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Cubes Issue 86: Are You Comfortable?

The June/July issue of Cubes hits the shelves and asks, ‘Are you comfortable?’ It’s worth taking a minute to think about it…

Cubes Issue 86: Are You Comfortable?

On the cover of Cubes 86 is Sissi's Wonderland by Muxin Studio. Photo by Zhang Daqi

What makes you comfortable? Casting aside the subjective influence of your own personal preferences, how would you answer? Would you consider just your physical state – how well your chair fits your body, for example, or whether you’re hot, cold or free from pain? Would you consider how much space do you need to feel comfortable? How much light? How much view? How about the mental and emotional side of things – when do you feel welcome, nurtured and at ease? Does convenience comfort you? How about legibility? Are you most comfortable when you have privacy or community? Does the new throw you out of your comfort zone?

We chose to tackle comfort this issue precisely for the reason that it’s such a difficult concept to pin down. It can be linked to different facets of experience in different contexts. And what’s more, comfort is not necessarily always a good thing, as some of our features discuss. What that means for the designers of buildings, spaces and objects is worth some enquiry.

This issue, we look at architecture that nestles into its context (Atlas Hotel Hoi An by Vo Trong Nghia Architects), and interiors that open up physically and visually to create more space or the appearance of it (Verandah House by Formwerkz Architects and Flat at Bukit Purmei by asolidplan). We tap into the comforts of nostalgia (Kasa by Lim + Lu), the refinement and optimisation of shared space (The Working Capitol at Robinson Road by HASSELL), and the resonant power of a building that draws its community together (Toranoko Nursery by Takashige Yamashita Office).

We consider what contributes to comfort when it is needed most – in the contexts of palliative care (Assisi Hospice by New Space Architects, with Context Architects for interior design) and disaster relief (Living Shelter by WY-TO and Pod Structures). We indulge in the comforting satisfaction that comes with the ideal blend of precision and design rigour (Hermès home universe). In terms of design practice, we consider the need to navigate zones of comfort and discomfort when questions of industry ethics come into play (AlvinT). And we contemplate the value of finding peaceful solitude on site and in the studio for a landscape architect and sculptor (Colin K. Okashimo).

But we also ask when it’s good to feel discomfort. Does good design make us comfortably numb? Our resident columnist Justin Zhuang explores. Is Singapore at ease with its own design narrative? Regular contributor Yvonne Xu asks the hard questions. And how comfortable are we philosophically with our inevitable VR future?

In addition to our cover story on a comfy space for kids (Sissi’s Wonderland by Muxin Studio), in this issue you’ll find our coverage of the best of the Salone del Mobile and Milan Design Week in our Checklist section. And we’re also pleased to present the official shortlist for the inaugural INDE.Awards. It contains a powerful collection of projects and people from around our region. We’re sitting tight for the announcement of the winners in Sydney on 30 June, so stay tuned!

Note by Editor Narelle Yabuka.

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