Tag Archives: Target


May 18, 2015

Harvey Nichols store, Knightsbridge, London, by Heatherwick Studio (photo by Steve Speller)

Architecture companies that do more than architecture impress me.

I don’t mean the firms that provide additional services like interior design, landscape design, master planning, and/or graphic design. If you are a Design (with a capital “D”) driven company, than your field of Architecture (with a capital “A”) should inherently include such endeavors.

The recent passing of Michael Graves brings to mind how inspiring it is when an architect evolves and branches out, elevating his talent beyond the category of “building design,” which sometimes sounds like creating a mundane parking structure or coordinating an air conditioning system. Mr. Graves launched a Post-Modern movement of designing for all functions, for all people, at all scales. (Teapot, anyone?) This concept of what I like to call “comprehensive design services” are also offered from contemporaries like Rios Clementi Hale Studios or historical legends like Frank Lloyd Wright.

Teapot from Target, by Michael Graves, photo by Kean University
Teapot from Target, by Michael Graves (photo by Kean University)

At Poon Design, we provide design services of all types. In our past, we even offered the unique specialty of music programming for restaurant or retail projects. We posited a simple concept that music was as essential to the success of a branded space and its customer experience, as the right spatial forms, appropriately selected materials, and strategic lighting design. All of it, music as well, comprised Architecture.

Then there is Heatherwick Studio, www.heatherwick.com.

Heatherwick Studio has taken the idea of complete design services to a new level. Heatherwick has embraced broad design and research wholeheartedly, as evidenced by the studio’s current exhibition called “Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio” at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Spun Chairs by Heatherwick Studio, photo by Susan Smart
Spun Chairs by Heatherwick Studio (photo by Susan Smart)

Upon arrival to the museum, you encounter the famous Spun Chairs in the courtyard. Irresistible to all—children, teens, adults and seniors—you will see dozens of people gleefully spinning like giant-size tops on these chairs, design courtesy of Heatherwick.

With large public and private architectural projects, both executed or proposed—from the new Google Campus in Northern California, to a university building in Singapore, to a Capetown museum—Heatherwick also designs at other, more curious scales. From smallest to biggest, its portfolio boasts a Longchamp handbag, an extruded aluminum bench, the Olympic cauldron, newspaper kiosks, a London red bus, a portable bridge, and a grand park in the middle of an Abu Dhabi desert.

Heatherwick’s “Seed Cathedral,” the U.K pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, drew worldwide attention. Measuring approximately 50’ x 50’ x 50’, the pavilion is make up of 60,000 protruding clear acrylic rods, the tips of which encapsulate 250,000 seeds. Magical and mesmerizing, the design stunned architects and non-architects alike.

“Seed Cathedral,” U.K. pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, by Heatherwick Studio, photo by Iwan Baan
“Seed Cathedral,” U.K. pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, by Heatherwick Studio (photo by Iwan Baan)

I am eager to see the breadth of Heatherwick’s design work, particularly the larger projects, executed in real life. Of their dozen featured grand architecture works, less than half are implemented. We have a lot to look forward to from Heatherwick in the coming decades.

Don’t miss the exhibit. Admission is free (as is playing on the ping pong tables in the courtyard). Exhibit closes May 24, 2015. Provocations at the Hammer Museum.


April 10, 2015

Z-3 Residence, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design (photo by George Guttenberg)

It started with an idea that the essential qualities of luxury modern residences could be delivered to the mainstream marketplace at affordable prices.

Custom modern residences are evident throughout California, but what average American family can afford such homes ranging from a few million dollars to upward of $20 million? On the other hand, affordable tract housing proliferate our suburbs, but do these faux-Mediterranean-Spanish-inspired stucco boxes have architectural integrity, relevance and merit?

Panorama Residence, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design (photo by Lance Gerber)
Panorama Residence, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design (photo by Lance Gerber)

For Poon Design, infusing tract housing, also known as production housing, with modern luxury design was a new kind of challenge, a different kind of business, and an entirely distinctive kind of architecture. As client/developer Andrew Adler, CEO of Alta Verde Group, has put it: “We are democratizing good design.”

While somewhat new for architecture, democratizing good design has been demonstrated by a number of world famous designers, such Michael Graves designing a product for Target. Graves first designed his famous tea kettle 25 years ago for Alessi, an Italian kitchen utensil distributor that represented some of the most well-known architects and designers of the time, such as Ettore Sottsass, Philippe Starck and Zaha Hadid. Many of Alessi’s products are so celebrated that they are in the permanent museum collections, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The tea kettle Graves designed for Alessi was priced at several hundred dollars to the luxury buyer seeking.

Many years later, Graves designed a very similar tea kettle for Target—and it costs less than $40. The two kettles were near exact in concept and details. Graves’s design went from being offered to the sophisticated, wealthy and elite, to the average person, who although shopping on a budget, still seeks and appreciates good design.


top: B-3 Residence, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design (staging by Interior Illusions); bottom: I-3 Residence, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design (photos by Chris Miller)

Poon Design adopted this for architecture, at the first of four communities designed and constructed with Alta Verde in Palm Springs, at a development called Escena. With Mr. Adler as design partner, Poon Design developed four home prototypes for 130 lots on 21 acres. The 3-bedroom prototypes captured many ideas, both proven and exploratory: extended roof overhangs for passive cooling and protection from the heat; drought tolerant native landscape; regional building materials; reflective energy efficient cool roof; electric car chargers; LED lighting; and rooftop solar panels.

Horizon Residence, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design (photo by Lance Gerber)
Horizon Residence, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design (photo by Lance Gerber)

We promoted a new kind of architecture that we entitled, “This Century Modern,” which was a nod to the popular title, “Mid-Century Modern.” Currently 100 homes have been built and sold, and new phases of construction are ongoing, many homes pre-sold. Our architecture has been bestowed with a dozen national design awards.

Though just homes, the force and impact of great architecture can come at a community scale, acknowledging a framework for how a municipality might evolve. The blank canvas for ground breaking residential design is not only the single lot for one homeowner, but rather, it can be for entire neighborhoods.

Zen Residence, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design, interior staging by Interior Illusions (photo by Lance Gerber)
Zen Residence, Palm Springs, California, by Poon Design, (staging by Interior Illusions, photo by Lance Gerber)
© Poon Design Inc.