In our weekly roundup of design finds, a chic shop in Belgium, an app in the style of classic Braun, a dose of archi-porn, and a critical look at the Westin Bonaventure.
A favorite discovery from my recent trip to Belgium was Ra in Antwerp—one of those happy travel coincidences, a place you stumble onto by accident, only to find out later it's universally beloved by the city's hippest denizens. Part concept shop (spotlighting emerging fashion designers from around the world), part gallery, and part restaurant and sidewalk cafe, it's definitely worth seeking out if you're ever in Antwerp.
Wthr is billed as a "simpler, more beautiful weather app," and that's about the (gorgeous, functional) extent of it. It doesn't go into detail about the upcoming forecast—no hour-by-hour play by play or extreme storm warnings displayed in all caps—but how often are those those accurate anyway? This is for those who live in the moment, and will pay less than a dollar for great, Dieter Rams-ian design at the swipe of a touchscreen.
Do you like pretty pictures of buildings? How about interiors? The odd skyscraper/art installation/favela? My colleague Diana Budds thinks the term "archi-porn" is overused, but when the shoe fits, hell, just keep clicking.
If you've been tuning into Dwell as of late, then you're certainly aware that Dwell on Design just took place. The weekend was full of inventive design, inspiring talks, and more than a few laughs. Though the show floor was plenty exciting, one of my favorite things was a midnight stroll through downtown L.A. to the Westin Bonaventure, a hotel by John Portman that finds itself as the poster child of Postmodern architecture. It's been derided by archi-critics, served as a backdrop for a few films, and looks like something that belongs in a megalopolis from 2099 (but was built in the 1970s). In the video above, Edward Soja talks about some of the criticisms, which are true—it's hard to find your way in, once inside it's a confoundedly confusing space, and there's a distinct lack of taste. However, if you treat the building like an architectural theme park, it's unparalleled in terms of amusement—sky bridges, indoor fountains, endless concrete and glass, and the Bonavista Lounge, a penthouse-level rotating cocktail bar that offers some of the most prime views of the city. Here's an excerpt from Soja:
"It's a landscape that's highly fragmented—it's a space that decenters you, makes you feel lost. And in this feeling of being lost, dislocated. You feel that your only recourse it to submit to authority. You're helpless, you're made helpless, you're peripheralized, you're lost in these spaces."