“ held at the Annenburg Theatre inside the Palm Springs Art Museum. Which gave me the perfect excuse to visit this beautiful venue. I especially loved the outdoor Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden. Here they had whimsical pieces like “The Man with the world at his feet” in the midst of this beautiful garden and patio area. Well, Palm Springs it was fun! Loved the modern architecture and amazing landscaping (I’m a sucker for a great snake plant, cactus or succulent). I will come back. Probably not on a personal holiday, but definitely for the sole purpose of exploring Moderism Week. All of us at Area3 would have gone crazy to be here during this eventful design week. So hopefully I will see you again in 2017, until then…….

Have you been to Palm Springs? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts with us #area3palmsprings

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The Windy City

Well I recently had the opportunity to visit the great city of Chicago! It had been many years but I had fond memories and the city did not disappoint! If you mention Chicago most people think of the delicious deep dish pizza (can you actually eat more than one slice?), the wind, Oprah (didn’t her show put this city on the map?) and perhaps like the week I was there- the streets were in a frenzy over the Cubs (it was the playoff’s). But to us designers it’s like love at first sight………our focus instantly is taken aback by the amazing art, architecture and design!

This city has some of the very best architecture, and what a variety! Where else can you view early warehouses, art deco, mid-century and post-modern all within minutes? The Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise is an amazing way to see the city’s best buildings! There is no better vantage point. If you have read any of my previous blogs you will recall that one of my all-time favorites is Mies Van der Rohe. His work is on display at the AMA Plaza which was his last building before his death (so simply modern and minimalist). Other highlights include Marina City by Bertrand Goldberg which was intended to be “a city within a city” and which locals refer to as the “corn cobs” due to its unusual shape (or if you ask my business partner- she will call it as the pancake building). And finally, one of Chicago’s most historic landmarks – the Lyric Opera’s Civic Opera House – which was built in 1929 and fully restored in 1996. The Civic Opera House is a hybrid of Art Nouveau and Art Deco designs and creates a majestic setting for entertaining on any scale. The 3,563 seat theater is the second-largest opera auditorium in North America.

Here in Chicago public spaces are not just beautiful and well designed, but include over 200+ parks that participate in “Night Out”! Night Out is a multi-service app that provides up to date info on all the fun and free events happening in and around the city. The city offers everything from movie screenings, yoga, and dancing all the way to a Halloween parade! There is always an event at a park near you. Salsa dancing after work anyone? No one dare call Chicago “no fun city” – are you listening Vancouver? We need an app and events like this, don’t you think? These parks are absolutely beautiful! Millennium Park is home to the very talented Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion. I would love to go back next summer and attend a concert here! Did you think I would forget the bean? Never! It is so fun, whimsical and entertaining! Formally known as “Cloud Gate”, the bean is designed by artist Anish Kapoor and made of polished stainless steel. It is the pride and joy of this streetscape, filled with tourists taking selfies. Besides the bean, you will find an evolving and revolving feast of outdoor art. Love this!!!! Some of the pieces were so new or temporary I couldn’t even find any info on them. The experience was delightful, I love that everyone gets an opportunity to be exposed to art. On this trip I didn’t have enough time to visit the amazing Art Institute or MCA, but am sure they would not disappoint (visited on my last trip)!

However I did make it out to Oak Park a suburban area, just about 30 mins from the city. Here among the big lots, historical charm and mostly Victorian homes is where you will find an abundance of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. We visited his home and studio and then took part in a walking tour of about another dozen homes he designed all within blocks of each other. It truly is amazing to view these homes in person after years of studying them at design school. It always reinforces the fact that these iconic Architects have received such notoriety for esteemed reason. Although not my personal style I very much admire what a pioneer he must have been at the time. Well I could go on and on, the great Chicago is worthy of many more topics and especially more trips. However until then we would love to hear what you think? What was your experience of Chicago like? #area3chicago

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I Left my Heart in Montreal

Sitting here on my last evening in Montreal admiring all the people hanging out on the steps across the street from the MAC (the one museum I missed, just not enough time) and reflecting back on my time here. What have I learnt while visiting Montreal you ask? A few things for sure………….The population here is almost 2.5 times what we have in Vancouver. Try and walk down Saint Catherine’s Street on a Saturday afternoon and you will see what I mean (Robson Street pales in comparison). Old Montreal is like walking down the old cobblestone streets you would only find in Europe. Did I mention the coffee? Every restaurant seems to make a cappuccino that would challenge the Italians. Many coffee shops share retail spaces here. A great example was a cool store I stumbled upon called Espace Pepin. They even design and print in house their own wallpapers that mimic concrete, wood and stone (I see a model home in the near future).

Then there’s the food – maple syrup, bagels, smoked meat and of course the legendary poutine! These staples can be found on nearly every street corner. I don’t think they are many vegetarians here?

But, most of all I would say this city is vibrant, full of energy, exciting, historical, and of course full of culture. Patios spill out on to the streets and are crowded on a warm Monday evening along Saint Denis Street (maybe no one works here?) Buildings that are hundreds of year’s old, magnificent churches, and lots of art galleries and museums. I would highly recommend the MMFA (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts). This is actually three buildings in one with an underground passage that connects them all. I only made it through 1.5 buildings before closing time (so allow lots of time). My favourite exhibit was the outdoor public art on display at the Sculpture Garden (free for all to enjoy). This consists of 22 sculptures by local and international artists. The McCord Museum also has a summer outdoor make-shift park called the Urban Jungle, offering passerby’s a picnic area to enjoy their lunch under the blue trees.

Well, all good things must come to an end they say. Unfortunately that includes mini vacations. Wish I could bottle some of this Montreal energy and bring it home with me, as a designer this is one rejuvenating and inspiring place to visit. Have you been? Share your thoughts #area3montreal

 

Blog Post 16 - Montreal

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Top 10 Design Quotes

Well since its back to school time for many, (we miss you Joanne!). I found myself reflecting back to my school days and all those talented architects we studied. Some of them I still vividly remember and admire. Some I have had the pleasure of visiting their work in person. Two in particular really stand out (1) The Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe which was much smaller than I had ever imagined (text books really don’t do this space justice). But, it was far more impressive than I anticipated. It was really hard to believe this modern beauty had been designed in 1929. Talk about being ahead of your time! This architect’s design aesthetics is one I most admire. (2) The Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin West Desert Home which was originally his winter home, went on to become his school of architecture. I attended a several hour tour and listened to our guide explain how he would move a limited number of students (and their families) to live alongside him and his wife on this property. Here they would study, have meals together and socialize every day. Walking through the space you really understand his appreciation and love of nature. One of my favorite memories of Arizona.

There are so many talented architects (and designers) past and present. When we were preparing our website we decided to note our favorite design quotes with each of our bios. So here you will find our top 10 quotes. What is yours? Be sure to share using #area3designquote

design quotes

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Gelato and Gaudi

In early May two of us at Area3 had an opportunity to tour Spain as guests of Fontile and Porcelanosa. Here is a little summary of the major highlights from our trip. Which include the stunning factories, the culinary delight, and the historical architecture.

This was our first trip to this sun soaked Mediterranean country and we immersed ourselves in the food and culture. We enjoyed everything from authentic Tapas to Paella, Sangria and best of all the fresh made Gelato. Too bad I couldn’t have brought some home. Instead I think I packed it on to my hips! Our colleagues asked us when viewing our travel photos if we were on a design or food tour? I see a few spin classes in my horizon. Who could ever forget the Jamon hanging from the ceilings and all those amazing desserts? Walking through Boqueria Market filled with colourful sights and smells from all of Europe is heaven for foodies and locals alike.

Barcelona is graced with Gaudi’s unique style of architecture such as Sagrada Familia, Park Guell and La Pedrera-Casa Mila. Sagrada Familia is the most visited monument in all of Spain even though it is still under construction. His passion for architecture, nature and religion is reflected in his mosaic tile, wrought iron and stained glass details. His organic style was inspired by natural forms, play of materials and Gaudi’s wish for his work to be unique. Walking through Sagrada Familia left us in awe of his ability to create a cathedral that is filled with colour from the stained glass, columns that feel like trees and transforms you to a space that is calm and spiritual while at the same time being exciting and design inspiring.

Porcelanosa a global leader in the innovation, design, manufacture and distribution of tile, Krion, kitchen and bath products endeavours to be the industry leader by providing cutting edge designs. Porcelanosa practises Green standards using natural daylight, water, waste recycling and employee’s having their own bicycle to ride from station to station. Walking through the state of the art factories and showrooms left a lasting impression.

Our special thanks to Fontile and Porcelanosa for such a memorable trip to Spain. We made some great memories, met some wonderful people, and had great food and lots of laughs.

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Atlanta Quickie

Atlanta Photos

Recently my business partners and I had the good fortune to be asked to join a handful of great designers from across Canada to visit the beautiful Hansgrohe high-end plumbing showroom. Obviously we jumped at the chance!

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Globetrotting with Philippe Starck

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Recently craving a little R & R and dreaming of a vacation (that I don’t have time for), I decided to spend a few hours on a virtual one. Instead of focusing on where I should go? I focused on where I might stay! For me a true vacation always include a boutique hotel experience. I love staying in places that I have seen in glossy magazines or my design books. As a designer you appreciate every aspect from the front desk to mini bar. One of my favorite websites for sourcing cool hotels is www.tablethotels.com (they have not let me down) if you have never been on their site, you really should. The recently showcased a bunch of hotels by a designer I admire – Philippe Starck.

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