San Francisco isn’t the only place one can bask in the complex, minimalist glory of Stanley Saitowtiz. Take, for example, the noted designer’s circa-2017 work, an unabashedly modern creation using concrete, glass, and steel, in the tony enclave of Atherton.
Featuring six bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, and 13,849 square feet, 96 Ridge View is comprised of two “L”-shaped forms (i.e., “legs”) that seem to balance on top of one another, creating two floating cantilevers hovering 23 feet above ground.
Walls facing the street are solid in order to provide privacy, while the opposite sides of the house are primarily made up of glass to provide views of the bay and the San Francisco skyline.
“The basement is for family play and causal entertaining opening to a large grassed area,” notes Natoma Architects, Saitowitz’s firm. “Dining, kitchen, and family areas are in the other leg of the L, where stairs go up to the bedroom L, inverted and floating above. The leg facing the city view is the master, cantilevered over the wing below creating an outdoor room.”
Christened the OZ residence, the home comes with steel-framed glass front doors; formal dining room; pool; detached four-car garage; fire pit; and bocce court; imported 100-year-old olive trees; and studio guest house and poolside house, each with a full kitchen.
MONTREAL– Coconut excellence has a new look. Introducing the newly redesigned Buddha Brands, one of North America’s leading coconut-based brands, which includes Thirsty Buddha Coconut Water, Hungry Buddha Coconut Snacks and Healthy Buddha Coconut Ingredients.
This new, optimized packaging for maximum shelf presence includes new designs that retain nods to the original packaging, with a new and iconic Buddha Brands logo.
The new Buddha Brands icon is a symbolic representation of the Buddha, with a complex iconography that represents the coconut tree, ocean and an island, signifying the brand’s central value – a commitment to sustainability.
Buddha Brands’ new branding offers consistency and unity across the Thirsty, Hungry and Healthy Buddha brands for better cross-category recognition in store.
“We wanted the new Buddha Brands look to reflect the fun and minimalist nature of the products,” said Chris Magnone, the company’s CEO and co-founder. “As we continue to pursue category captaincy in both Canada and the U.S., we saw this as an opportunity to turn the page on a new era for Buddha Brands. Our new look is clean and simple, like our products themselves, and is infinitely more iconic and recognizable across the three brands.Now, whether you’re shopping the cold fridges, the snacking section or the baking aisle, you’ll recognize BuddhaBrands’ products.”
“The new look is also much more photographable, giving our coconut-loving foodies all the more opportunity to snap a picture of the many ways their Buddha Brands product fits into their healthy lifestyles,” said Magnone.
Officially being unveiled at the Natural Products Expo West 2019, new Buddha Brands packaging will begin to hit shelves in Spring 2019.
About Buddha Brands Company
Buddha Brands Company by Temple Lifestyle believes that using multiple parts of the coconut is a sustainable approach that can maximize the usefulness of the fruit. From coconut water and chips to coconut vinegar and coconut nectar, we developed “The Coconut Initiative” as a means of connecting coconut lovers through our sustainability efforts. Through careful sourcing of the finest coconuts from Southeast Asia, Buddha Brands believes that health and balance extend to the planet itself, which is why one percent of annual sales are donated to environmental and sustainable charities through one percent for the Planet.
However, one London-based company took to MWC to bring a different, slightly new form factor to the mix. Fxtec (stylized as “F(x)tec”) officially launched its Pro1 (stylized as “Pro1“) Android phone today, and while it has most of the apps and features you’ve come to expect from a modern day device, it packs one key differentiator: a physical QWERTY keyboard.
While it’s true that a handful of other recent Android devices have shipped with a physical keyboard, Fxtec’s incarnation is positioned in landscape format, so that when you flip the screen away from its rear, you essentially have a miniature Android laptop.
Above: Fxtec’s Pro1: A $649 Android phone with a landscape QWERTY keyboard
Image Credit: Paul Sawers / VentureBeat
The screen sits at an angle on a little hinged kickstand, and the keyboard has pretty much most of the buttons you’d expect from a fully-functioning keyboard — Ctrl, Shift, Caps, Esc, Del, and a full number row along the top. Heck, you can even navigate the apps on the homescreen using the arrow keys and open one by hitting the Enter key.
Above: Fxtec Pro1
Image Credit: Paul Sawers / VentureBeat
Though it’s easy to dismiss the Pro1 as something of a gimmick, it does actually fit into a broader trend we’ve seen across the mobile phone landscape: People are hungry for something different, even if that means borrowing from the past.
Over the past year, a number of minimalist devices have also gone to market as people seek to switch off from constant connectivity without being completely disconnected. They’re retro with a purpose, rather than “hipster retro.”
Fxtec’s Pro1 embraces retro not only with a sliding keyboard, but with a physical camera shutter button (left-hand side in photo) and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Above: Fxtec Pro1: Side-view with camera shutter button
“Our ideal handset is a modern smartphone, combined with elements that we miss from the past,” said Fxtec cofounder and director Adrian Li Mow Ching, in an interview with VentureBeat.
Other specifications you may be keen to know include: a 5.99-inch (2160 x 1080 (FHD+) AMOLED display; Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor; 6GB of RAM / 128GB of storage; dual 12-megapixel / 5-megapixel rear cameras and a 8-megapixel front shooter; a 3,200 mAh battery; and a side-mounted fingerprint reader.
Oh, and the Pro1 will run pretty much pure “vanilla” Android.
Foldables and keyboards
While it may seem something of a stretch to draw parallels between foldables and a device with a physical QWERTY keyboard, Li Mow Ching thinks that they are both symptomatic of a broader consumer demand.
“To us, the folding phone proves that there’s a change in trends in the market — people want to get away from just a single slab,” he said. “And we’re providing an alternative. But actually ours is a tried-and-tested alternative, something we know that works, something that gives us enjoyment when we use it.”
To a casual observer, the Fxtec Pro1 bears all the hallmarks of a device built with the best of intentions by enthusiastic and passionate founders — but built for themselves, with perhaps a little less consideration as to the market demand for such a product. However, Fxtec is under no illusions as to where its device will sit in the broader smartphone landscape — it’s fully aware that this is not a Samsung Galaxy S10-killer.
“This is a niche device, and niche devices have done a massive comeback these past two years,” Li Mow Ching continued. “But we are being realistic.”
It’s worth noting here that the Pro1 actually had a precursor of sorts that debuted at CES last year. The $99 Slider Keyboard Moto Mod was developed by Livermorium, a previous company set up by Fxtec cofounder Liangchen Chen, and was designed to be retrofitted to compatible Motorola devices — however, the project was later canceled.
The Fxtec Pro1 is the result of some of the work that went on back then, though the whole technology has been refined somewhat in the intervening months.
Launching a hardware company is, of course, an expensive endeavor — there is a lot of risk, and there is never any certainty that people will want to buy what you’ve built. This is where crowdfunding has recently come to the fore — people pay up-front for their product, and the company uses the money to create the product on a sort of on-demand basis.
Fxtec isn’t crowdfunding its phone, but the preorder system that it’s running through its website will be used to emulate the benefits of crowdfunding — the company will only build products based on the number of orders that have been placed. And it won’t take money from people until the phone is ready to ship.
The Fxtec Pro1 opens for preorders globally from today through the company’s website, though the device isn’t expected to start shipping until July 2019. And in terms of price, well, you can expect to pay a fairly punchy $649 or local currency equivalent.
Generally speaking, you don’t want to end up at a place like Hope Gardens. The housing development, located at Meath Court in the west London borough of Ealing, is temporary accommodation for people who have found themselves without secure or long-term housing. It is, for many people, the last resort before sleeping on the street.
In London, more than 56,000 families were living in temporary accommodation in the second quarter of 2018 (roughly 2,100 of those were living in Ealing). London’s figure represents nearly 70% of England’s total, a testament of the acute housing crisis that London has been facing for years. Half-empty luxury skyscrapers seem to sprout up with increasing regularity, while government-funded public housing has not been built in any large-scale way since the 1980s.
While the residents of Hope Gardens wait for their application for long-term, secure housing to be assessed by the council, the temporary structure they’re living in is a novel way to meet the demand in London’s housing crisis. It could point to a future strategy for cities that need to tackle crises of housing, migration, and land development.
The idea of inhabitable shipping containers, like the ones the residents at Hope Gardens live in, generally brings a certain demographic to mind: young, gentrifying professionals who view minimalist living as a lifestyle choice rather than a function of circumstance. This is largely thanks to hip developments such as the Boxpark chain of shopping malls in London’s gentrifying neighborhoods of Shoreditch and Croydon or the quirky-luxe residential units presented at design shows, like those created by German company Containerwerk.
While they are bright, colorful, and modern-looking, compared to the austere style of much of Britain’s public housing, the tenant-ready units at Hope Gardens are not what one might call “hip.” The containers are built for purpose—meaning they are built to be lived in, not converted from old containers—their fittings are basic and designed to be easily swapped in and out in case of damage or repairs. The focus is on modularity, easy transportability, and speed of both setup and dismantling. The studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom units—which range from 12 to 36 square meters—come equipped with simple beds, a couch, a wardrobe table, and basic kitchen appliances as well as standard utilities.
Hope Gardens was developed by QED Properties, a sustainable urban developer, in partnership with ISO Spaces, a company that specializes in converting shipping containers. It can accommodate roughly 216 such tenants, or roughly 60 families.
The Hope Gardens development was built and assembled in 24 weeks; its residents first arrived in December 2017. It was built on what’s called a “meanwhile site,” or land that’s been earmarked for future development, but its ultimate use has not been finalized. The units will be inhabited on their current site for seven years after installation, then moved elsewhere when the land they’re situated on is ready to be used for its intended purpose.
In the UK, local government councils are responsible for housing people, in their boroughs, who say they are at risk of homelessness. While their application is assessed, these tenants are generally placed in temporary accommodation and charged rent according to their ability to pay (often with the help of government benefits) until they can be permanently housed.
Like other temporary accommodation setups, people arrive at Hope Gardens from a range of circumstances. Some have been living in private rented accommodation that, for one reason or another (often a rent hike), they can no longer live in. Government statistics (pdf) say that in 2017-2018, 31% of Londoners who were at risk of homelessness said the end of a private tenancy agreement was the cause. In Ealing, the figure in 2018 was 59%. Few can afford to re-enter London’s private rental sector.
Others may have been living in other temporary accommodation setups that offer little privacy or security or may have found themselves with nowhere to go after a relationship ended. In a testament to how acute London’s housing shortage is, Ealing council says the average stay in temporary accommodation in the borough is four years. Tenants range from single individuals to families or parents with their children. All hope to be placed in a secure, long-term housing option.
While few people would want to be in such a situation, Peter Mason, cabinet member for housing, planning & transformation at Ealing Council, says that the setup at Hope Gardens is better than many alternatives the council can offer, such as placing residents outside of London, far away from their communities or support networks.
“…These modular homes allow us to do is to give people some stability in their lives very quickly.”
“We can’t pretend that anyone entering into temporary accommodation is anything but going through a difficult period of their lives,” Mason told Quartz. “But what these modular homes allow us to do is to give people some stability in their lives very quickly rather than having to pick a family up from the community that they know.”
Housing people at Hope Gardens costs the council slightly less than a typical hostel or B&B accommodation setup. But the council says they don’t see this marginal cost saving as the reason for creating them. “Giving tenants more privacy and control over their lives,” is the priority, Mason says; residents routinely report that simply having a front door is major perk of the setup, compared to bed-sit style hostels or bed and breakfasts, where bathroom and kitchen facilities are shared.
That’s not to say that tenants haven’t reported downsides. Temperature control seems to be an issue; though the units contain radiators, some residents have complained they are too cold in the winter, and scorching in the summer, both thanks to structures’ metal exterior. A rep from the council said since the complaints, “no changes have been made and after investigation, [the units] have not found to be wanting.” All in all, though, the bright and clean units are nicer than what many a would-be London tenant has likely come across in their search for affordable housing.
Some critics take issue with building housing on “meanwhile sites.” It is a symptom of a broken system, they say, not a solution to be celebrated. Anna Minton, an academic and author whose work is focused on London’s housing crisis, notes that meanwhile sites are very much known to be part of the “hipsterization around the corner” transition where “a site which is earmarked for a big development or a luxury apartment block will take on a more temporary use while it’s empty which satisfies the area as well.” In other words, making use of meanwhile sites for temporary accommodation may seem innovative, but it is really a symptom of a system that prioritizes speculative investment over the needs of current residents. (It should be noted that the slated purpose of the Hope Gardens site is a public park, not luxury flats).
She adds that in a country that already has homes with the smallest average floor area in Europe, according to Cambridge University researchers, she’s wary of solutions that are predicated on having people live in ever-smaller units. “While the aims of the people behind it are laudable, it’s sort of trying to find ways of sneaking in good social outcomes within existing socio-economic structures which are broken.”
The future is modular
Modular, responsive structures can help shape a future defined by a less permanent attitude toward housing.
That said, councils are not tasked with fixing the housing crisis that everyone agrees the city is mired in—they’re supposed to help prevent people from ending up on the streets. There is an argument to be made that modular, responsive structures can help shape a future defined by a less permanent attitude toward housing is the kind we need to meet the needs of the changing city and world.
Ross Gilbert is the managing director of QED Properties, the developer of Hope Gardens, as well as two other similar developments in Ealing and one in Brighton, UK. He describes the built environment in London as “slow and unresponsive,” meaning it takes ages to make change and get projects off the ground, adding “it’s very inaccessible for small developers and self builders.”
That means the new stability when it comes to housing, he says, may just be adaptability.
“Access over ownership is very much what we’re really interested in,” Gilbert said. “How you can provide a housing solution that is about access—not just for the most vulnerable, but also for younger professionals, key workers? There are huge number of groups that would benefit from an increase of housing of this kind.”
He describes a situation where “a common language or a network of construction” means that shipping container units like those at Hope Gardens can be plugged in to various places around the world and added onto or subtracted from based one’s stage of life.
“How far away are we from, rather than moving house, you actually move your house?” Gilbert says. “We have this global infrastructure of transport networks that moves hundreds of millions of these things round every year. Having a much more flexible and dynamic built environment has got to be the future.”
Be sure to download the Quartz Brief app for iOS to explore our 3D model of Hope Gardens in augmented reality.
The Glens purchased their first 2GIG system from Link Interactive nearly a decade ago, and since then they have moved three times.
When Andrew and Crystal Glen decided to build a new home just east of Albuquerque, N.M., they worked closely with a builder and architect to achieve the modern minimalist design and architecture they wanted.
Even though they started from scratch to build their new “dream home,” they decided to take something familiar with them: the 2GIG security system that they had purchased and maintained through the home security professionals at Link Interactive
According to homeowner Andrew Glen, the couple had been so happy with their previous GC2-based 2GIG systems that they didn’t need to consider other brands. They only wanted to upgrade the control panel to the more robust GC3.
“We knew from experience that 2GIG was reliable, really easy to use, and gave us all the functionality we wanted and needed,” Glen explains. “It’s important to us to have a system that’s able to integrate easily and provide additional solutions such as climate and irrigation control. We moved several times over the past nine years and always chose to keep our 2GIG system. It’s a small investment for the immense peace-of-mind it provides.”
The Glens purchased their first 2GIG system from Link Interactive nearly a decade ago, and since then they have moved three times. Each time they moved, they were able to take some of the wireless components of the system with them to re-use at the new home, with system design assistance from Link Interactive.
Connected to the GC3 main control panel are two secondary SP1 touchscreens, among various sensors.
After having so much experience with the system, Andrew Glen was able to install some of the equipment at the new home himself, while also hiring a local low-voltage integrator to handle other important aspects.
“The Glens wanted a top-shelf system that isn’t complicated or difficult to use, and we knew the 2GIG GC2, and now the GC3, was the perfect solution,” says Debbie Elliott, operations manager at Link Interactive. “As they moved from home to home over the years, we’ve provided design and installation assistance to ensure optimal coverage, reliability and ease of use. As Andrew is quick to point out, the 2GIG system makes a home security evangelist out of anyone who installs or uses it.”
Built by Modern Dwellings, the home was completed in early 2018 and won three awards in a 2018 Parade of Homes event organized by the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico.
Featuring a variety of glass and acrylic artwork, a moderately minimalist design, and an open-concept kitchen and living room surrounded by large plate windows that blur the line between indoors and outdoors, the home presents a truly modern aesthetic that the Glens say was inspired by the work of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
“With such care and attention put into our home, it was paramount that we properly protected it from any intruders or internal disasters like fires or leaks,” Glen says. “We have 2GIG sensors that detect broken windows, fire, smoke, carbon monoxide, open doors and windows, and all of those sensors are connected to our GC3 panel for remote monitoring.”
In the coming year, the Glens plan to add electronic door locks, an interior security camera to check on their pets, and irrigation, all of which will into the 2GIG system, with monitoring services provided by Alarm.com.
Remote Operation Capabilities
The Glens can disarm the 2GIG system remotely when family stops by, and the connected thermostats also allow for remote management of climate.
The Glens can disarm the 2GIG system remotely when family stops by, and the connected thermostats also allow for remote management of climate. They often use these features to make adjustments after leaving or before returning home, as they both travel frequently for work and leisure. They also monitor their windows and doors with sensors, which they say provides peace of mind that all entrances are sealed and their pets are safe inside the home.
“The 2GIG system has always been reliable, so when we built this house the only change we really wanted to make to our existing system was to have the newest control panels in multiple rooms,” Glen says. “We now have a GC3 panel in the living space and 2GIG touchscreens in the master bedroom and garage, so access and control are always close at hand. In fact, our 2GIG system is so simple and effective that we convinced my parents to install 2GIG at their home as well.”
The security system uses a number of 2GIG sensors and modules to provide all the features the family requires: Connected to the GC3 main control panel are two secondary SP1 touchscreens, a SMKT3 smoke/heat/freeze sensor, a GB1 glass break sensor, two RE206 garage tilt sensors, and 13 DW door/window sensors. The three individual thermostats were provided by Alarm.com and are fully controlled and monitored through the GC3 panel and mobile app.
According to Glen, one incident he will never forget is when their shed at a previous home caught on fire. As he rushed out to attempt extinguishing it using a hose, Crystal was able to quickly alert the local fire department through the 2GIG panel and Alarm.com monitoring service. They arrived shortly after and successfully put the fire out before it was able to spread.
“It’s really about peace-of-mind,” Glen says. “If someone is trying to enter our house, we are alerted. If there’s smoke or carbon monoxide detected, we’re alerted. In our minds, even though our community is gated, having instant notification of any events occurring at our home is a modern day necessity — especially when we have invested so much time and energy to design our dream home.”