Studio Weave’s The Longest Bench

Studio Weave’s The Longest Bench


Despite only recently gaining their registrations as architects, duo Je Ahn and Maria Smith founded Studio Weave back in 2006 and completed a number of projects as humble students. With a fun and quirky style, they tend to concentrate on public space improvements; one of their more renowned projects is The Longest Bench in Littlehampton, West Sussex. Made from reclaimed timber interspersed with the odd colourful stainless steel bar, the wiggly bench can seat up to 300 people and was inspired by a charm bracelet.


Spatial experience and coherence between external and internal spaces is the design focus for German architecture practice Kraus Schoenberg, something they clearly demonstrate in the sustainable housing projects that they are best known for: Haus W and H27D. Clean and contemporary in design, Haus W is a prefabricated, low energy house in Hamburg designed as one big connected space created by rooms of various heights corresponding to their individual function. H27D, a five-storey apartment building in Constance, isn’t much to look at from the outside but was designed this way to match the look and feel of the historic city centre where it lies. The highly engineered building can be recycled to achieve zero waste.

BIG’s cultural arts centre in Bordeaux

BIG’s cultural arts centre in Bordeaux


Danish architects BIG have designed an enormous new cultural arts centre in Bordeaux alongside French studio, FREAKS freearchitects. Scheduled to open in 2015, MÉCA (Maison de l’Économie Créative et de la Culture en Aquitaine) will become the new combined home of arts organizations the FRAC, the OARA and the ECLA, situated on the Garonne waterfront. The striking design for the 12,000 sq m building features a central rectangular hollow which will be used as a huge stage and exhibition space.


An ambitious, shape-shifting, ‘transformer building’ has been designed by Californian architects, amphibianArc, for the headquarters of Zoomlion, a Chinese industrial vehicle manufacturer in Changsha, Hunan province. Each end of the proposed building will have a transforming façade made of hinged steel and glass plates designed to mimic the movement of eagles, butterflies and frogs. amphibianArc claim that their goal is to ‘create buildings that not only reshape the lived reality but also inspire minds that will invent the future’.

Polifactory’s Hous.E+ generates energy from a lake on its roof

Polifactory’s Hous.E+ generates energy from a lake on its roof


Shanghai-based architects Polifactory have designed Hous.E+, a self-sustaining rammed earth house designed for a rural site in Vancouver, Canada that generates energy from a lake on its roof. The concept house is designed to produce more energy than it consumes; turbines embedded in the walls produce electricity from water being pumped through a system of pipes and the walls would act like a breathing structure, allowing air exchange without significant heat loss.

Coca-Cola Beatbox, Asif Kahn

Coca-Cola Beatbox, Asif Kahn


Despite not technically being an architect (he never quite got round to sitting his final exams), Asif Khan has received impressive acclaim for his experimental work across architecture, products and design. He was awarded Designer of the Future award in 2011 after showing his unique Cloud installation at Art Basel Miami. More recently, Khan teamed up with Pernilla Ohrstedt for the London Olympics project, Coca-Cola Beatbox; a striking red and white sculpture doubling up as an enormous musical instrument.


Tel Aviv-born twosome Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay formed London-based design studio Raw Edges following their graduation from the Royal College of Art in 2006, where they met and teamed up. They have since won a string of highly respected awards for their innovative and striking products for the home which blur the line between art and furniture. Their work can be found within the permanent collection at MoMA in New York and Stella McCartney commissioned the duo to create the floor for her Rome store after spotting their installation at Art Basel.


Vienna-based design studio Mischer’Traxler is made up of partners in both their professional and personal lives, Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler. The pair design experimental products, furniture and installations, characterized by conceptual thinking and the use of unexpected materials. Their complex project ‘The Idea of a Tree’ combines natural input with a mechanical process, driven by solar energy, which translates the intensity of the sun into one object a day. The outcome is a unique product that reflects the various sunshine conditions that occur during that day and becomes a three-dimensional recording of its process and time of creation. This kind of innovative thinking won the duo the accolade of Designers of the Future at Design Miami/Basel in 2011.

Hamilton Scotts, Singapore features ensuite sky garages

Hamilton Scotts, Singapore features ensuite sky garages


In Singapore, luxury high-rise residential building Hamilton Scotts, project of real estate developer KOP Properties, have come up with a novel alternative to underground parking: en suite sky garages. Residents need simply to drive their car into a designated spot outside the building and, after a quick biometric thumb scan, their car is whizzed straight up to their apartment via a special lift. By the time the owner reaches their apartment, the car is displayed behind a glass wall off the living room, ready to be admired.


Austrian architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au have completed work on the enormous Busan Cinema Centre in South Korea. The impressive building boasts a 4000-seat outdoor cinema covered by a seemingly gravity defying cantilevered roof (the world’s largest at 85 metres from end to end), the ceiling of which is illuminated by thousands of LED lights to create a kind of virtual sky. The building will be the new home of the Busan International Film Festival and is Coop Himmelb(l)au’s first project in Korea.

DCPP Arquitectos’ 20-storey building porposal for Lima, Peru

DCPP Arquitectos’ 20-storey building porposal for Lima, Peru


A luxury 20-storey apartment block featuring individual swimming pools that teeter out over the city like diving boards has been proposed by Mexican architects DCPP Arquitectos to be built in Lima, Peru. The building has been designed with a transparent façade for a location in the east of the city overlooking a golf course. DCPP say the idea behind the design is to ‘incorporate the exterior space to the interior life of the apartments and create a new relation between public and private areas’.


For her graduation proposal, Architectural Association student, Yvonne Weng, designed The 6th Layer: Explorative Canopy Trail, a non-invasive, airborne system that would allow scientists to live in the treetops of the Amazon rainforest whilst carrying out research, without the risk of damaging the forest’s fragile eco-system. The incredible design imagines a series of super strong webs made of synthetic fibres and suspended teardrop shaped pods where scientists could study and harvest medicinal plants. The concept won Weng acclaim from scientists and architects alike and the 2012 Foster + Partners Prize for excellence in sustainability and infrastructure.

Bamboo Courtyard from HWCD Associates

Bamboo Courtyard from HWCD Associates


The Bamboo Courtyard, a floating teahouse in Yangzhou, northwest of Shanghai, has been created by architects HWCD Associates. Organised in asymetric cubes on a lake, brick rooms are connected and encased by tall rows of bamboo arranged to create depth and interesting visual effects, further intensified by the atmospheric glow from lights inset into the door frames. The architects say ‘the simple form illustrates the harmonious blending of architecture with nature’.

Lee Sehoon’s Anitya range features a collection of all black funiture

Lee Sehoon’s Anitya range features a collection of all black funiture


Korean designer, Lee Sehoon uses the process of heating vinyl to create his dramatic, all black furniture range, Anitya.  The idea behind the collections is to create an illusion of perpetual and dynamic movement, achieved by the vinyl expanding when heated and contracting when cooled which results in unexpected and unique shapes. More recently, Sehoon designed Squaring, a clever bookcase design made up of hinged boxes that can be spun around to create numerous shapes and designs.


Chinese architect Wang Shu may run a practice called Amateur Architecture alongside his wife, Lu Wenyu, but don’t be fooled, his work is anything but. Shu, also a professor, recently won the extremely prestigious 2012 Pritzker Prize (generally regarded as the Nobel prize for architecture), for work representing consistent and significant contribution to humanity. Shu has completed five major projects in China including three college campuses and the Ningbo History Museum. His style typically combines modern design with traditional, often recycled, materials.

Additional research by Rebecca Stanczyk

Reading time: 7 min

Group Sales and Marketing Director, Alex Berry


Turn on the news any day of the week and, unfortunately, there is probably a story about a human tragedy taking place somewhere in the world. Usually by the time we first hear about it, relief is already on the way. We see images of it arriving by the planeload to some far-flung airstrip.  Ever stop and wonder who is behind those jumbo jets full of food and blankets? Not many would guess that it’s the same company that’s flying the hottest new boy band in ultra-luxury from one stop to another on a world tour but, from spoiling VIPs to flying relief missions, for the last 40 years Chapman Freeborn has been doing both.

Launched in 1973, Chapman Freeborn is the world’s leading jet charter company with offices in 25 countries. They have flown their share of jetsetters, royalty, oligarchs and stars and they’ve learned to provide a luxurious experience better than anyone else, but according to Alex Berry, Group Sales and Marketing Director, there is another side to the business that is a lot less glamorous but much more rewarding. “From flying humanitarian aid into areas in need, to moving people displaced by war, there hasn’t been a major international incident in the last 30 years that we were not involved in.”

When tragedy strikes, like an earthquake in Haiti or famine in Sudan, aid organizations need to move food, blankets, workers and much more, and they need to do it fast. “The airlines won’t fly on credit. Not even for organisations like the UN or Red Cross. So you need to have someone with the capacity and financial capabilities to make this work and make it work fast. Since we are privately owned and financially strong, we can meet the needs of the agency by mobilizing people and equipment without any delay.”

Some cynics say flights like these merely amount to making money out of other people’s misery. It is a claim Berry has heard before. “Do we make money out of evacuating people from war zones or bringing in relief to the needy? Yes we do, however we understand the importance of these missions and we make sure that everything is carried out as quickly, efficiently and professionally as possible. Often there are lives on the line. It is a huge responsibility and we take it very seriously.”


Group Sales and Marketing Director, Alex Berry

The Haitian earthquake of 2010 is a perfect example of Chapman Freeborn putting their experience and resources to work for a good cause.  After the devastating quake, relief material came pouring in from around the world but the airport had no offloading equipment to handle it all. “The first thing we did was fly in the proper gear and we immediately unloaded 10 planes. They could then fly back out to bring in more material. The Haiti tragedy happened on a Boxing Day. Our entire staff came in and worked throughout the holidays. Most of them ended up even sleeping in the office. It was tiring but very rewarding work.”

Chapman Freeborn has a product called REACT (Rescue, Evacuation and Aid Charter Team) that monitors international news sources and then, as its name suggests, reacts as quickly as possible when an aid organisation needs their help.  During the Arab Spring REACT responded to crisis situations in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Bahrain handling over 100 evacuation flights, flying over 20,000 passengers to safety. “Having 35 offices in 25 different countries around the world means we can deploy people from local offices to be on the ground right away. We were the first aircraft into Fukushima, Japan. We flew in a German search and rescue team with dogs and 13 tons of technical equipment from Frankfurt to Tokyo on a chartered B767 aircraft.”

In October, 2011 when St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver closed an old facility and donated the surplus medical equipment to Hanoi’s Bach Mai Hospital, Chapman Freeborn organised the air transportation of over 50 tons of medical equipment. “The delivery was particularly poignant as it arrived on the 40th anniversary of the Bach Mai Hospital bombing in 1972 which claimed the lives of 28 hospital staff. It was very inspiring,” says Berry. And, as it turns out, just part of the job.

Reading time: 3 min


We’d known about these buildings ever since they received Heritage status and I d admired them from the outside but had never been inside. The space was stifling, dark and closed. The previous owners had it very compartmentalized in order to maximize on rental. It was not at all compatible with SPACE.  From the onset we decided that we wanted to recapture the charm of the original building with as much authenticity as possible. At the same time we needed to create a voluminous interior. We also had to take into account the fact that the neighbouring buildings were at least 12 stories tall so we had to find a way to make the building stand out in its own way and, of course we had to do so within the confines of some very strict zoning laws that mandate how we could use the space.

Whenever you work with an existing structure you have to deal with the constraints of the building as well as with your budget constraints. Demolition is expensive and there are obvious disadvantages. It was our job to enhance rather than rebuild. One of the problems we faced was that there was not enough height between the floors. To make this work for SPACE we needed much higher ceilings, so we had to reconfigure the floors without interrupting the original structure too much.

Even the glass building in the centre of the project is built over the original building. We had to readjust and strip the internal floor plates and relocate them to new floors. It was a complex procedure. It also had to look right since the internal structure would be exposed by the use of glass.

The fact that it’s a sales site means that there are very specific requirements. The main challenge was designing the middle unit because although modern it had to get along with its neighbours, the two older buildings. We wanted to expose the showroom/furniture and we were trying to figure out how to best accomplish that. The law at the time stated that if a building had Conservation status then the exteriors must not be altered. We had to work with the authorities to change that rule to allow us to give it a more modern and urban look.  Inside, we needed to find the best way to design a showroom that would work well with lots of different brands, many of which are in competition with each other. They needed to be separate but at the same time there has to be a connection between them all. SPACE carried 13 major brands and each had a different design philosophy. In the end it was SPACE that determined the location of each brand and how much floor space to allocate to each and it was our job to make that possible.

SPACE was very adamant about creating an experience for their clients. They were very particular about the lighting and for the music they installed a Bang & Olufsen sound system. To complete the picture, they even customized their own scent for The . Every detail was taken into consideration to enhance the shopping experience in a homely setting, so that the customer can understand the pieces and the environment.

Reading time: 3 min
The Matterhorn put Zermatt on the map

The Matterhorn put Zermatt on the map



Beau Rivage Palace overlooking Lac Leman

The deep midwinter is when residents of the western hemisphere traditionally make their plans for the summer holidays, and the world’s travel industry has long been shaped around these rhythms. Things are changing, as a rapidly increasing number of travellers from countries where ‘summer’ is a far less clearly defined concept (think Singapore, Hong Kong, Brazil, India) make their presence felt. And even among those for whom seasons are clearly demarcated, the tendency towards last-minute travel means booking in July, for July, is more than a temporary trend.

But still: you’ll be reading this in the traditional Western winter, and you won’t have missed the flood of television and magazine advertisements enticing you towards your next grand trip. You may well hear the howling of a winter gale outside, and you might have gritted the drive this morning ahead of the forecast snow.

All of this might go some way to explaining why a quite perfect summer holiday destination for anyone with an active family, a love of luxury, culture, cuisine and the great outdoors, rarely appears at the top of people’s list. Switzerland is associated with many great things, but intense heat and sunshine are not among them, which is a great shame because I and the family picked up the most lasting tan in years during the couple of weeks we spent touring some of this country’s most interesting Alpine destinations last summer.  Switzerland may be mountainous, but the southern half of the country is also Mediterranean – it borders Italy, makes wine, serves antipasti and pizza, and some of it even speaks Italian – so sunshine is coupled with clean air and moderate temperatures. The latter is a boon as anyone who has ever tried to take small children to Sicily in August as we did the previous year may know. Forty degrees is OK for sipping rose in the shade, but not for actually doing anything much. In the mountains, strong sun combines with temperatures in the 20s to make for perfect days.

Before I continue, a note: this article has been strung together below from a series of visits at different dates to the destinations below. However, there is no reason at all why someone might not combine some or all of them in one trip, as Switzerland is as compact as it is mountainous.

By The Shores of Leman: The Beau Rivage Palace, Ouchy

Anyone who knows Lac Leman, or Lake Geneva, from its reference in TS Eliot’s rather depressing Wasteland poem might be expecting a rather gloomy place, but arriving in Ouchy, a bijou port village appended to the city of Lausanne, the feeling is just the opposite. The streets – formerly vineyards, which still surround the village – slope steeply down to the lakeside, the pastel coloured buildings speak of Romantic architecture, and the lake itself stretches thick and blue and still, some 10km across to the spectacular mountains on the French side, and as far as the eye can see both left and right. It’s a south facing location, not so much bathed as drowned in delicious southern sunlight: the point at which northern Europe becomes southern Europe. From here, all rivers flow south, to the Mediterranean, and the North European Plain is left behind.


Beau Rivage Palace overlooking Lac Leman

The location deserves a great hotel, and it has one, courtesy of the Belle Epoque travellers who flocked here in search of sunshine and clean air. It pays to be wary of 100 year old palace hotels in Europe, as some of them have fallen into disrepair as travellers take their money away by jet; but I was delighted to see that it was precisely the opposite with the Beau Rivage. The ceilings are high, the corridors palatial and the ballroom is a wonder, but everything has been refurbished to top global standard at what must be an absolutely eyewatering cost to the private owners. Our rooms had two balconies looking out over manicured lawns, a wood, tennis courts, a large outdoor pool and a considerable terrace area – the hotel seemed to stretch in every direction, a great relief after the cramped conditions one encounters even in the very best Mediterranean hotels. The view stretched to the Mont Blanc massif, looming opposite over the lake (Mont Blanc itself is hidden behind its siblings), and to the Upper Rhone valley to the left.

The pool turned out to be two pools, indoor and out, with diversions to tennis, table tennis, giant chess and simply meandering through the grounds as appropriate. The surrounding area is home to one of the world’s highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants, but, frankly, why bother? We started in the hotel’s bar, which has been remodelled with advice from some extremely cool Londonbased consultants in a super-contemporary style that is somehow still in keeping with the location – plenty of greys and dark woods, not too many urban whites. Mojitos, alcoholic and otherwise, provided a good counterpoint to the day’s heat, and I can’t imagine there are many other places in Switzerland where you can get a Mojito as good as at Claridge’s Bar.


Gstaad Palace’s New Lounge


Private spa suite at Gstaad Palace

The oriental-style bar snacks were spot on, but for dinner on our first night we revisited the same spot we had lunch, where I couldn’t resist revisiting a salad of rocket, artichoke, pine nut and parmesan, whose texture still lingers delightfully in the memory. The organic salmon nigiri with yuzu lemon and oyster espuma was a sort of aristocratic sushi that makes one wonder why more Japanese restaurants in Europe are not more adventurous with their nigiri variations. The menu is constantly changing, so you will likely not have what I did, but the conceptualising and cooking were pinpoint sharp. As was the wine list: a Crozes Hermitage from Jaboulet, from the excellent 2009 vintage, accompanied beautifully (although I was later to regret not having tried one of the excellent selection of Swiss wines).

The Cafe Beau Rivage is somewhere you could eat every meal of every day, but the hotel also owns a highly popular Italian trattoria/pizzeria in the neighbouring building whose terrace is the meeting point of the young cool set of the area, and a highly regarded traditional Japanese restaurant, Miyako, in the main building.

We left feeling rather guilty that we hadn’t indulged in a private boat trip on the lake, or visits to neighbouring vineyards, but it is always best to leave something for next time. The Beau Rivage palace is that rare example of a contemporary classic that makes its destination what it is: without it, Ouchy (pronounced Ooshy) would be a pretty lakeside village like many others in Switzerland and Italy (and it does have an Italianate feel).

Gstaad and the Palace

Ouchy may have views of high mountains, but in Swiss terms it is a lowland destination, on a large lake at a mere 375 metres altitude. From now, our trip would take us ever higher into the Alps. A little way down the lake from Lausanne is the town of Montreux, known for its globally-celebrated jazz festival but a slightly humdrum place otherwise. Montreux’s railway station is the starting point of the Goldenpass, one of the Alps’ most famed train rides. The train, with a special panoramic viewing roof, makes its way not along the lake, like the main train line, but up the mountainside abutting the lake. It climbs quickly to 1000 metres, over a pass, and then descends gently into a wonderland of deep green Alpine meadow, woodland, lush valleys, streams, and chalets.  The children kept a lookout for Heidi, and I kept wondering if it was all a projection by the Switzerland Tourism, the sophisticated national tourist authority, but no: it was real. The air was cooler but still warm, the sunlight tempered by dark forest, the slopes rising to snow patches below rocky peaks.


Train arriving in Gstaad from Montreux

Gstaad is at the end of this expanse of Alpine perfection, a little town in a bowl of big hills and small mountains, with an open view in every direction. And the Palace in Gstaad sits atop the town like a fairytale castle, with its own tennis courts, spa hewn into the rock, and permanent residence (or so it seems) of clients who have either just arrived or are just about to leave in their private jets from the nearby airstrip. The rockfaces of the mountains turn gold in the dusk sunlight as the conversations on the terrace turn to what the next generation will do with the wealth amassed by this one. Not having to worry unduly about such things, we sipped our aperitifs every evening and spent daytimes split between the hotel’s own spa and exploring the mountains.

The spa feels very Swiss, hewn out of the rockface under the hotel, with a granite-lined pool that stretches in an Lshape to a glass wall that opens fully on summer days. The treatments are perfectly thorough and correct as you would expect, my massage unclicking a joint that had been frozen for months; and the adults-only hydrotherapy pools are a fine place to spend a while amid the view. It was here that I noted another key advantage over traditional summer destinations: you are not overwhelmed by other people’s children; in fact, they are a mere footnote to the rather discerning adult clientele. The Palace is a lively place in winter with its louche nightclub Greengo, but in summer it is altogether more chilled out.

Gstaad’s mountains are not toweringly high by Swiss standards, but it’s an excellent place to start: we took a lift up to a restaurant atop one of the mid-size mountains from where the view stretched to the next range behind, and after a rustic lunch of veal (adults) and veal sausages (children) the offspring spent an enjoyable hour or two amusing themselves by seeing if there was anything in the meadow the restaurant owner’s pet goats would not eat. Branches, dandelions, weeds and wildflowers alike were consumed by the goats-with-a-view.

The people, like the goats, traditionally ate what was available locally here, which explains the surfeit of excellent veal which, being local, comes with fewer animal rights worries. And then there are the products, notably the local Gstaad cheese and the considerably more famous Gruyere from just down the valley. These combine most notably in a fondue, and on the recommendation of the local tourist office one evening we took a twenty-minute journey to Gsteig, the next village in the valley, for a fondue at Baren Gsteig.  Amid low beams and cowbells, we settled down to the freshest fondue I have experienced. It may sound odd to call a cheese fondue fresh, but I suspect the fact that all the cheese used


Edward Whymper was the first to climb the Matterhorn

was unpasteurised hard cheese made a significant difference to both the bite and the minerality of the dish. The bread was just right too, slightly stale (one day old, we were told) crusty local sourdough – if it’s too fresh, it flops into the melted cheese. The fondue also contained a dose of the local brandy, adding more bite and fruit freshness.

Another evening we went to the oldest restaurant in Gstaad proper, at the Hotel Post, on the bijou little high street, where the steak (local, again) had a combination of metallic earthiness and butter-tenderness I haven’t encountered elsewhere.

The Palace is a most civilised place to return after such rustic outings: the lobby and bar have a chalet-like feel, but the view is all around. On our last evening, the moon lit up the glacier at the side of the far peak up the valley. We were due to visit the glacier, accessible by cable car, but this was not to be this time. Again, something for another time.

To Zermatt

If there is one place in Switzerland, or indeed the Alps, that can claim to be as important in summer as it is in winter, it is Zermatt. Skiers may know the resort for its challenging black runs, excellent apres-ski, and cosy haute-cuisine mountain dining. But Zermatt is that rare resort, where visitors and global celebrity predated going down mountains with two planks tied to your feet. Like many chi-chi Alpine villages, it was for centuries a remote and impoverished farming hamlet, but its transformation came in the 19th century when Victorian-era Britons, bent on surmounting every challenge the world held, came to conquer its iconic mountain, the Matterhorn.

In the 1860s, successive climbing parties arrived in Zermatt bent on scaling the Matterhorn (now known to anyone who eats chocolates or buys Caran d’Ache pencils) and other peaks in the amphitheatre that surrounds the valley: along with Chamonix, the French

village at the foot of Mont Blanc, Zermatt can lay claim to being the home of Alpinism, of mountaineering as we know it.

Even 150 years later, with the arrival of the big-money skiing parties and the accessibility of higher and more challenging mountain ranges in Asia and South America, Zermatt still attracts the Alpinists in summer. The Matterhorn’s most accessible ridge, first climbed by the Englishman Edward Whymper in 1865 in a tragic expedition that involved the death of four of its members and which cemented the mountain’s ominous reputation, is now more accessible. With the help of fixed ropes, a carefully mapped route, and modern equipment,

hundreds of people climb it every year. But its other aspects, and in particular its vertical North Face, remain a monumental challenge, as do a number of the 30 other 4000 metre high peaks that surround Zermatt.  Oddly, none of these other peaks, the largest collection of 4000 metre mountains in the Alps, are available as the train ascends the valley to Zermatt.

The village still bans cars, so train is the only way to arrive. Alight at the train station, in a mini urban sprawl, and you may wonder what the fuss is all about. But take a few paces over towards the river, look up, and there is the Matterhorn, as otherworldly as it ever was, rising to 4478 metres above Switzerland and Italy.

For me there was only one place to stay in Zermatt. The Monte Rosa hotel is the village’s original hotel, built in the 19th century to house those climbing parties, and gently renovated since. Its heart and soul are in Alpinism: the walls are festooned with souvenirs from climbing parties, letters of good wishes from the likes of Winston Churchill to resident climbers, some of them triumphant, some doomed.

The bar is cosy, low-ceilinged, a place to exchange stories about the day’s adventures, although today’s climbers are no longer all gentlemen of the aristocracy and many of them stay in the town’s youth hostel instead. The restaurant is a classic white tablecloth hotel dining room where you dine on the set menu and choose from the array of Swiss wines on the list, including some very interesting Pinot Noirs from the east of the country, and, my personal favourites, some rich, spicy satisfying single vineyard wines made with the local Cornalin grape in the sunny Swiss Rhone valley nearby.


Monte Rosa, the home of Alpinism

The Monte Rosa still occupies its original site in the very heart of the village on the square, and the hotel itself attracts carefully limited numbers of tourists come to visit the original home of the Alpinists. Its sister hotel, the Mont Cervin, a couple of hundred metres away, has a large pool, spa and garden that guests can use. The view from our suite was directly to the Matterhorn’s north face, with the village church beside us. And Zermatt, you rapidly learn when you arrive there, is not about lounging about in your hotel: it is about activity. There is a cog railway station opposite the main railway station in the village, and here we boarded a narrow gauge train that inched its way through the village and up through the thick forest on the steep valley sides. So far, Zermatt had remained an enigma, the Matterhorn towering over it, but the vast amphitheatre of mountains that accompany it remaining hidden behind the steep valley sides.

As the Gornergrat train climbed, peaks started to reveal themselves on the opposite side of the valley. Like an animal revealing its sharp teeth, they emerged, pyramidal rock faces rising above the glacier and pricking the sky, and within minutes we were faced with a panorama of jagged edged 4000 metre mountains, from the Weisshorn to Dent Blanche, that climbers the world over come to conquer.

The train’s track rose above the treeline and still we carried on climbing. Another towering series of jagged peaks emerged on our side of the valley, plunging down into scree, valley, and forest. The Gornergrat mountain we were ascending flattened out, the train climbed over a ridge, and suddenly the most spectacular view of all confronted us, a huge series of snowy giants looming at us from directly across the long tongue of a glacier. This was the Monte Rosa, the highest mountain in Switzerland, and its associated peaks.

Emerging, blinking, onto the rock and summer snow patches of Gornergrat, 3100 metres up, we climbed to a rocky viewing point. There was a 360 degree view of peaks higher than 4000 metres, and very little sign of human civilisation.  Below us on one side a near vertical slope dropped to the glacier, where we could just pick out the figures of some climbers tramping their way back from an expedition.

Walking down a little from Gornergrat, trying not to get vertigo, we passed a heavenly mountain lake, surrounded on all sides by wild flowers, in which a rockpool of tadpoles swam, and where an elegant green frog sat sunning itself on a grass patch. The path picked its way through more high meadows of wildflowers, around the ridge, and to the Riffelberg train stop, where we boarded the train home.

On another day we took a lift up the neighbouring mountain, past a little green lake, and strolled down to Findeln, a little hamlet in a sainted position facing the Matterhorn across the valley. We sat on the terrace at the Findlerhof restaurant and enjoyed astonishing food: sashimi with a lime dip; beautifully cooked sea bass; veal in a gentle white wine sauce. The terrace was spacious, wooden and rustic with an astonishing view; the food was perfect urban sophistication. Apparently there are dozens of restaurants like that on Zermatt’s mountains, something the original climbing parties plainly missed.

Pontresina and the Engadine

There is a train that connects Switzerland’s two most famous resorts, Zermatt and St Moritz, directly. The Glacier Express runs several times a day in summer, and while it neither goes through a glacier (although you see plenty) or goes very fast (rather the opposite), the seven hour journey was a great way to kick back, relax and watch central Switzerland proceed slowly past.

Our destination was not St Moritz itself but its chic neighbouring resort of Pontresina, and its flagship hotel, the Kronenhof. Pontresina is a tiny Italian-feeling village on a ledge above the high Engadine valley that cuts through the mountains of eastern Switzerland, near the Austrian and Italian borders. The Kronenhof has a grand courtyard on the village’s main street and a dramatic view across the valley and up towards the glaciers of the Piz Buin.

It was remarkable and rather wonderful to find a hotel of such sophistication so deep in the mountains. The huge indoor pool has been built onto the valley side of the hotel and, surrounded by glass, gives a feeling of flying, with mountains all around. Our suite’s balcony looked down onto forest and up onto glacier, and the jazz bar, again with dramatic views, felt very F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Pontresina’s flagship hotel, the Kronenhof

The Kronenhof is a big hotel with a panoply of distractions, including one of the region’s finest restaurants (which we have saved for next time), an extremely spacious and throrough kids club, replete with a proper children’s library, and a spa, attached to the pool, so good that it attracts the glitterati from nearby St Moritz all winter. Our room was decked in contemporary Alpine cool, plenty of blond wood, stone and grey, with generous panorama areas to look at the views, and a bathroom squarely aimed at the demanding international traveller.

One morning, leaving the hotel, we took the quaint, twoseater chairlift up through the forest to Alp Languard, a restaurant on a ridge overlooking Pontresina’s valley and the Engadine; another high mountain lunch of extraordinary quality ensued, and a hike up towards the high ridge at the top, which, eventually, defeated us. We took the chairlift down through the forest, amid the scent of pine and wildflowers.  Tea at the Kronenhof involved the magnificent sight of the mountains turning rose, as the sky at this high altitude (the village is at 1800m) turned pink then midnight blue.

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of our stay was the evening we made our way down the 10 minute walk to the bottom of the valley, to be met by a coach and two – two horses pulling an open carriage. The children were thrilled, and the horses made their way up the secret Val Roseg. It is secret because it is a nature reserve, with no cars or even mountain bikes allowed – only horses and hikers. At the end of the high valley loomed a great white dome of a mountain, above the Roseg Glacier, and it was to the edge of this glacier that we made our way, up the enchanted valley, along a river, past a family of marmots, the most elusive of Alpine creatures, who stood to attention as we rode past.

Dinner was at Alp Roseg, another spectacular mountain restaurant with a vast wine list and haute-rustic cuisine, where steak in cafe de paris sauce was consumed with so much gusto you might have thought we, and not the horses, had done the climbing. The journey back in the starlight was equally memorable.

The Waldhaus at Flims

Flims is a resort that has become something of a legend among the snowboarding community. It sits on a very sunny, south facing shelf above the Rhine valley, in eastern Switzerland, halfway between Pontresina and Zurich.  On the forested plateau adjoining Flims, in its own generous grounds, sits the Waldhaus resort, a Victorian-era grand hotel that has been developed and brought up to date.  The grounds are generous enough to incorporate forest, copious lawns, an adventure playground, and a large petting zoo where the children spent amounts of time befriending donkeys, goats and chickens – the animals were so well fed by the hotel that their attempts to feed them usually ended in failure.


The Waldhaus resort in Flims

The hotel has a glass-encased indoor pool and interconnected outdoor pool, and, next to it, a natural swimming pool where you can swim in non-chlorinated water among frogs and small fish.

We enjoyed a memorable cocktail and canapes on the terrace of the pavillion one evening as the sun set over the mountains opposite, and a very sophisticated meal at one of the hotel’s fine dining restaurants, Rotonde, with its floor to ceiling windows looking onto the forest; those in search of even higher cuisine can venture to Epoca, which has 17 Gault Millau points.


A trip on a chairlift took us to the Berghaus Naraus, a restaurant on a south-facing ledge with sweeping views and an excellent line in barley soup and air-dried beef – and yet another quite astonishing wine list, which we resisted, it being lunchtime. Instead

we saved ourselves for dinner at the Arena Kitchen Flims, a cool, urban bar,

club and restaurant that could have been in Vermont or Colorado, in the city centre. It was quiet in summer, but you could imagine the teeming hordes in the ski season.

And that, I think, is the way I like it: clean sunshine, pure air, astonishing views, focussed cuisine, excellent service, Europe’s best hotels, and no teeming hordes. I’ll be back to Switzerland in summer.

Beau Rivage Palace:

Gstaad Palace:

Monte Rosa:

Grand Hotel Kronenhof:

Waldhaus Flims:

The best way to travel around Switzerland is by train. See for details

Reading time: 21 min
Virgola Seating System

Virgola Seating System


Angela Missoni

Angela Missoni

DS: What is the key to your longevity?
AM: I often ask myself the same question, I think it is a miracle. I think really it is because my parents invented the style. I was lucky enough to inherit style from them and was able to revamp it and make it fashionable again. Missoni was not only a zigzag and it isn’t only a zigzag. It is a style, a colour base, they were pioneer in many things in fashion. The palate of Missoni is vast in terms of patterns and colours, I’m not scared in adding to it.

I’m never working on the past, I always work on the future. I never go to archives. I know the archives by heart, I was there. Every reference in my mind of my youth and growing up is related to a pattern, to a dress, to a person, to something related to fashion. If ever I ask to see something from the archive I tell them the precise year and I know exactly what I am asking for.

How do you stop everything from slipping into the past and keep it moving forward?

I use my instinct, with my knowledge of the pattern. I don’t have a recipe, I work by instinct which luckily has worked till now. I think I have courage. I was asking myself “how can I be so sure of what I am doing?” but I’m not, anymore. I like things and I go on. Season after season, I follow my instincts. There is something which is a continuation. Every collection has a precise identity but the research work never stops. There is a continuation. Maybe someone from outside can analyse better.

You have this reputation for being an earth mother… I like to live in the country. I like to come out of the country of course, but I do like to come back. I started an organic chicken farm 30 years ago, maybe that’s where the reputation started. The two things can go together.

Do you ever try to combine them?
What fashion and the chicken farm? No! Fashion is fantasy, you try to work with natural material, there is a comfort that has to be there for me in our clothes which is part of something. Those clothes have to make you feel better, or at least I hope that they do. I don’t look at trends. Either you see them or you don’t and you filter. I think I have good eyes. I see details that the majority of people don’t see. In a good sense as well as a bad sense, as you see defects everywhere. I see that there is a plug under the couch over there. I see when it’s dirty and I want it to be clean. I am very curious and I try to see as much as I can in general and I am attracted by many different things, I analyse everything and I translate it into my work.

Your mother lost interest in fashion, which is part of the reason she passed the business over to you. How do you stay engaged and interested in it?

Bowl design for Target with the characteristic Missoni zigzag pattern

Bowl design for Target with the characteristic Missoni zigzag pattern

My mother felt trapped. When she asked me to do the main line, she was tired of fighting with the commercial side. As soon as she stepped out of it, she said she wanted to retire. She has many other interests in life, but then she started with the Missoni home collection. She still does research. If she goes to a flea market, she will bring me something back so she hasn’t lost her passion for fashion. At the time she felt alone, fighting the commercial side, and she said to me “fashion you have to do when you are young and passionate, and you have the strength to fight with the commercial side otherwise they will ask you to always do the same thing that they sold yesterday.”

What keeps you inspired?
Sometimes you finish a collection and you are very tired. You might not even have the time to finish one before you start on the next. Sometimes you don’t know where you are. A little thing is enough to start it. You might see a small thing that opens the door again and you can start the process to go on. Of course, that’s what keeps you going on. I don’t only design fashion, me and my brothers own the factory and the brand. It means you are involved in all the processes, you have various things that can keep your attention alive all the time. When I see that my clothes are well received, I do have a sense of satisfaction. It is good to see that you are on the right track, so that you can go on. When I see that my daughters enjoy my clothes too, they are also very inspiring. [Angela’s daughter Margarita is an A-list model and unofficial face of the brand].

What does the Missoni brand mean?

Three generations of the Missoni family

Three generations of the Missoni family

It is fashion, but I would like people to think of it as more than fashion. It is artisanal, craftsmanship and many values. It is a brand with a very long history so that’s what I was trying to communicate. Sometimes I can hardly distinguish the brand from the family. Doesn’t mean that we all eat together everyday or that I see my mum everyday, I might see her three days in a row. I do talk to my daughters very regularly. At the moment my daughter is getting married so I seem to talk to her every 30 minutes! She was in New York for five years and one day I told her that instead of her having a phone she should have an intercom from New York and here because we speak so often.

What would you like people to think when they think of Missoni?
First thing is I would like them to have a smile. Then think of something positive. They should think beauty, joie de vivre, a lift in the spirit. You can think of art, of good food, dinner with friends. Family is not only family members, it is a large sense of family which includes your friends. A sense of hospitality. It started with my father at the very beginning. The first collection that my father decided not to show in Florence (which was in Palazzo Pitti) because he realised why go there when there was an international airport 15 minutes from the house. That was how the Milan fashion week started. Others followed. They were not showing in Milan, they were showing in the factory. That is incredible when you think of it today, but in 1970-1971, all the fashion crowd was 150 people from magazines to Bloomingdales and buyers from Hong Kong. My mother was organising lunch and dinner for them too.

Angela Missoni design for the A/W 2012/13

Angela Missoni design for the A/W 2012/13

What is the relationship between art and fashion for you?
Both subjects are the expression of the moment together with other forms, music and film, etc. I don’t think that fashion is an art but more of a craftsmanship. That’s what makes the link. We are talking the language of now or rather of tomorrow. Art also is an expression, an extract of what is now. This setting is the link.

With my work I just want my clothes to look beautiful, to give you something more. Art sometimes can be disturbing. I’m not going to make clothes that disturb you, so it isn’t the same process as art can be. I like the interaction with artists. More recently I have been asked by several artists if they can do a collaboration with us, which is very interesting. They want to work with us, with our materials. Last week I was asked by Nick Cave who I would love to work with. I would like to ask them what they think about Missoni. I wanted to work with Peter Blake, but I convinced Juergen Teller to have his photo cut out. No one touches a photo of Juergen Teller, but he let it happen. It was done at the Museum of Everything. We did a campaign inside the museum. For the summer campaign I put together Juergen Teller, Pedro Almodovar, Rossy de Palma. Everybody enjoyed it. Put creative talent together and shake. Artists are very much in their own world. Rarely you see them watching other artists. I had the image of Sergent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in my head and I wanted to have an image like that with all our family.

My projects, I have to work fast. If I am working for a campaign I need to work with a very fast rhythm. From the show to the day you have to have the material in your hand, you have a month, a month and a half. You can start thinking before but not much because the collection is really defined when it is on the catwalk.

We did a movie with Kenneth Anger two years ago. Sometimes you think people are very hard to approach but actually it is very simple. Kenneth came and stayed five days with us.

How does the fashion side relate to the home, the hotels?

Spool Tables

Spool Tables

It relates because there are some patterns that can translate. What I like is that patterns in fashion stay there for 6 months or even less, but the same pattern you can put on an armchair and it has a life of 15 years. It gives you satisfaction. Certain patterns maybe are not instantly recognisable as Missoni, particularly from the outside, but they became Missoni classic designs.

You’re wearing some very cool accessories. Can you explain what they are for the benefit of our readers who can’t be here?
I always create my jewels myself. I don’t like to wear the things that other people wear. I do it instinctively. This is a souvenir chain with little presents, charms. It is a long chain from the beginning of the last century, I think it was meant for a monocle. I am wearing black trousers, black t-shirt, boots, and a sweater wrap. The earrings are the same. I was in Columbia at the end of the year and bought a little coffee grain from the airport, which I have hung on it too.

Reading time: 9 min
Art Hong Kong


What is Art13?

TheArtPioneer2It is London’s global art fair. The capital has people from all over the world, living here, working here and appreciating art. The existing art fairs don’t cover everyone. London is a big city of 8 million odd people, it can certainly warrant another. We don’t want people to feel intimidated, it is a friendly fair. The gallery content is very much global; half of our stands are from 25 other countries outside the UK, from Korea, China, Australia, India, all over the world. Many have never shown here or if they have, it hasn’t been for a long time in an art fair, even many of the UK galleries.

Why is it different?

There are people out there who like art and are wealthy individuals and who feel that there isn’t an art fair in London they can relate to. The affordable art fair is about decorative art, filling a hole on the wall with a piece of art and probably not curated. Frieze is vetted and curated, but your average person who buys two or three pieces of art a year at a reasonable level is intimidated when they visit. They don’t feel relaxed. Its focus is a very serious art fair, the character and the atmosphere. Art13 will be a serious art fair, but a friendly art fair with a personality.

How do you make an art fair friendly?

We have employed an architect who is working on the theme, ‘All the Fun of the Art Fair.’ He works on interior design for restaurants and homes, most recently Adele’s house. He understands approachability. If you had an exhibition designer, they would create a design for an exhibition space, it would look like all the others. The prevalence of social media means the look of the place is even more important. You want your guests tweeting, bringing an audience there through the week. If it looks great, busy and a place you want to go, then people will come, word of mouth drives it.

Who do you want to attract?

Art fair audiences are a pyramid. At the top are the really serious art collectors, in the middle are the wealthy individuals who collect art and then the general public who just want a day out. We see all three sectors as equally important and feeling that they are welcome there; they can walk into a gallery and talk to the owner about the art. Maybe they won’t buy today, but they will buy tomorrow.

How did Art Hong Kong begin?

I first had the idea when I was in Australia. I was speaking to Australian galleries who told me they had been up in Hong Kong selling art by taking hotel rooms. It didn’t seem a very smart way to do it so when I heard they had no art fair I went up there. I had never been to Hong Kong before, but I realised there was a gap and decided we should do an art fair. Hong Kong is a hub, Asia is growing, the pieces of the product slotted together

How difficult was it to establish it?

People were very sceptical. We got into month three or four of the project and I said “at what point should we pull it, do we have a fair?” because we were struggling to get galleries in. Magnus Renfrew, the Fair’s Director, just kept on pushing; he had a real vision about how he wanted the fair to be. In the first year the gallery year was almost there, not exactly what we wanted, but it was good enough to build the fair on.

We were determined never to do a deal with any galleries. There is a real temptation to do that, especially with a new art fair, but it can be the kiss of death. If the galleries you give spaces to pull out, it sends the wrong message to others. In London there are still some galleries we would like to be in it, but at the moment it is a good enough base so that the galleries that we want to be there are interested in participating.

Is it easy to set up an art fair?

It has become tougher, probably because of global competition. People look at any fair from a global perspective. A gallery will decide whether they want to show in Rio or Miami now, where as before they would be much more local. It really is about getting your positioning right. It isn’t just about the message of the fair, but also about where and when. We deliberately chose February because we go through the terrible January period, then in February the flowers start to come out, London Fashion Week and the BAFTAs appear, the Oscars start coming and people are looking for things to do. We chose West London because of the wealth around there. If you get those bits right, you can make a great fair.

Have art fairs changed the art scene?

It has changed how galleries sell their art. You look at the sales mix now and they sell it through the gallery, through their website and through the art fairs. If you look at any serious gallery, they will all have at least one or two art fairs in their year. They bring out a different audience they often can’t access any other way. Art fairs are important for the audience too. I have never seen someone unhappy at an art fair. I went to Fiac in Paris in the Grand Palais, it’s stunning. How could you not enjoy that?

What are your concerns?

The concern of anyone running these events is that you want both sides to do business. You want the visitor to enjoy it and buy art and the galleries to sell, either that day in the fair or later on, when people visit their gallery.

I have no problem bowling up to a visitor in the art fair to see what they think. 9 times out of 10 people will tell you and you get an honest answer. Most of my lot are terrified of it, but I love it, that’s how you learn. They will tell you little things, the negatives so that you can react to them.

How did you become involved in running events?

30 years ago I was a photocopy salesman; to this day I have no idea how a photocopier works. I found selling boxes that copy things boring so I changed job to work as a salesman for an events company. I worked my way up and after 8 or 9 years asked the owner if I could ever buy a stake in the business. When he said no, I left to join a new company and started ‘The Money Shows’. We built them up and sold them on which is how it all started.

Have you had any particularly difficult events?

I decided to launch The Clothes Show in London and linked it to Cosmopolitan. The deal was that they lent their brand and I funded the show. We persuaded the companies we worked with on London Fashion Week to take a stall alongside some cool cosmetics companies and held it in Earl’s Court. We got an audience, but they were all kids, 16 year olds with no money, not the 25 year old readership Cosmo described. Normally with fairs, you expect to lose in the first year, make back the loss in the second year and make profit in the third, but with that show, you could never make it back again. Cosmo wanted me to do it again, but I walked away with a half a million pound loss.

Do you always invest your own money?

Yes, always. The art fairs are more challenging than any. You have massive staff costs, over heads, venue costs, promotion costs and you don’t get a penny in for months and months. The art fair at the moment, I doubt we have had £5000 in income.

Do you enjoy the risk?

The house isn’t on the line, but I do enjoy the risk. Like anyone who invests in something I’m always aware that I have to put more in, so you don’t have the painful moment of trying to find that money from somewhere.

What is it that you still love about running these shows?

The satisfaction of seeing it come together. Some shows are nightmares, you nearly pull them, you can’t sell the stands. The buzz that you get at the end of the second day – if you have a strong start it generally follows through – when everyone is happy is great. As a business man, when you have a successful event, you know that is something you can build on. That’s a really nice feeling.

What are you most proud of?

Probably Art HK. I had never done a high end art fair and I had never been to Hong Kong. To create something that Art Basel buys 70% of and be considered in the premier league of art fairs is phenomenal.

Do you collect art?

Bits and bobs. I buy a lot of Australian art because it is colourful, it’s clever and it’s quite good value and I have some Warhols. I quite like pop art because I was brought up in the 60s and 70s. I bought my first Wahol in the late 80s in New York just after I had done a deal. I said to the guy in the gallery “I really like this painting. He’s not making them like this anymore is he?” and he replied “no, that’s because he has been dead 10 years.” So really, I didn’t know anything about art!

Art13 London, 1-3 March, 2013, Interview by Caroline Davies

Reading time: 8 min