x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Happy birthday Oscar and farewell ID

The Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer turns 102 and ID magazine, less than half of Niemeyer's age, closes its doors.

The lifestyle gallery 4 in Kuwait recently launched a collection of furniture from the British company Established & Sons.
The lifestyle gallery 4 in Kuwait recently launched a collection of furniture from the British company Established & Sons.

The year may be drawing to a close but that doesn't stop the design set from partying. In Kuwait, the edgy lifestyle gallery store, 4, run by the über-stylish Nouf Al Bahar, threw a launch event last week for its exhibition of furniture from Established & Sons, the British firm co-founded by Alasdhair Willis, a former publisher of Wallpaper* magazine and the husband of Stella McCartney. My, what a fabulously individual crowd.

In contrast to Dubai's scene - dominated by Levantine lovelies weighed down with their cliched "it" bags and bling - the Kuwaiti socialites were decked out in the best of Balmain, Boudicca and vintage. For the guys, it was grey or pinstripe kandouras. So chic. All of Kuwait's movers and shakers came by - among them Sheikh Majed, the visionary former owner of Villa Moda, who is now occupying himself with his I Love Souk venture; Abdul Aziz Al Mishari, who is behind the discerning A212 blog; the glamorous Al Hajiri couple, who own Kuwait's new Octium jewellery boutique, designed by Jaime Hayon; and the architects Nasser Abu Al Hassan and Joaquin Perez Goicoechea (of AGI Architecture) and Ammar Al-Kazmi.

And the cash register kept ringing: the Bits & Bobs Box - a kind of 21st-century curio of assembled objects in solid gold, designed by Committee for Established - was snapped up by an enthusiastic buyer, unfazed by its $16,500 price tag. In Dubai the opening of the new Roche Bobois showroom comprised 17,000 square feet of furniture sets and a rather sorry handful of guests. What a let-down. Dubai may have a more glamorous skyline than its neighbours but an interesting, thriving city is down to its people, not its buildings. I wouldn't dream of judging a book by its cover. No - I go by the goody bags: 4 gave a smart Established package and a slick 16-gigabyte storage device. Roche Bobois gave some pamphlets and heart-shaped biscuits in a paper carrier bag.

ID magazine - an international institution in the design industry - has folded, after 55 years in print. This may be a shock to many, but you have only to look at the multitude of online design forums - cue the likes of designboom and Dezeen - and the growing appeal of design as a topic for lifestyle mags and newspapers, to see that it is survival of the fittest for the more expensive, niche magazines. ID was renowned both for its editorial excellence in covering the art, business and culture of design, and its ID Annual Design Review competition - a cash cow, despite ID never seeing any of the annual $200,000 profits (which, ironically, would have helped keep it alive). Bizarrely, there are plans to continue the awards, despite ID's demise.

The great Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, turned 102 this week. Having designed the buildings of Brasilia, the Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum (considered by many to be his greatest work) and many other curvaceous structures, he is one of the most important names in 20th-century architecture, he could have taken it easy. Instead, he spent his birthday like any other working day in Rio - travelling from his home in Ipanema, which he shares with his wife, 40 years his junior, to work in his office in Copacabana. What a guy.

Sad news that the award-winning duo, Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo, are to dissolve their London-based practice, Foreign Office Architects. The pair met while working at Rem Koolhaas's Office for Metropolitan Architecture and went on to establish Foreign Office 14 years ago. It was the design for Japan's Yokohama International Port Terminal that sealed their reputation: "Yokohama showed you can bring landscaping into the city," said Jonathan Glancey, the architecture critic of the Guardian. "... [Foreign Office] started to generate an innovative architecture that wasn't flashy ... able to put into practice what they preached. This news is a real shame." But it won't be the last we see of them; both are said to be setting up their own firms. Yvonne Courtney is the co-founder of designtastic - a design/publishing consultancy and ezine.