If the last months have proved anything it is that social interaction and connectivity are vital to our well being. Finding a place to meet or a space to interact is proving to be the vital chain in the link to a normal life and it also helps to unite us in the changing world of today.
July 21st, 2020
The shortlisted projects in The Social Space category in the INDE.Awards this year are the perfect encapsulation of community, culture and connectedness. The sheer diversity of the projects speak of the many ways in which we gather – whether at a restaurant, a hotel, a public place in the city or the regions. Coming together is what we all do so well and it is appropriate that James Richardson Furniture (JRF) is the supporter of The Social Space for this is a company with the idea of hospitality, sociability and the importance of relationships at its heart. Georgia Danos, Creative and Brand Director at JRF commented, “Our passion for The Social Space stems from our long standing history and experience in the hospitality industry. Hospitality is in our DNA. To us, service is everything. We believe there is a strong synergy between what we do as a brand and the hospitality industry.
JRF was established in 1956 by David Mandie AM and the relationship with the company’s longest standing supplier, Ton in the Czech Republic, was sealed with just a handshake all those years ago, so it goes without saying that relationships really matter to the company. Danos reiterated, “Our business began, on a handshake deal with the original Michael Thonet Bentwood manufacturer, TON and we are now the longest standing supplier globally. Bentwood is synonymous with the hospitality industry and a true reflection of classic design and longevity.”
Just as being social is the essence of being human it is the spaces we inhabit that provide the backdrop and influence our lives. The shortlisted projects for The Social Space this year are dynamic and eclectic and reflect our desire to experience hospitality in myriad ways. Danos reflected that, “ The nominees are all indicative of what good hospitality design should be – to encourage collaboration, provide an experience and create lasting memories. Given this is now the 2020 INDE.Awards and the Best of the Decade, we are glad to see consideration of longevity, sustainability and design elements that last the test of time.”
Take for example Di Stasio Città in Melbourne, Australia. Designed by Hassell, this sophisticated and contemporary city restaurant is an oasis of calm within a busy metropolis. There is no signage to access the restaurant just a button and two full-height glass doors with the lower section a dark red “like an architectural negroni” as the client has commented. As dramatic as the entrance presents the interior is considered and bespoke with lofty spaces layered with intricate detail and digital artworks that create a gallery experience along with the hospitality offering. Surfaces are textured and furniture and joinery have been hand-finished to create a unique restaurant experience. This is place to meet eat, drink and relax where the pleasure of coming together is heightened by a fine interior design.
Extrapolating the hospitality experience to its usual conclusion is a visit to a hotel where the idea of time away in a place where strangers co-mingle and hospitality abounds offers respite and retreat. The Little Shelter Hotel in Chang Mai, Thailand by Department of Architecture is a place that fuses the old and the new and showcases a hybrid design to great effect. While wood shingles have been used on the roof and side walls, the front façade has been covered with a modern replica of the shingle and made of polycarbonate that has been fixed with translucent studs and screws. The technique employed for the cladding of the building is traditional, the material contemporary, and the result is a new interpretation of design. Within, the interior is pared back, white and light and complements the simplicity of the exterior. This is a place for contemplation and relaxation, to sleep and to gather together and a place that pays homage to the country’s past while looking to the future.
While the cities are a place where the masses live, love and inhabit in their multitude the countryside offers the peace and tranquility that help us balance a busy life and discover the things that really matter. Another shortlisted project in The Social Space, this time in Indonesia, demonstrates that nature can enhance and influence the way that we think and ultimately live. Sukasantai Farmstay by Goy Architects is the antithesis of the busy city. This is a family-owned and run organic vegetable farmstay of six-hectares situated in the highlands of West Java. The experience of Sukasantai is the opportunity to enjoy the fresh food and natural surroundings of the location all within responsive and sensitive architectural design. With the buildings of Sukasantai seamlessly integrated into the surrounding landscape clients can experience nature at its best and enjoy the facilities of the communal kitchen, dining and accommodation rooms. This project allows guests to peel back the layers of urban life and inhabit a less hectic existence but it is the architecture that inspires the guest to recalibrate and renew.
Through such a diverse range of projects in this year’s shortlist of The Social Space category the how, why and where we meet is amplified. Just as JRF understands that establishing a social bond creates a relationship, the importance of connection through our social spaces is an imperative to creating a rich and full life. Social interaction is valued at JRF with customers, suppliers and staff each an intrinsic part of the larger family. As a supporter of the INDE.Awards and sponsor of The Social Space category there is a synergy that is integral.
Designing for the future is all about an appreciation for today and JRF, as do the talented shortlisted architects and designers represented in The Social Space category, present attributes that encompass quality, respect, service and commitment. It’s more than merely social it’s human.
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