The Design Dispatch offers expertly written and essential news from the design world crafted by our dedicated team. Think of it as your cheat sheet for the day in design delivered to your inbox before you’ve had your coffee. Subscribe now.
In the heart of Amsterdam, Studio Modijefsky has deftly transformed a snug corner bar into Marcella—a vibrant beacon of modern elegance. Nestled between Amstelveld and Prinsengracht, the spot has served as a social rendezvous since the 1800s, a legacy encapsulated by the welcoming “Welkom” signage adorning the entrance.
Inside, the luminescent zigzag ceiling, outlined by a neon yellow silhouette, echoes the dynamic feel of the bar, a harmonious blend of terrazzo, wood, and brass fashioned into a structural showpiece. Outside, the café’s corner and canal-side strip are dotted with bistro tables and wooden chairs, their tops adorned with sketches by local illustrator Ted Struwer. The allure extends to the waterside, a red neon light beckoning passersby to dock their boats or park their bicycles and soak in the vibrancy of this petite yet spirited watering hole. It’s the perfect setting to tuck into some garlicky snails or one of the menu’s unique local wines. —Nate Storey
Penn approves the construction of a performing arts center by Steven Holl Architects.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Board of Trustees has approved the construction of a $75 million performing arts center designed by Steven Holl Architects. Situated on the eastern edge of Penn’s campus near Drexel University, the 37,300-square-foot facility will include a 300-seat proscenium theater, a 125-seat studio theater, rehearsal studios, and performance support spaces. The design features suspended trapezoids that reflect the movements of dancers and performers, with alternating transparent and translucent glass sections and a red terra-cotta exterior to blend in with the campus. Construction is scheduled to commence in the fall, with an anticipated opening in winter 2027.
Anna Heringer apologizes for architecture’s negative impact on the Global South.
During a talk at the UIA World Congress of Architects in Copenhagen, award-winning German architect Anna Heringer expressed her deep remorse for the global impact of architecture from wealthy countries. She apologized to people in the Global South for the social injustice and contribution to climate change caused by architects serving mostly the rich. Heringer also acknowledged the colonization of the concept of a good home and the superiority attributed to imported materials over local ones, asking for forgiveness and emphasizing the need for alternative approaches toward a socially and ecologically sustainable future.
London’s Young V&A faces criticism for removing LGBTQ+ items from its gift shop.
London’s V&A Museum is facing criticism for removing trans- and queer-affirming materials from its gift shop and a social justice display at the Young V&A, a children’s center connected to the institution. The decision to remove books aimed at LGBTQ+ youth and a trans visibility poster has sparked backlash from LGBTQ+ groups, unions, and the authors themselves. Critics argue that denying access to these resources perpetuates exclusion and hinders the well-being of trans youth, while the V&A maintains that the decision was based on age-appropriateness and promises an inclusive program and visitor experience.
Retailers are starting to embrace AI to deliver more tailored product recommendations.
Retailers and brands are embracing AI to enhance the consumer shopping experience and deliver tailored product recommendations. Klarna, for instance, introduced Klarna Spotlight, an AI-powered personalized shopping feed on its app that includes features like a personal shopping assistant and a resell functionality. Market research predicts that the AI retail market will exceed $34 billion by 2030, and companies like Google, Lyst, and Zalando are investing in generative AI to simplify product searches for online shoppers. According to surveys, personalized experiences are crucial for Gen Z and Millennials, with many expressing interest in virtual personal shoppers and envisioning a future where AI powers shopping experiences.
Japan Airlines debuts a clothing rental service to reduce luggage and aircraft weight.
Japan Airlines and Sumitomo have collaborated to introduce a clothing rental service for tourists and business travelers visiting Japan. Travelers will have the convenience of selecting apparel based on size and seasonal needs via a website before their Japan Airlines flight. The initiative aims to promote sustainable tourism, minimize waste by sourcing clothing from overstock, and reduce carbon emissions by calculating the saved aircraft weight. The service will be available on a trial basis until August 2024, with prices ranging from ¥4,000 to ¥7,000 ($28-$49) for one set of clothing and the option to rent up to eight outfits for two weeks.
Today’s attractive distractions:
Space10 is reimagining the humble plate with locally abundant materials.