A traditional Bosnian ‘family house,’ located in an unplanned neighborhood in Sarajevo, has its ground floor renovated and extension added to accommodate a man in a wheelchair and his wife. Designed by Projekt V Arhitektura, the Half House takes a step away from typical projects in the area as it’s situated in between a detached studio house, a gathering space, and a weekend retreat. The original 1980s house and ground floor apartment had undergone many changes over the years resulting in cramped living spaces not ideal for wheelchair access.
While the rest of the neighborhood is ripe with post-war character, the new side extension has a minimalist aesthetic and is designed to become a semi-detached studio for a potential caregiver to live in later in the couple’s lives. The open floor plan features a large living and dining room, bathroom with walk-in shower, covered patio with a barbecue, and a mezzanine level that can be used for rest, play, or sleep. Pocket sliding doors open the interior up to the outside thereby extending the square footage.
The single pitched roof gives the feeling of extra space while the wooden walls add warmth and character. Carved out voids become windows, seating, book shelves, storage, lighting, passageways, and a spot for an elevator if needed in the future.
A hallway creates a transition between the original home and the new one.
DENVER – Home interior decorating and e-commerce company Havenly has launched its first home goods line called Cove Goods, which features furniture such as accent chairs and side tables. The line features more than 50 SKUs including rugs, pillows, throws, lamps and ceiling lighting.
“We wanted to curate a home decor line with a fresh effortless aesthetic, informed by years of trend data from our designs and customers,” said Lee Mayer, CEO of Havenly. “Cove Goods represents a fresh new look for the home category with elegant and relaxed colors and fabrics that look beautiful in any home.”
Mayer said Havenly designed Cove Goods to invoke a luxury leisure experience for anyone on a budget by bringing to life Pacific coastal influences along with the brand’s signature minimalist aesthetic. The furniture line features natural materials, textural details and timeless elements.
“So many of our clients are looking for a relaxed yet elevated style in their homes, and with the California-influence being so popular in interior design right now, Cove Goods really fits this need,” said Shelby Girard, Havenly’s head of design. “The line is a great balance of simple and sophisticated.”
Since its launch five years ago, Havenly has experienced rapid growth with a customer base that’s grown more than 14 times in the past two years, and it reports that more than 60% of its purchasing customers returning for additional design projects.
The company serves its customers by matching them with designers who find the best products through a personal style quiz. Designers then use the client’s data to create a personalized design that suits their style by sourcing items from its new Cove Goods lineand from more than 15 million products from its more than 200 furnishing partners.
Anne covers the evolving landscape among retailers and manufacturers in the bedding, technology, e-commerce and disruptive retail segments.
For several months, our writer searched for information about the Moranbong wristwatch. It wasn’t as simple as it sounds.
By Vivian Morelli
TOKYO — At first sight, the wristwatch looks rather ordinary: a minimalist white dial with a date window, silver hands and hour markers, on a simple silver-colored metal bracelet.
It resembles a Seiko, except for an important detail: Printed on its face in black lettering, in both Hangul characters and the Roman alphabet, are the words “Moranbong” (the brand name) and “Pyongyang, North Korea.”
Made in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — likely in the 1970s and ’80s, although no one seems really sure about the dates — the Moranbong is one of the watch universe’s mysteries.
And, intrigued, I have spent lots of time this year searching online watch forums and old publications, and talking with the handful of people I could find who knew about the watch — although several of them refused to be identified, worried that they might be turned away during future visits to the notoriously secretive country.
It’s been quite an odyssey.
I discovered the Moranbong in February, when, just out of idle curiosity, I searched “North Korea watches” on Google, and some fuzzy images of the timepiece led me to a few — a very few — forum posts.
Then later that month on one of my regular Saturday strolls with my toddler, I stopped by my local watch shop, L o’clock, a stylish boutique that specializes in repairs and sells vintage watches from the 1960s and ‘70s. I had intended just to say hello to staff members and look at the latest offerings — but the owner, Naoto Akiyama, told me that he had been servicing a North Korean watch.
There it was, a Moranbong.
Mr. Akiyama put me in touch with the watch’s owner, who agreed to talk but only if I would not name him in this article, because of the confidential nature of his job. A few days later, on a chilly winter evening, we met at the shop after the last customers had left.
The Tokyo resident, whose collectibles range from North Korean military badges to an old Japanese Imperial Army watch, said he wanted a Moranbong so he began checking the Japanese version of the online auction platform Yahoo! Auctions daily until he saw one. He said he thought it initially would not have sold for more than about 6,000 yen ($55) — he paid 80,000 yen — although, he added, “the watch quality is good and it tells time accurately.”
Mr. Akiyama, who had gotten a closer look at the Moranbong’s mechanical movement while he was servicing it, said it was the first time he had ever seen such a movement.
He opened the watch again that evening so both its owner and I could see inside. “It looks like a copy of a rare Swiss movement, the Sonceboz Caliber ES 95 17 jewels, which was produced in the 1970s and ‘80s,” Mr. Akiyama said. “As for the exterior, the crystal covering the face is actually plastic, and is engraved with some lines as a design, which is quite unusual.”
Now I was really curious, so I started trying in earnest to trace the watch’s history.
Moranbong means “peony hill” in Korean. I have never found any explanation of why that is the watch’s name, but it also is the name of a famous park in the heart of Pyongyang, and the site of important monuments like the Kim Il-sung Stadium and the Arch of Triumph. It actually seems to be used in North Korea for a lot of things, like the Moranbong band, an all-female musical act that has been called the country’s version of the Spice Girls — and whose members were selected personally by Kim Jong-un, the country’s supreme leader.
A Google search of the words “Moranbong” and “factory” turned up the 2004 book “Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader,” by Bradley K. Martin, a journalist who covered news in Asia for publications like The Baltimore Sun and Bloomberg News. The book has just one short paragraph on the Moranbong, in a chapter about corruption in North Korea: “Kang Myong-do, a North Korean trading company vice-president, told a South Korean magazine interviewer: ‘The country is in such a state, and officials are just taking money for themselves. Moranbong watch factory was built in 1978 with Swiss factory components, but it’s crummy stuff. The person who arranged it got a kickback from the Swiss for paying a lot of money for old machinery.’”
Later, another Moranbong owner told me to visit the archives of the National Diet Library in Tokyo to see a June 1985 issue of Korean Pictorial magazine, a Japanese-language publication once affiliated with Chongryon, an organization of Koreans living in Japan. (The last issue in the library is dated Winter 1997.)
The photographs of the Moranbong factory in the four-page article looked as though they were taken during World War II, not the 1980s. And it was not just the quality of the prints: black and white images that look overexposed. The pictures showed fresh-faced female employees, their hair covered with kerchiefs, standing about on the factory floor and working on the last stages of the watch assembling process at a long row of desks. Only women were depicted; their plain clothing could have been produced at any time since the 1930s as it really had no identifying style. There also was a product shot of six timepieces, with dials that appeared to be in different colors.
The text said nothing about the watch, and actually very little about the factory. But it did place the factory in Pyongsong, a town about 15 miles north of the capital that was formally established in 1969, and said the municipality was meant to be a hub for more than 30 kinds of light manufacturing, producing more than 700 products including artificial leather and rubber products. In recent years, according to French news reports, the town has become the site of a training school for nuclear scientists.
In April, while I was in Seoul to do some interviews, I visited “Clock Alley,” the local nickname of Yeji-dong, a passage in the city center lined with watchmakers’ workrooms and sales stalls.
The area had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, and many of the vendors from that time are still manning their stalls today. But, despite the fact that the border with North Korea is only about 30 miles away, I could not find anyone who had even heard of the timepiece, never mind being familiar with it.
My Japanese interpreter, who had been helping me search for information on the Moranbong, produced a knowledgeable source when he asked some of his academic contacts for help. Tomohiko Kawaguchi, an associate professor at the College of International Relations at Nihon University in Tokyo, owns three Moranbong watches that he bought in 2016 at an antique market in China.
Mr. Kawaguchi said that he doubts the Moranbong was ever officially exported to Japan or to South Korea (“Especially in the 1970s and 1980s, the anti-communism sentiment in South Korea was strong”).
But, “North Korea could have exported the watch to socialist or communist nations, including China,” he said. “You can sometimes find the Moranbong watches on Chinese online antique markets. Many of sellers are from the northeast region of China, which is adjacent to North Korea.”
The next source I found had similar opinions. One hot summer day, I was talking with some secondhand watch sellers in Tokyo’s lively open-air market street of Ameya-Yokocho (or just Ameyoko for locals). None of them had seen a Moranbong for some time — although at least they knew what it was — and one directed me to a pawnshop a few streets away.
Its owner (wearing a fascinating watch-shaped bolo tie) called a friend, who arrived an hour later with a large messenger bag. He was willing to talk about his Moranbong, but also wanted to remain anonymous because he travels to North Korea often and was concerned about how authorities might react to an interview.
Over coffee, he told me he had never seen anyone in North Korea wearing a Moranbong and doubted that it even was sold there.
(He did, however, pull from his messenger bag an Omega, one of the many custom timepieces that the North Korean government has commissioned occasionally over the past 50 years or so for special occasions or to give to visiting dignitaries. This one, for example, was ordered to commemorate the 70th birthday of Kim Il-sung, who led the country from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. His grandson, Kim Jong-un, has maintained the tradition — although he is often seen wearing a Movado watch, an American brand whose Swiss origins are reflected in its designs.)
In September, when I thought I had exhausted the subject — and that the Moranbong would continue to be just one more interesting and elusive bit of horological trivia, I got a message from Mr. Kawaguchi. He had just returned to Tokyo after a visit to North Korea.
While in Pyongyang, he said, he saw a new Moranbong watch in a souvenir shop for visitors. But this time, it was a quartz model and priced at 5,500 Japanese yen.
“On the box of the quartz watch, the name of the trade company, Sinheung, was printed,” he said. “I think that the name Moranbong still exists as watch brand, but I’m not sure if there is still an operating factory which makes mechanical watch.”
GUANGZHOU, China, Nov. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Hitachi Elevator (China) Co., Ltd. has made the list of the third batch of 106 provincial-level industrial design centers in Guangdong Province released by the local government on October 22, 2019.
Over the past few years, industrial design has gradually become an important component of the core competitiveness and rapidly grown in importance worldwide while being widely valued by manufacturers of all kinds.
With its ongoing commitment to enhancing the speed of elevators, Hitachi Elevator is striving to take a human-oriented approach to delivering a more comfortable riding experience to users. The firm invests over 3 per cent of its revenue in research and development as well as in its design businesses annually in order to provide more personalized products and services to all.
Hitachi Elevator has received provincial- and municipal-level science and technology awards for eight of its elevator design projects over the past five years. In particular, the company’s “Nordic Minimalist ” and “Optical Journey” projects have won the Excellence in Product Design award among the Kapok Design Awards. In addition, the company has implemented several key projects as part of Guangzhou’s key initiative to encourage innovative collaborations between industry, universities and research institutions, including a project for creating efficient elevator systems based on 2D intelligent control technology and heavy capacitor energy storage technology.
Hitachi Elevator, in cooperation with Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa, has recently developed its first concept elevator, the HF-1, as a result of the undertaking of a mission to create a truly user-friendly conveyance. HF-1 represents a new way of stimulating innovation in the elevator sector. By integrating accessible and personalized designs, as well as the “without thought” design concept into the product organically via cross-discipline innovation and integration of diverse technologies, the firm aims to improve the interaction between elevators and users, delivering a better user experience and ultimately creating higher value for all stakeholders including the riders of the elevators.
With the emergence of new scenarios and applications driven by a new technological revolution, the industrial design community is embracing new ways of thinking and creating. Given these trends, Hitachi Elevator is seeking to apply a diverse lineup of technologies to industrial design, including designs for high speed elevators and double deck elevators, energy saving solutions for elevators, as well as the application of intelligent IT for the management of elevator-related services, with the aim of creating new value for the industry by empowering elevators with the latest innovations in industrial design.
There are many things to enjoy about the minimalist lifestyle but here are our top picks when it comes to living a simpler life.
Minimalism on Female First
Empty space: This is something you begin to enjoy rather than evade – because it doesn’t mean that a place in your home is lacking something- these areas of your space are giving you visual breaks as you look about your rooms and offer your mind some respite from the clutter of things.
Easy maintenance: Another thing to take pleasure in is how easy your space is to keep. Cleaning is reduced, tidying is lessened and therefore resetting your home is easier than it has ever been because there is a distinct lack of stuff littering the place up.
No seasonal cleaning: Another joy of minimalism is that you don’t have to spring clean along with everyone else at the beginning of the year. You can use this time to do- literally anything else. Your spring cleaning becomes a little and often exercise to maintain a constant flow of things in and out of your home, so it doesn’t become a huge job at one point in the year.
Visitors are welcome any time: You can take pride in the fact that you no longer need to do a quick tidy before people come over or ask for warning that they are on their way over. Your home is ready to accommodate anyone who wants to come and see you without the need to hurriedly stuff things away in cupboards.
Freedom: Another glorious thing about living a simpler life is that your time is your own- you no longer have to dedicate days to car boot sales, eBaying your old things, taking items to the charity shops by the car load or finding new homes for your belongings by giving them to your friends or family. You can use this time more wisely and productively.
Your own personal sanctuary: You can revel in your space because it becomes somewhere that feels like a giant hug rather than a list of to-dos. Coming home fills you with ease because you know you are entering a welcoming space.
The boost to your creativity: As your decluttering projects dissipate and everything you own makes you happy and has a purpose- there is opportunity for new pursuits whatever they may be. Only you know what it is that you truly want to do with your time and minimalism gives you the breathing room to decide.