Design Wire September 2022

After moving out of its retail space at 42 Exchange Street in Portland last year and transitioning to primarily online sales, Maine children’s boutique LITTLE has announced that it will be reopening in a new retail space two doors down at 38 EXCHANGE STREET. Founded in 2015 by ANGELA AND JOHN FODDRILL, Little is the second retail venture of the couple, who have owned and operated women’s clothing boutique BLISS since 2002. To allow Bliss to relocate up the street in the Old Port, the Little team relinquished their brick-and-mortar store. They shifted their focus to revamping the boutique’s website and online shopping experience while looking for a new location. The new retail space, which will showcase the shop’s high-quality children’s toys and clothes, has a tentative opening date of late summer or early fall.

In response to rising ocean levels, an inescapable effect of climate change, South Asian country THE MALDIVES has partnered with Dutch architectural firm WATERSTUDIO and developer DUTCH DOCKLANDS to create the world’s first floating city. The project, titled MALDIVES FLOATING CITY, will consist of 5,000 low-rise floating homes in a 200-hectare lagoon in the Indian Ocean that is a ten-minute boat ride from Male, the Maldivian capital. Built on hexagonal floating structures modeled after brain coral, the floating city will be able to house up to 20,000 people in addition to supporting infrastructure for businesses, schools, a hospital, and government buildings. The artificial islands will be arranged in the shape of a brain, and the undersides of each structure will include artificial coral banks to encourage natural coral growth. Construction on the development is set to begin later this year, and the island is slated to be inhabitable as early as 2024 and finished by 2027.

Working with naval architecture firm ELLIOTT BAY DESIGN GROUP, CASCO BAY LINES in Portland has begun the construction phase of a hybrid-electric passenger ferry with the intention of replacing the current ferry that runs between Portland and Peaks Island, MACHIGONNE II. The new, 164-foot ferry will utilize a hybrid propulsion system that switches between diesel-electric and zero-emission battery-powered modes, to lower carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 800 metric tons per year and improve air quality in Casco Bay. With the capacity for 15 vehicles and 599 passengers on two lower decks and an upper sun deck, the new ferry will help Casco Bay Lines keep up with increased passenger and vehicle demand in recent years.

In celebration of the SILK ROUTE and how the ancient trading road impacted modern-day English gardens, London-based architectural firm HEATHERWICK STUDIOS partnered with THE NATIONAL TRUST to design and build a 1,518-square-foot glass house in the National Trust’s WOOLBEDING GARDENS in WEST SUSSEX, ENGLAND. Located in a section of the grounds dubbed the SILK ROUTE GARDEN, the glass house is made up of ten kinetic, glass and metal “sepals,” which move to either open or close up the structure in just four minutes. Inspired by the look of the Victorian ornamental terrariums that were used to transport plants from Asia to Britain, the structure resembles a crown shape when open to the elements and a pyramid or gem shape when closed.

Recently highlighted in popular travel magazine TRAVEL AND LEISURE, the central Maine city of WATERVILLE is gaining national attention due to the $200 million that has been put into revitalization efforts in the former mill town. One of the leading businesses featured in the article is the LOCKWOOD HOTEL, a luxury hotel named after the former Lockwood textile mill that is set to open either late summer or early fall. Set along Main Street, the hotel will offer 53 rooms, views of the Kennebec River, a terraced patio, an art collection curated by the COLBY COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART, and FRONT AND MAIN, an on-site restaurant that opened last year.

During a five-day residency in early July, Maine artists and married couple RACHEL GLORIA ADAMS and RYAN ADAMS painted custom murals representative of their respective artistic styles at the L.L. BEAN FLAGSHIP STORE in Freeport. With imagery echoing the outdoor retail store’s motto, “Be an outsider,” the murals include a backdrop with larger-than-life blueberries and flowers painted against the side of the flagship store by Rachel, and a canoeing scene painted on the back side of the bike, boat, and ski store by Ryan. The Portland couple have collaborated on many projects in the past, including the PIECE TOGETHER PROJECT in Portland, a series of murals throughout the East Bayside neighborhood that feature Ryan’s portrait work and Rachel’s pattern designs.

Portland real estate developer THE SZANTON COMPANY has broken ground on a new housing development in Bath called the UPTOWN, which will serve as 50 apartment units specifically for tenants and households aged 55 and older. Forty-six of the apartments will be situated in the former location of the YMCA at 26 SUMMER STREET with the remaining four in the nearby Columbia Block, which Szanton bought from BATH HOUSING DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION in early July. Seventy percent of the units will be set aside to accommodate households with annual incomes of $30,000 to $42,000. The units, which were designed by ARCHETYPE ARCHITECTS and are being built by HEBERT CONSTRUCTION, are due to be ready for occupancy in December 2023.

Sustainable furniture brand ECOBIRDY, known for creating functional and stylish furnishings from waste materials including the FROST TABLE—which is made from internal parts of discarded refrigerators and is currently on display in the DESIGN MUSEUM BRUSSELS—has unveiled the FROST TABLE SPECIAL EDITION. After joining the UN ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME with the intention of improving waste management, ecoBirdy turned to using daily, “necessary” waste to highlight the importance of recycling on a daily basis. EcoBirdy came up with a new version of the Frost Table, creating a single tabletop from 5,825 contact lens blister packs, a daily piece of waste for many. The company’s goal is to collect 1 million packs to create more pieces of functional furniture while challenging the design dialogue’s relationship to everyday use.

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