white chairs on the grass by a pond
white lounge chairs by a swimming pool under a willow tree

LUX stopped off for an al fresco lunch with Fiona Barratt Campbell, founder of her eponymous interior design studio, FBC London and Sol Campbell, English professional football manager and former player. Sitting in their sequestered country home, in a lee of the Wessex downs the couple’s vision is clearly focused on the restoration of landscape, terraces and gardens, and the repurposing of original outbuildings

We sipped aperitifs amid darting blue dragonflies on the jetty lounge and adjourned poolside for a locally-sourced meal. Conversation ranged widely to include Fiona’s most innovative business development yet. Fiona’s bespoke FBC furniture blends with her personally-discovered antiques. We inspected the couple’s artwork in the pool house, the gardener’s cottage, walled kitchen garden, self-seeding wild flower margins, and listened to plans to re-wild the downland pastures. The second phase of restoration to their home is the refurbishment of the main house, predominantly of Georgian origin. Behind the scenes, effective estate management and skilled groundsmen underpin immaculate presentation, there are no short cuts… if necessary even Sol will get on his tractor!

a deck on a lake with a fire and sofas in a circle at the end
white deckchairs in front of a hut and grass

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white chairs on the grass by a pond
white tables and chairs in front of a swimming pool with a hut in the background
white chairs in front of an olive tree and a hut on the grass
white chairs by a pool with a dining room in the background
white tables and chairs in front of a swimming pool

Find out more: fbc-london.com

Reading time: 4 min
multicoloured scribbles on a canvas
An artist in a studio standing in front of a multicoloured painted canvas

The artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, holding a paint-scraping tool, which he uses for his special peinture raclée technique

A new body of work by the French-Iranian artist generates energy on canvas

In his studio in Cap Ferrat, in the South of France, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar creates his paintings using a technique called peinture raclée – a process he says he deploys to metaphorically strip down the superfluous elements of our lives, revealing the energetic source.

hands face down on a painted coloured canvas

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtair photoshoot in his studio in Cap Ferrat

The collection, titled ‘Manifest’, is a hybrid collection of physical and digital artworks, comprising 50 physical paintings and 50 NFTs. He is an artist on the up, with two of his works recently selling for record prices at auction in London.

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A child of revolution, Behnam-Bakhtiar has had a colourful, sometimes troubled, life. Now the colours he creates are those of the mountains and the sea near his home, in a part of France that inspired artists from Cézanne to Dufy.


Sparks of Life

multicoloured paint on a canvas

Sparks of Life

It always starts with a spark! You feel the energy from within trying to break through the conditioned layers of your humanity, built up while living in our modern societies. Through these cracks you then start to shed the necessary layers to arrive at your soul frequency. Once a person can truly feel that, and tune into that frequency, anything is possible.

Nothing but Energy

splattered multicoloured paint on a canvas

Nothing But energy

This demonstrates the inner world of a human being – order in chaos. And the importance of manipulating this chaos, in a way that promotes human evolution, being long overdue.

Read more: This Summer’s Must-go Beach Club

Imagine when a maths formula starts to make sense and gives you the result you have been working towards. This is a similar process, where one needs to constantly tune their energy in order to obtain that result.

And We Knew it Was Our Time

multicoloured scribbles on a canvas

And we Knew it Was Our Time

It shows two inner worlds mixing together for the first time, creating a new harmonious one. Imagine two lovers getting together and everything clicks, creating a new inner world ruled by harmony and balance.

Portrait photography by Angie Kremer

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

Reading time: 2 min
A double staircase looking over at a terrace
A double staircase looking over at a terrace

The leafy terrace at Mandarin Oriental Ritz in Madrid

In the first part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring 2022 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Mandarin Oriental Ritz in Madrid

“A little bit more, Sir?” A bartender is holding up a bottle of artisanal gin, having already emptied what seemed like a half-gallon of it into a bowl-shaped glass, filled with ice, slices of limon (a kind of lemon-lime cross) and juniper berries. I look up at the trees, the expanse of the square behind them, the outline of the grand Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum beyond, and the moon above, and think: yes, why not. I have arrived.

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If the arrival is a key part of any hotel experience, the post-arrival at the Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid, was pretty important, too. I had left my bags to be taken to my room as I wanted to catch the last embers of daylight from the bar’s terrace, which sits above the garden restaurant, itself almost contiguous with the trees of Retiro Park. You are in the centre of one of Europe’s most vibrant and dusty metropolises, but surrounded by nature (and, in my case, soon immersed in a very good small-producer gin).

round bedroom with a sky painted on the ceiling

The hotel’s royal suite

Neither of Europe’s other two grand Ritz hotels, in London or Paris (the three were born siblings, created by César Ritz to redefine the grandeur of hotels at the start of the 20th century, but are now owned and operated separately), offer such an outdoor experience, or indeed such a refreshing one. I am not speaking of the gin here, but of the decor: Mandarin Oriental’s magic wand over the previously grandiose but fusty Ritz Madrid has created lavishness with a certain elegance and contemporary class.

It’s a perennial question: what to do with a grande dame hotel – in this case, one of the grande dame hotels – to bring it into line with what a new generation of traveller expects, while not destroying its soul. I have seen hotels with decorative ceilings ripped out, with hip bar designers imposing darkness where there was once light, and with questionable contemporary art replacing dusty but meticulous classics.

A white corner of a building with trees and a garden in front of it

The hotel’s Belle Époque façade

Fortunately the Ritz does not fall into these traps. Our Mandarin suite combined fresh but classic colours – pale walls, pale gold furnishings – with hints of MO style, such as black lacquer detailing. The service was up to date, effortless and effective without being stiff: just the right balance to cater for a wide variety of traveller.

Read more: Chef Ángel León: Ocean Sustainability Supremo

And the food in the Jardin (Garden) restaurant was also spot on: kimchi chicken skewer, Thai sea bass ceviche, grilled sole with artichokes. You can delve into the paella menu, as many others were doing. The hotel may claim it has updated its Belle Époque origins to work in the luxury travel world 110 years after it opened (I don’t know, I didn’t check, but it’s the kind of thing a hotel would say) and in this case, they would be absolutely right.

Find out more: mandarinoriental.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

Reading time: 2 min