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bodrum
bodrum

The MedBodrum festivities took place at the Maçakızı Hotel and Villa Maçakızı in Bodrum

Experiences are the future of luxury. Darius Sanai visits MedBodrum, a visionary new type of festival, combining fabulous cuisine, vibey music, art and culture, in one of the hottest Mediterranean destinations

An assemblage of famed and Michelin-starred chefs cooking in the open air by the Mediterreanean; a mellowness of Bossa Nova from Bebel Gilberto, singing just with an acoustic guitarist as an accompanist, just centimetres from the water’s edge;

guests moving seamlessly from Chandon wine to Caipirinhas; a semi-outdoor display of art dotted around two properties, a boat ride from each other, featuring works by Marina Abramovic, Antony Gormley and LUX’s own chief contributing editor, the collector and artist Maryam Eisler, among others.

food

The festival features top international cuisine

Welcome to MedBodrum, a new type of festival, whose inaugural edition took place last week over four days in the spring sunshine and moonlight in a bay surrounded by deep forest just outside the chi-chi Turkish Riviera resort of Bodrum.

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

chef

Carlo Bernardini’s recipes are inspired by his late grandmother’s cooking

The aural and sensory entertainment, in what promises to be an annual festival, was stunning. The music came from Skip Marley on the first night through Mestiza and to Gilberto as the grand finale.

There were different presentations of cuisine – from formal dinners to the memorable beachside BBQ cookout – from chefs including Aret Sahakyan, Carlo Bernardini, Alejandro Serrano and Deepanker Khosla.

food

Michelin-starred cuisine for all palates

Never have art collectors been quite so spoiled for choice for sampling everything from exquisite langoustines to a dairy-free vat of pasta with fresh tomato, in a Med-side luxury location – except possibly in their own homes.

And that’s what made MedBodrum special: given the organic villa-style architecture and intimacy of Macakizi, a resort that is a go-to stop off from many superyacht summers, it felt like a big house party, your house party, but organised by someone else who knows all the right chefs and musicians and artists.

Festival guests enjoyed DJs and a variety of top international acts

(Fru Tholstrup and Jane Cowan‘s curation of artworks was seen both at Macakizi, the eco-hotel at the heart of the festival, and the Villa Macakizi private palace a boat ride across the bay.)

But the most compelling memory is that of a wholly new concept created by Sahir Erozan, Macakizi’s owner and the creative mind behind this celebration.

Erozan is a restaurateur and hotelier, and he is wrapping together three areas – gastronomy, art and music, with a good dash of fine wine thrown in – in a way that nobody else does.

medbodrum

Sahir Erozan, the owner of the Maçakızı Hotel in Bodrum, with friends art the MedBodrum evening events

ski marley

Skip Marley, grandson of Bob Marley and Rita Marley, performing at the event in Bodrum.

Luxury consumers love eating well, collect art, and enjoy bringing performers in for private concerts. And yet these activities are too often separated: there is no art at the Miami Food & Wine, no music at the Venice Biennale, and anybody who has been to an Art Basel or Frieze knows the issue with the cuisine and hospitality (there is none).

Erozan is bringing them together all under the banner of the Mediterranean.

Read more: Leading MACAN, Indonesia’s first contemporary art museum

It’s a new kind of luxury experience, one that can travel. Everyone knows that experiences are the new obsession for luxury consumers. There remain challenges: how to integrate the art (and what kind of art?); who to invite and who not to invite – the hotel remained open to regular paying guests; which brands to involve, or not; how to create a “tribe” like the most successful clubs, from Studio 54 in 1980 to Soho House in 1999 and Oswalds in 2024.

art

Artworks by Matous Hasa. Art is one of the pillars of the festival, along with cuisine, music and sustainability

And there is a sustainability element which was a little uncertain: we would say be bold and have conversations with regenerative ocean innovators in the mornings and afternoons, before the music and cuisine (and caipirinhas) really kick in.

For MedBodrum felt like a visiting a club (LUX is too young to have been to Studio 54 but we understand it was an invigorating experience), albeit a virtual one.

People were in their own tribe, curated, like all the best clubs, by one all-seeing owner, in the shape of the permanently cigarred Sahir.

darius sanai

Medbodrum guests on the beachside deck at the Macakizi

With the tones of Bebel Gilberto purring “happy birthday to me” still in our ears (she performed on her birthday, and Erozan presented her with a gift, a cake and some Dom Perignon at the end of her set) we look forward to seeing how MedBodrum develops onwards and upwards for a new and even more international generation.

www.medbodrum.com

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Reading time: 4 min
boathouse
boathouse

LongHouse Reserve in Long Island photographed by Philippe Cheng

Maryam Eisler is set to revisit the effects of Covid – for good and for bad – through an exhibition at LongHouse Reserve in Long Island, presenting conversations with 164 artists from across the globe into a physical book, ‘Confined Artists: Free Spirits – portraits and interviews from Lockdown’ so as to crystalise a significant period in our common history and humanity.

How easy it is to forget. Four years on from the pandemic, we talk about it only occasionally. Yet it is vital to remember what Covid did to us. Artists, the very pulse of our respective societies, recorded it.

That’s why I put together my conversations with 164 artists from across the globe into a physical book, to crystalise a significant period in our common history and humanity.

During the pandemic, we spoke of rediscovering the importance of connectivity, humanity, compassion and empathy.

Four years on, we live in an ever madder and more dehumanised world filled with hatred. It’s as if the lessons learned then are no longer significant today.

Follow LUX on instagram: luxthemagazine

I was delighted to be invited by LongHouse Reserve in Long Island to present an institutional show this summer. I hope the book and exhibition will help recover our memories when it comes to those difficult times, and our shared humanity.

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee, once again.

Read more: The future of philanthropy, with UBS

facetime

Sheree Hovsepian portrait captured by Maryam Eisler on FaceTime during Lockdown 2020

facetime

Eric Fischl portrait captured by Maryam Eisler on FaceTime during Lockdown 2020

“As a sanctuary and place of respite during the pandemic, and founded
as a place for artist conversations, LongHouse welcomes Maryam Eisler and looks forward to reprising her myriad of conversations from the lockdown”

Carrie Barratt, Director, LongHouse Reserve

‘This summer project will bring together the beauty, synergy, and passion of Maryam and LongHouse. Maryam is an extraordinarily insightful artist, friend, humanitarian, and writer who possesses the insight to sensitively document this challenging period.’

Pamela Willoughby, independent curator

Joel Mesler portrait captured by Maryam Eisler on FaceTime during Lockdown 2020

“Since the day I first walked into a museum and later entered an artist’s studio, and even later as I occupy an artist’s studio today, I have come to believe that the documentation of the time and space of the artist’s journey is almost as important as the artworks that get made and presented as artworks”

Joel Mesler, artist

woman

Shirin Neshat portrait captured by Maryam Eisler on FaceTime during Lockdown 2020

“Maryam Eisler is one of my most favourite people in the art world, a visionary woman who has defied all descriptions as a devoted artist, patron, editor and publisher. Her online conversations in lockdown felt comforting, and were a reminder of artists’ need for a community, especially in a time of crisis”

Shirin Neshat, artist

facetime

Mickalene Thomas portrait captured by Maryam Eisler on FaceTime during Lockdown 2020

A series of talks are organised in August 2025 at LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton , Long Island, with some of the artists featured in Maryam Eisler’s book, to include Shirin Neshat , Mickalene Thomas, Sheree Hovsepian, Joel Mesler and Eric Fischl. For full details please visit: longhouse.org/products/2024-maryam-eisler-placeholder

 

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Reading time: 2 min
exhibition
exhibition

Raghu Rai’s exhibition, “Rise of a Nation”. Rai’s photo essays are featured in TIME, LIFE, Geo, The New York Times, The Sunday Times, Newsweek, The Independent and The New Yorker.

Celebrated Magnum Photographer Raghu Rai shed photographic light on one of the biggest refugee exodus in history following the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Now, the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation (DBF), in collaboration with the Raghu Rai Foundation, shed necessary light on him, launching “Rise of a Nation”, a book and accompanying exhibition which features this photography. LUX takes a look

It was by chance that Raghu Rai, then a qualified Civil Engineer, started photography in 1965. Since then he has photographed across the world, been nominated by Henri Carter-Bresson to the esteemed Magnum Photos and used photography to document, expose and express extremely delicate, painful matters. He went to a war zone in 1971, walking endless along freedom fighters (Mukti Bahraini) and Indian forces on the battlefield. 

Cemented in the book “Rise of a Nation” are photographs that were, until now, unpublished. They come from his 1971 series on the War of Liberation, archiving the memory of these events of destruction, violence, pain and hope with both technical skill and vast sensitivity. Indeed, are the two entirely separate?

 

Raghu Rai a man talking with mic

Raghu Rai at the opening of his exhibition. In the last 18 years, Rai has specialized in extensive coverage of India, producing books, including ‘Raghu Rai’s Delhi’, ‘The Sikhs’, ‘Calcutta’, ‘Khajuraho’, ‘Taj Mahal’, ‘Tibet in Exile’, ‘India’, and ‘Mother Teresa’.

 

In our narrative-based nature, physically crafted lines can become storylines. Such can be seen in the exhibition marking the 75th anniversary of the Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka, taking place at the Zainul Gallery. As the curator of the exhibition Zihan Karim notes, one can read ‘profound human stories etched on the faces of refugees’ in his photography. Etching is the word for Rai. See women, for instance, scarred by pain and weather, etched with the sharp lens, and a keen eye for light, head cocked slightly to the left in weary pain, teary, eyes glancing up and leaking tears across his lines. 

Read more: Maria Sukkar and Durjoy Rahman on supporting artists from your hometown

Among much of his documentary and investigatory photography essay, Rai does seem etches stories with his photographs. But he also reveals how good photography is vast and nimble, hopping across styles akin to watercolour images of smoother composition or dynamic charcoal. And these lines, this technical skill, seems fundamental to his sensitivity and expression of this turning point in South Asian history.

man talking to man

Durjoy Rahman, right, founded the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation in 2018 to promote and elevate South Asian Art

‘Over ten million Bangladeshis fled to neighbouring India,’ as Karim notes, ‘to escape the brutal violence perpetrated by the Pakistani military.’ Rai follows these, across camps, waiting, starving, trudging on foot and across the sea, glancing glazed over in crisis.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Rai’s etching and lines and storylines are at once tied to such a specific moment – the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War – and universal, timeless. They provide templates of stories that could not be more relevant today. 

an exhibition

The Bangladesh Liberation War, also known as the Bangladesh War of Independence, or simply the Liberation War in Bangladesh, was the revolution and war sparked by the rise of the Bengali nationalist and self-determination movement in Pakistan, which led to the independence of Bangladesh.

As Karim notes, the world faces ‘an unprecedented displacement crisis, with over 82 million people forcible displaced’. Political upheaval, climate change, forced migration. Durjoy Rahman, philanthropist, art collector and Founder of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation which co-published this book, aptly adds to this. ‘The theme of this photography exhibition is not only about the freedom and struggle of our own but also a response to the ongoing genocide in Myanmar and Palestine.’ 

exhibition

Among Rai’s photography reporting worked on a documentary project for Greenpeace on the chemical disaster at Bhopal in 1984, and on its ongoing effects on the lives of gas victims

Rai carves light and lines, revealing stories of the horrific effects war in 1971, and these, in turn, springboard one to the present. As Rahman aptly notes, ‘Future generations of our country must remember the price of freedom. Wherever and whenever war breaks out, death, destruction, displacement, despair, and dishonour are universal. Peace is the only battle worth waging.’ 

Rai’s photography attest to this, offering a painful, exquisite glimpse of stories past and current. 

See More:

magnumphotos.com

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Reading time: 3 min
a man with a pencil between his lips and a hat on his head
a man with a pencil between his lips and a hat on his head

The late Armando Testa founded Studio Armando Testa, one Italy’s largest agencies, in 1956.

Armando Testa is the greatest 20th-century design figure you’ve never heard of. Armando’s creations, straddling design and art, were groundbreaking and epoch-defining, but suffering from snobbery on the part of the high-art world towards what was and still is considered the lowlier and more commercial discipline of design. A new show at the Venice Biennale, conceived by Gemma Testa, Founder of Acacia Foundation, and curated by London’s Design Museum Director Tim Marlow, seeks to redress the balance. Here, Testa and Marlow discuss Armando’s legacy in a conversation moderated by LUX and edited by Isabella Fergusson

LUX: Gemma, why did you collaborate with Tim Marlow in curating the Armando Testa retrospective at the Venice Biennale this year?

Gemma Testa: I wanted to enable the work of Armando to become internationally known. Tim seemed an excellent choice, with his deep knowledge of both contemporary art and design.

a chair made of meat

Meat Chair, by Armando Testa, 1978.

LUX: Tim, what made you interested in the project?

Tim Marlow: This is one of the most important Italian artists in post-war and visual culture whom I didn’t know enough about, and many others like me don’t. The chance to explore and shed light on someone who beautifully straddles the worlds of graphic design and art, advertising and popular culture and supposed fine art was a wonderful opportunity.

Tyres with an elephant trunk; artworks

Advertisement for Pirelli tyres, Armando Testa, 1954

LUX: Could you tell us about Testa’s significance?

TM: Armando was utterly radical from the beginning. He trained, learned painting, visual arts, art history, graphic design and advertising. He was a pop artist before Pop Art had even been invented. He understood the distilled language of Minimalism – look at his work in the 1940s and 50s before Minimalism existed. But he also understood that visual culture was a means of communication. There is this extraordinary creative trajectory that straddles very different worlds. His favourite word is ‘synthesis’.

GT: The main difficulty for Armando, for many years, was the lack of a proper gallery to represent him. Advertising is seen simply as commerce. Galleria Continua asked me to present Armando. This is a great opportunity to let his work gain recognition – he always believed in the great connection between art and advertising. While working on campaigns, he asked me many times, “What do you think about this?” I’d answer, “What is the aim? What are you working for? Who is the client?” and he’d answer, “You have to look at the sign; you have to look at the mark, at the drawing itself.” He has always understood and believed that there is a link between these two disciplines – advertising and art.

chilli on a plinth in a gallery

Tango Caliente, by Armando Testa

LUX: What are your purposes for the Venice exhibition?

TM: It’s the need and opportunity to present Armando’s works to a new audience, art scene and culture. The natural place for Testa – as a designer and as an artist – might be the Architecture Biennale, which is porous, looking at all sorts of disciplines. But it is decisive and important that it opens during the Art Biennale. Though the art world talks of porosity, it can be very territorial, and it can be a little defensive about people who come from disciplines other than the art world itself. Armando genuinely had a symbiotic relationship between the two. Even artists like Michelangelo Pistoletto – who studied at Armando’s design school – felt the importance of Armando as an artist and, as he put it, a “genius ad man”.

pictures in a gallery

“Punt e Mes”, by Armando Testa, 1974

LUX: Gemma, how do you respond to that?

GT: Yes, some friends of mind suggested that I present Armando to the Architecture Biennale, but I felt that this could have limited his position. And there is a generation who know none of his works as an artist: this is who the exhibition is for.

TM: The great ‘Punt e Mes’ campaign is a very condensed example of why Testa is so brilliant – his sphere, half-sphere piece. It is a pun on the name ‘Punt e Mes’ [‘Point and a Half’]. It is a visual pun on a sphere and a half-sphere. He paints it. He makes a sculpture of it as well as a poster of it. He interrogates it in every way and makes it universal. An advertising campaign for Vermouth, using an Italian dialect, ought only to resonate with a specifically Italian audience, but it doesn’t. That is what we want to show.

LUX: How would Armando wish to be remembered following the Biennale? As an artist, a designer, or something else?

GT: Perhaps he would want to be remembered more as a creative, a multidisciplinary artist than an advertiser or a designer; the exhibition represents all the shades of his creative universe.

Exhibition Armando Testa is at the Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna Ca’ Pesaro, Venice, 20 April-15 September 2024

capesaro.visitmuve.it

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The greatest wine discoveries on the planet might just be from an Australian brand that has been hiding in plain sight. In a conversation and tasting with Penfolds Chief Winemaker Peter Gago, LUX has a revelation

The world of fine wine is a paradox that make things interesting – sits Penfolds, a one. Some of the greatest wines are household names: who hasn’t heard of Dom Pérignon or Château Lafite? Yet others of the same or even higher stature are almost secret; few outside a tiny circle of collectors know of the wines of Henri Jayer or Château Rayas.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

And even seasoned wine collectors and aficionados could be forgiven for being confused by the “origin paradox”. This is not a story of religion (although, given the fervency of arguments it generates, it could be), but of location. As ever wealthier collectors delve ever deeper into their passions, the specific vineyard sites of specific producers can see their produce sell for a multiple of the price of the vines next door, ostensibly making the same kind of wine from the same type of grapes on the same soil.

man

Chief Winemaker Peter Gago

Within this fascinating collectors’ maelstrom – and with wine, as with people, it’s the paradoxes that make things interesting – sits Penfolds, a producer at once revered for its super-premium collectable wines, and known for its good value everyday bottlings. Penfolds is a latticework of delicious paradoxes – a fine-wine world in itself. For example, it’s quite possible you will find a delicious, easy-drinking Penfolds red wine at a good metropolitan supermarket for the price of four oat chai lattes at Starbucks. Meanwhile, if you wanted to get your hands on a bottle of Penfolds g3, one of the producer’s most revered red wines, wine-searcher.com lists its average global price as around £18,500 (US$23,000) at the time of writing. Only 1,200 bottles were ever made. Even more extreme is Penfolds Ampoule, a glass and precious-metal decanter of one of its most rare wines, the Penfolds (monopole) 2004 Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon, of which only 12 were made, and which currently retails at around £127,000 (US$160,000) – if you can find one.

wines

A line-up of Penfolds classics

Penfolds’ slightly more abundant high-end wines, The Penfolds Collection, are celebrated by connoisseurs around the world: bottles such as Grange and Bin 707 sell for the same prices as the most prized châteaux from Bordeaux. The 2021 Yattarna, a Chardonnay, recently received a 100/100-points score from leading authority on Australian wine Andrew Caillard MW; like a super-luxe white Burgundy – Le Montrachet, say. For us, the most intriguing, and delicious (see tasting notes, opposite) Penfolds paradox is a development of the company’s different way of doing things. Grange, traditionally its most celebrated wine, made mainly of the Shiraz (Syrah) grape, has always been made from multiple vineyard sites across a vast area, in stark contrast to its counterparts in France, which are from tiny, specified vineyard plots.

Now, Penfolds has stretched that logic from Australia across countries and even continents: Penfolds II is a top-end Cabernet-Shiraz from Bordeaux and South Australia (in the same bottle). The company also now makes Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wines in Napa, as well as making wines (in the Medoc/Bordeaux) with grapes sourced from across the Bordeaux region. Peter Gago, Chief Winemaker at Penfolds, says stretching the brand from the high end to the middle market is a deliberate, democratising strategy. “Luxury has many meanings to many different people – it’s a continuum,” he explains. “We mustn’t forget that this is Penfolds’ 180th year, and what we do at the top end has to permeate all the way down to entry-level wines. This is what sets us apart from other ‘luxury’ wines. I’m not saying I’m a socialist when it comes to luxury, but it’s not just for the chosen few, it’s for everyone to have a taste of. “What makes us unique is affordable luxury at one level, transcending to the 2012 Ampoule launched at the Baccarat Club in Moscow: courage coupled with quality.” Gago makes the point that Penfolds wines have rewarded investors in top-end wines as well as any of the world’s best: the Ampoule was launched at around £87,600 (US$110,000) 12 years ago, and one reportedly recently sold on the secondary market for around £130,400 (US$162,000).

Read more: Lewis Chester on Giacomo Conterno

room

The Grange Tunnel at the Magill Estate, which is just east of Adelaide

UK-born Gago has been Chief Winemaker at Penfolds for 22 years and moves and shakes with rock stars and Hollywood actors who revere the wines; but he is never happier than when talking about the wines. He enthuses about Penfolds’ continuing collaboration with Champagne Thiénot, which has seen the release of some highly acclaimed vintage Champagnes in its first five years, including the 2013 Penfolds X Champagne Thiénot Blanc de Noirs, which last year was awarded Best Blanc de Noirs Champagne in the world by a panel of experts compiled by tastingbook.com founder Pekka Nuikki. (Champagne, of course, can only be made in the Champagne region of France.) He also enjoys the challenges of making a great Pinot Noir to match the best of Burgundy like a great Chambertin or Vosne-Romanée. “Some say that Australian Pinot Noirs lack the complexity of Burgundy. With Cabernet and Shiraz, we’re competing at any level. For Pinot Noir, the journey continues,” says Gago. It’s a journey Penfolds has been taking for nearly two centuries, and one that Gago and his successors will no doubt savour. Meanwhile, the greatest wine discovery you may make this year could just be a wine from a brand that’s been hiding in plain sight.

king charles

King Charles and Queen Camilla (the then Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall) taste the 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A with Peter Gago in 2015, Milton Wordley Photography

Tasting notes by LUX

1 Penfolds Grange, 2019, South Australia – £600 (US$740)

The ne plus ultra of Penfolds wines (if you ignore the hyperwines at hyperprices), and often thought the world’s best Shiraz (Syrah). This is a complex philosopher of a wine, which reveals layer upon layer over an evening. This vintage is still at school; try to find one of university-graduation age.

2 Penfolds Bin 707, 2019, South Australia – £450 (US$555)

Bin numbers are essential to an understanding of Penfolds wines, and 707 is an eternally velvety Cabernet Sauvignon that is a world in itself. It
is neither slightly austere, like a Bordeaux, nor open, like many great new-world Cabernets. A restrained lusciousness, like a young Daniel Craig.

3 Penfolds Bin 704, 2019, Napa Valley – £60 (US$75)

A Napa Cabernet by an Australian company? Zut alors! We loved the subtle fanning of flavours – more a refined tap on the shoulder than a knockout punch. More Bogart than Stallone.

4 Penfolds II, 2019, Bordeaux/South Australia – £270 (US$335)

A French-Australian blend! Double zut alors!
This wine has the intensity of Simone de Beauvoir and the persistence and artistry of Shane Warne. And chapeau to Penfolds for even trying.

5 Penfolds Yattarna, 2021, Australia – £135 (US$165)

Garnered a perfect 100/100-point score from wine critic Andrew Caillard MW; rich yet levitatingly fresh, powerful yet delicate, quite unlike anything else – like Margot Fonteyn driving an F1 car.

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Reading time: 6 min
A building and lots of people walking around

Photo London is one of the leading photographic fairs

Photo London’s ninth edition aims to integrate photography into the contemporary art world. But can it? Isabella Fergusson finds out

The cobbles of Somerset House aren’t quite bearing the catwalks of heels, neon suits and russet trousers one sees at Frieze or Art Basel. More cameras than Gucci bags slung across shoulders, more prams pushed, more WatchHouse coffee than Ruinart champagne. It seems more democratic – but to its strength or its downfall?

100 exhibitors, 44 cities worldwide: the numbers are good for London’s top photography fair, and returning galleries are strong. But, ever since photography entered the commercial world in the ‘70s, it has been seen as something of a niche by many. Its Director, Kamiar Maleki insists, however, that 2024 has seen yet more progress in cranking the door open to a contemporary art-collector-base.

man looking at picture in an art fair

This year’s Photo London is curated by Dani Matthews and entitled Shifting Horizons; photograph by Isabella Sanai

What’s happening this year that’s made it successful? ‘We’re branching out,’ he says, ‘we’re including more film, more mediums, and the car’ – he points to a navy electric car, a Lunaz, parked in the Somerset House courtyard – ‘which has been invested in by big names such as David Beckham – these have helped gain traction’. Is this because photography is not attractive enough by itself? ‘We have to entice the High Net Worths through other mediums’, he responds diplomatically. Perhaps a hint that photography alone still lacks respect; but perhaps, too, a testament to Maleki’s success in luring people into giving it the attention it deserves.

a woman in front of a daguerrotype image

Rebecca Hicks, Director of Purdy Hicks, in the reflection of a daguerrotype by Japanese photographer Takashi Arai; photographed by Joe Oswald

Photography’s technical gymnastics are exhibited with undeniable flair: see Takashi Arai’s impressive daguerrotypes, Susan Derge’s cameraless photography, laid directly over Dartmoor puddles of frogspawn, and Roope Rainisto’s AI-based works, thrumming with viewers, to a remarkable manipulation of printing mediums across the fair. The number of mediocre works was to be expected, but the number which stood out as sensational from the many Michael Jackson-type portraits was higher than one might imagine.

an exhibition room

Photo London brings together the world’s leading galleries in a major international photography Fair at Somerset House; photograph by Isabella Sanai

Sales? Well, as Rebecca Hicks, Director of Purdy Hicks, comments, the general consensus is that sales ‘remain quiet so far’. Maleki slides past the question with an ‘ask me on Tuesday!’ Fru Tholstrup, London-based art advisor and curator, though, beams with anomalous success of her showcase of Mariano Vivanco’s work from his latest book, ‘Peru’, hopping through folklore and mythology expressing striking figures between humans and animals, which one tends to associate with drawings rather than photography. Mariano remains confident in photography’s ability to leak into fine art, with a winking ‘Respect Photography, or Die!’. And he’s sold with fine art figures, too.

man standing outside a building in a suit

Kamiar Maleki, Director of Photo London; photograph by Joe Oswald

Some dealers insist they are at Photo London for the artistic exposure as much as sales. Gerber & Stauffer Fine Arts has an exhibition featuring Iranian-born Rahi Rezvani, introduced to the commercial world for the first time. Successful in luxury, performing arts and entertainment industries, he has never before sold a single print of his works.

man in front of image in of the sea

French photographer Valérie Belin has been named as the Master of Photography 2024; photograph by Isabella Sanai

But why start now? ‘People think success in photography is selling lots of photographs. I disagree. It’s about choosing carefully and selling well.’ He refuses to sell hundreds of his prints he has laid out, from a portrait of Quentin Tarantino to fiery images of dance, to a triptych covered in a natural substance he associates with sperm. Technologically, these seem extremely impressive, perhaps as or even more than those on the wall. When asked how he took them, he smiles knowingly, holding back. Brimming with confidence, he isn’t particularly interested in selling lots, but few, well-chosen ones.

That’s the way to elevate photography to the fine art world, he and Thomas Stauffer, Director of Gerber & Stauffer Fine Arts agree. Reduce the print number – even to one (in the case of his photograph ‘Willem Dafoe’) – signed with guarantee of no reproduction, and photography can have the value and respect of art. Although, in general, the knowledge that further prints can be made will always linger with all types of photography except polaroid. Even when reducing the number of editions, photography still remains on the precarious edge for established contemporary collectors.

man with red hair and blue background

Willem Dafoe, photographed by Rahi Rezvani, 2012

It’s entirely the other way around for Ana Matos, Director of Salgadeiras Arte Contemporânea. The very fact that, unlike painting, photography editions expands to an average of 5 to 7 means that it gains a democratic value, attracting a new wave of emerging millennial collectors. Such can be seen in the floor for the Nikon Emerging Photographers Award, part of Photo London. The average age decreases, buzz increases and – while sales are still reportedly quiet – the recognition and discussions are engaging a new crowd in collecting. Perhaps it’s not so much about gaining older contemporary art collectors, but shifting the next generation of collectors to photography.

man in front of an image of mountains

Photo London has two major exhibitions as part of the Public Programme, over 120 new and returning international exhibitors; photograph by Joe Oswald

And perhaps, by virtue of its less revered status, Photo London does focus more for new art and expression than collector-base. As photographer Maryam Eisler comments, ‘Photo London is a place of discovery and new talent.’ One can meet the photographs at eye-level, rather than kneel before them, and the fair is focused on the artform itself, and forming a snapshot of its growing identity and credibility. One feels closer to it all, somehow. And – as Eisler also points out – this is aided by its ‘excellent satellite programme of talks and critical thinking.’

reflection of a woman taking a picture in front of a picture

Photo London 2024 features over 400 photographers from around the globe; photograph by Joe Oswald

Photography remains on the sideline of established contemporary art; sales seem quiet. But, stripped of the catwalk-tendency of many art fairs, which can distract from the art itself, the model of a fair where art is accessible and thought about, rather than prized solely for sales, may be commercially more challenging, but is extremely refreshing. And, though established collectors may not dive into buying, photography might just present a more democratic art world – with a long way to go.

Photo London runs at Somerset House from 16-19 May 2024

See More: photolondon.org

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Reading time: 5 min

restaurant with bar and bottles

Is it a club, an Italian restaurant or a sushi house? Actually, Sumosan Twiga on London’s Sloane Street is all three, and all the better for it

Top quality food with a fun vibe has taken off in the world’s cultural capitals over the past few years. For a showoff dining experience, you are no longer restricted Ito temples of gastronomy. Top-quality ingredients and cheffing can now combine to make the ultimate comfort food.

But there’s still a challenge. What if you want a vibe, but can’t work out whether to go for a perfect pasta with beef and herbs, or some top-quality sushi? Or what if your party has split opinions and nobody wants to compromise?

sashimi on a blue plate with flowers

Launched in November 2016, Sumosan Twiga is the combination of the Japanese restaurant, Sumosan, and the brand Twiga

What you do is secure a booking at Sumosan Twiga, on London’s Sloane Street. Past a couple of intimidating doormen – to ensure the maki rolls are not consumed by the wrong type of customer, presumably, to be greeted by a glamorous receptionist, you are then whisked up in an elevator and enter a world of DJs and a partying crowd all dressed in Cavalli and Etro.

Ponder the menu over a couple of Bellinis and you soon note, if you didn’t know already, that Sumosan Twiga is effectively a sushi restaurant and a high-end Italian wrapped into one place. Back in the day, that might have meant some compromise – a chef practiced in one cuisine trying to master the other, with limited success. But not here: whether you stick to Italian or focus on sushi or (as we would recommend) you sample both, this is top-quality cuisine which, a little like the clientele, is here in in generous and beautifully presented portions.

cocktail with a mint leaf and a man pouring sugar over it

The menu offers an array of classic Italian dishes and flavours paired with contemporary Japanese cuisine.

We started with burrata with datterino tomatoes, Kobe mini sliders (OK, more Meatpacking than Milan), and lobster with lollo blondo salad as a pre-starter; ingredients with beautiful and it was put together with care. From the Japanese menu we went on to seared salmon, lime soy and mustard miso, as delicate and umami as it sounds, and some rolls: buba, seabass with jalapeno and cucumber, wasabi tobiko and albemarle and salmon with orange tobiko: meatily fulsome and also featherlight.

food on a plate with a leaf

Sumusan Twiga is the brain child of Flavio Briatore, of Formula One fame & Janina Wolkow, pioneer of the luxury Sumosan brand.

Mains were veal milanese with rocket and cherry tomatoes, hugely satisfying, what might be London’s best tagliatelle bolognese with chunks of feelsome beef, and Alaskan black marinated miso cod.

The only discord in our party was over whether it’s better to keep things pure by having Japanese starters and Italian mains (or vice versa) or just order a huge selection; the general agreement was one cuisine per course (whether that’s two or five courses) was better, so your palate does not train itself for the slicing umami of the tuna sashimi and freshly grated wasabi only to have a piece of breaded Milanese and pasta pomodoro, from a different gastronomic planet, with the next mouthful. The general consensus was to split the cuisines by course. But then we ordered another caipirinha, got up and danced, and forgot all about it.

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house
house

In 1974, Giovanni Conterno purchased the entire 14-hectare Cascina Francia vineyard in Serralunga d’Alba. It is now known as the Francia vineyard.

What are the 12 greatest wine estates in the world? A subjective question, surely. Lewis Chester doesn’t think so. The British financier and founder of the Golden Vines awards presents his series for LUX of his golden dozen, the most collectible wine estates from the world’s major regions. For the second instalment, he looks towards Piedmont in search of the best Barolo 

Roberto Conterno is not like many Italian winemakers I have met. Firstly, he’s serious and fastidious. A clean freak, the cellar is always spotless. While tasting wine from one of his barrels, he almost had a coronary when a few drops of red wine spilled from his pipette onto the cellar floor. We met again a few years later, and nothing had changed, except he was keen to show me his new range of glassware, Sensory, that he had designed to taste with wines from any region. In the process, he opened some very pricey wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux to prove his point. Convinced by the taste test, I purchased the first 36 glasses sold in the UK market.

Roberto is deeply respectful of the terroir that he inherited from his late father, Giovanni. This includes the fourteen-hectare monopole (solely-owned designated vineyard) of Cascina Francia, in what is considered the best village in Barolo, Serralunga d’Alba. 400 metres in altitude, it includes 9.4 hectares of Nebbiolo, the varietal he uses in his Barolo designated wines. In 2008, Roberto increased the estate’s landholdings by acquiring 3 hectares of Cerretta, another well regarded vineyard in the village. Finally, in 2015, he purchased Arione, a highly-sought after nearly 6 hectare vineyard situated next to Cascina Francia.

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field

Monfortino is not a vineyard. It is a name invented for their top bottling at some point early in the 20th Century.

Although the estate makes more than seven cuvées, undoubtedly the best is Monfortino Riserva. An iconic wine designed for long-ageing, it has more than a hundred years of history since the inaugural 1924 vintage. Monfortino Riserva is aged for a minimum of five years in either 50+ year-old Slavonian oak or newer Austrian Franz Stockinger large casks (plus one year in the bottle).

Returning from the First World War, Roberto’s grandfather, Giacomo, had the vision to create a unique bottling of Nebbiolo, sourcing the best grapes from different growers, at a time when wine was typically sold in cask or purchased by local merchants for blending. Only from 1978 was the first Monfortino produced from grapes sourced from the family’s own Cascina Francia vineyard.

I first realised that Monfortino Riserva was one of the world’s greatest wines when I purchased some very old bottles from a little wine shop in Alba fifteen years ago: 1955, 1961 and 1978, all legendary vintages. Opening them at various dinners, they all performed remarkably well. The 1955 vintage had a bizarre trajectory. On opening, it buzzed with aromas of violets, rose petals and a hint of tar, collapsing to oblivion within twenty minutes of pouring. The wine in my glass had become a deadly shade of pale. However, after a further thirty minutes, it had miraculously revived and was as good as when it had first been poured. The greatest comeback since Lazarus!

Read more: Tasting Bollinger’s new luxury cuvées in Paris

wines

The selection of grapes for Monfortino typically takes place in the vineyard. It must be done early in the winemaking process because one of the key differences between Monfortino and their other bottlings is that there is no temperature control during fermentation of the Monfortino grapes.

Monfortino Riserva is still Italy’s reference fine wine. It is also one of (if not the) most expensive, with many vintages selling in the secondary market for more than £1,000 per 75cl bottle. But it’s worth every penny. Fear not, however. Roberto’s other bottlings, in particular Cerretta and Arione, are incredible wines that cost a fraction of the price of Monfortino Riserva.

Lewis’s Best 3 Wines from Giacomo Conterno

Giacomo Conterno, Monfortino Riserva, 2010: An iron fist in a velvet glove is the most apt description of a wine full of power and grace, that will no doubt be showing well for the next fifty-plus years. Monfortino is known for aromas of leather, licorice, incense and dried rose petals, and this wine has it in abundance. However, the coup de grâce was the extremely long finish that captivates you to drink the rest of the bottle before your wife reaches for the bottle.

Giacomo Conterno, Monfortino Riserva, 2002: I was lucky enough to try the 2001 and 2002 (in magnums) together at a dinner in Turin. It was a close toss up as to which gave greater pleasure. However, the 2002 got the nod as I was wowed by the balsamic and black tea aromas, savoury sweet mid-palate, and the silky but firm tannins. Just divine.

guy

Roberto Conterno is the third generation winemaker at the helm of arguably Piedmont’s most famed estate

Giacomo Conterno, Monfortino Riserva, 1955: you just can’t beat having a wine that’s older than oneself and marvelling at how it can make you smile. The flowery petal notes, the intensity of the palate despite the wine having lost almost all its colour, and a long delicate finish. The fact that the wine died and then revived miraculously only added to the long-lived memory of its happy consumption.

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Clouds and a big yellow landscape

Clouds and a big yellow landscape

Two cameras, one journey, two childhood friends — and eighteen days to shoot their surroundings across the American West. Maryam Eisler and Alexei Riboud had followed separate paths for 38 years. Would the two photographers’ love of the still image converge their paths? LUX finds out

After graduating from high school together in Paris, in 1985, Maryam (then Homayoun) Eisler and Alexei Riboud parted ways; Eisler to the world of business, first at L’Oréal and then at Estée Lauder in London and in New York; Riboud to the world of graphic design and photography, in Paris, New York and Johannesburg, following in the footsteps of his celebrated parents, photographer Marc Riboud and sculptor, author and poet Barbara Chase-Riboud.

Sky, a big old billboard

Lights glowing faintly, flickering occasionally on an old, lonesome sign for a motel on the border of Marfa, Texas, that is long gone; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

Nearly four decades later, in early 2024, the art world brought them back together, for a three-week American road trip through parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, photographing space, place and people along the way in a form of visual dialogue. In, and in-between locals travelling by car, well over 2000 miles, from Houston to El Paso… Marfa, Presidio and White Sands to Santa Fe and Canyon Point… they’d hop out of the vehicle at any given moment, and say ‘See you in an hour!’, and go their respective ways, out in the wilderness, reacting to circumstances as they came across them, vowing not to give any advice to each other on what or how to shoot. Not even sharing their images until they returned home.

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Laughing, the two recall the fifteen U-turns they took on one straight 22 mile road from Espagnola to Ghost Ranch, because they kept seeing elements they wanted to capture, not to mention the 24 hours they spent obsessing over a missed opportunity, a derelict 1950s motel, now far behind them.

An abstracted image of the white sands

White sands National Park, New Mexico, photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

The images that Eisler and Riboud produced provide an intriguing study of contrasting perspectives and techniques. They both certainly shared a road trip, but in artistic terms (and fortunately for the viewer of the works), they were on parallel journeys, each producing compelling results. As Carrie Scott, the art historian and curator, notes: ‘I am buoyed by the conversation here between these two artists. Maryam and Alexei are shaping our perceptions of the American West through their dual lenses, which in turns gives us a moment to reflect on our fixed perspectives.’ It’s a far cry, as Scott adds, from the ‘longstanding tradition in American photography, dating back to the 19th century, of a singular male voice and viewpoint.’

A policeman leaning into a car with a man behind, and a big sky

A friendly security guard at the Concordia cemetery  in El Paso, TX giving Eisler and Riboud directions to the tomb of John Wesley Hardin, the man who earned himself a reputation as one of the Wild West’s most pernicious gunslinging outlaws; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

Riboud is attracted to the outskirts and grey areas, the transitional spaces and borders where he finds the elements to compose his photographs. His approach has been refined over many years of shooting in diverse locations, including Havana, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Shanghai, Chicago and of course Paris — usually with a focus on the peripheral spaces within or next to large cities.

A night sky and a train track

A railway track cutting through the town of Marfa, Texas, photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

‘I like wandering into places I have never been to, especially on the margins of well-known locations, exploring the counter-space of an established geography. My photography is about experimentation. I gather fragments from urban landscapes, in an effort to capture innate structures’, says Riboud. ‘On this trip, I was drawn to the outskirts of towns, and to the frontiers between human settlements and the unpopulated natural environments.’

A Native American dancing

A Navajo Nation dancer performing an indigenous ritual dance impersonating animal spirits, Page, Arizona; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

‘This trip was a huge challenge for me’, says Eisler: ‘My focus has always been on the figurative and more specifically on what I like to call the ‘Sublime Feminine’ in its physicality and in its essence. I had to push myself to work in a new way, this time around, moving away from body landscape to natural landscape.’ But would she find parallels between nature and figure?

Read more: Maryam Eisler: Intimate Landscapes

‘In my work, I always talk about female ‘body architecture’ in dialogue with spatial architecture… its curvilinear slopes, its nooks and its crannies, its valleys. I have often explored this theme in big, barren, hostile nature, from Iceland to Mexico and beyond, except this time the female figure was not there to be photographed. I also surprised myself in adopting a new way to work… primarily using a wide angle lens (which I never do) in order to capture as much of the big sky and vast land as my lens could take in. I wanted to visually overdose on the nature that surrounded me!’

Buildings looking through a wall with pinkish and blue colours

In between walls of a teared down house in the border town of Presidio, Texas, photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

It’s no wonder that these two photographers operated quite differently during the road trip. They are two very different characters. Eisler’s made a quicksilver shift from business and writing to art, and has the smiling, knowing grace of a meditative guru while retaining the poise of a terrifying boss.

A man with a camera in hand taking a picture of the road ahead

Alexei Riboud, photographed by Maryam Eisler on US Highway 90 near Van Horn, Texas, 2024

Riboud, on the other hand, projects a laid-back-almost-to-horizontal suave creativity. Nonetheless, both have clearly forged a deep connection that transcends their decades apart and their contrasting artistic and technical sensibilities.

Man with black shirt sitting on a bench

Homeless young man in downtown Houston with a t-shirt depicting Martin Luther King and Malcolm X’s encounter; Houston, Texas; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

To the extent that the origins of their photography have links, they are serendipitous, through a mutual interest in graphics. Riboud, who did graphic design for an advertising agency in South Africa in the 1990s, began to photograph on weekends, and enjoyed it enough to make it his main focus.

Sky with an old crumbling sign

Derelict remains of the former Art Deco movie theatre in Marfa, Texas; The Palace, closed since the 1970s, is now an illustrator’s studio; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

At L’Oréal, Eisler’s involvement in the development of ad campaigns — what she calls ‘surface beauty’ — revved up her dormant love of visual story-telling. Today, one can experience both the outer and inner dimension in her exploration of the ‘Sublime Feminine’. Laughing, she recalls her father’s niggling voice in her head, asking her what she was doing with that ‘love of photography’ she had so enthusiastically written about in her college applications? But life after the (Iranian) Revolution would dictate otherwise, until years later.

A tree, and sea, and a sign, as seen through a fence

Looking through the US-Mexico border wall in El Paso near Amara House at La Hacienda, an organisation working to inspire connection beyond borders through mutual understanding and meaningful action in pursuit of narrative systems, and personal change; El Paso, Texas; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

Both Alexei and Maryam have indelible memories from their trip. Alexei reflects back on the town of El Paso, near the US-Mexico border: ‘‘There was the feeling of being at a crossroad of narratives with stratified areas, unsettled spaces in transition.’ Maryam recalls a moment on the border of Utah and Arizona: ‘A hypnotising Native American ritual dance made me think deep about indigenous cultural history and the suffering that the native people have and continue to endure… I was completely mesmerised by the strength of the dancers storytelling through moves anchored deep in tradition.’ Riboud points to the gentrification of Marfa, Texas: ‘Beyoncé and Jay-Z just bought a house there! You get a sense that it’s rapidly changing from the isolated artistic outpost that Donald Judd built all those years ago; the city is now attracting newcomers, as real estate prices are booming!’

A man with a camera with big sky behind

Alexei Riboud, photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

The two photographers’ contrasting visual perspectives provide fertile ground for dialogue, and – as Scott says, ‘a new, layered perspective on the complex reality of the 21st-century American West. Where Maryam’s portraits provide narrative depth – each portrait becomes a story, a window into the lives, cultures, and experiences of individuals within that vast expanse – Alexei’s focus on the landscape reflects on America’s historical relationship with western expansion.’

A woman with a camera in the canyons

Maryam Eisler, photographed by Alexei Riboud, in Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona 2024

Riboud praises Eisler’s link between the female body and the architecture of space and place, as well as her graphic eye mingled with sensuality. For Eisler, it’s Riboud’s conceptual visual rendering—‘almost like a painting’ — that stands out above all. ‘The lens Alexei uses enables him to capture space and light in a very unique manner. The end result is subtle, painterly and beautiful, with incredible hues of light pinks and accents of deep purples in some instances. I think Alexei uses light to paint.’

Pinkish trees

Along the banks of Rio Grande river near Los Alamos, New Mexico. This is the view from the House at Otomi Bridge that frequently hosted Manhattan Project scientists. A team room and restaurant at the time – once post office and train station – where Oppenheimer kept a standing reservation for whenever he wanted to dine; New Mexico; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

Kamiar Maleki, Director of Photo London, expresses their effect on one another – their oscillations, recalling Maryam’s ‘evolution from exploring the female figure to this more recent body of work’ and its ‘profound shift towards celebrating the Sublime in a new and different way – as displayed in Mother Nature‘, as well as ‘in the vast potent (waste) lands of the American West landscape.’

Prada shop with photographer photographing

Maryam Eisler, as photographed by herself at Prada, Marfa, by Elmgreen & Dragset in Valentine, Texas, 2024

For Alexei, it’s his ‘minimalist elegance, presenting viewers with unexpected compositions that speak volumes through their simplicity.’

An old man by the window, with a picture next to him

Portrait of an outsider Texan artist, James Magee, a dear friend of the painter Annabel Livermore, whose painting he sits in front of, and who various writers have described as his alter ago, a relationship referred to by The New York Times as ‘a tough act to follow’, photographed in El Paso, Texas, by Maryam Eisler, 2024

Reflecting on the journey, Eisler says, ‘I still recall the vastness of land and the ever-changing skies and clouds. We could’ve produced an entire body of work on the clouds of New Mexico; the evolving light and its plethora of shades… It was sky theatrics every day! As we drove on Interstate highways, I could not help but feel a deep sense of inner peace.

A photographer on a landscape

Alexei Riboud in White Sands National Park, New Mexico, photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

In fact, I had a memorable moment in White Sands National Park, as the sun was setting down amidst scarlet and purple skies. I recall seeing Alexei, camera in hand, standing on the opposite hill, akin to a dot in the greater universe… And for just a second or two, which felt like eternity, I took off mentally into a parallel state of mind, engulfed by Mother Nature. It was so powerful’.

A blue billboard

Weary billboard with missing parts north of El Paso in the vast plains of Texas; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

‘I think the camera changes what you see, particularly when it’s your first experience of a place, of a unique location’, says Riboud. ‘Something happens that you can’t control; it’s your subconscious working, through the frame of the camera, on the construction of the image.’

a landscape with a sign saying 'Keep the Lonely Places Lonely'

Roughly halfway between Van horn and Valentine on U.S 90 reside crumbling buildings seen through a chain link fence: a one time significant railway dewatering station, now turned ghost town of Lobo, Texas; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

And when it’s not the camera, there are parallel – or, rather, oscillatory – expressions, from a writer they met along the way. Glimpse below the poem ‘Eileen’, written by poet Amanda Bloom in West Texas. Her series of linguistic short takes provide a further mode of expression, imbricating the tapestry of their journey:

a woman lying by the pool

Poet Amanda Bloom lying by the pool of the iconic ‘Hotel Paisano’ in Marfa Texas where the cast of the 1956 Hollywood movie ‘The Giant’, starring James Dean & Elizabeth Taylor, stayed during the filming of the movie; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

Windmill sentinels
over the oil field.
The air is quick here.
You can’t keep your
thoughts with you.
The star dome
holds you down
while you move.

The yucca heads higher
than a street sign,
flowers brown and dry,
still hanging on, stalk bent
from day after day of the
troposphere in motion.
Learn surrender from
the yucca. It rattles
before its release.

The land is home
to ore, ice volcanos,
ocean floor turned
high desert, Eileen
the horse that did
not die on the way
to El Paso, you.

Pumpjacks pull.
Windmills spin.
The yucca shudders and
two brown blossoms
light on the wind.
Eileen stretches
her bum leg.

The journey – from photography to poetry – provides, in Carrie Scott’s words ‘a dialogue about the deep humanity embedded in the landscape’s history’. And, indeed, it is ‘a tapestry’ as well as a dialogue, as the Director of Photo London concludes – ‘of beauty, emotion, and storytelling, inviting viewers to contemplate the profound depths of the American big nature experience alongside the quiet poetry of simple existence.’

a man reaching with a sign

Here, in Riboud’s street scene in El Paso is what Eisler calls his ‘geometric approach to depicting space in its subtle linearity, very unique to his eye’; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

From dialogue, to tapestry, the works will soon be woven into a book, as well as an exhibition to be launched around Photo London 2025 – and in a way, as Scott aptly notes, ‘that we haven’t seen before’.

See More:

maryameisler.com

alexeiriboud.com

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red car
red car

The Ferrari 275 is a series of front-engined V12-powered grand touring automobiles with two-seater coupé and spider bodies produced between 1964 and 1968

Sweden is not the first country that comes to mind when thinking of automotive nirvana, but Paris-based auction house Artcurial has found a treasure trove there that it is putting to auction in Monaco this week. The main feature is a selection of beautiful Porsche 911s from the pre-1997 switch to water-cooled engines: there’s something for every Porsche aficionado, at almost every budget. There are some deliciously specified examples being sold on behalf of a Swedish collector with impeccable taste. It is also cleverly marketed as a no-reserve auction, with some eye-catchingly low estimates: a surefire way to attract interest. Go, enjoy, but beware of overpaying in the heat of the no-reserve moment.

Matthieu Lamoure from Artcurial says:

This W Collection, owned by Staffan Wittmark, is exceptional because it represents the culmination of a man’s lifelong passion for creation. As European importer of the ready-to-wear brand Gant and the brand’s artistic director, he studied design and put together the models in his collection with a rare aesthetic sensibility. His 26 Porsches, presented in the sale, work by color pair, for example, and by model. He defined the codes of his collection by growing up on the streets of Stockholm with a taste for line and design excellence. For this reason, three major brands have marked his passion: Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes. For him, the lines created by Pininfarina for Ferrari represent the pinnacle of aerodynamic elegance.

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car

The Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing is a two-seat sports car that was produced by Mercedes-Benz from 1954 to 1957 as a gullwinged coupé and from 1957 to 1963 as a roadster

The second important parameter of this collection is that Staffan Wittmark has decided to entrust his collection to the market, with no reserve price. He is turning the page like a collector who has reached the end of one project and is ready to start another. We will therefore start the auction at 50% of the low estimate, allowing all buyers to try their luck. What’s also exceptional is the condition of the cars. They are either fully restored, like the 9 Ferraris certified by the Ferrari factory, or the Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing and Roadster.

car

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was capable of reaching speeds of up to 263 km/h (163 mph), earning it a reputation as a sports car racing champion and making it the fastest production car of its time

Read more: BMW XM Review

To find 44 cars offered by a single owner gives the ensemble a wonderful provenance. and in such restored condition is a rare element in any collection.

Quality, provenance, exclusivity and passion are the watchwords of this fabulous sale!

car

The designation “SL” is an abbreviation of the German term “super-leicht,” meaning “super-light,” a reference to the car’s racing-bred lightweight construction

 

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gallery
gallery

The current exhibition at Lucca Hue-Williams gallery “Albion Jeune” are paintings from saudi-arbian artist Alia Ahmad

Lucca Hue-Williams, London’s coolest young gallerist, reopens her Albion Jeune gallery with an exhibition by emerging Saudi artist Alia Ahmad which transposes a vibrant colour palette on her homeland’s desert landscapes

“Thought to Image” is intriguing as an ode to Saudi Arabia’s deserts and its rapidly growing metropolises. Ahmad’s work is a tribute not just to modern, rapidly developing Saudi but to an ancient land that is both rediscovered and lost in today’s rapid development.

paintings

Alia Ahmad aims to investigate the balance between natural elements, such as light and plants, by painting them even more explicitly.

It is also a sellout show for one of the world’s most exciting young gallerists, who is developing a reputation for discovering and nurturing talent from around the world. Ahmad herself, gently and wittily subversive, was at the opening herself.

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art gallery

The Albion jeune art gallery is located at 16 -17 Little Portland Street in London

Her use of colour and texture is just as fascinating, particularly where the trees (or long objects) are rooted. These maximalist shapes and colours certainly give a sense of busyness; just that of a major, populated city. However, these colours are not particularly telling of the buildings’ rather monotonous, gray and urbanised design. In using this style, Ahmad simultaneously captures the modern denseness and the cultural history of Sadu; these colours take from the embroidery from Saudi, an ancient tribal weaving craft by the Bedouin people.

Read more: Leading MACAN, Indonesia’s first contemporary art museum

woman and man in front of an art gallery

Lucca Hue-Williams, the owner of the Albion Jeune art gallery in London, at the exhibition opening evening

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man and woman sitting next to each other
man and woman sitting next to each other

Magnus Renfrew has twenty years’ experience in the international art world, the last decade of which have been spent in Asia

Magnus Renfrew knows about art fairs in Asia. He co-founded Art Hong Kong (now Art Basel Hong Kong) and has launched numerous other fairs in the region. He speaks with LUX about Art SG, the fair he and his partners launched in Singapore as a hub for Southeast Asia, the Asian art market, and the future of art fairs

LUX: Do you think Singapore will become an art and/or cultural hub for Southeast Asia? Why did you choose Singapore rather than (for example) Bangkok, Jakarta, or KL?

Magnus Renfrew: Each city is unique with individual strengths and spheres of influence. Singapore is the gateway to Southeast Asia and as the de facto hub for the region, which has a population of 650 million people nearing the size of Europe, so logic dictates that it too should host an international art fair to serve a region that has some of the fastest growing economies in the world. What’s more, Southeast Asia has a diverse and exciting range of cultural ecosystems, and we want to bring together these communities alongside the international art world. Singapore has exceptional infrastructure and transport links, great hotels and restaurants, English is commonly spoken, Mandarin is commonly spoken. All these factors make it an exceptional place to host a major international art fair.

Furthermore, Singapore has a strong local art scene, with local galleries and considerable government investment in art and culture, which sees an active interest in growing the ecosystem in the city. The city’s cultural landscape is developing rapidly with world class museums such as the National Gallery of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, alongside a growing cluster of commercial galleries, and an increasingly engaged community of collectors. We saw the successful launch of our inaugural edition last year, and I am excited to see the fair continue to develop against this exciting backdrop.

The case for Singapore is continuing to build as it gains greater importance geo-economically, geo-politically and as the Asia centre of wealth management. Singapore is in the ascent in every aspect and culture will inevitably be a part of that story.

LUX: You have significant fairs in Japan and Taiwan. What is the secret of a successful art fair in East Asia?

MR: It is important to have a solid premise for the fair, to identify the natural catchment area, to focus on who the fair serves, and to build domestic and regional support from all stakeholders – the government, galleries, collectors, and institutions. There are no shortcuts and it takes time to build.

What are the differences between Art SG and Art HK at a similar stage?

MR: The overall context of the art market in Asia is of course very different and the collector base across Asia has developed out of all recognition. In a very short space of time ART SG has successfully been able to attract a geographically diverse audience from across Southeast Asia and beyond. The context for ART SG is very different. When we started ART HK there were few institutions and an art scene heavily focused on auctions – it is arguable that ART HK played a significant role in building the case for Hong Kong as a cultural hub and in encouraging collectors to understand the importance of the gallery system. Singapore’s art scene is much more established than Hong Kong was when we launched, with a vibrant gallery scene and exceptional institutions, as well as a pro-active private collectors and foundations. This was reflected in the extraordinary diversity and quality of offerings during Singapore Art Week.

ART SG has its own distinctive identity as an important meeting point for collectors and art lovers from Southeast Asia and around the world by bringing together the best of regional and international galleries and artists, alongside dynamic programming to deepen understanding of its cultural context.

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LUX: Second year of Art SG saw some galleries (Perrotin, Zwirner, Esther Schipper) not return – why? Will they be back?

MR: Galleries have a host of different reasons that play into their decision making including their own programming. Pace is going to be opening their space in Tokyo this year, so they will be participating in Tokyo Gendai for the first time. Perrotin has chosen to do Taipei Dangdai and Tokyo Gendai this year. A number of galleries who chose to sit out ART SG this year visited the Fair and expressed how impressed they were with the quality of attendance, the buzz and the energy. I would anticipate that we will be working again with those galleries in Singapore and elsewhere in the future.

Colourful art

Southeast Asia’s leading international art fair (ART SG), attracted 43’000 visitors in 2023.

LUX: How did this year’s edition do, commercially?

MR: We are delighted by the response to the second edition of ART SG. Throughout the fair’s four days, galleries reported speedy and sustained sales, with works placed in major private and institutional collections. Galleries highlighted an enthusiastic response from both established and emerging collectors from all corners of the world, with many noting that ART SG had provided a great platform for meeting new collectors.

A snapshot of reported sales include: Thaddeaus Ropac sold a work by Anselm Kiefer for EUR 1.1 million, alongside works by Lee Bul, Miquel Barceló, Jules de Balincourt, Alex Katz, Oliver Beer, Mandy El-Sayegh, and James Rosenquist; Sundaram Tagore sold a range of works by Hiroshi Senju, Jane Lee, Miya Ando, and Zheng Lu for a combined total of over USD 1 million; White Cube sold works by Tracey Emin, Jessica Rankin, and Darren Almond, among others for a combined total of GBP 1.5 million; Waddington Custot sold two sculptures by Barry Flanagan, including a work sold for USD 680,000 to a Chinese resident of Singapore, an installation featured as part of PLATFORM by Ian Davenport sold for USD 360,000 and two sculptures by Yves Dana, including a work for sold for USD 92,000 to a collector based in Singapore; Lehmann Maupin sold a number of works, including a painting by David Salle sold for USD 250,000 to a prominent family collection in Singapore, alongside multiple works by Lee Bul and Kim Yun Shin for prices within the range of USD 200,000 – 300,000 and USD 60,000 – 90,000 respectively; Johyun Gallery sold a number of works, including a painting by Park Seo-Bo for USD 250,000 and multiple works by Lee Bae for prices in the range of USD 50,000 – 180,000 each; The Back Room placed an installation by Marcos Kueh featured as part of PLATFORM to an institution in Singapore with a price range between SGD 50,000 – 100,000; First-time participant Sabrina Amrani sold three works by Carlos Aires within a price range of USD 27,000 – 60,000 to private collectors in Singapore; Asia Art Center sold a number of key works by Li Chen and three works from Ju Ming’s Tai Chi Series, all of which have been acquired by private collectors, with a total value of around USD 600,000; Waterhouse & Dodd sold four works by Duncan McCormick to private collectors in the UK, South Korea, Italy and Hong Kong for a combined total of USD 150,000; albertz benda reported a sold-out presentation of three new paintings and four mixed-media watercolours by Australian painter Del Kathryn Barton to a Chinese collector on the opening day; Carl Kostyál reported a sold-out booth of Indonesian artist Atreyu Moniaga, with works priced at USD 18,000 each; Harper’s sold a painting by Eliot Greenwald for USD 40,000 and a painting by Marcus Brutus for USD 32,000; and MAKASIINI CONTEMPORARY sold works by Nir Hod and Jacob Hashimoto for USD 68,000 and USD 40,000 to private collectors in Singapore and Belgium respectively.

Read more: Shangri-La, Singapore, Review

LUX: Some collectors said to us that official programming for significant collectors was limited compared with early years of Art HK. How would you respond to this?

MR: Within ART SG’s bespoke VIP program, collectors were able to tap into a vibrant and dynamic line up of art events, openings, and after-parties to enrich their experience of the overall fair and art week, including private collection visits in collectors’ residences, artist studio visits, gallery openings, and more. Collectors were able to RSVP to openings and curator-led tours of private collection and foundation exhibitions such as Translations: Afro-Asian Poetics by non-profit collector-led foundation The Institutum, curated by Dr Zoe Whitley, director of Chisenhale Gallery, London, Rough, presented by The Pierre Lorinet Collection, and Chronic Compulsions presented by The Private Museum, as well as tours of major museum exhibitions at the National Gallery of Singapore and Singapore Art Museum. There were after-hours events including specially curated art parties at the National Gallery Singapore, ArtScience Museum, and Soho Residency, and a young collectors’ party at a spectacular new venue with views over the Singapore skyline. Our collector programming also offered immersive art and food dining experiences created especially for ART SG, such as Indochina by Senang Supper Club which featured two Cambodian artists discussing their art and non-profit initiative in Siem Reap over a curated menu from the Indochina region; a walking tour of cultural precinct Kampong Glam led by award winning cookbook author Khir Johari and Michelin-starred chef Ivan Brehm; and a four-hands Afro-Asian dinner which reflected the narrative and curation of the Translations exhibition. In addition to the official programming by the fair, there were also a number of gallery dinners, collector-hosted evenings, and karaoke nights and many other parties to round off the week.

LUX: What will you change about the fair for 2025?

MR: We will be doubling down on VIP outreach across our core constituency of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and also Vietnam, as well as markets with a resonance with Singapore, such as Australia, New Zealand, Chia and South Asia, and expanding the programming of the fair both within on-site and for collectors throughout the city. We will be working on more collaborations with privately owned museums and foundations, as alignment with collector-led initiatives that seek to make a difference is key to ART SG’s ambition to grow the regional ecosystem.

art exhibiton

The Art SG 2023 showcased an assembly of leading galleries from the region and around the world

LUX: What is the main collector base for Art SG?

MR: There is an established base of sophisticated collectors in Southeast Asia and a younger generation of new buyers who are hungry to engage with contemporary art.

Singapore is also increasingly home to the region’s wealth base as demonstrated by the growing number of family offices opening here, as well as its emerging position as Asia’s tech capital. This together with established international businesses and entrepreneurs recognising the benefits of Singapore as the base for their pan-Asian operations, provides the context for a rapidly developing, forward thinking and affluent collector base, who are increasingly engaging with Singapore’s rich cultural landscape.

Thousands of VIPs attended the preview day of ART SG’s highly anticipated second edition. Strong attendance from both local and international collectors and leading figures from institutions, museums, and foundations, hailing from Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, Japan, Korea, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan as well as Europe and the US. Notable visitors include:

Collectors

  • Alan Lau, Hong Kong
  • Albert Lim & Linda Neo, Singapore
  • Alexander Tedja, Indonesia
  • Alina Xie, China
  • Andrew Xue, Founder of Pond Society, China & Singapore
  • Belinda Tanoto, Founder of Tanoto Art Foundation, Indonesia
  • Dato Noor Azman Mohd Nurdin, Malaysia
  • Disaphol Chansiri, Thailand
  • Ellie Lai, Taiwan
  • Eric Booth & Jean-Michel Beurdeley, MAIIAM, Thailand
  • Evan Chow, Hong Kong
  • Han Nefkens, Han Nefkens Foundation, Spain
  • Harayanto Adikoesoemo, Founder of Museum MACAN, Indonesia Iwan Kurniawan Lukminto, Founder of Tumurun Museum, Indonesia Jack Feng, China/Singapore
  • Ji Dahai, Founder of Yalv River Art Museum, China
  • Jim Amberson, Singapore
  • Justine Tek, Director and CEO, Yuz Museum, China
  • Kim & Lito Camacho, Singapore
  • Kit Bencharongkul, MOCA Bangkok, Thailand
  • Kulapat Yantrasast, USA
  • Leo Shih, Taiwan
  • Li Fan, Founder of Whale Art Museum, China & Singapore
  • Mike & Lou Samson, Philippines/Singapore
  • Nathan Gunawan, Indonesia/Singapore
  • Nishita Shah, Thailand
  • Patrick Sun, Founder of Sunpride Foundation, Hong Kong
  • Pierre Lorinet, Singapore
  • Pontiac Land Group, Singapore
  • Rath Osathanugroh, Thailand
  • Rudy Tseng, Taiwan
  • Rvisra Chirathivat, Thailand
  • Simon Cheong, Singapore
  • Shunji Oketa, Founder of Oketa Collection, Japan
  • Thomas Shao, Founder of the MetaMedia Group and the Shao Foundation, China TY Jiang, Les Yeux Art Foundation, USA
  • Wu Meng, M Art Foundation, China
  • Xiaoyang Peng, Founder of DRC No.12 space & The Bunker, China
  • Yang Bin, China

Institutions

  • Aaron Cezar, Founding Director, Delfina Foundation, UK
  • Aaron Seeto, Director, Museum MACAN, Indonesia
  • Derek Sulger, Co-Chairperson, UCCA, China
  • Eugene Tan, Director of National Gallery Singapore and Director of Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
  • Jessica S Hong, Senior Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Toledo Museum, USA Judith Greer, Director of International Programmes for Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE
  • Lee Dong Kook, Director, GyeonGi Cultural Foundation and Gyeonggi Province Museum, Korea
  • Mami Kataoka, Director, Mori Art Museum, Japan
  • Pi Li, Head of Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong
  • Sook-Kyung Lee, Director, The Whitworth, Manchester & 14th Gwangju Biennale Stefano Rabolli Pansera, Director, Bangkok Kunsthalle, Thailand
  • Virginia Moon, Associate Curator, Korean Art, LACMA, USA
  • Xie Siwei, Museum Director, Yuz Museum, China
  • Xue Tan, Senior Curator, Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong
  • Zoe Whitley, Director, Chisenhale London, UK

LUX: Will art fairs remain strong commercially in the coming decades?

MR: Art fairs always have and will continue to play a crucial role in the art market.

The recent edition of ART SG saw 45,303 visitors across four show days, hailing from Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, Japan, Korea, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan as well as Europe and the US – in increase from the 43,000 visitors who attended the inaugural edition. The strong international attendance from leading private collectors, as well as directors, curators, and patrons from international museums and institutions at ART SG is a testament to the importance and appeal of the fair as the region’s leading fair.

people talking to each other

Meaningful dialogues and insightful conversations were held alongside the Fair at ART SG 2023

LUX: Will Art SG help awareness of SE Asian Art grow on the global scene, or is that not the point?

MR: Definitely. As Southeast Asia’s leading art fair, ART SG invites the world’s leading collectors and art leaders to experience Singapore and all that the region has to offer, but also encourage a new generation of emerging collectors to be inspired by the rich diversity of art the region.

ART SG 2024 saw a strong line-up of Southeast Asian galleries making a dynamic debut at the fair, as well as some of the most significant galleries from across the region, featuring both established and emerging Southeast Asian artists. Some of the highlights include FOST Gallery (Singapore) which presented a a significant showcase reflecting recent contemporary art practice in Singapore and Southeast Asia, including Donna Ong, Eng Tow, Ian Woo, Wyn- Lyn Tan, as well as Elaine Roberto-Navas and Luis Antonio Santos; Gajah Gallery (Singapore, Jakarta, Yogyakarta) which showed renowned artists from the region including Suzann Victor, Yunizar and Uji “Hahan” Handoko Eko Saputro; and BANGKOK CITYCITY (Bangkok), whose first-time participation featured a new installation by Tanatchai Bandasak, large-scale paintings by street artist Alex Face inspired by significant political movements in Thailand, and works by renowned Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai featuring his classic motifs of denim, fire and mythical imagery, among others.

artsg.com

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Reading time: 12 min
beautiful dinner arrangement
beautiful dinner arrangement

Since 1829, Champagne Bollinger has been making gwines, expressing the aromas of the fruit in all its dimensions.

James Bond’s champagne house of choice released the latest iterations of its new top-end champagnes amid glitz and glamour in Paris. Masha Nosova secured an invitation

The evening took place at the Bucherie in the Latin Quarter, originally an amphitheatre for medical students in the 17th century.

The cuvees served were La Grande Annee and La Grande Année Rose 2015. Bollinger uses oak barrels for fermentation, unusually for champagne, which creates richness, weight complexity and depth A tangible connection to this legacy was brought to life as Gaël Chaunut, the in-house head cooper, demonstrated the centuries-old art of barrel-making, a process as intricate as it is timeless.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

man with champagne glas

Charles-Armand de Belenet is the managing director of Maison Bollinger

The themes of ‘wood’ permeated throughout the evening, from the meticulously crafted canopy of 9,500 paper pieces, reminiscent of a forest, to the exquisite gastronomic journey curated by Two Michelin-starred Chef Olivier Nasti, masterfully incorporating elements of nature into his tantalising creations and transporting us on a journey of flavours. His venison tartare with Osciètre caviar and citrus ice with petals complimented effortlessly alongside La Grande Année, while the tender game of Alsatian hunts presented with a colourful quintuplet of sauces, found its perfect match with La Grande Année Rosé 2015. A mystery wine, which later revealed itself as the Grande Annee 1989 was paired with a 28 month aged Comte.

Read more: A tasting of Drouhin’s fine Burgundies

beautiful french house

The Maison Bollinger event took place in a beautiful house in the heart of Paris

Champagne-bollinger.com

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Reading time: 1 min
Car driving in front of a cliff
Car driving in front of a cliff

The new BMW XM is the first high-performance car from BMW M GmbH with an electrified drive system

BMW’s sporting flagship promises to be the best of its luxury SUV division, combined with the best of its racy M division. Does it deliver?

Many large SUVs are dramatically imposing, aggressive vehicles that look like they are as likely to declare war on Mars as get you to your destination. Which is fine if you are a certain type of person or in a certain mood. But not always.

The BMW XM is certainly a large SUV. It is also a kind of flagship of the company’s range, combining, in an adaptation of their own words, the best of its SUV division (X) with the best of its sports division (M).

It doesn’t need a racing driver to tell you that a huge, tall wide vehicle is not necessarily best suited to a racing purpose; and nor is a racing car mush suited to carrying several people wearing Etro and Patek Philippe and Off White around in comfort.

But in the manner of an athletic rugby forward, or a centre back, the XM carries off that blend of athleticism and muscle.

car inside

Unique exterior design twinned with luxurious interior that showcases the ‘M Lounge’ concept

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What is particularly interesting about the car is that while it looks dramatic and striking, it manages not to look aggressive. Perhaps because of its hybrid nature, it gives off an element of futuristic electric vibe.

It’s also great fun to drive, even in town. BMW have somehow managed to endow it with responsive steering, and very flat cornering, it feels astonishingly agile for a car the size of a small hotel. Like all hybrids, it is very relaxing to drive an electric mode, and when the engine kicks in, you get an overlay of sound.

The nature of the sound divided our passengers: Some thought it sounded cool and racy, others said that such a sophisticated looking car should be seen and felt rather than heard. It’s not as noisy as a Lamborghini SUV, but it’s much louder than a Bentley Bentayga or Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Happy medium or compromise? Probably in the eye of the beholder.

Read more: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Review

What sure is that this is a magnificent long-distance vehicle. Back seat passengers get smart, detachable branded leather cushions. (even the plug-in charging cables in the boot/trunk are housed in a rather striking leather overnight bag), there is masses of legroom and a feeling of a huge amount of space and light in the car, and also that the rear seats are well designed, unlike in some of these vehicles where you end up sitting very upright. A journey between London and Oxford was devoured in one gulp without anybody noticing the in between.

Speaking of gulps, in the past an SUV of this size would have been planet-wearingly thirsty, but due to its engine efficiency and electrical assistance, the XM is remarkably frugal – more so than many cars half its size and power.

Car driving on a cliff

The high-performance Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) is powered by a newly developed plug-in hybrid system delivering 653hp and 800Nm of torque

Criticisms? Apart from the size, which you have to be able to deal with f you are buying a car like this, the entertaining and sporty nature of the driving experience means that the ride is quite firm. Don’t expect a limousine here – for that you should look at this car’s I7 sibling. But if you can live with that, this is quite the car.

www.bmw.com

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Reading time: 3 min
Big pool at a nice hotel
Big pool at a nice hotel

The stunning pool area of the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore

The Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore offers a tropical sanctuary  in the heart of the city. LUX checks in

Singapore’s hawker food is the street food of legend and even features in gastronomic guides. But while the food is astonishing, the stress of getting a table is less so. And much as it is fun to be crammed in with others buzzing with the same experience, sometimes you crave peace. And you do need an appetite for the equatorial heat. We took our Singapore laksa with vintage champagne, in pure tranquillity, in a temperature-controlled garden room, looking over lush plantations, a lawn and a swimming pool. How? The Shangri-La brings the street food to the hotel guests, that’s how.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

At the Line kitchen pop-ups, real street-food chefs from guest hawker stalls, including Habib’s Rojak, cook in the hotel kitchens. It doesn’t replace the authentic experience, but having just landed from Qatar it suited us. After lunch, we wandered down to the huge outdoor pool to swim a few lengths before drifting into the spa for a restorative treatment. The Shangri-La is not among the newest of Singapore’s luxury hotels, but, as seasoned travellers know, newness does not always mean improvement.

hotel lobby with lots of plants

The Hotel Lobby Lounge is equipped with a lot of green plants in the Tower Wing

Read more: Waku Ghin, Singapore, Review

A new developer might have been tempted to build over the rich tropical gardens, or make a smaller pool. There’s also the danger of design to social media. A space made to look good on Instagram is not always good to be in, and this is very true of bars, where bold shapes detract from the dreamy ambiance that makes a good bar. And the Shangri-La has a good bar. The Origin is dark, full of corners and has a long wooden bar for sitting at. We asked for a gin southside margarita, a hybrid cocktail of my own invention, and were pleased, although not surprised, that the bartender knew the ingredients.

nice room with great interior

The rose veranda has a high tea set menu, designed to continue afternoon traditions of luxurious tête-à-têtes over dainty sandwiches, delectable pastries and freshly baked scones served with clotted cream.

This joint effort was so delightful we had another. And another. In Singapore, you want a room with a view, and our suite had just that: high over the gardens and high-rises of the Orchard area. The room was conventional luxury, and all the better for it. To end the day, a charming wander through the gardens, then sitting poolside by a tropical fruit tree at midnight, bracing for another day.

big hotel building with lots of green

Nestled within 15 acres of tropical landscaped gardens, guests are warmly embraced by the hotel’s distinct service and smiles.

shangri-la.com

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Reading time: 2 min
restaurant asian
restaurant asian

Designed by award-winning Japanese designer Yohei Akao, the dining space integrates natural materials and intricate details, an ode to nature and heritage

Hidden away on the second floor, overlooking hundreds of croupier hands shuffling and dealing in the casino below, is Waku Ghin. LUX inspects the two-Michelin starred Japanese fusion restaurant in Marina Bay shopping centre, Singapore.

Past the suave darkness of the main area, with walls adorned with dark wood and striking art, and a bar teeming with sakés, is a private room, reserved for the chef’s omakase. One sits, cocooned by lighter wood panneling, at a table opposite the chef’s knives and metal, a stove, spices. The chef, in arm’s reach, sharpens his knives. His sous-chef – stick of fresh wasabi in hand, resembling something between a turnip and a thick leek – mashes it to its bright green pulp. The ancient Japanese ritual begins.

The chefs bring out a vast white polystyrene tray, as you see in fishmongers, with fresh fish. Abalone, twitching at the touch, Carabinero prawns, sea urchins, snapper, uroko. But fusion can be flimsy, and non-committal. Would we lose the natural juice of the French Royale oyster to the overpowering salt and spices of ginger and rice vinegar?

Follow LUX on Instagram:  luxthemagazine

A chemist’s nose follows these flavours and textures, balanced rather then strewn. As with the marinated prawn in sea urchin – the balance of sweet, almost fruity tastes is careful, rather than overbearing. It’s a visual pleasure, too, its orange body sitting boldly in a black shell.

Asian restaurant out of wood

Experience the new sushi omakase at the private Sushi Room customised for four where diners can get a taste of the finest regional delicacies of Japan

Black truffle and caviar are not attention-seeking but sit subtly alongside, with Oscietra caviar preserved at the very lowest salt-level. The carabinero prawn, vast and dealt with by some sort of saber and a dome, flashed in from of us like an elegant medieval duel. And fear not the fiery wrath of wasabi paste; fresh wasabi is a far milder and more succulent cry. (This makes resoundingly clear the sad fact that most so-called ‘wasabi’ consists solely of turnip and flavouring.) And it prods rather than murders its accompanying red marbled, tender and peppery wagyu sushi, slung elegantly across rice with a dip of citrus soy sauce.

After this we are presented the Amadai Uroko with Maitake Mushroom and Mizuna. The uroko, a type of Japanese tilefish with very thin skin, easier to pincer, puffs up immensely under the heat of the metal stove in front of us, under the expert hand of Executive Chef, Masahiko Inoue. And here is the freshness of the mushrooms; quiet, modest, delicious.

Read more: Rosewood Hong Kong review

Goodbye to the chefs – we are whizzed off to the dessert room, and eased slowly back to reality. One remembers than one is not in a cave in Mount Fuji but, overlooking chandeliers and Gucci, in Singapore’s shopping centre. After many courses, I manage one last one, of Mandarin Granita and White Rum Jelly, luckily unlike the English trifle, where jelly can be a tyrannical dictator. Alongside, the balance of sesame ice-cream and hojicha Chantilly (a type of Japanese green tea, served in puffs) provides a conversation of nut and herb, of temperatures, of colours.

Stylish bar with red chairs

For a more casual night out, the extended bar dining area features Chef Tetsuya’s timeless cuisine

Lest we forget the wines… after a deliciously dry saké at the bar, wines with notes of green apple, honey and lemon lended a staccato crispness, structuring and pierces these flavours, after a deliciously dry saké at the bar. From the Rhone, a delicious Julius Pylon 2021, made specially for Chef Tetsuya, served in a burgundy glass to elevate its spicy aroma, finishing with a glass of Pantelleria, the Sicilian dessert wine which cuts through dessert perfectly with a sort of Scott-Joplin hops of sweetness.

Japanese-born, Sydney-based Chef Tetsuya hinges on untampered fresh produce, Japanese umami and meditteranean herbs. Entering back into Marina Bay Sands, beyond the casino deck, beyond its twinkling lights, to Singapore’s skyline: it has, like Tetsuya’s fusion, that balance of careful, winking acuity.

cocktail being poured into a glass

Pair your experience with an extensive list of handcrafted drinks including bespoke brews from Isojiman and Masuizumi.

https://www.marinabaysands.com/restaurants/waku-ghin.html

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Reading time: 3 min
Man and woman standing next to each other

Chong Huai Seng is one of Singapore’s most respected collectors. He and his daughter Ning Chong, a first mover in art investment advisory, speak with LUX Leaders and Philanthropists Editor Samantha Welsh about the future of art as an investment of passion

When international banker Chong Huai Seng started buying art in the 1980s, he could not have imagined growing a collection that would catalyse a forum for South East Asia’s prominent collectors, artists and experts; nor that in co-founding a gallery The Culture Story with his daughter, Ning Chong, she herself would see a gap for a specialist art investment advisory and would go on to found the Family Office for Art (FOfA). Father and daughter share their approach and insights into dealing with passion assets such as art

When did your collecting journey start?

Mr Huai Seng Chong: My collecting journey started in the mid 80’s when I was a stock broker and I used to travel to London frequently for business trips. I loved traipsing around Mayfair, dipping in and out of galleries. I started buying British sculpture and Russian paintings, very unusual because most people start buying art from their own country. I was merely responding to what I like, my daughter likes to call it “retail therapy” at a time before the internet, and all you had, was to trust your instinct and sensibilities.

Nina Chong: About seven years ago, I introduced some governance to my father’s art collection, cataloguing and art collection management and to assess the strengths of the collection and where we should focus our future acquisitions. With that, we are able to identify themes within the collection, and Dad always enjoys selecting and curating the pieces which we put up in our private gallery The Culture Story. Personally I started my own collection a mere two – three years ago. I realised I had a point of view, which was different from my father’s and there were certain artists and themes which resonated more strongly with me, as a new mother, as an entrepreneur.

Man and woman standing next to each other

Mr Huai Seng Chong and his daughter Ms Ning Chong are two of Singapore’s most respected collectors.

How did you decide a career as an art professional was for you?

CHS: Art collecting started as a hobby for me, almost forty years ago! I never thought this is something I would continue to do, and now this hobby has turned into a business venture between me and my daughter. This is something we did not plan to do, but I’m happy that we are on this adventure together.

NC: When I was young, I was surrounded by works of art and as a family we used to follow my Dad to visit galleries on the weekend. It was only after graduation, when I didn’t want to pursue banking or finance that my father nudged me to consider the art world. I did my own research, including a few internships in London before I decided that I would commit and pursue a career in the arts. It took me a long time to get to where I am, looking back it has been very rewarding to work in different areas such as art fairs, auction house, galleries to government policy work, it has given me a very comprehensive overview of the art ecosystem.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

What was the vision behind The Culture Story?

CHS: We started The Culture Story in June 2017 as a private gallery, like Gertrude Stein salon’s setting in her Paris apartment in the 1920s where artists, poets, writers, thinkers would get together and make merry. For us, we wanted to create a cosy environment where we can share works from our family collection, and encourage other collectors to collaborate with us. By organising exhibitions and hosting talks with artists, collectors and art world professionals, The Culture Story aims to promote greater understanding and discourse around art and foster connoisseurship.

How has the mission and collection evolved?

CHS: We are still very much following the mission we set out for The Culture Story at the beginning. The Singapore art scene has matured significantly and we are at a stage where other art collectors are open to collaborate with us. They are happy to share work(s) from their private collection, especially when they encounter feedback from members of the public, students or other art collectors and professionals.

Images hanging inside an art gallery

“Collecting Bodies: a short story about art and nudity in Asia” with works on loan from 10 art collectors

NC: We try to focus on a few themes amongst our family collection. Recently, we have loaned some of our works to museums for various exhibitions. One in particular is an early Kim Lim sculpture which is currently on view at the Hepworth Wakefield Museum in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Later this year, the entire exhibition will travel to the National Gallery Singapore for her long-await retrospective exhibition.

We also loaned paintings by Futura and Timothy Curtis to Art Science Museum in Singapore for an exhibition called Sneakertopia, which celebrated everything related to the rise of street culture and pop art, and the phenomena of sneaker culture.

Man standing next to a sculpture

Kim Lim at Hepworth: the first major museum exhibition of Lim’s work since 1999, offering unparalleled insight into the artist’s life and work.

Artsworks shown in a room

Futura and Timothy Curtis at the Art Science Museum

Where has your acquisition strategy been particularly effective in nurturing innovative artists?

CHS: I like to support Singapore’s young and emerging artists. There is one artist in particular Hilmi Johandi whom I spotted almost fifteen years ago at the Affordable Art Fair in Singapore in 2011, today he is represented by OTA Fine Art, one of Japan’s leading contemporary art galleries who also represents Yayoi Kusama. I commissioned Hilmi to create a family portrait for us. Since then I support his practice by buying a work from every new series.

Colourful art painting

Hilmi Johandi works primarily with painting and explores interventions with new media that are associated within the domain of framing, fragmentation and compression

What is it about the Asian art market and intergenerational wealth transfer that created demand for the Family Office for Art (FOFA)?

NC: The South East Asian art market is still a young one, over the two decades we have seen significant progress with the emergence of galleries, art fairs, biennales, dealers and private museums etc.

Two years ago, I identified a gap in the industry, and I felt there were many things I could offer and help other collectors, the same way I used my skills and experience to maintain my father’s art collection. Most wealthy families have their financial assets and businesses handled by their private banker or family office, more often than not, the soft assets such as art and collectibles are overlooked or neglected. However these “passion assets” are very much part of the principle’s estate and his/her legacy. I’ve been studying this space for some time and I’ve learnt that with a proper system in place, it is a significant step towards protecting and enhancing the art collection’s commercial and cultural value.

At FOFA, we understand that dealing with passion assets such as art can be emotional and sentimental, and more often than not, it would require some degree of family involvement. These types of discussions and conversations are not unfamiliar to us and may take a long time to materialise, so our approach is to take a long term view and invest in these relationships.

Read more: Yulia Iosilzon’s groundbreaking new show in London

Based in Singapore, we are well-positioned to meet and serve Asian collectors in the region. Over the next decade and even in present times, it has been said that there will be unprecedented levels of wealth transfer in Asia. Given our first mover advantage and as we continue to grow and widen our international network, FOFA is ready to help families look after and manage their passions or alternative assets such as fine art and collectibles.

 

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Reading time: 6 min
big green vineyard
Beautiful, big house with ah big terrace and garden

Since 1843, six generations of the Krug family have perpetuated this dream, enriching the Joseph Krug’s vision and savoir faire. Today, the Family House welcomes Krug Lovers from around the world to take a sensorial journey around Krug Champagne.

What are the 12 greatest wine estates in the world? A subjective question, surely. Lewis Chester doesn’t think so. The British financier and founder of the Golden Vines awards kicks off a series where he outlines for LUX his golden dozen, the most collectible wine estates from the world’s major regions. For the first instalment, he pays homage to Krug, the revered champagne house owned by LVMH

Why begin my personalised list of the World’s Best 12 Fine Wine Estates with Maison Krug? As a fine wine collector for almost twenty-five years, I have collected more bottles of Krug than any other wine: more than 1,500. More importantly, I drink more bottles of Krug than any other wine – every Friday night with my family at a minimum. My middle daughter, Anoushka, was just twelve years old when she developed a craving for Krug. Maggie Henriquez, at the time the Maison’s President & CEO, found out about Anoushka’s love of Krug and invited her and her friends to celebrate her future eighteenth birthday party at the estate!

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Krug evokes class and sophistication. In 2012, the late, great Paul Pontallier invited me to an 8-hour marathon lunch in the great salon of Château Margaux, one of the five left-bank First Growths. On arrival, Paul – the Château’s estate manager – served me a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée, the multi-wine non-vintage blend that Krug lovers around the world imbibe on a regular basis. At around 7pm, after having consumed six bottles of Margaux and a bottle of cognac, I asked Paul why he had chosen to serve me Krug: “We, at Château Margaux, want our guests to consider our wines as being at the same level as those from Maison Krug”. Wow! What an endorsement. Many years later, I would be told something quite similar by Don Weaver, the estate manager at Harlan Estate in Napa Valley, when he met me at the winery door holding two glasses and a cold bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée.

big green vineyard

Joseph Krug did not believe in hierarchies between his Champagnes, clearly written in his personal notebook in 1848. Today the House offers seven Champagnes, all of the same undisputed quality, each illustrating a different expression of Nature.

Krug ages forever. Along with Grande Cuvée, the ‘cheapest’ wine in the Maison’s range at around £200 per bottle, the Maison produces a vintage bottling in good years, as well as a formidable non-vintage Rosé, and a rare ‘Collection’ version of its vintage champagnes (only available to private clients). For those willing and able to pay thousands of pounds per bottle, they also produce – in miniscule quantities – a single-vineyard Blanc de Blancs (Chardonnay) wine, Clos du Mesnil, and a single-vineyard Blanc de Noirs (Pinot Noir), Clos d’Ambonnay.

Known for having wines that are generous on the palate, with huge complexity helped by ageing in wooden barrels, Krug is somewhat opposite in design to its LVMH stablemate, Dom Pérignon, which is known for its reductive style of champagnes. Unlike Dom Pérignon, Krug makes less than a tenth of the volume of wine, although getting the exact production figures from either Maison is as difficult as getting your hands on Russia’s nuclear launch codes.

Dark wine cellar

Olivier Krug, the sixth generation of the Krug family and Director of the House welcomes Krug Lovers from around the world to the Family House in Reims.

The Maison was established in Reims in 1843, by Joseph Krug, a true visionary non-conformist with an uncompromising philosophy for quality. Joseph’s novel idea was to craft the very best Champagne he could offer, every single year, regardless of annual variations in climate – rather than bottling a wine only in good vintages. He also introduced the idea of building an extensive library of reserve wines from many different years to craft the perfect blend. Six generations of the Krug family have continued Joseph’s work, with Olivier Krug being the latest in a long line of family members to be working at the estate which has been owned by LVMH since 1999.
The most recent innovation at the estate was numbering each bottling of Krug Grande Cuvée with an ‘Edition’ number. In 2016, Edition 163eme was launched, representing the 163rd annual bottling of Grande Cuvée from the time of Joseph Krug’s first vintage in 1844. Krug Rosé edition numbers shortly followed suit. Collectors can use the Krug app to quickly find out what and how many wines comprise any given Edition number, and even what music ensemble to pair with the wine. For instance, the most recent release, 171eme Edition, is blended with 131 wines from 12 different years (2015 all the way back to 2000), made up of 45% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay and 18% Meunier grapes. Julie Cavil, the Chef de Cave, recommends enjoying this Krug with Joseph’s Theme: Dream Variation (composed by Kazu Makino et al).

Read more: A tasting of Drouhin’s fine Burgundies

Lewis’s Best 3 Wines from Maison Krug

Krug, Clos du Mesnil, 1979: the first vintage from this iconic single vineyard, it ranks as one of the best three wines I have ever tasted from any estate. Aromas of roses and petals, and a finish that ran for several minutes in the mouth. Worldclass.

Krug, Clos du Mesnil, 2002: although still a relative puppy, I am convinced that the 2002 vintage will last for another twenty-plus years and be considered alongside the 1979 vintage as a legendary wine.

Krug, Vintage 1988: if you can find a bottle that has been stored well, the wine will be remarkably fresh, vibrant and complex, and I guarantee that it will blow your socks off.

wine bottles laying next to each other

Each year, Krug’s Cellar Master auditions 250 wines of the year and 150 reserve wines when creating a new Édition of Krug Grande Cuvée

The 2024 edition of the Golden Vines awards will take place in Madrid between October 25-27 2024. liquidicons.com

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Green field with a little house in the middle
Family of different generations sitting on a stone wall

The family Drouhin grew up in the vineyards and acquired a deep understanding of wine alongside their father, Robert Drouhin. They all have their own role and they share the same passion for wine

Veronique Drouhin was not supposed to run one of the world’s most celebrated wine producers. The scion of a family with holdings throughout Burgundy and beyond, she was born with the odds stacked against her in two ways: she was the second child, where traditionally the elder child took on the family business; and she was a woman in the very mannish world of wine.

“I did not think, when I was at school, that things would end up the way they did,” the urbane, lively head of Maison Drouhin says ahead of our tasting of some of her finest wines. But her elder brother, Philippe, decided that he wanted to devote his energies to being in the vineyards, making the wines great rather than running the company. And Veronique, although she is too modest to say so directly, showed the commercial nous required to take the company forward in the 21st century.

Drouhin is famed for making wines of finesse, vibrancy and balance. That was not necessarily always a plus point: there was a time earlier this century when many consumers of fine wines thought that the more powerful a wine was, the better. And being the head of a negotiant-producer, which both owns its own vineyards and buys grapes from small producers with their own vineyards, was also a double-edged sword as high-end consumers sought out tiny production boutiquewineries as a status symbol.

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But the pendulum has swung the other way, both on style, with finesse and balance most definitely back in vogue, and in terms of consumer demand, as the cost of wines from tiny producers shot upwards beyond sustainable levels. Drouhin, which makes wines from some of Burgundy’s most hallowed vineyards, suddenly looked like excellent value as well as high quality.

If there is a grace to the wines – more on which in our tasting notes below – there is also a grace to the head of the Maison. When I ask what she would have likely done if she had not been born into a major French wine dynasty, Veronique replies that she might have become a music. I can imagine her playing a Chopin sonata as much as I can imagine her tasting her wines or hosting a collector’s dinner.

Read more: A tasting of Dana Estate wines

Wine cellar

After carefully harvesting the precious fruits of a year’s labour, Maison Drouhin let their vines enter a period of rest, an enchanted interlude called dormancy.

Drouhin makes wines at a variety of price points: just days before this tasting of some of their highest-end wines, which costs hundreds of pounds/euros/dollars a bottle, I partook of a bottle of a more lowly Drouhin Savigny-les-Beaune red Burgundy, from the fulsome 2020 vintage, at a London restaurant. It was delicious, balanced, moreish; and very much in the style of all the others. But if you are seeking a high end Burgundy at a relatively reasonable price, look to the below.

The Drouhin tasting. Tasting notes by Darius Sanai

Whites:

Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, 2018

The Chablis brand might suggest a certain austerity and steeliness; this grand cru, from one of the most celebrated vineyards, had that but also breadth, depth and white nectarines. Very classy and surprisingly powerful; a Jaguar E-type of a wine.

Green field with a little house in the middle

The harvest date is determined through regular samplings. Maison Drouhin closely monitors the health and maturation of the grapes.

Beaune Clos des Mouches, 2019

A white wine from Beaune? Sacré bleu – or sacré blanc!  But what a wine this rare and prized bottling is. Rounded, rich fruit with freshness and sex appeal and a lot of layers. An open-topped classic two-seater Mercedes SL from the 1980s.

Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot, Marquis de Laguiche, 2019

From Chablis we headed south through the forest of the Plateau de Langres (Chablis is not connected to the rest of the Burgundy vineyards), over the continental divide and down to Beaune. Now we travel a few kilometres further south, with the Cote d’Or hills rising to our right, in our 1973 Porsche 911S, in a solid period dark green. That’s what this wine is: super-elegant, precise, crafted, stunning.

Multiple wine bottles standing next to each other

The harvest date is determined through regular samplings. Maison Drouhin closely monitors the health and maturation of the grapes.

Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2019

Back up the road we go, past Beaune, to the rounded Hill of Corton. Corton Charlemagne is one of the most celebrated white Burgundies, and this is a beautiful interpretation, with stony fruits and the complexity to match a three Michelin-starred chef’s signature Escoffier-style white fish main course. A 1960s Citroen DS Decapotable (in black, with cream leather) of a wine.

Reds:

Volnay Premier Cru Clos des Chênes 2018

Such finesse, a wine that only hints at its true depth of first sip, then keeps speaking with you, reciting poetry in your ear.

Beaune Premier Cru Clos des Mouches 2018

Beaune is only a few kilometres away from Volnay, and this wine is made with the same, pinot noir, grape variety by the same producer: yet while retaining Drouhin’s finesse, this has power and muscularity. Like a Duke from the court of Louis XIV expounding on the virtues of his house musicians.

Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Les Amoureuses 2009

On first sip, this is a balanced, structured and slightly delicate red Burgundy. By the end of the second glass, it’s an artist, a pianist, a poet and a dancer – and not a particularly chaste dancer. A Chippendale from the 2000s, or a brilliant burlesque; all at the same time. Astonishing.

Chambertin Clos de Beze 2003

This is a wine you would have at your last supper, with capon, truffle, caviar and tripe sweetbreads (and maybe some pommes dauphinoise). Like a Falstaffian royal performing a perfect ballet while reciting Rumi.

domainedrouhin.com

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Ancient, historical building made out of stone
Ancient, historical building made out of stone

Sunrise in Persepolis, capital of the ancient Achaemenid kingdom. From this particular Persian empire, Greece would have been the Near West, China the Near East, and current-day Cambodia the Middle East

History and its related language are written by the victors; but as history changes sometimes redundant terminology remains in use. One such term is the phrase Middle East, which is outdated, colonialist, increasingly pejorative, and should be consigned to the same dustbin as “Near East” and “Darkest Africa”, writes Darius Sanai

Are you a Far Easterner? Or maybe a Near Easterner? Do you know anyone who still describes themselves in this way? I don’t. Conversely, I know people from East Asia and people from South Asia.

Interesting animal Illustration engraved in a stone wall

Bas relief at Persepolis. Nobody referred to its residents as Middle Easterners: each empire believes itself to be at the centre of civilisation, an often hubristic view which becomes more exposed as empires recede

And yet, I am, apparently, a Middle Easterner. The phrase is house style to describe the region in all the world’s leading media, whatever its political viewpoint, from the BBC and the Economist to the New York Times, CNN and Fox News. The term is used to describe the swathe of countries from Iran (where I am from) in the north to Yemen in the south. The Middle East sometimes also refers to places further west, like Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and even Egypt, which is in Africa.

Middle East is a redundant term, as steeped in colonialist “orientalist” perception as the term Far East. “East” refers to a comparative longitude from: London and Paris, one-time colonial hubs; and it’s the Middle because it’s between the Near and the Far East from their perspective.

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Yet nobody would describe China or Japan as the Far East now, or Palestine as the Near East, and rightly so. (Although the French, always slower to bend to what they see as political correctness, still use the term “Proche-Orient”, referring to its “Proche”-ness to the Quai d’Orsay, where geopolitical machinations ferment.)

The “Far” East was far to the east from the centres of global power of a couple of a couple of hundred years ago, although not far at all from the centre of the Hang dynasty. Shanghai, technically part of the Far East, is near west when viewed from Japan or Korea.

Construction site with stone building on a desert like ground

Persepolis, in modern-day Iran. Each empire creates a world view and terminology on its own terms. The Persians ruled the ancient world from Persepolis until their defeat by the Greeks. Our own reference to the Middle East is a construct of western European empires which finally disappeared after World War II

Equally the “Near” East (comprising Beirut, Istanbul/Constantinople and so on) is quite far west when observed from Khmer empire in northern Cambodia and north, not east, of the Ethiopian empire, and the term was phased out of polite usage at the end of the 20th century.

“Middle East” has also become a perjorative: we all know what kind of image the words “Middle Eastern man” conjure up.

So why are we still using the term? Just like a Senegalese is from West Africa, a Finn is from North Europe, and a Sri Lankan is from South Asia, an Iranian, Jordanian or Syrian is from West Asia, as much as a Manchurian is from East Asia and a Bangladeshi is from South Asia. This vast continent stretches from the Bosphorous at Istanbul In the west to Japan in the east, from the Siberian Arctic in the north to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the south and Indonesia in the south east.. We are all Asians, and nearness, middle-ness and distance are purely relative terms.

Map of Asia

Asia can be and should be sub-divided into it’s geographical sub-regions without any need for the terms middle east, near east and far east

Read more: Hansjörg Wyss and the Wyss Foundation

Or perhaps as an Iranian living in London, I am actually living in the Middle West, also known as the UK and Western Europe, and occasionally travelling to the Far West (New York) and the Near East (China). Which would be almost as confusing as all of us Middle Eastern men foregoing our sunglasses, open-topped Lamborghinis and shisha pipes and being journalists or academics. It’s time to ditch the cliche, and the terminology that perpetuates it.

Darius Sanai is Editor-in-Chief and Proprietor of LUX: Responsible Culture, owner of the Oxford Review of Books and an Editor-in-Chief at Condé Nast

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The Biltmore offers glamour and relaxed fine dining in the green heart of Mayfair. LUX checks in

Mayfair, the historic luxury heart of London, is the only place many people will stay when visiting the UK capital. While there is no shortage of hotels, there is a dearth of hotels with anything resembling a view or a sense of space around them. In most cases, even the best rooms have an outlook across the street to another building.

The Grosvenor square suite

This, we realised, would rather presently not be the case with the Biltmore. The hotel occupies most of the south side of Grosvenor Square, the most spacious historic square in the area, an expanse of grass and trees and light. We were whisked up to our accommodation, one of the presidential suites, which itself took up a large portion of the hotels front facade. The view from the two bedrooms, living room and dining room was suffused with green.

The Grosvenor Square view suite

The Biltmore can be best described as contemporary glamorous. Our favourite element was the leather padded person-sized bar cabinet, whose door opened to reveal the line after line of cut crystal glasses standing ready for a monster Negroni session. But it would have been a shame to have too many Negronis (the hotel will happily send a bartender up to make them for you in the suite), before visiting the vibey Pine Bar on the ground floor, whose cool atmospherics lend themselves to lingering over a few signature De La Louisiane cocktails (rye, absinthe, vermouth and Benedictine). Dress contemporary glamorous, or you will look like you are in the wrong place: Etro or Cavalli will do just fine.

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The bar, though, was just a prequel to the highlight. And along the hotels marble floor, Grill 88 is the hotel’s showcase restaurant. At first, you might be deceived as the casual chic decor is not much of a stand out from the other high-end restaurants in the area. But you would be well advised to sit down with a glass of champagne, relax and listen to the explanations of the concept provided by the super knowledgeable staff. This is a restaurant that takes its food and is sourcing very seriously indeed.

Grill 88 at the Biltmore

While there is a variety of dishes on the menu, the specialty here is steak, and our thoughtful, server pointed us in the direction of a tasting menu of steak from different regions: Australia, the US, Japan, the UK and Brazil. After a couple of (excellent) oysters and a superb heritage tomato salad with fruit that was firm and plump, but usually and interestingly flavoursome, a tasting board arrived with ready sliced and seasoned cuts.

Head Chef Luis Campos

The chef appeared to explain how each was sealed and cooked. The quality was superb: sourcing attention to detail clearly runs all the way through the operational process of Grill 88. And there is a broad wine list, as you might expect, but, as you may not expect, there is plenty of unusual and reasonably priced wine that matches the food very well – Puglia was well represented.

The Pine Bar at the Biltmore

In the morning, breakfast was served in our suite at exactly the requested hour, and laid out beautifully at the dining table off the living room. The ingredients in the Arabic breakfast were not quite as meticulously sorest as those in the Grill for dinner, however: the tomatoes adid not quite match that level of quality.

Altogether, an experience that combines relaxation and glamour with a perfect location, and one of the most interesting menus in Mayfair.

Find out more: thebiltmorehotels.com

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Woman sitting on the ground in front of colourful painting

Woman sitting on the ground in front of colourful painting

London-based Israeli artist Yulia Iosilzon creates a thespian world, somewhere between fairy tale and natural landscape across ceramics and painting. Her signature snails trail around the frames of vibrant, allegorical paintings of calligraphic movement. LUX explores her new solo show at Berntson Bhattarcharjee in London.

Two colourful paintings on a wall with a big snail in the middle.

Several layers of symbolism offer snails as an important motif for the artist from motherhood to tranquillity to restlessness

Snails perch on canvas corners, across five-tiered cakes, some small, some larger. One – nearly human size – sits elegantly in the middle of the gallery floor. Others melt into the paintings themselves, in communion with circus-like figures, swirling around one another in rich colours. These stand at the intersection of her work – between reality and fantasy, between almost unnerving, uncanny and playful.

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Little snails climbing on the side of a colourful painting.

Applying paint onto sheer silk, the artist’s technique recalls Helen Frankenthaler’s style from the 1950s and 60s

Born in Moscow, and with frequent relocations, Yulia connects to the snail’s pursuit of comfort and security, in slow calm and restlessness, in spiralling refuge. And to see the gallery adorned with both thespian silk of bright pink and these snails of earthy colours across the gallery gives an intense feeling of familiar-unfamiliarity that good art does. So, too, does the paintings’ figures of meek, innocent faces – and the combination of their sharp triangular figures with the calligraphic swirls.

Yulia quite literally creates a theatrical stage within this exhibition. It’s a scene resembling the interior of a snail’s shell – like something of a film set, cocooned in the Berntson Bhattarcharjee’s basement (a gallery which transforms itself quite remarkably for each exhibition).

Woman that is painting, holding colourful painting up

Yulia Iosilzon cites children’s illustration and theatre as sources of inspiration

Snails were already seen a lot in images of Matisse, Dali and Dutch Renaissance painters. During this historical period, snails symbolised the Virgin Birth, and embodied notions of resurrection, purity and mortality.

Read more: Interview with British-Iranian Artist Kour Pour

Modus Operandi at the Berntson Bhattarcharjee Gallery, Mayfair, London, will run until 11 May 2024.

See More: bbgallery.art

 

 

 

 

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England-born, LA based British-Iranian artist Kour Pour – famous for his series of carpet paintings – delves into the rich history of Persian rugs, unshackling and readdressing cultural categorisations. And he makes something both historic and entirely new. From a youth spent climbing up piles of Persian rugs in his father’s shop, to Iran’s historical and current politics, to the voices of hip-hop music, Kour Pour chats to Isabella Fergusson about the many inspirations woven into his intercultural, intertemporal artworks

LUX: You were born in Exeter, England, but moved to LA. What effect does place – and did the move – have on your art?

Kour Pour: I very naturally respond to my surroundings in my work – images and materials I come across around the world make their way into the studio. I think it’s safe to say that Los Angeles and everything that I encounter here finds a way into my practice. My community here is incredibly diverse, and all the people that find their way into my life influence my practice. Exeter was beautiful, but it was quite homogenous. Moving from Devon to LA helped to open my world up.

LUX: You’ve exhibited all around the world; where do you feel that audiences most resonate with your works? Is it very different across these places?

KP: The nature of my practice is that it’s quite varied: I make paintings and sculptures and large-scale prints, and these can range from hyper-figurative to hyper-abstract. My experience has been that this allows everyone to have a different access point to my work, and that it promotes resonances across different cultures and geographies. I think of my different bodies of work as different languages, and therefore that allows me to have a conversation with as many people as possible.

Gathering In The Courtyard, 2022, Acrylic on canvas over panel

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LUX: Tell me about your father’s carpet shop – your earliest memories there, its inspirations for your work now.

KP: My father moved to Exeter by himself when he was 14 – a result of the Iranian Revolution in ’79. Eventually his older brother joined him, but the two of them were teenagers in a new country without a support system. So, they had a typical immigrant experience of arriving in a new place and just having to figure it out. My father eventually rented a storefront that had many different lives when I was growing up: a sunglass store, and ice cream shop. That one was my favorite. But when I was about 4 or 5, it was a carpet store. I remember being a child and climbing around all the rugs and feeling that they made a place seem like home. I also remember my father touching up old and faded carpets by hand using natural dyes. That was probably one of the first times I was exposed to painting, in any form.

green screen print

Jade Tiger, 2021

LUX: You’ve said before that you wished museum collections wouldn’t be separated by geographic location or time period, which throws up the challenge of overly constrictive categorisation, particularly in the case of your work. But where would you place your art if it had to be geographically categorised – by its inspiration, or the location it was painted, or your descent? Perhaps it simply cannot comfortably be boxed up…

KP: I don’t want to categorise the work. One of the beautiful things about art is that you can find relationships across temporal and geographic boundaries. I want to allow my work that freedom.

LUX: I was speaking to an artist yesterday that said that a painter has to confront and get over the fact that what he does is – in absolute terms – utterly pointless. Do you agree? Have you had to to confront a sense of uselessness?

KP: Maybe an artist that has nothing to say in their work could feel that painting is pointless, but I absolutely disagree with that notion. Art is a healer. Whether for the artist or the viewer, the act of creating is therapeutic and experiencing someone else communicate through any medium is both thrilling and comforting. It’s an expression of being alive. There are so many things art can do. It raises awareness, it becomes a record of a time, it tells stories, and it imagines alternative ways of being. Art is endless in its possibilities.

painting

A Voyage For Tea & Spices, 2023, Acrylic on canvas over panel, 84 x 60 inches

LUX: Should art’s political role be more respected – and is art, or should it be, inherently political?

KP: Art is made by people. Some individuals exist in worlds that are heavily politicized, and some don’t. Artists make work that is, directly or indirectly, a reflection of their reality, so you could argue that art is always social and political.

LUX: How do your Iranian roots play into your work?

KP: My Iranian identity has always been a big part of how I navigate my reality. It has influenced both how I’ve engaged with the world, and how the world has engaged with me. I’ve used Iranian imagery in my own practice, and that identity has also guided some projects that are not directly related to what I’m doing in the studio. In 2022, I opened an exhibition project space in my studio complex in Inglewood, called Guest House. The first show was of Iranian artists living in Los Angeles, born out of what I perceived as a lack of engagement with the Iranian community by the city’s art scene. Which is crazy, given how many Iranians there are in LA – the city has the largest population living outside of Iran.

painting

Eternal Springtime (Nowruz), 2017 – 2021, Acrylic on canvas over panel, 96 x 144 inches

Two weeks after we opened the exhibition, the Woman, Life, Freedom protests broke out after Jina Mahsa Amini’s death in Tehran. Guest House immediately became a hub for the community. We would have people come visit the show and trade news about what was going on back home in Iran, we had film screenings, and we tried to respond in whatever way we could to what was going on. That sense of community, and the relationships that I made over the course of that first exhibition, have entered the studio and now help inform the totality of my studio practice.

LUX: Hip-hop and carpet painting seem an unlikely combination. What about the music inspires you, and is it hip-hop’s differences or similarities to your medium which feed your works?

KP: One of the things that initially drew me to hip hop was the idea of sampling: taking a sound from a song, transforming it, and adding it into another song. This matches up with the way that the carpets I’m interested in were made: images would travel along the Silk Road and there would be this incredible intermixing of cultures. A single rug that was assigned Persian origin would have images from as far west as Venice and as far east as China. I think that the language around sampling in hip hop is a perfect way to speak about these works.

See more: kourpour.com

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The South Korean collector and founder of New York’s Shin Gallery on the flea markets, fashion and food hotspots of his native Seoul.

Hong Gyu Shin at his New York apartment

1. My ideal dinner guest and my ideal restaurant destination.

I would love to host Angelina Jolie at Keunkiwajip, a quaint restaurant in the 600 year old Bukchon Village. They specialize in Ganjang-gejang, raw marinated crab, which is made with their soy sauce that has been fermented for around ten years!

2. Where I go in Soul to escape.

Bongeunsa is a Buddhist temple in Gangnam which was founded in 794 CE. The experience of walking through the temple and smelling the incense burning throughout is calming, as I escape by absorbing my surroundings which allows my inner thoughts to subside.

Looking out over the rooftops of the historic Bukchon Hanok Village to modern Seoul beyond

3. The most unlikely thing I love doing in Seoul.

I have an affinity for antiquing and always visit the Seoul Folk Flea Market! I began my collecting journey there when purchasing World World II militaria and antiques, the vendors have the most unexpected and intriguing pieces which continuously spark my curiosity.

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4. Where I would send a 20 year old party animal friend.

I would definitely send them to Itaewon in Seoul! It’s renowned for the nightlife and mix of International and Korean influences, and also abundant with bars, clubs, and rooftops. It is walking distance from the Leeum Museum of Art, the perfect first destination for a cultural yet lively night.

Bukchon Hanok Village

5. Where I would send a culture animal friend

Bukchon Hanok Village was built in the Joseon dynasty where officials and wealthy nobility lived. There are over 900 houses with traditional Hanok architecture which feature clay, stone floor, and ancient tile roofs.

6.Where I go to discover new art and trends

I discover new art and trends when visiting the multiple contemporary art galleries surrounding Bukchon. The artworks exhibited share the depth of skill obtained by Korean artists and their visionary practices. The MMCA (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) is also nearby and I always attend when in Seoul.

7. My favorite single dish in the city

I will always get Jajangmyeon, a Korean style Chinese noodle dish topped with a thick sauce made of chunjang, diced pork, and vegetables. It is the ultimate comfort food and an incredibly delicious meal I will forever cherish, especially in Korea for the most authentic and flavourful experience!

The sunset over the high rises in the city of Seoul

8. One development in Seoul I am sad about

Recently there has been an influx of Cafes throughout Seoul which is quite displeasing to see. Many of the traditional and historic restaurants have been replaced with Cafes which is shifting the culture and atmosphere.

9. The best living artists in the city

The best living artists are: the pioneer of avant garde mixed media Kim Kulim and abstract artist Youn Myeung Ro, particularly his 1960s tattoos series.

10. The most interesting place to go clothes shopping

Dongdaemun is one of the largest wholesale and retail shopping districts for Korean street fashion. There are also shops of young fashion designers breaking boundaries within Korean street style, and juxtaposing commercial designs.

Dongdaemun Market

11. One area to keep an eye on over the next couple of years

I am always fascinated by the transformation of the Yongsan District. Since the Korean War it has served as an American military base, and was only converted last year! The base continues to evolve with gardens, museums and nightlight attractions and is an upcoming
cultural destination in Seoul.

12.The best street market in Seoul

The best street market is in the back alley of Jongno 3-ga’s Nagwon Arcade. The street is full of “Pojangmacha” (outdoor food stalls) which sell a variety of freshly made Korean street foods such as Soondae (Korean Sausage), Dakbal (Chicken Feet), Dwaeji Ggupdaegi (Pork
Skin)

13. K drama or K pop

I love both and can not pick! My favorite K pop star is Kim Kwang seok who sadly died at the age of 32.

 

This article was first published in the Autumn / Winter 2023 issue of LUX

shin-gallery.com

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LUX checks into the Bellevue Palace, Bern, Switzerland.

Le Lobby is a true classic reborn, a convivial meeting place to exchange views and discuss weighty matters over drinks as well as sushi and sashimi.

The wow factor:

The walk from the train station in the Swiss capital of Bern, to the Bellevue Palace, takes in some traditional cobbled streets and a stretch along a hilltop, alongside some Swiss government buildings. Walking into the grand atrium of the Palace, you pass through a gin bar and onto a terrace, at the end of the same hilltop, from where the ground drops away into a pastoral Alpine view of meadows and forests. There are even cows grazing on the hillsides: all of this from the most city centre luxury hotel of a capital city. All very Swiss.

Breathtaking views from the comfort of your own room

People watching:

Smartly dressed Swiss gentility were all around us; conversing quietly behind their Chopard necklaces and Audemars Piguet watches. The hotel, which was built in 1865 and rebuilt in 1913, is a place where such people have come for generations.

overlooking the River Aare or the Bernese Alps, each room has unique features

Show me to my room:

Our suite had a view out to the Alps: from our balcony we could see the white slopes of the peaks of the Bernese Oberland, the triangular Jungfrau and frightening Eiger, in the far distance. Inside the suite, this was truly a palace of a hotel in the traditional sense: antique furniture, thickly carpeted rooms, huge marble bathrooms and acres of space.

The open kitchen at Noumi Restaurant celebrates world food ideal for combining and sharing. Taste experiences in bowls and from the grill, including vegetarian variations, which are inspired by simplicity

Come dine with me (and other things):

The lobby, with its ornate Belle époque atrium, is the place for a drink when the weather doesn’t suit the terrace with a view outside: the speciality is gin, and it’s a power broker type of place for Switzerland, with important besuited men sipping at Martinis, all in surroundings more dramatic than, say, Claridge’s. But the real surprise restaurant action is downstairs at Noumi Bar & Grill; here you walk into a different universe from the traditional elegance of the best of the hotel, with a DJ spinning tunes in a booth, open plan kitchen, speakeasy lighting and a funky atmosphere. Food is best described as modern wealthy Asian: poke, tataki, simple grilled steaks. Ingredients are of superb quality and the kitchen’s touch is light but delicate. Very vibey, if rather out of keeping with the rest of the hotel. We could eat there every night.

Find out more: bellevue-palace.ch

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Curator Angeliki Kim Perfetti has created a supercar-themed exhibition to match the celebrated vehicles at Kiklo Spaces, outside London. She writes for LUX of her inspirations to bring high quality art to a revered location for motoring enthusiasts

text with light installation

The exhibition features artworks by Ed Ruscha, Polly Morgan, Johan Deckmann and Nancy Cadogan among others, interspersed with some classic supercars of the last four decades

Love is a language that we all speak, and here within the exhibition di nome e di fatto:
LOVE /𝐥ʌ𝐯/, brings together an infinite collection of references to art history, visual culture and contemporary storytelling that is reflecting on and relating to the many topics of love.

red graphic text painting

Love runs through the exhibition as a fil rouge and presents eleven artists who are united in their diversity and their works forms a presentation of text, abstraction, light, figure, colour, and form.

Ultimately, LOVE /𝐥ʌ𝐯/ is a dynamic feel-good exhibition featuring an eclectic group of artists. Who are working across a variety of media from sculpture, traditional work on canvas, photography, light installation to mirror, whilst exploring the many topics of love.

Juliette Loughran, founder of Loughran Gallery, said, “We wanted to start the year on a high, uniting audiences and artists with the most powerful human emotion of all.

Love drives everything we do and this exhibition will explore its significance in art history with Dynamisk founder Angeliki Kim Perfetti, in the first of what we hope will be many collaborations.”

car in art gallery

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LOVE /lʌv/ runs 4 March – 31 May 2024 at Loughran Gallery

See More: loughrangallery.co.uk

Angeliki Kim Perfetti is the Founder of Dynamisk, Independent Curation and Art Advisory

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Reading time: 1 min

Arnaud Champenois is Senior Vice President, Global Brand, Marketing and Communications at Belmond (LVMH). LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh speaks with Arnaud Champenois about hospitality, sustainability, and how 2024 is set to be a game-changing year for Belmond

Pink hotel with pool

Belmond Legends – Mount Nelson Hotel (Photographed by Rosie Marks)

LUX: ‘One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.’ (Henry Miller). When did the first shoots of experiential hospitality emerge?

Arnaud Champenois: Experiential travel continues to grow in popularity as the world has become an increasingly mobile place. Prior to the 1980s, airfares were sky-high and the majority of commercial flights were to highly anglicized locations, very much on the beaten track. During this time, travel was also fairly limited to western travellers.

As ‘untrodden’ locations became an option, boomers were somewhat pioneers of experiential travel – which in that time was defined more as ‘activity-packed’ exploration holidays. Then came the internet, followed by social media and the trend snowballed from there…

Since then, the term ‘experiential travel’ has evolved. Modern luxury travellers now want something different. Tick-box, fast and thoughtless travel is in the past. Travellers want to go much deeper into a destination rather than purely seeing it and ticking it off their list. They wish to stay longer, try local delicacies, enjoy traditional music and crafts, understand the people, discover the real local treasures. They want to live the stories, not just hear them.

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Luxury travel is now providing this kind of experience, but to do this long into the future, it is vital that we as travel companies play our part in protecting and preserving the most cherished traditions and heritage of the destinations and communities travel relies upon and strive to make a net positive impact.

LUX: Looking back or looking forward, what is Belmond’s approach to restoring heritage buildings?

AC: History in built environments is fundamental to creating a sense of community and character. They are examples of a particular time and style of architecture that would otherwise be long forgotten. Whether it’s a building’s historical roots, its distinctive architecture, the materials used or some aspect of the decoration that’s particularly interesting, these buildings are visual reminders of an area’s cultural heritage, the people and industries that once and still do, establish an area.

But the hospitality industry caters to the travellers of today. Though many are interested in the historic cultural elements, they want to experience that heritage in an authentic way, whilst being allowed modern-day comforts.

white building night time lit up

MITICO 2024 – Copacabana Palace (Daniel Buren, Escala colorida para Copacabana Palace, trabalho in situ, 2023)

We believe we have a responsibility to be custodians of this timeless heritage, and to help preserve and enhance it for future generations. Our renovation and rejuvenation strategy follows our property-first approach to honour each renovation’s storied and timeless heritage; whilst celebrating the authenticity of each place and injecting contemporary soul to ensure they live on for years to come. We need our more historic assets to live and breathe and be enjoyed, not just be consigned to a museum.

Last year (2023) we revealed four major rejuvenations – the painstaking renovation of Maroma in Riviera Maya, the re-imagining Coquelicot, Belmond’s new luxury barge Coquelicot, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and Splendido in Portofino. We will continue to reimagine and rejuvenate, arming each property with the contemporary allure, enriched storytelling and meaningful guest experiences that propels them to be the best in their markets.

MITICO 2024 – Daniel Buren at Mount Nelson Hotel, 2023

LUX: What is the role for art in offering responsible hospitality?

AC: Art is a powerful medium which can support local communities giving both local established and upcoming artists a stage to reach new, larger audiences, whilst connecting guests to local cultures, inspiring and facilitating the appreciation of art.

One such example is Belmond’s partnership with internationally renowned contemporary art gallery, Galleria Continua in which we host large-scale art installations by global artists, across several of Belmond’s legendary properties. Entitled MITICO, the installations invite guests to see cultures through a different lens. Through MITICO’s acclaim and the representation of globally renowned artists through Galleria Continua, we have been able to further support local artists. Such as with the following two initiatives, equally launched with Galleria Continua: La Residencia in Mallorca’s “Artist in Residencia” programme, now in its second year. And PANORAMA, a city-wide exhibition conceptualised and organised by Italics bringing ancient, modern and contemporary art to the town of Monferrato, where Belmond will be a proud partner for the third year running.

In Cape Town at Mount Nelson, we’re working with young talented curators Heinrich Groenewald and Shona van der Merwe of RESERVOIR, who have curated an exhibition across the hotel with works from the Norval Foundation. Whilst at Castello di Casole in the undulating Tuscan hills, the hotel works closely with the archaeological museum in Casole d’Elsa, as most of their artefacts were found on the property grounds and even exhibit across the hotel.

Beyond events and installations, the curation of a rich portfolio of guest experiences centred directly around traditional art practices is a great way to support local communities. At Belmond we have a rich portfolio of experiences such as, traditional Peruvian pottery painting hosted by local pottery artists, exclusive Mexican folk art – ‘Mojigangas’ – workshops with resident artists and Balinese egg painting with third-generation egg painters, to name a few. Not only does this support the livelihoods of local artisans, but these guest experiences also help to ensure the continued existence of their crafts.

sculpture on balcony with view

MITICO 2023 – Villa San Michele ( Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s Teenager sculpture greets arriving guests. Photography by François Halard)

LUX: Why is l’art de vivre a core value for Belmond?

AC: The French concept of l’art de vivre takes its cues from France’s particular penchant for the finer things in life: art, wine, dining, fashion, even romance. At Belmond, we understand the components that make up the wonderful world of luxury and, with more than 45 years’ experience, we like to think we are well placed to help our guests appreciate the art of living well!

Contemporary creativity is wonderfully engaging in helping guests celebrate l’art de vivre of the destinations we operate in. Beyond in-person art installations and photography exhibitions, a good example of how we have celebrated the distinct character of our destinations is Belmond Legends, which is a contemporary photography series that offers alternative perspectives.

With camera in hand, exceptional talents from the likes of Jalan and Jibril Durimel, Thomas Rousset and Rosie Marks immersed themselves in each iconic hotel and destination to encapsulate intimate, dynamic and authentic moments that provide a glance into genuine guest experiences within these destinations. The photographs offer a progressive and personal perspective on these already iconic destinations – showing each property in a new light.

Beyond the topic of art, we help guests celebrate l’art de vivre through many experiences that enrich the mind, body and soul; from historical tours and enriching activities such as open water swimming in the Scottish Highlands as part of the Royal Scotsman itinerary, truffle foraging in Tuscany, or private culinary classes at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

fruit on table

Belmond Legends – Villa San Michele (photographed by François Halard)

 

LUX: And finally, can you share a taste of this year’s art program?

AC: Since Belmond’s inception, we have had an intrinsic connection to the arts community, with our portfolio spanning heritage buildings and vintage trains – museums of ancient decorative crafts. Our ambition is to continue highlighting this historical aspect of our portfolio, whilst maintaining its relevancy in contemporary culture through photographic artistic collaboration.

BELMOND LEGENDS brings this concept to life with its incredible roster of international contemporary artists, whilst we lend our properties’ remarkable landscapes as their canvas.

So far, the project has brought an entirely new perspective on 11 of our legendary properties as captured by 10 internationally acclaimed photographers – Chris Rhodes, Francois Halard, Letizia Le Fur, Coco Capitan, Jalan and Jibril Durimel, Thomas Rousset, Rosie Marks, Jeano Edwards, and Jack Davison. With more announcements to come at Photo London in May 2024.

two boys in bed on train

Belmond Legends – Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (Photographed by Coco Capitán)

belmond.com

 

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Reading time: 7 min

Cristina Scocchia has led illycaffè, the Italian premium coffee company, through two years of record growth. She speaks with LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor Samantha Welsh about strong leadership, ethical behaviours and custodianship of a quintessentially ‘Made in Italy’ brand that is also a B Corp and leader in sustainable practice

Cristina Scocchia CEO of illycaffè

LUX: What is your approach to leadership, what are your values?

Cristina Scocchia: In my opinion, good leadership is made of many components. Early on in your career, you need to focus on strategic thinking and work on an ability to make decisions, even the toughest ones without feeling the pressure. It is also important to stand up for the decisions you make, whether they are easy or tough.

As your career progresses emotional intelligence becomes more important as you begin managing different people. It is important to take care of your teams, to be emotionally intelligent, authentic and empathetic in order to engender trust and an effective team. As you start managing bigger teams, which could include different markets, it is important to have a political intelligence.

At the very top of the pyramid, I feel the most important element of leadership is moral consistency. This is important because as a leader, you need to set the tone, you need to integrate economic, financial, social, environmental and ethical value – all of which are integral to illycaffè. Leadership is not power; it is a responsibility.

Follow LUX on instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: How do these values match illy’s pillars, the mission?

CS: One of the reasons why I decided to accept the role as CEO of illycaffè was because I had had the opportunity to get to know the company beforehand. I learned that sustainability for illy is not just a trend for them, even 30 years ago, illy was integrating sustainable initiatives.

For decades it has built value across all elements of the value chain starting from the growers in Brazil to the baristas in every city across the world. The brand has a true focus on ethical behaviours which is something illy and I have in common.

illy selects the finest Arabica coffee plants, grown sustainably by their farmers in over 30 countries around the world

LUX: illy is quintessentially Italian, do people have a nostalgia for the brand?

CS: Founded 91 years ago by Francesco illy and now under the wing of the 3rd generation of the family with Andrea Illy, illycaffè has long been a much-loved brand. We have been, since day one, an icon of the ‘Made in Italy’ concept. When we think about ‘Made in Italy’ products, we think about quality, innovation, creativity and an Italian style of life. As a company, we try to be ambassadors across the world for this Italian style of life and make people feel at home when they see an illy coffee shop.

Our objective is to offer a holistic experience for the consumer, we want to focus on the best quality and most sustainable products, as well as evoke emotion and creativity.

This is why 30 years ago we decided to create the illy Art Collection. This collection is now one of the largest contemporary art collections in the world. Utilising illy’s iconic Mattheo Thun designed espresso cup as a canvas, we have partnered with more than 127 contemporary artists including Ai Wei Wei and Jeff Koons.

A couple of years ago, we launched a new collaboration with Italian design company, Kartell, who primarily focus on sustainable furniture. We sourced a selection of materials which were at the end of their life including our illy coffee capsules which we then transformed into a chair, partnering with illustrious designers such as Philippe Stark.

illy has perfected the process to obtain a coffee with a rich aromatic flavour and a one of a kind aroma

LUX: How has illy continued to lead in R&D and how does knowledge transfer impact the supply chain?

CS: We have several knowledge sharing programmes between illy and our growers. We are constantly working with them to produce the best quality and most sustainable coffee which has the least impact on the environment. With quality important to us, we select only 100% Arabica coffee beans, buying only the best 1%.

Through our University of Coffee, we support growers throughout the whole production process, working together on ways to use less fertiliser and pesticides and how to reduce the production of CO2. The University of Coffee also supports consumers and baristas internationally, educating them about the coffee world.

LUX: Can you tell us about illy’s early move into regenerative agriculture, also how this adds value?

CS: illy has long been committed to mitigating the effects of climate change and we work with the entire supply chain to promote the sustainability of regenerative agriculture. This model allows for proper nourishment of the plants, regeneration of the soil and reducing CO2 emissions, as well as improving the wider health of the ecosystem.

This year, we developed our first regenerative coffeemono-origin, the illy Arabica Selection Brazil Cerrado Mineiro, which we are very proud of. It is the first of its kind worldwide and is fully certified and regenerative, marking a shift from plant to soil. It is the first Italian coffee company to be certified BCorp.

LUX: What is illy’s sustainability strategy going forward?

CS: A strategy of ours that we are currently working towards is quantifying CO2 emissions and understanding how much CO2 is produced by the growers when they cultivate our coffee When we obtain this information, we then share this throughout the institution and community in order for others to benefit from what we are learning. We are hugely committed to having the lowest impact possible on the environment. Our plan is to be carbon neutral by 2033 – to mark our centenary.

Read more: Marcus Ericksen on keeping our oceans healthy

LUX: Where do you see opportunities for illy to grow?

CS: Our objective is to become more of a global company. Within the next 5 years, we are looking to expand into the US as this market for us is the second biggest worldwide, following Italy. We are already very strong within the ecommerce space and highly profitable, however, we still have a desire to keep evolving.

We are also interested in exploring areas of white space, an example of which is China. These markets are traditionally more focused on tea than coffee, however, in recent years, coffee has become more and more integrated within markets and we see this as significant growth opportunity.

illy.com

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Reading time: 5 min

Gallerist, Superblue founder, and blue-blood British aristocrat Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst recently set herself a unique challenge: curating a show at Claridges’ in London by the sculptor Richard Hudson and his two sons, Richard WM Hudson and Henry Hudson. The twist? They are her partner and his sons. Here, Dent-Brocklehurst and the Hudsons, father and sons, speak to LUX about this unique family affair

Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst with the Hudson Family

Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst:
“The Hudsons are are a close knit family. Talking multiple times a day, they often pick up a conversation started weeks before. Their discussions revolve around visual ideas and practical solutions, each bringing a slightly different angle to the table. Richard WM has an exquisite sense of balance and composition in his photographs and interior design, whilst Henry is more driven by ideas and process. He writes and speaks beautifully about his and others’ work. Richard Sr. corrals and encourages. He is intensely motivated and perfectionist, always pushing everyone forward.

Rich combinations fill Claridge’s ArtSpace, from Henry Hudson’s plasticine-sculpted paintings of dream-like worlds, to Richard Hudson’s psychological interests, to Richard WM Hudson’s ecological inspirations

Selecting the works for the show was easy as the Hudsons’ work is genuinely harmonious. Setting out a rhythm within the space was harder as there were a lot of works and I wanted the artists to have separation as well as collusion. The install was probably the most intense with so many moving parts and a few flared tempers. But really, it’s during this part that some of the magic happens.”

Henry Hudson:
It dawned on me only after the installation that it’s rare to see a family of artists work all exhibited together. In fact, I couldn’t think of one show I have ever seen that displays a father and two sons work together. Family dynamics are at play in all our lives. As a unit we have all naturally found ourselves becoming artists and directly working with our hands.

The Hudson family – Richard, Henry, Richard WM – create an exhibition together for the first time

 

Historically our family have been farmers and land owners and we have a direct connection to the land and nature. It is hard to be objective about the exhibition as I am one of the three parties but I do find myself seeing the roles played out, like sitting in a psychiatrist’s chair, and listening to the responses given by my father and sibling.

Henry Hudson, 2023. Plaster, pigment, glue and beeswax on aluminium board

My father’s work is organic yet firm and sits with a fist on the table. I often see us as dancing around him to fill in the extra space. It feels elemental and planetary in that regard. My brother and I started making work in an intellectual capacity around the same time as my father. He was 42 years old, the age my brother and I are now. We were 12 and 14 – growing into young adults. I, myself, use a wide range of tools, techniques and technology in my practice, from AI to iPad painting, performance art and plasticine, to name a few. My brother found ceramics and coiling pots as well as wood from dead fallen trees. What binds us artistically is earth and earthen materials, all working directly with our hands.

On top of this is a love and understanding of the cycle of life in nature and our complex and sometimes troubling relationships with it. What differentiates us can be both cultural experiences and subject matter, and a yearning to find a slightly different path up to the top of the mountain.

It is hard to articulate what is in essence a daily ritual for us and a language we all use. I sense that the viewer may sense and feel the internal experiences of each individual artist but also the complex psychological aspect of three men, all working in the artistic realm. There is a lot at play, and playful it is, and so it should be.

Richard Hudson:
The opportunity to exhibit with my sons has always been a personal ambition. When this opportunity arose, we collectively turned to Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst to curate. Although our artistic practices have taken different directions, one can see through our farming background, there is a continuity inspired from nature and the use of earthen materials with our hands.

Richard Hudson, Twisted, Polished Mirrored Steel

Richard WM Hudson:
Working with my father and brother to bring our art works together has been rare and interesting. Only seen together in private dwellings, the excitement of seeing our work on mass in such an elegant setting, thanks to Claridge’s ArtSpace, is truly fulfilling.

Richard WM Hudson, Untitled, Carbonised Pine Wood and Ceramic Black Clay

Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst has such a professional approach with the difficult task of sifting through our works to bring a cohesive view into the family of objects. I’m thankful for the push from Katy Wick [of Claridge’s ArtSpace] to bring about such a show. We work in such different ways, but one can see the organic references. We only call upon each other at times for clarity and guidance, when we are lost in the ‘artist block’. I hope this collaboration of exhibition continues into the future.

The Hudsons: Family Ties is running in Claridge’s ArtSpace in Mayfair, London until 2 April. Entrance is free

See more: claridges-artspace

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Reading time: 4 min
japanese restaurant

LUX visits one of London’s hidden gems, an atmospheric and authentic Japanese restaurant a mochi ball’s throw from Hyde Park

japanese restaurant

The decor is minimal-chic, the ambience relaxed and buzzy

A row of townhouses in central London is not where you might expect to find Japan, But, turn left from Marble Arch, walk a few paces up the street and up a couple of steps and..abracadabra. Tokyo. Or is it Kyoto?

Tokii is the very authentic-feeling restaurant in the heart of the Prince Akatoki hotel, a boutique-chic five star London sleepery that seems to be the city’s best-kept secret. The hotel lobby, just up those steps, is minimal and Zen, but with authentically switched-on staff and thought-of design detail, just as you would find anywhere self-respecting in Japan (which is everywhere).

Tokii itself is a few steps further on: inside, you are swirled into a world of dark lacquered woods and gentle lighting and intricate design detail. It’s large enough not to feel oppressive, like some high-end Japanese restaurants, and yet has an intimate vibe.

Service is friendly and prompt: our aperitifs of sparkling saké and champagne arrive swiftly. Sparkling saké is an acquired taste, we decide. The champagne is excellent, though we would have liked more choice than just the big brands: Veuve Clicquot, Krug, Dom Perignon. The finesse of Japanese food matches well with champagne, even more so with blanc de blancs, made only from Chardonnay, or precise, small-grower champagne from single plots.

yellowtail sashimi and wine

Sashimi paired with a brut champagne – or sparkling saké, though we preferred the champagne

There is plenty of choice in the menu, We choose starters while nibbling on salted edamame: yellowtail maki rolls, pork belly skewers, yellowtail sashimi. All are super-fresh, richly flavoured, perfectly prepared, not too meagre and not too hefty. Superb. Some good white Burgundy arrives to accompany, although champagne would do even better with a spectrum of colour to match the salt, umami, and hint of sweet and fat in the food.

For mains, we try the shabu shabu, a Japanese broth in which meat and vegetables are cooked at the table, fondue-style. The wagyu version arrives with slices of wagyu beef laid out on a plate alongside, and vegetables already cooking in the bubbling broth. A few seconds of cooking sees these come out as slices of fleshy unctuousness. The vegetables stay crunchy while cooking in the umami, slightly sour broth, a bitter counterpoint on the tongue. Two shabus are enough for three of us.

beef

Cook your own wagyu beef shabu shabu. The broth is delicate and beautifully balanced

The great surprise is the yellowtail shabu shabu. Also thinly sliced, it should be a disappointment after the wagyu but is triumphant. More restrained, a slow release of recognition on the palate, and then joy.

We braced ourselves for disappointment with the dessert of chocolate fondant – this is a Japanese restaurant after all – but the breaking of the fondant led to that slow ooze and a richesse of combined flavours that spoke of a chef pâtissier who loves flavour and experience as much as looks, and isn’t scared of a little opulence.

dark chocolate fondant

Outrageously good chocolate fondant, just in case the rest of the meal was too healthy

We were among the first to arrive at Tokii, and among the last to leave. Why is it such a secret? Let’s get it out of its boudoir: Tokii deserves the limelight.

tokii.co.uk

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Reading time: 3 min
Green sports car, boats in background

LUX drives the latest iteration of one of the world’s great supercars, the V10 engined, open-topped Huracan Spyder

Green sports car, boats in background

It may look good outside the yacht club…

The latest evolution of the flamboyant Italian car company’s brilliant two-seater looks like something run by an avatar from a games console, more mini-spaceship than vehicle. With the roof down (Spyder is Lamborghese for convertible) it looks more like a pair of aliens (driver and passenger) are taking a little tour of Earth.

Colour is a fundamental element of cars like these. If our Huracan had been green, purple, orange or any of the other eye-popping colours Lambo drivers like to choose, it would have been one kind of statement of personality: perhaps the most attention-grabbing car in the world in an attention-seeking hue. But in a dark metallic grey, it looked intriguing: more space vehicle, less boulevard poser. The interior was also restrained, black leather with blue piping, although the company’s design flair was everywhere, playing on hexagonal patterns and forms. This is not a car that could be mistaken for any other.

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The Huracan has a V10 motor that howls on startup and growls its way around town, quickly turning again to a howl when you find a patch of open road.

Green sports car on empty road

…but the Evo Spyder is happiest on fast, empty roads

With the wildness of the shape and the sound, you may expect the Huracan also to be wild to drive: like trying to tame a bucking bronco, or the raging bull that is Lamborghini’s emblem. And here, you would be in for a positive, or negative, surprise, depending on how you like your steeds. While it’s sensationally fast, corners flat and steers racily, the Huracan is underpinned by the latest driving technology engineered in association with its parent company, which also owns more sober brands like Audi and Bentley.

Shoot out of a roundabout into an unexpectedly tight curve and the car just clings on, happily. Accelerate through a wet corner and hit a patch of slippery leaves? Lamborghinis of earlier generations may have skidded or bucked, heartstoppingly for the driver; the Huracan just uses its four wheel drive system and fancy electrics to keep you zooming on track.

It makes for a thrilling experience for a passenger, who can enjoy the sounds and feel and looks the car receives, without feeling like they are in peril.

green drop top sports car

The Huracan Evo is powered by a V10 engine, of a kind that will never be made again, that makes a characteristic howl

Read more: Ferrari F8 Tributo and F8 Spider

And let’s spend a final moment on that engine. It is what the motoring world calls a “naturally aspirated” V10, with no turbocharger to help it. That means that its noise and punch get steadily more thrilling as you rise up through the rev range: maximum yowl means maximum acceleration, and you have to get there either by whipping down through the gears with the paddle shift by the steering wheel, or allow the revs to build up in each gear. It’s something that even current hyper efficient petrol engines, with turbos or electric hybrid help, can’t offer, let alone electric motors. And given the tiny mileages these cars tend to cover, you don’t even need to worry about whether you are being green.

 

Find out more: lamborghini.com

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Reading time: 2 min
a room with big window and lights and bar

A nice interior with big lights and a bar. Big windows

Picture Ladbroke Hall – a cocktail of Beaux Arts elegance, Edwardian grandeur, modern creativity. This ex-car factory has transformed itself into a sprawling arts complex, from gallery to jazz bar to fine-dining. LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai meets its mastermind and co-founder, Loïc Gaillard

Darius Sanai: Ladbroke Hall is a major development. What made you want to do it?

Loïc Le Gaillard: Ladbroke Hall has been an incredible journey! The inspiration behind this project was simple – we aimed to establish a unique arts and social club, a central hub for creativity. From contemporary art to collectible design, encompassing culture, dining, and music, all within a single space. Beyond being a physical location, Ladbroke Hall is a meeting place for everyone – the public, friends, Patrons, and collaborators alike. It tangibly serves as a haven for those who appreciate the arts and seek meaningful connections, bringing together diverse minds and kindred spirits.

Ladbroke Hall also houses our flagship gallery, Carpenters Workshop Gallery in London. After 17 years of developing Carpenters Workshop Gallery, we made the decision to expand on the traditional gallery model to facilitate artistic exchange through a more immersive experience.

 

DS: It has elements of members’ club, but it’s not. Who is your market, and why are they coming?

LG: Ladbroke Hall is a distinctive haven for our community of art and design enthusiasts. In response to the growing need for spaces that foster community and connectivity, we introduced the Patron’s scheme. This scheme is designed to give our Patrons exclusive access to Ladbroke Hall’s vibrant community. This includes special privileges such as entry to private spaces like the Lamyland Patrons bar, ensuring that our Patrons are involved in every facet of Ladbroke Hall’s endeavours. Priority access to the live programme of Patron only events, the restaurant, and private dining experiences further enhances the Patron experience. Despite these exclusive perks, our commitment to inclusivity remains unwavering, ensuring that the enriching ambiance and offerings at Ladbroke Hall are accessible to all.

Functioning as a dynamic stage for the Arts, Ladbroke Hall creates unforgettable experiences. Our philosophy centres on providing Patrons with unparalleled access to the thriving artistic community, emphasising the shared experience within this vibrant creative hub.

 

DS: Tell us about how the commercial gallery, F&B and cultural programming work together.

LG: At its core, Ladbroke Hall is a stage for the Arts – a place to experience multidisciplinary arts all under the same roof. When visitors dine at our restaurant, Pollini, they are not only savouring the finest Italian cuisine by Chef Emanuele Pollini; they are doing so in a designed space crafted by one of our core artists and fellow Italian, Vincenzo De Cotiis Architects. The space features a specially commissioned, site-specific sculptural chandelier by Nacho Carbonell and four paintings by Sir Christopher Le Brun PPRA.

Visitors are also invited to enjoy our weekly Friday Jazz, accompanied with a specialised dinner menu. This event welcomes both jazz enthusiasts and new audiences, featuring some of today’s top musicians with a focus on high-quality straight-ahead jazz. The essence of this musical genre, breaking barriers and fusing cultures, resonates with Ladbroke Hall’s ethos as a multidisciplinary creative hub.

Recently, we’ve introduced the Classical Masters series, showcasing performances by some of the most distinguished classical musicians. Additionally, Carpenters Workshop Gallery currently hosts three solo exhibitions by Michele Lamy, Roger Herman, and Wendell Castle, all running until April 26th.

We also are excitingly opening Ladbroke Hall’s garden this spring designed by Luciano Giubbilei – so stay tuned! Ladbroke Hall has something for everyone, providing a space for people to gather and enjoy the Arts.

Big red brick building with trees and blue sky

Ladbroke Hall is an imposing building, just a few minutes from the heart of London’s shi shi Notting Hill.

DS: Why has it taken a French person to create such a visionary construct in London?

LG: London has long been a melting pot, drawing incredible talent from across the globe. It has been my home for half of my life, a place that continues to surprise and inspire me daily. London will always be international. As the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, once said, when the UK officially left the EU, “London is open and no matter where you’re from, you will always belong here.” Therefore, I do not see it as a French person in a British city constructing something so visionary. Several years on from Brexit, London continues to attract the world’s most exciting artistic talent and in turn collectors. It’s a hub for exchange and that is exactly how we see Ladbroke Hall.

 

DS: You opened less than six months ago; what would you want people to be saying about Ladbroke Hall in ten years?

LG: That’s a great question. I envision Ladbroke Hall in ten years to be the premier social and arts club where everyday visitors create wonderful memories and forged new friendships and collaborations. It is exciting to think what else Ladbroke Hall has in store, making it a journey we can only fully appreciate by waiting and enjoying the ride.

 

DS: What were your biggest challenges in its creation?

LG: Crafting Ladbroke Hall was in no means an easy feat. It is thanks to our team, collaborators and artists who helped create Ladbroke Hall. My business partner, Julien Lombrail and I pulled together a band of artists that were keen on joining the vision for this ecosystem.

two men in suits sitting on steps

Loïc Le Gaillard and Julien Lombrail are the co-founders of Ladbroke Hall, which blends a high end restaurant, a bar, a commercial arts-ace, a jazz club and a new garden space.

DS: What do you seek to achieve, and who do you seek to attract, through your programming.

LG: Curious, creative and kind people.

 

DS: You run the restaurant yourselves, yet you are not a restaurateur. Why? Is that challenging?

LG: The desire to open a restaurant has been a lifelong dream of mine. London’s competitive scene presents its challenges, but it’s an honour to collaborate with Chef Emanuele Pollini, who brings his brilliant culinary expertise to us.

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Reading time: 5 min
big tall building skyline

Has Rosewood’s Sonia Cheng created the best city hotel in the world, with the Rosewood Hong Kong? Darius Sanai revisits, five years after the grand opening

rooftop pool with view

The Asaya Kitchen. The Rosewood is built along the water’s edge in Tsim Sha Tsui, facing the towers of Central Hong Kong.

Standout new hotels in cities are hard to create. If you are building a resort on a tropical island, as long as you have the right hardware – pools, beaches, spa, restaurants and bars, leisure facilities and access – and the right people to operate and sell it, then the right crowd should start flowing in.

The world’s great cities are different. They tend to have existing hotels which are part of the social fabric and history of the city – think of the Pierre or the Carlyle in New York, Claridge’s or the Ritz in London, the Plaza Athenee or Bristol in Paris. Newcomers can’t just win by offering the right suites and chefs. They have to establish their own legend among the locals. And they are hypersensitive to location. Claridge’s wouldn’t be what it is if it had been built 200m north across Oxford Street.

In this context, Hong Kong’s Rosewood had a battle on its hands when it opened in the spring of 2019. It was a new building, part of a broader complex created by one of the city’s big families, the Chengs, on the “wrong” side of the water, in Kowloon. There was no history or legend: despite being from Hong Kong and operating hotels around the world, Rosewood’s owners had never had a Rosewood Hong Kong, One of the city’s landmark properties, the Peninsula, was just down the road.

hotel bedroom with view

A Manor Suite. There is an intellectually-driven curation of design detail throughout the rooms

Just weeks after the lavish launch party, which I attended, Hong Kong was thrown into social unrest as political protestors barricaded streets, burned buses and fought running battles with police in full body armour firing tear gas. No hotel was immune to having its guests risk walking into a teargas barrage. Then came the pandemic, with Hong Kong suffering among the most severe lockdown restrictions in the world; at times any visitor from the rest of the world had to self-quarantine, at their own cost, for weeks on arrival.

Now, nearly five years later, I have been back to the Rosewood Hong Kong for the first time since its launch party. I expected a fine luxury hotel in the mould of other new-ish city hotels, still finding its feet, perhaps. After a four day stay, I am increasingly convinced I found something that changes the game.

room with view

LUX checked into a Harbour Corner Suite. We were dreamily distracted by the coffee table book selection, the view, and just out of picture, the drinks trolley, and telescope.

Rosewood’s dramatic tower sits linked to the equally new K11 MUSEA complex on the Victoria Dockside in Hong Kong. The hotel’s designers have made a virtue of its waterfront location across the water facing Hong Kong Island: I tried three rooms, each with an unbelievable view across the water, through floor-to-ceiling windows, of the city’s skyline and the Peak mountain rising up behind. By night, it is a Supernova-style light show. By day, you are distracted by pleasure boats and other traffic floating back and forth along the water.

Design is a difficult element at a time when the wealthy are going through a generational change: do you create interiors aimed at the older or the emerging generation? Rosewood has succeeded in doing both, primarily through the sheer thoughtfulness and quality of the materials, designs and public areas. If it were a luxury brand, this hotel would be Hermes: traditional yet playful, compromising nothing on cost or quality, with a clearly executed and thoughtful vision.

butterfly cafe

The Butterfly room, featuring Damien Hirst’s Zodiac series.

Lift lobbies are created as drawing rooms, with beautiful furniture and cabinets containing everything from Chinese vases and models of 1970s cars to the best curated selection of coffee table fashion and design books I have seen anywhere. In the bedrooms, it’s all about the quality of detail. My coffee machine and waste baskets were nestled in cool contemporary leather pouches. The bath had a wooden book and magazine holder on one side .

The glass bottles of Votary shampoo, shower gel and conditioner were encased in their own glass cabinet, swathed in light wood, within the two-person, walk through marble showers. The extending reading light had its stem swathed in stitched leather. The drinks trolley, with its curved metals, contained a beautifully presented nest of hyper-artisanal bottles of spirits and liqueurs and a couple of good cocktail books.

marble bathroom

From the door fixtures to the lacquering, from the choice of marbles to the design threads of the bathrobes and staff uniforms, everything at the Rosewood is a level above your average luxury hotel.

The look is not fussy or traditional. It’s firmly up to the minute, yet unites a Gen Z fashion leader and a Boomer conglomerate owner. The creativity of the design combines hints of art-deco, sprinkles of 20th-century modern, and a very up to the minute aesthetic which somehow takes in classicism. Solid woods, brass, and other metals are everywhere. Things that should ring hollow, literally, make a “thunk”. Yet there is no brashness, not a hint of bling.

Outside the rooms and lift lobbies, I spent quite some time in the Manor Club, a 40th-floor refuge containing a dining room, bar, snooker room and drawing room. Again, everything was about the detail. Lighting was exquisite, and slightly different for each area – I liked the darkness of the two-seat table by the floor-to-ceiling window in the bar area. The cocktail list combines the confidence of a family that owns one of the world’s bar legends, Bemelmans at the Carlyle in New York, with a next-gen curiosity and edge. Even the wines by the glass are perfectly curated – I remembered that Sonia Cheng’s husband is, independently, the most respected importer of fine wines in Hong Kong, and although I he doesn’t input directly on the lists, this is a place that is obsessive about details.

pool with skyline view

The Asaya Spa has indoor and outdoor wellness facilities, giving an island resort feel

Meanwhile down on the 6th floor the spa is another feast of organic, artisanal design detail, with a room devoted entirely to which herbs, extracts and smells should accompany your treatment and an outdoor terrace with a view. The outdoor pool (closed for annual maintenance when I visited) is open year-round and a destination in itself with its dramatic views.

None of this would work without service and local engagement – nobody wants to stay at a tourist hotel – and the Rosewood has both, and how. Staying in a suite, I was assigned a team of butlers, nattily dressed in the group’s trademark grey and black check. Butlers can sometimes be a mixed blessing in hotels. Unlike your own personal Jeeves, tomorrow’s butler may have no recollections of your conversations with today’s, meaning for sometimes tiresome repeat conversations. These ones had nailed it with their handovers: it’s as if butlers on different shifts had the same brain but different faces. They were charming, too, not service robots: chic young locals. I had a lively conversation about my sneakers with one, a big Off-White fan.

aroma therapy spa

Working out exactly which potions and lotions you wish to avail yourself of before your treatment is a relaxing experience in itself

You could, frankly, just spend your F&B time in the Manor Club, so special is its design, vibe and service, but the Rosewood has numerous other restaurants to try, and is umbilically linked to K11 MUSEA, the art, culture, retail, gastronomy and craft showcase created next door by Sonia’s brother Adrian Cheng – this is a creative family, creating stuff at a level not seen anywhere else.

One of the Rosewood bars is called The Dark Side, a self-ironic reference to what those on Hong Kong Island call the Kowloon side of the water where the Rosewood sits. There is a private members’ club on the 53th floor, Carlyle & Co, teeming with locals; apparently the hotel as a whole is a favourite for wealthy Hong Kongers on staycations.

dark bar

The Rosewood has the confidence to be self-referentially ironic. The Dark Side bar is a humorous reference to what locals in central Hong Kong across the water call this side of the Harbour

And what about that location? The area has become a destination in itself, with K11 MUSEA and notably the new M+, Asia’s best contemporary art museum, along the road. If you need to get to Central Hong Kong for meetings or visits, it can take 10 minutes with no traffic, or more on a bad day. There is also direct access, via K11 MUSEA, to TST MTR (subway) station from which it is one stop to Admiralty station in the heart of Hong Kong Island. Or you can take the Star Ferry across the bay.

The ambition of Rosewood Hong Kong is immense, and it has been executed with a combination of mathematical thoroughness – Sonia Cheng is a mathematics graduate from Harvard – exquisite taste in design and materials, deep knowledge of how hotellerie should work, and an innate awareness of how to create timelessness, which always starts with quality. I can’t think of a better newly built city hotel anywhere in the world. Rosewood, originally an American hotel company, is Asia’s luxury brand now. Maybe we can expect some handbags and silk scarves next.

rosewood.com

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Reading time: 8 min
two men black and white standing next to each other

Alain Servais is an investment banker and collector of art-as-ideas, whose family collection is showcased in The Loft, a repurposed factory in central Brussels. In a conversation moderated by LUX’s Leaders & Philanthropists editor, Samantha Welsh, Servais speaks with South Asian philanthropist and collector, Durjoy Rahman, about supporting artists who give minorities a voice and make people think.

two men black and white standing next to each other

Alain Servais (left) and Durjoy Rahman (right). Photo montage by Isabel Phillips

LUX: How has business shaped your your passion for art?

DURJOY RAHMAN: I started my career at a very young age when I started my business in textiles and garments production. It was when I started exporting that I found that I experienced a negative perception about Bangladesh. I had to engage in a kind of cultural diplomacy when I went to business meetings! I would talk positively about the good things happening in Bangladesh, sharing what was interesting for buyers in course of business development.

ALAIN SERVAIS: For me it was about filling a gap rather than part of my business plan. Investment banking is about trying to understand human nature, anticipating what will happen, asking questions, maybe about the effects of a societal drift to the far right, or changing attitudes to minorities, the potential disruption from new tech and social media, and so on. So understanding herd instinct is very important. In its way it’s pretty sterile as it is all about money. You are missing the voices of so many different people. That is what is interesting in Art.

LUX: How did you become interested in art?

AS: I have no collector-parents, no experience of studying or making art at all, I fell into art by accident. It’s about the convergence of those interesting parts of human nature, professional and private, a kind of curiousness. And that came from working in investment banking, because you are so used to absorbing a massive amount of data and opinion to make decisions.

DR: It was an accident for me too. I was visiting New York and I first saw the silk screens of Marilyn Monroe and Ingrid Bergmann (which in fact I eventually collected). I decided to license and reprint the graphics on a European fashion brand T-shirt, by Replay I remember. It was this fashion x art collaboration which catalysed my art journey.

LUX: So discovery is a big part of your vision?

DR: Yes, I was frequently away on business in Europe and North America, and I would visit the many galleries and museums as I was passing through, always noticing the contrast with South Asia, where we had few institutions despite our long cultural heritage and traditional practices. So that’s why I decided that one day I would do something about it by creating a platform of my own.

AS: I love traveling, discovering other cultures, getting close to parts of the world that people have prejudice and ignorance about.  I had the chance to go to Bangladesh and discovered a totally different, very rich culture. The way I process the experience is through bringing back works of art.

LUX: Should collectors open the door to alternative realities?

AS: We should stop making out that collectors are Superman/woman! We are just human beings finding outlets in art, revealing society’s many problems in the process.  This is about my own interest in contemporary culture.  I have a real problem with nostalgia and the selfishness of it all.

sculptures free standing in studio

Artworks in a 2019-2020 exhibition at The Loft, the 900 square meter space which has housed the Servais family collection since 2010.

LUX: Is this why you collect ‘emerging’ artists?

AS: Emerging artists for me are the artists who are not selling-out to that nostalgic drive. It’s about the art created today that is worth preserving. Every major museum on the planet is based on the private collections of a few crazy collectors who plugged into whatever was going on in society at that time and collected artists who were expressing that in a particularly advanced way. For instance, forty years ago, Sophie Calle the French installation artist was already anticipating social media and reality shows – people want to watch people. So it’s about collecting and preserving artists’ works really early on, when Society does not yet understand their message.

DR: I agree, I really dislike the term ‘emerging artist’! These are claims not accurate predictions of who will be a great artist. In the art world, there is a structure, a platform, discipline, practice, so we can to an extent deduce who may emerge to be a strong or great artist. As to how successful they will be, that is far harder to judge. If you look at Bangladesh, Bangladesh is only 52 years old, so most artists here have actually been ‘emerging’ since 1971 ie post-Independence. DBF supports artists from this period and empowers them to create innovative bodies of work, influenced by social change. It’s about their context, their transmission of their knowledge and their influences.

sofas in room with art on walls

Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation Creative Studio in Dhaka features works from around the Global South including, ‘Orator’ By William Kentridge (right) and ‘Rise of a Nation’ By Raghu Rai (left)

AS: Yes, yesterday I bought an innovative work from an artist from Bali. She had been totally underestimated to the extent she had never, in fact, even been called an ‘emerging artist’. She had, though, created new narratives through traditional Balinese painting and coloration, all pretty outrageous and about sexual liberation, lots of crazy images of penises, vaginas and everything. A good artist is someone that sends a message to the world, and a good collector is the one that understands this message before the masses. They are two sides of the same coin.

LUX: How is art messaging the voices of minority artists?

DR: We should first define what ‘minority’ means. After all, it means different things to different people. Sometimes, I feel like a minority when I enter the room at an event in the global North! It can be discomforting but I get over it with introductions and conversations.

AS: Yes, Durjoy, you’re right, you are a minority when traveling, and I am even an minority in Belgium – because when people visit The Loft they don’t get the art at all and probably think my kids should be taken into care! We are both minorities because we are both free-thinking individuals and non-conformists.

free standing art

The Great Revel of Hairy Harry Who Who: Orgy in the cellar, 2015, by Athena Papadopoulos, in Dérapages & Post-bruises Imaginaries, the 2018-2019 exhibition at The Loft in Brussels.

DR: With the minority artists in Bangladesh, it’s not just about their religion or social status but can be about differences in cultural practice. For example, the remote Hill Tracts indigenous communities in Bangladesh are considered to be minorities, so when we talk about the cultural heritage of Bangladesh, DBF showcases their arts and crafts to the global North. By shining a light on their art we are bringing them into the discourse and including them in society. With our Future of Hope program during Covid, we included these indigenous artists from the Hill Tracts and two have become very prominent right now. Similarly, we took our project for Kochi Biennale from the remote northern region of Bangladesh. This was a very significant artwork created by ethnic communities who would never have been exhibited on the world stage.

sculpture of women dancing

Installation view of Bhumi, with support from The Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation, at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India.

AS: I learn a lot from the artists from the global South. Recently, I bought a work by a photographer from Bangladesh. It is an image around infrastructure, bridges, highways and I wanted it not just because I loved the aesthetic but because the message around it was deliberately unfinished. After I’d bought the work, not before, I made sure I sat next to the photographer at the festival dinner and was grateful for the experience of talking with him, on equal terms. It is a two-way business.

LUX: What is the responsibility of the audience toward the artist?

DR: Artists practice as they wish. It’s how the audience accepts their work that is the question. As a collector and as a founder of a foundation, we open up the opportunity for a deeper engagement from the audience with the artist’s social concerns. These activations are beyond direct action and inventions, creating a positive ripple effect. You have to ask yourself, ‘Am I here to change the world or to support a range of alternatives?’ We enable artists to create bodies of work that widen their potential for recognition on the world stage by bringing awareness of their voice and their cause.

portraits of women

Parables of the Womb by Dilara Begum Jolly at DBF Creative Studio.

AS: As far as the responsibility of the artist is concerned, I don’t like the quasi-deification of the artist. There are so many bad artists around! It is not enough to call yourself an artist to be an artist. I was with a collector in Istanbul last week and he told me he had reserved an exhibition space for a solo exhibition by an emerging artist, emphasising it had to be an artist with no gallery representation. It was to be for six weeks. He actually refused the the first offer, saying “I want to see if artists will fight for it!” For him, the fighting was an important element as so many artists were not thinking about what they are doing and why they were doing it.

LUX: Where do you think your art philanthropy will be, ten years’ from now?

DR: With DBF, we want to be an influential and vital activist who has used the power of art and culture to good effect, to make positive, impactful change in terms of social justice. I agree with Alain, we must question everything and that curiosity must inform our vision for the next decade.

a loft with art in it

Servais hosts exhibitions from his collection of international contemporary artists at The Loft, where he also hosts artists’ residencies.

AS: Because governments are funding the arts the arts less and less, I spend more and more time documenting the works I’m acquiring! I’m doing this to record for posterity the complexity of the artist’s thinking. I hope institutions give more power to curators to offer opportunities to interesting artists so we have the vital two-way discussions. I think we are going to go through extremely difficult times and I would not like to be this young generation. We need people like Durjoy, we need these discourses, we must give people a voice, and we must make people think!

 

Find out more: durjoybangladeshfoundation.org

Servais Family Collection on Instagram: @collectionservais

 

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Reading time: 9 min
lakeside hotel
lakeside hotel

The Lakeside building of La Réserve Eden au Lac Zurich which dates back to 1909

The venerable Eden au Lac, one of the landmark lakeside hotels in Zürich, was recently taken over by the flamboyant La Reserve group, and transformed into a luxe-chic destination for every destination. LUX checks in and samples the champagne on the rooftop

The Wow Factor

The rooftop terrace of the Eden. Sitting on a corner table, wearing a light gilet against a cool breeze blowing from the Alps. The rosé champagne you are drinking has a pedigree related to the hotel: this is no ordinary house fizz, but a champagne made by Michel Reybier who owns both the La Reserve hotel group which the Eden belongs to, and some of the most prestigious wineries in the world, including Châte au Cos d’Estournel, and this champagne house, Jeepers. Sitting here, you are distinctly amongst the Zürich in crowd.

People Watching

Behind us, two paper thin American women were discussing travel, plans, deals, and their yoga routine. A gentleman from southern Europe wearing a rare Patek Phillipe, who would have looked very at home in the Yacht Club of Monaco, is sipping cocktails with a young lady. The people here are international, glamorous, wealthy, and wanting to show that they are here.

 

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine 

Show me to my room.

Our room faced out from the front of the hotel, over the lakeside road and directly onto a park and the bathing area of Lake Zürich. A small balcony was an excellent place for breakfast with a view of the forest of hills on the other side of the lake. The opera house is almost next door: this is a very centrally located hotel. The bed with the centrepiece of the room, with the bathroom behind. here it is all about high quality material finishes and details: the wood marquetry is exceptionally beautiful, reflecting the craft traditions in the nearby Alpine forests but presented in a contemporary way, with plenty of shiny metals and exquisite accessories from the glassware to the in room amenities.

green tiled kitchen, chefs

The street level Eden Kitchen which features all day dining

Come dine with me (and other things)

We loved La Muña, the rooftop Japanese Pacific restaurant and bar, which has been designed as an imaginary yacht club by Phillipe Starck. As well as the
superb quality of drinks (as one would expect from this group), the maki, sashimi and ceviches were exquisite. When the weather was less good, we dined inside: no views, but a chic cosiness and intimate style.

 

Find out more: lareserve-zurich.com

 

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 Issue of LUX

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Reading time: 2 min
bedroom with view of safari

LUX recommends our top hotels to check into this year. Compiled by Olivia Cavigioli

Glenmorangie House, Ross, Scotland
For a retreat into the Scottish Highlands, whisky distiller’s Glenmorangie House is the place to go. The brand just recently celebrated 180 years of craftsmanship, their single malt distilled and encompassed by the idyll of the Highlands, ‘Glenmorangie’ translating to ‘Valley of Tranquility’ in Gaelic.

Situated along the coastline on the Easter Ross Peninsula, the house is a a stone’s throw away from the distillery so guests are immersed in the whisky making process and the land from which it is crafted. Designer Russel Sage brought the brand’s protected Tarlogie Springs to the Tasting Room, and the barley fields to the guilded Morning Room, curating the hotel with the Glenmorangie story in mind.

The brand hosts an exclusive weekend, ‘A Tale of Tokyo Experience’, in collaboration with drink connoisseurs Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley, where guests can experience the mythologies of two whiskey making cultures. Celebrating Glenmorangie’s new whiskey, marrying Japanese processes and flavours with the classic Highland drink, the weekend offers a cocktail masterclass and Kintsugi cup-making, a touring of the distillery, and unique dining experiences by design of Head Chef John Wilson, as guests will partake in both a Scottish Highland diner and A Tale of Tokyo inspired tasting menu.

22nd-24th March 2024, at £950 per room for a two-night stay in a Standard Room or Cottage.

colourful living room

Find out more: glenmorangie.com

 

The Lana, Dubai – Dorchester Collection

rooftop pool with view of dubai

The Lana Dubai Rooftop

For a culinary whirlwind, Dorchester Collection’s first Middle East location, The Lana Dubai, is one to watch. Set to open in February 2024, the hotel is something of a gastronomical meeting of the minds in the countless dining experiences. Celebrated chefs Martín Berasategui, Jean Imbert and Angelo Musa create four distinct concepts out of the eight restaurants The Lana hosts. Accoladed with twelve Michelin stars, Martín Berasategui develops Jara, a love letter to Basque cuisine and the first of its kind in Dubai.

For modern Mediterranean cooking and cocktails, guests can flock to Riviera by Jean Imbert, who has also created High Society, an after hours lounge located on the rooftop of the hotel. Angelo Musa’s Bonbon Café will bring French patisserie with his own avant-garde approach to The Lana.

Designed by Foster + Partners, the hotel is bound in bright vistas, positioned along the Dubai Canal, a vantage point from which guests can revel in the city’s famed sunsets. The Lana’s spa, and 225 rooms and suites, with interiors designed by Gilles & Boissier, brings together the contemporary and traditional, in Dubai’s trademark style.

The Hotel is now open as of February 1st, now taking bookings. Rates start from £735 per night.

hotel resort in Dubai

Find out more: dorchestercollection.com/dubai/the-lana

 

ROAR Africa’s ‘Greatest Safari on Earth’

beautiful landscape

ROAR Africa’s ‘Greatest Safari on Earth’, is  a pilgrimage through some of Africa’s most iconic destinations, as ten guests can become intrepid travellers over twelve days, going from Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, to Kenya’s Great Migration and ending ceremoniously in Rwanda.

The African odyssey will bring guests to the most splendent views amidst natural phenomenons, such as Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, upriver from which guests will reside at the Matetsi, where they can immerse themselves in 55,000 hectares of protected wilderness.

Along the Okavango Delta in Botswana, guests will have the  opportunity to see Africa’s ‘Big Five’; lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Guests will stay at the Xigera property, described as a ‘living gallery’, showcasing design inspired by the Delta, and works by the continent’s most celebrated creatives. After a few days in the Mara North Conservancy in Kenya, where guests will have experienced the breadth of wildlife from walking safaris to a hot air ballon ride along the Mara river, the trip ends with guests coming into intimate contact with the world’s last wild mountain gorillas at Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

Two trips will be taking flight in 2024 aboard the ‘beyond first class’ Emirates A319 Executive Private Jet, with carbon credits matched to emissions.

August 10-22 2024 and August 25 – September 6 2024 are the two trip dates. Limited to 10 guests each and $148,000 per person.

bedroom with view of safari

Find out more: roarafrica.com/emirates-gsoe

 

Suvretta House, St. Moritz

snowy landscape with hotel

The Suvreta Hotel

Nestled in the valley of the Upper Engadine, St. Moritz, Suvretta House offers storybook winter-scapes and a plethora of Alpine activities to its guests. The resort sits in a natural park two kilometres west of St. Moritz, untarnished by the bustle of winter tourism, promising luxurious refuge in the snowcapped Engadine, with a private ski lift providing direct access to the slopes for guests who wish to embrace the winter sport season.

Bathed in the history and culture of the region, guests can expect elaborate horse-drawn sleighs reminiscent of Schlitteda custom, where young couples would go on rides together. Other attractions include opera and culinary festivals, horse races on the frozen St. Moritz lake, and overwhelming views to accompany a Savoyard lunch from the Suvretta House mountain restaurant ‘Trutz’.

You’d however be remiss to not take advantage of the 350km of ski runs available to guests, along with 220 km of cross country skiing trails, through sunlit valley floors or the illuminated night courses. The resort has even adopted curling, with its own unique Curling Guest Club and natural ice-curling field. Guests can also follow in the footsteps of former world champions who have skated on the Suvretta House ice rink, returning to the elegance and respite of the Alpine castle.

Winter season runs from 8th December 2023 to 1st April 2024. Rooms start at CHF 630. 

hotel living space

Find out more: suvrettahouse.ch

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Reading time: 4 min
woman laying on colourful floor
woman laying on colourful floor

A Dream you Dream Alone, by Maryam Eisler, 2021

An elegant, aloof figure lies, sprawled, blanketed in stripes, formed of shadows from a gazebo above. Here’s a glimpse into Chief Contributing Editor of LUX, Maryam Eisler’s continual exposition of the Sublime Feminine. In the murky hinterland between body and landscape – in what she calls ‘dreamlands made real’ – Maryam captures chimerical states and synaptic, elusive moments. By Isabella Fergusson

Maryam’s black and white photography toys with shadow and light in ways in which the body seems to hover between corporeal and architectural form. Figures hide. Bodies are touched by their landscape’s shadows, by wooden planks, by leaves, by music scores. They turn away, evasive; hands and arms are little seen: bodies are distilled to Barbara Hepworth-esque forms – to the curve of a lower back, the stomach, the spine. There is a sense of holding back, of retaining mystery, of stretching beyond the body to landscape. In Peaks and Troughs, curves of bodies are hit by light with such exquisite abstraction as to resemble vast mountains, or perhaps a close-up of a cluster of smooth pebbles.

Peaks and Troughs, by Maryam Eisler, 2019

‘I often search for inspiration in literature, poetry and in the arts’, Maryam says. And, if Hepworth looked to music, and Rothko wanted to raise painting to ‘music and poetry’, Maryam, in a modern take, lays bare the parallels between photography and music. Music scores leak into the photography itself, both literally, and in the way that a mathematical precision of composition provides access to dreamlike, hazy worlds. In A Cry for Freedom, a nude figure seems almost tattooed by the shadows of musical notes, nodding towards a subliminal synaesthesia.

naked body with musical notes projected onto back

A Cry for Freedom, by Maryam Eisler, 2023

Such philosophy spills into colour. Constructed forms – trees, crosses, doors – stick out against bright blue skies. Balconies are distilled to rectangles, pentagons, triangles, punctuated by rich pinks and blues. A palm tree shoots playfully out of a wall, structured by Crayola coloured, stripy joints. Perspective is maintained and fundamental, and yet simultaneously flat and geometric. They combine playful, Hockney bravado with a serious, almost cubist, interest in perspective.

a grid of various very colourful pictures

Linear Emotions – Palm Springs, by Maryam Eisler, 2023

Intimate Landscapes prods the metaphysical questions at the core of the Sublime. In light and lines, shadows and shapes, Maryam’s self-reflectively titled series, ‘Linear Emotions’, confront their own process. How does one conjure up inner dreamlands through geometry? Where does the body end and the landscape begin?

A woman in pink spinning against a bright blue sky with some trees

The Astonishing Light of Your Own Being, by Maryam Eisler, 2024

‘Feeling is my true north’, says Maryam. And one can feel that here – her grace and control, her search for what is, in her words, ‘true or fantastic. Nostalgia for bygone times. Passion. Romance. Heartache’. Dancing between delicate quiet and bold colour, Maryam ‘offers a glimpse into these dreams and into this multi-faceted exploration of the Sublime Feminine’.

man watching woman dive into pool

Poolside Watching, by Maryam Eisler, 2023

 

Maryam Eisler’s exhibition, ‘Intimate Landscapes’, will be showing at Mucciaccia Gallery Project, Rome, via Laurina 31, from 10th February – 16th March 2024

 

See More: https://www.maryameisler.com

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Reading time: 2 min
Man and woman holding rubbish from ocean

Man and woman holding rubbish from ocean

Marcus Eriksen is at the cutting edge of research and raising awareness about the interaction between natural ocean phenomena with microplastic pollution. Trudy Ross speaks with him about the issues, challenges and possible solutions.

LUX: What inspired you to start 5 Gyres and dedicate your work to addressing plastic pollution in our oceans?

Markus Eriksen: In 2003, I made good on a promise to myself to one day raft the Mississippi river. I grew up near the river, and always dreamed of doing that, but when I did, I saw an unending trail of plastic pollution, flowing down America’s greatest watershed out to sea. Within a month of returning from the river, I landed a job working with Captain Charles Moore, the man who discovered the great Pacific garbage patch. Three years later, I proposed to my wife Anna Cummins while we were aboard Captain Moore’s research vessel in the middle of the north pacific garbage patch. From there, Anna and I began the 5 Gyres Institute with the goal of researching the world’s oceans to answer some big questions. How much trash is in the global ocean, where is it accumulating, what is the impact on other living things, and what can we do about it?

LUX: Could you explain what gyres are and how they relate to the issue of plastic pollution?

ME: Oceanic Gyres are normal features of the ocean defined by large-scale circulating currents. There are 11 oceanic gyres, with five of them being the subtropical gyres. That’s where floating plastic trash accumulates. The currents are driven by wind, and in the northern hemisphere they rotate clockwise, while in the southern hemisphere they rotate counterclockwise. The subtropical gyres create high-pressure systems in the middle, where the wind and waves slow down and trash accumulates. Those are what we call the garbage patches, but I would call them a Plastic Smog instead.

LUX: You have done an enormous amount of work combating the use of microbeads. Can you tell us more about this and why it is such a crucial part of your mission?

ME: In 2012, I worked with a colleague, Sherri Mason, to document floating plastics in the great lakes. What we found were abundant microbeads, which was the first evidence of microbeads documented in aquatic habitats. The publish paper became the foundation for a national campaign to rid consumer products of microbeads. We work with dozens of organizations, sharing videos, photos and press releases. We worked with Tulane law school in New Orleans to produce sample federal legislation to ban microbeads. Soon we got two senators to put a federal bill in front of President Obama, which he signed into law the 2015 Microbead-free Waters Act. We went from science to a policy solution in two years. This provided a great example for everyone worldwide about how powerful we can be when we work together toward a single goal. That successful campaign still gets referenced today as we work to eliminate single-use plastics everywhere.

LUX: You recently published a study revealing a global estimate for plastic in the oceans. How did you go about conducting this research and what did you find?

ME: We published this study in early April that identified 170 trillion particles of microplastics in the global ocean. It was a 40 year trend analysis which showed an exponential increase of plastic in the ocean since 2005. This is largely due to the fragmentation of new and older plastic items, the introduction of over 5,000,000,000 tons of new plastic in the last 15 years, And an unfortunate trend in very weak international policies to address the problem. The most recent policies of the last few decades have been voluntary and focused on recycling and Cleanup. Policies back in the 70s and 80s were more preventative in nature and they were legally binding. Right now we are working hard to ensure that the current debate about the UN global treaty on plastic kind pollution is about prevention and will be legally binding. We can’t have a weak international treaty.

To answer your question about how we did this research, we combined all of our data of sea surface sampling over the last decade with every other publicly available data on the planet. We then used our oceanographic models to extrapolate the data to the broader ocean environment. This gave us plastic particle abundance estimates per ocean basin, and collectively the whole planet.

Each data point is collected by dragging a net across the ocean surface for a specific distance, using a net with a known width. That gives you a particle count per unit area. That becomes the data that we used to feed our ocean graphic models. The fun part is that we get to sail around the world to collect this data.

 

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

 

LUX: How can we ensure we are holding companies and producers responsible for their contribution to the problem?

ME: This gets very tricky. We need smart international policies that are preventative in nature, and embrace something called extended producer responsibility (EPR). EPR is about holding product and packaging manufacturers, responsible for the entire lifecycle of what they make. That means setting design standards so that items are easily dismantled and easily recyclable, and it also means keeping Plastic out of packaging as much as possible.

One big part of EPR is ensuring that manufacturers are using recycled plastic when they do. Right now recycling fails worldwide because manufacturers are not obligated to use recycled materials. Because virgin plastic is so cheap, no one buys recycled plastic in huge volumes. This is why recycling United States covers at less than 10%. It’s a system that is not set up for economic success. While corporations like to boast about the technical recyclability of what they make, they avoid discussion of the economic reality of making a recycling successful. To solve this problem, we would need smart legislation that requires a high percent of post – consumer recycle plastic used in all new products.

LUX: What does it mean for a plastic to be biodegradable? If I buy food in biodegradable plastic packaging, am I still contributing to the problem?

ME: Yes and no. The issue of bioplastics has become quite confusing, with some false advertising and misleading uses of terminology. First, bio-based and biodegradable packaging are very different materials. Bio-based simply means you are taking modern plants to make conventional plastics, like polyethylene and polypropylene, instead of using fossil fuels. It’s the same stuff. Biodegradable plastics are very different, but the word biodegradable means different things for different people.

Polylactic acid, or PLA, is a common form of biodegradable plastic, and has been advertised to be biodegradable by many packaging manufacturers. Most of the time it is labeled as compostable, but in the fine print states that it’s only compostable in an industrial composting facility, not in your backyard or on the side of the road. But in reality, industrial composting facilities are now rejecting PLA, because your it is not biodegrade in a meaningful time frame. Industrial composting facilities, make their money from selling compost, and PLA contaminates their compost. Unfortunately, industrial composting facilities are now rejecting every type of biodegradable plastic on the market, but things have changed.

There is a novel type of biodegradable plastic called PHA and PHB, which actually do degrade quickly, but only if they are in a thin film form. This is important because in our research we have found that thick items, like the handle on a biodegradable plastic fork, can stick around for more than a year. But, a thin film made from PHA or PHB will degrade in a couple of months in a rich composting environment.

In our recent study, we put 22 different products made from biodegradable materials into six different settings and tested their degradation over a year and a half. We were really impressed with some of the new thin film packaging that’s available.

LUX: Can you tell us about your TrashBlitz project and what you are hoping this will achieve?

ME: Trash blitz is a program that works with cities to survey their entire region to get a good idea of what kind of plastic packaging are the biggest pollutants. We give the cities the data, put together in a nice report, which they can use to present to their city Council or local plastic manufacturers. That data allows them to address plastic pollution locally. We’ve done this in many cities, like Denver, Colorado, and Austin, Texas, and most recently we did this in national parks. In each case we provide the data they can use.

Interestingly, we find that most cities have the same list of top 10 types of packaging that are the biggest polluters, like cigarette butts, bags, straws, cup, lids, bottle caps, etc.…. We hope that this bigger picture view of the biggest polluters can affect national legislative policies to illuminate single use plastics.

man on beach with ocean in background

LUX: You mention having a solution-based approach at 5 Gyres. What are the most important solutions to plastic pollution we need to be looking at as a society right now?

ME: We favor smart legislative policies. What seems to always work is when the private sector and political leadership work together on preventative solutions. This might mean getting rid of single-use plastics, like the way school districts are getting rid of Styrofoam trays in their cafeterias. We’re also seeing cities eliminate plastic straws, plastic bags, and cutlery from local restaurants.

We also favor innovators and entrepreneurs that discover new materials, new ways of designing products and packaging without plastic, and novel business practices that show how a reuse economy can work. There are some interesting new Bioplastic materials that I think can be a replacement for many thin film applications. We are also seeing some novel, business practices, like the company “Vessel” that provides stainless steel coffee mugs and beer cups that a city can circulate through different restaurants in coffee shops.

LUX: You have said that you are hopeful that plastic pollution is a problem we can solve. Do you ever find yourself losing hope or being disheartened working on these issues?

ME: Overall, I am more optimistic pessimistic, because I meet so many young, innovators and entrepreneurs. They’re trying to make solutions work.

I feel pessimistic sometimes when I see how much effort the polluters put into fighting legislation and resisting changing their packaging, products and business models. They are happy to saddle cities with the cost of managing wasteful forms of packaging. They will spend many millions on consultants, lobbyist, and PR campaigns to unravel the work of the many nonprofits trying to find solutions.

LUX: Will we ever live in a plastic free world?

ME: We will, if we want to. What I know is that the plastic out in the world today will likely be buried and become a permanent fixture of the geologic record. If we can focus on stopping to add more plastic trash to the world, then nature will in time bury at all.

We may never be a plastic, free world, because the material is useful in many applications. It’s used in many industries, technologies, makes cars and airplanes, more lightweight and efficient, but it is the single-used plastic problem that we need to address right away.

 

https://www.marcuseriksen.com/education

 

Online Editor: Isabel Phillips

 

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Reading time: 9 min
people chilling in nature looking at the camera

Pioneering entrepreneur and philanthropist Nachson Mimran has a show of his black and white photography at the Leica Gallery in London’s Mayfair. Compelling for many reasons, says LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai

A Native American with a feather har holding his fist up in a black and white photo

Manari Ushigua – leader of the Sápara Nation, in Naku in the Ecuadorian Amazon; photograph by Nachson Mimran in March 2018

Through my years of commissioning photographers, across art, fashion, travel and portraiture, for LUX and Condé Nast, it has become evident that photography is a two-way lens. The image a photographer (or image-maker, as some prefer) captures is of them, as much as it is of their subject. Send two photographers on a similar mission, and you will see very different results.

Little girl in front of wire mesh in dress

A street art project in Libreville, Gabon; photograph by Nachson Mimran, November 2018

This becomes very apparent on viewing the images in Nachson Mimran’s debut show, Photographs from the decade that changed my life, at the Leica Gallery in London. Nachson, a contemporary renaissance man who is part creative, part philanthropist, part social entrepreneur, part philosopher and part tycoon, was not commissioned by anyone to create these images: they are a selection of photographs he took on his travels over ten years.

With his Leica Monochrom cameras (distinctive, niche, digital rangefinders) Mimran chronicled people and life everywhere from Bangladesh and Uganda to the Swiss Alps and West Africa, where he grew up.

trees behind a tribesman in Kenya looking at the camera

Tribesmen from Turkana, Kenya; photograph by Nachson Mimran, November 2022

Mimran is best known for his stewardship of to.org, a philanthropic, creative and entrepreneurial ecosystem making real change. (He is also one of the owners of the hyper-chic Alpina hotel in Gstaad.) The red thread throughout is Mimran’s empathy and humanity: those who know him might suggest he is a modern-day humanist, above everything else. Particularly striking, because, as this is a personal chronicle, Mimran never intended to create anything for public exhibition.

A father and daughter looking at the camera

Self-portrait of Nachson Mimran and his daughter in Gstaad, Switzerland; October 2022

A compelling show, and a window into the mind of someone who, in his own way, is changing the world.

Nachson Mimran: Photographs From The Decade That Changed My Life is on show at Leica Gallery, Mayfair, London until 11 February

leica-camera.com

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Reading time: 1 min

Under the artistic direction of Natasha Ginwala, the recent Colomboscope showed how the Sri Lankan art festival has swiftly become a must-visit not just for aficionados of South Asian art, but for collectors globally seeking to channel exciting new art world perspectives from a region whose global significance is rising.

woman sitting on window ledge

Natasha Ginwala, artistic director. Photo by Victoria Tomaschko

Across venues throughout Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, curators Hit Man Gurung, Sheelasha Rajbhandari, and Sarker Protick choreographed events and showcased the work of 40 eminent artists from Sri Lanka and the Global South, all themed around ‘Way of the Forest’.

Artwork of an eye with leaves

Zihan Karim, EYE (।), 2015, Video projection on installation. Photo by Fiona Cheng

Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation (DBF), as one of the festival’s lead patrons and cultural partners, supported four artists from Bangladesh to participate: Soma Surovi Jannat; Md Rakibul Anwar; Zihan Karim; Jayatu Chakma. There was a strong theme of sustainability and regeneration in their works.

woman with trees in background

Soma Surovi Jannat, artist.

Man posing with painting in background

Rakibul Anwar, artist.

black and white picutre of man head down

Zihan Karim, artist.

man standing next to painting

Jayatu Chakma, artist.

‘Urbanisation is accelerating deforestation, which removes the potential for forests to absorb carbon and put a brake on global warming. This creates political, economic and societal crises for people and harms our planet,’ says DBF’s founder, Durjoy Rahman.

poster of event with text on it

The Way of the Forest Poster

It was an intriguing way to see how art is leading the challenge against post-colonial legacies and bearing witness to the effects of climate change.

 

See more: https://www.colomboscope.lk/

 

Online Editor: Isabel Phillips

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Reading time: 1 min
Male with arms crossed standing next to art
Male with arms crossed standing next to art

Petr Pudil, collector and founder of Kunsthalle Praha

A decade ago, an entrepreneur bought a decommissioned power station located in a prime position opposite Prague Castle. Investing some $40M together with his Family Foundation he regenerated this brownfield site and in 2015 relaunched it as the landmark Kunsthalle Praha, Prague’s first non-profit private institution. Samantha Welsh speaks with Petr Pudil about his passion for collecting, why he is dedicated to supporting contemporary Czech artists, and his vision for connecting the local art scene with international art movements.

big building with orange roof in sunshine

Former electrical substation, art institution Kunsthalle Praha

LUX: What is your background as an entrepreneur?

Petr Pudil: I am co-founder of BPD partners, leading family office in Prague. The BPD partners group actively seeks out companies with promising scientific and technological backgrounds. The priority is projects that bring new challenges regarding healthy economic growth and are in line with internationally recognised standards of social responsibility and sustainability.

Interior of building, empty space, white walls wood floors

The former power station redeveloped as Kunsthalle Praha

A stable part of the portfolio consists of long-term investments in biotechnology and chemistry, including investments in basic research, renewable resources, and the construction of environmentally friendly office complexes and residential properties.

 

Follow LUX on Instagram:luxthemagazine

 

LUX:  When did you become involved with art philanthropy?

PP: My wife, Pavlina, and I started collecting art almost twenty years ago. We have never seen it as a financial investment, but rather as a tool to understand the connections of the world and life through the lens of artists, which is an alternative and enriching perspective for me as a businessman.

man and woman standing next to each other in a living space

Pavlina and Petr Pudil, collectors and cultural philanthropists

By purchasing contemporary art, we also wanted to support living artists. The idea to build a new Kunsthalle in Prague came about approximately 9 years ago.

LUX: How does Czech fit, historically, within the Central Europe art canon?

PP: The Czech lands and later Czechoslovakia have been in cultural contact with many European centres in the past centuries, naturally with Vienna within the monarchy, with Munich, and later in the 20th century, with Paris. As Václav Havel said, Prague has been a cultural crossroad of Europe for a thousand years. Our country is a natural part of the cultural and historical development of Central Europe.

LUX: What was your founding idea for the Kunsthalle Praha?

PP: We founded Kunsthalle Praha as a non-profit and non-governmental institution whose mission is to bring art to the lives of as many people as possible, with a focus on the younger generation. The second part of our mission is to connect the local scene with the international art environment.

LUX: What collaborations and sectors have you enjoyed shining a light on during these two years?

PP: I will highlight two moments. Since opening, our building has seen over 210,000 visitors, with the majority being younger than 35, which is a great result. And then, the introductory exhibition “Kinetismus,” which was created through a curatorial collaboration with Peter Weibel and ZKM Karlsruhe.

Art light installation in gallery

Inaugural exhibition November 2022, Kinetismus, photo by Vojtêch Veškrna, Kunsthalle Praha

It was an highly innovative exhibition that involved demanding research and, at the same time, became very popular with the local audience.

LUX: Vaclav Havel, Nobel Prize satirist and first democratically-elected president of post-soviet Czech and Slovakia, is a symbol for many of the trust vested by the people in literature to say the unsayable.  Was the samizdat movement art activism or covert propaganda?

PP: Currently, there is an exhibition at Kunsthalle Praha titled “Read” by Elmgreen & Dragset, where part of the exposition is about Czech samizdat literature.

Man walking between bookshelves

Installation ‘Point of View’ 2024 at exhibition ‘READ’ by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragnet

Samizdat was neither activism nor covert propaganda. It was driven by the simple desire of people for information and literature that was denied to them. Naturally, such “forbidden fruit” had a much wider audience than the dissident Charter 77 led by informal leader Václav Havel.

LUX: How has Kunsthalle Praha been received by your peers in the contemporary art ecosystem?            

PP: Kunsthalle Praha is bringing another platform for the presentation of contemporary and modern art to Prague, as well as a space for trans-generational dialogue between different communities. Our goal is to collaborate with other institutions, which we have been successful in achieving so far. We perceive the cultural institution ecosystem as a collaborative, rather than competitive, environment.

LUX: You are an innovator and serial entrepreneur, where else is your focus?

PP: Surely, it is a sport. I try to engage in some physical activity every day, and running, in particular, is an addiction and a way of mental regeneration for me.

LUX: How do you see your foundation evolving as a platform for sustainability in art?

PP: We have sought to apply sustainability principles already during the renovation of the building. It is not a new construction but the revitalisation of a contaminated brownfield in the historical center of Prague. We are preparing an ESG report and striving to exceed our regional peers in all aspects of ESG metrics

Read more: Lazard’s Jennifer Anderson on the Evolution of ESG Investing

LUX: What one tip would you share with a young collector wanting to make a difference?

PP: It is not easy at all to find distinctiveness, it is actually a very ambitious goal. If you want to build a unique, distinctive collection, I would focus on new, digital media. Everyone knows that the digitisation of society must be reflected in art, but we still don’t know how art will respond to this phenomenon, and we certainly don’t know yet how to collect such art.

 

Online Editor: Isabel Phillips

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Reading time: 4 min
green vineyard with tree and building and sun

Picasso, Miro, Dali, Richter, Braque: supreme Bordeaux Chateau Mouton-Rothschild has had them all, and many more, create its wine label over the decades. Candice Tucker speaks to Julien de Beaumarchais, from the owning family of the esteemed first growth, about the latest label artist, Chiharu Shiota, whose work adorns the excellent 2021 vintage

LUX: How has your relationship with art changed through the process of commissioning these label artworks?

Julien de Beaumarchais: Before the passing of my mother, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, in 2014, I spent more than 15 years working in the market for Old Master paintings and drawings, the creators of which had been dead for a very long time. So it was a radical change for me when, after 2014, I became responsible for the artists who would illustrate the label for our next vintage. I found myself in contact with famous people with strong personalities who were very much alive, accompanying them throughout their creative adventure for Mouton. From Miquel Barceló to Shiharu Chiota, it has been quite a voyage of discovery into all the diversity and complexity of the leading names of contemporary art.

wine barrels with lights and under the tunnels

Château Mouton Rothschild Winery. Photo by Alain Benoit

LUX: Can you illuminate the relationship of the family with this particular artist Chiharu Shiota? How do you choose your artists?

JB: The choice of the artist is a family affair, made in consultation with the other two owners of Château Mouton Rothschild, my sister Camille Sereys de Rothschild and my brother Philippe Sereys de Rothschild. The artists are chosen first and foremost because we like their work and that they are world renowned. My mother, the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (1933- 2014) used to give the following answer to this question, which still holds true today: “I have no particular method or five-year plan: my choice is based on my enthusiasm for an artist’s work. I always establish a personal relationship with them, which often turns into friendship, because I deeply love the art of the painter I ask, and for me each work is an expression of the artist’s love for Mouton and its magic.”

A long time ago my mother told me she had been fascinated by one of Chiharu Shiota’s works, shown alongside those of other young artists, at the Galerie Daniel Templon in Paris. For her, on that day, Chiharu Shiota really stood out, and the future has proved her right. The artist’s fame has grown with the passing years, as has the number of exhibitions of her works around the world, and I in turn have been fascinated by her striking, captivating installations. Chance played an important part too: in 2019, on the occasion of a visit to Château Mouton Rothschild, the director of the Mori Art Center in Tokyo offered me a copy of the magnificent catalogue of the great Chiharu Shiota retrospective at the Mori. Leafing through it, I said to myself “One day I will ask Chiharu Shiota to create an artwork for Mouton”.

 

Read more: Prince Robert de Luxembourg on Art & Fine Wine

 

LUX: Which artists do you wish you had secured in the past, who are now either unavailable or dead?

JB: That’s a very hard question to answer: there are so many wonderful artists we would have liked to work with, but there is only one a year. Those missing from the list who died before we were able to ask them include Louise Bourgeois, Cy Twombly, Vieira da Silva and, more recently, Sam Szafran in 2019… But the most important thing is to focus on the artists to come.

 

LUX: How do you feel the context of the artwork by Chiharu Shiota is influenced by the wine and the vineyard?

JB: When I discovered Chiharu Shiota’s artwork for Château Mouton Rothschild, I was fascinated by her vision, so close to the world of wine, especially in the relationship between humankind and nature. Indeed, the human figure is a fragile silhouette facing nature, gorgeous and generous but seemingly dominant, in the same way that the vinegrower is exposed to the unpredictable power of the vine. Yet the four threads that link them, symbolising the four seasons, show that the grower is also capable of channelling it and guiding it towards the ideal of a great wine. I really love this bright red colour, one of her trademarks, so reminiscent of a fabulous cluster of grapes or of new wine running out of the vats…

Plus, Chiharu Shiota said of his visit to Château Mouton Rothschild: “When I visited Château Mouton Rothschild, I was very inspired by their relationship with nature. They depend on the weather and do not interfere with mother nature. They accept the conditions in which the grapes grow. I think Mouton is holding on to the balance of human and nature.”

a label for wine with an artist image on it

Château Mouton Rothschild 2021 Vintage label by Chiharu Shiota

LUX: Can you further speak to the wider context of art in untraditional spaces, which these commissions exemplify?

JB: It is true that nowadays artistic creation is to be found on a wide variety of media, and sometimes in highly unexpected places. But art on wine labels is not exactly untraditional, at least not for us, and we seem to have set an example for others. However, Mouton occupies a unique position for two reasons: it was the first château to feature labels illustrated with an original artwork (Jean Carlu in 1924), and after that to have asked the greatest names in contemporary art to create an artwork for the label.

 

LUX: Do you think people buy the wines because of the labels?

JB: Yes and no. Château Mouton Rothschild’s success is due above all to the quality of the wine. But art lovers or admirers of a particular artist who has created an artwork for a label may acquire a certain bottle for that reason, or else a wine collector may want to buy a specific vintage to complete their collection of Mouton Rothschild with illustrated labels.

 

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

 

LUX: Would you be able to share about the vineyard’s involvement in the artists process and their work for this commission?

JB: It is very important for us that the artist should come and spend some time at Château Mouton Rothschild, to get a feel for the place, a better understanding of our history, our terroir and the way we make our wine. The visit is often a source of inspiration.

Artists are not given any particular instructions when they create a label for Château Mouton Rothschild: they have entire creative freedom. That being said, many artists have chosen to base their illustration, each in their own way, on subjects related to Mouton, such as the ram and the vine.

There is a long and impressive line of artists who have contributed to these labels, with public access to the original works.

vineyard in yellow light and sky

Château Mouton Rothschild estate. Photo by Alain Benoit

LUX: Can you tell us more about how you may hope to amplify this exhibition?

JB: The exhibition amplifies itself, since a new work is added to the collection each year! But more than amplify, what I would like most is to diversify, in terms of both creative techniques and the geographical origin of our future artists.

Find out more:mouton-rothschild

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Reading time: 6 min
Blue car going fast on a road

We drive the ultimate incarnation of Aston Martin’s four wheel drive SUV supercar

A blue SUV car driving on a road in the country side

The Aston Martin DBX707 offers a luxury nexus of dynamics, effortless style and performance © Max Earey

Not many of the glamorous supercars from what some people refer to as the golden age of motoring have remained. You can’t buy a new Jensen, Bizzarrini or De Tomaso now. One brand that somehow managed to overcome many bumps its historical road, and remain proudly independent – rather than simply a brand extension of a large conglomerate – is Aston Martin. After teetering on the brink of extinction in the 1980s and 90s, the company is now going through something of a golden era of its own, with the hyper wealthy fighting to get hold of the astonishing Valkyrie hypercar, and the Vantage and DB12 sports cars now appealing to new generations of young, affluent professionals and enthusiasts.

Times have changed, though, and every car company, however sporting its origins, needs to have in its portfolio a type of car that would make its own historic racing drivers cringe. The SUV, a type of big, high, spacious and powerful vehicle, is, arguably, more relevant than a sports car for a new generation of newly minted in countries which are nearly acquiring wealth themselves. Often for good reason: a place with a challenging road infrastructure, or conversely with newly laid roads in a straight line grid, it’s not a place to enjoy a low-slung, hard, riding, agile, high-performance sports car originally aimed for the track.

 Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

That’s where the versatile SUV comes in, and our example of Aston Martin’s own take on this kind of car is in keeping with its history of making cars that stand out. Ours was in bright orange, with a lavish, black and orange accented cabin. The shape may be very different to a classic sports car, but for the moment anyway, one key element remains: a roaring V8 engine with 707PS under the bonnet. This type of engine, which emanates a compilation of wonderful cacophony, depending on how hard and fast you are driving it, is perfect for a sports car where you want to get to that point on the sweeping road where you can push it between 5000 and 7000 rpm.

For a huge SUV, it certainly has the power and the thunder, although arguably, this kind of engine will be less missed an SUV with everything goes electric, than it will in other cars which positively encourage high performance driving.

black car interior

With 900Nm of torque, this SUV provides a sports car acceleration and high speed

What is a DBX also has his sharpness – in its looks but also in the way it handles, something that is always a challenge for these big cars with high centres of gravity. It is an SUV that actually enjoys being aimed down challenging driving roads. Perhaps not narrow twisting lanes, as it’s quite big and wide, but it would be very much at home on the broad, sweeping curves of Bavaria or southern Tuscany.

There, you can revel as the engine tears through its different tones as it approaches the top of its rev range, rushing you forward ever faster – this is a very speedy car, although all luxury SUVs now are, whether electric or petrol powered. And then, back in the urban environment in which most of these cars spend most of their time, it’s back to being a menacing and rather fun designer tool.

And what about Aston Martin‘s natural home in the stately home-lined lanes of England? We would recommend a different combination if your life is based there: one of Aston Martin’s gorgeous convertible sports cars for high days and holidays, and a 50-year-old rusting Range Rover for the winter months. That way you will stay true to the aristocratic values of this fabled British brand.

 

Read more: Audi TT RS Review

 

Find out more: Aston Martin DBX707

Online Editor: Isabel Phillips

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Reading time: 3 min
Bar with lots of drinks and lights and chairs and mirror
We check in to the Principe di Savoia, a palace hotel offering grandeur and glamour for anyone visiting Italy’s fashion capital, Milan
outside of a hotel with green plants and blue sky and balcony

Le Principe di Savoia is a grand palace building in central Milan

The trend among contemporary hotels to integrate the bar (and sometimes a dance floor) into the main reception lobby area was started by the original boutique hotelier Ian Schrager back in the 1980s. It accelerated with the development and corporatisation of hotels like the W hotel group, in the ’90s and 2000s, and now whether you are in the Alps or LA, you are likely to be greeted by a receptionist standing next to a bartender.

And while this works for a certain category of oriented hotel, where the vibe is more important than the room and everyone is invited, a good hotel bar needs its own space and should be a unique and compelling concept, not a funky alcoholic addendum to a reception desk.

red and yellow sofas under wood ceiling in lavish, carpeted room

The presidential suite encapsulates the classic grandeur of this Dorchester Collection property

Nowhere makes this more clear than the Principe di Savoia in Milan. We arrived after a delayed flight and a traffic-filled entrance into Italy’s biggest city. It was too late to go for dinner, but we did crave a little atmosphere, rather than just room service. A quick change in the room, and then we went into the Principe Bar, a grand room located in pride of place at the centre of the ground floor at this Milanese palace.

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A luscious sweep of a room, with perfectly dimmed lighting, the whole place is focused on the showpiece bar counter. We were immediately swept into another world, a universe where everyone is glamorous, drinking a Bellini makes you Sophie Loren. Not that you should really drink a Bellini, with a list of decorative gastronomic cocktails at your disposal: a particular favourite was an Indian Summer 22, with Chrysanthemum gin, Monin Paragon White Penja Pepper cordial, homemade cordial, Teapot Bitter, and a garnish of flower powder.

Bar with lots of drinks and lights and chairs and mirror

Le Principe Bar is a place in which to get lost with friends and disappear into a world of gastronomic, cocktail-inspired glamour

The Savoia is a proper palace, an imposing building right on the edge of the old city centre of Milan. Arriving there, whether it is the cocktail hour or not, is dramatic as you sweep up a flower lined driveway and are whisked into the hotel by a phalanx of door people. And across the big square in front of the hotel is the city’s finest park.

Read more: Hotel Crans Ambassador, Crans-Montana, Switzerland Review

Our suite had rich art deco panelling, high ceilings, dark floral drapes, a marble-clad bathroom and a sense of utter still in the heart of a great city. Walking down into the lobby from your suite, you feel you need to be imperious, as if this hotel expects a certain standard of style – although the attentive and delightful staff (this is a Dorchester Collection hotel) certainly wouldn’t bat an eyelid if you came down in a onesie.

But if you’re that kind of person, maybe you won’t appreciate the classic chic of this true Grande Dame.

Find out more: dorchestercollection

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A grey car in the mountains with snow
A grey car in the mountains with snow

The Audi TT RS is the last of a line of iconic sports cars

We review the last, and most high-performance, iteration of a German design classic. Will it live up to its iconic status among motoring aficionados?

It is likely that at sometime in the midterm future, the vision of our tech rulers in Silicon Valley will come true and cars with a longer be personalised transportation, but rather another form of public transport. Your self-driving electric car will not be yours at all, but will arrive and take you to your destination, before moving on to someone else. No more streets lined with parked cars: cars will be in constant use.

There are obvious attractions to this concept, but one negative is the lack of ownership. As well as being a piece of property, a car has always been a statement about the kind of person you are. Are you functional, flashy, flamboyant, drab?

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A car has also always been a signifier of class, whether or not we want it to be. Some manufacturers’ products were aligned with the working classes (or “masses“ as Karl Marx put it). Other brands, not necessarily more expensive, might suggest you are an architect, a designer, an intellectual.

All of that will stop when our new future comes into play, just as a collection of LP records as a signifier of what kind of taste you have is irrelevant in the era of music streaming.

Which takes us to the Audi TT. Like its little cousin the VW Golf, it’s one of those cars that cross class, income and demographic boundaries. When it was first produced in the 1990s, it was an instant design classic, gathering crowds on the street, despite the fact that it was far cheaper than flashy supercars: the TT is a mid market machine accessible to most of the world is mass affluent. It was the way it looked, inside and outside, that set it apart.

The model has gone through several iterations since then, and is perhaps less of an icon than it once was, Still, it carries a vaguely universal aura. It’s a car that could be driven by a graphic designer, an influencer, or a car enthusiast – a confluence very few, if any, other cars can boast of.

But the sad news is that, technology and the world going the way they are, this will be the last iteration of this modern classic. The TT has always been known a little more for its looks and panache than for its driving brilliance, so we wondered what to expect when stepping into the most driver-focused model, the TT RS. Would it be a poor relation to the excellent range of sports cars that are available at this mid price point?

It certainly feels like a sports car to sit in, seats holding you tight, with a cool, driver focused dashboard, and interior. The engine sounds suitably responsive and growly, like a child making engine noises (something that will soon be a thing of the past).

A steering wheel and car interior in black leather

The TT RS has a snug, driver-focussed interior, perfect for two people

The positive experience continues as you set off down the road and go round the first corner. The steering feels chunky, muscular, and responsive all at the same time. Many cars these days have swapped that type of sensation for the ease of lightness, so you can drive with one finger. Not so this one. Keep your hands on the wheel, you feel exactly where you are aiming at, and it goes there.

The Audi TT RS has four-wheel-drive, which means that when you start becoming more enthusiastic, it sticks to the road, even if it is damp or slippery. However, the flipside compared to its rear wheel drive rivals is that its cornering is just a little bit less agile, more surefooted, but, or an empty road, less thrilling. So, more sensation at slow speeds due to the excellent steering, But less joy when really pushing on due to its bias towards safety. And that may suit many, on the crowded road spaces of today.

Read more: McLaren 720S Roadster Review

It’s a fast car also, and feels it, zipping up and down through the gears, with a highly efficient gearbox which you can take joy in snapping up and down with the steering-column mounted paddles, Otherwise it changes gears rapidly and efficiently for you, with no shortage of sensation – again, something that is being sacrificed on the altar of ease and efficiency otherwise.

Unlike some of its sports car competitors, there are even small back seats in the coupe version that we drive – the sharp looking convertible version does without these sadly.

Are we saying that the final iteration of the Audi TT, a reference point for contemporary design in cars, is actually a little old-fashioned? Possibly, and we think it is all the better for it. It looks cool without looking showy, it’s compact, speedy, and fun. There are better cars of its price point if you want to go on a race track or spend your time on perfect country roads all the time, but the TT RS has a charm and focus all of its own, and is a delight to drive around town as well. And it still looks cool.

Find out more: audi.co.uk

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Reading time: 4 min
Gold sports car parked in the desert
Gold sports car parked in the desert

A perfectionist car that offers precision engineering, precision steering and immense speed

Darius Sanai sets off in a McLaren that promises both rawness and refinement

Anyone buying a car like this is likely to have a number of other cars – and even other McLarens – in their stable. Perhaps they have a couple in every home, or a selection of variants of the breed in a country garage. This also means that, more likely than not, a car such as this will only see occasional use. There will be many other cars, some just for fun, others to carry out rather more mundane activities.

So the motivation for buying such a car can often come from the particular emotions that the knowledge of ownership and the driving experience – however fleeting – offers. Some supercars are all about flamboyance; others are about emotions and actions, or at least claim to be.

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In a couple of days of driving the 720S, it soon becomes clear what any owner will fall in love with about this car. Precision. The precision is there as soon as you turn the wheel, with the steering having a focused, perfectly weighted, granular feel superior to that of any of its rivals. Precision engineering is there also in its ability to smooth our bumps, which in many of its competitors are sharply transmitted to both driver and passenger.

This all translates to a feeling, when driving fast on good roads, that you are piloting a piece of exactitude that you could place to the nearest millimetre on the road, and which will respond with exactly as much performance as you need, according to how you bend your right ankle.

brown leather seats in a car with a window above the seats to see the sky

The elegantly understated interior of the McLaren 720S Roadster

Cornering in the McLaren is flat and low, but with a real sense of being connected to the road. It is not exactly raw, as there is much too much refinement and evident engineering to hand. But it is also far from being remote or too light to steer, like some competitors.

Anyone who has met McLaren’s modern founding father, Ron Dennis, will see his DNA in this car: it is in a pursuit of perfection that brooks no compromise. And that perfection is not just reflected in its performance and abilities; it is there in the comfort and refinement of a car that has every reason to have neither. Oh, and this is very, very fast – even at five times the price, a seven-figure hypercar would have difficulty shaking off a 720S.

We liked the interior, which is rather on the understated side for this type of car. It is efficient and swathed in the fake suede that high-performance car manufacturers seem to love. It is distinctive without being flamboyant in the low, quite central, seating positions – this is not a car in which you would take a passenger you dislike.

Read more: Porsche Reviews Series: 718 Cayman GTS and 718 Boxster GTS 

One question we always ask about supercars concern their looks: how crazy, or otherwise, should they be? Here, McLaren has chosen to sit firmly in the middle between the sometimes rather understated recent creations of Ferrari, and the wild-looking cars of Lamborghini.

The 720S is currently being replaced by an updated model, so, if it matters to you, you may be able to get quite a good deal on this one. It is still one of the fastest cars anywhere on the road. And, as a pinnacle of car engineering, it is a must for any collection of normal production (as opposed to limited-edition) supercars.

LUX Rating: 19/20. A contemporary classic.

mclaren.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A palace in the hills surrounded by gardens
A palace in the hills surrounded by gardens

The 19th-century building and Foster + Partners extension overlooking the city

Darius Sanai checks in at the Dolder Grand, Zurich, for a palatial blend of the old and the new

The wow factor

There’s no shortage of that at the Grand. Driving along a forested residential hillside above the city, you turn into the grand driveway and hotel plaza that has a view of all Switzerland, it seems, beneath you. The building, too, is all drama. A luxurious 19th-century building with a Norman Foster extension, it has some of the most original art of any hotel.

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People-watching

We bumped into friends attending a birthday lunch here. It’s a hotel where Zurich high society comes to play.

Show me to my room

We stayed twice at the Grand within a week, interspersed by a trip to a wedding in Mallorca. The first visit, we had a room in the Foster + Partners wing – all curves, glass and modernity. Next time, our room was in the old building, cleverly refreshed to the same colour scheme and cosy. Which you prefer depends on your creative makeup. The modern rooms are efficient and striking; the classical wing has more character.

A room with red wooden beams and red leather chairs on white rugs

The Maestro Suite living room at the Dolder Grand, Zurich

Come dine with me (and other things)

The Grand is a city and country hotel simultaneously. It’s a 10-minute taxi ride to pretty much any business location in the city, yet you are living on a forested mountainside with sweeping views and space. The Saltz restaurant has the biggest outdoor dining terrace of any city hotel we can recall. In the summer months, you have the smell of Alpine forests (and the sight of them in one direction; the city and lake on the other). It makes for a memorable dining experience.

Read more: The Woodward Geneva, Review

The menu was a dream for lovers of clean, contemporary food: whole artichoke à la barigoule, white asparagus (in season) with new potatoes and hollandaise sauce. Another killer factor for us was the indoor pool in the new wing – all black tiles and very Norman Foster. There’s also a terrace and garden where you can relax with a green juice, and an extensive spa.

Find out more: thedoldergrand.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 2 min
A red restaurant with a large window at the back and long rows of tables with benches and chairs on either side and crystal chandeliers over the bar
A rom with with a white sofa and wooden tables with red flowers on them

A view of the glamorous Baccarat suite at the Baccarat Hotel, New York

LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Baccarat Hotel New York for some Midtown glitz

Midtown Manhattan, directly opposite MoMA: until recently, something of a luxury hotel desert. But not now. Exit your car, breathe the interior perfume as you are ushered into the elevator and emerge on a mezzanine floor that is like a very chichi boutique townhouse of the type that might appear in the TV series Gossip Girl.

The mezzanine is a series of interwoven rooms that actually more resemble a series of townhouses melded together. A little reception area here a living-room area there, a bar here and an outside balcony/terrace over there.

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A townhouse owned by a billionaire, then. The decor is very out there:  Baccarat crystal chandeliers everywhere, quite beautiful craftsmanship on mirrors (also everywhere), deep-pile carpets, bold darks and bright lights contrasting on the walls and ceilings. The Baccarat feels like a French château reimagined for 21st-century luxe Manhattan.

A red restaurant with a large window at the back and long rows of tables with benches and chairs on either side and crystal chandeliers over the bar

Baccarat crystal chandeliers contrast with checkerboard floors in The Bar

And that’s before we got to our room. Light carpets, a modern four-poster bed, huge windows looking out beyond the roof of MoMA and quite the most striking in-room bar. This comprised a fold-out, red-lacquered piece of marquetry containing a set of striking and heavy Lalique cut-crystal glasses, silver tongs and accessorise, and an array of spirits and bottles. Not feeling like any Blue Label during our stay, we used the glasses for water.

Le Jardin terrace was abuzz with young, wealthy New Yorkers sipping some quite original cocktails, all served in Baccarat crystal, of course. We enjoyed a Magic Eye, comprising tequila, mezcal, cinnamon syrup, green apple and cereal milk, refreshing and quietly deadly. You can eat on the terrace, or in the adjoining Grand Salon, where we had dinner the following night. Jamón ibérico, langoustines de St Tropez, crab daikon roulade – a panopoly of modern European with a brush of East Asian.

Read more: Hotel Crans Ambassador, Crans-Montana, Switzerland Review

The Baccarat’s location is also refreshing in many ways, midtown being literally in the middle of it all, so, even if your meetings are on the Upper East Side, Hudson Yards and SoHo, as ours were, it’s not too far from anywhere, and indeed makes New York walkable. Not that many guests at the Baccarat would do that, I suspect. They would rather get their exercise in the very stylish indoor pool, and add additional glow at the Spa de la Mer, before jumping into the complementary city car service, or jumping into their awaiting Escalade. Chic.

Find out more: baccarathotels.com

 

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A green Porsche parked on a countryside road
A green Porsche parked on a countryside road

The Porsche 718 Cayman GTS’ mid-engine layout offers distinct handling characteristics and balance compared to other GTS models

In the second of our series on Porsche, a company with a unique place in the automotive canon, we focus on two of its mid-market cars, the 718 Cayman GTS and 718 Boxster GTS, driver-focussed versions of the company’s acclaimed entry-level two seaters. We review them as part of our series, a tribute to a brand which is synonymous with German engineering and carries with it a geeky spirit that appeals to those who might collect mechanical watches

Part two Porsche 718 Cayman GTS and 718 Boxster GTS

The 718 Cayman is a closed-roof two seater car, which in the first few years of its existence was seen as the car you would buy if you couldn’t afford the more upmarket 911 model.

For the moment we got into this car, there was no doubt that we were in something quite special in its own right.

Unlike many fast cars of today, the 718 feels small and lightweight. The controls are also light, including the steering, and – wonderfully – the manual gearstick, which is lined, like much of the interior, in Alcantara, a suede-like material that imparts extra sportiness to the company’s GTS models.

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Porsche could have done what Ferrari did 15 years ago, and banished the manual gearbox to the history books. Automatics, controlled through paddles on the steering column, are much faster and more technologically advanced. No serious racing driver today drives a manual on a racetrack.

And yet many of the heroic drivers in F1 history and those who drive manual shift cars. A gearstick gives you an extra sense of connection and control which is lacking when you know the car can do the work for you, even if you are shifting manually with paddles.

The gearshift in the 718 is light and easy to negotiate. combined with a relatively light clutch pedal with a clear bite point, it means that even in town, this is a car that you don’t mind driving and changing the gears yourself.

Out on a country road, it becomes a delight, as you can balance the agile steering, the willing engine and the gearshift – not just in order to go fast (a Tesla could do that), to feel like you are with a dance partner – your car.

Black interiors of the gear shift and wheel inside a Porsche

The interior of the 718 models are fully geared towards enjoyment and comfort for the driver

The engine also has a serious part to play here. Most new cars, if they are not electric or hybrid, are turbocharged, which increases both power and efficiency. But turbo engines by nature tend lack that dramatic buildup of power and noise as the revs rise.

So combine a manual gearbox with a non-turbo charged engine along with the 718’s delicacy of handing, and you get a car that you can keep discovering with joy, because as a particular curve taken at 45 mph feels different to the same curve taken at 50 mph, or at 40 mph in a different gear, in terms of the responsiveness of the car. There is so much to discover.

The interior is comfortable, but also as compact as you might expect for a car seating only two. Plenty of room for you, but don’t expect to take five incidental bags into the cabin with you. On the plus side, it does have a boot (trunk) both in the front and the back of the car with a surprisingly positive amount of total space, as long as you are happy to travel with numerous small bags rather than a big suitcase.

Do we have any criticisms? Not really. Perhaps the only thing we felt is that Porsche’s engineering is too brilliant, and the engineers had restrained themselves from making this car the real monster it could be. It could be louder, faster, and have even more clarity and precision and sharpness – and danger – in his handling. But then it would be a racing version of the car, and that’s a different type of Porsche all together. Meanwhile, bravo Porsche for making what is close to the perfect sports car at a price that is a positive bargain.

A red Porsche parked on the side of a road next to a field

The Porsche Boxster 718 GTS is targeted towards enthusiasts and drivers seeking a pure and engaging sports car experience with the added enjoyment of open-top driving

Closely related to the 718 Cayman is the GTS edition of the Porsche Boxster. These open and closed cars share the same excellent engine, and the interiors are very similar although our Boxster had two crucial differences: automatic gear shift, in the form of Porsche’s PDK transmission, which allows you also to shift via paddles located on the steering column, and a roof that opens to turn the car into a convertible.

The Boxster is very lively and agile, but a touch, less sharp, a little more laid-back than its closed-roof sibling. That doesn’t mean it’s less fun, because it’s so easy to lower the roof, and enjoy the smells, sights and sounds of driving in the open air. Many convertibles these days, including those offered by Ferrari, feel semi enclosed due to the architecture of the car. This feels like a full, old-fashioned convertible. Delightful.

A birds eve view of a red convertible Porsche

The Boxster’s open-top design and mid-engine layout contribute to its unique driving dynamics and handling characteristics

You would, in fact, be perfectly justified in having both: the Boxster for when you want to have fun in good weather, and on roads were, you won’t be expecting the ultimate drive. And the 718 when you know the driving has huge potential.

Read more: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Review

Both have a likeness, and a joy about them, feeling of supercity brought on by very sophisticated engineering that hides its light smartly. They are not cheap alternatives to a more expensive 911: they are different types of car, two seats only adventure. They are both a delight.

Find out more:

porsche.com/718-cayman-gts

porsche.com/718-boxster-gts

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Reading time: 5 min
A green convertible car from above with brown leather seats
A green convertible car from above with brown leather seats

The Mercedes AMG SL 43 is a technically innovative entry-level model of the newly developed roadster icon

For decades, owning a Mercedes-Benz SL has symbolised understated wealth and style. How does the newest model, with a racier intent than its more laid-back ancestors, stack up?

To the car enthusiasts, particularly those of a certain age, the idea of a Mercedes SL conjures up images of stylish luxurious open-top motoring with a sporty edge.

To those of even older vintages, it will conjure up images of something even more glamorous, as the original SL (the words then stood for Sport Light) was the car in which the British racing driver Stirling Moss won the dauntingly challenging Mille Miglia road race back in 1955.

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The model has evolved through many generations since then: in the 1960s, it turned into a car known as the “pagoda“, losing its sportiness but gaining even more beauty.

Its 1970s and 80s iteration was a luxury cruiser, still open topped, but more in use by the housewives of Beverly Hills than any racing driver.

New iterations came in the 90s (luxurious and advanced), and 2000s (with some high performance options available again).

Times change, we pondered while contemplating the newest SL. Our one was presented in bright yellow, its tube-like shape suggesting an extreme sportiness not hinted at since the very first iteration of the car. Inside, it’s snug and driver focused, although unlike the last generations, this car does also have two small back seats in which to cram your designer children, dogs or bags. (Although we think SL customers would send their children separately with the nanny in the Cayenne).

Brown leather interiors inside a car

The Mercedes-AMG SL 43 of the R 232 series is based on a completely new vehicle architecture developed by Mercedes-AMG. The new dimensional concept allows a 2+2 seating configuration for the first time since 1989

Our first zip down the the road confirmed that these racy intentions are carried through to the handling of the car itself: this is a sports car, or it wants to be anyway – in the way of the old-fashioned, longnosed, louche roadsters of the 20th century.

Then, a first trip down the highway confirmed that this car still does what the SL is supposed to do, excellently. It settles into a cruise, nose lifting ever so slightly when you accelerate, and feels like it would be delighted to take you all the way to Portofino in a single journey. In a way that slightly belies its rapid responses at low speeds, it is a very settled and comfortable grand tourer with more refinement than rival sporting cars, such as the Porsche 911 or various Aston Martins.

Read more: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Review

Once you get to Portofino, Tuscany, or wherever your destination is, you will want to enjoy twisting down some country roads with the roof down. Here, the SL is always willing with its responsive steering, and always fun, although it doesn’t have the ultimate sports car balance or ability to deal with rapid changes of road surface and direction with the lightness of its rivals. It can also be a little bit bouncy on a bad road surface, a trade-off, perhaps, for that handling ability. It certainly feels like it has more sporting attitude than its predecessors.

Live with the car, and you get to understand its versatility: this is not an SL reinvented as a pure sports car (as that would see it lose its languid soul), it is a car that is happy with its heritage and has decided to become something of an athlete late in its life. Great fun.

Find out more: mercedes-amg.com/mercedes-amg-sl-43

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A yellow Porsche on a country road with fields in the background
A yellow Porsche on a country road with fields in the background

The Porsche 911 GTS is a sportier addition to the model lineup

Porsche has a unique place in the automotive canon. Its history, racing and heritage, combined with a stream of some of the most evolving and precisely engineered cars, mean it is beloved by collectors. And in recent years, the company has made approachably-priced sports cars that are still a paragon of excitement for those who cannot or do not want to stretch to the more exotic offerings. It has also branched out into family cars, SUVs and the highly dynamic electric Taycan. In a tribute to a brand which is synonymous with German engineering and carries with it a geeky spirit that appeals to those who might collect mechanical watches, in this series we review some of the company’s most interesting contemporary offerings

The greatest consumer products are not those which undergo brilliant reinventions, but those which quietly evolve while remaining seemingly the same. A Birkin bag, a bottle of Château Latour, and an iPad are easily recognisable from their predecessors 40, 20 and 10 years ago.

The Porsche 911 stands at the pinnacle of this list when applied to the automotive world. It was a bit of an anomaly when it first emerged in the early 1960s, with is engine in the back, just in front of the bumper, and a bug eyed look. Porsche had plans to replace it with a completely different model, the 928, in the 1970s. Yet 20 years later, it was the 928 that disappeared into the history books, while the 911, continually refreshed every few years.

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The 911 itself has spawned many different variants: from race specials that only ever increase in value, to increasingly mainstream standard cars that can be driven by anyone and have no shortage of supply. Somewhere between these categories, of the ubiquitous “standard” 911 and the rare GT models, is the GTS.

The steering wheel and controls inside a Porsche 911 GTS

The Alcantara and cloth interiors of the 911 GTS

To drive, the GTS is traditionally somewhere between the company’s more exotic offerings and its mainstream sports cars. The logic behind the GTS is that you wouldn’t want to drive a collectors car every day on the school run or to go shopping. Though having driven the three first iterations of the GTS since it was first introduced in 2010, we can attest that if these excellent cars were made in limited quantities, rather than as a main manufacturer run, we have no doubt that this car would be bought over by collectors in years to come.

And here is the fourth iteration: the 992 GTS, 992 being the model designation for the latest variant of the 911.

Get into the latest 911 GTS after driving the next model down, the Carrera S, and the subtle, iterative, intriguing, differences, are almost immediately apparent. The interior has touches of Alcantara and cloth, and appears more bespoke, less factory made. As soon as you go round the first corner, the steering, good enough in the standard car, feels a little bit more taut, more sharp.

Read more: Porsche Reviews Series: 718 Cayman GTS and 718 Boxster GTS

The GTS is also more responsive around a series of corners, both in its engine response and the way it handles – and the way it sounds. It’s a bit faster and punchier, has more aural sensation, has a more muscular frame, or so it seems, while still being virtually as easy to drive as the standard models. The more specialist “GT” models, in comparison, take commitment and effort, ideal if you are racing around but much less fun in everyday reality for most of us.

Meanwhile the differences with the base cars are subtle, but just like the 911 evolution, many subtle differences add up to a big difference. We think the latest GTS is as compelling as any of its predecessors and its the 911 we would be buying if we were in the market now. You can even get it with manual transmission, unlike a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, if you are a truly committed driver; or as a convertible, unlike its more “collectible” sisters. Enjoy now while we are permitted.

Find out more: porsche.com/uk/models/911

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A white car by a shed in a forest
A white car by a lake at sunset

The EQS SUV is a stylish creation by Mercedes chief designer Gorden Wagener, with none of the brashness of some rivals

Mercedes-Benz has made an electric luxury SUV quite unlike any other, and we love it

One of the fears of anyone who has been appreciative of high end automobiles the last years or decades is that electric cars, while having zero tailpipe emissions (although they still do have a carbon and environmental cost in their manufacture and sourcing of electricity) will lack an essential character.

When every car is electric, this argument goes, they will all essentially be more or less the same thing with a different brand attached – accentuated by the fact that electric vehicles also have advanced and highly developing technological interfaces, which are largely sourced from the same suppliers, like all digital technology.

We remember speaking about these matters with the legendary Mercedes-Benz designer, Gorden Wagener, a few years back; Gorden insisted that there would be as much differentiation in the design and feel of Mercedes’ electric vehicles as there has been in their conventional cars.

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The EQS is a SUV – a type of car usually associated with massive emissions. It is fully electric though, so no worries on that front, at least during its daily use. It also achieves a remarkable goal of being very big SUV that does not look either aggressive or lumpen. It is smoothly designed and seems to shrink on the road, meeting no hateful looks from the resentful brigade.

The real revelation, though, is in the way it drives. Many SUVs set out to try to emulate the driving experience of the regular saloon/sedan cousins, something made almost impossible by their high centres of gravity and inherently massive weight – most of them weigh above two tonnes and a luxury SUV can weigh close to three tonnes.

This means that not only can they not drive like sports cars, but the passengers’ experience can also be compromised, with manufacturers left in a hard place between making the ride firm and unyielding (theoretically improving the dynamic qualities) or softer, but then allowing the forces of physics to dictate something that can be quite difficult to stomach in terms of a wallowing feel, particularly in association with the rapid but silent acceleration offered by electric cars.

A black steering wheel and dashboard of a car

The Mercedes-Benz ESQ SUV has a sophisticated and contemporary driver’s environment

That’s where the EQS is unique. Shoot off in the EQS (like all electric cars, it’s fast, although the 450 model we drove is not the fastest), and you have a delicious feeling of being cosseted – this is not a car aimed at setting record track lap times. Passengers felt the same. There is a luxuriant, old school refinement to being on the move in this car: objectively that is down to a ride that absorbs bumps and bits of broken road.

There is huge refinement in terms of what car companies call NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) but also a feeling that the engineers who made this car just really understand what makes a luxury car. Step out of the EQS into any other electric vehicle and you will notice the difference on this front.

So, a point of difference and a significant one given that this is a luxury car.

The technological interface is also sophisticated and easy to use, although this is much less of a differentiator these days. And while the design feels are highly up-to-date, we wonder if Mercedes has gone a little too far or making the interior feel “contemporary“ rather than “luxurious“. It’s as if the engineers did their bit brilliantly in the way the car rides and drives, but the interior designers were a little bit wary of making it look too traditional. Shame, because no major manufacturer does interior luxury like Mercedes. Functionality is for Teslas.

Read more: Porsche Reviews Series: 911 GTS

But the most important element of a car like this is the feeling of quality, and the way it rides and drives. The EQS has one of the best electric mileage ranges of any car – although range is a technology that will constantly improve – and it is a car that you wish to sit back and luxuriate in, whether as a driver at the helm (and it really does feel like a helm, in the best luxury Mercedes, type of way) or passenger. So bravo Mercedes for having the bravery to create something that is truly – we think – what do your clients will want. Next, just add a bit of Palace of Versailles – or even Schöbrunn, if you want to keep it Germanic – to the interior for that ultimate touch of baroque ‘n’ roll.

Find out more: mercedes-benz.co.uk/suv/eqs/

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photographs hanging on a wall with Helmut Newton in white a ona. red background witten on a wall and a projected image on an adjacent wall

photographs hanging on a wall with Helmut Newton in white a ona. red background witten on a wall and a projected image on an adjacent wall

A powerful show at one of Europe’s most spectacular philanthropic art foundations showcases the works of one of the 20th century’s most provocative image-makers

A complex comprising a converted industrial warehouse and storage silos in the far northwest of Spain may not seem, on first glance, like an obvious place for a major retrospective of one of the most glamorous photographers of the 20th century. Helmut Newton’s provocative, lustrous shoots, oozing on the edge of debauchery, were the mainstays of publications like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in their fin-de-siecle glory years, creating era-defining stories from the best that the great urban fashion houses of Paris and Milan could offer in association with the powerful media houses of New York and London – and of course featuring Newton’s unique relationship with the supermodels of the day. They were la cosmopolitan La Dolce Vita with a slice of outrage.

An old camera on a table

The MOP Foundation, which LUX visited to see the current “Helmut Newton Fact & Fiction” exhibition, is on the edge of the Spanish port city of A Coruna, in Galicia, at the top left corner of the Iberian Square, and feels a long way from the glamour of the traditional fashion world.

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And yet appearances deceive: the MOP is the creation of Marta Ortega Perez, of the Inditex Spanish fashion dynasty that owns Zara; a powerful effort to place their home city on the global cultural map, it is in a location whose drama and own cultural history would have enormous appeal to Newton himself, one feels.

Black and white photos hung on a wall lit up in a dark room

The exhibition itself shows a breadth to Newton’s works that some may have missed: alongside iconic fashion images are portraits of David Bowie, Charlotte Rampling and Margaret Thatcher, among many others. Newton’s works always have power: the power to shock, in some cases, and to provoke, in others, and the power of sheer visual brilliance, in others.

Read more: If Only These Artworks Could Talk

All are very much on show here. Newton’s works are also very much of their time – a man depicting women and their power in an era of liberation that sometimes now seems at risk, and of course we now live in a post-supermodel, post-celebrity fashion photographer era.

An exhibition room with photographs on the walls and objects in a glass box

The MOP specialises in photography and their work with the Helmut Newton Foundation in bringing this – the third show in the foundation’s history – to life is a fitting tribute to an art form that is sometimes at risk of being demeaned by a billion smartphones.

Helmut Newton, Fact & Fiction, MOP Foundation, is available to view until 1st May 2024

themopfoundation.org

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coloured polaroids with pictures of artworks stacked in lines
coloured polaroids with pictures of artworks stacked in lines

Polaroids of artworks at home by Hafsa Alkhudairi

Contemporary art lead for AlUla, Hafsa Alkhudairi, delves into the lives of the pieces in her family’s collections. Writing from the artworks’ perspectives,  she gives a voice to the paintings and sculptures in her family home

“When the world is an ugly and cruel place, remember there are spaces of beauty, and I wanted that beauty to live in my house.” Reem Abbas and I (her daughter) were sitting in our family’s living room when she uttered those words. We chose all the artworks in the space, the two women who are currently still residing in the home. However, Iraqi pioneer artists are the majority of the Abbas-Alkhudairi collection, chosen by Abbas and showcasing her attachment to her heritage and history. “I have lived longer in Saudi than I have lived in Iraq. I feel Saudi, but I am always missing a part of me that I left behind in Iraq.”

I grew up with stories of Baghdad, surrounded by artworks that would tell me about their version of Iraq. I would see how my mother’s stories wove themselves into little histories encapsulated in the artworks she chose to acquire and display in our home and specifically our living room. She brought the piece of herself that she left behind back with her in fragments and memories only she can describe. Their existence in Saudi also recontextualised them and told a new story shared by the generations that have passed through the house and interacted directly or indirectly with the art.

This piece isn’t about me or my mother; it is about the artworks we live with and what they want to say about themselves.

Saadi Al-kaabi, 1997
Acquired by Reem Abbas after Saadi Alkaabi’s exhibition in 1998

I am a number of abstract figures shadowing each other like ghosts of past beings, humans, affected by life’s harsh experiences. My colours are bleak browns and clear whites. I am a moment of sadness and immortalisation of grief. Saadi Al-kaabi produced me as a reaction to the Desert Storm and the darkness of war that tore families and people apart. The hardship of war on humanity is within my nature.

Yet, I am living in a space of beauty and family. I have seen the children turn into adults and have their own children. I exist in a space of family, and I am adorned with images of the family experiencing their lives beyond the horrors of my existence.

I am in awe of who I am; the Gulf War shaped me with bitterness, pain, anger, and grief. When I was first created, I felt no need to pander to more positive emotions. And why should I? I am a product of horrors that have unfolded and evolved into a persona that is unforgiving.