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July 9, 2014

Opel Corsa E breaks cover, as GM releases ofïŹcial details

Lucire staff/7.37

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GM has released details of its fifth-generation Opel Corsa (Vauxhall Corsa Mk IV in the UK), promising that the new model will set benchmarks for its class.
   It will have to: it joins a talented segment with cars such as the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Honda Fit, Toyota Vitz and Peugeot 208.
   The Opel Corsa E is virtually identical in length to the outgoing model, with much of the cabin space cleverly used in its 4 m.
   There is a new platform, dubbed Gamma II in GM-speak, with no carryover components from the Corsa D. The new sheetmetal has greater differentiation between three- and five-door models, with styling by Brit Mark Adams. A panoramic roof is optional. Other options include blind spot alert, lane departure warning, and a rear-view camera.
   The new interior has a redesigned instrument panel and dashboard, including Opel’s Intellilink in-car system, already seen on the Adam subcompact, which is on a shorter version of the Corsa E’s platform. Intellilink features a seven-inch colour touch-screen, which can be controlled via apps on the Apple Iphone and Google Android.
   Appealing to the Corsa’s urban drivers, there is a revised speed-sensitive power steering, with less understeer. Ride and handling have also been improved, says Opel.
   Opel has joined the trend toward three-cylinder petrol engines, with a one-litre Ecotec direct-injection turbo as the smallest unit, developing 90 or 115 PS. It is combined with a stop–start system to lower fuel consumption.
   A 1·3 turbodiesel, a 1·2 and 1·4 petrol engine, and a 1·4 turbo are also on offer, mated to new six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes.
   The Corsa will not be sold in Australasia or North America, where the Korean-made Chevrolet Aveo (under various names), also on the Gamma II platform, is GM’s entry in the B-segment.



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Filed under: design, living, Lucire, technology
July 3, 2014

Luxury watch brand Christopher Ward develops its own innovative movement

Lucire staff/23.17

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British luxury watch brand Christopher Ward has announced the development of its own watch movement, the Calibre SH21.
   Mike France, one of the co-founders, explains that the brand breaks the rules and ‘to be the masters of our own destiny.
   â€˜Last year, the CEO of a major Swiss luxury watch brand heard rumours about SH21 and his—frankly, affronted—comment was, “What gives you the license to do that?”
   â€˜We give ourselves license to do this. Ten years ago we launched the world’s first pure online business model for luxury watches; a new paradigm in blending supreme quality with unprecedented value that challenged the industry norm. Today, we are advancing to a new level of independence that strengthens the future growth of the business and enables us to develop a family of movements, the first of which is the beautiful C9 Harrison 5 Day Automatic, housing the Calibre SH21, which we also launched today.’
   France expects to see Calibre SH21 being the core of a whole suite of movements.
   The development was spurred by young watchmaker Johannes Jahnke, who examined medical industry tooling and car manufacture, thinking outside the square.
   Jahnke, along with industry veteran Jorg Bader. came with Christopher Ward’s merger with Synergies HorlogĂšres.
   Chris Ward, the co-founder from whom the brand takes its name, calls the development of the new movement ‘probably the most significant watch industry development by a British brand in the past 50 years.’
   The new movement gives Christopher Ward independence from movements supplied by Swiss companies, with Swatch the largest player.

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Filed under: design, fashion, living, London, Lucire, TV
July 2, 2014

Sarah Jessica Parker and Cindy Chao collaborate on brooch to beneïŹt New York City Ballet

Lucire staff/12.33

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We’ve had Tamsin Cooper create a line for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Backes & Strauss partner with the English National Ballet, and now, Sarah Jessica Parker and contemporary fine jeweller Cindy Chao have teamed up to create the 2014 Black Label Masterpiece Ballerina Butterfly brooch to benefit the New York City Ballet.
   It’s not quite a full line: this is a one-off to be auctioned by Sotheby’s Hong Kong this October, at the Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Sale. However, it was created with the New York City Ballet, on which Parker serves as a director, in mind.
   Parker and Chao connected during Chao’s 2011 Masterpiece Exhibition in Beijing. In 2012, when Chao opened her Beijing boutique, at which Parker was guest of honour, that the pair would collaborate on a piece for charity.
   The collaboration, which took place over the last two years, saw them review sketches, wax models and gemstones together.
   The brooch has a titanium and 18 ct gold body. It features a cushion-cut fancy brown diamond weighing 26­·27 ct, three rough brown diamond slices weighing a total of 47·71 ct, three pieces of conch pearls weighing a total of 7·25 ct, surrounded by 4,698 diamonds and fancy-coloured diamonds weighing a total of 98·09 ct.
   It is meant to be signify the beauty, structure, strength and movement of a ballerina, and can be worn either right-side-up or upside-down.
   It will be first shown in Paris during haute couture fashion week, from which Lucire will report next week. It will then travel throughout Asia, before heading to New York and Hong Kong.
   â€˜I have had the great pleasure of knowing Cindy and her work for several years, and it has been an incredibly special experience to collaborate with her,’ said Parker. ‘Cindy’s jewellery designs are true works of art; they capture the eye and imagination in a memorable way. I am so pleased to partner with her on this project, which benefits the wonderful work of the New York City Ballet, an organization that is close to my heart.’
   Chao has created a Black Label Masterpiece Butterfly each year since 2008, to symbolize her own metamorphosis, says her company, Cindy Chao—The Art Jewel, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
   â€˜Sarah Jessica and I are two very different creative minds sharing the same artistic vision and passion,’ said Chao in a release. ‘She truly appreciates the essence and soul of my creations, and I admire her innovative yet classic view on fashion and style. My annual butterflies carry special meaning for me. Collaborating with Sarah Jessica for a cause we both deeply care for and believe in makes this Ballerina Butterfly all the more special.’
   The net proceeds from the auction will go to the ballet company.

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May 29, 2014

A tribute to Massimo Vignelli, a design legend

Jack Yan/10.14

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RIT

Massimo Vignelli, who passed away on May 27, was a hero of mine. When receiving the news shortly before it hit the media in a big way, from our mutual friend Stanley Moss, this title’s travel editor and CEO of the Medinge Group, I posted immediately on Facebook: ‘It is a sad duty to note the passing of Massimo Vignelli, one of my heroes in graphic design. When I was starting out in the business, Massimo was one of the greats: a proponent of modernism and simple, sharp typography. His influence is apparent in a lot of the work done by our brand consultancy and in our magazines, even in my 2013 mayoral campaign graphics. A lot of his work from half a century ago has stood the test of time. There was only one degree of separation between us, and I regret that we never connected during his lifetime. The passing of a legend.’
   This Facebook status only scratches the surface of my admiration for Vignelli. There have been more comprehensive obits already (Fast Company Design rightly called him ‘one of the greatest 20th century designers’), detailing his work notably for the New York subway map, and—curiously to me—glossing over the effect he had on corporate design, especially in the US.
   Vignelli, and his wife Lella, a designer in her own right and a qualified architect, set up the Vignelli Office of Design and Architecture in Milano in 1960, which had clients including Pirelli and Olivetti. In 1965, they moved to New York and Vignelli co-founded Unimark International (with Ralph Eckerstrom, James Fogelman, Wally Gutches, Larry Klein, and Bob Noorda), where he was design director. It was the world’s largest design and marketing firm till its closure in 1977.
   The 1960s were a great time for Vignelli and his corporate identities. He worked on American Airlines, Ford, Knoll, and J. C. Penney, and the work was strictly modernist, often employing Helvetica as the typeface family. Vignelli was known to have stuck with six families for most his work—Bodoni was another, a type family based around geometry that, on the surface, tied in to his modernist, logical approach. However, there were underlying reasons, including his belief that Helvetica had an ideal ratio between upper- and lowercase letters, with short ascenders and descenders, lending itself to what he considered classic proportions. The 1989 WTC Our Bodoni, created under Vignelli’s direction by Tom Carnase and commissioned by Bert di Pamphilis, adheres to the same proportions.
   Although my own typeface design background means that I could not adhere to six, there is something to be said for employing a logical approach to design. American corporate design went through a “cleaning up” in the 1960s, with a brighter, bolder sensibility. Detractors might accuse it of being stark, the Helveticization of American design making things too standard. Yet through the 1970s the influence remained, and to my young eyes that decade, this was how professional design should look, contrary to the low-budget work plaguing newspapers and books that I saw as I arrived in the occident.
   When the Vignellis left Unimark to set up Vignelli Associates in 1971 (and later Vignelli Designs in 1978), their stamp remained. The MTA launched Vignelli’s subway map the following year, and like the London Underground map by Harry Beck in 1931, it ignored what was above ground in favour of a logical diagram with the stops. Beck was a technical draftsman and the approach must have found favour with Vignelli, just as it did with those creating maps for the Paris MĂ©tropolitain and the Berlin U-bahn.
   New Yorkers didn’t take to the Vignelli map as well as Londoners and Parisians, and it was replaced in 1979 with one that was more geographically accurate to what was above ground.
   In 1973, Vignelli worked on the identity for Bloomingdale’s, and his work endures: the Big Brown Bag is his work, and it continues to be used by the chain today. Cinzano, Lancia and others continue with Vignelli’s designs.
   Ironically, despite a rejection of fashion in favour of timelessness, some of the work is identified with the 1960s and 1970s, notably thanks to the original cut of Helvetica, which has only recently been revived (a more modern cut is commonplace), and which is slightly less popular today. Others, benefiting from more modern layout programs and photography, look current to 2010s eyes, such as Vignelli Associates’ work for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
   The approach taken by Lucire in its print editions has a sense of modernism that has a direct Vignelli influence, including the use of related typeface families since we went to retail print editions in 2004. Our logotype itself, dating from 1997, has the sort of simplicity that I believe Vignelli would have approved of.
   Vignelli was, fortunately, fĂȘted during his lifetime. He received the Compasso d’Oro from ADI twice (1964 and 1998), the AIGA Gold Medal (1983), the Presidential Design Award (1985), the Honorary Royal Designer for Industry Award from the Royal Society of Arts (1996), the National Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper–Hewitt National Museum of Design (2003), among many. He holds honorary doctorates from seven institutions, including the Rochester Institute of Technology (2002). Rochester has a Vignelli Center for Design Studies, whose website adheres to his design principles and where educational programmes espouse his modernist approach. It also houses the Vignellis’ professional archive.
   He is survived by his wife, Lella, who continues to work as CEO of Vignelli Associates and president of Vignelli Designs; their son, Luca, their daughter, Valentina Vignelli Zimmer, and three grandchildren.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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May 14, 2014

Jaguar to build six Lightweight E-types, perfect re-creations of the 1960s original

Lucire staff/12.43

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Even though Jaguar is riding a high with ultra-modern, forward-looking models such as the XJ and F-type, it has announced that it will produce six more Lightweight E-types, the first time the company has engaged in building re-creations in its nine-decade history.
   Jaguar originally planned to build 18 ‘Special GT E-type cars’ in 1963, but only ever completed 12. The six will be perfect reproductions of the original, built by hand to the exact specifications of the first twelve cars and using up the remaining chassis numbers allocated in 1963. They will feature the 3·8-litre XK-derived straight-six engine, and an all-aluminium body and engine block.
   The first “new” Lightweights will appear later this summer, with established Jaguar collectors prioritized among potential customers.


Above The original Lightweight E-type as it appeared in the 1960s.

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Filed under: design, history, living, London, Lucire
May 2, 2014

Chanel reopens at la Mistralée in Saint-Tropez for the summer

Lucire staff/11.48

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Chanel has opened its ephemeral boutique in Saint-Tropez at la MistralĂ©e (1, avenue du GĂ©nĂ©ral Leclerc, 83990 Saint-Tropez) for the fifth year, with a colourful dĂ©cor inspired by the December 2013 MĂ©tiers d’Art Paris–Dallas collection.
   On entry, Chanel shows off its prĂȘt-Ă -porter, with the ceiling featuring a millefeuille of translucent paper. Reflecting the Paris–Dallas collection, the rooms are in beige, brown, rose, garnet, sunflower, white and black. Each features a different collection: bags, jewellery, small leather goods, and shoes each occupy one; the watch space features the J12, PremiĂšre, Mademoiselle PrivĂ© and high jewellery items.
   In keeping with Saint-Tropez, La MistralĂ©e has a pool, with chairs and parasols, and gardens. Chanel has placed its beachwear, towels and high summer accessories at the pool house. Skin care, make-up and fragrance will join the rest of the collections at the boutique in coming weeks.
   It will remain open till October 2014.


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May 1, 2014

Sponsored video: don’t follow the rules—Microsoft Surface launches business promotion

Lucire staff/12.16

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A Lucire special promotion


Microsoft is keen to get businesses into its Surface tablet series, and over the last few years has even redesigned its flagship Windows operating system around touch-screen technology.
   But what is surprising is how Microsoft is almost an underdog brand among a mid-2010s world where Apple’s I technology and Google Android have become mainstream terms. Some might even choose Microsoft because it has cachet—after all, its founder, Bill Gates, is now perceived as a humanitarian hero, a 180-degree change from the image he faced two decades ago.
   So it makes sense for Microsoft to team up with another company that has an established record, yet sees itself as somewhat antiestablishment: The Guardian.
   Its latest promotion, Uncompromise, a.k.a. The Rise of the Renegade Professionals, looks at businesses that have opted to use Microsoft Surface. They’re also businesses that refuse to follow the rules.
   Honest Burgers of Brixton was started by two best friends, Tom Barton and Phil Eeles (above), who believed there was a market for gourmet burgers—at a time when they couldn’t even get deliveries of premium meats into the area.
   Kerry Roy, founder of Camp Katur, saw a market for glamping—luxury camping holidays—again at a time when no one saw a niche for the business in Yorkshire.
   In each case, Microsoft Surface’s portability, and compatibility with the well known Office software, aided the business.
   Along with The Guardian, Microsoft will produce a short film about a business that also refuses to follow the rules—there’s an entry form for entrepreneurs who are interested in being showcased.
   We’re loving this idea because Lucire itself would not have existed if our founders followed the rules. In 1997, there were people who thought a web fashion magazine was a lousy idea and could not understand it.
   And when we wanted to branch into print, there were just as many doubters.
   By checking out this link, you can read more about Honest Burgers, Camp Katur and others—inspiring, original businesses who decided not to compromise.


Video sponsored by Microsoft

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April 17, 2014

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s CoppĂ©lia expertly executed at every level

Jack Yan/13.46

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Royal New Zealand Ballet


Evan Li/Royal New Zealand Ballet

Top A publicity photograph from the Royal New Zealand Ballet for Coppélia, with Swanhilda, Franz and Coppélia. Above Kohei Iwamato as Franz and Lucy Green as Swanhilda from the premiÚre.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s CoppĂ©lia, which opened in Wellington on Thursday, is a lovingly designed and staged production that will suit family audiences.
   Set in a mountain village in Hungary, the RNZB’s production of CoppĂ©lia retains its well known storyline and period setting, with beautiful sets and costumes. The work of the late, award-winning designer Kristian Fredrikson is particularly poignant in the second act, inside Dr Coppelius’s house, where his seven very distinctive automatons, as well as CoppĂ©lia, rest. Two incomplete mannequins hung from the top. The third act, with the wedding scene, is another testament to Fredrikson’s design ability, evident through the villagers’ and Franz and Swanhilda’s wedding costumes. Jason Morphett’s lighting lifted the story, making it easy to follow—and it was the second act, too, with its moody atmosphere, where his work shone.
   Martin Vedel, ballet master on CoppĂ©lia, stayed true to the core of the story, with classical and folkloric dances playing out the plot. The energetic divertissements in the third act were perfectly performed. Vedel was, according to his notes, aware of the pre-modern, romantic period in which CoppĂ©lia was created, and sought to retain its beauty, but tightened up the storyline and more clearly portrayed Dr Coppelius—performed by Sir Jon Trimmer, who first danced it for the RNZB in 1964—as a social outcast.
   The 21st-century touches are, then, in the theatrics of the performance rather than the look and feel, although the limbless, faceless automaton, beautifully performed by Paul Mathews, could feel at home in science fiction to modern audiences.
   One cannot help but smile at the performances—after all, CoppĂ©lia is a happy, comedic ballet, and we noticed that the children on opening night enjoyed it as much as the adults. Lucy Green and Kohei Iwamoto were the well cast leads tonight, as Swanhilda and Franz respectively, dancing their roles expertly—and deservedly receiving standing ovations from some of the audience. Unsurprisingly, Sir Jon received similar acclaim, and Joseph Skelton as Zoltan, both in his emphatic solo and his dance with Katherine Grange as Ima, brought immediate reactions as well as loud applause at the end.
   Orchestra Wellington faithfully performed the LĂ©o Delibes score.
   After Wellington, CoppĂ©lia tours to to Palmerston North, Invercargill, Dunedin, Napier, Rotorua, Takapuna, and Auckland, with the season ending on May 31 inclusive. Further information on dates and venues, as well as booking, can be found at the RNZB website.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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