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Mina-no-ie

Zenta and Megumi Tanaka, the duo behind much loved Collingwood cafe Cibi, have a second little sister venue aptly named Mina-no-ie (which is Japanese for ‘everyone’s home’).

Taking over a vacant warehouse Zenta further articulated the spaces lovely industrial bones with touches like blackened steel trestles that prop up recycled wine barrel boards reconfigured into beautifully textured tabletops. Running through the main spine of the cafe are two timber communal tables that are irreverently organic in their shape and soap-finished to provide their surface with a subtle off white hue.

This subtle textural interplay also extends to the choice of handmade porcelain cups, saucers and plates created in collaboration between the Cibi team and local potter Shane Kent, a dynamic that recasts the everyday act of drinking coffee as a wonderfully tactile experience. These cups, along with other beautifully considered everyday products, will be on sale at Cibi’s select store.

Megumi, the heart and soul of the space, has developed a concise menu offering the kind of heart-warming food that we have all come to enjoy at Cibi cafe. Harking back to the nourishing Japanese home-style food that she grew up with in rural Okayama, Megumi’s food philosophy at Mina-no-ie is as much about the notion of providing sustenance as it is about the balance of flavours. An ever-evolving food offering that relies on seasonality, organic produce and the environment that surrounds, the first menu consists of fresh, wholesome food.

Coupled with the green tea cakes and great coffee, Mina-no-ie is the perfect space for respite.

Mina-no-ie shares the space with curated men’s store Epatant.

Copyright 2012 Leon Goh & Broadsheet

David Chang’s first restaurant Momofuku Noodle Bar, which recently relocated to 1st Avenue in the East Village, has become a kind of beacon to others in redefining a more casual and relaxed approach to food. Eschewing the overly finessed and fussy approach of his forebears, Chang remains committed to showcasing technique and ingredients in each dish though without the inherent pretentiousness and price tag.

The space at Noodle Bar is dominated by a large blond timber communal table and counter where you can sit, eat and watch the chefs frantically go about their work in an open kitchen. The design is almost utilitarian in its simplicity and echoes the counter style ramen restaurants in Japan (where Chang trained for two years under master ramen chef Akio-san). Now run in partnership with Kevin Pemoulie, who coordinates the kitchen day to day, the service is sharp, perfunctory but still incredibly knowledgeable in its approach – an approach that served us well on the Monday night when we visited and experienced a forty minute wait for a table.

Momofuku Noodle Bar’s menu is definitely focussed around a number of key dishes that have become a hallmark of Chang’s approach. Chang’s pork buns – a melange of mantou bun, delightfully tender pork belly slices, hoi sin, slithers of cucumber and spring onions – are a definite favourite amongst diners. The noodle dishes are also a stand out, as you would expect, with his signature Momofuku ramen delivering on its promise of hearty and smoky pork broth (made from smoky bacon and pork bones) combined with perfectly al dente egg noodles and delightfully lascivious 60 degree cooked egg garnished on top.

Along with Ssäm Bar, Ko, Milk Bar and Má Pêche – Chang’s more upscale restaurant located in Midtown – there’s definitely a groundswell in acknowledgement that David Chang is at the vanguard of contemporary American food culture.

Momofuku Noodle Bar
Address: 171 1st Avenue, New York, NYC 10003
Open: 12:00-16:30 (Saturday and Sunday till 16:00) / 17:30-23:00 (Friday and Saturday till 02:00)
Tel: +1 (212) 777-7773
http://www.momofuku.com

Copyright Leon Goh & SHIFT 2012

Based in the town of Beacon one and a half hours outside of Manhattan, Dia have converted the old Nabisco printing factory – a bastion of America’s industrial past – to an expansive art space housing one of the world’s pre-eminent collectionof international and American art. Taking a train from the majestic Grand Central Station along the picturesque Hudson river you arrive at Beacon at once detached from the world around you and the cityscape that you’ve left behind.

Entering the main hall of the converted factory through a small entry building, you immediately encounter a vast expanse of space, with converted exhibition rooms that run for metres on end. The space and light that abounds is at once beguiling and engaging for the spectator. Designed by artist Robert Irwin in collaboration with the design firm OpenOffice, the main exhibition rooms are filled with natural light streaming in from the industrial saw tooth windows that shape the ceiling. This intelligent use of the existing structure of the building not only provides the space with lovely lived-in industrial details but also pays homage to the building’s blue collar past.

Housing Dia’s permanent collection along with a series of seasonal exhibitions, there is almost a sense of reverence when the spectator views some of the work on the walls. With specific galleries featuring works by Joseph Beuys, Sol Le Witt and Dan Flavin,

Richard Serra’s monumental metallic sculptures which envelope the space in a swirl of power and materiality were a highlight. Encountering these structures on a massive scale with their play of angles & height made our presence in the room feel decidedly miniscule. Combined with Sol Le Witt’s pencil wall studies of geometry and shapes, Dia:Beacon is a beautifully serene visual and spatial experience that is a must see for any visitor to New York.

Dia:Beacon
Address: 3 Beekman Street, Beacon, NY 12508
Opening Hours: 11:00–16:00 (April–October till 18:00)
Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday (Thursdays in January, February, and March)
Tel: +1 845 440 0100
http://www.diaart.org

Copyright Leon Goh & SHIFT 2012

 

Up There Store

Melbourne has long yearned for a menswear store that successfully curates a selection of product that focuses on provenance that can easily form part of your everyday. Due to an embedded post war European influence, Melbourne’s menswear approach has generally focused on tailoring, muted and dark tones and subtle fabrics. Up There store – opened in 2010 by the collective of Brendan Mitchell, James Barrett and Jason Paparoulas – eschews this tradition, instead embarking on a search for a new kind of masculine identity that combines a sense of playfulness, a nod to the outdoors with inherent design detail.

Situated on the first floor of a beautiful low rise building on Mckillop St Melbourne, Up There has transformed a small largely disused space into a premium menswear showroom. Utilising the lovely natural light afforded to the space by the industrial full height windows, the collective have curated labels like Sunny Sports, Norse Projects, Yuketen and Note to Self to fill their garment racks. Recently also picking up Japanese label The Superior Labor – who produce high quality cotton and denim wears in Okayama Japan – it is evident that the inherent quality of a garment is celebrated at this store.

Extending this fastidiousness to the other products that are ranged, Up There are also one of the few retailers to stock Inventory Magazine and accessories from Bedwin. Likewise, the footwear on the display tables also juxtaposes the contemporary with the classic with limited edition Adidas and New Balance sneakers sitting side by side with a select range of Clarks Originals. It’s a store that deserves some recognition purely for its unbending search for something new.

Copyright Leon Goh and SHIFT 2012

CIBI

Situated in a back street in Collingwood Melbourne, CIBI breaks down established boundaries between food, retail and creative space. Opened in 2008 by husband and wife team Zenta and Megumi Tanaka, CIBI is one part select store and one part café. A deftly curated selection of design classics like cutlery and cookware by Sori Yanagi, Hakusan porcelain and contemporary collaborations such as the SIWA range of paper products designed by Naoto Fukusawa sit beside a café that focuses on providing locals much needed sustenance.

Zenta Tanaka – with his background in architecture and design – has designed a café and store that successfully articulates the kind of lived in, industrial and eclectic design aesthetic that references the tenets of the slow architectural movement. Reclaimed materials, industrial elements like steel and formwork blocks are littered throughout the space. Subtle details abound, marimekko prints linger amongst found vintage furniture and a vintage Apple Mac is used as a doorstop. Display tables are created out of asymmetric trestles designed by Zenta himself and timber that was sourced from disused timber yards.

Complementing this approach to design, Megumi-san’s food philosophy is as much about celebrating fresh ingredients as it is about the juxtaposition of traditional Japanese home style food and contemporary western cuisines. There are several dishes that continue to resonate with the regulars. The Japanese breakfast, fragrant rice, shiozake, bean salad and tamago comes with a hearty homemade miso soup that epitomises the simple heartfelt approach to their food. This embedded sense of soul is also present in dishes like the refreshing soba noodle salad and bean, sourdough bread and avocado CIBI breakfast – everyday food elevated and enriched into something special.

Copyright Leon Goh & SHIFT 2012

Hotel Americano

Located in Chelsea on 27th Street, Hotel Americano is the first hotel in New York by Mexican hoteliers Habita Group. Habita founders Carlos Couturier and Moises Micha have created a string of design hotels that epitomise a kind of relaxed Latin sophistication juxtaposed with heavily curated room offerings. Hotel Americano is no different, taking over a disused parking garage on 27th Street and a half block away from the amazing High Line urban space, its stainless steel façade shimmers, illuminating the street in an affront to the existing industrial landscape.

Embedded in the gallery district of Manhattan, it is evident that Hotel Americano’s aesthetic successfully treads the fine line between design hotel and a warm inviting space that locals and guests can sink into and make their own. The exterior and room design is minimalist with Habita collaborating with architect Enrique Norten. However carefully considered room amenities and design details abound with Loden Dager denim bathrobes, Aesop bathroom amenities, timber tatami style base for the soft bedding, a polished industrial concrete floor and a wonderfully useful in-room iPad surrounds the guest in a space that juxtaposes sleek European design with pared back Japanese restraint.

On the ground floor, restaurant Americano (run by chef Olivier Reginensi, who previously worked at Daniel) serves lovely French inspired food with some Latin flair. There’s also a rooftop swimming pool – with inspiring views of the Empire State building – that doubles as a hot tub in winter. This combination of epicurean refinement and ability to soak in the urban landscape in an entirely personal manner makes Hotel Americano the perfect chic hotel for your New York odyssey.

Copyright Leon Goh & SHIFT 2012

Nike x Undercover

Gyakusou Collection

Springtime often heralds new beginnings and moments of internal reflection. Awaking from a long winter slumber, where dark and foreboding evenings promote hearty soups and good books, Spring is a season of change. It’s the season where you bring out your shorts or that vintage floral dress hidden in the back of your wardrobe, it’s the season where you take the dust cover off your bike for leisurely rides and it’s the season where exercise becomes no longer a chore but a pleasure.

A form of exercise that changes during the season from a pursuit of the hardcore fanatic to an activity of the everyday sloth is running. Running is possibly one of the easiest ways to engage with the natural environment. It enhances you body’s rhythm with its inherent physicality and forces you to utilise all of your senses as you step over obstacles, explore new trails and search for something new. Key to how you engage with the environment is the apparel that you wear. Technical sportswear is all too often led by sports companies whose design approach values function over form. Refreshingly some brands like Nike have been searching for ways to differentiate themselves in a crowded market by collaborating with brands such as cult Japanese fashion label Undercover.

Jun Takahashi creative director of Undercover is a dedicated runner himself and has described running as the most basic and rewarding of physical pursuits. His Gyakusou collection is based around key pieces such as shoes, shorts, tights and all weather jackets and like his fashion items exhibit an interesting take on masculinity juxtaposed with interesting design details. All items in this collection are designed specifically for running, with fabrics used to wick sweat away, stretch in certain panels to enhance more efficient leg turnover and shoes that are light and flat promoting better foot strike. It is the perfect meeting point between function and form.

The Gyakusou Nike x Undercover collection is available April at Incu stores.

Copyright Leon Goh & Broadsheet 2012

Mis-Design

Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne, and multiple off-site venues

24 Aug 2011 to 06 Nov 2011

Curator: Grace McQuilten

Mis-Design was an expansive, multi-layered project with exhibitions occupying the Ian Potter Museum of Art as well as off site venues such as the McDonald’s car park, Collingwood and Alphaville clothing store on Brunswick Street. Curated by Grace McQuilten, Mis-Design ‘maps the potential for critical artistic practice in an environment marked by the design of commodities…and examines the relationship between art and design within the context of the commodification of art’[1] With projects such as Shelter by the Slow Art Collective (Tony Adams, Chaco Kato, Ash Keating and Dylan Martorell), Adam Kalkin’s Tennis Academy and Andrea Zittel’s Smockshop Archive – a slow fashion affront to notions of trend and choice within the fashion industry – Mis-design was reclamation of both conceptual and visual spaces reinforcing art’s ability to confound and critique rather than being slowly ensconced within systems of commerce.

Shelter was embedded within the Collingwood McDonald’s car park – a space that, like many car parks, is foreboding, dark and dank. As built environments, they are constructed purely for the encasement and storage of the tools we utilise to move from point A to point B. And the bland, pre-fabricated concrete panels that frame this site lack any sense of monumentality. It is pure function over form, built to service the fast food consumer culture that permeates our society.

Rupturing this banal environment with its day-glow brightness, appropriated detritus and DIY aesthetic, Shelter read as an affront to its surroundings, its visual punch provoked a reaction in the spectator that was both unexpected and unnerving. The installation was situated in the bowels of the car park – underneath street level – on the central island of the in use drive thru lane. As a visitor, it felt like you had stumbled across a private domestic space made public. Documented and streamed live to the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne, Shelter explored built spaces in their most rudimentary form, created out of necessity rather than want. Bright milk and bread crates, tin cans and reclaimed advertising placards were appropriated, emptied out of their original use value and haphazardly fashioned into a temporary shelter.

Visual nods to food brands littered the space, from familiar packaging to bright logos – branded accoutrements to our food consumption laid bare. As part of the embedded criticism of the mistreatment and societal disregard for the homeless in the work, the Slow Art Collective empathetically attempted to create a space with a sense of homeliness. A ragged mannequin lay in bed within a roomed off section of the installation, with books on guerrilla gardening and the environment haphazardly strewn about. On opposite ends of the work, totem pole fountains referenced symbols of suburbia and festive fairy lit clusters of bamboo were awkwardly positioned in front of a faux table setting made up of empty bottles and servings of wheatgrass. As the soundtrack of drive thru orders echoed in the background, what became evident was that Shelter was a subversive insertion into the very site that fuelled its existence. It was a valuable and timely critique of contemporary consumption culture and the stratification and social disparities that it creates.

The intermingling of art with commerce was also a conceptual layer in Adam Kalkin’s wonderfully interactive work Adam Kalkin’s Tennis Academy (AKTA). Where Shelter was a subversive insertion, Kalkin’s work was about the act of creating moments of internal reflection through physical acts. Resplendent with tennis paraphernalia, sports branding and fake turf, an artificial tennis sports-scape was set up in the Ian Potter, allowing participants to explore their own physicality within the museum.

The academy was run by the amazingly intense (but lovely) ex-tennis professional Art Lockwood. As I warmed up with Art around the running track, he proceeded to tell me stories from his professional career. What emerged was a remarkable personal narrative, which framed the seismic shift of sport from an ultimate expression of the physical to a pursuit that is tainted by commercial interests. The participant’s experience of the work ultimately rested on the relationship that was formed with Art, however his ability to become entirely focussed on the physical act was infectious. Tennis drills – which ranged from hitting balls into a wall emblazoned with the word GOD, to tiring volleying – were juxtaposed with a cacophony of primal drumbeats and guttural bellows, effectively rendering the act of tennis as conduit for the exploration of self. This convergence of physicality with the primal, along with Art’s intriguing personal history, created a work which proved to be an emphatic counterpoint to the heavily designed capitalist symbols that emblazoned the walls of this faux tennis stadium. Like Shelter, what AKTA resoundingly achieved was an undermining of commerce’s incessant ability to entrench itself within our private and public spaces.


[1] Grace McQuilton, Mis-Design: Art in a Consumer Landscape, Ashgate publishing, Surrey England, 2011, p. 3.

 

Copyright Leon Goh & Un Magazine 2012

Laksa King
6-12 Pin-Oak Crescent
Flemington
It’s safe to say that there’s been a recent love affair with Laksa in Melbourne. Heading into the depths of a Melbourne winter, its heady mixture of spices, coconut milk based broth, noodles and vegetables makes it the perfect dish to warm the heart along with the belly. Laksa King has been a key protagonist in this revolution, serving Laksa alongside other Malaysian favourites like Nasi Lemak and Hainanese chicken rice from its humble shopping centre arcade locale for 12 years now. Recently making the decision to move around the corner to Pin Oak Crescent, this Flemington stalwart has received a new lease on life with the help of Indonesian architect Vian Rosanto and local studio MNE architects.

Now made up of large timber communal tables, pendants which hang languidly from the ceiling, along with some nice industrial touches like exposed brick and steel, it’s a kind of bustling south east Asian restaurant that acts as both favourite local and Melbourne institution. Featuring prominently on the menu is of course Laksa. Serving various incarnations, from the coconut milk based Curry Laksa (which also has a fish head and seafood option) to the distinctly fishy and tamarind based broth of Assam Laksa, it’s an eatery that is well adept at reinterpreting hawker classics. Sticky Pork Belly that combines beautifully tender slithers of belly and a star anise tinged sticky sauce, Char Kway Teow a flat rice fried noodle dish that represents all that is great about Asian street food and Sambal Kang Kong, a tangy chilli paste stir fried with water spinach are all standouts from a large and diverse menu.

Laksa King also represents great value with its rice and noodle dishes rarely exceeding $15.

Copyright Leon Goh & Broadsheet 2011

Dying In Spite of the Miraculous

8th October – 6th November 2010

Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces

200 Gertrude St

Fitzroy, VIC 3065

Dying In Spite of the Miraculous is a group exhibition which explores the various psychological states we inhabit and experience as our lives play out in their very own choreographed moments. It is an investigation of the real and the unknown, it seeks to elucidate how sites play an indelible role in informing our ways of being whilst also exploring the grey conceptual spaces that often emerge between the artist’s concept and the finished work. Curated by Emily Cormack, Alexie Glass-Kantor, Simon Maidment and Brett Sheehy and presented as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival, this exhibition features the work of artists such as Ulla Von Brandenburg, Jeremy Blake and Meg O’Callaghan.

As you enter Gertrude Contemporary, the front space is shrouded behind a wall of languid fabric draped elegantly from the ceiling. You make your way through this shroud, meandering precariously through visible pathways before stumbling upon the viewing space. It’s an unnerving experience that is mirrored in Ulla Von Brandenburg’s work Singspiel (2009). This video work – shot in black and white and displayed directly onto fabric – documents a selection of staged arbitrary human interactions and intimate moments within the surrounds of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoy. The camera moves slowly and gracefully, using the hallways and rooms of the Villa Savoy as a character in its own right, informing and eavesdropping on each scene from the background. As spectator, you are drawn into these private moments, into scenes of supposed serenity, into realms of the personal which are exposed for all to see – you become aware that these misc en scenes are entirely choreographed with actors playing out pre-empted characters. Overlayed with haunting music which appears to be mimed by the characters in a stream of consciousness loop, this work is entirely unnerving – the vignettes appear to be woven into an elaborate reality, functioning on a plane between the real and allegory.

From blurred realms between performance and the everyday to narratives of fictional fantasy juxtaposed against a backdrop of strange biomorphic hospital interiors, Saskia Olde Wolbers work Interloper (2003) continues this exhibition’s exploration of internal psychological states. Here Wolbers appropriates a narrative which details a doomed relationship between a doctor and a mistress. It is a tale that is haunting and ultimately about the lust for someone against better judgement, as the protagonist spirals further and further out of control. This tale – told by a hypnotic and mesmeric voice – is overlayed against imagery of a sterile white hospital. The interior landscape appears to melt away into the ether no longer resembling the sterile lifeless spaces that we are accustomed to. It is a beguiling backdrop, as glossy white blobs float off hard surfaces morphing into something new and entirely different. These surreal landscapes invite the viewer to peer into their own private worlds, questioning and interrogating the reality that surrounds them.

Fantastical landscapes also featured prominently in O’Callaghan’s work To the End (2007), though this time on an immense scale. Windswept, desolate and harsh, the landscape is situated front and centre in this work as it dwarfs and eventually consumes the lonely male protagonist. Employing filmic techniques to illustrate his futile struggle to find identity in an exiled world, there is a sense of hopelessness that pervades in this video. Appearing as a spaceman in a barren landscape, O’Callaghan’s lonely explorer perilously teeters on the edge of being engulfed by the world that surrounds him – in one sequence he literally sinks into a bubbling bog – which can be read as a metaphor of nature’s predilection to both provide and take away life. Exploring human will and its unwavering search for meaning, O’Callaghan’s work is as much about the articulation of profound loss as it is a visual record of the poetics of place.

More human in scale but nevertheless extending thematically on notions of loss, premonitions of failure and distress, Bas Jan Ader’s work I’m too sad to tell you (1971) adopts a first person perspective in displaying his own emotional journeys extremely close to the surface. In this work – which engenders a more intimate and personal experience for the viewer – Ader appears emotionally vulnerable as he becomes resigned to the anguish he faces. It is sadness that emanates slowly from within and it is an internal grief that that we can empathise with as he cries. As Cindy Loehr argued – when reviewing a retrospective of his work held at the UCR Sweeney gallery in California – Ader remained aware of his ultimate inability to express the sadness he found in the sublime. This failure, which may have deterred him, instead became the focus of his work.[1]

At its core, Dying in Spite of the Miraculous is an exhibition which beautifully navigated the grey spaces between the illusory and reality, between existence and the metaphysical as well as exploring the various psychological states that accompany loss and hopelessness. Also featuring Joachim Koester’s work Morning of the Magicians (2006) which displayed garden imagery in black and white silhouettes slowly morphing into a hallucinatory enveloping darkness and Jeremy Blake’s painterly digital animations which explored Sara Winchester’s gothic mansion ingeniously renovated to ward off the spirits of the people that were killed by Winchester firearms, this exhibition successfully brought to the surface the multitude of internal moments that are repressed in the human condition. As I stepped back onto the footpath on Gertrude St, my surroundings seemed to melt away into the ether as I became preoccupied with thoughts of my own existence – a moment of internal retrospection sparked by this profound exhibition.


[1] Cindy Loehr, “Bas Jan Ader”, New Art Examiner, vol 27, no.6, March (2000)

Copyright Leon Goh & Eyeline Magazine 2011