the words “suburbia” and wild” rarely meet, unless of course, you’re talking about some eyes wide shut commemorative party my dentist didn’t bother to invite me to. probably because of that time i made a joke about gas. but that’s neither here nor here. i simply wanted to alert you to a wonderful book project kickstarted by photographer martin adolfsson and designed by theaptFRIEND larry mayorga. they have managed to capture both the silliness and eeriness of suburban model homes on just about every continent and the result should be an incredible part of your collection of shit your friends don’t have. so kickstart it now. that’s not a suggestion.
when theaptFRIEND gary nadeau decides to take an interest in something or someone, it shows. through every shot, every question, every cut, every sound, he pulls you in, for mere minutes into the world of the studied. yesterday, it was a poetic exploration of prejudice with pizza verdi following the quest of inspiration by one rufus wainwright and today it is the prefab excellence of architect jens risom’s block island retreat. whatever the subject, whoever’s universe, it is gary’s world we visit and thank god.
the architecture of antonio gaudi is more arousing than most porn. i know.
the good people at plum tv got an eye and earful when they swung by cindy’s now-quite-famous black apartment and talked to us about the genesis and execution of the chelsea dwelling!
you might remember the above diagram from a lobby we designed for a residential tower in istanbul, turkey posted to our work-in-progress section. well, i am so delighted to announce that we are almost done with it and it looks a-ma-zing! that’s why we can’t help but post a sneak peek, below the radar, before official unveiling proceeding get under way in the next few weeks…
our new baby has arrived, the adventure with the good people at yelo spa continues as we have just unveiled the new location and brand rethink! having worked on this multi-disciplnary project for over a year now, i cannot tell you how proud and relieved the team and i are that we have made it to the finish line. well, almost to the finish line, as usual… see, the kinds of projects that we, the apartment creative agency, choose to ponder on a regular basis are neither exclusively graphic nor solely architectural in kind, neither purely strategic nor marketing-driven, rather we deliver experiences, for lack of a much better word, to clients who have a product and a desired customer reaction in mind but don’t know how to get from one to the other. that is when we step in, not to deliver what they want but find out what they need, a marked difference in approach that is not without its (lengthy) explanation cycle. using tools such as architecture, graphics, strategy, music, film, writing and more, we conscientiously tell the story we believe in if anyone else can be also asked to and deliver an experience to the eventual and probable customer that surprises, delights but, above all, means.
that is how we took on the mammoth task of rebooting yelo spa, the brand we created with founder nicolas ronco almost six years ago. looking at everything we had done right and, of course, all that had not quite worked in that span of time. the concept was ripe risk-taking again, ripe for trying new things, ripe not simply to be upgraded but looked at from scratch in most areas so as to imagine what the spa of the next ten tears might feel like. and the one thing you need above all on such an adventure: trust. from the client, for your team as you make recommendations that go against industry standards (colors!) and sometimes even common sense (naked babies?) but in the end, agreement won over compromise and we launched yelo spa 2.0 last month to incredible critical acclaim as much from the press as from clients returning after a month-long hiatus.
we could not be more proud to present to you our efforts and hope that you go see the real thing at 5 east 57th street (between 5th and madison) in new york city very soon. you can say the apartment sent you and see what happens…
as partners in this journey, i would be remiss if i didn’t give a shout-out to the theaptTEAM who worked of the pieces on the puzzle: guy reziciner on architecture, william gralewski on senior graphics, nicole audette on junior graphics and hilary bowers on public relations. they are incredible and, by the way, i’m willing to share… just ping me.
in the meantime, take in our latest portfolio entry, yelo spa 2!
as it so subtly says on the left there, sometimes we also work… and today i just wanted to give you a quick look into what we are working on right now because it is, if i may say so myself, SUPERCOOL!
i am sadly not able to divulge the nature or name of the client, yet, but let me say that this industry is ripe for new vision. that which we are lucky to have been asked to provide. what you are looking at in the picture above is going to be the piece de resistance of an amazing project we were hired to design a few months ago and the round structure is an incredible piece of engineered art that we are designing with the visionary marc fornes of theverymany. fitting within a space that is part showroom, part womb, we will be unveiling this beauty early next year and we could not be more excited!
but what i really want to talk about this morning is criteria by which we are lucky to choose our clients. as with most projects that we take on, this one has involved us in a field that we never plowed before, which is exactly the point. when the phone rings and the person on the other side asks if we can show them examples of things we have done before in their industry, my response is always this:
do not hire us because of what we may have done, hire us because of what we can do.
now, 3 times out of 5, the new business prospect hangs up on me… but it guarantees that the other 2 that keep talking will have a built-in tolerance for the unconventional solutions we are bound to come up with. that is why i rarely show our portfolio any more. the reason i created the apartment creative agency was to have the ability to touch, unrestrained by the increasingly reductive industry of design, all aspects of the consumer experience. whether tasked to build an individual a home that feels as if they could have dreamt it themselves or launch a new car in a way theretofore unseen, the apartment staff and i believe that, ultimately, good design lays not in the individual instrument but the symphony, the way all the parts come together. our goal, in life as much as in business, has always been and always will be to do interesting things. and as such, we live to be hired to do that which we haven’t done before, not what is easily pointed to in a portfolio. we work with dozens of designers across the world who join us on teams specifically assembled for goals yet to be defined. that is how the unexpected happens. that is what we strive for.
my focus, is never simply to give our clients what they ask for but to define their mission on their behalf using the tools of branding, graphics, product design, architecture, strategy, marketing and publicity, yes, but also those of memory, experience, imagination, fantasy and emotion in order to give meaning to the adventure, not just success. i believe we are one of the very few agencies in the world today offering such comprehensive understanding of our craft beyond its tools. as alan kay famously said, “if you want to predict the future, you have to invent it…” we are inventors.
and that is what we hope to achieve with this and other projects in the pipeline. after 12 years of doing this, it truly feels like we’re just getting started…
sorry for the seemingly complacent post this monday morning but i felt compelled to explain
what we do who we are to some who may not know. thank you for listening and have a splendid weekend!
in winter 2002, while probably taking a break from nothing, the phone rang on my oversized desk and on the line was the politely determined voice of a young woman, just graduated from interior design school in germany, who had heard of our little dog and pony show in manhattan and wanted in for a summer internship. the apartment, having just been invented out of thin air a couple of years at that point, it never dawned on me that we could teach anyone anything, let alone offer “internships,” those were for “real” companies i thought, but my interlocutor that day reassured me that she would pay her way from germany and do whatever we asked, for free, as long as she could learn our trade… our what?! i didn’t know we had a trade, i thought until then that what i had been doing was pushing back the date when i would have to put my film degree to good use and be a waiter at dojo’s. i tried to tell this young woman that i would not want to take advantage of her and could not have her waste her time so i said that there wasn’t a position available at this time but to please stay in touch because, you know, yeah… and stay in touch she did, by email, voicemail and, about a week later, getting me on the line again and now saying that she was going to book a flight to come meet me for an interview because, obviously, the telephone was too poor a means of communication to convey her intention to never be told no to anything she wished. i was dumbfounded by her persistence to fill a non-existent position that i felt would be of no use to anyone but i couldn’t let her spend her money for a transatlantic flight just for an interview, that was crazy! so, defeated, i said ok. after all, it would just be a summer internship and by september, she’d go back home, disappointed, and i would put on my apron, filled with guilt, as things should be…
if you need something to widen your sphere of consciousness as you attempt to put in perspective the death of your grandmother, there is no better place to go than at le grand palais in paris right now to see anish kapoor’s leviathan… there are few words that can be used to adequately describe what you see invading one of the world’s most beautiful industrial buildings, a beach ball, a whale, a blown-up nave, all inconsistent with the feeling you have either walking around or within the thing. best to let pictures do the talking…
last week, i was lucky to have been invited to london by my beneficent mother to attend the premiere of a ballet scored by a friend of ours. yeah, that’s how we roll, apparently. so, a few kisses to my wife and children later, i found myself in the entitled cocoon of jfk’s virgin lounge, about to sleep my way across the ocean. that’s when i realized that, even though regaled by mommy dearest who has evidently been better with her money than i could ever dream to be with mine, it would be a shame not to take advantage of such a jaunt to pay my long-overdue respects to friends i hadn’t seen in a long time.
for those of you may have just joined us and are wondering what it is the hell we do, it is always my goal to show if i don’t have to tell. hence, here is a portrait of one of our projects, new york’s own yelo spa, a wellness center in midtown manhattan, which was a 360degree project for us as we were responsible for all aspect of it, from naming to branding to architecture to marketing. and the synergies between them. filmed by the incomparable gary nadeau for dwell magazine. enjoy!
so much time was spent understandably celebrating the rebirth of zombie jesus through the over-consumption of bible-mandated high fructose corn syrup that i hardly had time to think about anything else but myself this weekend. specifically, the impact felt from here to milan of my first column written for fast company’s authoritative design blog titled what telephone unbeatable functionality teaches us about innovation. now i might be exaggerating my influence by a smidgeon but my point, that of the need for design not to be merely beautiful but singularly useful is well-taken, mostly by myself and reminded me that it didn’t always used to be that way… which is why, in lieu of saying good morning to a new, probably fatalist topic this morning, as has become our weekly habit, i wanted to hark back to a simpler time by headlining this hebdomadal feature with a demonstration of such consideration in design from an architect who rarely forfeited his functional gift for aesthetic pleasure: mr. marcel breuer.
i guess i would be doing my own company great disservice if, at least once in a blue moon, i didn’t toot my and the team’s horn… for those of you not awake at 8:30 in the morning yesterday morning, which i guess should be most of you, then you probably missed out on nbc’s lxtv segment about our design of miss cindy gallop‘s famed black apartment, hence here it is above, enjoy.
as you may have noticed, there hasn’t been a whole lot of design news on theaptBROADCAST lately… that is because i have been using most of my time writing my first will and testament, titled the considered life, of which i finished my final draft this week and hope will find a publisher in the new year (email me!) i do intend to return to form soon on the blog but i have to break back in slowly… that is why my first step has been to contribute to USA network’s character approved blog in which i wax poetic about all forms of shapes and shapes of forms; and my second step will be to split my twitters between my personal musings, which will continue to be filled with such necessary verve as it’s six o’clock, do you know where YOUR st. julien is? or the always popular amy fisher has really been making the most of her freedom and the newly-minted, launching today the apartment account which will happily relate all that i find truly revolting or spectacular in the world of design. i hope you join in the crusade, at least until the rapture. and don’t forget to #FF, as it were. have a sensational weekend!
p.s. and on monday, be prepared for a seoul design week special report by theaptENVOY divad q. nead!