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Eclectic Cool

Cool…Fashion & Architects

30 August 2013

Cool…Fashion & Architects

Fashion and architecture are two design disciplines that have a lot in common.  The both work with shape, light and shadow, colour space and proportion to name but a few things they share.   It is no surprise then, that high end fashion labels are very keen to choose architecture that expresses not only the design intent of the brand but also house their designs in a place that will show the brand to its best advantage.

Indeed, expensive real estate in places like Tokyo and Hong Kong, mean that stores have to have that wow factor not only in the interior but in the exterior.

A look through these accompanying images will show you that some of the most interesting architecture has been commissioned by fashion brands.


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Architecture, Blog, Cool Places, Design, Interiors

Design highlight…Timberline Lodge

25 August 2013

Design highlight…Timberline Lodge

One of the design highlights of Oregon was the magnificent Timberline Lodge.   Not only is it situated in a ruggedly beautiful Mt Hood, but both the building itself and the interior architecture within is worth the drive from Portland.   It is also the only place in the US where you can summer ski.   If that doesn’t convince you to make a trip, the history surrounding it is pretty compelling too.

The lodge was part of Roosevelt’s New Deal.   It was a  building commissioned to provide work for locals who painstakingly handmade not only the structure but a lot of the decorative elements of the Lodge, from the curtains to the rugs, from the furniture to the hardware.

The design of the building was heavily influenced by native American motifs, reworked in an art deco style.   Lots of local timber and stone was used to provide the materials, creating huge wooden pillars and rough hewn chimney pieces.   A standout is the quality and design of the metal work- where railway tracks were reworked as fire dogs and fire screens.

The combination of the handwork and the beauty of the design of the building make this a must see if you are ever in Oregon.

For those film buffs amongst you, you may recognise the exterior from The Shining, though the interior shots were filmed elsewhere.

You can find out how to visit Timberline Lodge via their website.

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Architecture, Blog

Cool…de Young museum, SF

23 August 2013

Cool…de Young museum, SF

Most people will tell you that they don’t understand contemporary architecture.   Why don’t they build buildings like they use to? they ask.   Stone & wood as materials, recognisable doors and windows, a pitched roof.   If you ever want to delve into the politics of conservatism in architecture, I suggest you read this piece, by British architect & store owner, Ben Pentreath.   He is as conservative as they come.   

However, it is buildings like the Herzog + De Meuron designed De Young museum which makes me remember why I really love contemporary architecture, even if it isn’t classically pretty.

The De Young museum was built in 2005, so it has been around for a while.  A lot of the building’s design focussed on the structure of the building, ensuring that it was strong enough to withstand San Francisco’s seismic activity.   The building is designed to move with any seismic activity, However, the beauty of this building is due not just to its engineering, but to its sensitivity to its natural environment.   The copper clad building which is now brown, will eventually oxidise and turn a soft green, blending into the Golden Gate park surrounding it.

The form of the roof line and the punctured copper skin is beautifully detailed and crafted allowing light to be hidden and revealed.   The twisting observation tower, which gives you a fabulous view of SF, is perfectly aligned with the orderly street grid.

The museum’s architecture is often described as dramatic, but close observation of the building reveals it to be at harmony with its surroundings.   It’s this duality that makes contemporary architecture compelling and beautiful but just that little bit disconcerting.

BTW the Diebenkorn exhibition was well worth a visit, as is the permanent collection.

The De Young museum is mostly closed on Mondays.

Check the website for directions and opening hours.


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Architecture, Blog

Cool…new bookstore at HKU

22 August 2013

Cool…new bookstore at HKU

There only one thing Eclectic Cool loves more than a good architecture or design book and that is a great bookstore.  Recently, one of EC’s design friends and Sheung Wan neighbour, architect Jason Carlow, redesigned the bookstore in the historic Run Run Shaw Building.  Jason is currently the Assistant Professor of Architecture at HKU where he teaches design studio as well as running his own successful architectural practice, C:A+D- Carlow Architecture and Design.

His very understated design showcases HKU’s excellent range of books.  Check out their website for a list of their recent titles.

One of our favourite recent titles is Lara Jaishree Netting’s  A Perpetual Fire: John C. Ferguson and His Quest for Chinese Art and Culture.  If you are interested in Chinese art, this great book looks at the life of diplomat & collector, John Ferguson who was one of the first westerners to appreciate Chinese art.

Another one of our favourites is the book, Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island, by another one of EC’s great mates, Jason Wordie.   If you are a fan of the flaneur, take this book along on your next walk around the streets of HK.

You could, of course, go on the website to buy the books, but I recommend an afternoon visit to HKU to spend a delightful hour or two perusing this beautifully designed bookstore.

G/F, Run Run Shaw Heritage House (adjacent to Run Run Shaw Tower)
Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong
Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong

Monday to Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (closes on public and University holidays)
Tel:  (852) 3917 7801

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Blog, Cool Places, Design, Hong Kong, Interiors

Living loft style in Hong Kong

19 August 2013

Living loft style in Hong Kong

I just came back from my holiday in the US.  We had a fabulous time travelling from SF up to Portland and back down again.   We all scored the holiday a pretty unbeatable 9/10.  It lost a point because of the amount of driving we had to do but I guess we could not have done anything about that! There will be more about the places we visited later.  I did manage to post some images on the road but, as with all holidays, the postcards will arrive after we return…sorry about this.

So onto another hot topic, which a recent reader sent me an email about…HK loft living.

This creative type was looking to move to Hong Kong and asked if it were true that you could buy/rent a warehouse building unit and convert into an apartment for a fraction of the price of an apartment in a residential building.  The answer is ‘yes, but…’

This scenario is pretty tempting when you consider that a pretty average apartment around 2000 square feet will rent from anywhere between HKD70K (USD9000) to HKD200K (USD25000) per month.  For HKD25000 you could rent something pretty large and have the whole Brooklyn loft vibe thing going on.

However, this is not without its downside.

Firstly, it’s illegal.   Hong Kong is pretty non-interventionist when it comes to government.  However, the main exception is the use of property.  There has been a few scandals recently, usually involving politicians and illegal structures.  This has lead to a crackdown on the use of property especially in industrial buildings where owners have been enclosing outdoor areas etc for years.   There are more and more building inspectors.   In my warehouse, I have had building inspectors knock on the door and want to have a look around.   They don’t go in very far, as the volume of boxes pretty much convinces them that I couldn’t possibly live there.

I have been told that people who do live in these buildings have got to the point that they have to pack up and disappear for a while if a building inspector gets too suspicious.

Secondly, it’s dangerous. Warehouses are full of people  who are storing anything from food to furniture to flammable substances.  Some of the goods are  dirty, or may contain vermin and diseases.  It’s HK and because we have don’t have a lot of import duties & because there is no agriculture, there are not the same amount of controls that may exist in Europe, the US and Australia.

Thirdly, it’s not so nice.  Your apartment may be beautiful and have a lovely sea view but you have to go through sometimes pretty dirty and smelly corridors and lifts to get there. There is no real security on the weekends and in the evenings except at the entrances and exits.   They are located in out of the way places. It can be difficult to get taxis.   You may get pretty tired of hiding from building inspectors.

Have I put you off?  But saying all of this, there are tons of people who living in industrial buildings and love it.   You need to be a certain type of person-it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Any questions?  Email me.

If I haven’t totally put you off, take a look at this beautiful loft style apartment in Brooklyn by designer and artist Alina Preciado.  Absolutely gorgeous.   Wouldn’t a place like this make those creative juices flow?



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Blog, Design

Cool…Herman Miller

18 August 2013

Cool…Herman Miller

We are going to be expanding our office space and we are trying to balance beauty and practicality.  With so many files, reference books and samples to store-we need lots of storage but we also need larger workspaces for our design work and comfortable chairs of course. We love our GUBI5 chairs for our clients, but we need to be able to wheel around the office.

Top of our wish list is a Eames office group chair in white leather. The classic, minimal design, the luxurious leather and its smooth mechanism make it the most stylish office chair around.  Don’t you love the collaboration with Prada? And one of the most stylish women around, Jenna Lyons (love her!) uses one in her office with a watermelon pink fur draped around it.  As you do, of course.  Only problem with them is the ordering time…I guess good things take time.

I am a huge fan of the quality and style of Herman Miller products, particularly for the office. They just celebrated their 108th anniversary with this stylish animation. Oh and if you ever think of buying a copy- come into the Eclectic Cool store and I will show you one.  I purchased a copy ( the only one I have ever bought) as I needed extra office seating for a staff member immediately.  I tooled across to Marc James in Ap Lei Chau and bought a black leather one with chrome armrests.  It cost around HKD3500 so it wasn’t cheap.  Within 3 weeks, the chrome started to peel off and it now looks pretty ugly.  Hmmm, not one of my finer moments.  So I am saving up my pennies this time for the real thing.

You can buy Herman Miller from POSH in Hong Kong.

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Blog, Design, Shopping

Cool…Copenhague Collection by the Bouroullec brothers

16 August 2013

Cool…Copenhague Collection by the Bouroullec  brothers

French designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have designed all the furniture for the remodelled Faculty of Humanities at Københavns Universitet in Copenhagen.

The chairs and tables in the collection were designed to address a very specific problem for this university: a lot of students left their courses before completion.  Part of the University’s approach to address this problem was, in an uniquely Danish way was through design.   By creating furniture that was more domestic in its approach, they could create a more homely environment for the students.

The chairs were designed by Bouroullec brothers to be stackable , cost effective and easy to produce.   The chairs will be around HKD 1500 each, which favorably compares to a plastic shell.   Interestingly, the shell is constructed in 2 parts, which allows the legs to be fixed directly to the ridge under the seat where the two sides of the shell join.

This range is, of course, available at Eclectic Cool.  We are taking pre-orders now, for delivery after October.   The range is large, please contact us for specific information.

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Blog, Cool Places, Design, Shopping

Cool…Sacramento Street, SF

9 August 2013

Cool…Sacramento Street, SF

I’ve taken a few days out to do some sightseeing, driving up the California Coast towards Oregon.  We started in San Francisco and of course a must-do on any Eclectic Cool itinerary is a recon of all the coolest design stores around.  The hip and happening design street is Sacramento Street.  Located in the Pacific Heights area and surrounded by the most gorgeous Victorian homes you can imagine are 5 design stores of note.

When I first went, it was Sunday afternoon and only Anthem and Hudson Grace were open.   I forgot to pull out my camera for these two stores but you can see their websites which have pretty good images of the kinds of brands that they carry.

Anthem is a treasure trove of lighting, furniture and accessories.  It’s what I would call American Contemporary Luxe.   Lots of lush cashmeres, linens and leathers on display here.  It’s the place you would go to find gorgeous decorative items for your home and maybe the odd piece of accent lighting.

Hudson Grace is a peaceful and beautiful store.   Its grey facade was accented with the slightest bit of orange which carried through into the interior.   You would get some great gifts here as well as some tidbits for your next dinner party.   Entertaining is the theme here.   I fell in love with a marble lazy susan type cheese dish and managed to convince my husband we needed it.

I had to go back on Monday so that I could see all the stores that were closed on the Sunday.

Sue Fisher King is the oldest shop here and is a treasure trove of Astier de Villatte.  There are plenty of table settings, placemats and napkin rings here.   San Fransciscans must entertain at home a lot! I would have liked to buy the Astier de Villatte ceramic book ( a book made out of ceramic- not a book about ceramics) but I saw it first when I was leaving.

San Franciscans not only entertain at home but must cook like a dream if March is to be believed.   The kitchen islands are not only beautiful but eminently well considered, if you like cooking like I do.  My dream would be to have one of these benches in my kitchen in my country house- with my knives hanging in the bespoke leather holders-wow!  They also had some great jugs by Dinosaur Designs, ceramics by UK ceramicist, Brickett Davda (gorgeous glazes) and some beautiful decorative ceramics as well.   In the window, they had some great little vases by our very own Henry Dean.

The Future Perfect is the west coast outpost of their New York store.   Now this store is seriously cool.  Lighting by Lindsey Adelman who makes the most gorgeous handmade brass and glass chandeliers is the jewel in the crown of this collection.  Hand made furniture by Russell Pinch is also a standout.   Loved it all.



3274 Sacramento St.

San Francisco, CA 94115

10-6 everyday except sunday 12-5

Hudson Grace

3350 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94118

Tel 415 440 7400

Mon–Sat 10–6
Sun 12–5

Sue Fisher King

3067 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

Monday-Saturday: 10am to 6pm
Sunday: Closed


3075 Sacramento Street 

Monday to Saturday 10-6

The Future Perfect

3085 Sacramento Street 
San Francisco, CA 94115 
415 932 6508 
Monday-Saturday, 10-6 
Closed Sunday


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Cool…baseball & design

7 August 2013

Cool…baseball & design

Eclectic Cool fulfilled one of her lifelong dreams yesterday- yes!!! I made it to my very own baseball game.  Though an American sport, I have loved it since I was young.  I think it is because it is one of the few games that I (sort of) know the rules and that I can understand.  I like the outfits too.

Less well known is baseballs’ contribution to the world of design.   Here are just a few….


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Architecture, Blog

Cool..new Aesop IFC

4 August 2013

Cool..new Aesop IFC

Aesop have opened a new store in IFC.  Boy, Aussie beauty company is doing well these days.  One of the best things about them is their stores, of course.  They are one of the few brands in the world where every store looks different but their design is underpinned by a similar design concept.  This one is designed in collaboration with Boston-based architectural firm NADAAA.

The new IFC store  is  organic in feel, and I am always a sucker for an interesting ceiling…I love this one.  The product displays could be a little more interesting but it does show off their wares nicely.

Aesop IFC Mall

Shop 1088B 

Open 10 to 9 every day



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