Cabanas no Rio, another paradisiac retreat by Aires Mateus

From the same owners of Casas na Areia, this second, equally gorgeous Portuguese getaway, Cabanas no Rio doesn’t fall short neither on natural nor architectural beauty.

DesignJoyBlog // Cabanas no Rio by Mateus Aires

This project, also by Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus, is located in the natural reserve of the River Sado, only one hour south of Lisbon in the village of Comporta – Portugal. Away from the riffraff, this region is well known for its beautiful white sandy beaches, green immensity of the rice fields, the typical fishermen’s houses and, being in Portugal, unique food and wine. My kind of paradise!

This project was based in the «use/reuse and recycle» of two old huts, once used by local fishermen’s. The two new ones, with 14 square meters each, were both built off-site and transported to Comporta by truck.

The living areas are divided between the two cabins, on the first one there is a a small kitchen equipped to prepare simple meals, and on the second one is the bedroom and en-suite bathroom and shower, that can be used both outdoors and indoors. How great is that?

From the architects:

The wharf is medieval and assembled with wood. Its identity is kept long beyond the material’s resistance, an identity that allows it to change, to replace, keeping all the values. The construction is entirely finished in “costaneiros” wood, a first and last boards sawn from a log. The structures are then submitted to the climate vulnerability, assigning them a unique personality.

All photographs by Nelson Garrido.

Courtesy of Cabanas no Rio.

Link with love xx

The Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy, Amsterdam’s coolest hangout

If you’re looking for a cultural and historical experience as well as a comfortable place to stay in Amsterdam the Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy is definitely the place for you. However strange it is to know that your room may have been occupied by prisoners, this building’s history is as appealing as its wonderfully creative interior design.

DesignJoyBlog // Lloyd Hotel Amsterdam 5 star room

Since its construction in the 1920s as a hotel for migrants waiting to board the ships of the Royal Dutch Lloyd, the Lloyd ‘lived’ the history of the 20th century. It served as a refugee camp for Jewish people in the late 30s, a German occupied detention center in the 40s and a youth prison for nearly 30 years from the 60s onwards and until 2001 it was a living and working space for local artists. Lucky for us, the brushstrokes of these artists have left as many marks in the interior of the building as the decades of being used as a prison.

DesignJoyBlog // Lloyd Hotel Amsterdam Facade Voorkant- door Allard van der Hoek

In order to restore the building to its original purpose as a hotel, the dutch architectural firm MVRDV was commissioned and in 2004, after major renovations, the Lloyd Hotel was successfully mutated from a youth prison to a ‘one to five star’ hotel and Cultural Embassy. The interior design of the common areas and suites was a collaborative effort of over 40 interior designers and artists, among others, Claudy Jongstra, Atelier van Lieshout, Christoph Seyferth, Ineke Hans, and Richard Hutten.

The Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy was the first one-to-five star design hotel in the world offering a home to travellers of all classes. The rooms are rated according to design, size and comfort but the common areas are shared amongst all guests fostering a rich cultural experience.

In addition to being beautifully designed (they have Richard Hutten to blame for that), the Cafè-Restaurant has a great menu with simple, yet very well executed, french and southern european dishes. With friendly staff, affordable prices and a lovely Terrace during the summer this is one of Amsterdam’s nicest spots.

The Cultural Embassy promotes exhibitions, conferences and other events which are open to all guests and the local community. There is even a permanent exhibition ‘Lloyd History’ tells the story of past through old photographs, a 1928 video, documents and other objects. Even if you’re not a guest at the hotel, this place is definitely worth a visit!

All images courtesy of the Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy. Link with love.

6 Cool things to do in Amsterdam

I’m so pleased to finally have some time to sit down and write a post! Although I’m very happy to be working (ridiculously hard) on some really fun projects at the moment, I miss the blog… but it’s all going to be better from now on, hahaha or, more realistically, here I am now!

Aside the fact that I somehow can’t even find time to do the laundry (true story, a couple of weeks ago we’ve reached the state of having to shop for new clothes so we wouldn’t have to wear pyjamas to work), my husband and I managed to go away on a little holiday in Amsterdam.

Design Joy // Amsterdam

I don’t know why for all these years I’ve been avoiding going to Amsterdam. I think it’s because when I was younger everyone kept talking about the ‘cafés’ and the ‘naked ladies’ everywhere, I just had this image in the back of my mind that the city would be full of potheads and perverts! Roaming around a decadent city drinking beer and looking at porn. Nothing further from the truth.

Design Joy // I amsterdam

Amsterdam is such an incredibly beautiful city and Dutch design is fantastic, particularly the interiors. We had the most wonderful time there so I’ve selected a few of my favorite places to write about, like a mini city guide. I’ll try to cover everything from a hotel to bars and restaurants, shopping, a bit of art and design, sometimes all mixed together, actually most times all mixed together, pretty much like the city itself.

I’ve added a little preview bellow… I’ll work through the list one by one. This should be fun!

Happy Weekend!

Design Joy Blog // Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy

1. The Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy

Design Joy // Felix & Foam

2. Felix & Foam

Design Joy // Straatjutter: An exceptionally Long Walk

3. Straatjutter: The beautiful work of Krista Peters

Design Joy // Lion Noir

4. Lion Noir


5. Bridges, Le Petit Bistro

Design Joy // Droog Flagship Store

6. Droog

Happy weekend!

Image credits:

1. Courtesy of The Lloyd Hotel

2. Foam

3. An exceptionally Long Walk, by Straatjutter

5. Elle Eten

6. Droog

All other images were taken by me.

Link with Love x

Luxury and Northern Lights in Iceland : The Ion Hotel by Minarc

Ever since I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty a couple of weeks ago, for some reason I’ve been very interested in Iceland. In the film the main character, Walter Mitty, embarks on an amazing adventure that includes a tour of Iceland. While the script is nothing out of the ordinary, the photography is something else entirely… the stunning views of the Icelandic countryside leave you wondering if a place can really be that beautiful. Ok, Stuart Dryburgh is certainly a very talented cinematographer, no doubt, but surely the natural allure of the place plays an important part as well. DesignJoyBlog The Ion Hotel by Minarc main Apart from a live volcano with a name that no one non-Icelandic can pronounce, Eyjafjallajökull, and freezing cold weather for most of the year, Iceland is a culturally rich and incredibly beautiful country making it a wonderful place to travel to. As I was looking up hotels, I stumbled upon the new Ion Hotel and, at first, I found it remarkably similar do another hotel I wrote about a while back The Fogo Island Inn. Although I’m still not sure if it’s just the pillars or the stunningly rough surroundings that make these two hotels look alike… But they do look similar, don’t they?

Designed by Icelandic Architects Tryggvi Thorsteinsson and Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir from the California based Studio Minarc, this precious little hideaway is located an hour away from Reykjavik literally in the middle of nowhere. The Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel & Spa, as it’s called, provides luxurious accommodations for the most adventurous travelers who go to that regain for it’s incredible list of outdoors activities, from fly-fishing to touring a glacier. Not to mention the wonderful spectacle of the Northern Lights, well, if you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time of the year.

In addition, the Hotel has a Spa, a Bar and Restaurant providing guests an isle of comfort amidst the harsh, but beautiful, volcanic rocks surroundings. Coherent to its location near Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ion is also eco-friendly and was recently granted the Boutique Hotel Awards in the sustainability category.

And here’s the description from Minarc:

The vision for the Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel was truly holistic, requiring a design that reflects the natural beauty of the region with clarity and simplicity, in a manner that is environmentally considerate, while appealing to the desire for luxury that attracts the upscale adventurer—a desire that has been redefined by expressions of luxury that are smaller, more personal and intimate, and eco-responsive. Knowing this, and understanding that a built environment often has a profound impact on the natural environment, our approach was to create a hotel experience as dramatic and otherworldly as the natural Icelandic surroundings, where the built and natural environments can coexist, integrate, even synergize. The hotel property features one of Iceland’s most breathtaking natural settings. Near Thingvellir National Park, it is beautifully situated on the multicolored slopes of Mt. Hengill, with a dramatic view of Lake Thingvallavatn and the mountains surrounding the lake. With respect for nature, the hotel incorporates innovative materials, sustainable practices, and the natural features of Iceland into its design—an understated design that allows the extraordinary landscape to take center stage. The Ion Hotel emerges from the moss covered mountain base like an enormous post pile wrapped in a sheath of hardened lava. The mnmMOD prefabricated, panelized building system used for both the new extension and original structure achieves both aesthetic and environmental objectives. Beneath its stark appearance, which could easily be mistaken for part of the evolving landscape, is a high-performance system that maximizes energy efficiency with a reduced carbon footprint. An abundance of natural hot springs surrounding the hotel provide guest rooms with clean, energy-efficient geothermal heating and hot water. The extensive use of oversized windows throughout the hotel captures the natural daylight, reducing the need for artificial lighting, while providing unobstructed views of the natural wonders beyond. An attention to details and finishing touches, inspired by the environmental surroundings, culture and traditions of Iceland, completes the picture. An extensive use of recycled and repurposed materials—driftwood, lava, recycled rubber—is felt throughout the hotel, reflecting the commitment to environmental simplicity. Adding to the overall ambiance are Icelandic references—glacial waterfalls, an arctic fox, the brown trout—adorning the walls. You can enjoy the undercurrent of contemporary and traditional Icelandic music throughout the property, or while enjoying a selection of Icelandic beer at the Northern Lights lounge. Fair Trade certified products, such as linens, blankets, towels, and bathrobes, are used when local Icelandic items are not available. The project has responded to a new era of luxury with a hotel for the affluent adventurer who has become increasingly less comfortable with conspicuous consumption, and more environmentally aware. A traveler who doesn’t want his creature comforts interrupting the experience of, in this case, Iceland’s otherworldly natural wonders: lava flows, drifting continental shelves, the Northern Lights, glaciers, waterfalls, and hot springs.

Architects: Minarc

Location: Iceland

Design Team: Tryggvi Thorsteinsson, Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir

Year: 2013

Photographs: Art Gray, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Torfi Agnarrson, Kristbjorg Sigurjonsdottir via ArchDaily

Eduardo Souto de Moura at Pavillon Sicli in Geneva | Design News

Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura has been invited by the Maison d’Architecture to conceive an exhibition of his work, opening this week at the Pavillon Sicli, in Geneva – Switzerland. The Exhibition will show sketches, plans, models and photographs of the architect’s most important work.

DesignJoyBlog_Eduardo Souto de Moura at Pavillon Sicli

2011 Priktzer Prize Laureate, Eduardo Souto de Moura is an architectural star and, without a doubt, an important reference to contemporary  architecture. Born in Porto in 1952, his architectural style is at the same time powerful and modest, provocative, and subtle. After a 33 year career, his impressive collection of works includes some remarkable landmarks such as The Braga Stadium, the Burgo Tower and my personal favorite the Paulo Regio Museum, in Cascais.

For the lucky ones (I’m one of them yaaay!) the exhibition opens with a conference with the architect followed by the vernissage, this Thursday May 1st at the Sicli Pavillon in Geneva, Switzerland.

Thursday May 1st 2014, 18h30

Conférence d’Eduardo Souto de Moura
Thursday May 1st 2014, 18h30

Opening Hours
me / ve 11h-18h
je 11h-20h
sa / di 10h-17h

Pavillon Sicli, 45 route des Acacias, Carouge

National Tourist Route Trollstigen Service Station and Café by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter

After having a one week break over Easter, I thought I’d ease my way back to work by writing a post about what I think would be an amazing holiday. I may be biased to say, seen as I love remote locations and road trips, but this Service Center and Café in Norway is truly spectacular and the perfect integration between a beautiful landscape and architecture.

Trollstigen Service Station and Café by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter

Located in Trollstigen, which is apparently known as one of the most spectacular stretches of road in Norway, the visitor center and restaurant were an addition to the already existing Trollstigen Viewing Platform, as part of the country’s National Tourist Routes. Designed by Reiulf Ramstad Architects, the Complex is situated at an elevation of 850m – providing magnificent views of the Trollstigen road zigzagging up through the spectacular Istardalen Valley – and it’s subject to the extreme weather and climate changes, from snow storms to flooding. The alluring architecture covers a large area and is complemented by walkways, picnic areas, flood barriers and even a little hydroelectric power generator.

With such wonderful scenery, spectacular views and architecture, this area receives about half a million visitors a year! I suppose I’ll just have to add all of that to the list of reasons to go on a “little” road trip in Norway…

And here’s a brief description by the Architects:

location: Romsdalen, Norway
program: National tourist routes
client: Norwegian public roads administration
size: Buildings 1200 m2, landscape 150 000 m2
commision type: Invited Competition 1st prize
in cooperation with Multiconsult 13.3 landscaping (2004)
status: Completed, 2012
year: 2004 – 2012

The project enhances the experience of the Trollstigen plateau’s location and nature. Thoughtfulness regarding elements and materials underscore the site’s nature and character, and well-adapted, functional facilities augment the visitor’s experience. The architecture is characterised by clear and precise transitions between planned zones and the natural landscape. Through the notion of water as a dynamic element – from snow, to running and then falling water – and rock as a static element, the project creates a series of prepositional relations that describe and magnify the unique spatiality of the site.

Trollstigen Service Station and Café by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter

Photography: Reiulf Ramstad Architects

SPRING by Joey Ho Design

SPRING is a remarkable early childhood learning center designed by Hong-Kong based architect Joey Ho. Although I must admit that anyone with a tagline that reads Slices of Joy would catch my eye (Yes! It is true. ‘Joey Ho Design Limited – slices of joy’ it’s the name of his studio and tagline. How great is that?) the work of this young Taiwanese architect is not only joyful but very meticulous as well.

SPRING by Joey Ho Design 1

In this project the Architect really puts his moto to use: Design is like making dessert, a recipe of feelings to make people happy. And in this particular recipe, the distances between children and adults become smaller and both can enjoy and live in the wonderfully colorful, and yet functional, spaces.

Here’s the description from the Architect:

Spring is a newly established learning center for children with the aim to help them achieve their development and learning potential during the crucial growth years. With this philosophy in mind, the designer came up with a concept that would enrich the learning experience — dual perspective. By bringing together the perspectives of a child and an adult, and manifested in the space, furniture and details, it is hoped to facilitate a dialogue and interaction between the children, parents and educators.

Throughout the centre, fairy tale-like cliches gave way to a neutral palette of white, light green, pastel blue and wood, with a few touches that bring back happy childhood memories. The tree houses and swings in the cafe are inspired by the outside greenery, and a hilly relief feature create cozy cocoons for reading or internet surfing.

Two furniture systems catering to children and adults respectively have been designed and placed together in the various functional spaces. For example, the reception counter is fitted with stairs to allow kids to climb up and communicate with the staff directly. The cooking studio is modeled after a professional kitchen, equipped with stainless steel worktops and kitchen equipment which are reduced to child dimensions to give about an authentic cooking experience. Likewise, the bathroom features a dual height washbasin in the form of a fountain, which lets adults and children share the same facility and thereby forging a closer relationship.

SPRING by Joey Ho Design plan

Architects: Joey Ho Design
Location: Centre Point, Wan Chai, 
Architect In Charge: Joey Ho
Design Team: Noel Chan
Area: 697 sqm
Year: 2013

All photographs © Dick Liu via ArchDaily

Casas na Areia Hotel by Mateus Aires

From what I imagine started out as a friendly chat between pals over a glass of porto, Casas na Areia was originally intended as a weekend house that, lucky for some, became a small luxury hotel. Designed by renowned portuguese architect  Manuel Aires Mateus, this hotel is a unique minimalistic hideaway surrounded by stunning natural beauty.


Founded on the concept that “happiness is based on the intelligent use of simplicity”, the interior and exterior spaces blend together leading guests to come closer to the natural environment. The 4 houses were built according to local tradition, 2 in white concrete and 2 in wood and reeds, all with thatched roofs built by a local artisan and renewed every 6 years.

The sandy floors in the kitchen and eating areas are an extension of the beautiful natural surroundings and gently invite guests to have their meals or simply relax barefoot, with toes playing in the sand, after a long hard day of birdwatching or horseback riding on the beach. Seriously, how much fun is that?!

This wonderful holiday gem is located only one hour away from Lisbon in Comporta, a region famous for its white sandy beaches and delicious coarse red wines as well as being home to great variety of wild life such as flamingos, storks and dolphins.

On top of it all, Portugal is just simply such an amazing place to go to. It’s a beautiful and culturally rich country, with friendly people and wonderful food! What more can you want? I’m certainly dreaming of going back there for a summer holiday with my family and, if I’m lucky enough…

Photographs by Nelson Garrido