Caffé L’Aubette is an interior design project created by Dutch artist Théo Van Desbourg. Placed in a 18th century Baroque military building in Strasburg, it was part of greater reconstruction project which started in mid 20s of the last century. Reconstruction included designing of the café, tea room, two bars, billiard rooms and two banquet halls. They were fashioned in different geometric aesthetics by Théo and two more artists, Sophie Taeuber and her husband Hans Arp.
Desbourg’s project at Caffé L’Aubette was inspired by the De Stijl movement, as he was one of its founders along with Piet Mondrian. The Netherlands-based artistic movement Neo-plasticism gathered painters, architects, sculptors and decorative artists who shared a view that art should be expressed in a universal visual language, which they found in juxtaposing horizontal and vertical lines, creating geometrical forms. Two dimensional squarish geometric shapes in black, white and primary colours were used as the abstract language of this movement.
However, Deosbourg wanted to implement expressiveness in this project and to create a more dynamic space. Although restricted with financial limitations, Théo van Desbourg came through with what he intended by using aluminum, mirrors, glossy nickel and painted panels. He also managed to create visual tension of a Ciné-dancing hall by applying his own theory of Elementarism. On one hand, walls were covered with grids of brightly coloured rectangles tilted at a 45-degree angle to the ground and mirrors reflecting it. On the other, orientation of windows, doors and furniture was commonly placed at 90-degree angle.
His intention to consolidate more than one art, such as painting, architecture, audio-visual art, music and kinetic art, into one space was realized. He made Gesamtkunstverk out of Ciné-dancing hall. Although, we might guess that the opening of Caffé L’Aubette wasn’t according to his taste. It was opened on February 17th, 1928. in a nationalist atmosphere. Film of the French Army’s entry into Strasbourg after the defeat of the German empire in World War I was played echoing French Army March – Sambre et Meuse.
On one of many islands of Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia, north western Russia, there are two large wooden churches and a bell-tower. Built in 18th century, on a spot where once stood a medieval church, later damaged in a great fire, their breathtaking appearance and complex architectural construction got it included as a UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1990.
One of the most remarkable examples of wooden architecture is the Church of the Transfiguration or the Summer church. Its central cupola culminates at 37m, and it has 22 bulbous cupolas, characteristic for Russian Orthodox churches. The interior is decorated with wooden iconostasis holding 102 icons from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Church of the Intercession is built to be smaller so that it could be easily heated in the harsh winters. Its central dome is encircled with eight smaller domes, which makes this “ship type” church peculiar among Russian church architecture. Between these two churches stands the 30 meters-high bell tower with a tent roof.
What is interesting about this site is that Kizhi Pogost was built without a single nail apart from the domes and roof shingles. Russia’s abundant forest lands were the main source for its construction. Three hundred red pine logs were used for its built. Its domes look like they were made of metal, but really were made of a poplar wood which gives them a gleaming appearance. Constructive of this site gave birth to a legend about Master Nestor who built the whole churches with only one axe. After he finished building it he threw axe in the lake and said “there was not and will be not another one to match it”.
Folkk is a social enterprise based in Belgrade which aims to network artisans and young designers from the Balkans, particularly in Serbia, so that they create high quality home products inspired by tradition. One of the main ideas of this project is to preserve old-fashioned crafts and prevent them of dying out. The revitalization of rural life is the goal. Small entrepreneurs are challenged by increasing migrations from rural parts of the Balkans to larger cities, due to economic issues. Therefore, Folkk’s goal is to revive traditional design and make it more appealing to local and international markets. The use of local materials is also one of the key mechanisms of sustainability. Kilim production is common in countries once part of the former Ottoman Empire, such as Serbia. The trademark of Serbian handicraft is the Pirot kilim, named after a city in the southeastern part of the country. Folkk products, such as kilims and pillows, use redesigned common motifs seen in the city of Pirot. They are hand-woven from 100% locally-sourced wool and dyed vivid colors. These economical and ecological production methods should provide a stable income to artisans. Jobless women for instance are educated and encouraged to participate in the process of sewing and weaving. Also, part of the income is reinvested in the development of new products. Hopefully, the project will expand across the Balkans and engage more artisans and enrich the world of design.