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Urban Design Exhibition Opens at the United Nations

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The United Nations estimates that by 2030, nearly five billion people will live in cities around the world – about 40% of whom are projected to be occupying informal settlements, or slums, in over-saturated global metropolises. Add to this the finding that already today, approximately 90% of the world’s population is surviving with little to no access to fundamental goods and services.

Design With the Other 90%: Cities” (405 E 42nd St., October 15 - January 9, 2012), an exhibition marking a first-time collaboration between the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and the United Nations in New York, sheds light on the role of architecture, infrastructure, and alternative energy sources in creating progressive solutions to the challenges facing city dwellers and planners, resulting from unprecedented population growth and rapid urbanization.

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Helsinki: So Hot Right Now

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It may be getting chilly in the Baltics, but Helsinki is heating up. Finland’s biggest city—perhaps best known for its colorful Marimekko prints and Modernist works by the late, great Alvar Aalto, not to mention its abundant saunas—has been named the 2012 World Design Capital.

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Where to Stay in Amsterdam and Shanghai

Swatch Art Peace Hotel

Shanghai: Renovated by French architecture firm Jouin Manku, complete with retro-futuristic curves, the seven-room Swatch Art Peace Hotel (pictured; 23 E. Nanjing Rd.; 86-21/2329-8500; doubles from $695) will open in October in a 1908 building on the Bund. The Swatch Group will display its latest watch models at on-site boutiques, while a six-month residency program will host artists to live, work, and exhibit on the premises.

Amsterdam: New this month, and a short stroll from the Rijksmuseum, the Conservatorium Hotel (27 Van Baerlestraat; 31-20/670-1811; doubles from $501) has 129 minimalist, light-filled guest rooms, designed by Milanese architect Piero Lissoni, in an 1897 Renaissance Revival building. Many suites are laid out as duplexes, and a vast lobby flanks the structure’s original skylit courtyard.

Photo courtesy of Swatch Art Peace Hotel

How to Sleep Comfortably in an Airport Terminal

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Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport is experimenting with an innovation that air travelers have fitfully dreamt of for years:  a safe and clean place to grab a few hours’ sleep.

Installed a month ago in the AeroExpress terminal, the prototype Sleepbox shows travelers a small, private oasis in which to spend layovers.  The 13-sq.-ft. box, covered with an attractive pale ash veneer, is efficiently kitted out with two bunks, LED reading lamps, electrical outlets for laptops or phone charging, WiFi, ventilation and sound systems, under-bunk space to stow luggage, and motor-controlled blinds.  Apparently, there is even an automated process to change the linens between guests.

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Espresso Meets Art: Anish Kapoor Designs Illy Cups

Illy coffee cup and saucer

It’s fitting that the artist behind Chicago’s iconic bean-shaped sculpture has now created an espresso cup. But not just any cup. Available as part of a limited-edition collection by Italian coffee brand Illy ($90 a pair), Anish Kapoor’s white porcelain demitasse has a slick, platinum interior. The saucer can be placed on top to produce a mini sculpture. One masterpiece with my espresso, please!

Photo courtesy of Illy

Call for Entries: 2012 Travel + Leisure Design Awards

Design impacts travel in ways small and large—shaping everything from fashion and luggage to hotel rooms and city skylines. Now we want to know what inspires you.

Travel + Leisure’s 2012 Design Awards are a tribute to both the practical and the beautiful. The 2012 winners, representing 12 categories, will be chosen by a panel of outstanding experts in their fields. Jury members include: architect Billie Tsien; chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson; fashion designer Derek Lam; Paul Priestman, director of Priestmangoode; Robert Hammond, co-founder and executive director of Friends of the High Line; Michael Bruno, founder of 1stdibs.com; designer Muriel Brandolini; and artist Michele Oka Doner.

Last year’s winners (see video, above) included the futuristic Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi (Best Large Hotel); the renovation of the United Kingdom’s oldest public museum, the Ashmolean, in Oxford (Best Museum); and Priestmangoode’s innovative staterooms, designed for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic ship (Best Transportation).

If you’re excited about something that we should consider for the 2012 awards, please drop us an email at designawards@aexp.com or fill out an application here. The deadline for nominations is Monday, October 3.

The winning entries will be published in our March 2012 issue.

The London Underground Gets Real

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A few years back, when I called South Kensington home, I distinctly recall trundling through London's Underground knowing, even with map in hand, that I had been misled. Eyeballing the official Tube map insinuated that Heathrow was the same distance west of South Ken as Tower Hill was to the east. So you can imagine my surprise when we rolled past Monument station towards Tower Hill 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

True—one should never assume subway diagrams bear any resemblance to street level. But admit it: we all do. An NYU study in 2011 found that passengers put their faith in transit maps far more than they do in their own travel experience. But shouldn’t we? Shouldn’t our maps clearly illustrate that the amount of time it takes to walk from Queensway to Bayswater beats switching lines by almost six minutes?

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Jonathan Adler's Travel-Inspired Pillows

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Cute alert: I usually pass interior designer Jonathan Adler's West Village [NYC] boutique on my way home from work, and recently noticed a window display spotlighting the interior designer's a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e new line of travel-inspired needlepoint throw pillows ($98). What can I say, they just make me happy. And apparently Adler, too: "Travel inspires me. These pillows are homages to my favorite Jet-Set locales. Looking at them is like a mini-vacation!" See for yourself:


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High-Flying Design: KLM Teams with Marcel Wanders

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KLM is bringing a little style to the skies—and its World Business Class passengers. The Dutch airline is teaming up with celebrated artist Marcel Wanders, who's also recently collaborated with Baccarat crystal and Target, in addition to designing the interior of the Mondrian South Beach. His eco-friendly tableware debuts this March.

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VIDEO: T+L Design Awards 2011

Watch the video of this year's distinguished panel of judges—including Norma Kamali and Danny Meyer—discuss the year's best-designed resort, restaurant, museum, travel apparel, gadget, and more. And don't miss our complete slideshow of of this year's Travel + Leisure Design Award winners.

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