Travelling is the most valuable way of learning about different cultures and an amazing source of inspiration. Every journey brings fresh ideas to the designer’s mind.
Being from abroad, I always seek opportunities to see more, experience more and get to know the United Kingdom better – the beautiful and diverse country I am lucky to live in.
In mid-July I went for a weekend walking trip along the costal part of Scottish Borders: from Cockburnspath to Berwick-upon-Tweed. It was a great adventure, with over 50km of stunning views and wild landscape.
We started our walk in the pouring rain – one of the charms of Scottish weather! – and got completely soaked before we reached the first stop, the mysterious ruins of St Helen’s Church. Continuing south, we couldn’t miss the famous rock formation of Hutton’s Unconformity, such an important place in British heritage and which lead to one of the most important discoveries in the history of geological science. But the best was still ahead of us. In the early afternoon we got to our lunch destination, Fast Castle, where a hidden and challenging path – easy to miss – leads to unforgettable views at the cliff’s edge. It was definitely the most impressive place we have seen so far.
The whole trip was a great adventure, filled with picturesque and wild landscapes and lovely harbour villages with abundant history, like St Abb’s and Eyemouth, where we stayed overnight. On day two – in the sunshine – we were surrounded by every sort of seabird, had the chance to observe seals peacefully resting on the rocks and even managed to spot some colourful fish in the clear water of the North Sea.
It was a challenging trip, one which opened my senses and mind even more to the places I will am still to have the chance to discover. Scotland – I am looking forward to seeing you again!
Following the success of Tuk Tuk’s first restaurant in Edinburgh, the team appointed Four-by-Two to develop the concept for their sister restaurant in Glasgow. Situated on the bustling thoroughfare of Sauchiehall Street, Tuk Tuk Glasgow was to be a vibrant, energetic space that would stop people in their tracks.
The design reinforces the status of a design-led independent restaurant, taking authentic Indian street food culture to a new level with their innovative approach. With a vaulted ceiling stretching from front to rear of the long, narrow restaurant, the inspiration was drawn from traditional Indian Tuk Tuks, where owners brightly decorate the inside of the cabs to compete with competitors. A series of colourful structures and artworks were installed, subdividing the restaurant and providing fun, vibrant features wherever the customer looks.
A dynamic timber canopy sits at the front of the space, drawing views of the passer-by into the restaurant. Behind this, is a raft of 190 paint-dipped, terracotta lassi cups, suspended from the ceiling and forming a colourful light feature at high-level. Stretching the length of the main dining space, is a 14m long hand-painted mural by local artists Ciaran Globel and Conzo Throb.
In 2016, Four-by-Two was appointed by Scottish Canals to undertake a creative role in an ambitious project that would see a 4 mile stretch of canal reimagined. The project aim is to improve the amenity of the Forth and Clyde Canal corridor from The Falkirk Wheel to the Helix Park and the Kelpies.
Unlocking stories of the canal through interpretation and large-scale environmental public art was one of the main objectives of the project. Working with the Heritage Team at Scottish Canals, we identified significant sites along stretches of the canal where commercial business once thrived on an industrial scale.
We selected two areas of importance: Rosebank Distillery and Lock 3 at Bainsford where we would celebrate the rich heritage and integrity of a working canal.
The subject of our designs reflects the time-honoured skills that once helped shape life along the canal and exported to the world. Rosebank Distillery operated for more than 150 years producing one of Scotland’s finest Lowland whiskies. The Cor-Ten steel bottle sculpture stands an impressive 5m tall and celebrates Rosebank’s position on the canal, allowing raw materials and coal to be received and whisky to be dispatched.
Along the canal at Bainsford, Mr McAuley’s Vinegar Works stood close to Lock 5 in 1854. Fish and chips were not yet a staple of the Scottish diet, but vinegar was widely used as a flavouring and preservative. The Cor-Ten steel sculpture celebrates a typical earthenware vessel typical of the era. Commanding a prominent location, the sculpture aligns with the canal and offers a view along a 1 mile stretch of the canal.
At Four-by-Two, we’ve always believed that really good design is a powerful business tool.
The Dune ‘Catwalk Concept’ recently won a 2017 DBA Design Effectiveness Silver Award in the Personal Goods category.
The Design Business Association is the UK’s most vocal champion of the role of effective design in the creation of business growth. The DBA was founded in 1986 to recognise, communicate and reward the integral role that design effectiveness plays in commercial success.
The brief was for a new retail concept to assert Dune at the forefront of ‘affordable-luxury’ footwear in the minds of its customers; and to meet specific criteria to drive growth in key product categories such as accessories and men’s shoes. And, thus, to drive the brand forward internationally.
The resulting Dune ‘Catwalk Concept’ changed the dynamic of the brand, and the most important way of communicating the value of design is by measuring its true effectiveness.
The DBA’s annual Design Effectiveness Awards is the only award scheme that uses commercial data as a key judging criteria.
Four-by-Two were delighted to be asked to look at creating new packaging for a very special Scottish elixir. The successful partnership behind The Buck and Birch, Rupert Waites and Tom Chisholm, have resurrected from the embers of the past, Aelder, a wild Scottish elderberry elixir. Together, they have created a truly unique, sophisticated and contemporary drink, elevating many of Scotland’s forgotten ingredients back into the consciousness.
To celebrate the launch of Buck and Birch’s Aelder, we teamed up with the fantastic team at the Leith Chop House. The evening was used to showcase this truly innovative and crafted luxury spirit, with a Scottish wilderness inspired cocktail masterclass led by Leith Chop House head mixologist Mike Lynch.
The evening was attended by many distinguished figures from the drinks industry, retail and hospitality along with like-minded and visionary social media bloggers.
For the team behind Aelder, this is the beginning of a very exciting journey and we look forward to introducing the new look packaging in the coming weeks. Watch this space!
Summer is well underway and it’s holiday season in the Four-by-Two office. The team are preparing for adventures and looking forward to destinations, some near to home, some further afield. Our perception changes when we travel: Different cultures and foreign locations enable us to return home filled with fresh ideas that make the every day seem exotic.
No mater how we choose to make the journey, we all get excited about what awaits us when we arrive. Over the coming weeks, we shall share our experiences and from behind the camera, bring our personal postcards to the screen.
This year, we headed to Clam, situated in the Charente-Maritime (Poitou-Charentes region) in the west of France. We flew into Bordeaux late in the evening and made the onward journey to visit relatives. The house at which we were staying is steeped in history having originally being the village bakery. The 250 year old ovens are still in working order and once the restoration of them is complete, the air will be filled with the scent of freshly baked bread.
Our location offered us a wonderful base to explore the region, Cognac is a thirty minute drive and numerous Châteaux adorn the countryside along the way. The Atlantic coast is just over an hour to the East and we were lucky enough on a trip to Rochefort to go on board a replica of the frigate Hermione, a Concorde class ship of the French Navy. The original ship from 1779 became famous for ferrying General Lafayette who fought in the American Revolutionary War. The replica ship took 15 years to complete and recently arrived back in France after completing an historic four-month Atlantic voyage.
A visit to a French municipal town would not be complete without a trip to the weekly food market and sampling the great dishes on offer, as well as the wine!
Not sand dunes, in this case; but lots of stunning scenery nonetheless as Marta criss-crosses the beautiful country of Switzerland to manage three Dune London store openings.
Zürichsee is the huge lake that enters the city and sends its waters off on a journey along the Limmat River, the length of Switzerland to meet the Rhine. It’s beautiful, as are the narrow streets and the colourful, traditional architecture of the old town. Boats and mountains: I’m glad there’s a Dune opening here.
Then there’s the railway system. I don’t know if the word ‘clockwork’ was invented here or whether the Swiss have just taken the concept of timekeeping more seriously than the rest of us. Either way, I travelled to the very north of the country for my next site visit – to St Gallen – and then to Bern; and back. What a pleasure it was! And as our train moved punctiliously through snowy landscapes I was struck by another observation: the curiously timeless and haphazard appearance of snow on trees and roofs in this most precise of countries.
Oh, and there’s chocolate everywhere. I’m glad about that, too.
Following the launch of Dune’s first U.S. flagship on Broadway in fall 2015, a second catwalk concept store has opened in Long Island’s Roosevelt Field Mall, with a third to follow suit at Westfield World Trade Centre. We headed out for a visit a few weeks ago.
Standing inside Calatrava’s Westfield World Trade Centre’s Oculus you can’t help but feel immersed in a little piece of history in the making. Standing well below grade in its belly, the fully retractable roof light was being tested; peeled clean open to the blue skies and skyscrapers above there remained an unusual sense of calm and serenity amidst the construction work around you. From inside, outside and above the Oculus is soon to be the most photographed building of 2016.
Following a meeting with Michilli, successful G.C. for The Dune Group’s Dune Flagship at WTC (nice meeting room guys) we thought we’d visit the Valentino Fifth Ave flagship, which Michilli brought to fruition earlier in the year. Nine months on site saw the realisation of the beautiful David Chipperfield design. A grey terrazzo interior lies behind an eight story black steel and aluminium façade. The bag wall illuminated by brass pendant lighting is a stunning entrance feature. Well done to local architects Tricarico — was great working with you on Dune Roosevelt Field Mall.
We recently converted a former bank in a stunning Grade II listed corner site into a French pâtisserie, The owners of Kanpai identified a gap in the market for an upmarket pâtisserie, appointing Four-by-Two to create a new concept, brand identity, interior design and website.
One of the main challenges of the interior was the main rooms size, and how the busy counter interacted with the calmer seating area. We set about forming a canopy, which creates more intimacy, helps alleviate the challenging acoustics of a large room, and makes a design statement. The design was a marriage of French style and minimal Japanese architecture, referencing the French pastries and Asian teas.
Great to see Harvey Nichols shoe department trading. And great to be a pair of Alexander McQueen heels to the good. Edinburgh’s luxury retail environment looking just a little more luxurious! The mirrors have worked particularly well as they give the customer the chance of a 360 degree view. And what a pleasure to work with the team at Harvey Nichols, and retail interior wonder contractors like Barth and Garenne, thanks to everyone. Like-for-like trading figures are up and that’s what it’s all about. Great to see a retail interior making a real contribution to ‘omni channel’ shopping. Hoping the London team will be impressed …