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Why is This Early 1900s Swedish Minimalist Suddenly All Over Instagram?

We’re not sure when it was that we first started noticing the late Swedish designer Axel Einar Hjorth popping up everywhere we looked. But whenever it was, you can now consider us full converts to the church of Hjorth, whose work remains disarmingly fresh 60 years after his death, mixing as it does both Art Deco and Modernist influences, and a sense of sophistication with something more primitive.
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Villa Stenersen was commissioned as a family residence in the late 1930s by Rolf Stenersen, a Norwegian stockbroker who had amassed a huge collection of modern art. It was designed, says Gudrun Eidsvik — the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design curator who gave us our tour — as a villa for receptions. "This was and is a really high-society neighborhood, and the house often played host to parties with artists and authors and theater people. The foyer was quite empty — they needed that space to be free — and the bar was essential."

Inside Villa Stenersen, Oslo’s Under-the-Radar Gem of Modernist Architecture

We first came across Villa Stenersen on a trip to Norway in 2016 and immediately fell in love with the corrugated wall, the glass bricks, the bright blue facade, the free-standing columnal fireplace, and, of course, the colors. Our visit there was so magical that when we heard one of our favorite photographers, Tekla Severin, was visiting Oslo, we implored her to photograph the house for us in all its waiting-to-be-refurbished glory.
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Exhibit Columbus Washington Street Installations

See How 5 Design Galleries Are Transforming This Tiny Midwestern City

The seed for Exhibit Columbus began back in 2014, when designer Jonathan Nesci created an installation of reflecting tables, called 100 Variations, in the sunken courtyard of Columbus's First Christian Church, built by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen in 1942. "It was essentially to show proof of concept that a designer could make an installation in dialogue with the city," says Nesci. Three years later, the resulting design festival, which runs through November, boasts 18 separate installations.
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The Hollyhock House Shot by Gaea Woods

If you'd happened to wander into L.A.'s Barnsdall Art Park in the middle of the night last Friday, you might have assumed there were concert tickets, or some newfangled iPhone model, about to go on sale the next morning: even into the wee hours, a line of people three hours long snaked all around the property. Amazingly enough, though, the massive crowd had turned out not to buy something but to experience the re-opening of Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark 1921 Hollyhock House, which we overheard certain over-caffeinated line-goers describe as "super hyped." Built in 1921 in the so-called California Romanza style, the theater and home turned museum had been closed to the public for more than three years for restoration, and the city was celebrating the unveiling of its face-lift by giving the public continuous free access for 24 hours. We figured the best way to mark the occasion was to send a photographer to shoot the house after dark, a task we entrusted to the up-and-coming L.A. photographer Gaea Woods.
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Chinese tea services: The studio tiled the walls of the restaurant in custom blue-and-white ceramic, using a story they found in an old Chinese book. Instead of using Chinese porcelain from the nearby mainland for dinner service, however, Autoban used the renowned blue çini porcelain that’s handcrafted in the Turkish city of Iznik.

Autoban, Furniture and Interior Designers

The Beyoğlu district is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Istanbul, but for centuries, it’s been the Turkish cultural capital's most modern quarter as well. So it's fitting that the creative firm helping to spearhead the growth of modern design in Turkey has all but grown up on Beyoğlu’s cobbled streets. Autoban is housed in a half-baroque, mid-19th-century Italianate building, but inside, the studio is almost seamlessly modern.
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This winter, Lin designed United Bamboo’s second annual cat calendar — a cult favorite in the fashion world, shot by photographer Noah Sheldon — giving him the chance to work with a slew of paper-only techniques: blind-debossed months, a foil-stamped back, a silk-screened sleeve. “I envisioned it as more than just 12 photos of cats. On the back of each page, there’s information about the cat — their age, how their owners got them — and clothes silhouetted like a clothing catalog. It adds a bit more of a narrative.”

Alex Lin, graphic designer

If you were to chart the degrees of separation among young American designers, you might do well to start with Alex Lin. Since 2007, Lin — a Yale School of Art grad and former designer at 2x4 — has created all of the branding and collateral for Brooklyn-based furniture designer Stephen Burks, who often does work for the sustainably minded home accessories company Artecnica, who recently launched a line of pendant lights by Rich Brilliant Willing, who produce their Excel light series with Roll & Hill, who shared an exhibition space at this spring's Noho Design District event with Areaware, who commissioned a special 5-year anniversary piñata from Confetti System, who did the set design for United Bamboo’s Spring/Summer ’09 campaign. Confetti System also happen to share an 11th-floor Manhattan studio with Lin, who is the mild-mannered, super-talented graphic designer at the vortex of this Venn diagram–gone-haywire. Lin has headed up his own shop for only two years, but in that time, he’s worked with every creative on this list and then some.
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Vernacular architecture: In a small way, Jaklitsch practices his own sort of vernacular architecture with the Marc Jacobs shops, most of which have been inserted into existing structures. He takes pains to make each store location-specific and to honor the site's original intent, whether it's an old tobacco warehouse in Savannah, Georgia, a shop in strip-mall-happy Los Angeles, or a renovation inside Paris's Palais de Royale.

Stephan Jaklitsch, architect

In the world of retail, there is a tendency towards sameness, a familiarity designed to lull shoppers into a complacent state in which they might begin to feel it’s okay to spend a lot of money. A Zara, anywhere in the world, is immediately identifiable by its gold-toned lighting and rows of shoes lined up haphazardly underneath the clothes; a Marni boutique leaves its mark with swooping stainless-steel rails and elliptical cutouts in the ceilings. As a brand, Marc Jacobs has never been about uniformity, though — this is a fashion designer, after all, who’s gone from the most infamous collection of grunge in history to the luxurious heights of Louis Vuitton — so why should his stores? “There are certain iconic elements that are repeated,” admits Stephan Jaklitsch, the New York–based architect who’s been responsible for Jacobs's bricks-and-mortar for more than 10 years, “but in general, each store relates to its own specific building type, to the city’s specific urban condition, and to the architecture of the individual space. Although they’re identifiably connected, every one of them has a particular feel.”
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