Harbook

Is This New, Gleaming Bookstore in Hangzhou the Future of Books?

We marvel at pretty much every bookstore brave enough to open in today's retail landscape, but that goes double for the new Harbook shop in Hangzhou, designed by the Shanghai studio of Alberto Caiola. A sprawling 6,500 square-foot playground filled with monumental custom furnishings and rows of thick steel archways, it's almost touching in how it seems to channel the glory days of the early 2000s, when ambitious "concept stores" still flourished and Amazon hadn't yet ruined books for everyone else.
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Henny Nistelrooy on I’m Revolting

Like so many small-town kids before him, Henny van Nistelrooy didn’t move to just any city. He moved to the most tightly layered and epochally dense cities he could find, the sorts of places that have already had a dozen lifetimes. After graduating from London's Royal College of Art, Van Nistelrooy launched his design studio in London in 2008 and then moved to Beijing, another capital with more than a bit of historical fiber. They’re fitting locales for Van Nistelrooy’s textile process of taking seemingly finished material and slowly unraveling the threads for an entirely new weave.
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The biggest part of the fair took place at the former gas power plant recently re-christened as 751 D-Park. Next to the city's once-hip 798 arts district, it's dedicated to fostering Beijing's design industry. The wood was part of a larger installation by students from Tsinghua University and the Swiss school EPFL, who went through 600 pallets and 11,500 feet of rope.

At Beijing Design Week

When you live all the way around the globe, visiting China for the first time for any reason — even for work, even for an international design fair, even to a sprawling modern metropolis like Beijing — is going to be mostly about visiting China for the first time. The way the pollution shocks your system, the deliciousness of the food: These are the kinds of experiences you begin eagerly tracking the moment you leave the airport. It's no wonder, then, that I enjoyed Beijing Design Week so much — almost all of the work, whether international or Chinese in origin, was presented in ways that made you feel like you couldn't have been anywhere else.
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Ceramics: "For centuries, British porcelain makers were fascinated with Asian-style ceramics, so it's interesting to see people applying this old idea in new ways," says O'Neal. The artist Brendan Lee Tang, for example, sculpts playful, Manga– and pop-art-inspired armatures around what appear to be traditional Chinese Ming Dynasty vases.

AvroKo’s Anglo-Asian Influences

For the designers behind AvroKo, the New York firm known for its high-concept restaurant interiors, the most personal projects often start out as group obsessions. Lately, apropos of nothing, they’ve been compiling a collection of silent video clips featuring modern furniture or architecture, snipped from movies or pulled from obscure design archives. So far it’s just a game — “a meme floating around the office,” as partner Kristina O’Neal puts it — but the first time the team was so possessed, they began with a bank of photographs and ended up opening a restaurant. After securing several projects in Asia a few years back, they began carefully documenting the bizarre cultural mash-ups they found while on trips out East, from mangled English translations to neon-lit religious altars; in 2008 they opened Double Crown in New York's East Village as an homage to their Anglo-Asian fascination, with food evoking the 19th-century British occupation of India, China, and Singapore. With a new AvroKo office in Hong Kong fielding projects like the recently opened New York–style eatery Lily in Bloom, their anthropological depository keeps growing.
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On a recent trip to Vienna, Otten quickly noticed a difference in the local custom — Austrian women weren't afraid to wear fur in public like their retribution–fearing Dutch counterparts. After she complimented an older lady on her coat in a cafe, the woman told her a tale about just how many furs any well-to-do Viennese woman will acquire in a lifetime: one upon graduation, one at her wedding, one later in adulthood, and if she's still alive after her husband dies, a final coat as a gift to herself. The story inspired Otten to do this series. "Most of them don’t even know I've taken their picture, because as a street photographer you can’t ask everyone," she says. "Sometimes you just shoot."

Urban Daily Life by Reineke Otten

When Reineke Otten visits a new city, it feels a bit like looking at Richard Scarry’s children’s books, their pages crammed with the minutiae of daily life. As a “streetologist,” her job is to scrutinize the often mundane details of places like Paris or Dubai, photographing dozens of window shades, doorbells, and flea market stalls until she’s put together a revealing portrait of the local culture. Though most of Otten’s clients pay her for her sleuthing skills, her new website Urban Daily Life offers the rest of us a glimpse into what it's like to see the world through a magnifying glass.
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