Zen and Japanese Craft Coalesce at Kyoto’s Maana Kiyomizu, and Other News

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Maana Kiyomizu, a boutique hotel in Kyoto. Photography by Mitsuru Wakabayashi

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Zen and Japanese Craft Coalesce at Kyoto’s Maana Kiyomizu

Tucked behind wooden lattice doors and retreating into graceful depths of gardens, earthen walls, and bamboo screens, the traditional machiya has long defined downtown Kyoto. Maana Kiyomizu updates the form, with help from local architects Shigenori Uoya and Takeshi Ikei, and design outpost POJ Studio. And while they were at it, they refreshed the time-honored kissaten coffeehouse into Kissa Kisshan, whose Japanese and English-style breakfasts of local produce are already a local standard.

The boutique hotel comprises three suites: two upstairs within bamboo screens or panels of Wataru Hatano’s handmade washi paper, and one below with a window wall towards Toyokuni Shrine. Furnishings mix classic wood benches with modern essentials like Karimoku Case Study chairs, ceramic pendants by Elsa Foulon, and a Menu sofa, perhaps a nod to Danish modernism’s Japanese roots. Maana properties are beloved for the bathrooms, and Kiyomizu doesn’t disappoint: Shiga artisans made the ceramic bathtub by hand, just as Gaku Nakane made the pendant above it. While soaking, guests can sip tea in cups thrown by fourth-generation clay artisans, and then pop next door to the POJ Studio shop to purchase them, or even take a class and learn to throw their own. —Jesse Dorris

Still from the video for “Wouldn’t You Go to Prison to Help End the War?&rdquo. Image via PleasrDAO

Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden are dropping an NFT to benefit press freedom.

Whistleblowers Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden have collaborated on a one-for-one Ethereum-based video NFT titled Wouldn’t You Go to Prison to Help End This War? The NFT features archival footage of Ellsberg’s interview on the steps of the Boston courthouse superimposed by a generative scroll of documents from the Pentagon Papers. The NFT will be sold in a live auction presented by PleasrDAO on Jan. 12, with proceeds going towards the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Ellsberg Initiative for Peace and Democracy. The auction will also mark the launch of PleasrHouse, an episodic live art auction that will feature discussions and conversations around a piece of art and its live auction.

Thom Browne prevails in Adidas’s lawsuit over the brand’s use of multiple stripes.

Adidas sued Surface cover star Thom Browne’s namesake label for $8 million in damages, arguing that Browne’s stripes imitate its own branding, citing its Three-Stripe trademark. After a nine-day trial, the jury ruled in favor of Thom Browne, finding that at no time did the company infringe on Adidas’s trademarks. In his testimony, the American designer spoke about his lifelong love of sports, his years swimming competitively, and his journey to launching his eponymous brand. He also recalled a 2007 phone call from Adidas’s then-CEO about the designer’s “Three-Bar Signature” branding, when he agreed to stop using the motif.

The Toadstool Cafe at Universal Studios Hollywood. Photography by Wonho Frank Lee

Universal Studios Hollywood is opening the fantastical, Mario-themed Toadstool Cafe. 

Toadstool Cafe, a restaurant inspired by the Super Mario Brothers video games, will open at Universal Studios Hollywood next month. The fast-casual restaurant features a digital rendering of Chef Toad prepping in a virtual kitchen and a fantastical dining room replete with warm and blonde faux-wood veneers, pastel pops, power-up icons, and bright green Warp Pipes adorning the ceiling. The menu includes Italian American cuisine, with dishes and drinks inspired by the video game characters’ physical traits and personalities, such as the Piranha Plant Caprese Salad and Luigi Burger with green bell pepper. 

The U.S. unveils an unprecedented plan to decarbonize its domestic transit sector.

The U.S. Department of Energy, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency have released a blueprint on how to decarbonize the U.S. transport system. The strategy, which spans all modes of travel (land, air, sea) and aims to reduce all greenhouse emissions from the transportation sector by 2050, has a three-pronged approach that includes increasing convenience, improving efficiency, and transitioning to green options. Transportation accounts for a third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. 

Gensler hires Disney’s former Imagineering head to design immersive experiences.

Bob Weis, the former president of Walt Disney Imagineering, is joining Gensler as its global immersive experience design leader. Gensler, the world’s largest architecture firm, works with more than 4,000 clients on projects ranging from skyscrapers and stadiums to office interiors. The firm enlisted Weis to apply his expertise in creating themed environments and immersive experiences to the spaces people use every day. “It bothers me when someone says something is an immersive experience and it’s on a screen,” Weis tells Fast Company. “We all have screens at home. When you go out to an immersive experience, it should engage all your senses. It should envelop you in the story like you can’t do at home on your computer.” 

National Archaeological Museum proposal by David Chipperfield Architects. Image courtesy of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports

David Chipperfield will design the New National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

David Chipperfield Architects has been selected as the winner of an international competition to design the New National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece. The London and Berlin–based practice, along with local firm Alexandros N Tombazis & Associates, was chosen over 10 other rival teams, including SANAA, Herzog & de Meuron, and Kengo Kuma & Associates. The museum will serve as an extension of the existing National Archaeological Museum in Athens and will be constructed in the plaza outside it. Lina Mendoni, Greece’s minister of culture and sports, praised Chipperfield’s proposal for its people-centered vision.

Wieden+Kennedy London is launching a creative studio with a laid-back approach.

Wieden+Kennedy London is launching a standalone studio called Not Wieden+Kennedy, which will focus on branding and design services. The studio has unveiled a generative, infinitely customizable identity, which creative director Adam Rix describes as “reciprocal” and “reactive.” Not Wieden+Kennedy is kicking off by launching The Not Machine, a digital generator the public can use to create custom animated wordmarks from any image or icon within minutes for experimentation on client or personal projects.

Ella stroller by Glüxkind Technologies. Image courtesy of Glüxkind Technologies

Today’s attractive distractions:

The U.S. government approves the world’s first vaccine to benefit honeybees.

This sleek new AI-powered pram provides an “almost nanny-like experience.” 

New research into Europe’s bog bodies reveals the brutality of prehistoric life.

The world’s first flying motorcycle is getting closer to hitting the skies soon.

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