May Issue

While the power of the arts to enlighten and uplift needs no elucidation, perhaps never has it been more pressing to nurture and promote cultural institutions and professionals than now, when political manoeuvring and fears of budget cuts seem the order of the day. How inspiring to close off the Design Indaba Conference, held in March, with the announcement of a commission that straddles art and architecture, and sensitively bridges design with a powerful message underlining the tenets of South Africa’s constitution. The Norwegian architecture studio Snøhetta’s ‘Arch for Arch’ – in association with local architect Thomas Chapman – is just that: an arch structure comprising 14 strands of wood, each inscribed with a quote, which pays tribute to Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It will be unveiled next to St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town later this year, with a prototype installed at Johannesburg’s Constitutional Court.

Designing theatres for grand musical productions comes with particular challenges for architects, no less so than when the structure itself is intended to be intrinsic to the whole edifying artistic experience. In Music in the Air (page 46) we share two extraordinary new projects, the MAD Architects-designed Harbin Opera House in Northern China and Herzog & de Meuron’s glass-clad concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie, in Germany.

The H&G team has compiled a collection of homes that promise to inspire, most notably the Rothschild Foundation’s remarkable Flint House (The Perfect Fit, page 68). Designed by UK firm Skene Catling de la Peña, the contemporary structure was judged to be ‘a marvel of geological evolution and construction’ when it won the prestigious RIBA House of the Year award. Then take a peek inside the Scottish retreat of Tom Helme, one of the pair behind Farrow & Ball’s rise in status as an iconic paint brand (Inside Story, page 86). The story behind his renovation of an Edwardian gem reveals a labour of love and a conservationist’s attention to detail.

In keeping with the concept of hygge, coined by the Danes to describe the cosy moments and feelings acknowledged in one’s everyday life, this issue also comes with plenty of ideas for feathering nests accordingly. We love interior designer Dean van Aswegen’s use of textured plaids, bare wood and organic forms combined with metallic surfaces in Cabin Fever (page 35).