useful + agreeable: Bringing Us Smart Design via Broadband TV
Posted January 11, 2008on:
In a city like Minneapolis, where space can be found and design culture is not quite edgy enough to be avant-garde, I can’t see architect Neil Denari’s house for useful + agreeable fitting in. (However, it would be an inspiring touch if I ever saw something like this perched delicately on a corner in the Warehouse District or Northeast Minneapolis.) The vertical abode is “a pre-designed mini hi-rise that has been conceived for a variety of uses in different climates. The u+a house can be used in the context of small-lot or cluster housing, remote vacation property and rooftop penthouses among other possibilities”, via MoCo Loco.
Here you see the house in a potential setting, the view from the top (complete with terrace), and a cutaway look at the interior. One comment on MoCo Loco questions the “extreme vertical approach”. These images may not represent the entirety of the design, so it is difficult to see where the living space resides. I also do not see the bathroom, but assume it’s there somewhere. The lower level seems to be the office, though perhaps it’s multi-use? I appreciate the smooth starkness of the exterior (what is it made of? how mobile is it?) but wonder how cozy it is. Even in small spaces, I believe warmth is important.
The house represents “smart design = luxury” according to Denari. As a space-saver, it gets points for being smart. And any time design serves a specific purpose (here, saving space), there is a certain kind of luxury being offered.
Upon visiting useful + agreeable, I find myself curious as to what they do, and how they came up with their name. I’m drawn to companies/agencies/etc that have a story behind their name. It says so much more about their attitude and culture vs. those who go only by the founding partners’ names.
useful + agreeable defines themselves as a smart luxury, travel and design broadband tv station and publication. The group’s name has roots in the philosopher Voltaire’s Candide who sought useful and agreeable things found in the world. u + a began as a magazine, then went into travel guides and eventually the broadband tv station. After poking around for a bit, I watched clips of various hotels, resorts, wine and fashion under “tv”. These were all nice and pretty, but for now I wonder what exactly is the real tie to showcasing these apparently ‘useful’ and ‘agreeable’ things, and what the company aims to do in the long-run? When I think of these words, related to design, travel, and even luxury goods, I immediately think of sustainability and the idea of green as the new luxury. Founder James Culham, aims to present a useful + agreeable world. Fair enough. But what does this really mean? Who is his main audience? How does he choose the content? What is it based on? Is it all for the sake of enjoying some design eye candy, or is there something deeper going on? Maybe I should dig in and ask him myself?