PHABRIK Magazine

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Digging the Future of Vertical Gardens | What are you stairing at?

Digging the Future of Vertical Gardens By Denise Eichmann More and more businesses today are looking to green walls as a way to add natural beauty while dramatically improving energy efficiency by moderating indoor air temperatures and humidity levels. A green wall, which is also referred to as a living wall or vertical garden, is a wall that is free standing or part of a building that is partially or completely covered with a vegetation facade. Every inspired landscaper digs their shovel into their soul and plants their own nature into their work. Green walls provide an inspired palette for landscape architects to harness and cultivate the joyful power of nature to best serve their clients. As living walls are becoming “de rigueur” as the environmentally-forward plantings that every green conscious business desires to visually showcase its’ green initiatives, shoddy systems with poor long term performance are quickly flooding the market. Designing, building and installing beautiful yet functional and environmental beneficial green walls takes experience and practice. In a buyer beware marketplace, it is important to invest in a living wall system that has a proven track record of sustainability and to select an installer who has a well documented history of successful installations with full scale maintenance capabilities to warrant both plants and irrigation. Living plants require water, nutrients and light to survive. High quality commercial vertical gardens come complete with their own “life support” system which is comprised of a supporting structure to hold the plants vertically, a growth medium to ensure plant longevity, an irrigation/ fertilization system to deliver the correct amount of water and nutrients, and a drainage system to properly dispose of or re-circulate the spent water. Proper selection and design of a system for a particular locale necessitates plumbing and electrical considerations. Understanding the lighting needs required for the selected plants is also crucial for sustainability. I believe there may be countless reasons why vertical gardens are an important addition to any commercial property. However, for the purposes of this article, I limit my exuberance to my top reasons to invest in a living wall: Breath of Fresh Air – Vertical gardens provide a net positive impact to the environment over their life span. Foliage plants of indoor vertical gardens significantly improve indoor air quality by moderating temperature and humidity levels and filtering the air to remove harmful volatile organic compounds. VOC’s are “chemicals” which have significant vapor pressures which can be dangerous to human health and have adverse effects on the environment. The EPA has found concentrations of VOC’s in indoor air that is commonly 2-5 times greater than what is found in outdoor air. Sources of anthropogenic (man-made) VOC’s include new furnishings, wall and floor coverings, and office equipment like printers. In the span of a year, a 50 square feet vertical garden can consume as much CO2 as a 14’ high tree with as much as one pound of dust removed from the air per square foot. Sign Post Value of Living Wall – Living walls can provide a living barrier that gently guides people to where you want them to go. In many buildings there is a need to channel pedestrian traffic towards landmarks including check-in desks, escalators and common passageways. This is particularly important in premises with large, open areas such as those found in airports, hospitals, universities, and other large commercial spaces. Living walls provide natural divides and reference points that make any space come alive with vitality. Striking a Pose - Interior space planning is a fashion-driven business, and nothing “strikes a pose” more handsomely than an artful living wall. Interior living walls bring nature indoors, important especially in urban areas where the average person spends more time inside commercial or residential buildings than outside with nature. People are naturally attracted to plants and gravitate toward living walls where the sensory experience is captivating. Where else, other than the tropical plant houses of botanical gardens, will you see the variety of exotic and unusual plant species that can be found in some vertical gardens. If you have the green-light to move forward on your living wall, keep in mind the following factors which are crucial to the garden’s longevity and success: Location, Location, Location –The location of your living wall is significant. Not only from a visual standpoint but from a mechanical point of view. Is your desired location accessible to plumbing and electrical? What is the infrastructure of the supporting wall – is the green wall framing attaching to concrete, metal or marble? With the right infrastructure in place, nearly any location can be accommodated but the budget may be higher for a green wall location far from water lines and with no natural light for example. Plant Selection is Key – Your selection of featured green wall plants should be based upon microclimate conditions, plant growth habits, and the availability of light. An exterior north facing wall requires an entirely different plant palette than a south or west facing wall. For example, featured plants on exterior walls in the arid southwest climate differ from what can be used in the cold Midwest. Plants for interior walls are chosen to reflect low, medium and high light scenarios. Interior tropical plants require a minimum of 10-12 hours of at least 150 foot candles of light per day to flourish. In a typical commercial hotel environment, there are on average about 30-40 foot candles of light vs. 5,000 to 10,000 foot candles of light that can be found outside on a bright sunny day. Interior Plants that thrive in low light (75 to 150 foot candles) include the Scindapsus and Philodendron genus such as the Silver Satin Pothos, Neon Pothos, Goldon Pothos, Jade Pothos, and Heart-leaf Philodendron. Medium light thriving plants (100-250 foot candles) include the Dallas Fern, Cretan Brake Fern, Rabbit Foot Fern, Begonia and Peperomia species. For environments with maximum light (150-250 foot candles), plants such as the Alocasia Amazonica, Hawaiian Schefflera, Hedera Ivy, Purple Waffle Plants and Creeping Fig are ideal. The average person today spends about 90% of their time indoors with about half of the world’s population living in cities. Green walls improve a building’s air quality and enhance the emotional and physical well being of the people who come into contact with it. Green walls act as acoustic barriers which can counter the noise pollution which plagues urban dwellers. Green walls harmonize buildings with nature and provide a living canvas for green wall professions to add the beauty of nature to any man-made structure. What are you stairing at? By Liz Nandee Tired of looking at your staircase without pizzazz? Here is a unique look at taking stairs, whether leading to a basement or garage, entrance or landing. Here are some examples of things to look up too.

Tuft Love | ECO Decor | Green is the New Black

Tuft Love...(Hollywood Glamour for the 21st Century) - By James Kershaw - Photography: Ernest of Old Hollywood had a major impact on many facets of life in it’s heyday during the ‘30’s and ‘40’s. Edith Head created the fashion everyone craved, Max Factor, the glamorous faces everyone envied and the set designers of the era, the ultra luxe environs that everyone coveted. That sophisticated mood was created with tufted furniture pieces upholstered in velvet, leather or fabric. White metal accessories and mirrored surfaces upped the glam quotient. Eight decades later, the look is still relevant and desired. Juxtaposed with the wood beam ceilings, exposed brick or rough textured cement block walls and smooth polished concrete floors of the modern urban loft, the mood is decidedly 21st century. The look works equally well with a variety of architecture styles. Most will opt to introduce a few select pieces into their space, such as the uber chic Marc Antonio “Melrose” velvet sofa with it’s exquisite Swarovski crystal button tufted back at Posh at Home or the gleaming white deep tufted Phillips Collection “Crystal” ottomans at Inspired Home Interiors. What could be more Hollywood than a movie premiere spotlight? The “Sunset” by Four Hands will instantly add a silver screen feel to your space or create that certain “X” factor with the Nuevo “Prague” stainless console table or the Mobital high gloss “Stark” office desk. Hooray for Hollywood! ECO Glamour - By James Kershaw - Photography: Chris Chan Chic, smart, desirable, and exciting, are all words that can be used to define glamorous. What is considered glamorous in the 21st century? Taking care of the planet we inhabit! When decorating and maintaining our personal spaces, using items that will have the least detrimental effect on the environment is glamorous (and necessary) now. The use of non-toxic products, recycled goods, *up cycled materials ( *Taking lowly, everyday objects or materials and elevating their status through innovative design) A perfect example is 180 Design’s metal washer pendant light. Every room in the home can benefit, formaldehyde free FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified flooring and non-toxic paint, (free of volatile organic compounds) for all. Recycled glass and concrete counter tops in the kitchen, bar and bath, in the home office, a desk set, clock or MP3 ready radio made from sustainably harvested woods. Smart, attractive, live able and yes, glamorous environments achieved with a clear conscience. Green is the New Black - By Mark St. James - Marquis of Fashion The three environmental R’s have never been so chic! While many of us grew up with the mantra of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” amidst Saturday morning cartoons, the idea of Eco-friendly production is taking the fashion industry by storm. Droves of designers and brands are hopping on the latest trend and appealing to the environmentally savvy consumer by incorporating biodegradable fabrics, recycled or organic materials, boasting fair trade policies, and ethical treatment of workers. Sponsors and designers during the Spring/Summer 2012 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, New York (who used only post-consumer recycled paper for invitations) were adamant that “Green is here to stay!” On a local front, Vancouver is currently taking the Eco lead in Canada by hosting the biannual: Vancouver Eco Fashion Week (EFW), sponsored by Aveda. The EFW mission statement may be found on their website ( and includes their commitment to promote environmentally conscious trends in fashion, educate consumers about environmentally sustainable practices,and generate direct economic benefits for local environmentally friendly fashion. Major players and long time Eco Fashion advocates have been rallying support for improved sustainability in the fashion industry. Veterans include: • Luxury jewellery designer John Hardy, who’s very mission statement, is “Greener Every Day” (The John Hardy line is exclusively produced in a self sustaining factory compound in Bali). • Designer Stella McCartney, who’s clothing and cosmetic lines are completely vegan. • Marc Jacobs, who has recently begun advertising his incorporation of biodegradable fabrics into his collections, has termed Eco fashion as “a megatrend,” and said: “It’s a mentality, a way of thinking about business.” • Orsola de Castro, founder of: From Somewhere, which makes clothes out of the recycled offcuts of luxury materials. Along with her partner, Filippo Ricci, she curates Estethica, an initiative in association with the British Fashion Council that showcases Eco-fashion brands. •Aveda (run by Dominique Nils Conseil), one of the fastest growing brands in cosmetics giant Estee Lauder Companies Inc’s portfolio, has gone so far as to offset 100 percent of its electricity with wind power. But as any fashionista will tell you, the fashion scene can be a fickle one; does this new megatrend have what it takes to become as innocuous as the little black dress or the crisp white dress shirt? Or will it land up in some tragic 70% off bin? If consumer opinion and the draw to purchase Eco friendly merchandise holds out, and the industry lays out a standardized policy for what passes for Eco friendly materials and practices, it may just have a fighting chance.

Obakki | Smythe | Marie Saint Pierre | Serendipity | Kelly Madden | Malorie Urbanovitch | Paul Hardy | Lara Presber | Emogene Couture

By Beryl Bacchus

Designer Profiles - Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary

Molten Metal

- Makeup by James Kershaw for Jane Iredale - Photographs by Ernest at - Model Paula B. Beauty is luminous this season, embellished with an array of shimmering metallics. Ignite your look, day or evening with reflective metal finish cosmetics in a variety of textures. Molten metal finish liquid eye liners and nail lacquers, creamy metallic highlighter pencils and glistening cream shadows should be on every one’s "gilty pleasure" list this fall.

Urban Tribes at War: William Richard Green’s Autumn/Winter 2011 Collection

By João Paulo Nunes

William Richard Green’s autumn/winter 2011 collection stands out for its eclectic influences and its intention to deconstruct the idea of luxury. This is done by resorting to strong influences from outdoors menswear and relaxed grunge tailoring. Green claims that the inspiration for the collection is the ‘Viking’ and its uncouthness as the antithesis of lavishness. However, it seems more accurate to describe his garments and accessories as paying homage to British sartorial tradition and to the rebellious urban tribes and subcultures of the second half of the twentieth century. In his promotional material, Green has indicated that his work is partly inspired by the free-spirited approach to life that he gained during his formative years in the English countryside. He was born in 1985 in Worcestershire, and spent his childhood and teenage years in that West Midlands English county before moving to London to study fashion. In 2009, he earned a degree from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design with a collection that he dubbed as ‘wearable manly menswear’. He also trained at London’s Savile Row, a world centre for menswear tailoring. There, he went through important training in pattern cutting and gained useful insights into sartorial craftsmanship. The academic training at Central Saint Martins and the skills that Green gained during his period of practical experience allowed him to embark on an ongoing process of questioning the more traditional mores of menswear and luxury. At the same time, there is little doubt that this young designer has been firmly embracing his British identity. This dedication is strongly evidenced in the decision to produce only in the UK and source fabrics predominantly manufactured in Britain.

Key Looks for Fall 2011

By André DeVeaux

Workplace Cool Essentially the look which most despised, we saw it on the subways during the evenings rush hour and considered only for those who couldn’t keep their painful but appealing shoes on; this look has repeatedly been seen on our runways throughout the last few seasons, which means it’s here to stay well, at least for this season. Add a pair of clean sneakers to formal-trousers topped off with a leather duffle bag and varsity-style jacket, for a look which translates from work to a late-night gym session. Belted Waists Adding a waist-belt to the outer-layer of your outfit essentially “cinching the waist” can take your pieces in a new direction effectively jazzing up a relatively casual-look and giving it that formal edge; this however is not a look for everyone; it takes confidence and pure fearlessness to keep this from looking feminine. My recommendation is to stick to muted-colors and only add the belt to pieces that keep your torso looking masculine by nipping the waist and emphasizing the ‘V’/‘T’ shape of your shoulders and back. The belt should never rise higher than your belly-button area. Leather Vs Denim A trend that’s been bubbling under for quite some time now, maybe it’s the risqué feel of leather paired against what’s considered the epitome of comfortable fashion, denim. Whether it’s a denim jacket with leather sleeves or just simply a pair of leather trousers, add a dash of brawn to your outfits by mixing in a leather piece with some denim to create this spin-off biker style. PVC & Leather Pants Feeding off the current trend for all things daring in fashion, leather or PVC pants maybe both are the must have things to bring your winter wardrobe into 2011. Think slim and drain-pipe fits as opposed to boot-cut and straight-legs to keep this look looking fresh and not dated. Remember the key thing here when buying is to think quality not the cost, well within region. Don’t compromise too much or you may just regret it with a compromising split in the crotch area or the rear. Splash of Red Every season we have that ‘it’ colour, that colour that dominate the rails in trendy stores, that color that’s your first choice out of all the others, that color which feels like it just goes with everything, this season make that color Red. You may decide to go with a head-to-toe look or just opt for that one statement piece, either way make it red and get ready to paint the town. Short-Shorts Most are thinking why I would wear short-shorts in winter yet alone wear short-shorts at all; well this look isn’t for the faint-hearted however it will take you right into Spring/Summer 2012, also adding a refreshing twist to any tops you picked up earlier this year. The key to making this work is to glance back on where fashion has already been, think 80s-sportswear then add a 2011 short-short to it and your done. Blazers, Shirts, Polo-Tees, Vests, whatever you think suits will work, drop it with some luxury-sneakers, white slouchy-socks and you’re done. Short Shorts should leave at least 2-inches hanging room from your crotch-area when standing.

Cycling In Style

By Tracey Ellis

Chic city cycling - does it exist? Tracey Ellis takes a test drive down the elite runway of one of the world’s busiest and most fashionable cities to see the latest cycling trends. Cycling doesn’t have to be all about skin-tight spandex and sore behinds. It can be a journey meandering from A to B, the quickest route to work, or a relaxing ride to de-stress. Cycling is also better for the environment, good exercise, and quite often a quicker mode of transportation than the clogged commute that exists in most cities. And with more and more women taking to city streets on two wheels, the fashions stakes have diversified with ladies emerging in the shape of sexy, modish forms astride metal stallions of all shapes and sizes. It’s all stemming from where most things fashionable and feminine do - the stylish city of Paris.Riding a bike is not new to most people, but riding it around the gridlocked streets that consume Paris has its challenges. With motorbikes weaving and pedestrians wandering aimlessly, the Parisian roads can be a dangerous obstacle course for cyclists, almost requiring a full suit of armour for protection. But in true French ‘laissez-faire’ style, almost anything goes for cycling attire; combining fashion with an air of sensibility is the key. The introduction of the hugely successful ‘Velib’ in July 2007 - the largest ‘self-service’ public cycling system in the world - has made city cycling easily accessible to everyone, and many women have embraced this healthy lifestyle with handbag and heels in tow. The installation of 1,451 velib stations offering more than 20,000 bicycles has prompted a huge increase in women using the bike for commuting to work, short trips, or when taxis are unavailable. As of May 2008, women riders make up nearly half of the cyclist population in Paris. So, Parisian women are using the bike more, but are they maintaining their renowned ‘chicness’ while cycling? Apparently so (pics) And surely tight, short skirts and high heels are out of the question? Apparently not (pic) It seems some Parisians are not willing to sacrifice style for practicality, and if they turn a few heads in their journey, even better. Cycling fashion has moved on considerably since bicycles were first invented in 1878 - a time when full skirts and ‘woollen suits’ were the outfits women were expected to wear, along with waist-pinching corsets. Cumbersome, heavy, and hot, women’s cycling dress was anything but sensible, but they were determined to master this new two-wheeled contraption while maintaining their decorum. Surprisingly, the cycling trend has prompted trends in fashion over the years. Bloomers were created by skirts being buckled around the ankles for safety, a smart and eventually stylish solution because by the 1890’s bloomers were worn increasingly in public in Paris, not just on bikes. These soon became quite fashionable in the form of ‘Turkish trouser’ style outfits. Then in 1895 came the bloomers costume with high laced boots (pic). Deemed to be safer than a skirt, this outfit also retained a woman’s femininity rather than having to ‘dress like a man’. And let’s not forget the men: cycling in their business suits they look just as smart as the women, cruising along Rue de Rivoli with their briefcases in baskets. Back in the 1890’s, a ‘Norfolk suit’ was the dress of choice, an iconic outfit made of sturdy tweed paired with box pleats over the chest and back and matching baggy-kneed trousers. These ‘knickerbockers’ - worn with knee-length stockings and low shoes - were the sportswear fashion that men wore shooting and golfing as well as cycling. Men of today may have dropped the knickerbockers but remain ever-classy in their Dior or Chanel suits cycling to work. Undoubtedly, today’s cycling fashion has become less bulky and more liberated. Unless one is training for the Tour de France, being fashionable at all times is central to the Parisian spirit. Here’s how they do it:The ‘must-have’ accessory on a bike is sunglasses. Not only do they look cool, but they keep out bugs, harsh wind and dust. As for shoes, flats or wedges are best, but heels are possible too if you can master your balance at the red lights. Parisian women get it right by wearing kitten heels or pretty ballet flats instead of stilettos, remaining stylish but sensible. Scarves are in every Parisian’s wardrobe all year round. They cut the chill on windier days and rarely fail to look stylish.Dresses and skirts may free the legs, but keep in mind they can ride as high as five inches when cycling. Whether a slim-fitting Dior suit or flowing fifties skirt, the Parisians wear them often as it is effortlessly sexy and completely feminine .Tight, skinny jeans teamed with gladiator sandals have been a popular look this past summer, the stretchy variety for ease of movement while pedalling. With fall approaching, classic trench coats of all lengths and colours are appearing, flowing out like mini wing extensions as they ride by.The biggest fashion faux pas on bikes? Riding with low-rise trousers so your underwear is showing (this is like an open invitation to Parisian men). And backpacks; instead you see designer handbags, briefcases, or shopping bags resting in baskets or bags on a long strap across the body. The other reason Parisians are the most fashionable cyclists? They have little interest in wearing helmets. Free-flowing hair overrides safety, but at least the cycling speed is slower in the city. The future of bike fashion looks modern, versatile and creative: the unisexy Dhoti lounge pants from Down Town Betty and Outlier’s daily riding pants for women are two examples of progression created by past trends. And with Bike Fashion Shows popping up in New York and Vancouver presenting ‘fashion-forward’ chic urban clothing designed with the bicyclist in mind, it could help promote a cycling lifestyle to suit everyone. Sportswear is ultimately considered an American invention, while the home of ‘designer sportswear’ resides most definitely in Paris with designers such as Gabrielle Chanel creating haute couture designs, (though they are not as flexible as American sportswear). But when it comes to basic cycling that has a purpose, the Parisians are masters at combining chicness with practicality, especially when using their bike as a way to get to and from work while maintaining a business wardrobe.The French prove that fashion for the active person doesn’t have to be about cycling shorts and t-shirts. It’s more about fashion for the active business person which, for them, doesn’t have to lose style, just as long as you can pedal.

World’s Tallest Building Unveiled

By João Paulo Nunes

Chicago architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill (AS+GG) have released the first images for the Kingdom Tower, set to be the world’s tallest building. At over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) and a total construction area of 530,000 square meters (5.7 million square feet), the Kingdom Tower will be the centre piece and first construction phase of the Kingdom City development on a 5.3 million-square-meter site in north Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The tower’s height will be at least 173 meters (568 feet) taller than the world’s current tallest building, Dubai’s 828-meter-tall Burj Khalifa, which was designed by Adrian Smith while at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Kingdom Tower will feature a Four Seasons hotel, office space, luxury apartments and the world’s highest observatory. Design development of the tower is under way, with construction expected to begin imminently. Foundation drawings are complete and the piling for the tower is currently being tendered. The tower will cost approximately $1.2 billion to construct, while the cost of the entire Kingdom City project is anticipated to be $20 billion. In addition to its status as an architectural landmark and economic symbol, the Kingdom Tower was conceived to have cultural significance. The tower is envisioned as a new marker of Jeddah’s historic importance as the traditional gateway to the holy city of Mecca. To this end, the design of the southeast leg of the Kingdom Tower’s tripedal base is on a direct line with the Ka’ba in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. Architect Gordon Gill has described the streamlined form of the tower as being inspired by the folded fronds of young desert plant growth: “The way the fronds sprout upward from the ground as a single form, then start separating from each other at the top, is an analogy of new growth fused with technology.” The three-petal footprint is also believed to be ideal for residential units, and the tapering wings are expected to produce an aerodynamic shape that helps reduce structural loading due to wind vortex shedding. The immense height of the Kingdom Tower will require one of the world’s most sophisticated elevator systems. The complex will contain 59 elevators, including 54 single-deck and five double-deck elevators, along with 12 escalators. Elevators serving the observatory will travel at a rate of 10 meters per second in both directions. Another feature of the design is a sky terrace, roughly 30 meters (98 feet) in diameter, at level 157. AS+GG also designed the master plan for the 23-hectare Kingdom Tower Waterfront District, which surrounds the tower and which will include residential and commercial buildings, a shopping mall, outdoor spaces and other amenities.

New York by Gehry

By João Paulo Nunes

Frank Gehry’s latest skyscraper, the residential tower simply branded as ‘New York by Gehry’, is now reaching completion. As its first residents get ready to move in, the building, located at 8 Spruce Street in Lower Manhattan, has already made a significant impact on the architectural landscape of New York City. At 265 metre (870 feet) tall, New York by Gehry is the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere and the eighth tallest building in New York. The stainless steel exterior, with its seductive rippling effect, covers three faces of the tower and creates bay windows for the apartments. At the same time, it reflects the changing light, transforming the appearance of the building throughout the day. The tower contains 903 apartments laid out in over 200 floor plans for studios, and one, two and three-bedroom residences. Gehry’s aesthetic is also carried across the 22,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenity spaces with personalized furnishings and installations. Frank Gehry is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated practicing architects in the world. He has been the recipient of numerous awards recognizing excellence in architecture, including, in 1989, the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, which honours “significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.” Over the past five decades, Gehry Partners LLP has designed numerous public and private buildings in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Masculine Ala Mode

- Photographs by Greg Swales - Makeup by James Kershaw - Styled by Sandra Sing Fernandes - Braeden at Mode Models

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