Tag Archives: events

Design and the Olympics 2: Olympic Architecture

Image via Art Design Cafe

This year’s Olympics have been quite eventful and a pleasure to watch, both in terms of the games themselves, the stories surrounding the games, as well as the landscape in which the games are taking place. Much like other summer games, London has sprouted a slew of new structures, specially designed for the events.

Olympic Stadium by Populous Architects (International)

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The Olympic stadium, which acts as the cradle for the track and field events and acts as the main event space is also usually the main architectural feature for the games. This year’s stadium in London was designed by Populous, an international architectural firm that was previously known as HOK sport.

Image via Dezeen

Image from Dezeen

The stadium features a convertible design that will allow the now 80,000-seat stadium to downsize to a 25,000-seat arena that will be used for different types of events aside from sports. The demountable design, the first of its kind for an Olympic stadium, is a response to the problem of long-term use for an Olympic arena and its integration with the needs of the community.

Aquatic Center by Zaha Hadid Architects

Image via Zaha Hadid Architects

The aquatic center is perhaps my favorite architectural feature of this year’s games. Zaha Hadid’s futuristic and fluid aesthetic was a fitting match for the water sports. The design’s dynamic lines give the hard concrete construction an organic feel. The combined effect of the architecture and program is thus a literal immersion of water, and every event associated with it.

Image by Zaha Hadid Architects

Image by Zaha Hadid Architects

Much like the stadium, the aquatics center also features a demountable design, that will allow the design to adapt to the needs of the community once the Olympic games are over. After the games, seating as well as game-specific areas such as the athletes’ waiting areas, and judging and score control.

Velodrome by Hopkins Architects (UK)

Image via Milimet Design

Host to both the Olympic and paralympic cycling events, the Velodrome is one of the Olympic venues that remain in essence the same after the games. The design of the Velodrome was conceived by Hopkins Architects, a firm from the UK.

Image via East London Advertiser

Image via Hopkins Architects

The Velodrome’s design was conceived to be “lightweight and efficient,” to reflect the same characteristics of the cycles used in the events that will take place inside it. The outside geometry also serves as a reflection of inside track’s. Much like the other big venues, it was designed with a sense of sustainability as well.

ArcelorMittal Orbit by Anish Kapoor

Image via Art Log

As part of the attractions of the Olympic park, award-winning artist Anish Kapoor was commissioned by London’s local government to design a new public art work, that will also add to the legacy of the games. The 115-meter high sculpture Kapoor realized is now thought to be the tallest sculpture in the UK. The sculpture resembles a space-age roller coaster, made from tubular steel formed into lattices that also serve as structural support. Views into voids and the spaces formed by the structural steel present Kapoor’s unique sense of perception and aesthetic that gained him a Turner Prize.

Image via Arch Daily courtesy ArcelorMittal

Image from Arch Daily by Gautier Deblonde

Kapoor designed the piece in collaboration with structural engineer Cecil Balmund of Arup. London’s Mayor Boris Johnson envisioned the sculpture to help keep the spirit of the games alive long after they are over.

Throughout the architecture of this year’s games, sustainability and the “legacy” of the Olympic village was certainly a theme. It represents a growing trend in contemporary architecture that also considers the needs of the community and environment when conceptualizing, designing, and building these new icons. It will definitely be exciting to see what the future will bring to these structures of sportsmanship.

Enjoy the rest of the games everyone!

Design and the Olympics

Image from Flickr user PhasedIN

Last weekend the 2012 Olympics in London kicked off with a bang–quite literally. Following its Beijing precedent, the opening ceremony was a lavish production of lights, sounds, and scenes. While not as massive and intense as its precedent, the ceremony definitely had its own character and humor.

Image from Mirror News

I definitely appreciated in particular Queen Elizabeth’s unique introduction at the games that featured the actor Daniel Craig, in character as everyone’s favorite british secret agent, James Bond, escorting her to the games. That the queen actually permitted the footage to be filmed at the royal residence certainly shows a side of her that is rarely expressed to the public so openly.

Each of the Olympic games certainly has its own character, expressed through a number of methods, apart from the opening ceremony. Since the inception of the modern games, each host city has taken great strides to make its games memorable through subtle elements in its design as much as in its architecture and events.

The Olympic Torch and Cauldron

A key design from this year’s games that has been celebrated is the Olympic torch and Olympic cauldron. Both objects carry the flame that heralds the games and symbolize that the games are ongoing. This year the torch was designed by Barber Osgerby and the cauldron by Thomas Heatherwick.

Image via Dezeen

The torch this year was well-received and was a handsome piece of industrial design. the perforations on the aluminum alloy skin referred to the number of torch bearers that carried the flame to its final destination in the olympic stadium.

Hear the designers speak about their work in this video:

Olympics – Dezeen Interview

Another unique piece of design seen at the opening ceremonies this year was the olympic cauldron. The cauldron carries the olympic flame for the duration of the games.

Image via Dezeen

This year the cauldron’s design not only celebrated the games as a whole, but also the individual countries that are participating. Each of the individual basins that hold the flame were brought in with one of the participating countries. The design is symbolic collection of the spirits of the athletes at the games.

Image via Gizmodo

The designer talks about the cauldron:

The year-specific Olympic logo Since the first modern games in 1896, each of the games have had its own graphic representation of identity and of the era they were in. Earlier games’ character weren’t so much in the form of a logo, but were seen in the game programs and posters. Eventually the games each had its own logo besides the iconic five Olympic rings.

Logo images via ISO 50

This year’s logo was designed by Wolff Olins, an international Brand Consultancy firm that spawned several iconic identities such as that of the Tate museums in the UK. Since its launch in 2007, the logo has spawned a number of reactions from the public and from the design world as well.

Image from Vectorilla.com

The main feature of the logo is that the numbers 2012 are the main “container” for the type that spells out London and the olympic rings. the large numbers then change in color or can be filled with a different image depending on its application.

Most of the reception for the logo hasn’t been too positive, with New York Times design critic even describing the typeface used on it as “dodgy.” At its launch five years ago the designers said that logo was “ahead of its time,” and that “it would grow on us,” but many seem to disagree.

Personally I think that a country such as the UK, which has had a considerable role in the history of design, could have done significantly better, especially for an event of this scale. The logo seems haphazard and its symbolism and relationship to the games as an identity isn’t exactly clear.

However, if you consider it in the context of the current games and how some events were off to shaky starts, with multiple technical inquiries coming up in some events, as well as controversies such as the flag misnomer with North Korea in women’s Soccer, then perhaps the logo befits this years’ games. What do you think of this year’s Olympic games so far?

Posted in Design | Tagged

ICFF New York 2012

International Contemporary Furniture Fair

Image from Design Milk

The International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), held yearly in New York City, is North America’s leading showcase for contemporary design, particularly in the field of home and commercial furnishings. Much like the Salone at Milan Design Week, the event allows designers, both established and emerging, to showcase their works, as well as offer a range of programming related to the objects on display.

This year the fair definitely had a sense of brightness to it, which appropriate for season as the region begins to embrace the summer. Here are a few highlights and interesting features in this year’s fair.

Photo from Inhabitat

Virginia Tech presented a blossoming facade system that “blooms” throughout the day to control light levels. It reminded me a little bit of the screen system the school team did a few years ago for their award-winning solar house, LUMENHAUS.

Her Majesty dolls wave in the sun

Image from Kikkerland.com

Similar to VT’s flower facade but definitely more on the quirky side is the Solar Queen designer by Chris Colicott for Kikkerland. When she is placed in sunlight, Her Majesty gives a subtle, graceful wave that follows the direction of the daylight.

Image from Design Milk

I’m a sucker for creative shipping container usage – so it goes without saying that I loved Kohler’s neon-green (or electric yellow, if you will) container booth. Through their hyper but tasteful use of color, the company prominently featured their collaboration with designer Jonathan Adler.

The ICFF also has its Editors’ awards, which are handed out each year by a panel of leading industry editors for design excellence. There are a number of categories, including acheivements in craftsmanship, textiles, deisgn accessories, materials and lighting.

Minimalistic metal containersChazutsu

Images from ICFF.com

The award for craftsmanship this year was given to Kaikado. Kaikado is a Japanese company that has made the same airtight metal containers originally since 1875 in their Kyoto studio. The containers, known as chazutsu, were originally made for storing teas but can be used to store practically anything that needs to be kept fresh. The simplicity and timelessness of this product is a testament to the excellence and practicality of Japanese design.

Although it is labeled as a furniture fair, the ICFF is really more of a contemporary design showcase that pays tribute to design excellence, and how excellent design can enhance our daily lives. I’m looking forward to next year!

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Oscar Party to Go

Charming Oscar Statuette Cookies by BakerellaOscar statuette cookies tutorial from Bakerella

The 84th Academy Awards are this Sunday. Will you be watching the show? I look forward to Oscars night more than I probably should. It’s not about the actual show, which is often uneven, and it’s not even about the movies, although I do have a few favourites from this years’ pics.  I just can’t resist a dose of Hollywood glamour, especially during the bleak last few days of February. That’s why I’ve always dreamed of throwing a giant Oscar party where every one dresses up and drinks champagne, surrounded by glitz and gold.  Usually we just end up getting together with a small group of friends around the television which can also be special and fun.

Whether you have a big party planned, or a small group gathering, here are a few tips that will get everyone in the spirit.


Sparkling ginger drinkGinger Sparkler via Martha Stewart

Arranging a golden selection of drinks, like these ginger sparklers, or flutes of champagne on a table is a simple way to welcome your guests to the party. Don’t forget the ginger-ale or sparkling white grape juice for those who don’t drink alcohol.

Pretty Popcorn

Pretty Popcorn Cones by Style Me Prettypopcorn via Style Me Pretty

Paper popcorn cones

These pretty paper popcorn cones add sophistication to your Oscar Party

popcorn cones via the larks

Popcorn is a movie theatre staple that can be made elegant by serving it in a silver or glass punchbowl. Make paper cones out of paper by cutting five by seven inch strips and rolling them to form a cone, tape the end in place.

And the Oscar Goes to…

And the Oscar Goes to... Envelope Napkins via the Food NetworkEnvelope Napkins via Food Network

If you’re planning on throwing a pre-Oscars dinner party these napkin envelopes are so easy to make and will dress up the table instantly. Gold rimmed glasses and gold dishes will give the meal glam appeal.

Get Your Picks Ready

Printable Oscar Bingo and Ballots via How About Orange

After all the party prep and culinary indulgences it’s time to sit back and enjoy the show. Yes, it’s long and the speeches can be an exercise in patience but I find adding a friendly competition into the mix can liven things up. The Oscar bingo cards and ballots made by How About Orange are what I will be using this year.

Hope everyone has a glamorous weekend, whether you will be watching the Oscars or not.

Happy Friday Everyone!

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Happening this Weekend: Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition via blogTO

If you’re in Toronto this weekend the annual Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition is taking place from July 8 – July 10th at Nathan Philips Square.  The TOAE is a juried show that features the work of artists from all across Canada, and this year it’s celebrating it’s fiftieth anniversary.  One of the best things about attending these sorts of shows is that you actually get to talk to the artists and see the work up close.There is always so much art to see it can be overwhelming, so you might even want to make two days out of it.

Want to see a few of the amazing artists that will be participating at this year’s show? Here are just a few of the booths I will definitely be popping into.

Julia Hepburn

Julia  Hepburn’s miniature sculptures never cease to blow my mind every time I see them. There is so much detailed work and story in every one of her pieces. If I was going to pick one must-see artist at the show she would be it.

Maude Blais

Maude Blais is a ceramics artist from Quebec. I just love the layers and colours in her deceptively simple creations, and I am drawn to the overwhelming sense of nature and fragility in this work particularly.

Dorion Scott

Dorion Scott fuses technical brilliance with darkly beautiful imagery to create truely remarkable art.  I always look forward to seeing her work in person, as the true power of her paintings becomes almost overwhelming when you’re standing before them.

Janice Tayler

Janice Tayler’s impressionist work captures the beauty of landscape, and for me seem to suggest a sense of stained glass; her crystalline shapes and delicate use of colour allow the artist’s hand to be seen in the work, without interfering with the natural scenes depicted.

Jay Dart

Jay Dart is one of my favourite Canadian illustrators. The inspiration for his drawings often comes from Canadiana, history and men with beards. Can’t wait to see what he brings to the show this year!

Paul Robert Turner

I have a real sweet spot for portraiture and Paul Robert Turner’s are full of life and quiet energy. This record shop painting is my favourite from his portfolio but given the strength of his work, he doesn’t make it easy to choose.

Sarah Caracristi

I love art that shows me the world from a new perspective, and Sarah Caracristi does just that, using a birds-eye view to portray passersby, cyclists and commuters as they jostle, mingle and meander through abstracted urban environments. You can see more of her fantastic work on her website.

My husband, Eric Cator is also showing there this weekend, so I imagine I will be visiting him (and delivering snacks) throughout the weekend. Hope to see you there!

Posted in Culture, News | Tagged , ,