seafront villa
seafront villa

A seafront villa at the Ritz-Carlton residences in Bodrum, Turkey

The concept of the branded residence was born in New York in 1927 when The Sherry Netherland Hotel began offering privately owned apartments overlooking Central Park. Since then, almost all major hotel groups have jumped on the trend, launching collections of luxurious, fully-serviced apartments and villas across the globe. Here, Dana Jacobsohn, the Senior Vice President of Residential Development at Marriott International discusses consumer trends, the impact of the pandemic, and the launch of the world’s largest branded residential complex to date

woman smiling

Dana Jacobsohn

1.Why do think branded residences have become more popular in recent years?

The comfort of buying into globally trusted brands like The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis is becoming even more important to buyers as it ensures the very best in services around the globe. All members of our dedicated residential staff go through over 150 hours of training annually and I think that level of service really appeals to buyers, especially during these unsure times.

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2. Has the pandemic brought about any changes in your sector of the real-estate industry?

Our branded residences business has been resilient, and we have seen strong consumer confidence despite uncertainty caused by the pandemic. The live, work and play phenomenon is a trend that we are seeing across our properties. Vacation homes are now becoming places where people stay for longer periods of time. Many of our residents are working from their homes, so they want to have offices and workstations that seamlessly fit into their lifestyle. We expect to see more vacation homes to become a primary place of residence in the future.

3. How do you engage your owners?

Our teams of dedicated residential staff often become like extended family to our residents. Staff members quickly become familiar with owners’ preferences, their pets, and family, so there’s a very deep level of personal engagement within the communities.

Often in our residences, we’ll have an owner’s lounge, and a place where, say, a celebrity chef comes and does a cooking instruction. However, due to the pandemic, we’ve had to get even more creative with our programming and how we engage with owners. For example, at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Los Angeles,  the staff delivered food to residents during the pandemic, and we organised a cooking class via Zoom.

luxurious villa on the beach

A render of the living space inside a St. Regis branded beachfront villa

4. Where have you seen the most growth in recent years?

While the majority of our branded residential portfolio is in North America, more than 75% of our pipeline projects are outside the US. We are seeing strong interest from markets in Asia and the Middle East.

Read more: Professor Peter Newell on why the wealthy need to act on climate change

5. What is the most common demand from buyers?

With over 100 locations across the globe, Marriott International’s branded residences portfolio offers something for everyone from beach-front resort-style properties to ski chalets in the mountains or homes that are within walking distance to restaurants in a bustling city. Our buyers’ lifestyle preferences vary, but the common thread is that they all want beautiful design, and trusted services. I think those will always be most important elements to a buyer, regardless of the location.

6. Can you tell us about latest project in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam?

We were thrilled to announce this dual-branded project, The JW Marriott Residences and Marriott Residences, Grand Marina, Saigon earlier this year. Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, the project marks the largest branded residential project in the world and is anticipated to include close to 4,200 residential and office units. Each private retreat will offer access to an array of high-quality hotel-like amenities and on-demand services for residents.

Find out more: marriottresidences.com

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hotel bedroom with plush furnishings
chateau hotel

Photograph by Anne Emmanuelle Thion

In the final part of our luxury travel views column from our Summer 2021 issue, LUX editor-in-chief Darius Sanai discovers the subtle grandeur of Domaine Les Crayères in the Champagne region of France

If the method of departure from a hotel leaves a lasting memory, so too does a welcome. The luxury hotel where the doorman ignored you, or wasn’t there in your moment of need, is likely emblazoned on your heart. And the welcome at the Domaine Les Crayères was something else. It was a five-hour drive, roof down into the sun, from Baden-Baden to the outskirts of Reims in the Champagne region of France; after some moments of interest passing through (but sadly not stopping in) the wonderful hills of Alsace, the road was relentless. Crunching down the drive and drawing up to the grand mansion, I felt like nothing more than passing out on a cool bed for half an hour before an early dinner, ahead of my day of meetings the following day.

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The doorman whisked my door open and ushered me in; reception was a brief formality; all good. And then: “We would like to invite you onto our terrace for a glass of champagne, monsieur.” Really, I thought, like this? I was wearing black jeans and a polo, not evening wear. I was assured it would be fine. Still swaying from the drive, I walked out onto a broad terrace above a long stretch of parkland garden, was shown to my table and poured a glass of their champagne. Canapés appeared. The sun was about to set but still a few centimetres above the treetops; it was warm, and the terrace was scattered with lively and appropriately spaced couples. What had seemed like a slightly bad idea on arrival – shouldn’t you have a glass of champagne before dinner? – turned out to be a stroke of genius. A blanc de blancs champagne is reviving, not soporific, and when I finally went up to my room at sunset, I felt energised.

hotel bedroom with plush furnishings

One of the hotel’s elegant bedrooms

My room, at the top corner of the château, was elegant and elaborately decorated, with a view out over the same parkland. Although it is on the edge of Reims, the feel is peaceful: you have no sense of being in a big city, but nevertheless I walked to my meetings in the centre of town the next morning (full disclosure: it was a couple of kilometres each way, and I was working on my step count after a lot of driving).

Read more: Professor Peter Newell on why the wealthy need to act on climate change

You come to Champagne to drink champagne (or in my case to meet clients who own champagne houses), and you come to the Crayères for the best possible base while doing so – and to drink champagne and most of all to dine in its two Michelin-starred restaurant.

The atmosphere here, in its intimate dining room, was surprising in a positive way: it wasn’t so grand and formal that guests felt they had to dine in a hush. And yet the chef Philippe Mille and his creativity were very much front and centre. As well as à la carte, you can choose from various menus including an ‘Escape into the Vines’ menu. This was an astonishing piece of imagination and artistry, and so far beyond a mere manifestation of its ingredients that it would do it a disservice to describe it by the ingredients of each individual course.

fine dining dish

A foie gras dish from the two Michelin-starred restaurant at Domaine Les Crayères

There were seven courses, created to work in sequence like a story and woven together by a freshness and life so often missing from formal French dining where heavy saucing is a substitute for imagination. Oh, OK, I will describe just one of them: lobster from the Iles de Chausey, grilled on vine shoots, with shells juice (no typo there) and pinot meunier.

The champagne list – encyclopaedia, really – is extensive but what is really impressive is the selection of small-grower champagnes, many of them just farmers making champagne on their smallholding, many of them cheap, unavailable elsewhere and absolutely delicious. I do not usually seek the advice of sommeliers, finding them too often beholden to their own tastes or trends, but here, stay away from the brands you know, and seek one of these out. A unique and highly repeatable experience.

Book your stay: lescrayeres.com

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue.

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man leaning against door frame
man leaning against door frame

Simon Hodges photographed by Matt Porteous

Life coach Simon Hodges has transformed the lives of royalty, entrepreneurs, billionaires and their families. In this month’s column, he reflects on his own unwanted feelings and offers advice on how to break out of self-sabotaging patterns of behaviour

I am writing this month’s column from the beautiful island of Mallorca, taking a break from the endless stream of Zoom calls, and the repetitive rhythm of life under the cloak of the pandemic.

Ten days into my holiday, I find myself reflecting on how I could have let my life become somewhat grey and joyless, even a little anaesthetised. Yes, I know that this is a big admission from a life coach and some of you may quite rightly question my ability to what I preach! But what I’m able to see clearly now is that these unwanted feelings crept up on me, like a fog that moves slowly and purposefully through the valleys, finally reaching even the higher ground.

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That is to say, it can be hard, in these times, to know your ‘up from down’, your ‘right from wrong’. Your compass loses its bearings and you end up feeling lost. So, how can we begin find our way again?

Breaking old patterns

One of the most powerful tools we are taught as life coaches is the use of a “pattern interrupt.” In layman’s terms, this is a simple technique to stop a client in his / her tracks when, as a coach, you can see he / she is repeatedly playing out a self-sabotaging pattern of behaviour. A classic example of this is when I see a client consistently rationalising unwanted circumstances by blaming others or external factors. This kind of behaviour keeps you stuck in victim mode, which is a fear-based way of thinking and feeling, and ultimately, it’s self-sabotaging. If you want to see positive change in your life, including your relationship with others or your career, you first need to change the way you show up and start taking responsibility and ownership for your circumstances and recognise that this is always in your control.

When I am coaching a client and I can see they are stuck in a self-sabotaging pattern, I might choose to radically change the tone and pace of my voice, throw in a swear word or make a joke about what I just heard them say. This usually gets that person’s attention and stops the client in his / her tracks because they are shocked! This in turn makes them pause and reflect for a moment on what just happened and why.

boats floating in a cove

A cove off the coast of Mallorca. Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik

Good things happen when we stop and reflect

It is only when we stop and reflect that we open the doorway to new ways of seeing. For me, Mallorca, where the sun shines most days, where the language, culture, food and rhythm of life is so different from my norm, has been my “pattern interrupt.” It has forced me to stop, and realise that I was stuck in an unwanted pattern of behaviour.

Read more: A guide to Beirut by architect & musician Carl Gerges

My challenge to you is to consider the following simple questions and then ask yourself if you, too, need a “pattern interrupt” and a shift in perspective:

  • What are the prevailing emotions you are feeling day to day, week to week? Please label them and if you can, list them in order of their frequency (i.e frustration, resentment, anger, sadness, joy, contentment, peace, hope, gratitude) and consider whether you like what you read!
  • What is missing from your life right now that you want more of? Again, please be as precise as you can be….i.e. ‘I miss freedom, I miss variety, I miss spontaneity, I miss connection, I miss fun.’ And consider what you are prepared to do to prioritise just two of these in your life moving forward.

Change it up!

Finally, be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you find that you’re stuck in a self-sabotaging pattern; if in doubt, you can always change something. As Einstein said (possibly not in these exact words), “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing and expect different results.”

We all need variety in life. We all need a break from the routine, the mundane and definitely from the relentless. So, please give yourself the gift of “shaking the trees” and pattern interrupt yourself out of the fog!

Find out more about Simon Hodges’ work: simonhodges.com@simonhodgescoaching

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convertible sportscar
convertible sportscar

The Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet. Courtesy of Switzerland Tourism/André Meier.

In the latest iteration of our Fast & Luxurious car series, LUX’s car reviewer tries out four new versions of well-established models from Porsche, Mercedes-AMG and BMW. First up is the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet

The sequence of events that led to this story is as follows. (1) At an early age, watch the James Bond classic Goldfinger, and be entranced by the sequence where Sean Connery’s Bond drives his Aston Martin DB5 in a chase up the spectacular Furka Pass. (2) Soon after, be driven up and down said pass as a small child, with family, in quite a slow, unremarkable car, whose engine and brakes overheated. Wonder what it would be like to do the same without family, in a proper car, or a proper mission. (3) Many years later. Finish business meeting, sitting outside by the eastern shore of Lake Geneva, on a hot day, clear blue sky, mountains looming all around. Say goodbye to business contact, hit the key button of the car to open roof, sit in car, and look at map (old-fashioned fold-out Michelin map) to plot a route for the rest of the day.

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My next business meeting was at breakfast the next morning in Andermatt, the swanky new resort development in the middle of the Swiss Alps. The car’s satnav and Google on my phone told me the same way to get there. Around 90 minutes on the motorway looping around the north side of the Alps past Bern, turn right on the motorway to Lucerne, along the east side of Lake Lucerne, and up the valley to Andermatt. Around 3.5 hours all told, a simple route, a scenic one, too, as I remembered, with the Alps constantly keeping you company in a panorama on the right as you traced the semicircle.

However, for every circumference of a semicircle, there is a diameter also. A more direct route. And according to my old fashioned map, the direct looked like an even better bet. Unlike some direct routes in the Alps, it was not only navigable by helicopter or eagle. Instead, I would drive along the very good highway up the Rhône valley, past the towns of Martigny, Sion and Visp, a route that is well known to anyone skiing in the Valais region. It was the last part of the road that was more of an unknown: along the very top of the valley past the source of the Rhône, and then a quick climb up the very same Furka that had appeared in my youthful dreams, and on the other side where Andermatt was literally sitting and waiting for me, with a cold beer in its hand.

lakeside road

La-Tour-de-Peilz, with the Rhône valley in the distance. Image by Darius Sanai

Even accounting for the fact that the mountain-pass road would be slower, it all looked to be a little more than half as long as the Google and satnav route. It was a no-brainer.

What’s more, I could not have chosen a better car in the world to put to bed the memory of the old, slow, overheating family steed. I was sitting in a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S convertible, the latest generation 992 model Porsche 911, with the upgraded engine sported by the S model, a drop top and four-wheel drive. It had been a fantastic companion on my way down from the UK, sitting more happily than a sports car has any right to do on the open road and never feeling fidgety, and then being highly rewarding on the occasional detour on the twisty lanes in central France. And in Geneva, transmission in automatic mode, while taking a conference call over Bluetooth, it had been as docile and hands off as any car could be.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on why tokenisation is the art world’s new frontier

The motorway from Vevey to the eastern end of Lake Geneva stands on a viaduct high above the lake, clutching the mountain side to the left. I caught the occasional glimpse of a spectacular sunset on the other side of the lake over the Jura Mountains. The road dropped down at the end of the lake to meet the gaping mouth of the U-shaped Rhône valley – a study in primary school geography. Flanked by steep mountains either side, the motorway swept along the flat valley floor past pastures, small towns and the occasional industrial unit. Fears of rush-hour traffic proved unfounded: the only time the traffic here gets busy is winter when crowds swarm to the Alpine resorts.

Roof down, slightly chilly air pushing down from the glaciers, sun set, the 911 was in its element as I switch the heated seat on and gently cooked the heating up from its lowest setting. It had been a hot day.

I stopped for petrol just after the last town on my route, Brig. All the roads leading to Alpine resorts were behind us, and the route to the Simplon Pass and Milan had also just been passed. The road was now a simple, well-kept main road, no longer a motorway. Curiously, though, there were no signs to Andermatt, Lucerne, or points beyond. How could that be, for what must be a major Alpine pass? The Furka itself was signposted, by a small, rather apologetic sign, as if it was a destination itself. Curious. Still wondering why no destination was signposted along the route, I pressed on.

mountainous road

The sinuous road up to the Furka Pass. Courtesy of Switzerland Tourism/André Meier.

As the Rhône valley rises towards the source of the river that flows through Lake Geneva, Lyon and into the Mediterranean near Marseille, it remains relatively straight but turns into a V-shaped rather than U-shaped valley (geographers will be interested to note). The forests rushing down either side meet in the middle, and the bottom of the valley is nothing more than a fast-rushing big stream.

This meant the road became entertaining as it swept along the valley sides, occasionally entering a couple of bends as it climbed. After a couple of villages, the gradient became steeper. As there was no other traffic at all on the road, this meant the 911 was really in its element.

Read more: Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava on light and space

There are multiple improvements in this new model of Porsche 911. There is its docility in town, which makes it relaxing and effortless to drive at slow speeds – too effortless for some enthusiasts, doubtless. At the opposite end of the driving spectrum is the way it shoots its way into corners. Previous 911s, for engineering and physics reasons related to the fact that the engine is placed behind the back wheels of the car, would happily zoom along the straight part of a country lane, but then require you to brake a bit more than you would in other sports cars before turning into a corner. At that point, you could use the car’s traction and thrust to power your way out. A required technique and highly entertaining, but it also meant you needed to cramp your style a little when entering corners.

Somehow, they have engineered that out of the new model. This car lashes into corners and lashes out of them again, as I discovered as I climbed higher and higher up my road (there was nobody else there, so it was definitely my road). Tear down a straight, brake, turn and be amazed by the sharpness of the steering into the bend, and then tear out, engine howling in the open air behind you. When the car is really going, there is an intimacy of communication, balance and brilliance to it, a complete contrast to its unassuming nature at urban speeds. I found it more accessible, more entertaining and simply more competent than the 991 model that is its predecessor.

Taking a break to admire the view (I had now climbed quite high into the centre of the Alps), I sat in the car, sipping on some caffeinated energy drink. I noted that the interior of the car had also advanced considerably from the previous generation. The design has been simplified while going a couple of notches in quality, feel and sophistication. It feels like a highly grown-up sports car now, and the previous clutter of plasticky switches has disappeared in favour of a well-located touchscreen.

Car on a road above a lake

At rest above Lake Zurich. Image by Darius Sanai

Andermatt was now only 30 or so kilometres away as the crow flies (still no signs on the road) so, relishing the idea of my end-of-day beer, I tore on, expecting the road to start winding benignly downwards towards the Andermatt valley. Past a closed hotel that announced its views of the Rhône glacier now sadly so depleted it is no longer visible from the old building. And then suddenly the beautifully surfaced road turned into a narrow strip of tarmac with no barriers. And why is there a wall in front of us?

It was now dark, with no street lights, no cat’s-eyes or anything to light the way apart from the car’s headlamps. I drove gingerly towards the wall, which appeared to be in the middle of the road, only to find myself staring at a hunk of mountainside, with the road doing a 90° turn to the left. Like a cartoon character, I tilted my head backwards up the mountainside, clearly visible in front of me through the open top of the car. The road did not go around this wall; it went up it. And it never seemed to stop.

This was why it wasn’t marked as a through road. This was no longer the time to enjoy the 911’s fabulous steering, precision and cornering joy, as a little too much of that joy would result in the 911 being converted briefly into a flying car before it made a reference to another classic film, The Italian Job, which sees its Lamborghini-driving opening star end up at the bottom of an Alpine precipice, very much not alive.

Around half an hour of inching along in the blackness later, I reached the top of the Furka Pass, at nearly 2,500m as high as a top lift station in a ski resort. Here was the symbolic heart of Europe. Behind me, the rivers flowed south, to the Mediterranean. In front of me, they flowed north, to the North Sea. Peeking out of my side window for the first time, I wondered which remote huts or settlements the pinpricks of light I could see to my right belonged to, before realising that I was looking at stars.

Andermatt now beckoned, a cluster of lights clearly visible in the distance, but unnervingly far beneath me. The way down the other side was similar to the last part of the way up, down a steep wall of a mountainside, doubtless being stared at by some curious ibexes in the darkness. And then the road turned into a far better strip of tarmac at the bottom of the wall, and the car covered the last couple of kilometres in less than a couple of minutes.

There is no better car in which to relive the fantasy drive of your youth. But try and do it during daylight.

LUX rating: 19/20

Find out more: porsche.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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spa swimming pool overlooking forests
luxury hotel in a park

An aerial view of Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa and, to the right, the parkland of the Lichtentaler Allee

In the third edition of our four part luxury travel views column from our Summer 2021 issue, LUX editor-in-chief Darius Sanai checks into Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in the scenic spa town of Baden-Baden

Drive north from Switzerland into Germany and along the flatlands of the Rhine valley, and you would have forgiven me for wanting to leave as quickly as I arrived. Yet just a few kilometres to your right you can see the undulating crest of the Black Forest (in reality a range of low mountains, not just a forest). Baden-Baden is a spa town set at the entrance to a valley; above it the road winds into the mountains, and the town itself is pleasingly encased by a variety of greens from meadows and trees.

The heart of Baden-Baden is a park, which runs along the mountain stream that flows through the town and beyond its famous opera house. This was a celebrated 19th-century retreat for the aristocracy, and the grandest location then is the grandest location now, the Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Stroll through the hotel’s lobby from the entrance on a quiet street (Baden-Baden is mostly about quiet streets) and through onto the terrace and garden on the other side, and you can walk across a private bridge across the river, with its panoply of ducks, through a gate for the guests of the hotel only, into the park and surrounding gardens. From there it is a five-minute walk to the cafés and promenade at the centre of town. Perfect for a Victorian used to being shuffled around in their landau carriage.

The hotel itself remains true to its history. This is part of the impossibly aristocratic Oetker Collection, which runs, among others, the old money Le Bristol in Paris, the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, and The Lanesborough in London.

elegant cocktail bar

The Art Deco bar in the Fritz & Felix restaurant, where craft beers vie with cocktails and local wines for your attention

There is a tranquil feel about this place, particularly if you choose a room overlooking the park – really, the only option you should consider. Your view is a canopy of trees and the stream: no roads or traffic in sight. Wander downstairs and sit out on the terrace for a drink, surrounded by trees.

Read more: Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava on light and space

It was a warm night when I stayed, and the combination of a very genteel 19th-century ambience and the very 21st-century cuisine of Fritz & Felix, the hotel’s contemporary-cool restaurant, was addictive. Corn salad with quinoa and pomegranate; local char (a hugely underrated fleshy white fish) with pumpkin, coconut, chilli and mandarin; pata negra with string beans and pied de mouton mushrooms. The southwest of Germany also makes some excellent pinot noir wines: it is very close to Burgundy, but as the climate is a little warmer and more continental, the Baden pinot noirs are a tad richer and softer than a typical Côte-d’Or red; and mine matched the pata negra very well.

spa swimming pool overlooking forests

The spa swimming pool

The Brenners is fabled for its spa, which is the kind of place you go to for a six-month programme to reshape your body and soul, rather than a simple treatment, though you can do that, too. There’s a big indoor pool with French windows opening out onto the gardens, and you can lounge outside when it’s warm.

Anyone who knows the Oetker hotels also knows the staff are among the best in the world at personalised treatment of guests, a kind of old-world je ne sais quoi without ever being too formal or in the way. A warm wave goodbye, water bottles installed in the car, just concluded a perfect memory. If I’d had more time, there would have been plenty of exploring Baden-Baden and its theatres, and the surrounding Black Forest and its walks and inns.

Book your stay: oetkercollection.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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drummer on stage
man playing drums

Carl Gerges. Photograph by Charbel Abou Zeidan

The Lebanese architect and co-founder of the country’s biggest indie rock band Mashrou’ Leila on his beautiful homeland and what it’s like to be on the receiving end of state censorship and a ban for ‘blasphemy’

The best place to listen to live music in Beirut…

Metro Al Madina, an ancient underground theatre turned into an eclectic cabaret with a tiny stage and a charming bar.

What I love most about Lebanon…

The invincible determination of Lebanon’s citizens not to have their spirit broken.

The advice I would give to my younger self…

Don’t invest too much emotion in impossible situations, but you must never lose faith or the drive to fight.

My favourite building in Beirut…

The triple-arched house or central hall house built during the 18th and 19th century. It is the Lebanese house par excellence and by far the most elegant and most refined building typology that we were able to build.

And my favourite building outside Beirut…

The Raja Saab Chalet in Ouzai. Shaped like a flying saucer, it was built on the Acapulco beach in the early 1950s.

man in leather jacket

My happiest memory…

Standing on stage in Cairo alongside my bandmates in front of an audience of 35,000 people singing along so loudly that we couldn’t hear ourselves play. It’s also one of the saddest memories because it was the last concert we did before being banned from Egypt [the band’s lead singer is openly gay].

My favourite local dish…

Desserts with orange blossom.

My favourite musician…

Impossible to choose. I love Mac Miller, Anderson Paak, The Beatles, Quincy Jones, Britney, Beyoncé, Serge Gainsbourg.

What I would like to achieve next…

My dream project would be to design a museum or thermal baths.

One thing I wish my country had more of…

Respect and protection for its heritage, whether natural, cultural or architectural.

My materialistic weakness is…

Furniture. I cannot resist collecting it even though my apartment is already full.

Interview by Candice Tucker

Find out more: mashrouleila.com; carlgerges.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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mountainous landscape with lake in distance
mountainous landscape with lake in distance

The whisky trail in the Scottish Highlands

Tod Bradbury is head of rare and collectable whiskies at the renowned fine wine and spirits merchants Justerini & Brooks, London. Here, he tells LUX about the company’s elite collection of casks and why whisky is about the experience

man in whisky cellar

Tod Bradbury. Photograph by Gary Morrisroe

1. Can you tell us about the concept behind the Casks of Distinction programme?

The buying of malt whisky by the single cask is the pinnacle of collecting. There is nothing more bespoke, more personal than buying your own unique cask and having it bottled to your very own specifications. The Casks of Distinction programme does just that: it is the private sale of individual casks of rare and exceptional Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Each Cask of Distinction is chosen on the basis of its quality, representing the most exceptional and singular expression of the distillery’s character.

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Buying a cask of whisky is a personalised journey, guaranteed to provide an unforgettable experience. For casks from silent distilleries (those no longer in production) it may even be a once in a lifetime opportunity as these are produced in tiny volumes and supplies are fast dwindling, but with the Casks of Distinction service, they are occasionally within the reach of the individual collector.

whisky bottle and glasses

Whisky tasting at Justerini & Brooks in London. Photograph by Gary Morrisroe

2. How do you select which whiskies will be included in the Casks of Distinction programme?

Once a year, at the liquid library at our archives in Scotland, the Casks of Distinction selection team gathers, led by our four Master Blenders (Dr Craig Wilson, Dr Emma Walker, Maureen Robinson and Dr Jim Beveridge) who have more than a century of combined experience. Their judgement and knowledge is highly regarded and sought out by whisky connoisseurs across the globe. The group of experts select which casks should be considered for the esteemed Casks of Distinction list. They employ their collective understanding to identify the rarest and most exceptional casks to be put forward for evaluation and inclusion to the programme. Many of these casks have been watched closely for years with the group waiting until they reveal a distinctive quality that sets them apart. Others are chance findings of a rare gem, but one that makes a lasting impact on the finder. Each is entirely unique.

Through repeated tastings, each cask is held to the utmost scrutiny by the experts in their analysis of the specific nuances and character of each whisky. No cask reaches the final list without unanimous agreement by all four Master Blenders.

Read more: Product designer Tord Boontje on sustainable materials

3. Where are the casks normally stored after purchase?

If you are one of the privileged few to own a cask, you can rest easy knowing that your individual cask is stored in our warehouse facility at Royal Lochnagar distillery on the Bergeldie Estate nestled near the gates of the Balmoral in the Highland whisky-producing area of Scotland. This ability to get hands on with your own cask during its slow maturation gives a privileged few individuals peace of mind.

Once your whisky has matured, it will be ready for bottling which is where the next stage of the Casks of Distinction journey begins. Some collectors want to store their bottles to be appreciated later in which case we can arrange storage in our subsidiary company Cellarers Ltd, at Octavian Vaults —a bomb-proof storage facility where safekeeping is guaranteed. Other collectors might want to gift bottles to friends and loved ones, or simply have them sent home to take pride of place in their cellar. This, too, can be arranged.

coastal building

Port Ellen distillery isle of Islay, Scotland.

4. Have you noticed a distinct difference in the types of whiskies enjoyed between the sexes?

The whiskies are as individual as the people who consume them and they can be enjoyed by anyone equally. I am always under the impression that everyone likes whisky. It is just a process of finding out which one. At the start of a cask ownership journey, we always begin with consultation. In these conversations, we will build up a picture of a client’s taste profile. The kinds of foods they like, cookery styles preferred, even the variety of tea they drink – these subtle nuances will give form to their preferences. Customers will often come to us with a set idea on the type of whisky they like but our discussions can lead them to some unexpected new discoveries. I’m also of the view that whisky can be enjoyed however you like – whether that’s with water or without, on the rocks or even in a high-ball.

5. What distinguishes an exceptional whisky from a good one?

For me, an exceptional whisky is just as much about who I am with, when and where, as it is about the actual age and quality of the whisky. Whisky is for sharing. An exceptional whisky is one that transports you back to that moment. So pick an excellent group of friends and pull the cork.

6. Which is the most unusual distillery you have visited?

The most unusual Scotch whisky distillery for me would be Mortlach for its fiendishly complicated distillation in which the liquid is actually distilled 2.81 times creating this heavyweight, viscous and “meaty” new make spirit.

Find out more: justerinis.com

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Reading time: 4 min
mountaintop hotel overlooking a city
mountaintop hotel overlooking a city

The Dolder Grand hotel with the city of Zurich beyond. Photograph by David Biedert

In the second edition of our four part luxury travel views column from our Summer 2021 issue, LUX editor-in-chief Darius Sanai discovers the rewards to be gained from combining business and pleasure at The Dolder Grand in Zurich

Zurich is a city to do business in, and another city with much more to offer than business. I could spend three days in the Kunsthaus museum alone, as well as (in normal times) the thoughtful shows in the Kunsthalle.

In corona times, business trips have fewer long meetings and meals (and in many cases, amen to that), meaning longer intervals in the places you’re visiting, particularly when juggling more than one client.

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Anticipating this, and a lot of downtime at the hotel, I booked into The Dolder Grand. Zurich’s ‘city resort’ hotel has gained a spectacular reputation since it reopened after a long slumber, in 2008. It is located near the top of a hillside above the city, about 10 minutes by car or funicular from the city centre (though the bottom station of the funicular isn’t strictly in the centre of the city). On a golden summer’s day, arrival at the hotel is a tonic. You are in a semi-residential, semi-forested area high above the city, with dramatic views across Lake Zurich to the faraway crest of the high Alps.

The hotel itself was rebuilt by Norman Foster for its grand reopening, and the notable and spectacular are everywhere in the blend of classic and modern, particularly in the artworks literally strewn around the premises.

Contemporary art and design are in the hotel’s DNA; one of the restaurants was designed by Rolf Sachs, the artist/designer son of tycoon Gunter Sachs, both St Moritz royalty.
My junior suite deluxe was pure Norman Foster-meets-One Hyde Park (he designed that, too). Floor-to-ceiling windows with black frames, balcony with black railings with a view across the lake. Sofa the shape of an amoeba, copper bowls with flowers, Mojave sand-coloured carpets with a similar amoeba swirl effect. The bath was strategically placed by the window with a view out into the forest.

neon pink lighting in a restaurant

Restaurant Saltz at The Dolder Grand in Zurich, with the Fauteuil Direction chair, designed by Jean Prouvé in 1939

That evening I chose to dine on the hotel’s extensive terrace. Seeing the colours of the city, lake and mountains change as the day ended was quite an experience, even without the food and the crisp yet lucid chardonnay from the Bündner Herrschaft beyond the lake.

The cuisine was served from Saltz and looked suitably experimental. What, for example, were Swiss dumplings (chicken, salmon, pork belly, ratatouille and roasted cauliflower), I wondered? My waiter told me that they were a take on dim sum, not incarnations of the dumpy European versions. He was right: they were fragrant, vibrant, wonderful, a reinvention of dim sum using local ingredients but respectful of the original and their paper-thin encasing.

Read more: Product designer Tord Boontje on sustainable materials

Chestnut tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and tubers was earthy and genuine. It’s a casual menu, and you can pick from a variety of simple grills and add side dishes and sauces, like creamed spinach with poached quail egg, chilli soy Romanesco, chimichurri, or cognac green pepper jus. No dictatorship of the chef here.

My next day’s meeting was early, but I had to take advantage of our hotel’s pool. Clad with dark stone, it is a welcome addition to a city-centre hotel. It is rare to leave a hotel more culturally enlightened than when you arrived, but The Dolder Grand is one of those places. Not branding itself an art hotel (perish the thought), it is a contemporary cultural institution wrapped into a spectacular luxury hotel.

Find out more: thedoldergrand.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 3 min
vineyards
vineyards

Harlan Estate’s vineyards in Napa Valley, California

Will Harlan is the second-generation managing director of California’s iconic Harlan Estate, maker of some of the most expensive and desirable red wines in the world. Over a Zoom tasting of the winery’s flagship wines, Harlan, who took over from his father Bill this year, talks to LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai about how to create a business for the generations

LUX: Your father Bill Harlan, who founded Harlan Estate, got into the wine business almost by accident.
Will Harlan: Yes, Harlan Estate is the first wine endeavour that my father founded, it got started in the early 80s and his vision for Harlan Estate evolved over the course of his life. He grew up in Los Angeles, not around wine, or anything, but he had the opportunity to go to Berkeley [part of the University of California].

During his college years, that he had heard about this place up north, where you could taste wine for free. They wouldn’t check your ID and he really enjoyed going up there as a college student and kind of developed this very fuzzy dream that someday, if he could ever afford it, he would love to find a piece of land, plant a vineyard, make a little bit of wine, start a family.

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He graduated and did a number of different things, but it wasn’t until he approached his forties where he finally had the wherewithal to be able to start thinking more seriously about this dream of coming to Napa. It was probably in the late 70s that he started coming up here and looking for vineyard land, not knowing anything about the wine industry, and through a certain series of events, he tried to purchase a piece of property.

man looking out over vineyards

Will Harlan, second-generation managing director of Harlan Estate

[Napa wine legend] Robert Mondavi really took my dad under his wing, wanting to show him the potential of Napa and that not all land in Napa is created equal. Robert understood how fuzzy this original dream that my father had was and maybe how naïve it was too, but he also recognised that my dad was genuinely interested in doing something in wine and wanted to help.

Mondavi says, “Bill, I know you’re interested in buying some land in Napa Valley, but not all land is created equal. I want to send you to France and really show you what some of the great wines of the world are all about, pieces of land that they’ve been able to capture and what sets them apart.” So he organised a trip for my dad to go to Bordeaux and Burgundy, made the introductions. At the time I don’t think the French wine producers were particularly excited about welcoming random Americans into their homes so it was really important that Robert was able to set this up. My father returned to Napa Valley with this drive, this new vision of wanting to create a “first growth” of California.

LUX: What is your personal vision for Harlan Estate?
Will Harlan: I’m very excited for the future. I feel like there’s so much potential. As a region, I think we’re really coming into our own, in terms of an international kind of understanding and recognition, but I also feel that there’s always the opportunity to understand your land better.

Read more: Product designer Tord Boontje on sustainable materials

LUX: How does Napa Valley compare to Bordeaux, or specifically your wines to top wines from Pauillac (home of chateaux like Lafite, Latour and Mouton-Rothschild)?
Will Harlan: We never like drawing comparisons. They are all different expressions of Cabernet and I think that’s wonderful. We have quite different climates. In Napa Valley, we have almost no rain during the growing season, but we have plenty of sunshine and the humidity is very low so we don’t have mildew issues. We have vines that get quite dry by the end of the growing season so we’ve got to focus almost all of our efforts on ensuring that all of our vineyards are used to this low hydration environment by forcing them to grow very deep root systems for example.

It’s very easy for us to ripen fruit. It’s never really a question whether or not we’re going to achieve ripeness. For us, it’s about aligning that ripeness at an earlier stage in the season before acidity begins dropping off and before sugars start to rise too much.

At the end of the day, the character of the two regions is quite different and I feel that the best thing you can do is to try to really understand your plot within your region and make it the best version of itself.

wine tank room

The Harlan Estate tankroom

LUX: We know some wine collectors who think about buying wine estates and then decide against it, saying they will be a money-pit..
Will Harlan: I’d say they’re probably right! It requires a lot more investment than people expect, but mainly, a lot more time. People who are very wealthy tend to understand return on investment timelines very well and once they start understanding what that means in the wine world, they think, “Right, you wouldn’t touch this.” So, I think it really comes down to what are your motives? Are you doing this because you happen to love wine and you love drinking wine and you think it would be fun and interesting? I would probably say  that’s not the ideal lens to approach getting into the wine industry. But if you’re ready to devote your life and your time and your effort, and probably more capital than you might think, then okay.

Read more: Is Germany the next global art hub?

LUX: How much harder is it to make a great wine at this level than a good wine? And what do you have to do differently?
Will Harlan: It probably comes back to my feelings on character versus quality. First of all, it’s about finding a piece of land and being able to capture that land to create a very distinctive wine. It takes a lot of time and resources, but you also need to recruit a team that has the capacity to really dive in and understand the land. You have to have one of the better teams around, but you also have to understand that it takes time, decades, even generations for people to truly connect to the land, to become familiar with the properties, the growing seasons and how they react to different weather environments.

LUX: We are tasting the 2006 Harlan Estate today – is that the year you started being involved in the family business?
Will Harlan: In ‘06, I was almost 20 years old. So, I wasn’t as involved in the family business yet, but I was always a little bit curious about the wine industry. I didn’t actually think I was going to go into it. I don’t think I had the perspective or the context at that age. On the other hand, it was the first year I worked harvest which was the start of my experience.

family on a lawn

The Harlan family on the lawn of the estate

LUX: And then we have the 2012. By then, you were then fully involved. Is that correct?
Will Harlan: I had started working on a little side project. I was living in San Francisco, working in the tech space and the consumer internet tech space. It turns out San Francisco is just close enough to Napa Valley to feel that gravitational pull I had already started to feel. I was curious about wine, and I was starting to attend a lot of the blending sessions that we had.

I had this idea of wanting to create my own little bottling. It didn’t have a label or a name. I was just bringing it to different social events. I ended up building that into its own proper label called “The Mascot”, which is made from the younger vines by different properties. That was the spark for me: getting to see that I could find my own entrepreneurial path within wine and the family business.

So, that’s what drew me in, but of course, I didn’t really have any credibility in wine world. You have to have worked a proper harvest. 2012 happened to be the year that I got really serious about joining the family business and so I spent that growing season in the winery. It was so rewarding and so fascinating to really understand the production side of things.

Read more: The gastronomic delights of Suvretta House, Switzerland

LUX: Was there ever a possibility given how close you are to Silicon Valley, that you might have just ended up there?
Will Harlan: Very much, that’s what I thought my life was going to be. So, I’m glad that I found my way back to wine, but the tech world has always been very interesting to me.  I got to forge a few really strong friendships there with folks that were at the beginnings of their path.

LUX: There’s quite a strong link between Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and Napa Valley vintners…
Will Harlan: There is. I feel like we have two speeds: Silicon Valley moves extremely quickly and Napa Valley moves at the pace of the seasons. I think Silicon Valley oftentimes yearns for something that is connected to the land, something that is physical, something that has a visceral core to it, that connection to nature. But at the same time, Napa Valley can learn from the Silicon Valery approach to work. So, there’s a wonderful connection between the two.

LUX: Bernard Arnault [owner of LVMH and Chateau Cheval Blanc, Dom Pérignon and Krug champagnes, and many more] or Francois Pinault [owner of Chateau Latour, Clos du Tart, and many more] come to you and say, “Name your price. I want your winery.” What do you say?
Will Harlan: We never built any of this with the intention of selling.

LUX: I’m offering you $2 billion.
Will Harlan: We’re not doing this for the money. Before my dad was in wine, he was in real estate development. You can make a lot more money in real estate development than you can making a few thousand cases of wine. It’s never been our driving motive. And as I said before, you only really get into wine if you truly love it.

wine bottle

Harlan Estate 2006

The Wines (tasting notes by Will Harlan and Darius Sanai)

Harlan Estate 1994

Will Harlan: It’s always had a certain energy and an incredible density. It’s a very tight weave, not necessarily a heavy fabric, but the weave is very fine. It’s just beginning to soften, showing you a little bit of detail. We think it’s going to be one of our very long-lived wines.

Darius Sanai: Initial impressions are of a full bodied, fruit-led wine, but after a few seconds this dissolves into an array of lacy micro-flavours, from meats to dried fruit via summer blossom. Remarkable. As good as any top Bordeaux, except different, less stern and reticent, more talkative, but just as much of a polymath. Serve at a dinner with guests including Ptolemy, Queen Elizabeth I, Einstein, Jane Austen and Audrey Hepburn.

Harlan Estate 2006

Will Harlan: A cooler vintage. It’s taken a bit of time for this wine to relax. It’s still in the phase of being a little bit introverted. It has a certain herbal quality that I always recognise and I feel there is some wonderful detail in there and some higher notes.

Darius Sanai: This wine is all about potential. Like dining with a group of star PHD students from Oxford and Stanford. Enjoyable company now – it’s not closed down or dull – but you just know how much more it will have to say in 10 or 20 years.

Harlan Estate 2012

Will Harlan: This is a vintage very close to my heart. It was a very good growing season Wonderful. It always had this welcoming generosity. It is almost this kind of spherical experience on the palate. Very, very welcoming, very approachable and very seductive in a sense. Very plush and velvety tannins.

Darius Sanai: One to open when receiving the Marquise de Pompadour in one of your rooms at Versailles.

Harlan Estate 2016

Will Harlan: In the long run, I feel that this will be recognised as one of the great vintages of Harlan. It’s kind of like the 1994 in a certain sense. The winter before the 2016 vintage, we finally got some much-needed rain. It shows you so much detail and complexity, even though it’s quite young. It’s special.

Darius Sanai: An intellectual and a seducer: rich and rigorous at the same time. It doesn’t taste young, and it’s delicious now, but you know all its complexities will develop over the eras. A wine for the President to open to celebrate the US Tricentennial in 2076.

Find out more: harlanestate.com

 

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Reading time: 11 min
glass vessels
abstract light fixture

The Bouquet Light designed by Tord Boontje for Habitat in 2014

For product designer Tord Boontje, material is all. Whether made from upcycled blankets or crystals, his designs for anything from chandeliers to self-assembly chairs marry function with his signature playfulness. Torri Mundell meets him (virtually) at his new studio in London to talk about his work while normal life has been on hold
man standing in front of wall lights

Tord Boontje 

Few occasions compel you to tidy your surroundings like the prospect of a Zoom video call with a globally renowned product designer. What would Tord Boontje, the former Head of Design Products at the Royal College of Art and the originator of one of Habitat’s most successful home accessories of all time (the Garland light, first launched in 2002), make of a design civilian’s cluttered kitchen?

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Thankfully, Boontje’s aesthetic is not calibrated towards austere minimalism. In fact, he is renowned for injecting notes of whimsy or romance into contemporary design. On a virtual tour of his bright new London studio, you can spot a few of his artful pendant lights as well as shelves full of intriguing decorative pieces, prototypes and ephemera. He also points out the drawing and photographs tacked on the walls: “It helps me to look at something and slowly think about it over weeks. And I like having materials around that you can pick up.”

glass vessels

Transglass vessels for Artecnica, 1997. Image courtesy of Artecnica. © Jerry Garns Studio 20111

Materials – and sustainable materials in particular – have always been a preoccupation for the Dutch-born designer; his early 1998 Rough and Ready furniture collection combined simple wood with upcycled old blankets and discarded packaging. And though he is an advocate for accessible design, he also collaborates with luxury brands when they offer an opportunity to “use really good materials, make [designs that are] long lasting and manufactured in an ethical way”. Moroso, with whom he has collaborated on a range of seating, is a good example. “There’s an honesty with the materials they use. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. I feel uncomfortable about making things look expensive just for the sake of it.”

abstract chandelier design

The Lustrous Aura chandelier for Swarovski, 2017. Image courtesy of Swarovski

Boontje graduated from the Royal College of Art with a master’s degree in 1994 and he established Studio Tord Boontje in London two years later. Since then, two decades of launching new products and collaborating with clients has honed his creative process. He knows, for instance, to treat a new idea tenderly. “It’s good to have lots of opinions, but ideas can only develop with people you trust,” he says. He often talks them over first with his wife, Emma, an artist. And only after sketching and creating models from paper, card or foam, will he work on screen. “My colleague Tommy usually does the 3D modelling. It’s better at that stage to be one step removed; I can be more objective about what’s in front of us.”

green chandelier

abstract light

The Transglass chandelier, 2015 (top) and the Tangle Globe ceiling light, 2011. Both designed for Artecnica. Images courtesy of Artecnica

He finds himself endlessly inspired by light. “When I walk around in a city or a forest, I always look at the way light reflects on the buildings or filters through leaves on the trees and makes patterns and shadows… Lighting can also make a huge impact on space, not just decoratively but in the light it casts into the room.” This fascination has shaped some of his best-known designs, from the aforementioned Garland, to Icarus, the feathery paper shade he developed with Artecnica, to the crystal chandeliers he reimagined for Swarovski and Sun – Light of Love for Foscarini.

Read more: Superblue’s experiential art centres & innovative business model

For Boontje, lockdown has been a creatively productive time. “A lot of my projects with clients have been on hold, so I’ve had time to reflect and to look into products I can make independently.” Studio Tord Boontje’s latest collection from 2020 is called Do-It-Together, debuting with a pendant light of organic cotton that customers can customise and a handsome self-assembly wooden chair. The chair’s components – the birch plywood seat and back, the solid beech frame, and the bolts and wing nuts – arrive in a package ready to be assembled at home. “We also give suggestions about how you can colour your chair, using skins from beetroots, or how to paint it with natural beeswax or oils,” he adds.

artistic light fitting

The Radiant table light for Swarovski, 2019. Image courtesy of Swarovski

Offering customers the inspiration to make something from scratch taps into a spirit of resourcefulness that feels very current. “During lockdown, we saw sales of arts and crafts and sewing machines shoot up. We want the pleasure of new things, but we’re changing our relationship with how we consume them.” Will we hold on to things longer if we had a hand in making them? “Absolutely. People who make their own things also learn how to fix them if they break,” he says, before adding, “The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.”

Find out more: tordboontje.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 4 min
horse working on vineyard
black and white portrait of a man

Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, chef de cave of Champagne Louis Roederer. Image by MKB.

Louis Roederer’s Cristal is one of the world’s most glorious wines. Rich, powerful and full-bodied, yet delicate and effervescent, it is a blend of supermodel, Olympic athlete and aesthete, and has a history like no other champagne. It is also misunderstood, used as a status symbol, to the puzzlement of its makers, who simply see it as the pinnacle of organic winemaking. Darius Sanai meets Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Roederer’s creator, to talk about the joys of fizz

“Sorry I was late, it’s very busy right now with the harvest.” Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon smiles as he pulls up a chair and sits down opposite me. We are in a wood-panelled tasting room at Louis Roederer’s HQ in Reims, the capital of champagne. Meeting the maker of Cristal at its home may sound glamorous, but all around is evidence that champagne is a drink created on farms, not a kind of luxury brand. My walk through Reims on this chilly autumnal morning took me past monolithic buildings and empty courtyards; the Roederer offices are on a quiet side street lined with warehouse-like buildings, centred around a courtyard which is pretty enough, but functional. People in galoshes stride around. Everyone looks focussed; the tasting room has a historic feel but also feels functional, with a row of empty wine glasses and a sink in the corner. We are drinking small bottles of water, not champagne.

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I came because I was interested in the story of Cristal, past, present and future. This is the champagne created in a clear glass bottle reputedly because Tsar Nicholas II was frightened of being poisoned (and presumably didn’t know about soluble poisons); it then gained a reputation as a nightclubber’s favourite, due to its price and distinctive packaging. And yet all the way through it has been revered by wine connoisseurs as a kind of insider’s top champagne: a wine lover’s champagne. Simultaneously unctuous and refreshing, ravishingly rich yet light, it has a complexity few, if any other champagnes manage to match.

Much of that is down to Jean-Baptiste, who is sitting suitably socially distanced as I start to ask questions, both of us secretly relieved that we are not doing a tasting at 9am to accompany the interview – he has a working day ahead of him, and I a drive.

champagne glass and vineyard

The character of Cristal is carried through from vine to glass as an expression of its terroir. Courtesy of Louis Roederer/Emmanuel Allaire

LUX: What is it that makes Cristal special? Is it a mixture of nature and nurture?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Yes. Place, the soil, is very important, but that is just one aspect. The winemaker is the link to the terroir, to the place. From this link between man and nature, one creates style, and we have had for a long time a clear vision for our wines. Cristal has a discreet power, it is elegant, it is soft, and then with time the more you taste it the more you realise how strong the wine is. The texture, the roundness, has to be delicious. And then, behind that, you have power, with length and ageing potential. You need time for Cristal – this is its secret. The link to place is in this sort of expression – not too powerful, not too clean, but just in between.

So, nature is of course important, but the way we farm to achieve that style of grape, is the key to Cristal. If we farm the same land differently, we will end up with a completely different wine. There is one champagne house, for example, which picks their grapes a week before ours. That is their vision, for the grapes to be not quite ripe. This is another expression of the same place, the same identity. Farming is at the front while nature gives us the elements. We are very lucky in Champagne, we have a unique mixture of climate and soil. We are between the ocean that brings water and the continent that brings dryness and heat. So, this complex matrix of elements all ends up in Cristal.

Read more: The gastronomic delights of Suvretta House, Switzerland

LUX: You have said that the 2020 vintage formed part of a trilogy of recent vintages. Can you say what you mean by this?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Yes, ’18, ’19 and ’20 make a trilogy of three beautiful vintages. And 2020 is amazing because there were the strange conditions, of course. 2020’s acidity is just in-between ’18 and ’19, and the alcohol levels and sugar content are a little bit lower than the other years, which makes a very elegant, clean, precise wine – the terroir, the soils, the place all speak very loudly. We had a dry July and August, but while many think the temperature is important, it’s not at all the issue with the vintage. In dry conditions, water only comes from the soil. It does not come from rainfall because there wasn’t any, so climate disappears from the wine’s taste. It is only the soil because the clay the vines are growing in does not react like chalk or sand. The problem is today that while everyone talks about climate change, which is good, it’s only part of our story. The main part here is about soil.

LUX: The way you make champagnes is quite different to many others in Champagne.
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Each one of our 415 parcels has a specific identity and is dedicated to one of our vintage wines. At Louis Roederer we craft the wine right from the farming of the parcel, which includes both vines and vineyard management. The result are ripe grapes customised to our style and fermented or aged in different vessels to keep the specificity of each parcel all through winter and our blending sessions. We do single-vineyard winemaking nine months a year to create the ultimate final blend.

LUX: And how important is what you do after the grapes are picked?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: It is very important in that you need to be super-present. It is a work of jewellery, like that of a Swiss watchmaker. You need to be very precise so as not to lose what you have from the vineyards. This precision is really my motivation, and it makes Cristal a bit different in the world of champagne. I do not want our winemaking to be too prominent. It has to be there, but it has to be completely transparent. My target is really to bring what I get from the grape into the bottle with a lot of care and subtle rebalancing of acidity by using leaves or oak, but I try to stay true to the vintage’s harvest. That is the big difference between Cristal and Dom Pérignon, for example, for whom vintage is less important than maintaining the Dom Pérignon style. We can accept Cristal being a little different each time if truer to the specific vintage. But don’t think we do nothing here – we do a lot. This morning I was smelling a lot of vats and tanks to make decisions about what to do, if we should rack it, if we should aerate it, and so on. We are really proactive, but we mustn’t put too strong an imprint on the wine.

grapes in a barrel

Courtesy of Louis Roederer

LUX: Is Cristal a fine wine like great Burgundy or Bordeaux, or is champagne always going to be ‘other’, somehow different to still wines?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: I believe the secret of champagne is that it’s a serious wine, for sure, but the bubbles make it different. It’s simply more than wine.

LUX: Our readers are wealthy consumers and collectors of wine, not necessarily technical experts in wine. Could you explain to a typical reader of ours what makes Cristal special?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Cristal is special because the terroirs it comes from are the best in Champagne, and its long-term performance since 1876 has been maintained and showcased year after year, demonstrating the quality of the terroirs and making it the oldest prestige cuvée in Champagne. Historically, Cristal comes from the best location in the region. It is not even the best cru and I am not saying that we have all the best plots, as we are in a neighbourhood with some very beautiful plots. But Cristal has these old, mid-slope vines; the mid-slope is perfect because you get the humidity from the top of the hill and the heat from the bottom. You get eternal softness. It is not extreme like the forest or the valley. When the weather is very hot the mid-slope is cooler, and when it is very cold it is warmer. Cristal is born in a very special place chosen specifically by the house, making it the ideal champagne. So, what can we do best here? Cristal, by the selection of plots, in the way we farm them and in the way we blend the grapes, is all about reaching this ideal of purity and finesse. And, as I was saying earlier, we really have a link to the place, we consider each crop of Cristal as a jewel, and our job is to maintain it to be the brightest and most beautiful as possible. It is precision, haute-couture farming in the choice of material and date of picking, making wines that are elegant yet powerful.

Read more: Brunello Cucinelli on cashmere and humanitarian capitalism

LUX: How does Cristal evolve with age, and what specific biochemical properties allow it to age well?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Because it is grown on chalky soils, with low yields and picked at good ripeness, Cristal has great acidity, low pH, a high concentration and a dry extract which are great assets for ageing over many decades.

LUX: A lover of Burgundy may be attached to a particular vineyard plot. Yet Cristal, while made from Burgundian grapes, is a blend of many vineyards. How does this work?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Because Champagne’s climate is more oceanic, so more unstable than Burgundy’s, champagne makers have invented blending of different parcels and villages to reach a better quality every year. It is not about consistency of style, but the best possible quality in a particular vintage. A blend of Cristal is a little bit like the blending of all the grands crus in Burgundy. Imagine making a blend of Corton Charlemagne, Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, La Romanée, La Romanée-Conti, La Romanée-St-Vivant, La Grande Rue, La Tâche, Richebourg, Échezeaux, Grands Échezeaux, Clos de Vougeot, Musigny and Bonnes Mares, with the only condition being that the blend has to be a better wine than each one of them. That’s the way we think about creating Cristal.

LUX: What does sustainability mean to you?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: It means developing the excellence of the quality and identity of our wines, as well as the resilience of the biodiversity and climate of our vineyards’ ecosystems. It means reducing our impact on nature by decreasing our overall footprint by being as restrained as possible in all fields of activity and taking care of employees and consumers. In the end, there is, of course, an economic side as well, but innovation stands at the centre of what we do to make it all happen.

horse working on vineyard

Louis Roederer has 242 hectares of vineyards across the Champagne region, mostly given over to the pinot noir and chardonnay grapes from which all their vintage wines are made. Image courtesy of Louis Roederer

LUX: Specifically, what measures have you taken to counter climate change?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Since the beginning of life on Earth, the climate has been changing. It’s the essence of farming to adapt production and practices to this constant change. What is changing is the speed of this adaptation. We must focus on developing a strong resilience in our ecosystem so that it can cope in a fast-changing climate. We also need to innovate and try new things. And we need to decrease our carbon footprint to help slow down global warming.

LUX: You switched to organic farming in 2012. What difference has that made?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Yes, this is unique in champagne. Changing to organic production has delivered us a better conscience. I was talking about jewels and what I want for my jewel are the best farming conditions. I do not want to use pesticides or add things to my soils. It gives me and my team a good conscience to say we do things honestly, and that we do things for the next generation that are free of all excess chemicals. In the wine itself, it has really changed the alcohol/acidity ratio, which was exactly what I wanted it to do. It gives a little more ripeness, a little more strength and richer flavours. At the same time, a higher acidity, or lower pH, gives more freshness. Over the years, we have done much blind testing and we think we have got an extra texture, an extra aroma. Everything is a bit amplified. It has also pushed us to rethink our winemaking. We were fermenting our wines in a way that was traditional to the house, using sulphites and so on, but, thanks to organic farming, we have been able to reduce our sulphites and, in the case of chardonnay, to not use any sulphite at all, because the wines are stronger and they can take it. I think we have more resilient wines in the end, but it is too early to say. I think it will also increase the ageing potential of my wines because there is so much of everything. You know, with wine ageing you start with a potential and you lose a little bit and continue losing until the wine becomes static. But along the way there is a point of beauty where you get maybe less fruit, more texture and aroma, it becomes more complex with different umami flavours. I think we can extend this a little bit. This is nothing new because, in fact, champagne was organic before 1960, so all the champagnes from ’28, ’29, ’47, ’49, ’62 and ’64, were all organic and they aged beautifully. I am more into wanting the wine to last than immediate pleasure, but you need to find a balance and, in this, I am modern and classic at the same time – it has to be delicious, which is modern, but the classic demands that it lasts and be even more beautiful in 40 years. Maybe that is what Cristal really is, modern and classic at the same time.

LUX: Do you think that Cristal, and prestige champagnes in general, are taken more seriously now than they were 20 years ago?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: I think so, yes, and it is accelerating. What I call ‘label drinking’ is becoming less and less important. It still is, of course, but people are much better informed now. Unlike in the past, they want information, to hear what we say about the vineyards and how we make the wine. People are looking for more transparency, more honesty, more values in what they drink over and above just a label. Also, I think there is a very interesting price point, because when you make wine like Cristal, which is at a high level of quality, the price difference is quite big. If you look in the still wine world in France, I can see wine lovers and collectors who are now becoming champagne collectors. That is fantastic. Last but not least, champagne has really shown a lot of modern aspects which came largely from grower communication. In Champagne, it is not just Moët, Pol Roger and Bollinger; there are also small growers who do a great job and present completely different wines, and that is contributing to this exciting moment for champagne.

Read more: Superblue’s experiential art centres & innovative business model

LUX: Is there a typical Cristal drinker/fan/aficionado?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: That’s a good question. I know a few American and Japanese aficionados. They are often collectors of great Burgundy, but I am talking about a small niche of collectors, which is not the main market. We used to sell a lot on the nightlife scene in the 80s and 90s, but not so much anymore. Our main clients for Cristal now are restaurants and private buyers. So, I would say there are more wine lovers in general, but I also think that with Cristal, because it’s elegant and refined, it catches the attention of a lot of people who are not so much wine lovers. I remember a Californian lady telling me, “I just drink Cristal”. I asked what else she drinks, and she said, “Just Cristal, I love Cristal, I drink chardonnay”. It’s funny, because she was speaking about Cristal, but then about chardonnay. I think it shows that she wasn’t very knowledgeable but liked the softness and roundness of chardonnay, and she found this in Cristal with its elegance, lightness, chalkiness and minerality.

LUX: Do you feel that more people are now identifying as champagne connoisseurs?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: I think so. I meet more and more people who want to discover the experience of mature champagnes. It probably has to do with people finally realising the exceptional freshness and ageing potential of Cristal.

LUX: And do you think that, just as there are ‘cru-distes’ who are obsessed with the cru, that there are ‘Cristalists’?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: There are some. I don’t know how many cru lovers there are, nor do I know what their average age would be. I would see some ‘crudistes’ perhaps as older people, and most likely men, too. The old club, let us say. I think Cristal attracts more young people. When we do tastings, we do not want to do it for just the happy few but larger groups, too. In New York, for example, I do some very expensive tastings for the elite and we know them, I go to their place and I drink the wine with them, they are friends. But if we do more of an educational tasting, and if we can invite a few young people who maybe do not have the money but have the strong desire to experience it, I like it. This makes sense for our mission. We make the wine of today and tomorrow, not the wine of yesterday. When I bottle Cristal 2020 next year, it will be consumed on the market in ten years’ time. We need to look at these new generations, they are important, they should inspire us first. Thinking again about the classic tradition and modernity, it is good to find a nice balance between those two worlds, because we need to know where we come from, and we also need to have a vision of where we are going.

vineyards

Cristal 2012 was Roederer’s first vintage produced by fully biodynamic farming methods following several years during which the champagne maker, unique among other houses, gradually converted its vineyards to being organic. Image courtesy of Louis Roederer

LUX: Can Cristal be drunk by itself or should it be accompanied by food?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: It really depends on the Cristal that we are talking about, and it depends on my mood. Sometimes I can enjoy a glass of Cristal by myself and just drink it with no food, nothing, just relaxed. Or it can be matched with food. Roughly speaking, I tend to drink a young Cristal by itself or with seafood, such as crabs or oysters, those kinds of salty, light food that combine well with the acidity and the softness and fruit of Cristal. If I have an older Cristal, then it comes to gastronomy. And technically, with some you can try many things depending on the bottle. I did a tasting yesterday, because we are going to launch our Cristal Vinothèque in October. It is from ’99, so it is a 20-year-old wine. This is a wine to have with veal, with mushrooms, with something fleshy enough to withstand the Cristal. There is less carbon dioxide. I am surprised sometimes, when I am on a journey for instance, and somebody opens a bottle of Cristal with me to be drunk with a food that I would never have dreamed could be eaten alongside champagne. I remember in Hong Kong a few years ago I had some with snake soup, a combination I have never imagined, yet it worked well, it was crunchy.

LUX: Tell us more about the Vinothèque wines. Who are they for?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Vinothèque is another expression of Cristal with time. It’s more developed but it’s fresher, too. I believe this wine will meet the expectations of Cristal lovers and all lovers of mature Burgundies and riesling. It’s definitely gastronomic. My original idea, when creating Cristal Vinothèque, was that, in our modern world, even wine lovers who don’t have the patience to wait for 20 years before enjoying a bottle of wine, cannot know that in that time their taste may drive them to appreciating mature champagne. So, I planned to keep some bottles to make that experience possible for the impatient ones! In between, I found so many new aspects of ageing in our ‘laboratory of time’ that I have fine-tuned the project into what I have called ‘In Pursuit of Eternal Youth’!

LUX: Are there plans for any other Cristals? Single-grape or single-vineyard?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Yes, we have some ideas. I have many triumphs in the cellar, where we are trying to do different things. Cristal stays what it is with the terroir and so on. Cristal is also pinot noir-dominated so it will always be a blend. We could not do a Cristal Vin de Blanc, or Cristal Vin de Noir. I don’t see the logic behind doing that or see it as being true to Cristal. We can work on different aging. If you want to play with pure chardonnay, we can create it. I have plenty of vineyards and we are planning to do something with them in the year ahead.

LUX: How did you cope during the pandemic?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: We didn’t stop. I kept working in the vineyards and the cellar. We put the marketing and the commercial teams in the vineyards. Everyone was part of the harvest. There is a team spirit at the moment. Today, we are experiencing a great moment, aside from Covid-19, something positive that we have never done before. But now we want our life back, to travel again, go to the markets, to Japan, the US, where we have vineyards. We have to start living with the virus and keep going.

LUX: What do you enjoy most in your job?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: I like to be out there, in the vineyards, working hand in hand with nature, observing and taking the best from it to create something ultra-civilised. It’s all about transforming raw material into ultimate beauty and emotions. And it is important to me to know that the wine I create today will definitely survive me!

champagne bottle

Cristal 2012. Image by Emmanuel Allaire

“Six Vintages that express Cristal in all its glory” – Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon’s picks

2012: “After 20 years of exploration, research and conversion, the Cristal estate is fully biodynamic from the 2012 vintage onwards”
2008: “A legendary vintage, the ‘Cristal of Cristals’ ”
1999: “My first vintage as chef de cave”
1993: “This really showcases how good Cristal can be in a difficult vintage and how selecting the best plots from the 45 grand cru plots that comprise the Cristal estate each year is vital. The decision is dictated by the vintage conditions, so working hand in hand with nature, listening and observing is crucial”
1989: “A hot, ripe year but still with the tension and salinity that is the signature of Cristal, which comes from the terroir”
1988: “A cooler year that has developed well with a total contrast of style”

“These last two vintages show how much the region’s climate can vary from one year to the next with a clear impact on the style of the wine. The challenge is to make great wines from both.”

Find out more: louis-roederer.com

This interview was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 20 min
ballet dancers on stage
ballet dancers

Dancers in the British Ballet Charity Gala at the Royal Albert Hall. Image by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

On Thursday 3 June, eight leading British ballet companies shared the stage at the Royal Albert Hall to raise funds for their art and nominated community dance companies. Former principal of The Royal Ballet and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell presented the historic event. Here, she speaks to Candice Tucker about bringing ballet to a larger audience, her most memorable performances and how dance can benefit mental health 

woman standing on blue staircase

Darcey Bussell

1. What was the inspiration behind the British Ballet Charity Gala?

The need and the larger voice, I suppose: the strength in numbers. When you’re from the performing world, you realise very quickly that it will be the first thing that suffers in any financial crisis, especially in a pandemic like this. So, the need to get everybody together to celebrate British dance was really important.

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The performance was live at the Royal Albert Hall, but as we weren’t able to fill the seats, we knew that we needed a much bigger audience to raise needed funds. We also wanted everybody to have the opportunity to see something like this so it was fabulous that we got the royalty rights and permission by all eight companies to have it aired online.

2. Is there a clear divide in how major ballet companies differentiate their style of dance?

There’s a general language to dance that every ballet school goes by, but every company has their resources and great choreographers, and that will identify their style. So, it’s not really about the steps themselves, it’s how that steps are told and how the narrative is told through those movements.

In the gala performance, I think you can really notice the difference between each company. I really wanted the event to showcase each company and their strength as a whole, not just the principle dancers.

principle dancers

Image by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

3. Traditionally, ballet has been viewed as a very strict, tough-love activity that has sometimes been associated with negative effects on mental health, but you’re a strong believer in the the positive impacts of dance. Can you tell us a bit about that?

When I retired from professional dancing it hit me hard, and that’s when I thought, “There’s so much more to this. This is not something to be appreciated only as an elitist form of performing art. It can be enjoyed by everybody of every ability and every age.” Over the years, I’ve found it very enlightening to see how dance can give young people confidence, which I suppose is something I already knew growing up. I suffered seriously from dyslexia. It was like this brick wall that I was coming up against all the time, but having dance, this other way of expressing myself, empowered me.

Read more: Maryam Eisler’s spellbinding portraits of Capri

Dance has the ability to give people strength. It can seem so simple and so trivial, but we forget that something so simple can have a lot of meaning in people’s lives and change the way they feel every day. I’ve teamed up with professors and all sorts of people who have done documentaries on mental health to try and learn more. Dance is something that encompasses nearly every culture around the world. It has a powerful international voice and it doesn’t have to done by highly skilled individuals for them to appreciate it.

4. How has ballet evolved since you started performing?

I suppose the digital platform has been probably one of the biggest changes. We never had that much filmed and to get permission was really difficult. I’m very excited to now see so much dance being relayed across many different platforms, not just classical ballet but all kinds of dance.

I think the other thing that’s changed is how dance is tackling difficult subjects. People have been much braver, and audiences have enjoyed watching those narratives being told. It’s no longer just about fairytales, which are great because they provide an escape, but dance also has this wonderful ability to take everybody on a journey. Of course, it’s a very subjective experience, but what I have noticed is the importance of ballet in people’s real lives, not just as a source of entertainment.

dancers in white

Image by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

5. What was the most memorable dance performance of your career and why?

It’s very difficult to choose! Some are from when I was very young, just starting out as a principal dancer. Going on tour and having an audience was one of the most exciting things as a young artist. I remember one performance in the Kennedy Center in Washington. I think Clinton was President back then and he came with his family and there was a whole buzz around that. We were doing a brand new production of a big classic, and I was performing the main role of Sleeping Beauty. We hadn’t even opened it in our own theatre in the UK, but decided to take that crazy leap and perform the first night in Washington. As you can imagine, there was a lot of pressure, but it was very exciting. I’ll never forget that.

I also did the closing ceremony of the Olympics in 2012, and that was an extraordinary experience, coming off the top of the arena on a wire with pyrotechnics and 200 dancers at the base. Classical ballet has branched out into other fields and it’s nice to feel that I’ve been part of that.

6. Can you tell us about any exciting upcoming projects? Are there any other charities that you’re involved with?

I run my own charity called Diverse Dance Mix, which is a dance fitness program that we put into state schools. The aim is to give every child the opportunity to experience dance. I also wanted to create something that had a really positive effect on people’s lives. It’s so healthy for our minds, not just our physicality, to move, but to use dance as that activity is even better because of the range of emotions that it connects us to and the creative side of it.

I also recently did a collaboration with a lovely company called Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam. They’ve just launched this film that uses classical dancers with animation. I played a small part with another fabulous dancer called Irek Mukhamedov. It’s the story of Coppélia, which is an old classic, but what they’ve done is twisted the story so that Coppélia, instead of being a doll maker, is a plastic surgeon. So, the whole story is to do with today and how we handle those sorts of pressures that are put on us. It was really fun to be part of something like that.

I’ve got a couple of other projects in the pipeline, which I’m really interested in and are to do with mental health. I’m trying to put a program into the NHS to use dance as a tool to help people with their mental health, which will pilot over the summer, and hopefully launch properly in January.

The British Ballet Charity Gala is available to stream until 18 July 2021 via: stream.roh.org.uk/products/british-ballet-charity-gala

Follow Darcey Bussell on Instagram: @darceybussellofficial

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Reading time: 6 min

Auctioneer Oliver Barker directing Sotheby’s global e-auctions. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Following the announcement of Sotheby’s Cologne office, artnet’s Vice President and LUX columnist Sophie Neuendorf discusses shifting collecting habits and the potential for Germany to become a key player in the art world

The recent news that Sotheby’s is opening an office in Cologne, Germany has made waves internationally but also ruffled a few feathers within the German market. However, given the ramifications of Brexit, which is making import and export transactions much more cumbersome, it’s hardly a surprising decision. Christie’s has been steadily strengthening its presence Paris over the last few years and Amsterdam is much smaller in terms of buyer opportunities so the EU’s largest country in terms of size and economic strength seems the logical choice for Sotheby’s.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

According to the auction house, “German collectors remain essential to Sotheby’s business, featuring in the list of top ten countries most actively buying and selling in Sotheby’s sales for the past three years.” In this light, it’s hard to imagine that the aim of the opening is centred solely around the potential of new collectors, but what is of interest is the abundance of private collections in Germany, which provide ample opportunities for acquiring unique and unseen masterpieces.

Germany is renowned for its impressive history of supporting the arts, from fine arts to music or literature. Many of the most important art collections worldwide are located in Germany, and quite a few of these marvellous collections will be handed down to the next generation before too long.

pop art exhibition

Neuendorf Gallery pop art exhibition 1964 in Hamburg, Germany.

“The German art market is outstanding in Europe with its strong collectors on the one hand and its internationally sought-after artists on the other,” comments Alice von Seldeneck of Germany’s prestigious Lempertz auction house. “After Brexit and the uncertainties and costs associated with it, it was a logical conclusion to establish another foothold on the continent. We had expected this to happen much sooner.”

Read more: The art of cross-collecting by Philip Hewat-Jaboor

According to artnet data, German collectors have historically favoured Impressionist and Modern art, closely followed by Post War and Old Masters paintings. Now, these same categories are tied to tedious export rules and regulations, newly introduced by Germany’s culture minister (ostensibly to protect Germany’s cultural heritage), which are suppressing international trade. The fourth most popular collecting category is Contemporary Art, which is much easier to buy and sell internationally. With the rise of the new millennial generation of collectors, perhaps the German market is primed for a shift in wealth and collecting habits?

graph showing art sales

Infographic courtesy of artnet

Germany ranks 4th in terms of sales in western countries after the United States, the United Kingdom, and France (source: art net). “In 2020, 40% of German bidders were new to the company, while the number of German buyers in online sales tripled, ” revealed a spokesperson from Sotheby’s. With many of Europe’s hottest emerging artists flocking to Berlin, it’s only a matter of time until the country becomes a hot spot in terms of Contemporary and Ultra Contemporary art.

“Berlin is an ideal combination of a strong primary and secondary market with different generations of collectors,” says von Seldeneck. “The strong consignments from abroad show us how highly regarded the German art market is internationally.”

graph showing highest paid artists

Infographic courtesy of artnet

The city is a place of inspiration for many creatives from around the world as reflected by the plethora of blue chip galleries that have recently opened in the German capital. Four of the world’s top earning artists – Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, and Frank Auerbach – are also Germany-based. But will this rise in popularity be reflected in actual sales and growth of the market?

Read more: The gastronomic delights of Suvretta House, Switzerland

According to Berlin-based gallerist and former BVDG (German Association of Galleries) board member Klaus Gerrit Friese, the entry of Sotheby’s into the German market is a testament to the country’s strength and potential for growth. “I’m very positive about the future of the German art market. The new generation of gallerists have developed radically new ideas about viewing and selling art, which goes hand in hand with the rise of millennial collectors. So, the real potential lies in the Contemporary and Ultra Contemporary market, where I have observed a lot of upward movement in Germany over the past few years,” he says.

While Germany seems primed to become one of the world’s most important countries in terms of both creativity and sales, it remains to be seen whether the coming generational change and shift in collecting preferences will propel the country into the upper echelons of the market.

Follow Sophie Neuendorf on Instagram: @sophieneuendorf

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Reading time: 4 min
tropical villa doorway
house with green door by the sea

Inspired by the vibrant colours and laid-back lifestyle of the island of Capri, fashion designer Catherine Prevost’s latest collection was celebrated with an in-store exhibition of artworks by Maryam Eisler, Karolina Woolf and Pandemonia. While the show has now ended and most of us remain confined within the borders of our countries, we can still escape to sunnier shores through powerful imagery. Below, we share a curated selection from Maryam Eisler’s latest photographic series

All images copyright and courtesy of Maryam Eisler.  maryameisler.com @maryameisler

For more information on Catherine Prevost’s Capri-inspired collection, visit: catherineprevost.com

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Reading time: 2 min
corridor and stairway
corridor and stairway

Inside the new Castiglione wing of the Hôtel Costes. Image by Alex Profit.

The legendary celebrity magnet Hôtel Costes in Paris is reopening with 38 spectacular new rooms and suites in a new wing on the rue Castiglione. Owner Jean-Louis Costes, who has never before given an interview to the international media, tells LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai about his lack of design philosophy and why the hotel owes its success to discretion

1. What is your design philosophy?

I don’t know what you mean by a design philosophy. I choose people; all my life, I have chosen people. My first designer was Philippe Starck [for the Café Costes, which propelled Jean-Louis and his brother Gilbert to fame in 1984], who was unknown at the time. Then I took Jacques Garcia [for the original Hôtel Costes in 1995], also unknown at the time. And now, as I am getting older, I have taken on Christian Liaigre, because we are both young fathers and our sons were at the same school. Each morning we would have a coffee together and he would tell me “Jean-Louis, I want to redo your hotel”.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. What is the ‘legend of the Costes’ that people talk about?

There is no legend. I don’t know. I didn’t do anything deliberately, but it happened. We are different. People talk about the music, the scent. There was no music in hotels 25 years ago. We had a CD that played on a loop, I got sick of having to turn it off all the time, so I spoke to one of our old waiters who had just come out of rehab. I said to him, “Take this space and play music all day”. He knew a few labels and artists and asked if he could make our own compilation CD, and I let him do it and we sold five million CDs. It became a legend, but it was by chance.

As to the scent, everything in the Costes has a little story. I was sitting downstairs when we had just opened, and an attractive woman stopped and said, “Monsieur, are you the owner of this place?” I said yes. She said, “I like it a lot, but it smells bad.” And at that stage it was true – we were just trying to get rid of the smell of the original building works. A few days later I saw her in the pages of Elle; she was the star perfumer of France, Olivia Giacobetti. When I saw her again, I asked, “So, what should I do?” She said, “You have to create something yourself.” And I told her to go and do it, and she created our candle, which is now famous and sold around the world. Before that, hotels just didn’t have their own scents. But I created it on the spur of the moment. There was no strategy, no marketing.

women leaving a hotel

Joan Smalls, Kendall Jenner and Lily Donaldson leaving a Paris Fashion Week party at the Hôtel Costes. Image by Ben Eade/GoffPhotos.com

3. What do you like your guests to do?

I don’t like people who stay in their rooms. The guests have to meet and see real Parisians. People eating in the restaurant need to feel like they are in their own town.

Read more: The gastronomic delights of Suvretta House, Switzerland

4. What makes the Costes different?

I wanted to make an urban resort, not a business hotel, even though we have a lot of business guests. I’m also not part of a group, which makes a difference; we can be more joyful, more dynamic. I am one of the hoteliers who, over the past 25 years, has created this ‘entertainment’ style. And it’s not enough to be in a good location. You have to treat guests better than anyone else does. Your hotel needs to be more beautiful and have better facilities. I am always amazed when people build ugly little hotels and they do well with them.

marble staircase

A staircase in the Castiglione wing. Image by Alex Profit.

5. What makes the new wing, the Costes Castiglione, so special?

I’m not sure. I treat this hotel as if it’s my home, and not just the current enlargement, but from the beginning. I always created it as if I were decorating my own home.

hotel bedroom

A suite in the new wing. Image by Alex Profit.

6. Why don’t you give interviews?

To speak about a place is interesting, but to speak about myself is not. It’s just not my thing. It’s not necessary to create media to succeed. You have to be a bit enigmatic. These days, any hotel which opens and changes its bathrooms wants an article about it.

Jean-Louis gave his first international media interview for this article and asked that we do not publish a picture of him.

Find out more: hotelcostes.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 4 min
swiss palace hotel
swiss palace hotel

Suvretta House overlooks the Upper Engadine valley. Image courtesy of Suvretta House. 

High in the Swiss Alps, LUX indulges in a gastronomic tour like no other, all under the auspices of one hotel

It’s summertime, and what we crave is sunshine, blue sky, space, views, freedom and a change in cuisine. All uncontroversial except for the last – why would we want to change the way we eat? Perhaps because for many of us in the fortunate minority in the world, even during the lockdown cycle, a great variety of cuisines has become the norm. Temaki and uromaki delivered tonight; Vietnamese cha cua and mi quang tomorrow; miso Chilean sea bass the next. Freed from choosing restaurants for the experience they offer, we have spent a lot of time choosing them purely for their variety of cuisine.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

We reflected on this last summer, during a release from the first wave, sitting at the Chasellas restaurant above St Moritz. For generations, great European dining has been about being welcomed by a host who recognises you; typically, a besuited maitre d’ of an older generation, as comfortable giving orders to staff as he is joining favoured customers for a cognac after hours. We were welcomed by Livia Sterki, a smiling young woman ostensibly as far removed from the traditional maitre d’ image as can be imagined: her charm and efficiency were so memorable it made us want to go back every night.

fine dining

The hotel’s cuisine focuses on local ingredients. Image courtesy of Suvretta House. 

The Chasellas is decorated in Alpine mountain inn style, lots of pine, bare-backed wooden seats, and a terrace with a view over the rooftops of the village of Champfèr, across forests and lakes to the towering mountains of the Bernina range across the valley. The cuisine of chef Marco Kind is not only fine: it is unlike anything you will ever find in a metropolitan hub.

There’s a combination of mountain purity, local ingredients, and a local Swiss authenticity, and a lightness of touch. Beef entrecôte sous-vide, datterini tomatoes and summer truffle was both satisfying and light; essence of wild mushrooms with shiitake and agnolotti was a kind of ultimate consommé (and vegan); and even the non-vegetarians went for the variation of peas with mountain peach, radish, asparagus and macadamia. Another vibrant main course was spring chicken braised in apple with young vegetables, local potatoes and wild mushrooms.

Beef tartar with oysters, miso and caviar. Image courtesy of Suvretta House. 

The cuisine was like eating the Alps and went delightfully with what is commonly referred to as the “local chardonnay”. In fact, the Engadine valley is too high for growing grapes, but the modest moniker refers to chardonnay from the Bündner Herrschaft, two valleys over at lower altitude, which is in fact emerging as one of Europe’s most brilliant yet unknown fine-wine regions. The wines have the same freshness as the cuisine.

Read more: The beauty and biodiversity of Andermatt’s golf course

The Chasellas is part of the dining offering of a single-hotel resort, Suvretta House, which brings us to the second point of this story: being able to luxuriate in different dining experiences under one resort banner is not confined to swanky brands on tropical islands. Interestingly, Suvretta House’s owners and its managers, the mind-bendingly hard-working Peter and Esther Egli, have decided not to bring in outside brands, but to create all their dining themselves.

terrace

The hotel’s terrace with views over Lake Silvaplana and Lake Sils. Image courtesy of Suvretta House. 

It’s a five-minute walk downhill to Suvretta House from the Chasellas, past a couple of very nice chalets (or a 20-second ski in the winter season, past the hotel’s own lift). Suvretta is one of St Moritz’s original palace hotels, and everything about it suggests old money, aristocracy and a clubbish feel, in the nicest possible way. You’re more likely to see a classic Ferrari parked outside than a new one.

alpine river

horses in woodland

Idyllic paths through the meadow and woodland around the hotel bring unexpected sights. Images by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai (top) and Darius Sanai.

The hotel overlooks a wavy forest, stretching up the valley towards the Italian border; St Moritz itself is out of sight just around the corner of the mountain. Just above the swimming pool and huge lawn overlooking the view is the Stube restaurant, cosy and hearty in design, where you might expect to eat rib-thickening traditional mountain food. But not here; or not quite, anyway. Isaac Briceño Obando, the chef in charge of this culinary hotspot (each of Suvretta House’s restaurants is a destination in itself), blends simplicity (Wild Kelly flat oysters; Iranian beluga caviar) with purity (saddle of lamb smoked in hay; A4 wagyu tenderloin plain grilled) and tradition (sliced Zurich-style veal in cream) with just a touch of the exotic (Maine lobster salad, pumpkin, kalamansi and miso). So relaxing is the Stube experience that the lockdown limitations on seating times (gone soon, we hope) felt almost intrusive.

fine dining dish

Chicken with carrots and a Sauternes jus

Upstairs, the centrepiece of the hotel is the Grand Restaurant, a dining room with a Belle Époque flair whose New Year’s Eve parties are the stuff of legend (and many years of waiting lists). Watching Europe’s grand aristocracy waft back and forth there one evening was an experience in itself (at the time of going to press, the hotel is not sure whether regulations will allow the Grand to reopen for the summer season). High on the mountainside above Suvretta there is also the Trutz restaurant with a kind of rustic-Swiss chic serving air-dried beef, pastas, barley soup and salads with local cheeses – an excellent tonic after hiking up there.

Read more: Umberta Beretta on fund-raising for the arts

alpine valley

The river En (Inn) beneath the hotel

There is far more to the Suvretta House than its cuisine; the rooms, fresh and Swiss-luxurious, have an eternally epic view across forests and mountains; the indoor pool-with-a-view is huge; and the gardens (and utterly charming woodland childrens’ playground) are addictive. But this summer, there is nothing that will stop us indulging in a gastronomic tour of its restaurants and the sublime service and views. Something no home delivery service will ever offer.

Find out more: suvrettahouse.ch

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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exhibition installation
exhibition installation

Robilant + Voena at Masterpiece London 2019, photography Ben Fisher, Courtesy Masterpiece London

In his final column for LUX, art collector, advisor and chairman of Masterpiece London Philip Hewat-Jaboor shares advice on collecting art, and pairing contemporary and antique objects

My belief is that we all have the urge to be surrounded by beautiful objects, and this has only been intensified by our time spent in lockdown. When we are living with things we love, we have a sense of place and stability that enhances our lives and brings so much pleasure and enjoyment.

I was introduced to the wonderful world of collecting, and specifically cross-collecting, by my grandfather who carefully mixed Chinese ceramics with British sporting pictures and English furniture in his home. These three specialist collections came together to form balanced and unified interiors that have continued to inspire me.

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Collecting and displaying historic artworks and objects alongside contemporary pieces is a trend that can be traced back to ancient Roman times. This is evident, for example, in the great collections put together by the Medici family, which can still be seen in the interiors of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence and the acquisitions by King George IV in the early 19th century also epitomise the richness to be found from cross-collecting (part of his extraordinary collection is currently on display at the Brighton Pavilion, re-installed in the original sumptuous interiors). This is also the way I like to collect personally, with carefully curated combinations, enriching the whole.

man surrounded by art

Philip Hewat-Jaboor at home in Jersey, 2019, photo Danny Evans, Courtesy Philip Hewat-Jaboor

 

How do you start collecting?

The art world can sometimes appear baffling and opaque, but don’t let this put you off. Visit museums, art galleries, auction houses and art fairs. The most important thing is to look, and continue to look. Discover what excites you and why. Is it the history of the piece? Are you drawn to a particular material, to  contemporary pieces or to more traditional fields?

Put aside the current fashion of separating contemporary art from the traditional – this is a modern distinction, which I personally believe limits our imagination. That said, the contemporary art world provides the opportunity to engage with the artist or designer, and to understand and learn from them first hand.

Build a relationship with a trusted dealer or advisor. They are knowledgeable and passionate, eager to share and there is no better way of learning. Read as much as you can, and most importantly buy with your heart.

What makes a good work of art?

Why is one work more desirable than another? I ask myself about the overall integrity of design (if a three dimensional work), the quality of the material and how well it is used, and the craftsmanship. To me a measure of great design is demonstrated be being able to scale an object up or down in size without loss of its integrity. The condition of a piece plays an important role, and it’s important to look for original surfaces on furniture and sculpture, concealed damage to ceramics, and ensure that works are not over cleaned. Look for signs of conservation rather than restoration. However, less than perfect condition should not be a deterrent if the work is particularly rare or unusual. Provenance (who owned the work previously) is vital both from the point of view of reinforcing authenticity but it can also tell a story and add to the piece’s desirability. In my opinion, a great work of art is both beautiful and intellectually rewarding.

Read more: Why the Swiss village of Andermatt is designed for living

lamp and objects on a table

Oscar Graf at Masterpiece London 2019, photography Ben Fisher, Courtesy Masterpiece London

How much is it worth?

It can sometimes appear difficult to establish value. There are numerous ways to search for comparable pieces online, however, this does not give you a complete picture; every work is different (they are not like shares), you cannot judge condition nor the circumstances of a previous sale, which can give rise to both inflated and low prices. One of the positive outcomes in the growth of online selling platforms is an increased transparency about prices.

Do your homework, but ultimately, it comes back to trust and buying from reputable sources. Many of the works I treasure the most are those which were a financial stretch to acquire, but I have found myself repaid a thousandfold in pleasure.

How do you display artwork in your home?

Thoughtful display plays a crucial role is showing works to their best advantage and creating a dialogue between them. As a favourite of mine, the early 19th century cross-collector William Beckford said, “Everything depends on the way objects are placed, and where. Horrors in one place discount beauties in another.”

I have been taking advantage of my time at home this year to really look closely at objects in my collection. I also regularly move works around. For example, I placed a contemporary alabaster bowl by Stephen Cox next to a recently acquired Egyptian unguent vessel that was made some two and half thousand years earlier, but the pieces are identical in material and the pairing has given rise to a wonderful conversation between two diverse works. Beautiful objects resonate with other works of beauty. Too many people are afraid of scale; works that you might feel to be too large often hold a room. There is no need to be timid. Decoration should be conceived to enhance how we sees works of art and not be a diversion.

Buy what you love and look for beauty, take good advice, do your own research and don’t worry too much about the cost which is soon forgotten!

Philip Hewat-Jaboor is Masterpiece London’s Chairman of the Fair. Read his previous column here

Masterpiece Online, sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada, is taking place from 24-27 June 2021. For more information visit: masterpiecefair.com

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natural ice landscape
natural ice landscape

Ice Garden by David Sinclair

Over the course of his career, David Sinclair has photographed some of our planet’s wildest landscapes and led numerous polar expeditions, working closely with local communities to protect the natural environment and raise awareness of the impacts of climate change. Here, he discusses his love of the polar regions and why a cultural shift is needed to tackle environmental issues

portrait of a man 1. What inspired you to become a photographer, particularly in the polar regions?

I cannot recall what first piqued my interest in the polar regions, but it wasn’t photography. My first recollection of feeling an intense desire to visit [that area] dates back to a conversation at a party in sub-tropical Brisbane when I decided I wanted to ski across Greenland. By then, through my travels and adventures, I’d fallen in love with mountains, ice and remote wilderness. Greenland was this large mysterious landmass that called to me.

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It was a natural progression as a keen photographer to want to return to capture the majesty of the polar regions and I’ve been returning every year as a photographer, guide and expedition leader. The solitude, the grandeur, the incredible wildlife and the feeling of being extraordinarily and wonderfully insignificant keep drawing me back. There are not many days when my mind does not wander to the icy expanses.

2. Should the issues of human waste and climate change be tackled separately or together?

This is a difficult question to unpack. Human waste and climate change are linked and the impact of both on biodiversity is well documented. Certainly climate change appears to be a more polarising subject and waste an easier subject to tackle. Regardless, we are running out of time to tackle the impacts of both so we need to figure out what works to influence decision makers and business leaders and make the necessary changes to decarbonise and create a truly circular economy.

In my lifetime, the human population has more than doubled and the wildlife population has more than halved. The sixth great extinction is underway and human activity is at its heart. We need to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss head on and to do that effectively I think we need cultural change. So many lawmakers and captains of industry are too far removed from ‘cause and effect’ and are incentivised or motivated to act in ways that imperil biodiversity and the environment. We need cultural change, to embed a deep respect and love for nature, a respect that overrides the desire to exploit it. It’s going to take a monumental effort to change course. I am seeing encouraging signs as more and more people are awake to the perils of losing biodiversity and harming the ecosystems we are reliant on for our own longevity and prosperity.

penguin diving off ice

Diving In by David Sinclair

3. What values do you think remain consistent across your three careers as a photographer, polar expedition leader and lawyer?

I value honesty and integrity. I think I’m honest to a fault, calling things how I see them. While this can be challenging for some, I think people respect you when you level with them. As an expedition leader I think it’s important to be honest with people who have placed their trust in your decision-making. As a photographer, I think it’s important to depict nature in an honest way, not to embellish that which does not need embellishment, and as a lawyer, it is critical to act with honesty and integrity at all times.

Read more: Superblue’s experiential art centres & innovative business model

4. What role do you think photography has to play in trying to promote protection of the Arctic regions?

Photography has a very important role in promoting the protection of the Arctic, Antarctic and all ecosystems and species in need of protection. Strong imagery can be a very powerful advocacy tool. An image can captivate people in a way that an essay or scientific paper or report cannot.

moonrise over a snow-capped mountain

Antarctic Peninsula Moonrise by David Sinclair

5. How has increasing geo-politicisation in the Arctic impacted attempts to preserve the ecology of the area?

The Arctic is a geopolitical hotspot right now. There is increased competition for influence over sea routes and for resources, ironically as climate change makes sea routes and resources more accessible. Heightened exploitation of the Arctic could have devastating consequences for its ecology, compounding the already devastating impacts of human activity outside of the Arctic. I cannot predict how geo-political tremors will impact attempts to preserve the Arctic. It is possible heightened tensions and competition for resources might draw more attention to the Arctic which could help attempts to sway public opinion which could lead to stronger protection.

6. Can you share your favourite expedition memory?

I have so many amazing memories, it’s impossible to choose a favourite. I recall one brilliant day in Davis Strait surrounded by ice. We came across a polar bear eating another polar bear, Northern Bottlenose whales and a pod of orca, and we landed on sea ice. Later, in the evening, we watched the Aurora Borealis dance across the stern of the ship with bioluminescence in our wake.

I wrote in my diary on a ski-crossing of Greenland, “We could not be further from civilisation but life could not be more civilised”. I think this encapsulates the wonderful camaraderie and simplicity of expedition life.

Find out more: davidsinclairimages.com

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man playing golf
man playing golf

Photograph by Valentin Luthiger

It’s not just the breathtaking alpine landscapes that are attracting visitors to Andermatt Swiss Alp’s golf course, but also its notable commitment to sustainability and biodiversity. LUX discovers more

Andermatt’s 18-hole championship golf course was designed by renowned golf course architect Kurt Rossknecht to blend seamlessly into the unique landscape of the Ursern Valley, winding around rock formations, wildflower meadows and natural streams against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

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In September 2020, the golf course became one of the first in Switzerland to achieve GEO certification from the Golf Environmental Organisation. There are now over 118 species of birds and 12 species of dragonflies living in the surrounding environment, while specially-designed drinking stations provide golfers with fresh mountain water, still and sparkling, to discourage the use of plastic bottles on the course.

alpine golf club house

The golf clubhouse. Photograph by Valentin Luthiger

The clubhouse restaurant, The Swiss House, also shows its commitment to sustainability through its broad range of local dishes and climate-friendly catering.

The golf course opened on 22nd May 2021. Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

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terrace views
terrace views

The view from the terrace of the Royal Penthouse suite at the Mandarin Oriental Geneva

In the first of our four part luxury travel views column from our Summer 2021 issue, LUX editor-in-chief Darius Sanai enjoys fine dining and Alpine views at Mandarin Oriental, Geneva

Geneva is a city that will be known to LUX readers as a place to park the jet ahead of a skiing holiday, and a city to visit a few times a year on banking business.

It is also a centre of tourism, although its hotels tend to be focused more on the business traveller: plenty of exclusive restaurants and conference rooms, less in the way of relaxation and views.

During the lull in the pandemic last summer, I decided to combine visits to clients in Geneva, Andermatt, Zurich, Germany and Champagne into one single drive, rather than the more fraught process of taking planes, trains and taxis.

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Arriving in Geneva by car rather than the usual plane/taxi combination opens your eyes to the city’s location. To arrive from northwest Europe, you make your way down a winding motorway through a valley in the Jura Mountains, with the Alps opening out in front of you beyond the lake.

It was a summer’s day with deep-blue Alpine skies, and I would rather have camped out in a deckchair then be cooped up behind the sealed windows of a business hotel, however luxurious.

Fortunately, the Mandarin Oriental is a place to combine both business and leisure. After a Covid-secure check-in, I was ushered into a lift by myself, and checked into my junior terrace suite. In many hotels, even expensive ones, a junior suite is really an excuse to charge a higher rate by sticking a sofa into a king-size bedroom. But not here.

To the right, a big glass-walled bathroom, with an electric blind you could lower for privacy. To the left, an extensive dressing area, and in the room itself a big glass desk, cabinets and bookshelves, plenty of oriental chic furniture, a triple-bed corner sofa and coffee table, with a lot of space in between. Not a suite of rooms, but a very large, well-designed and light bedroom, which could easily have been divided in two – which would have ruined the effect.

Outside was the pièce de résistance, certainly on a sunny summer’s day (less useful in Swiss winters): an extensive private terrace with sun loungers, chairs, a table, outdoor candles and a Buddha. The terrace looked out over the Rhine river at the point it tapers from the lake, across the old town and the rest of the city to the Alps beyond.

hotel bedroom with views over a river

A guest bedroom in the Royal Penthouse suite at the Mandarin Oriental Geneva

Furnishing was in a pleasing contemporary classic green and gold, and the glass bathroom answered a question Nick Jones, founder of the Soho House group, posed in my head some 20 years ago. At that stage, Nick was just planning to launch his first hotel, Babington House in the British countryside. He told me over lunch that the rooms would be completely different to anything anyone had seen before in a hotel, starting with the bathrooms. “Why should there be a bathroom on the right or left as you go in?” he said, somewhat gnomically.

Read more: Superblue’s experiential art centres & innovative business model

Now, as anyone who has been to any of the Soho House properties and their imitators will know, you can find a bath almost anywhere within the perimeter of the room. But the problem is that people want privacy and cosiness in bathrooms, sometimes; and at other times they may wish to see the world or the world to see them. The glass-walled bathroom in my terrace suite was the perfect answer: with the blind raised, this was a large, wet, marble part of the bedroom and terrace. And with it down, total privacy.

On my last night I had that welcome rarity on business trips, an evening alone, due mainly to pandemic caution deterring any formal dinners with clients. It was a warm evening, and I ordered room service on my terrace from Yakumanka, the hotel’s acclaimed Peruvian restaurant.

Three staff members arrived and swiftly moved to the terrace to set the table; the courses arrived separately, so they would not get cold.

This is pure, focused cuisine. White fish with calamari, tamarind sauce and tartar; grilled calamari with white chaufa and Szechuan leche de tigre. Particularly memorable was the sautéed rice with calamari, lettuce, bok choy, Chinese cabbage and tortilla.

All accompanied by a creamy but fresh bottle of Deutz champagne and that view across the city to the Alps. A business hotel and a relaxation zone all in one in the heart of town and with the flawless professional service, swift yet relaxed, the group has made its name for.

Book your stay: mandarinoriental.com/geneva

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue. 

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The 2019 Mille Miglia

The Mille Miglia, once the world’s most challenging road race, is now a historical recreation with the original cars and their avid collectors. On the eve of 2021’s race, we take a trip down memory lane
classic racing car

The 1948 AMP Prete

A 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ‘Gullwing’

classic car race

A 1928 Bugatti Type 37A

Mercedes-Benz 710 SSK from 1929

A 1948 Ermini Tinarelli 1100 Sport

The Mille Miglia 2021 takes place from 16th to the 19th of June. For more information, visit: 1000miglia.it

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue

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summer in the alps
summer in the alps

Andermatt in summer

As well as making it a world-class ski resort, the development of the Swiss village of Andermatt has from the very start aimed to attract people who want to live there full-time. Karen Chung meets three residents who, in their different ways, call it home

Andermatt was born from the conviction that if you build it, they will come. With the ultra-ambitious yet sustainable mega-development of what was previously a sleepy, tucked away Alpine village, the town now offers an unparalleled lifestyle mix in a traditional setting.

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The development has since grown into so much more than simply a luxury holiday destination, with a high-low mix from its flagship hotel The Chedi Andermatt and world-beating concert hall, Michelin-starred restaurants and serviced apartments, through to cosy pizzerias, its relaxed attitude and a wish list of outdoor activities and cultural events accessible all year round.

But what is it actually like to live there? Seven years after The Chedi Andermatt hotel put it firmly on the map, three residents reveal why Andermatt has it all.

 

JOHAN GRANVIK
The serial entrepreneur

Johan Granvik grew up near Andermatt and travelled the world before ending up back in his hometown. The businessman behind Andermatt’s boutique Schwarzer Bären hotel and its delightfully cosy-modern Italian restaurant admits his career trajectory has taken him by surprise. “Usually, people tend to go to the big city and never come back,” he says. “I left for the US at the age of 16 and never imagined I would come back. But I said to myself, if a project like this is happening in my own hometown, I want to be part of it.”

hotel courtyard

The Chedi Andermatt courtyard

He joined the launch team for The Chedi Andermatt hotel in 2013, stayed a year and a half, then with a friend he set up his own bar and nightclub. “There’s a lot of opportunity here. We added a restaurant on the slopes and another nightclub, then two summer businesses a few years later.” He notes that the development has brought in more people, but also left enough space for start-ups to do their own thing. “Although Andermatt is growing at an exponential pace, for me the character of the town is pretty much the same. Some thought it would become like St Moritz, but I don’t think it will. I talk to a lot of people in our restaurants who love it here because it’s so down-to-earth, and that’s quite unique. For us the focus is on improving the business,” he says. “We’re in this for the long haul.”

Read more: Umberta Beretta on fund-raising for the arts

Swiss village

Looking down on the Piazza Gottardo. Image by Valentin Luthiger

KAREN O’MAHONY
The working-from-home holidaymaker

“In normal times, I travel a lot in the US, UK and Europe reviewing potential investment opportunities, followed by months of intensive due diligence and analysis. When I need peace and quiet to think, I find the fresh air and light of Andermatt, and the lack of distraction, makes me really productive,” says Karen O’Mahony, a private equity investor who realised the full potential of her holiday home after London’s first lockdown. Sure enough, she swiftly joined the ranks of professionals who, forced to hit reset on their professional lives during the pandemic, swiftly saw potential upsides in the new normal. With the seismic shifts in working pattern and ties to major cities loosened, she can fit in two hours of cross-country skiing first thing in the morning, and be back at her desk before the London business day begins.

alpine golf course

The Andermatt Swiss Alps Golf Course. Image by Valentin Luthiger

“At any time of the year, Andermatt is steeped in nature with views of the mountains on all sides. From skiing, walking, golf and eating out, there’s something to do all year around, and this makes it much more of a home than a holiday property,” she says.

Man in a ski jacket

FRÄNGGI GEHRIG
The local

Folk musician and accordion player Fränggi Gehrig juggles a schedule of rehearsals and concerts during peak season with working on his own music and enjoying the mountains during quieter spells. As he appears on the screen from his home studio in Andermatt, the windows behind him reveal a tantalising view of snowcapped mountains in a stroke of unintentional Zoom one-upmanship. “I was lucky to be born here and to live in the mountains, the beautiful weather, the sun,” he says. “And we’re right in central Switzerland, so most places where I work are at most just a two-hour drive away.”

With a laugh, he recalls how he did his military service in the area where the resort now stands. “It’s hard to say how the town would have developed without this investment,” he says. “Now I might play between 80 and 120 concerts a year. In summer I might play four or five concerts a week. I also play a lot more now in Andermatt than I did a few years ago.

interiors of a concert hall

The auditorium of the Andermatt Concert Hall. Image by Anthony Brown

And, of course, for me as a musician, the most beautiful thing is the new concert hall” – which opened with an epic inaugural concert by the Berlin Philharmonic in summer 2019 that put Andermatt firmly on the cultural map. “The fact that a venue like this, with such an incredible acoustic, is right here in my hometown is amazing – and the other half of the concert-hall complex is a conference centre, so I also play private gigs for companies at dinners. It’s a good place to network, and as it grows, I think there will be even more opportunities for me as a musician. I could never imagine living anywhere else.”

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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digital flower
digital flower
Spearheaded by collector and patron Kamiar Maleki, Present the Future is a hybrid artist residency, that brings together British musician Tinie Tempah and French-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar in the creation of audio-visual NTF artworks. As the project kicks off in the South of France, LUX discovers more

There are few places that would make a more idyllic setting for an artist residency than the French Riviera and this is exactly where French-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and British musician Tinie Tempah have set up base – at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, to be precise – for seven intense days of creative collaboration from 7 to 13 June.

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While it might all sound a little grand, the luscious landscapes and vibrant colours of the Côte d’Azur have been attracting artists and writers for centuries. On his arrival in 1917, Matisse was so taken with the sun-drenched vistas that he decided to settle in the south of France for the rest of his life. Years later, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar found himself similarly drawn to the timeless Mediterranean landscape and now lives and works in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Collaborating with hip-hop pioneer Tinie Tempah, however, is something new and altogether unexpected for the painter.

“Having been in a creative dialogue with Tinie for the past year, we wanted to work on a project together, and during a conversation with curator and fair director Kamiar Maleki, and after meeting Dumi Oburota [Tinie’s manager] we came up with the idea of establishing an artist residency that was not just focused on the traditional art form but also interlinked the contemporary, music and digital worlds together into a hybrid collaboration never seen before,” he says.

floral painting

Pink Future, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar (top), and the painting’s digital transformation into an NFT artwork

“We are both music and art lovers and share in common that nomadic lifestyle,” adds the musician. “After picking up some of Sassan’s work last year, we discussed working on something game changing together, and here we are.”

Read more: Speaking with America’s new art icon Rashid Johnson

The audio-visual NTFs works created during the residency will build on Behnam-Bakhtiar’s signature painting style of peinture raclée and his recurring floral symbols, and will be presented alongside a live music and spoken word performance by Tinie Tempah, and a panel discussion moderated by art auctioneer Simon de Pury. Future residencies are also planned, but the locations are yet to be revealed.

“Our goal is to present to the world’s first hybrid digital / physical NFT production and minting experience, combining the work of two immensely important artistic visionaries in a setting that promises to instil a sense of awe and wonder, inspiring in the process new levels of conviviality and creativity,” says the project’s curator Kamiar Maleki.

The works created during the project will be auctioned via the Nifty Gateway platform starting on 21 July 2021.

For more information, visit: presentthefuture.art

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designer in his studio
designer in his studio

Brunello Cucinelli in his study

Brunello Cucinelli has built a multibillion-euro clothing empire out of nothing and revived an impoverished community in central Italy. The king of cashmere speaks with Darius Sanai about responsibility, humanitarian capitalism and learning from the Persian empire

Brunello Cucinelli cuts a suave figure with a sweep of silver-dark hair, sitting on a chair behind a large table. The initial view on the Zoom call is wide angle, taken from a camera across the room, a huge space with cathedral-like ceilings. This is his famous office, in the restored medieval village of Solomeo that is now home to his company.

Behind him as far as the eye can see are bookshelves. Not the pretentiously prearranged shelves of politicians preened to show where their interests lie, or the by-the-yard, untouched bookshelves of an oligarch. These are shelves from which the books have plainly been taken in and out, referred to constantly. Some books are standing up, others are at a diagonal, others on their side in piles next to gaps.

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There seems to be a lot of history, philosophy, art and photography from what I can make out when the camera zooms in a bit closer to him. To his left, slightly incongruously, is a bowl of what look like basketballs.

Cucinelli is no ordinary Italian fashion magnate. He may be the founder of a family company with 7,000 employees and a turnover of €200m, but during the course of our 90-minute conversation and interview he barely once touched on the subject of the garment industry, merchandising or marketing.

The son of an impoverished factory worker, Cucinelli started his company in 1978, and is now synonymous with highly contemporary cashmere.

italian villa

italian estate

The Scuola dei Mestieri (top) and the valley below Solomeo (above)

He is also something else: an old-fashioned benevolent capitalist (he calls it “humanitarian capitalism”), driven by civic duty as much as profit, in the mould of the Cadburys and Heskeths of Victorian Britain who built housing, hospitals and churches for their workers.

He has used millions of his own funds to build his company’s headquarters and factory in what was the declining hamlet of Solomeo, south of Florence. He has built schools and a theatre, restored the 12th-century church, and revived the local wine and food artisans.

Read more: Artists in residence at Castel Caramel in the south of France

In our opening chat, he was more interested in engaging with me about my namesake Persian king and his relative, Cyrus the Great. This was no PR-manufactured pillow talk either – Cucinelli is an avid self-taught polymath in philosophy and history and his citations, darting between philosophers of different eras and cultures, were more than a match for this Oxford University-trained philosopher.

But in the era where the private sector’s role in and responsibility for people and the planet have never been more important, it was this fundamental aspect of his business, humanitarian capitalism, that we engaged on.

menswear campaign

The spring 2021 menswear campaign was shot in the Sibillini Mountains in central Italy

LUX: Why did you choose cashmere for your business?
Brunello Cucinelli: I decided overnight to do cashmere. I didn’t know anything about this kind of material, but I knew one thing for sure – I wanted a product that you would never throw away but hand down to the next generation. I loved this idea of being able to act
as a guardian and of something you can reuse and hand down. It is a very contemporary idea, but I was there years ago. I wanted to work with cashmere, because it never gets thrown away. And I wanted to make a profit, but a fair one with a fair relationship to giving back. I wanted it to be made with ethics, dignity and respect for the moral code. And I didn’t want to bring harm to anything that was around me.

LUX: You began following these principles years ago and they are now common in corporate culture. What has changed?
Brunello Cucinelli: I have always wanted my employees to earn a bit more than the average, and for them to work in beautiful surroundings. I also decided they should work only for eight hours a day, the German way if you wish. I didn’t want them to be working online after work or at the weekends but to be extremely focused during the day. I wanted to achieve this balance so that you can have enough time for your mind, and then time to work, and I wanted to promote the idea of living in harmony with everything around you, with other people, with the land, with the water, with the air.

Read more: Speaking with America’s new art icon Rashid Johnson

LUX: How can a business find time to be both profitable and responsible, because many businesses would focus just on profit?
Brunello Cucinelli: To be credible, you must be truthful both when things are going well and not going well. Everybody knows about the profit that your company makes, and everybody must be put in a position to earn a fair amount. This is a responsibility towards other people, towards wildlife, towards the land. Here, we grow our grain, our olives, our wine; it all goes into the company canteen, but we don’t call this ‘organic produce’, we just say this is produce grown with respect to nature.

LUX: How does this philosophy add to the future of the company?
Brunello Cucinelli: I believe that young people will increasingly want to know where and how a product has been made, what harm if any has been caused during the production process. If they find out that a preposterous profit has been made out of something, they will decide not to buy a specific product. Profit must be balanced and fair, where every link in the chain each makes their own profit, from the shepherd with the goats to the investors and the bankers, to the workers, everybody. When I went public, I said to the potential investors that if you want a company that is making a fair profit and also helping the local community, then you can invest in my company. But if you are looking for a company that delivers fast growth, then this one is not for you.

public monument

The monument ‘Tribute to Human Dignity’

LUX: Does your philosophy only apply to your company or could others learn from you?
Brunello Cucinelli: There are 7,000 people in the company, with 2,000 direct employees and 5,000 subcontractors or indirect people who work with us and we make a normal profit. Even in 2020, we only had a 10 per cent dip in our revenues and you still saw my workers going out of their way to design the best collections ever because probably it is precisely in a time of sorrows and pain that you release your creativity. It is definitely possible to make a profit and at the same time respect human dignity. Even in my own life, for example, I’ve always told the banks managing my assets that they need to invest them in companies that respect the human being.

Read more: The rise of millennial art collectors

LUX: What is the future of physical stores compared to online retail?
Brunello Cucinelli: E-commerce is extremely important for the brand image, but physical stores are just as important, if not more so. I want to go in a physical store, I want to be met by a caring salesperson who may ask after me and my family, and I want to see and touch things with my own eyes and hands. And especially after this pandemic, we are craving physicality. Jeff Bezos, who was here visiting, said that with Amazon he is not able to create emotions; he is basically just providing a service and when you receive your parcel at home, you own it, whereas when you go into a store you have this human exchange with the salesperson. They are both important worlds.

LUX: Would you have sold your company to the likes of François Pinault or Bernard Arnault if they had offered to buy it?
Brunello Cucinelli: We are majority shareholders of the company and I like very much the idea of this being a company with the family involved because this has always been my dream. Being public in the Italian way is different to the American idea – for us having a company is like nurturing your own child. I feel protected by the fact that we are a public company because this way you need to be able to listen to those who might give you advice, investors, analysts.

womenswear fashion campaign

The spring 2021 womenswear campaign

LUX: With cashmere, what is more important, the design or the quality?
Brunello Cucinelli: Both. I have always wanted to procure the best quality material. Although I didn’t know anything at all about cashmere at the very beginning, I just went out there and said I want the best quality available. I’ve always tried to pursue quality and craftsmanship, first and foremost. It is something I never sacrifice and when you wear a garment that we have made I want you to know of all the people who have worked for it. But it must also be a very modern product because quality is not enough by itself. For example, when I was younger, I was looking at the UK because of the way they knitted their cashmere sweaters, but I wanted fresher colours, more pop colours. Taste is important as well as quality, otherwise you would not have a contemporary product.

LUX: What was your biggest challenge in all the time you have run your company?
Brunello Cucinelli: I would say March 2020, because overnight we had to make huge decisions such as not to lay off anybody, and to maintain everyone’s salaries. Nor did we ask for any discounts from our suppliers or landlords because this is not the way we behave, and especially in a pandemic. We also made sure that all the excess goods that were left in the store because of the closures were donated. My structure nowadays is even stronger than what it was a year ago because we were able to do everything sooner than expected. I have written to my employees, thanking them for what they have contributed to the company in this tough time, and tomorrow I’m meeting them in a video call just to thank them. It has been a very poignant time, one that has been hard both on our body and on our soul but at the same time, from the spiritual point of view, I would also call it one of the best times.

LUX: Our magazine works with a lot of artists. Do you work with many artists or support the arts around the world?
Brunello Cucinelli: I have always been surrounded by young, creative people and I have always liked them. The first thing I look for in a human being is their soul, as they must be kindred souls. I have always believed in a universal humanism regardless of race and religion. I’m a bit like Cyrus the Great, so to speak, and I am also convinced that if you show a human being esteem, regard and dignity, they will pay you back with great creativity.

Find out more: brunellocucinelli.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 9 min
immersive art installation
immersive art installation

Installation by teamLab, Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – Transcending Boundaries, A Whole Year per Hour (2017). Courtesy of Superblue

Blue-blooded art dealer Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst has always been known for her creativity.
She has now teamed up with Pace Gallery CEO Marc Glimcher to create an innovative, social media-friendly art experience that she plans to roll out around the world. Millie Walton discovers more
portrait of a woman in a dress

Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst

British aristocrat and art dealer to the private jet set Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst has had numerous highs in a career which has encompassed creating sculpture parks at her family’s castle and driving the London operations of Pace, the global super-gallery.

But, she says, in the last couple of years, something began to bother her and Marc Glimcher, the CEO of Pace and her longtime business partner. They had long been known for curating and organising exhibitions with a focus on public art and experiential installations. But, she says, “[while] these artists were doing really amazing things, there was no way to financially compensate them unless a museum bought the work”. And so she and Glimcher began to develop the business model for Superblue, a new private art exhibition concept based on ticketed revenue that supports both the company and the artists by paying them a cut of sales.

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It is a suitably cutting-edge concept for Dent-Brocklehurst, who is known for her own creative ideas. On her father’s side, the Superblue co-founder hails from a blue-blooded English family who still own their ancestral home, Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds, which was home to one of the wives of Henry VIII. Her American mother is the daughter of a Kentucky doctor. Over the years, Dent-Brocklehurst, who is married to celebrated sculptor Richard Hudson (they live in a converted industrial unit in London that also serves as an exhibition space and studio) has developed a reputation for bringing forward-thinking art concepts from around the world to the London scene.

interactive floral installation

Proliferating Immense Life – A Whole Year per Year (2020) by teamLab. Courtesy of Superblue

The Superblue project kicks off in Miami this spring. Its purpose-built ‘experiential art centre’ provides a blank canvas for both the creation and experience of art. “Typically art that goes into a museum is either donated or purchased by wealthy patrons, so there is a sort of gate-keeper to the kind of art that gets exhibited, but what we’re doing is inviting the public to be the selector of the art. If they like it, it exists; if they don’t, it doesn’t,” says Dent-Brocklehurst. Is she worried about the uncertainty of the present moment? “It was already a very Covid-friendly concept. It’s a huge space and there’s a limit to the amount of people who can be there at any one time to prevent the overcrowding of the experiences.”

Superblue’s focus on experiential artworks, which use vibrant colours, light-filled rooms, reflective surfaces and elements of augmented or virtual reality, inevitably resonates with a fast-paced, image-focused culture. Its inaugural Miami exhibition ‘Every Wall is a Door’, for example, features work by pioneering light and space artist James Turrell, Japanese collective teamLab, and celebrated stage designer and artist Es Devlin. The concept also seems designed to maximise social media impact. Does that cheapen the experience of the art? “I’m sure people will Instagram the artworks as they are very visually exciting,” says Dent-Brocklehurst, “but I think what we’re trying to achieve with this group of works is something which is much deeper and more fundamental.”

portrait of an artist

Es Devlin. Photograph by Jasper Clarke

This is perhaps most evident in Es Devlin’s installation Forest of Us which leads visitors on a journey through the human respiratory process, emphasising our reliance on trees for breathable air and the issues of climate change resulting from deforestation. The piece begins with a film on a perforated screen surface which allows viewers to pass through into a mirrored maze incorporating different performance elements along the way.

Read more: Umberta Beretta on fund-raising for the arts

A tree planting project is also being developed to support reforestation in the Amazon. “Landscape painting has always helped us tune our eyes into nature by framing it, telling us where to look. These works behave in a similar way. They focus our attention on particular phenomena, guiding us to perceive these phenomena where we find them at work in the world,” says Devlin.

It’s not just Devlin, however, whose practice engages with wider social issues. According to Dent-Brocklehurst, it is something that connects many experiential artists. “They have a very embracing kind of attitude towards their audience and the way that people can engage and interact with their work,” she says. “There’s a sense that they can lead a change through the experience of the work.”

metallic and mirrored installation

Forest of Us (2021) by Es Devlin. Courtesy of Superblue

Superblue isn’t quite the first of its kind – teamLab already runs its own immersive enterprise, teamLab Borderless, located on Tokyo’s waterfront, which drew 2.3 million people in its first year of opening. But what’s unique is the exhibiting of multiple large scale installations simultaneously. Added to that, the artists are more or less given freedom to make what they want. “Our concept was not to curate [Every Wall is a Door] but to give a spectrum of the most important and relevant moments of experiential art,” explains Dent-Brocklehurst.

However, the hope is that the exhibitions will draw new audiences who encounter the art through curiosity. “I think we long to be surrounded,” says Devlin. “We are so used to the act of translating 2D into 3D, to conjuring worlds from a phone-sized rectangle, we forget that it’s a continual act of imaginative labour. It’s a relief to be physically surrounded in three dimensions.”

While Superblue’s next destinations are yet to be revealed, their plan is to expand across the US and internationally, building a network of venues across which the artworks can travel. “It’s about the art coming to the people rather than the other way around,” says Dent-Brocklehurst.

Found out more: superblue.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 5 min
grand swiss hotel
grand swiss hotel

The Badrutt’s Palace hotel’s grand frontage and its iconic tower.

High in St Moritz, the grandest hotel in the Alps has just been revitalised. There’s nowhere better to take the summer air with your entourage than Badrutt’s

What could be better than the Helen Badrutt Suite at Badrutt’s Palace? Yes, we know there are some pretty swanky hotel suites out there. The Abu Dhabi suite at the St Regis in the namesake emirate has its own spiral staircase and cinema. The Presidential Suite at the Mandarin Oriental in Pudong, Shanghai, has floor-to-ceiling windows over the city and its own wine cellar and roof garden. Stay at Seven South at the Ritz Carlton in Grand Cayman and as well as 11 bedrooms, you get a free painting to take home.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

But still. Enter the Helen Badrutt and you don’t feel like you have arrived, or paid what it takes, so much as having been granted entry to a very exclusive club, in one of the world’s most desirable pinpoint locations. Badrutt’s Palace is the acme of palace hotels in St Moritz, the world’s most exclusive mountain resort. It’s the fact that it has been so for more than a century, despite its location 1,800m up in the Swiss Alps, that provides a clue to the exclusivity: this is where blue bloods, royals, pretenders and their circle have played for more than 100 years.

luxurious hotel drawing room

The drawing room of the Helen Badrutt Suite

When the Shah of Iran decided to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire with the grandest dinner in the history of the world in Persepolis in 1971 (an act of indulgence that ultimately contributed to his downfall in the Islamic Revolution), he flew in the staff from Badrutt’s Palace. And staying in the Helen Badrutt, you are the crème de la crème of the hotel’s guests (or perhaps the Shahanshah).

Read more: Speaking with America’s new art icon Rashid Johnson

It might be the living room, with its grand décor, bottomless drinks cabinet refilled with spirits in decanters (no tacky miniatures here), Persian carpets and chandelier; or the balcony terrace looking out over Lake St Moritz and the mountain beyond, big enough to host a party for 20 people (we did); or the silent-quiet bedroom or marble bathroom; or that it can interconnect privately to form an entire wing of ten bedrooms.

outdoor swimming pool

The Badrutt’s Palace pool overlooking Lake St Moritz

Maybe it’s the butler service, which, unlike some more thrusting hotels, is almost entirely seen and not heard, Jeeves-style (we don’t know about you, but we don’t need butlers knocking on our door and asking what to do; they should know already, as they do at Badrutt’s).

In any case, staying in the Helen Badrutt bestows upon the visitor a sense of history, transforming the humble paying guest into a multi-suffixed European aristocrat with seats in each major city of the Holy Roman Empire and a foundation in a castled town in Westphalia from where a tweed-suited team of faithful retainers disburse philanthropic goodness to worthy institutions around the world. Or so it feels, anyway.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on Georgia O’Keeffe’s enduring influence

And even if that nuance escapes you, there is the rest of this glorious destination to enjoy. The Palace driver (there is a Rolls-Royce, of course) will whisk you to the foot of the Languard chairlift in nearby Pontresina, for example, from where you waft upwards through a magical larch forest where unknown creatures seemingly create tiny gardens in tree stumps; and from the top of which there is a view to the end of the Roseg valley where mountains live in permanent winter.

hotel suite drawing room

A newly refreshed St Moritz Suite

Or if you prefer to stay in St Moritz, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Chopard, et al, are metres, or in some cases centimetres, from the Palace. And if you prefer to stay in the
hotel itself, there’s the swimming pool with its celebrated rock garden to dive from (a kind of mini Alpine Acapulco) and spa, tennis courts, adventure playground and kids’ club.

And the best thing? Well, even old money needs refreshing sometime, and during lockdown the Palace has had more than 40 of its rooms and suites redecorated – the official word is “refreshed” – by New York design studio Champalimaud, which has brought fresh blues and whites and a kind of Alpine light to the rooms. Which means that even if you’re not old-guard enough, there’s a place for you.

Book your stay: badruttspalace.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 Issue.

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Reading time: 4 min
chef in the kitchen
chef in the kitchen

Markus Neff in the kitchen at Gütsch. Image by Valentin Luthiger

At the top of the 2,300 metre-high Gütsch-Express mountain station in the Swiss ski resort of Andermatt resides Markus Neff’s Michelin-starred restaurant Gütsch. Ahead of the resort’s reopening for the summer season, we speak to the chef about the challenges of running a high altitude restaurant and his childhood memories of family cooking

1. Tell us more about your dining concept “From Valley Low to Mountain High” – what does that mean exactly?

It means using everything that the mountains and the valley have to offer, preferably regional and Swiss products, but also everything else if the quality is right. Cuisine for everyone.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. Who or what has influenced your tastes in food and cooking?

My mother’s cuisine, childhood memories (back then without fast food), my father’s Sunday roasts, and a lot of curiosity.

3. What’s your typical process for developing a new dish?

It starts by having an idea, then bringing it to the plate. It often comes from the gut, but can also be triggered by regular customers who want something new or new products.

Alpine restaurant with tables laid for lunch

Gütsch boasts spectacular views over the Alps

4. How do you think your cooking style has evolved over the years?

I’m always looking for something new, and try to be open to everything, but at the same time, I preserve the signature of my kitchen and avoid jumping on every trend.

Read more: Meet the new generation of artisanal producers

5. What are some of the challenges of running a fine dining restaurant at high altitude?

The transport of goods, the height at which we work, weather conditions and sometimes, time pressure (but that last one has nothing to do with altitude).

6. Can you give us any clues of what to expect from the new season menu at Gütsch?

The menu will only be done at the beginning of the season, but you can certainly except fresh products, homemade pasta, dishes adapted to the summer. Let us surprise you!

Gütsch reopens for the season on 3 July 2021. For the latest updates and more information visit: guetsch.com

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Reading time: 1 min
man sitting at a desk wearing glasses
man sitting at a desk wearing glasses

Simon Hodges photographed by Matt Porteous

This month, LUX columnist and life coach Simon Hodges reflects on the difficulties of the past year, and the lessons we’ve learnt

As we all start to emerge, perhaps feeling somewhat dazed and disorientated, from this long period of isolation, I find myself contemplating a few questions:

  • Will we ever experience life again as it was before?
  • What lessons have I learned from this challenging period?
  • What lessons do we collectively need to learn from this last year?

Sitting in my log cabin office on a very windy and still fairly cold day (summer still feels a way off!), one thing is abundantly clear to me: never underestimate how quickly things can change!

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

But despite the late summer and the chaos of this last year, the first thing that comes to my mind is the word ‘hope’; there is nothing to say that our lives and this world cannot change markedly for the better in the coming weeks and months ahead.

Of course, I could just have easily chosen other words like ‘despair’ or ‘frustration’ but I find myself unable to do so. And one of the main reasons why I say this is that I think we all know with absolute certainty that it does not serve us to stay in such a dark place any longer.

Lessons Learnt – for me personally

My first lesson learnt is to choose to focus more of my energy on the light while recognising that the darkness is always there and that there are times when we all experience this darkness at the same time. And behind this are some real home truths for me:

  • Acceptance and surrender – for me, being happy is as much about being ok and accepting of the darkness in the world and in ourselves, as it is about consciously choosing to experience more light and joy. A huge part of what makes our human experience meaningful is our experience of both ends of the emotional spectrum.
  • Growth is never easy – we learn so much more about ourselves and are given the opportunity to learn and grow in times of hardship, struggle and adversity. Learning to see these times as a gift and not an obstacle is a game-changer in life. I guess this is something I have always intuitively known to be true, but it has really hit home recently.
  • This too shall pass – no matter how bad life seems, and God, do we know it can feel grim, it is incredibly comforting to remind ourselves that this moment will pass and the light will return.

man standing barefoot on a pathway

Lessons Learnt – for us collectively

The older I get, the more I feel that the universe and nature has a way of bringing us back into alignment with a higher purpose. That doesn’t mean to say that I believe that there is a permanence to our presence on this planet. Indeed, I have no doubt that we, as humans, have the capacity to self-sabotage and destroy more than any other creature or force out there today.

Read more: Meet the new generation of artisanal producers

How this all pans out is largely going to depend on how well we as individuals and a collective, listen to the lessons the universe is sending us right now and choose to act as a result.

  • Choose love not fear – we need to move away from the outdated programme we have all been running (and taught from a young age) which tells us that we must compete over scarce resources and act in our self-interests if we are to survive. We need to learn that being loving is actually the hardest thing you will ever do – it takes real courage and strength to lead with love and it is oh so easy to lead with fear.
  • Less is more – we live in a world obsessed with the accumulation of stuff. In turn, this leads us into a spiral of there never being enough, our cups forever half-full. These needs are fuelled and encouraged from all angles in the modern world. Learning to truly understand what enough looks like and then applying this in our daily lives is going to be crucial to our future happiness and sustainability.
  • Serve others – this world would be an exponentially better place if we stopped making it all about ourselves, what we need and why others are to blame for our circumstances. This state of mind leaves us stuck, filled with judgment and leaning on our fear fuelled egos. Doing something for someone else, no matter how small will leave you happier and more fulfilled. It is that simple.

Next time

This has been an incredibly challenging year for us all, in so many different ways and on so many different levels, so forgive me for this column being a little more sombre! I am a huge believer that we only learn from our mistakes and we also only change our behaviour when we hit a leverage point (usually when life is painful) and I think it is fair to say that many of us are there right now. So, what are you prepared to do to commit to change?

Find out more about Simon Hodges’ work: simonhodges.com@simonhodgescoaching

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Reading time: 4 min
selection of potatoes
potato farm with mist over the hills

Lucy and Anthony Carroll’s farm in Northumberland

Artisanal growers may be small scale but their care for the land and their produce is making a big impact on how we eat and drink. Torri Mundell meets two nominees for the luxury home appliance manufacturer’s Respected by Gaggenau initiative which celebrates this new generation of producers
couple on their farm

Lucy & Anthony Carroll

At Tiptoe Farm in Northumberland, Anthony Carroll is telling LUX about the “awkward” pink fir apple potato. “They grow vertically and have stems that can reach two metres tall. They’re so knobbly, they can’t be dug up with a modern potato harvester,” he says. They are, in short, more demanding than your average supermarket potato. “But,” he points out, “they have so much more to give.”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Carroll and his wife Lucy used to farm more conventional potato varieties until in 2000 Carroll had, in his words, a “light-bulb moment”. A supermarket retailer had approached him to produce a potato variety that would “look great in a plastic bag”, but that tasted, by the retailer’s own admission, “filthy”. Carroll not only refused the offer, but he also resolved to start growing some of the more flavourful potatoes that, after the two world wars, had been abandoned for inexpensive, high-yield varieties.

Today, the farm’s portfolio of heritage potatoes, including the Victorian-era spuds they brought back from near extinction, occupies most of the 28.5-hectare farm. Lucy Carroll describes how these varieties have restored some nuance to the potato’s range of flavours: “Some are very full-bodied, some are very light and fluffy, some retain that green, new potato flavour through the whole year.” The farm supplies Michelin-starred restaurants which often list the variety of the potato on their menu. “Just seeing the name Mr Little’s Yetholm Gypsy can bring a bit of history alive on your plate,” she says.

selection of potatoes

A range of heritage potatoes produced by Lucy and Anthony Carroll

Working outdoors with lower-yield, less disease-resistant species in a landscape often battered by unpredictable weather is challenging, but the farm has maintained its LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Marque certification for integrating environmentally sound practices such as monitoring water consumption and planting bird and insect-friendly crops, grasses and flowers.

At the end of 2020, the farm was put onto the Respected by Gaggenau shortlist, an initiative developed by the German luxury home appliance manufacturer to promote small producers or craftspeople in the culinary world who “harbour a passion for exceptional craftsmanship or the preservation of rare and unique species”. Not only does the initiative celebrate traditional skills and techniques, but it also addresses our current preoccupation with provenance and supporting small businesses. The UK’s Crafts Council reported that in 2019, 73 per cent of UK adults purchased something handmade.

The longlist of 60 Respected nominees was assembled by a panel of 25 high-profile curators, including chefs, viniculture experts, design editors and food critics. The 2021 accolade will bring global recognition and support to the finalists, who have all weathered a difficult year.

vineyard

The Albury Vineyard in Surrey at harvest time. Photograph by Jonathan Blackham

Also on the shortlist is Nick Wenman, who founded in the Surrey Hills in 2009. Having a vineyard on the southern slopes of the North Downs “wasn’t the huge gamble that you’d expect,” he says, pointing out that the cool English climate lends itself to creating grapes with high acidity and low sugar content, a prerequisite for good quality sparkling wine.

Read more: Speaking with America’s new art icon Rashid Johnson

His work is not just about international awards and appearances on royal barges or on the wine list at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons – though Albury Vineyard has clocked up all three. Wenman and his team, including his Italian manager and his daughter Lucy, are often up at 5am to tend to the vines. Almost every April, a spring frost requires them to work through the night, lighting thousands of wax ‘bougies’ to warm up the vineyard by a couple of degrees.

bottle of white wine and two glasses

The Albury Estate blanc de blancs is made from chardonnay and seyval blanc grapes. Photograph by Simon Weller

The team not only contends with the variable UK weather but with the “extra layer of planning and stress” that comes with operating an organic and biodynamic vineyard, a tightrope act that wine expert and Respected by Gaggenau curator Sarah Abbott MW describes as “heroic”. “You can’t use any systemic chemicals to knock out the diseases that vines suffer in wet and damp conditions,” she says. Nor can you deploy non-organic ‘sugar movers’, sprays which would hasten the ripening of the fruit when faced with a run of bad weather.

Wenman estimates that organic vintners have to devote 40 per cent more time to their harvest, but he is motivated by a “passion for the environment and a belief that [organic and biodynamic principles] create better quality wine”. While the vineyard’s biodynamic status brings constraints, he notes that it inspires innovation, too. One of his favourite wines, the Albury Estate Biodynamic Wild Ferment 2015, is the first of its kind, “produced using only a chardonnay and a wild ferment grown from the yeasts that occur naturally in the vineyard”. His appreciation for small-scale artisanship among his fellow English winemakers echoes the spirit of the Respected by Gaggenau campaign. “In the UK, there are no bulk wine producers churning out the same old stuff,” he says. “And because they’re smaller, they might give the vines an extra bit of care, so you end up with a better product at the end of the day.”

man working on vineyard

Albury’s owner Nick Wenman burying manure-filled cow horns in the vineyard in winter for fertilising the soil in the spring

Underlying our appreciation of craft and artisanship is a desire to connect with its creator. Three curators for the Respected by Gaggenau accolade tell us why authenticity in food, wine and design matters

portrait of a chef in apronChef and culinary curator
SANTIAGO LASTRA

There is always a story behind every dish and as the chef, you are responsible for telling that story. Before I opened my restaurant, I spent a year travelling around the UK to find the producers I wanted to work with, getting to know the farmers, the fishermen, even the potters who make the plates. I can see the connection they have to the land, the struggle with the weather, and the care that goes into their ingredients. They are part of a fascinating ecosystem of people that believe in a sustainable future, and I have learned that quality is not about rarity or luxury – it means only that something has been made with respect.

man in front of book shelfEditor-in-Chief, LUX Magazine and collectibles consultant
DARIUS SANAI

This campaign is centred on a theme that is in the air at the moment: identifying authentic creators and originators, goods and services. This is important in the broader luxury and collectibles industry in which we operate, where you have on the one hand dominance by a number of big commercial players who are brilliant at marketing and branding, and on the other you have the emergence of a new class of producer that has made its name by creating, rather than marketing. The challenge for the curators of the initiative – as well as for informed consumers and retailers – is to get beyond the PR to find genuinely great producers creating or curating really original products of high quality but that were made in a very personal way.

chef in the kitchenChef and culinary curator
CYRUS TODIWALA OBE

At my restaurants, we have always concentrated intently on how we source and use ingredients in our day-to-day cooking, and we championed artisanal producers long before they became fashionable, so working on this initiative with Gaggenau feels like a perfect fit. The appreciation of artisans, producers, the environment – and everything we do to make our lives meaningful – slides tidily into this simple word: respect. The best producers begin with a belief in themselves and what they have set out to do. Their produce is unique – there are no boring similarities from one to another. And easy money isn’t on their radar; they are driven by the joy they find in delivering ethically produced, beautiful quality food.

Find out more: gaggenau.com/gb

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 7 min
landscape painting
landscape painting

Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico with one of her landscape paintings

As a new solo show of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work opens in Madrid, artnet’s Vice President and LUX columnist Sophie Neuendorf reflects on how the American painter’s visionary work and mainstream success paved the way for many of today’s women artists

Sophie Neuendorf

American artist Georgia O’Keeffe burst onto the New York gallery scene in 1917 at the age of twenty. At the time, the American art world was under the influence of French Cubism, but O’Keeffe’s abstract charcoal drawings presented a version of modernism that was so radically individual, she quickly became a favourite among collectors – a nearly unthinkable achievement for a young women from the midwest.

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The artist began making her famous large-scale flower paintings in the 1920s. A new show at Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid includes O’Keeffe’s spectacular Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932), which sold for over $44 million at auction in 2014, more than tripling the previous auction record for a female artist. Since then, the market for her work has been steadily growing, with her top 10 most expensive works finding buyers over the past 10 years (source: artnet price database).

flower painting

Georgia O’Keeffe, Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932)

A recurring subject for O’Keeffe, the flower was a tool through which she could explore varying languages of abstraction and representation, responding to nature as opposed to her inner self. Inside Red Canna (1919), for example, is considered her earliest depiction of a magnified flower in oil. Sensual, sexual, powerful and delicate, the painting beckoned Freudian interpretations throughout her life and to the present day. However, her famous flowers are just one part of her vast canon of work, and in fact, O’Keeffe spent much of her life bristling at the Freudian reading of her delicate folds of flora.

Read more: Artists in residence at Castel Caramel in the south of France

She grew up on the Wisconsin prairie and was forever after enchanted by wide open spaces with limitless horizons. Later, she found a similar sense of ease in the Badlands of New Mexico, where she lived after her husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz, passed away. Astonishingly, she didn’t make her first trip to Europe until 1953, when she was 66 years old, but her work was widely shown in major museums across the US. In 1940 she was given a retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago and in 1946, she became the first female artist to be afforded a retrospective at MoMA. In 1970, her work was celebrated in another retrospective, this time at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, which travelled to the Art Institute of Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Art.

tropical garden coutryard

O’Keeffe’s home in New Mexico

Then, as now, women artists face far greater challenges than their male counterparts. To put it into perspective, German artist Gerhard Richter is the highest grossing living male artist, with a total sales value of $2,488,640,798. In contrast, the highest grossing living female artist, Japan’s Yayoi Kusama, has a total sales value of $709,679,123 (source: artnet price database). Kusama is closely followed by visionary artists such as Cindy Sherman, Bridget Riley, Marlene Dumas, and Julie Mehretu. However, artnet’s recent data shows that women artists have been outperforming the S&P 500, indicating strong demand and growth.

graph showing top selling artists

Infographic courtesy of artnet

A strong woman and a visionary painter, O’Keeffe remains an inspiration for many female artists around the globe. She was a feminist who largely contributed not only to the rise of modernism, but also helped to solidify the place of female artists within the historical art canon.

“Georgia O’Keeffe” runs until at 8 August 2021 at Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. For more information, visit: museothyssen.org/en/exhibitions/georgia-okeeffe

 

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photoshoot

grand castle hall

Maria-Theresia Mathisen, Jill Mulleady and Cornelia Mensdorff-Pouilly (clockwise from top left) in the grand hall

Each summer at her family’s fairy-tale castle above the Côte d’Azur, curator Maria-Theresia Mathisen hosts young artists’ residencies. Local celebrity Simon de Pury travelled up to photograph ‘MT’ and her latest charge, Jill Mulleady. MT gives us a tour

Castel Caramel is our private residence-turned-cultural platform in the south of France. My mother Cornelia Mensdorff-Pouilly used to be the manager of the late Austrian artist Ernst Fuchs and they bought the house in 1988 for his countryside atelier. It was secluded but near enough to buzzing Monte-Carlo where he had his residence and a smaller atelier by the port.

I was only five years old back then and grew up in what was not only an artist’s studio but also a meeting place for many other artists and collectors. I loved witnessing the creation of art and the exchange of minds, so when Fuchs passed away in 2015, I decided to continue this tradition.

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After renovation and expansion, we formally established the Castel Caramel Artist Residency in 2018. Canadian painter Chloe Wise was the first official artist-in-residence and while there she invited her muses and collaborators to visit, making for a colourful and inspiring atmosphere. The house had fully come back to its creative life.

Since then, artists Korakrit Arunanondchai, Ben Wolf Noam and Jill Mulleady have been in residence. Others came to visit, including Martha Kirszenbaum, Jon Rafman, Precious Okoyomon, Bonaventure (Soraya Lutangu) and Alex Gvojic.

It is important for us to give back to, involve and connect with the arts community on the Côte d’Azur. Therefore, during each residency, we host artist and curator talks and screenings as well as intimate dinners. We welcome both local and international collectors, curators and all other art aficionados.

The 2021 Castel Caramel artists in residence are Gerard & Kelly and Sedrick Chisom. For more information visit: castelcaramel.org

artist with their painting

Jill Mulleady and her painting Gardens of the Blind

“This painting was dubbed, jokingly, ‘the Masterpiece’ by the artist and her gallerist. Seen in person, this impressive work really is a masterpiece. The mysterious figure in the midst of an apocalyptic landscape reappears in another painting Mulleady made at Castel Caramel. In this second work, the figure has aged. Jill often plays with shifting temporalities and connecting stories in her work.”

villa in the mountains

Castel Caramel, 2020

“The grand hall (see top image) is the main space of Castel Caramel. Sometimes it is in complete chaos, at others it becomes very elegant as it turns from artist’s studio into a ballroom. With 7m-high ceilings and a 140sqm space – built in the 1950s, it used to be a restaurant – there are barely any limits as to how big an artwork can be produced here. It was also the main reason why Ernst Fuchs bought the house. He was able to work here on a monumental scale, with light through the many windows all around and large doors onto the terrace. It is the perfect studio space!”

photoshoot

Maria-Theresia Mathisen, Jill Mulleady and Simon de Pury (from left) on the terrace

“Simon had driven all the way from the Swiss Alps by himself in order to meet us for the shoot in the afternoon. I always admire how much energy he has! Although it was almost 6pm, it was still very hot. The bronze sculpture of a guardian angel is by Ernst Fuchs.”

little girl in a hallway

Maria-Theresia Mathisen at Castel Caramel in 1988

“This is me with my Barbie dolls in the grand hall surrounded by paintings by Ernst Fuchs soon after he and my mother had bought Castel Caramel in the late 1980s.”

women by a swimming pool

Jill Mulleady, her daughter Olympia and Maria-Theresia Mathisen (from left) by the pool

“Our artists-in-residence usually invite collaborators or muses to visit them during their residency at Castel Caramel. Jill brought along her daughter, which was a first. The little girl ended up doing some painting as well.”

dinner party

Patrons’ dinner for Jill Mulleady

“Towards the end of each residency, we host artist/curator talks and dinners in honour of our artists. This was the second dinner we held for Jill Mulleady last year, which followed a conversation between the artist and curator Martha Kirszenbaum. To be on the safe side, we made sure to keep enough space between guests and we also had two extra tables set up on the terrace for those more concerned about Covid-19.”

art installation

Installation by Korakrit Arunanondchai

“It was a wonderful coincidence that our Thai artist resident Korakrit Arunanondchai developed his exhibition for the Vienna Secession at Castel Caramel, which used to be the atelier of a Viennese artist. Ernst, my mother and I are all from Vienna.”

artist painting

Ernst Fuchs at work

“Fuchs chose to buy Castel Caramel mainly for its ceiling height and good lighting conditions. He was able to work on his monumental paintings, some as high as five metres. He always worked on several paintings at the same time, with some taking many years to be finished.”

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue, on sale now.

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Rashid Johnson in the studio with a work from his series Anxious Red Paintings. Photograph by Sheree Hovsepian

Rashid Johnson is a cult superstar among contemporary artists, inexorably leading the cultural narrative. His wife Sheree Hovsepian, herself an acclaimed artist, photographs him for LUX at their New York home, while Millie Walton speaks with him about culture, identity and the future

Chicago-born artist Rashid Johnson is on his ‘daily constitutional’ around his neighbourhood in Long Island, New York where he lives with his wife Sheree Hovsepian (also an artist), and his son Julius. We’re speaking on the phone and occasionally, the whoosh of passing cars, birdsong and the artist’s breathing filter down through the speaker. As for many of us during lockdown, walking has become a vital addition to the artist’s daily routine that normally involves him being in the studio from 9am until 3pm.

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During those hours, Johnson says he is not always actively making art, but it is the time he commits to “laying [his] creativity bare… you can’t just wait for it to happen, you have to show up and work. I get a lot of joy from making art, and I say joy specifically because I don’t really know how to participate with happiness or what that is, but I also experience a lot of frustration and disappointment. All of those things feed into my project and why I’m doing it.”

artist portrait

Portrait of Rashid Johnson by Sheree Hovsepian

I wonder how this period of prolonged confinement, reduced travel and fewer physical exhibitions has affected him. “I feel like I’ve been crazy busy,” he says, “in both making artworks and doing a lot of talks and community engagement projects, but I’ve also spent a lot of time with family. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot from watching them so closely.”

Johnson is one of the most influential of contemporary American artists. He is a cult figure, in fact, among many collectors and others in the art world who see him as the voice of a generation and a commentator on the issues of race and social upheaval.

paintings and installation

From right to left: Untitled Anxious Audience (2016) detail; Fatherhood (2015) by Rashid Johnson. © Rashid Johnson and courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Johnson found early success following his inclusion at the age of 24 in the celebrated group exhibition ‘Freestyle’, at the Studio Museum in Harlem. His intimate portraits of homeless black men taken with a large-format camera immediately grabbed the attention of both the art world and the wider public. Since then, the 44-year-old artist has racked up an impressive list of solo museum shows and commissions, including a major project for the atrium at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and, most recently, an installation at MoMA PS1 in New York entitled Stage (on view until autumn 2021), which comprises five microphones standing at different heights on a raised platform. There are references to protest and public oratory in this work, and also to hip-hop culture (a recurring influence on Johnson’s practice). The microphones are available for anyone to use; their words will be recorded, archived and, occasionally, broadcast via the museum’s website. The use of everyday objects is familiar Johnson territory, but the installation’s straightforward simplicity and direct call to action mark a new direction.

Read more: Artists to watch in 2021 – Arghavan Khosravi

As a black male artist, Johnson’s work is inevitably being seen in the context of the protests following the killing of George Floyd. This might risk an over-simplified or less nuanced interpretation of his work. When asked about this, he’s patient, self-analytical, and explains carefully his way of thinking. “[My work] is about how I identify and how I’ve grown in that identification – both realising when I should consider the collective nature of being a man, a black man, an American and a man in his forties, and also getting really granular with it: what are my obstacles? Which aspects of my life am I most interested in talking about? What are my character defects, and how do I start the process of unpacking some of those?”

mosaic and installation works

From right to left: Falling Man (2015); and Standing Broken Men (2020) by Rashid Johnson. © Rashid Johnson and courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Has he ever felt under pressure to make a certain type of art? “No, but I knew that when I made decisions they were going to be interpreted in a certain way,” he says. “Oftentimes, as an artist of colour, in particular a Black American artist, people imagine that the effects of racism and slavery and other oppressive aspects of our history reflect on me and my project in specific ways, but what I’m really interested in is how those more monolithic racial concerns are filtered through someone like me. I’m searching for autonomy, which I think, in some ways, is what every artist is searching for.”

artist portrait

Portrait by Sheree Hovsepian

This process of self-reflection has, for Johnson, largely been through various forms of abstraction – a build-up of spontaneous gesture, vibrant colour and embedded layers of symbolism – which, as Megan O’Grady points out in a recent article in The New York Times, aligns his practice with a new generation of black abstract painters such as Mark Bradford and Shinique Smith who are also making non-representational work in ‘defiance’ against traditionally narrow expectations of how their work should express black identity. “None of us want to be the representative of any kind of idea or concern,” Johnson continues, “and that’s not to suggest that I see the purpose of an artist as being an individual genius – I don’t subscribe to that concept at all – but I do see the artist as an individual living in the world and interpreting that world from a very specific location.”

Read more: How will the art industry change post-pandemic?

Inevitably, that location changes over time, and Johnson’s initial interest in the art world was that it might be “really exciting to be a filmmaker”. Arriving at Columbia College in Chicago, however, he found he had registered too late and all of the film classes were full. He ended up graduating with a BA in photography in 2000, and later, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he took up painting, sculpture, installation and film. His directorial debut, Native Son, released on HBO in 2019.

man standing inside sculpture

Photograph by Sheree Hovsepian

He has become known for his distinct visual language, which comprises specific, non-art materials that reflect his own experience as well as referencing history, literature and philosophy – subjects he was taught to deeply respect by his mother who was a poet and lecturer in African history. One of his most frequently recurring materials is shea butter, which he sometimes carves into dense, golden, bust-like forms that appear amongst leafy plants in his large-scale steel structures. “One day, I was putting it on whilst listening to the Tavis Smiley Show on the radio and I just thought to myself: this is it, the honest space,” he recalls. “It’s a material that I’m actually using in my life and on my body and it talks about Africanness, and displacement and healing and moisturising and utility.” Interestingly, the more recent additions to his ongoing Anxious Men series see the artist returning to more traditional materials (oil and linen) and consciously placing himself “within the discourse of art historical engagement”.

man on the beach at sunset

Photograph by Sheree Hovsepian

Ever since his Anxious Men made their first public appearance, coinciding with the initial rumblings of Donald Trump running for president, the wild, boxy characters, rendered in a scratchy, urgent style, have become the symbolic protagonists of the artist’s practice. But it is the Broken Men series (2020) that leave an even deeper impact. Monumental to the point of being intimidating in their scale, the works in this latest series comprise fractured mosaics of cartoon-like figures assembled from cracked ceramic and glass, scribbled over with paint, melted black soap and wax. Standing before them at Johnson’s solo exhibition ‘Waves’ at Hauser & Wirth in London at the end of 2020, I found myself struck by an allusion to the end of one era and the uncertain beginnings of the next. “We are now deconstructed, we will never be exactly the same,” Johnson agrees. “I’m not suggesting that the world wasn’t tragic and problematic prior to all of this, which of course it was, but this is my relationship to it now. We’re putting [the world] together again through a piecemeal process.”

With thanks to Maryam Eisler
For more information, visit: hauserwirth.com

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue alongside Rashid Johnson’s logo takeover.

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Reading time: 7 min
exhibition installation
exhibition installation

Installation view of A History Untold curated by Lisa Anderson at Signature African Art London. Photo © Mora Ltd

Lisa Anderson is an independent curator and the founder of the Instagram account @blackbritishart, which she uses as a platform to promote the work of Black British artists, past and present. Following the opening of her latest curatorial project, A History Untold at Signature African Art London, LUX speaks to her about art as an educational tool, the role of social media and the exhibitions she’s looking forward to seeing

Lisa Anderson

1. What led you to set up the Black British Art Instagram account?

Back in 2015 when I created @blackbritishart, the visibility of Black British artists on Instagram was nothing like it is today. There simply were not as many artists online and there was no access to a fluid, intergenerational conversation about Black British art practice on the platform that brought together the works of established pioneers, alongside the exciting waves of emerging talent.

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As an art nerd, who enjoyed following accounts that featured artists across the African Diaspora globally (Europe, the United States of America, the Caribbean etc) and from across the African continent,  I desperately wanted to see an account that championed the variety of black artistic practice in the UK, reflecting the tapestry of works they create across the mediums of painting, drawing, digital art, sculpture, assemblage, collage, textile art, ceramics, and film. I knew the artists were out there, but there was a big digital hole on Instagram, so I decided to fill it.

When I started the platform, no one had yet claimed the hashtag #blackbritishart. There are now tens of thousands of works tagged, which I’m proud to have contributed towards. So, the genesis was curatorial curiosity and passion for celebrating the depth and breadth of fine art produced by Black artists in the United Kingdom – past, present, existing, and persisting.

2. Do you think social media is making art more accessible?

Undoubtedly. Through hashtags and the networked nature of these platforms, you can scroll your way through to an education in your favoured corner, or corners of the art world. I built Black British Art up by finding artists this way and exploring the artists, gallerists, curators, writers they were connected to. As Instagram, in particular, has evolved, the content has expanded beyond just the image or film content. It has become even more informational. Some Instagram pages are designed specifically to promote and educate followers about arts events or provide accessible show reviews through accounts such as @thewhitepube, which is one of my favourites. I have discovered and connected personally with artists online whose works I’ve bought, sold, and featured in exhibitions, such as Enam Gbewonyo and Irvin Pascal. Earlier this year there was also a huge boom in global arts networking through ClubHouse, which allowed arts enthusiasts to access, previously quite exclusive conversations about the art market that have empowered some emerging collectors to make more confident forays into their collecting journeys. And I don’t think the gold rush for NFT Art would have been possible without social media.

3. Tell us about your curation process for A History Untold at Signature African Art. How did you go about selecting the participating artists/works?

The brief for the exhibition stems from the failure of the British educational system to address British history in a truly inclusive and authentic way. In a way that honours all its citizens, thereby fostering respect the variety of cultures and ethnicities represented in modern Britain. In this case our focus is on the absence of a more holistic, complicated approach to Africa in the educational system. Our exhibition tackles this by choosing artists across the African continent and from the African Diaspora in the UK, whose works speak to under-examined areas of history such as Africa’s contribution to the study of mathematics, metallurgy, the development of paper for writing, the political power of jazz music as well as the contribution of African colonial subjects to the building of modern Europe through their efforts in the Second World War. We wanted to choose artists from various countries, whose practice resonated with these themes and art mediums.

two hanging paintings

4. The exhibition aims to reveal the lesser-known stories of Black history. In developing the show, did you personally learn anything new?

Prior to the show I didn’t know about the Ishango bone and the relevance this has as a marker of mathematic knowledge in the world. It’s such a beguiling and profound artefact. Perhaps the oldest mathematical artefact in existence, unearthed in 1950 in the then Belgian colony of the Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) and dated to the Upper Paleolithic Period of human history, approximately 20,000-25,000 years ago. This is why I think art should be used more in education. Once you learn about the Ishango bone, it explodes so many myths about where ancient knowledge comes from. It was also interesting to learn more about the variety of African civilisations that developed mastery of metallurgy.

Read more: Director of The Stand Beth Greenacre on the rise of buying art online

In terms of more contemporary history, however, one of the most moving discoveries was the personal histories of the black British artists in the show, Adelaide Damoah and Peter Adjaye, who are collaborating on a sculptural and sound piece. Their work explores the personal legacy of colonialism, as both have Ghanaian ancestors who fought for the second world war. I vaguely knew about the contributions made to the World War efforts by colonial subjects, however, learning the personal stories of these artists has redoubled my commitment to learn and share more about this history.

mixed media artwork

Damilola Okhoya, Once Upon a Time Under the Blue Skies I, 2021

5. How effective is art as an educational tool?

I believe art is one of the most powerful educational tools, because of its capacity to represent both real life and conceptual ideas in profound and transformational ways. Whether it’s a painting depicting the horrors and madness of war, a sculpture depicting the beauty of the human form, a picture of flowers conveying lost love, or a film work depicting the terror of racial violence, artwork can leave an emotional, intellectual and spiritual imprint that leaves you changed forever. I developed a whole new appreciation of my vulnerability to responsibility for nature’s cycles and the power of the sun after I experienced Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2003. Truly one of my most treasured art experiences. For this reason and many more examples, I could provide, I believe that art was woefully under-utilised as a resource for basic education in my time. But I think the digital realm makes this much more plausible for future generations.

6. Now that museums and galleries have reopened, what are you most looking forward to seeing?

I’m so glad you asked that; I’ve been starved of seeing art in the flesh. There are countless shows I’m looking forward to. Through my Black British Art platform, I promote a list of shows to see that include works from black British artists. This month, I’m especially looking forward to a couple of group shows in London: Self Portrait, featuring a group of black female photographers, on show at Ronan McKenzie’s art space called Home and Citizens of Memory at The Perimeter curated by Aindrea Emelife. I’ve still not seen Lynette Yiadom Boakye’s show at the Tate Modern and really want to see the James Barnor show at the Serpentine. Further afield, I would highly recommend Phoebe Boswell’s show at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham.

“A History Untold”, presented by Maro Itoje and curated by Lisa Anderson features works by Giggs Kgole, Djakou Kassi Nathalie, Steve Ekpenisi, Damilola Okhoya, Adelaide Damoah and Peter Adjaye. The exhibition runs until 19 June at Signature African Art, Mayfair, London. For more information, visit: signatureafricanart.com

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Reading time: 6 min
country hotel
country hotel

Minster Mill sits on the edge of the River Windrush in the Cotswolds

Why should I go now?

Bluebells, blossom, and undulating greenness rolling into the distance. So long as the weather plays ball, there are very few better places to be then the English countryside in May, and specifically the Cotswolds. Add to that the opening up of Britain post lockdown and you have the makings of a perfect spring break.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Minster Mill is a relatively new Cotswold hotel, created by the chi-chi Andrew Brownsword hotel group. Pitched more at the contemporary chic market rather than traditional luxury, it has an interesting story to tell, as a converted mill and outbuildings alongside a stream with extensive grounds.

First Impressions

Minster Mill is literally on the edge of the Cotswolds. Just 20 minutes from Oxford, you turn off the main road, down a narrow lane, through a hamlet of sandy Cotswold stone, and through a gate and short drive that leads charmingly alongside a stream. The property comprises several buildings clustered around the stream, together with croquet lawn, spa, a tennis court, outbuildings with a table tennis table, and pathways leading off into fields adjacent.

The welcome is informal and friendly, part English country house, part Soho House. Decor is crisp and contemporary country, but not so fashionable that it would make you feel like an interloper.

restaurant dining room

The restaurant at Minster Mill

The Experience

Certain types of hotel tend to offer similar experiences, in English country house hotels you expect drawing rooms, and dining room is looking out over a lawn. That’s the case for the most traditional, like Minster Mill’s stablemate Buckland Manor, and the most contemporary, like Babington House.

Read more: An exclusive private tasting of Ornellaia with Axel Heinz

The most memorable parts of Minster Mill are completely different. Breakfast by the stream, looking across ancient woodland and fields. Croquet, a little further up of the same stream. Wandering off past the tennis courts into semi wild countryside, and into a natural maze in a field, looping back to the same stream where the swing slung over a high branch could act if you wished as a launch point into a bigger river. Dinners of grilled trout and extremely pert green vegetables, outside by the stream. The stone walled dining room inside would be a pleasant enough alternative if the weather turned bad, as it always can in England.

These all add up to an experience that is unique (in the best possible way) in the Cotswolds. The rooms are comfortable, relatively simple, light: blonde woods, beige and taupe fabrics and throws, light green and light grey paint. Service is low-key and good – this is not the place to go if you expect to be fussed over, and it’s a four rather than a five star, but everything is efficient and friendly.

luxurious drawing room

The drawing room of a junior suite

Takeaway

Minster Mill is not far from the apotheosis of contemporary country house hotels, Soho Farmhouse. Although they are at a similar price and appeal to a similar market, they are very different: you are more likely to lose yourself at Minster Mill, and you’re more likely to bump into a celebrity designer at Soho Farmhouse. Which you prefer is perhaps a matter of taste and mood, but we left Minster Mill feeling like we had had an authentic and truly relaxing getaway.

Rates: From £210 (approx. €250 / $300)

Book your stay: minstermill.co.uk

Darius Sanai

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Reading time: 3 min
collage artwork
collage artwork

Nina Mae Fowler, Love VI. Copyright the artist, courtesy of COB Gallery

The Stand is a new digital art platform that raises money for charitable causes through curated online auctions, featuring works by early to mid career artists. Here, LUX speaks to the company director Beth Greenacre about the aims of the initiative, millennial collectors and addressing the art world’s gender imbalance

1. How did the concept for The Stand come about?

The Stand was the brainchild of Robin Woodhead, former Chairman of Sotheby’s International. When the pandemic hit, and live fundraising events were cancelled many charities started turning to artists to donate work. The strain this puts on artists, who are effectively donating work for free, can be difficult at the best of times and especially so during the last twelve months. It was clear to us that artists also needed support and so The Stand was born, a sustainable social impact model which puts the artist at the centre, whilst enabling them to donate a proportion of the sale price of their work to causes they feel passionate about.

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2. Why do you think collectors are becoming more comfortable with buying art online?

I have long been a believer in the potential of the internet to bring art to wide audiences. In 2000, David Bowie and I launched the Bowie Art website to support emerging artists and provide a platform to connect them with new audiences. People said we were mad and that no-one would look at art online; we had over a million hits most weeks and people still talk about it today as a place where they discovered now well-known artists. Much has changed since then; more and more of us research artists online and connect with them and the galleries we love. For collectors and the art market, the online space has opened accessibility and participation. Add to this the fact that millennials are the biggest spenders in the art market and most comfortable buying online and the digital imperative grows stronger.

abstract painting

Anna Liber Lewis, Bocat, 2015, Oil on canvas. This work is part of the ‘desire series’. Copyright and courtesy of the artist.

3. How did you select the artists to include in the The Female Gaze auction and are there any works that you’re particularly excited about?

I am excited about all the artists that I have selected for our first auction. There are many things that unite them, not just that they are non-binary or female identifying but that they all explore the female form through their practice, a subject that has historically been colonised by men. As someone who has navigated the art world as a woman, they really resonate with me.

Read more: The rise of millennial art collectors

Female artists still sell less than men and are not as well represented at auction. It was important to me to launch The Stand with an auction that raises awareness of issues in the art world. Each of these artists deserve our attention, and let’s not forget, the investment potential of all marginalised artists is incredible.

4. Why did you make the decision to focus on early to mid-career artists?

There has been a growing divide in the top and low ends of the market for years. It is harder for early to mid-career artists and their galleries to be seen and so it’s important that we give these artists visibility. I have long wanted to see a more holistic art market and in supporting and celebrating artists in their early to mid-careers and connecting them directly with collectors I believe that we will strengthen their market position and the market as a whole. For our collectors there is also great growth potential in terms of value.

portrait painting

Gill Button, Eve, 2020, Oil on linen. Copyright and courtesy of the artist

5. What are your predictions for the art world post pandemic?

I believe that our priorities and values will shift dramatically. I think Covid-19 has brought environmental and social issues to the fore with unexpected urgency. I believe that the commitment towards social impact investing that we saw before Covid will continue to grow. In the art world, I hope artists, collectors and galleries will want to do more and bring about change. I am proud of the The Stand as a sustainable social impact model which celebrates the artist.

6. Now that galleries and museums are opening, what are you most looking forward to seeing?

I am seeing Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Zanele Muholi, both at Tate, this week and I cannot wait. Lynette was one of the first artists that appeared on Bowie Art. I am also looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues in the art world now we can do so with more ease.

The Stand’s inaugural auction “The Female Gaze” is now open for registration and bidding. Find out more: thestand.art

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Reading time: 4 min
woman looking at colourful artwork
woman looking at colourful artwork

Opera Gallery at Masterpiece London 2019. Photograph by Ben Fisher. Courtesy of Masterpiece London

In his second column for LUX, art collector, advisor and chairman of Masterpiece London Philip Hewat-Jaboor discusses how art institutions are engaging a new generation of collectors and dealers
portrait of a man in black and white

Philip Hewat-Jaboor. Photograph by Danny Evans

I’m often asked why we’re seeing a new generation of collectors and dealers entering the art market, and I think the impact of the past year has both accelerated this growth and brought into perspective how important it is for the art world to engage, nurture and support the young.

This past year all involved in the art world – museums, galleries, dealers and auctioneers – have had to evolve and come up with increasingly sophisticated ways to draw in new audiences. The move to online platforms has drawn in younger buyers who are digitally native and the process of buying art has become almost instantaneous, without any of the perceived barriers of a gallery or auction house. According to this year’s Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report, high-net-worth millennials are now the fastest-growing group of collectors.

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In my opinion, one of the greatest changes we’ve seen over the past 20 years (and certainly since I first started working in the art world), is how knowledge and experience is communicated and shared. There has been a shift towards collaboration and discussion in art world, especially, over the past year. Knowledge, history, opinions and even prices are much more readily available whether that’s via a gallery’s website, through social media, an online article or panel discussion. This access to knowledge is vital to engaging younger collectors and nurturing new dealers.

visitor to an art exhibition

Masterpiece London 2019. Photograph by Ben Fisher. Courtesy of Masterpiece

Engaging with young people and reaching new audiences has never been so important to preserving the longevity of art, and over the last few years, there has been a dramatic increase in new initiatives, young patron groups and innovative uses of social media to provide a greater level of accessibility. Christie’s Education, for example, recently launched their Young Collectors Club, The National Gallery in London have a Young Ambassadors initiative, there’s the Young Patrons Circle at the V&A, and at Masterpiece, we have a Young Collectors group as well as a school of Vetting and museums-focussed symposiums open to young professionals. These not only invite younger generations to be part of the discussion, but give them the opportunity to discover a breadth of collecting possibilities and learn as much as possible from lots of different disciplines.

Read more: An exclusive private tasting of Ornellaia with Axel Heinz

Michael Diaz-Griffith, executive director of the Sir John Soane Museum Foundation in New York, founded the New Antiquarians to generate interest in collecting amongst a younger audience and is passionate about supporting the antiques business. “In the past two years, younger lovers of art, antiques and design have really started buying. They may have relatively small budgets, but they are spending in interesting ways – often a heady mix of old and new art, antiques and contemporary design,” he told me over email.

Photography, contemporary art and design are particularly appealing to the new collector, partly due to the more accessible price points whilst the world of traditional, or older works of art is less familiar and relies on the passionate communication of the dealer or museum curator to engage new collectors. Nevertheless, the thirst of the next generation to engage with works of art, to become involved and to expand the breadth of their horizons is really exciting to see.

Philip Hewat-Jaboor is Masterpiece London’s Chairman of the Fair. Read his previous column here

This year’s edition of Masterpiece London will take place online with smaller-scale live activations in London in June. For updates and online events, visit: masterpiecefair.com

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vibrant painting of flowers
artist at work in the studio

Orlanda Broom in her studio in Hampshire

British artist Orlanda Broom paints lush, saturated landscapes that celebrate the beauty and wilderness of nature. Candice Tucker visited the artist at Grove Square Galleries, where her work is currently on display, to discuss her painting processes, artistic influences and visions of a rewilded planet

1. How do you typically begin a new body of work?

I tend to work on a few paintings at one time so a body of work tends to naturally come about. I start by putting a lot of paint down on the canvas, and its quite an organic process in that I don’t know what the painting is going to look like at the end. I tend to go with what’s happening on the canvas and then work back from that. The composition will suggest itself once I’ve got quite a few layers of paints down; I will find parts of it that seem to suggest a tree or light or a mountain range, so it’s quite abstract to a point and then I try to organise it.

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2. What draws you to paint with such a vibrant colour palette?

I have always loved colour, and my paintings have always been led almost entirely by colour. In this recent body of work, I think I’ve really ranked up the colour because of the situation that we are in. Everything has felt quite heavy and I think I needed to inject a bit of positivity. It gave me a lot of pleasure to work with fluorescent paints and also, it’s a challenge working with those much brighter colours because it can be more difficult to make things work.

vibrant painting of flowers

Pink Seekers, 2021, Orlanda Broom

3. Can you tell us a bit about your current exhibition and your portrayal of nature?

The exhibition title is Rewild. I’ve always painted landscapes that aren’t particularly fixed in a point of time and there aren’t any human elements – no structures, no animals – so the question has always been posed: when is this? With these new works, I am answering that question which is: this is the future and this is what I see potentially happening in terms of climate change. It is probably a vision of far, far into the future when wilderness has come back.

Read more: Philip Hewat-Jaboor on how to discover art through materials

4. What role do you think art can play in wider conversations around the environment?

I think it’s up to all of us; it’s something that we all have to address in the way we are moving about the planet and what we’re doing. I don’t think art has to consider these issues, but in a more general sense, we need to change what we’re doing and perhaps, the pandemic has helped. If there is a positive take out of this situation, it’s that things have had to stop and maybe we are realising that we can do things differently. Art fairs, for example, can be online and although it’s not the same, it has shown people that you don’t need to fly to New York when you have a meeting because you can do it on Zoom. That sort of thing will hopefully continue.

exhibition installation

Installation view of Orlanda Broom: Rewild at Grove Square Galleries. Photograph by Paul Aitchison

5. How has the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns affected your creativity?

I don’t live in London anymore, I moved out to Hampshire a few years ago, so for me, personally, it had very little impact because I carried on working in my isolated studio. It almost felt like luxury. I always work hard, but it felt like a privilege to have the time to work.

6. Are there any artists, living or dead, who have particularly influenced your work?

That’s an easy and impossible question to answer because there are so many. The beauty of Instagram, for example, is that you can find amazing artists that you wouldn’t know. There are just so many people out there. In terms of artists that I have loved and that have stayed with me from art college years, there are colourists like Gillian Ayres, Albert Irvin and David Hockney. I also love surrealism, artists such as Leonora Carrington. There are so many…

“Orlanda Broom: Rewild” runs until 11 June 2021 at Grove Square Galleries. For more information, visit: grovesquaregalleries.com

 

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Reading time: 3 min
oak barrels of wine
man standing by wine bottles

Axel Heinz is a winemaker and the estate director of Ornellaia and Masseto

Axel Heinz is Italy’s most celebrated winemaker, responsible for star Super Tuscan wines Masseto and Ornellaia, among others. Over three vintages and on Zoom, he gives Darius Sanai a private tasting and insight into what makes his estates, by the Tuscan coast, so special

If you were to meet Axel Heinz without knowing his trade, you would likely guess that he is a university professor, an academic of some kind criss-crossing his way through a cosmopolitan spiderweb of colleges. His conversation has an international feel of the old school: his perfect, lightly-accented English is pure boarding school, his manner is enquiring, sharp and kindly, all at the same time.

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But Axel is not an academic, although his knowledge base and expertise would instantly see him propelled to a professorship in his relevant field. He is a winemaker, and now estate director of Ornellaia and Masseto. This means this German winemaker with an English education and French roots is responsible for the creation of two of the greatest wines our readers will know, at arguably the greatest wines estate of Italy, and among the greatest in the world. Neighbouring each other, they sit on a slight plateau sloping down to the coast of the Maremma, in Tuscany; you can see the sea from the vineyards. Behind are the forested mountains of the Colline Metallifere, which bring a coolness and freshness to the summer nights, a little like the forest leading up to the plateau de Langres does for the Cote de Nuits in Burgundy (although the Colline are higher, at more than 1000m compared to around 600m for the high ridge in Burgundy).

We always enjoy our private dinners with the ever personable, thoughtful Axel. In the current climate, we sat down with him for a tasting, one-to-one over zoom, with him at the estate in Bolgheri in the Maremma and us at the LUX office in London, of some of the great vintages of Ornellaia, sent to us directly from the estate. Below are his detailed thoughts on each wine, followed by our own reflections.

wine bottles

Ornellaia 2018 La Grazia Vendemmia d’Artista with label designs and artworks by Belgian artist Jan Fabre

Ornellaia 2018

Axel Heinz: I always like to taste youngest to oldest, so you know how the younger wines will develop. 2018 was a rainy year, so the wine is a bit lighter than usual, balanced and fresh. I like to use a narrower glass than most sommeliers recommend; not too wide, in order to get the best from the wine. This seems a particularly open, vibrant wine. It’s already quite delicious, even so young. I would have it with a rare bistecca alla fiorentina (Tuscan T-bone steak).

LUX: Zingy and fresh; if your idea of Tuscan wines is big, punchy beasts, think again. Quite delicate, balanced, and complex with cherries and bags of mixed herbs. Refreshing, for a super Tuscan.

Read more: How will the art industry change post-pandemic?

Ornellaia 2008

Axel Heinz: This was an astonishing vintage. It was incredibly hot all year and then there was a dramatic drop in temperature from 38 degrees to 18 degrees and it stayed that cool all through the second half of September and all of October. It means the wine has the boldness and exuberance of a very hot year, combined with the tight frame which indicates the weather in the second half of September.

The wine is 15% alcohol, but one of the pieces of magic of Bolgheri [the area where Ornellaia and Masseto are made] is that it is rich and opulent but also balanced, with refreshing acidity and a bit of firmness. It’s a privilege that we have something that saves us, which is the closeness of the sea and the cool air. Because if it were just about us keeping the alcohol level down, you would notice some under-ripeness. That’s the beauty of this place. And the refreshing acidity is part of the terroir..which means there are a few things about making wine that we are unable to explain. It may come from our closeness to the sea or the hills behind us that catch moisture and coolness.

LUX: Rich and multilayered, but still fresh; unlike other Tuscan wines from this year, it doesn’t taste of alcohol or jam. A wine for a long, stimulating, thoughtful evening with an old friend you haven’t seen for years – but with the ease at which it disappears, you will need a couple of bottles.

Wine estate

The Ornellaia wine estate

Ornellaia 2000

Axel Heinz: This is similar in character to the 2018, so maybe the 2018 will taste like this in 18 years. This is all about lace and silk, delicacy. I would drink it with something not overpowering, maybe mushrooms or something slow-cooked. It’s ready to drink now, but great wines plateau for a long time.

LUX: A dual-character wine, easy to drink if you feel like something that just vanishes from the glass, but interesting if you want to think about it, with that unique Ornellaia character, fresh, herbs and grilled lamb overtones, and very clean, neither too dry nor too jammy on the finish. Like the others, a unique style of wine, first made only a couple of decades ago, but destined to be one of the world’s great wines for centuries to come.

Find out more: ornellaia.com

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Reading time: 4 min
bottle of whiskey

bottle of whiskey

Before founding J.J. Corry Irish Whiskey in 2015, Louise McGuane worked at LVMH, Diageo and Pernod Ricard in New York, London, Singapore and Paris. She is now based back on her family farm in Cooraclare, County Clare where she matures new make spirit in a purpose built bonded rackhouse and blends it with mature whiskey to create the brand’s signature style. Here, she speaks to Candice Tucker about the whiskey bonding process, the advantages of being a woman and the rising demand for Irish whiskey

woman holding bottle of whiskey

Louise McGuane

1. What made you decide to focus on bonded whiskey rather than the native traditional processes?

Irish whiskey bonding is a native traditional process but it was one that was lost. It was once a vital part of the thriving Irish whiskey industry. Bonders were located in every town in Ireland and rather than distilling whiskey they sourced it from local distilleries and created bespoke bends and flavours for their customers. The practice died out due to the near collapse of the Irish whiskey industry in the early 1900s. We went from having hundreds of distilleries on the island to only two or three. These distilleries cut off the bonders and began to mature, blend and bottle themselves. I felt that my contribution to the rebirth of the industry was to bring back this lost art and when I discovered the J.J. Corry brand which was a well-known bonder in my county in the 1800s I decided to bring the lost art of whiskey bonding back!

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2. Have you faced any challenges working in a field which has traditionally been male dominated?

Of course, my experiences will be shared by all women who work in such industries, but I think it’s very powerful to be underestimated. Irish whiskey continues to be a mostly older male environment and most of them scoffed at me when I started the business, but I went on to launch the first ever design led luxury Irish whiskey and this year made Drinks International Top Ten bestselling Irish Whiskey list, so who’s scoffing now? When you are underestimated you can fly under the radar and achieve incredible things without anybody standing in your way as you are not perceived as a threat.

3. How do you differentiate your bonded whiskey from others?

I have built and am continuing to build the most comprehensive library of flavours of Irish whiskey in my rackhouse. We operate in a similar way to a perfumer: we build a whiskey by blending layers of flavours together. By ensuring I have styles of whiskey from multiple craft producers I have a really vibrant pool of flavours to pull from. This results in utterly unique whiskies and styles.

whiskey rackhouse

The McGuane farm and rackhouse in County Clare

4. What trends have you noticed in the whiskey industry in the last 10 years?

Whiskey is having a moment, people are moving away from traditional scotch and bigger brands and are seeking out authenticity. Whiskey drinkers want to understand who makes the product they demand transparency and they are willing to try non- traditional flavours. Irish whiskey is no doubt the stand out in terms of growth in popularity, it is becoming incredibly collectible.

Read more: Sampling Cristal’s latest vintage

5. In 2019, you launched The Chosen, which at £7,000 a bottle is the most expensive Irish whiskey in history, and yet, it sold out in less than an hour. Why do you think it was so popular?

It was the first ever design led Irish whiskey. I worked with contemporary luxury crystal maker J. Hill Standard and luxury cabinet maker John Galvin and inside was a superlative 28-year-old Single Malt. Only 100 were crafted and their desirability I think centred around the craftsmanship that went into them and the emerging collectability of Irish whiskey.

6. Where is the most memorable place you have tasted whiskey?

It is without a doubt sitting on a 30-year-old Single Malt sherry cask that I sourced in the rackhouse I built myself on my farm to mature my whiskey, enveloped in the scent of whiskey maturing in casks I have travelled all over the world to find.

Find out more: jjcorry.com

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a horse in a vineyard
a horse in a vineyard
Cristal is the champagne of champagnes, and the new vintage is both brilliant and biodynamic. Give yourself a home-made health cure by buying and sampling, says Darius Sanai

Beetroot Kombucha. Acai beaker with a shot of charcoal. Turmeric, aloe vera and spinach booster shot. To these health drinks, we can add another: Cristal 2013.

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Cristal, as you all know, is the creme de la creme of Louis Roederer champagnes, made in a clear crystalline bottle, as famously favoured by Tsar Nicholas II before he graciously made way for 70 years of communism and prudishness. The bottle comes with its own UV-protective wrap (UV light is the enemy not only of your face on that yacht in Mustique, but of champagne) and in a presentation box; and probably unlike all the ingredients in those health juices, it is 100% biodynamic and organic.

bottle of champagne

Cristal 2013. Image by Emmanuel Allaire

Short of joining Elon Musk on Mars, there is no better way of looking after the soil than farming biodynamically. Not only are all pesticides banned as they are in organic farms; biodiversity is positively encouraged in Roederer’s biodynamic vineyards. Bugs and minibeasts roam free. Vineyards are ploughed by horse and fertilised by, ah, natural horse fertiliser. “It brings us close to the soil,” says winemaker Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon. Can the same be said of the spinach farms producing your green juice?

We were sent a bottle of this new release to taste. Rich and feather-light at the same time, it grows and grows as you taste it and is probably best sampled with a lightly sauced, line-caught sea bream at, say, Oswald’s. Cristal at best is a wine that improves for decades; and 2013 is Cristal at best, according to Lecaillion: “The Cristal of Cristals. It will age beautifully.” As long as you avoid being overthrown by some cultural revolutionaries in the interim.

Find out more: louis-roederer.com

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Man standing against pillar
Man standing against pillar

Matteo Lunelli, CEO & President of Ferrari Trento

Italian sparkling wine producer Ferrari Trento was founded in 1902 and is now under the leadership of the third generation of the Lunelli family. Following the recent announcement of the brand’s partnership with Formula 1, LUX speaks to CEO and President Matteo Lunelli about respecting tradition, sustainability and the challenges of the pandemic

1. How do you become Official Toast of Formula 1, as Ferrari Trento has just become?

Ferrari Trento has already been celebrated at many of the world’s most prestigious events. This includes being the Official Toast of the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles for the past five years and of the BNL International Tennis Tournament in Rome in 2019. The Formula 1 podium is one of the most iconic moments in the world of sport and has been a dream of ours for a long time which we are thrilled to now see come true. Formula 1 chose Ferrari Trento, firstly, because we share common values of passion and excellence, and also because Formula 1 is centred around innovation and looking to the future. This can be seen through this decision to go “beyond” the traditional choice of champagne, with a brand that not only offers a guarantee of quality but is also an ambassador of Italian style. We are thrilled to embark on this project as we strongly believe in the future of Ferrari Trento and in the dream that Giulio Ferrari, our founder, started over a century ago.

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2. You are the third generation of the Lunelli family to keep Ferrari Trento alive, and you have maintained many historic practices within the company. Are there any notable traditions that you needed to let go of?

Our goal is to innovate, but respect traditions. There are certain things that will never change at Ferrari Trento like the pursuit of excellence in every detail and the intimate link with our territory, because all our wines are made exclusively with grapes cultivated on the slopes of the Trentino mountains. On the other hand, we need to adapt to a market and a context that changes rapidly and, therefore, we constantly aim to innovate our business model. Over the years we have embraced digital media in our communication strategy, we have expanded to new markets abroad in order to grow our export sales, and we have moved to organic viticulture, putting strong emphasis on sustainable production.

Formula 1 sparkling wine

Ferrari Trento is the official sparkling wine of F1

3. Ferrari’s Trentodoc sparkling wines utilise environmentally friendly systems which heavily reduces water-consumption in vineyards. Is the wine-industry more broadly taking steps to become more sustainable? Should it do more?

We can certainly say that in the past few years the wine industry has significantly increased its attention to sustainability and I believe that this trend will continue even more in the future. This is especially important for high end consumers and wine lovers who not only look for excellent wines but also ask our companies to maintain an excellent behaviour towards stakeholders and to protecting the environment.

Specifically, the Ferrari winery is located in such a wonderful location that we feel even more duty to protect it and preserve it for future generations. Our strong commitment towards sustainability can be seen (amongst other actions), by the organic certification of all our estate vineyards and by the work carried out on biodiversity. Regarding water, as you mentioned, we utilise an innovative system of precision irrigation in order to reduce water waste. This system, developed together with a start-up called Blue Tentacles, uses a remote control to open and close the valves on the field, and optimise the use of water collecting data of the temperature and humidity through sensors located in vineyards.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on building a more sustainable art world

4. What are the biggest challenges that the sparkling wine industry faces today?

Sparkling wines are traditionally associated with conviviality and celebrations, which is the opposite of “social distancing”, and why the pandemic had such a strong impact on our industry. In addition, on trade is the most important channel for the Lunelli Group, and bars, hotels and restaurants being closed for such a long time in many countries has of course had an inevitable impact on our sales. We partially compensated the loss of the “outside of home” by increasing our retail and online sales for domestic consumption, however, we strongly believe that conviviality will soon come back, and we look forward to celebrations where people can spend time together again.

Vineyards

Ferrari Trento’s vineyards

5. Is Italian sparkling wine underrated?

Italian sparkling wine has witnessed an extraordinary growth worldwide in the past years, but I would say that sometimes the quality and excellence of Italian sparkling wine is underrated. Most consumers still do not fully recognise the diversity of our sparkling wine denominations which are made in different regions and with different methods.

It is by now evident between wine opinion leaders that in the sparkling wine space, just like in the still wine space, excellence is not a monopoly of one territory in the world. Italy, with the region of Trentino in particular, is in “pole position”, as shown by the results achieved at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships which saw Ferrari Trento crowned as the “Producer of the Year” for three editions. In 2019, Italy overtook France in terms of awarded medals, while in 2020 the competition saw a draw with 47 gold medals each. We hope to further excel the reputation of Italian fizz as we share our luxury wines on a wider scale than ever before through our partnership with Formula 1.

6. Where and when (apart from a F1 race) is the best place to drink your wine?

During a trip to Italy you can have a glass of Ferrari in some of the best bars and the most iconic travel destinations, however, first of all I would have to say in Trento, visiting our winery and enjoying what we call ‘a tour between beauty and taste’ on a lovely summers day, perhaps during harvest time. Here, we invite guests to have an all-round experience of the world of Ferrari, which begins with a tour of our cellars, where our Trentodoc wines mature gradually under the careful supervision of our winemakers. You can then go up the nearby hills to visit Villa Margon a 16th century mansion which is a treasure of art. The special experience concludes at Locanda Margon, our Michelin starred restaurant in the heart of our vineyards, where you can pair Ferrari with the creations of chef Edoardo Fumagalli.

In general, I think that the best way to enjoy Ferrari is to pair it with high quality food in a great restaurant or during an “aperitivo” with friends. I also love to think about sipping our Trentodoc bubbles whilst watching the sun set onboard a boat in the middle of the sea. However, more than anything, what will make the special moment is always who you will share your wine and emotions with.

Find out more: ferraritrento.com

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Reading time: 5 min
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luxury apartment building

Andermatt’s newest apartment building Altera features twelve luxury residences

Andermatt Swiss Alps is the hottest destination in Switzerland right now. The sustainable ski/golf/mountain living resort in the mountains in the centre of the country achieved record property sales last year and that’s set to increase with the recent launch of two more luxury apartment buildings. Buy while you can…

A recently published report revealed that Andermatt Swiss Alps made a total of CHF 76.9 million in 2020 from its property sales, an increase of approximately 25% from 2019 and the highest figure in the resort’s history.

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While the pandemic continues to have devastating impacts on global tourism, the demand for Andermatt’s luxury alpine residential properties has continued to rise. The majority of apartments in the Frame and Alma buildings, which launched in the summer of 2020, were sold out within several weeks, and there are only a few residences left in the resort’s newest buildings, Koya and Altera, which launched in March.

alpine apartment

The open-plan living room in one Altera’s apartments

The interest is partly due to the rare investment opportunity (it’s difficult for foreigners to be able to buy apartments Switzerland), but also thanks to the resort’s development as a thriving year-round destination.

Read more: Tasting with sustainable Napa wine producer Beth Novak Milliken

Since the start of the project in 2007, a total of more than CHF 1.2 billion has been invested to transform what was once a sleepy ski village into one of the most exclusive and dynamic alpine resorts. It’s part of central Switzerland’s largest linked ski area which offers high-altitude cycling and hiking routes in the summer, and home to luxury hotels such as The Chedi Andermatt as well as slope-side Michelin-starred restaurants.

residential apartment

The interiors of Koya’s apartments are inspired by Japanese design

Andermatt’s latest residences

Located in the village’s car-free area known as Andermatt Reuss, Koya and Altera each offer a distinct atmosphere complete with sophisticated design details and luxurious owner amenities.

Koya’s stylish, Japanese-inspired, mezzanine-style apartments are already sold out, but Altera offers twelve, equally beautiful residences for contemporary Alpine living. Each room has been carefully designed to maximise natural light and highlight the staggering views of the surrounding mountains through tall, floor to ceiling windows. The building also features a communal ski room, residents’ lounge with an open fire, a spin studio, sauna, and relaxation area.

For more information, visit: andermatt-swissalps.ch

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Reading time: 2 min
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portrait of artist in her studio

Iranian artist Arghavan Khosravi

In our ongoing online series, renowned art consultant Maria-Theresia Mathisen profiles rising contemporary artists to watch in 2021. Here, she speaks to New York-based Iranian artist Arghavan Khosravi about the power of visual metaphors, juxtaposing imagery and how her work reflects on her experiences of growing up in Iran

Maria-Theresia Mathisen

Arghavan Khosravi’s work is not only visually compelling but also loaded with socio-political commentary. I discovered her work in late 2019, a few months before the pandemic, on Instagram and was immediately taken by it. Bright colours and smooth skin are juxtaposed with uncanny elements such as ankle bonds, bombs, fragments of sculptures, shattered structures, ropes and keys. There are recurring symbols for censorship, such as locks, masks and bonds, reflecting the artist’s experience of growing up in Iran.

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Over time, I noticed that her compositions are becoming increasingly complex, and her paintings more and more sculptural. Arghavan is very ambitious and curious, constantly developing her practice, as if she is trying to solve a problem, or perhaps find a solution to some of Iran’s, or even the world’s problems.

To me, Arghavan’s work feels extremely important right now as it tackles human rights issues with a particular focus on the oppression of women in autocratic systems.

mixed media painting

Arghavan Khosravi, The Key, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: You are born and raised in Iran. When did you move to the US and why?
Arghavan Khosravi: I was born in Iran and spent almost my whole life there. In 2015, I came to the US to go to graduate school.

LUX: Was it a culture shock?
Arghavan Khosravi: To be honest, I didn’t face that much of a culture shock. I think nowadays, with globalisation and the internet, people from all over the world that are coming from similar cultural classes and generations have lifestyles that are not hugely different. The only thing that I can think of, which still wasn’t a culture shock, but a huge difference (and relief) was that in the US I could wear whatever I want in public; there was no more compulsory hijab (which is an unjust law for women in Iran).

mixed media artwork

Arghavan Khosravi, Connection, 2020. Courtesy Carl Kostyál Gallery

LUX: You have four degrees, two from Iran and two from the US. Why did you choose to do both undergrad and graduate degrees again in the US?
Arghavan Khosravi: I actually have three degrees. I got my BFA in Graphic Design and MFA in Illustration both in Tehran. After being a graphic designer for almost 10 years I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a painter and moved to the US, but since I didn’t have much professional or academic experience in that field, I decided to apply for a one-year non-degree post-bacc program in studio arts at Brandeis University (Waltham, Massachusetts). Over the course of that one year, I could make a body of work which enabled me to apply to a few graduate programs. Eventually, I ended up in Rhode Island School of Design’s graduate painting program.

three-dimensional painting

Arghavan Khosravi, On Being a Woman, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: Your earlier work from 2016 is heavily influenced by Iranian miniatures, but your style seems to have evolved a great deal in the past few years. What were the museums you visited the most upon coming to the US and which of them provided new sources of inspiration?
Arghavan Khosravi: Persian miniature paintings have always been one of the main sources of inspiration for me. Every time I look at them, I get inspired by one aspect of these works, whether it’s their mesmerising colour palette; their compositions; the way figures are depicted (there’s not much facial expression and the expressive qualities are heavily dependent on their poses and body language); or the way architectural spaces are depicted so that there’s no perspective and no vanishing point, which has a flattening effect. When I place figures that are rendered realistically into that unreal space, the juxtaposition gives a sense of distortion and displacement which can be read metaphorically too. The more I focused on this aspect of the paintings, the more I got involved with building shaped panels (instead of the regular rectangle) to emphasise these architectural elements of the space. This helped the paintings to increasingly exist as a 3D object rather than a 2D surface, which opened a whole new door for me and led me to experiment with different ways to explore three dimensionality in the paintings.

Unfortunately, over the past year I haven’t been able to visit museums due to the pandemic, but when I look back at the few years before that, a few museum exhibitions stand out. One of them was a retrospective of Jim Shaw’s works at the New Museum in New York in 2015 and another exhibition of his works a few months later at MASS MoCA in Massachusetts which truly fascinated me. The way he’s always exploring new different ideas and his never-ending creativity was very inspiring for me. The other inspiring museum exhibition that I can think of was David Hockney’s at the Met in 2017. One of the most inspiring aspects of his works for me was colour.

three dimensional artwork

Arghavan Khosravi, Isn’t it time to celebrate your freedom?, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: Your work fluctuates between pop, symbolism and surrealism. Which genre, if any, do you feel most comfortable being associated with?
Arghavan Khosravi: I can mostly relate my work to the surrealist movement and I think symbolism is one of the tools in surrealistic storytelling. In my paintings, I like to depict moments that might be impossible to happen in real life. I also use an indirect and subtle approach to convey what I have in mind. This approach slows the audience’s reading of each painting and hopefully, leaves a more effective and longer lasting impression on them.

Read more: Philip Hewat-Jaboor on discovering art through materials

LUX: Can you tell us about some of the recurring objects in your work such as strings, disembodied limbs and floating heads. What do they represent for you?
Arghavan Khosravi: In general, I am interested in depicting scenes and situations that at the first glance, might seem peaceful, normal and comfortable, but the more you look at what’s going on, you find moments where something dark and slightly violent is occurring. The body fragments, for example, give a feeling that the characters in the painting are lacking control not only over the situation, but also their own body. You can look at it as a metaphor for the suppression which happens under autocratic systems.

Another metaphor I use for suppression is the red string. I am thinking about all the “red lines” that are drawn which mustn’t be overpassed. These lines can be drawn systematically by an authoritarian regime or can be drawn by tradition in more patriarchal societies, which mostly, target women. I am mostly interested in using visual metaphors that don’t look too violent at first, but present an underlying sense of suffocation or disturbance.

Arghavan Khosravi, Black Rain, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: You seem to like adding sculptural and three-dimensional elements to your paintings, and often use a shaped canvas. Do you start a painting knowing that you will use a shaped canvas or do you sometimes change the shape after starting a painting?
Arghavan Khosravi: The sculptural elements started when I decided to experiment with shape panels, which I talked about earlier, I stretch canvas over the shaped wood panels, so it’s almost impossible to change its shape after I start a painting. Therefore, I pre-plan most of the painting before building the shaped panel, and I have a clear idea what imagery is going to be painted within that shape.

LUX: Another formalist aspect of your work is the ‘trompe l’oeil’ technique, which sometimes makes it difficult to delineate what’s painted and what’s not.
Arghavan Khosravi: I am interested in the idea of juxtaposing a two dimensional painted surface which mimics three-dimensionality with actual three dimensional elements in the paintings. I like how it can invite the viewer to explore more time with the piece in order to figure out which part is which. I am also interested in the notion of duality and having contrasting visual elements. This contrast can be in materialistic aspects of the paintings (like the contrast between a 2D surface and a constructed 3D element) or it can be more about the subject matter. For example, the juxtaposition of imagery appropriated from an Eastern context beside Western, or the contrast can be historic versus contemporary and so forth.

mixed media painting

Arghavan Khosravi, Entrapment, 2021. Courtesy Carl Kostyál Gallery

LUX: In one of your works the red string is physically wrapped around a canvas so that you can see dents at the edges. How did you do it?
Arghavan Khosravi: To achieve that effect, before stretching the canvas over the wood panel, I carved the sides of the wood panel in a way which makes the hard surface of the panel look like a soft smooth material that’s being compressed when a rope is tightly wrapped around it. This approach again aligns with the notion of duality and contrast that I talked about in the previous question. This time it’s the contrast is between a soft and a hard material.

Read more: Uplifting new paintings by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

LUX: Another Iranian artist that works a lot with trompe l’oeil is Mehdi Ghadyanloo. Do you know his work?
Arghavan Khosravi: Yes, I am very much familiar with his work and really like it. I first encountered his work when he used to make large murals all over Tehran where I grew up and was living before immigrating to the US. It was so fascinating to see his creative ways to give the illusion of depth and space in his murals so that the 2D painted surface of the wall seemed like the continuation of the actual buildings and space surrounding it. Before him (with a few exceptions), most of the murals were at the service of the state propaganda or had ideological purposes.

painting of a mystical woman

Arghavan Khosravi, The Balance, 2019. Courtesy the artist.

LUX: Who are your favourite Iranian artists that deserve more attention in the West?
Arghavan Khosravi: One Iranian artist that comes to mind is Bahman Mohasses. I also really like Nazgol Ansarinia’s work.

LUX: Born soon after the Islamic Revolution, you witnessed Iran’s transformation from a Western-friendly monarchy into a suppressive theocratic republic. How did you experience this growing up and what did your parents teach you?
Arghavan Khosravi: I was born and grew up in a non religious family, so there was a more secular/liberal way of thinking and living, but when I stepped out of that ‘private space’ into the ‘public space’ I could see that everything was very different. So, like so many other Iranians, I was taught by my parents how to navigate this dual life from an early age. For example ,there were certain things we did at home that mustn’t be mentioned at school, or we did things at school that I personally didn’t really believe in like saying prayers with other students which was compulsory in my middle school. Or we had to pretend to abide by some rules in public, which we don’t really believe in, such as the compulsory hijab. I think the notion of duality that I’m exploring in my paintings is a result of reflecting on those life experiences and memories from Iran.

textured painting

Arghavan Khosravi, Fragility of Peace, 2019. Courtesy the artist

LUX: In your 2017 Muslim Ban series you use pages of your Iranian passport as a canvas and there’s also your Self-Censorship series. Can you tell us more about those works?
Arghavan Khosravi: In early 2017, only a week after I came back from a short trip to Iran during the school’s winter break, an executive order was signed which prevented citizens of six muslim-majority countries from entering the US. It meant that if I had returned to the US a week later, I could have got stuck in Iran and wouldn’t have been able to finish my degree. Also, it meant that I wasn’t able to exit the US for an unknown period of time. My first reaction to the news was anger and a feeling of being treated with disrespect. I thought of using this anger as fuel in my studio, but the blank canvas didn’t feel right. So I had this idea of painting on pages of my expired passport and weaving my narrative into the visual structure that was already there.

When you grow up under the suppression of an autocratic system which limits freedom of speech, you start to develop self-censorship as a defence mechanism, and sometimes you’re not even aware of it. Therefore, you start to suppress your own freedom of expression to avoid getting in trouble. In the Self-Censorship series I was interested in exploring these themes using a symbolic language. It is worth mentioning that symbolism itself can be one of the tools to circumvent censorship because when you use symbols and metaphors to convey certain thoughts you can always say that this particular thought is the viewer’s interpretation of your work and not necessarily your own idea. But of course when I use symbolism now, where I have freedom of expression, I have different reasons for this choice.

collage painting

Arghavan Khosravi, Hafez (The Muslim Ban Series), 2017. Courtesy the artist

LUX: Your paintings are so intricate they seem very laborious to produce. How long does it take you, on average, to finish a painting and do you work on multiple paintings at the same time?
Arghavan Khosravi: Depending on the size, it takes me about 2 to 5 weeks to finish each piece. Usually, the paintings with 3D elements and multi-panels take longer because there is more than one surface to paint on. I rarely work on several paintings at the same time because if I leave a painting unfinished and move to a new one, I get very excited about the new piece and won’t feel like going back to the older piece. I have works lying in my studio from two years ago that are still left unfinished.

3d painting

Arghavan Khosravi, Four Elements, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: Finally, tell us about your current show In Between Places at Rachel Uffner Gallery in NYC. How do you think your practice has evolved or changed since your last show in NYC at Lyles & King in 2019?
Arghavan Khosravi: This latest body of work was made in isolation during the past year of quarantine. The works build upon my previous explorations of techniques taken from historical painting genres, such as the use of stacked perspective in Persian miniature paintings, while also incorporating new sculptural and three-dimensional elements that further emphasise qualities of illusion and artifice. The paintings are rendered on surfaces that have been layered to create visual depth, which somehow evoke the structure of a theatrical set and the corresponding implication of a not-quite-real world built on false appearances.

“Arghavan Khosravi: In Between Places” runs until 5 June 2021 at Rachel Uffner, New York. For more information: racheluffnergallery.com

Arghavan Khosravi’s solo exhibition at Carl Kostyal, London opens in June. For more information, visit: kostyal.com/exhibitions

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Reading time: 13 min
wine estate entrance
wine estate entrance

Spottswoode wine estate in Napa Valley, California

Spottswoode Estate is Napa valley wine aristocracy. Its wines, selling for hundreds of dollars a bottle, are in demand from collectors globally. Beth Novak Milliken, the estate’s second generation owner, is also a leader in sustainability and biodiversity and has secured coveted B-Corp certification for the estate. She speaks to LUX about her challenges and hosts a tasting of some of her finest wines for us over Zoom
woman standing on driveway

Beth Novak Milliken

LUX: Where does your sustainability ethos come from?
Beth Novak Milliken: It started in 1985, Tony Soter started to take us down a path that we really couldn’t have envisioned would take us where it is now. He was our founding winemaker and started making our wines in 1982. In 1985, he went to my mum and said that he really wanted to take over the farming of the vineyard. He made the suggestion of organic farming and as she trusted him a great deal, she said, “Sure, let’s give it a try!”

That was way back before people were talking about organics – we were amongst the first to farm organically here. We stuck with the organics and planted with that in mind, and never looked back.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Around 2000, we started planting the insectaries in the vineyard to bring some biodiversity to what is obviously a mono-culture. We set up solar power at the winery in 2007 and added solar  at the estate the same year. We get a great majority of our power from solar, and that which we don’t get from solar is from renewables. Then in May 2019, we came up with our core purpose statement, and all of a sudden everything accelerated.

vineyards

The Spottswoode vineyards

LUX: What are your aims and dreams?
Beth Novak Milliken: We want to inspire others. I’ve been looking to Yvon Chouinard, the Founder of Patagonia (he is truly my hero), what he has done and how he has pushed for environmental causes in such an amazing way. We joined 1% for the Planet in 2007 and since then we’ve given a minimum of 1% of gross revenue every year to environmental causes that we believe in (it’s usually more than one percent) and it’s a remarkable; you start to feel like your business is something greater than just yourself.

I am the second generation of what will, hopefully, be a long-term multi-generational family business and our biggest threat to continued success is climate change because we are agriculturally based and that really brings it home. In ’17, ’18, ’19 and ’20, we had the highest heats we’ve ever had. We had 117° F (47 C) one day – that’s desert heat!

We have had historic fires that just seem to keep coming, and it is a consequence of climate change. It is is hotter, drier, warmer, windier, and a lot more variable. It’s a remarkable time, and we feel like we really need to act to inspire others.

Read more: A glamorous escape to the Lanesborough

LUX: Was there ever a choice, long-term, between quality of wine and sustainability, or sustainability versus keeping the business going?
Beth Milliken: Never. The two are completely compatible.

LUX: Tell us more about the B-Corp certification and why you decided on it?
Beth Novak Milliken: B-Corp is the gold standard for a business that operates for good, that operates because it cares about its community, the planet, its employees, everything really. It’s how we’ve been operating anyway, so this was really just taking that and putting a certification on it.

It’s a very rigorous process. There are many questions about how you treat your natural environment and how you treat your employees, everything from pay to wellbeing. We feed people here everyday, we always have, and it’s always organic food. We’re minimising waste, and taking care of our community.

LUX: In terms of the sustainability side, what’s next? As a wine-producer, what must you do?
Beth Novak Milliken: We are applicant members of International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA). We are going to be LEED-certified on this entire property, and we’re working on our zero-waste platinum certification.

four wine bottles

A selection of Spottswoode wines

A tasting of a historical collection of Spottswoode wines, hosted by Beth Milliken over Zoom

Tasting notes by Darius Sanai

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 1985

Wow! The greatest aged Napa Cabernets have a unique character, completely distinct either from what they tasted like in their youth, or from aged Bordeaux made from similar grape varieties. On opening, this had a port/cognac “rancio” layer to it; after a few minutes, that diffused and we were left with this lifted, almost light, but nevertheless deep, earthy, woodland soil filled wine with a core of steely dark fruits. If I had blind tasted it I would have guessed it was a Grand Cru Chambertin from Burgundy – not a Cabernet Sauvignon. Amazing stuff and proof too much Napa wine is drunk too young.

Pair with: Cep mushrooms on plain polenta, while sitting on a mountainside in the Alto Adige in northeast Italy while having a chance meeting with someone you broke up with many years ago and are still in love with. Don’t ask why, just do.

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 1996

This is a wine to serve to the kind of narrow-minded snob who says all California wines are obvious, fruity and easy. It is as iron-clad as any Pauillac from 1996 (Pichon Lalande springs to mind), behind the curtain of tannin is an array of subtle savouriness. No fruit bombs here. One that will develop even more.

Pair with: Dinner with a client who proclaims only to like old-fashioned Bordeaux, at their house in Schwabing. Serve it blind and prepare to be amused.

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Roasting coffee! Almonds! Thistles! This is a wine with massive presence and subtlety, simultaneously. There’s some creamy fruit in there also but it’s at the back and very restrained, like smelling it in its packet rather than eating it. It’s 15 years old and needs another 15 years. But it’s very balanced.

Pair with: This one needs a muscular bavette or skirt steak, with apologies to our vegan readers; ideally at a steakhouse in New York City, with the guys at the next table hollering about the game or some deal they made or a girl.

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

After concluding that the 1996 and 2006 are possibly too young to drink now, what about the 2018, from a stellar vintage? Ironically the 2018 is delicious, creamy-rich with bluecurrant (not a thing but that’s what it tastes like) and branchy tannins balancing themselves out on a see-saw on your tongue. Irresistible.

Pair with: Share with your closest friends at dinner by the shore of Lake Geneva in summer, over some aged Comte cheese and maybe very old Mimolette.

Find out more: spottswoode.com

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Reading time: 5 min
art gallery exterior
art gallery exterior

Pace Gallery’s new space in Palm Beach, Florida

As part on an ongoing monthly column for LUX, artnet’s Vice President Sophie Neuendorf discusses the cultural shifts caused by the pandemic and forecasts the future shape of the art industry

Sophie Neuendorf

Prior to the pandemic, city life was often synonymous with a thriving arts and culture scene. Most of the world’s major cities offered a plethora of  national and international galleries and museums to tempt tourists and locals alike, alongside the global rota of art fairs and biennials. It was an exciting ecosystem that was supported by constant stream of international art lovers and collectors.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

However, as James Tarmy recently wrote in Bloomberg, the pandemic has radically changed the status quo and has been vastly more painful to museums and nonprofit art organisations than to commercial galleries. The main reason for the disparity, he explained, is that “buying art is mostly a private activity; seeing art is much more communal.” His article reveals that sales have remained surprisingly robust at multiple levels of the market, from modestly sized dealers like James Fuentes and François Ghebaly to blue-chip galleries like David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth. The rapid pivot to online sales are largely responsible last year’s robust sales, with $10.1 Billion spent on fine art sales in 2020 (Source: artnet Price Database). Private sales have also proved resilient— perhaps not surprising, given that the collective wealth of America’s 651 billionaires, for example, has increased by $1 trillion since the start of the pandemic. Strong interest from millennials, who squirrelled away vast amounts of disposable income amidst the lockdown, and robust activity from Asia are further fuelling demand.

When it comes to projecting the art industry’s timeline for full re-emergence from lockdown, it would be wise to note not only the rate of vaccination as a benchmark, but also the psychological impact and cultural shift initiated by the pandemic. For example, countryside living is having a renaissance, fuelled by remote working. While previous generations were drawn to cities for work and leisure alike, the restrictions of our global lockdown have bought about a counter-reaction to city life. A shift to working from home, zoom calls, and decreased business travel support this change. But what does this cultural shift mean for the art industry? How will galleries, museums, and institutions respond to collectors’ migration away from the world’s major cities?

rural art gallery

Hauser and Wirth Somerset

As restrictions in movement and social distancing measures continue, more and more galleries, artist residencies, and institutions are finding homes in coastal towns and the countryside, opening up spacious, Covid-19 friendly spaces to attract collectors in a safe space.

Read more: Philip Hewat-Jaboor on discovering art through materials

Last summer, already saw an increase in pop up gallery spaces in popular destinations such as the Hamptons, Aspen, St Moritz, and Mallorca. Hauser & Wirth was ahead of the trend with its opening of H&W Somerset and this summer will see the launch of a new space in Menorca, and  in Monaco. Similarly, Pace Gallery is expanding within Seoul, as Asia is recovering more rapidly from the pandemic in comparison to European countries. The gallery is also catering to its Western clients who are migrating to coastal towns, by opening up spaces in East Hampton and Palm Beach.

As more and more galleries are responding to the “new normal,” a hybrid model will most likely develop. Taking advantage of the increased collector confidence in online transactions, galleries as well as auction houses will be able to connect with their clients online, while also opening up Covid-friendly spaces in more rural locations.

rural art gallery

Hauser and Wirth Menorca is scheduled to open in July 2021

The drama of quarantine also opened up previously unlikely collaborations between fairs, dealers, auction houses, and even luxury brands. For example, Bulgari sponsored Sotheby’s Old Master Week in January, outfitting the auctioneer and staff in the brand’s jewels. I suspect we’ll be seeing many more partnerships of this kind as well as auction-art-fair hybrids like Christie’s recent project with the 1:54 contemporary African art fair or Johann König’s ‘Messe’ in St Agnes.

The incredible innovations rapidly developed during the pandemic—from live-streamed sales to a rolling battery of online offerings—are here to stay. Industry insiders and experts are predicting a surge of post-lockdown activity, but physical openings and exhibitions will continue to be complemented by online sales. The art industry has definitely changed, but I’m hopeful for what comes next.

Follow Sophie Neuendorf on Instagram: @sophieneuendorf

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Reading time: 3 min
women looking at art
women looking at art

Masterpiece London, 2019. Photograph by Ben Fisher. Courtesy of Masterpiece

In his first column for LUX, art collector, advisor and chairman of Masterpiece London Philip Hewat-Jaboor discusses the joys of discovering art and design objects through their materials
portrait of a man in black and white

Philip Hewat-Jaboor. Photograph by Danny Evans

I’m always intrigued to discover what brings people to works of art, and what sets their collecting in motion. Over the years, one of the most beguiling ways I’ve found to draw people in, is to look at an artwork’s materials and explore how it has been made. What does the texture and surface of the materials tell us? What meaning and significance do those materials hold? What cultural and historical value do they have? Whether it’s precious stones, marble, porcelain, pigment or wood, it’s interesting to think about how the artist has transformed a raw material into something full-formed and to look for the beauty in that process. Materials transcend disciplines, cross continents, and evolve through time and when it comes to beginning your own collection, it’s a brilliant place to start.

Personally, I’m obsessed by coloured ornamental stones, and by that I mean the stones that were first quarried by the Romans in Egypt and other parts of the Roman Empire, which became incredibly prized as both building materials and materials for making works of art. I take great pleasure in looking at how these materials are used and reused over the course of history. For example, you might be looking at a 18th century vase made out of Egyptian porphyry (my favourite material) but whilst it’s an 18th century object, it was probably made out of a 2nd or 3rd century column that had been abandoned in the Renaissance or whenever, dug up from the excavations in Rome and turned into another object. There’s a wonderful sense of continuity, and doing this kind of research is a fantastic way of not only learning more about the object itself, but also history.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

There are then the contemporary artists and designers who are thinking about new ways of using ancient materials such as stone. There are designers and artists at David Gill, for example, who are incorporating these wonderful, ancient, coloured stones into contemporary furniture and in doing so, they are bringing new life to the material. In this sense, I’m quite anti the division between traditional and contemporary art because everything looks backwards and forwards. In my opinion, things are either good or bad, stimulating or indifferent, whether they were made yesterday or 5,000 years ago.

ancient sculpture

Galerie Chenel at Masterpiece London 2019, Ben Fisher Photography, courtesy of Masterpiece

It’s also interesting to consider what inspires the rebirth of a particular material. For example, I’ve been thinking about how there’s been a trend for refurbishing kitchens and bathrooms in the last ten years, and incorporating coloured marbles into new designs. There’s also the fact that each slice of marble, not all marbles but many of them, will be totally unique. So if you’re making a limited edition of five coffee tables, each one will be different and I think that’s really appealing to both the creator and the modern consumer.

Read more: Olivier Krug on champagne and music

Lately, there has also been a trend, or at least a growing interest in more sustainable craft processes, but the interesting thing is that many of these artists and designers are already using historic materials, which is in itself sustainable, but in my opinion, it also imbues the contemporary object with more of a soul. For example, Sebastian Brajkovic, a fantastic artist at David Gill Gallery, made a wonderful side-table out of white marble combined with some artificial marble and other bits and pieces. It’s a strikingly contemporary object, but it is modelled on a Roman sarcophagus.

This past year, in particular, has encouraged people to think about how they want to live, and what might bring their lives comfort, which naturally impacts what they are choosing to buy or collect. I personally think being surrounded by beautiful objects is a very important part of life, and can bring people so much joy.

So where to begin with all of this? Visiting museums, galleries, art fairs and even country houses is a fantastic way to discover and pique interest in new eras and disciplines. Exhibitions even have the power to kickstart entire collecting trends. For example, Treasure Houses of Britain was a great show that took place at the National Gallery in Washington in 1985, showcasing paintings, furniture and works of art from British country houses. The exhibition had such an inspirational effect that it launched an Anglo-manic wave in American collecting in the 80s.

When I reflect upon my own collecting journey, I think how fortunate I was that my grandfather was a collector and that he would let me handle his Chinese ceramics collection. This close-up experience with a material is not something you often get at a museum, but with his passion and trust, I had the opportunity to really look at, appreciate and observe the material and craftsmanship.

In the same way, art and design dealers often want to share their passion for their speciality with potential clients. My advice to new collectors is to actively start conversations, ask questions, read, listen, research and build your knowledge. Search for beauty, great craftsmanship, and ultimately, allow yourself to be guided by your instincts.

Philip Hewat-Jaboor is Masterpiece London’s Chairman of the Fair.

This year’s edition of Masterpiece London will take place online with smaller-scale live activations in London in June. For updates and online events, visit: masterpiecefair.com

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Reading time: 4 min
portrait of man on a beach
portrait of man on a beach

Simon Hodges photographed by Matt Porteous

This month, LUX columnist and life coach Simon Hodges concludes his ‘how to thrive in uncertainty’ series by sharing some practical advice on how to effect positive and lasting change

Over the last few months, I have been exploring why we tend to operate more often in survival mode as a result of our often unconscious programming, otherwise known as our belief systems or (more colloquially) the bullshit stories we believe to be true about ourselves and the world we live in.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

In today’s column and final part of this series on how to thrive in uncertainty, I explore how we can practically move away from these old fear-based patterns (or beliefs) and learn how to thrive again.

Making change a MUST

As I am an intensely practical person, my focus is on being real and offering you concrete insights into how to effect real and lasting change in your life.

As I said in my last column, change never happens until you first become aware of what is actually going on in your life and you can see both the reality and the negative impact of the beliefs you currently buy into. It is often revelatory to my clients when they first see a written list of their beliefs and just how toxic they are, which leads me onto my first point…

As human beings, we will only ever change our behaviour when it is a MUST to do so; in other words, we all need to hit our leverage point to change and this usually means experiencing so much pain that it becomes intolerable to endure it any longer! If you need help hitting your leverage point, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does the predictable future look like for my life and what I want to achieve if I nothing really changes in the next 10 years or even 20 years? What will be my deepest regrets if I allow this to happen?
  • What is the impact of my behaviour on my relationships and particularly, those I love the most? What does this look like 5 years from now if nothing changes?

Once you have become aware of what is no longer working for you and have also taken full ownership of it personally (no outsourcing to others with the blame and shame game!), you have to fully commit to doing whatever it takes to make these changes happen.

Change means change!

This leads me onto my second point: change requires a different approach. As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing and expect different results. It sounds achingly simple, almost patronisingly so, but the reality is that most of us try to change by largely doing more of the same and then convincing ourselves that we did everything we could.

Read more: Hermès perfumer Christine Nagel on the emotional power of scent

So here is my challenge to you, if you are 100 % committed to change, you need to start to change the way you show up minute to minute, day to day, week to week and here are some fundamentals to address from the ‘get go’:

  • Be curious and open minded – in other words, challenge yourself constantly to see if you can look at any given scenario, any interaction and event differently. What if my way of seeing things was not the only way? What if other perspectives were equally valid?
  • Everyone you meet in life is your teacher – for me, this is one of the biggest game changer lessons I learnt. The point here is that everyone who comes into our lives (even those we can’t stand!), can teach us something. More often than not, we learn the most about ourselves and grow exponentially as a person from those relationships which feel the most challenging and push our buttons.
  • Adopt a growth mindset – if you really want to change, this is a non-negotiable. Nothing worthwhile in life comes effortlessly, you have to do the work and most of all, you have to consistently push yourself to grow. And you will know you are truly growing when you consistently feel uncomfortable, out of your comfort zone, confused, uncertain and life feels messy! All growth is messy and uncomfortable but it is so worth it in the end when you realise how far you have come and most of all, how differently you now feel about yourself day to day.

This is always the acid test of how successfully you have grown, ask yourself: do I feel different today compared to 12 months ago?

man holding dog on the beach

Photograph Matt Porteous

Big change comes from consistently making little changes

If you want proof this is true, take a moment to think about the power of compounding in your finances, or Google some examples, and you will see just how quickly £1 invested every day can grow over a longer period of time.

It’s the same with life. If you want to see positive change and powerful results, first and foremost, you need to be consistent in applying these, often small, changes every day and remain disciplined enough to stay the course.

Get clear about what you want in your life and why you want it

Finally, if you want to make lasting and positive change in your life, focus on what you want your life to look like and most importantly, how you want to feel on a day to day basis.

Getting clarity on all aspects of your vision for your life across your finances, career, relationships, health, personal development, spirituality, fun and adventures is really important as it is the magnet which will pull you forward. The more clarity you have on exactly how you want this to look and the more emotionally invested you are in this outcome, the greater the chances of your success.

The most important part of all is to seek clarity on the emotions you want to feel more of in life and to start doing things today which take you in this direction. If you want more fulfilment, more contentment, more passion or more fun in your life, what sort of things do you need to be doing more of on a daily basis, and what sort of people (if any) should you be doing them with?

Find out more about Simon Hodges’ work: simonhodges.com@simonhodgescoaching

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Reading time: 5 min
outdoor lounge area
outdoor lounge area

The Garden Room at The Lanesborough hotel, Knightsbridge

The Garden Room at the Lanesborough hotel is one of the world’s most glamorous cocktail destinations. Darius Sanai celebrates the end of London’s lockdown with a glass of fine wine and a cocktail

Have you ever wondered what it must be like to be on the other side of the luxury hospitality industry? We love the service at the world’s great hotels and restaurants, from Lombok to London. But to be in the hospitality industry, to be serving demanding, wealthy, privileged, and often entitled customers literally 24/7?

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

There are LUX readers who will know the answer, perhaps because they own a hotel or group of restaurants, or trained in the industry before becoming senior executives. From my own conversations (and my limited experience of working in the industry at a very low pay grade when I was younger) there is one thing that unites any institution with great service, and that is the love of providing great service. All those stories about staff going home and cursing and sticking pins in dolls of their customers? Not really, not in the greatest hotels and restaurants. You have to love what you do, however exhausting.

smart hotel bar

And that’s what I realised I had missed when walking through the doors of the Lanesborough in London last week, my first entry into a luxury hotel since last year, unprecedented in my current life. If you are fortunate enough to be able to stay and visit such establishments – not confined to marble and gold taps luxury, but anywhere at the peak of the hospitality industry – you will have missed being with people who genuinely love and get a thrill out of looking after their guests. This goes as much for the old couple who welcome you in to sit on a table (that’s right) in the mountains of northern Iran and treat you with a banquet of tea, local fruits and Petit Beurre biscuits as it does for a luxury hotel.

But if you are visiting a luxury hotel, there are very few that will give you better service than one of the Oetker Collection, comprising among others the Eden Roc, the Bristol in Paris, and the Lanesborough in London.

Read more: Hermès perfumer Christine Nagel on the emotional power of scent

Stepping into the doors of the Lanesborough, being ushered at a distance down the up-lit marble hallway to the grand stairs leading down towards the Garden Room – the outdoor space that they are now permitted to open – was, after London’s lockdown, a luxury experience in itself.

Even if you wouldn’t dream of smoking a cigar, you would be tempted by the cigar wall on your right downstairs and the subsequent cigar library – with delicious looking cigars dating back for decades – on your left as you enter the Garden Room.

It’s a kind of combination of a bar and a terrace. A short selection of excellent wines served in cut crystal glasses, heavy enough to make a thud when you put them down on your table. (Note to the sommelier: while each of the wines is superb in its own right, you have three Sauvignon Blancs as the first three wines on your list.) A Chablis Lechets Bernard Defaix was an excellent match to our dinner of crispy squid, very nutty homemade hummus, garden salads, and a sea bass with olive and tomato (and truffle fries) that flung us, metaphorically, to the Cote d’Azur in June.

cocktail and cigar

This is a cocktail bar above all else, and a virgin mojito (always a hard drink to make brilliantly, without the balance of the Havana Club) was sweet-sour mint perfection.

And the service: it felt like the staff had been waiting for months of gruelling lockdown just to get back to work – which may or may not be true, but they made us feel it was true, which is the suspension of belief of every luxury experience.

The Garden Room may not be for the stogiephobic – although semi-outside, it has the waft of well-aged Havanas in its DNA – but aside from that it is a London destination, now reopened, with glamour. That’s what we have been missing, and as glamour is almost by definition provided by other people, it’s impossible to recreate at home in a lockdown. The Garden Room has it by the magnum.

Find out more: oetkercollection.com/hotels/the-lanesborough/

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Reading time: 3 min
mother and daughter in vineyard
mother and daughter in vineyard

Amélie Buecher, winemaker at Vignoble des 2 Lunes

LUX tries an at-home wine tasting experience with VIVANT, and discovers a group of women who are committed to producing and promoting organic wine

After a tiresome year of Zoom meetings, virtual exhibitions and product launches, it’s difficult to get properly excited by the idea of another digital platform, even if there is the alluring promise of real wine to drink at home, but – and bear with us here – VIVANT is actually doing something a little bit different.

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Launched by American entrepreneur and investor Michael Baum, VIVANT is a super slick, ultra modern online market place/educational centre/streaming service for wine enthusiasts who not only want to drink great wine, but also learn about it from expert advisors and producers through interactive wine experiences and beautifully curated content.

wine tasting test tubes

VIVANT’s ‘Women in Wine’ tasting kit

There’s a wide selection of experiences to choose from, divided into categories such as ‘Food & Wine’ or ‘For Serious Wine Geeks’ with varying difficulties depending on your existing wine knowledge. We were invited to experience the ‘Women in Wine’ tasting event and about a week before kick-off (the events happen in real time), a beautiful, white box arrived by courier, containing six 100ml test tubes of wine along with the login details for the platform.

Eventually the evening rolled around, we logged onto the site, and the event began promptly at 6pm with the virtual appearance of our wine advisor Kateryna Dobbert. The format was impressively futuristic, resembling a kind of spaceship control panel with Kateryna talking in the centre of the screen and a message board running down the side where participants could enter questions, comments and ‘cheers’ other members by pressing a wine glass icon. Yes, it’s a bit cheesy, but it got more fun after a few (or several) sips of wine, and we realised that we could earn points through our interactions which contributed to our VIVANT level (although we’re still not entirely sure what that level equates to beyond self-satisfaction).

Read more: Olivier Krug on champagne and music

The experience was divided into a series of videos in which the producers of each wine talked about their processes and some of the challenges they faced as women in a traditionally male-dominated industry after which Kateryna guided us through a tasting with a few follow up quiz questions to test our knowledge. It was well-focused and fast-moving, with the whole experience lasting around forty minutes, but it could have been comfortably stretched out over an hour as we occasionally felt rushed through the tasting parts.

The wines themselves were excitingly varied and after the experience ended, the platform handily saved the corresponding bottles to our profile, avoiding the hassle of having to note down the names of our favourites.

women winemaker

Coralie Delecheneau, winemaker at Domaine La Grange Tiphaine

While our experience highlighted women in the wine industry, VIVANT is centred around promoting and supporting sustainable producers and organic wines. Each of their winemakers is required to sign the VIVANT environmental pledge, which, amongst other things, promises that no synthetic chemicals or additives will be used in the vineyards or wine making processes. The general idea is to create a global community of producers and consumers who are committed to making more environmentally-conscious choices and although the future remains to be seen, it feels like a good start.

Find out more: vivant.eco

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jewellery boutiqe
jewellery boutiqe

Goossens’ flagship London boutique in Mayfair

Parisian couture jewellery house GOOSSENS opens the doors to its first London boutique in Burlington Gardens, Mayfair

French jeweller Robert Goossens founded his eponymous brand in 1950 and is known for making jewellery and decorative objects for some of the most renowned designers of the last century, including Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Cristóbal Balenciaga.

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While the core aesthetic has stayed consistent since its inception, with a focus on tactile, handmade pieces, which combine metal with precious stones, the opening of the first GOOSSENS boutique in London marks a new chapter in the brand’s history under the leadership of Robert Goossens’ son Patrick (Director of GOOSSENS’ Heritage and Know-How) and as part of Chanel (the fashion house bought the brand in 2005).

jewellery display

The store itself is reminiscent of an art gallery with its white walls and minimal furnishings emphasising the bold beauty of the objects on display. Visitors can discover iconic heritage designs alongside new collections and six unique interior design pieces including two mirrors, a couture chandelier made in collaboration with interior designer Anne-Sophie Pailleret, and two wall lights.

The GOOSSENS boutique opens on 12 April 2021 at 3 Burlington Gardens, Mayfair, London W1S 3EP. For more information, visit: goossens-paris.com

 

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Reading time: 1 min
man with handbags and watches
man with handbags and watches

Founder of Xupes, Joe McKenzie

Joe McKenzie and his father Frank founded Xupes in 2009, selling a handful of pre-owned Cartier watches from their home in Bishop’s Stortford. The company now sells a curated collection of vintage handbags, jewellery, art and design pieces alongside refurbished luxury timepieces. Here, he speaks to Candice Tucker about sustainable luxury, the rise of the digital marketplace and future collectibles

1. What inspired you to enter the pre-owned luxury retail industry?

I’ve always been interested in and participated in the circular economy. When I was 13, I was buying and selling clothes on eBay. I’ve always had an appreciation for nice things (but couldn’t afford them!) with an interest in engineering. Buying pre-owned gave me the ability to own and enjoy nice clothes for a few months and then, often sell them for double what I paid. When I was 15, I taught myself to repair airsoft gearboxes. Airsoft was an increasingly popular sport at the time and I imported parts from China to offer one of the first repair services in the UK. This was my first proper job that gave me the ability to save up some money. My parents have always taught me the importance of independence and I guess my entrepreneurship started from a young age inspired by my father and grandfather who both ran their own successful businesses.

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The mechanics of watches always fascinated me (my great grandfather was a clock maker) and when I was lucky enough to be gifted one, I became immersed in the world of horology. With the knowledge and experience of buying and selling on eBay, I saw an opportunity to redefine a market that was growing and where others were not offering service or quality. I thought to myself: why shouldn’t the experience of buying a second hand (or pre-owned as we call it) luxury watch be the same or better than buying one new? This is how the idea of Xupes began, in my bedroom at university, and I set out to redefine the perception of buying a luxury pre-owned item. I was completing a degree in photography at the time, and I used this experience to focus on creating a brand that could become a leader in the sector.

watches

A selection of pre-owned luxury watches from the Xupes collection

2. Why are vintage watches becoming ever more popular at a time when everyone has a phone that tells the time and also a smart watch?

This is a topic which has been widely discussed. At first, people thought the smart watch would have a significant impact on the luxury watch market. But customers who own a luxury watch appreciate it for many other reasons beyond convenience. Smart watches provide a service and the technology that helps us streamline our lives day to day. A luxury or vintage watch is a work of art, something with history that tells a story and is an extension of our personality, that one day might be passed on to loved ones. They also can appreciate so have become collectable and in today’s world and alternative asset class. Often, for these reasons our customers have both for these very different purposes.

3. Have any watch brands become noticeably more popular since the pandemic?

The pandemic has had one major impact to our sector: it has accelerated a shift towards digital/online channels versus the high street, a shift that was happening already, but is now probably 5 years ahead of where it would have been had the pandemic not happened. At the start of the pandemic this created a rush of brands struggling to re-organise their businesses to be able to sell online, but it is only now, 12 months on, that many of them have managed to set this up properly whilst others are still developing their operations to cope with this change. I also think consumers are more conscious of the impact their purchasing is having on the planet, bringing a wave a focus on more sustainable luxury, within which the circular economy will play a huge part in years to come.

Read more: Uplifting new paintings by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

This has all meant we’ve seen considerable demand grow across our most popular brands, which people couldn’t easily buy during the pandemic. Examples are Rolex, AP and Patek Philippe, but we’ve seen a new demand in vintage across these brands as well as Cartier, Omega, IWC, and Jaeger-Le- Coultre as customers start to diversify and deepen their interests and collections. Some of the more niche independent brands have also increased in their desirability such as FP Journe, George Daniels, Philippe Dufour, Laurent Ferrier and Moser & Cie. My personal belief is that next year will also be big for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak as it is the model’s 50th Anniversary. I expect prices for vintage Royal Oak’s to increase significantly. Prices in the past 12 months have risen across the pre-owned sector in varying amounts driven by this shortage of supply.

4. What is the decision process when deciding which brands you choose to sell?

We created Xupes through interest and passion for what we do. Our whole service is built around experience and taking time to educate and often learn from our customers. We apply this to the collection we offer and only purchase around 5% of what we are offered. This is because we’re selective about quality, provenance and also the brands and models we select. We believe our collection of watches is one of the best in the industry. Whilst we want our customers to have the right variety, we won’t sell anything and everything and 75% of our inventory is focused across five key brands.

002_Daytona-Stainless-Steel-Gents-6239

A pre-owned Rolex Daytona Stainless Steel watch

5. Is there a clear demographic of the people buying pre-owned watches?

The demographic where we see the largest portion of our customers is 35-50 and 75% male as you might expect. The watches we sell are expensive items often purchased for a special occasion to commemorate a milestone in life or to celebrate a birthday or other event. It’s hard for our team to remember that people often work hard for years to treat themselves to a luxury watch. So many of our customers are professionals from a variety of walks of life. It’s important to add however we have seen an increase in our female customer base; one of our best customers is a female watch collector with over 150 watches in her collection. And we’ve also seen a shift new 20–35-year-old customers buying their first watch with a view to investment, something they can also trade up through our part exchange service.

6. Which contemporary watch brands do you envisage being future collectibles?

We’ve seen Richard Mille sustain huge growth in residual values in the pre-owned market over the past three years. Twelve months ago, we discussed whether this could and would continue, and whether it could be a fad and go out of fashion, but the demand and prices remain strong, and Richard Mille has done well to maintain demand. I believe some of the independent brands could become hugely coveted in the future as the watch market continues to grow. We’ve seen this with FP Journe and Laurent Ferrier as I mentioned as many pieces are made in such small volumes versus say Rolex or even Patek Philippe. We also witnessed the recent discontinuation of the Nautilus 5711 which saw prices spike by 25% in 24 hours in a market where this watch already commanded nearly 3 times premium on the retail price. Lange & Sohne’s release of the Odysseus was another example of a leading brand bringing out a steel “sports” watch which now commands a large premium. Rolex sports watches are always a safe investment and will have future collectability.

Find out more: xupes.com

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Reading time: 6 min
abstract painting of flowers
abstract painting of flowers

A bold new series of paintings by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar are inspired by the artist’s childhood memories of fields of flowers in the mountains of north Tehran. To Behnam-Bakhtiar, these flowers are symbols of energy and the human soul, expressed through layers of paint, urgent marks and vibrant colour. Here, we show a selections of paintings from the series alongside quotes from the artist about his practice and processes

floral abstract painting

Flowers of the Soul I by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

flower painting

Flowers of the Soul II by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

“When I create a new work, I seem to be plugged in into another world: a space that is constantly at work and full of wonder. It feels like a dream. I find myself able to feel things which I can’t feel normally – warm lights and energy flowing within and all around me, so tangible they can almost be touched. “

detail of abstract painting

Detail of Flowers of the Soul I by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

“In my practice, what is important is the identity of the work present, the creation shifting mindsets and that connection it brings forth between people and the truth about our identity. “

“I paint what we cannot see with our physical eyes but seem to feel somehow, a realm that exists all around and within us, the space between our consciousness and subconsciousness.”

painting detail

Detail of Flowers of the Soul II by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

“There is this repetition when creating a work, which is important to me. It is like a dance between my mind, hands and the surface I am working on…I tend to dislike my work very often, the ones that I accept are the canvases that survive the process, the rest are destroyed outside of the atelier.”

flowers painting

Pivoines de l’Âme by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

flowers painting

Pivoines de l’Âme II by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

All imagery courtesy of the artist. For more information, visit: sassanbehnambakhtiar.com

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Reading time: 4 min
iceberg black and white
iceberg black and white

Iceberg Between Paulet Island and the Shetland Islands, Antarctica, 2005 by Sebastiao Salgado

As part on an ongoing monthly column for LUX, artnet’s Vice President Sophie Neuendorf discusses how the art industry can support more sustainable businesses practices which will not only benefit the planet, but also the longevity of art and culture

Sophie Neuendorf

Over the past few months, I’ve been hearing a lot about sustainability and ESG reporting. So much so, that it’s even trickling into the art industry. Perhaps, it can be seen as a positive, global reaction to the pandemic – a way of responding to and making sense of a globally shocking and horrific situation. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that humanity has abused the planet to such an extent that we’re not only facing a pandemic and the ensuing socio-economic consequences, but also rapidly accelerating climate change. And amongst all of this, a new question has surfaced: how do we preserve our personal and cultural heritage in the face of rapidly increasing climate change, a pandemic, and volatile global socio-economic situations?

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The arts industry, like any other industry, should be responsible for affecting positive change. Given that arts and culture define us as individuals as well as nations, the arts arguably have an even greater obligation of setting a positive example to safeguard the future of humanity.

When thinking about sustainability, most of us immediately connect it to climate change and the immediate threat to the environment. Of course, this is true and important, but sustainable business practices are not only about the environment. The three pillars of sustainable business practices are the environment, society, and governance (ESG). The idea behind this multi-lateral approach to conducting business is to promote an equitable, efficient, and environmentally progressive business and society.

black and white forest

Horizontal Aspens, 1958 by Ansel Adams

Similarly, the impact of cultural awareness and investment is no longer limited to the traditional sphere of the art market; it has expanded to include political, economical, and environmental activism. The last two years have seen the rise of the MeToo and Black Lives Matter (BLM) movements, drawing widespread support across multiple industries. Corporations with questionable business ethics across the globe were targeted, just as just, equal opportunity, and environmentally-friendly business practices were sought out and celebrated. As the world seeks to slow the pace of climate change, promote equality, and support billions of people, there are several changes we can make now to spearhead the art world’s support for a sustainable planet.

Read more: Durjoy Rahman on promoting South Asian art

At artnet, I used the past year to compile our first ESG strategy and report. By engaging with Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) reporting and initiatives, we are hoping to continue our ethos of spearheading positive change and sustainable business practices – our clients expect it of us, and many of our employees are also advocates of change. As a purely digital business, we have already recognised the environmental benefits of transacting online. We don’t, for example, ship artworks across the globe for viewings, require artworks to be viewed in person, have large, costly office spaces, or print thousands of catalogues per sale.

infographic

Infographic courtesy of artnet

Elsewhere in the art world, Christie’s recently announced a pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030, making it the first of the major auction houses to do so. The company will focus four main areas to meet its carbon goals, including transforming its processes with shipping, travel, building energy, and printed material. The pledge also commits to a 50% reduction in carbon emissions, which includes diverting 90 percent of its waste away from landfills. They will provide clients with packaging and printed material that is 100% recyclable, and have also made the decision to stop publishing weighty, glossed paper catalogues.

For context, at least 7,000 auctions are held annually around the world with a median of 120 lots per sale (according to artnet price database). For nearly all of them, auction houses print catalogues to send around the world to potential buyers. In an era of digitalisation, print catalogues are unnecessarily destructive for the environment. Moreover, historical auction data is much better safeguarded, and more easily accessible for private collectors, appraisers, or wealth managers on an online database than in a printed catalogue on a shelf. This is just one of many areas of change that could be enacted immediately.

rainforest photography

Mentawai Climbing a Gigantic Tree to Collect, 2008 by Sebastian Salgado

5 tips for building a sustainable art business:

  1. Art businesses should first evaluate their corporations in terms of ESG standards of conducting business and then, establish strategies and targets for the next few years.
  2. Take steps to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, which can be direct or indirect emissions. However, it’s important to note that even after significant changes to operations, some emissions will remain.
  3. The next step is to calculate the remaining carbon footprint, and take responsibility by financially offsetting those emissions. Money can be invested in projects that plant trees or protect forests, support renewable energy programs, equal opportunity initiatives, or other sustainable business initiatives. Carbon offsetting, which is the process of funding emission-reduction initiatives in an effort to “balance out” your carbon footprint, is one step every responsible art business should take as part of its climate action plan. For context, to offset an equivalent amount of carbon to a cancelled coal power station, $300 million worth of trees would need to be planted. With the carbon calculator recently launched by the Gallery Climate Coalition, artists and galleries can make a good estimate at their carbon footprint and clarify where reductions can be made.
  4. Implement checks and balances for not only the environmental changes, but also the social and governance changes (which affect all stakeholders).
  5. Make your clients and employees aware of the steps you are taking, and encourage them to join you in this global effort for a sustainable future.

And here’s a final thought: as private collectors, family offices, or businesses, we are often inclined to reduce costs and taxes as much as possible, but I propose the introduction of a voluntary “Green Tax” on the buying and/or selling of art and antiques, which will benefit NGOs working on preserving the environment. Let us forget the short-term gain of wealth accumulation in favour of the long term gain of a greener planet for the next generations.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide how you would like to contribute to a sustainable future, not only for the art industry, but for humanity.

Follow Sophie Neuendorf on Instagram: @sophieneuendorf

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Reading time: 5 min
man leaning against wall

Simon Hodges photographed by Matt Porteous

LUX columnist and life coach Simon Hodges continues to explore how we can move away from a survival-based way of thinking and towards a mindset which will help us thrive

In my last column, I posed a few questions, one of which I want to explore more deeply, as it is fundamental to personal transformation: What are the beliefs that I previously bought into which are no longer serving me?

Our Belief Systems

So here is the reality: our belief systems drive our behaviour and everything that we do in our daily lives, and I really do mean everything!

Even though we have tens of thousands of thoughts a day, we tend to only focus on a handful and this handful is far too often rooted in fear. Have you stopped to notice recently which thoughts you habitually pay most attention to? What themes seem to keep coming up?

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Let me bring this alive for you with some real-life examples of how our belief systems play out day to day. How many of you are familiar with the following?

  • Constantly hearing a grating voice in your head which crops up just as you’re about to do something slightly scary and exciting?
  • Feeling frequently frustrated and unfulfilled in your life knowing that you are capable of so much more, but without being able to take the next step?
  • Noticing that you feel a lot of fear-based emotions in your life, such as anxiety about the future or rumination on the past and its failures?

What does this all mean? Well, beneath all of the thoughts and memories that came up as you read those questions is a limiting belief waiting to be outed!

What are our belief systems and where do they come from?

Our belief systems are simply the stories that we believe to be true about ourselves and how we see the world we live in. These might be something like:

  • You can’t make it in life and be successful unless you fight – no pain, no gain!
  • The world is a place of scarcity, filled with people who are out to get me.
  • When I open up and let people in, I always get hurt.
  • It’s better to play it safe in life and be ‘the diplomatic one’, rather than take risks and fail.
  • It’s selfish to put myself first, I must always look after everyone else.
  • I need to be reserved and calm – expressing how I feel and being emotional are signs of weakness.
  • Everything I do has to be perfect – anything less is failure.

The vast majority of our belief systems stem from our childhood / adolescence and how we interpreted events that occurred during these times and specifically, the meaning we gave to these where we felt emotionally triggered by unpleasant or unwanted feelings. These can be from big life events like death, divorce, injury and illness, or from much smaller and seemingly innocuous things like:

  • how you felt sad and unworthy when your Dad never gave you praise for something you felt was important and meant a lot to you.
  • how your sibling was always the centre of attention and got away with murder, but you were often ignored or disproportionately punished and felt that you weren’t loved as much.
  • how your parents often argued and so you felt you had to be the ‘good girl / boy’, never ask for anything and make everyone else happy.

The reason we interpret these events as above, comes down to three simple needs that are hardwired into our DNA and pre-programmed. We all want to feel:

  • Loved
  • Worthy
  • Enough

When we experience events and interactions where our sense of anyone of the above is compromised, our default reaction is to make up stories (belief systems) to protect us from these unwanted feelings happening again, or at least with less intensity. Inevitably, the stories we choose are built on fear and we end up avoiding doing or saying things, playing safe, and generally not engaging as fully in life and our relationships.

And here’s the killer punch: the vast majority of us are living lives well below our potential because we are unconsciously allowing these limiting (and self-sabotaging) beliefs to run our lives day to day, like the corrupt software of an out of date computer.

Man standing in doorway

Photograph Matt Porteous

What can I do to change my beliefs?

The short answer is: a lot! It is scientifically proven that you can rewire your brain and re-programme your belief systems in as little as 90 days, although my experience is that it is more like 180+ days in reality (more of this in my next column).

Read more: Durjoy Rahman on promoting South Asian art

But all change starts with awareness, so first of all, you need to become more aware of the internal chatter in your head, the prevailing emotions you feel day to day and start to assess where in your life you feel least satisfied. When you do this, you will gradually begin to see what is really going on in your head – whether you like it or not!

In short, you cannot make positive changes to move forward until you first become aware of what is holding you back and shine a bright spotlight on these beliefs to see if they really are your ‘truth’ or in fact are just ‘stories’ which you created unconsciously as a child when you didn’t have the awareness to know better.

From this base of core awareness, you’ll be able to ask better questions and to start to consider other choices which might serve you much better – choices which will ultimately leave you happier and more fulfilled with where you are now and where you’re going.

Find out more about Simon Hodges’ work: simonhodges.com@simonhodgescoaching

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Reading time: 4 min

Kevin Pinsembert, Sans Titre (Décor +), 2020. Acrylic on cotton. © Kevin Pinsembert, 2020
Image courtesy of Saatchi Yates

Phoebe Saatchi Yates is the daughter of art world titan Charles Saatchi and the co-founder of Mayfair gallery Saatchi Yates, which aims to support early-career artists from across the globe. Here, she speaks to Chloe Frost-Smith about discovering new talent, her weariness of digital platforms and the gallery’s current exhibition Allez La France!

Phoebe Saatchi Yates and Arthur Yates

1. How important is an ‘in-person’ art experience to you, and what are your thoughts on digital exhibitions?

Something we have learnt over the last year, with the continuous lockdowns, is that although we all have tried our hardest, nothing digital can really replace the joy of experiencing something in real life. I get incredibly weary of digital exhibitions, just as much as I am bored of online shopping for clothes, books and groceries!

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. What made you choose London as the location for your gallery?

London is home. It made sense to open here as we wanted to create something which felt completely integrated to our city and community. Being on Cork Street, a road historically protected for art galleries was important too as you feel as if you are part of not only the future of the city, but the past as well.

exhibition installation

Installation view of Allez La France! at Saatchi Yates Gallery, Cork Street, London

3. Talk us through your search for new artists – is each discovery different, or do you have a particular process?

Each discovery is completely different. Some artists we have watched for many years, some we find online, some through friends. It’s important to be curious and look in unexpected places.

Read more: Tessa Packard on charity & creative thinking 

4. Tell us about your exhibition Allez La France! and what drew you to French new wave painting?

Allez La France! is an exhibition which has been in the works for quite some time. Over a year ago we went to Marseille and Paris to visit the collective, and were so excited by the boldness and confidence of the artists’ work. There was also a true charm in the idea that they were painting for painting’s sake, which is something you don’t find very often.

abstract painting

Mathieu Julien, Rouge Camaieu, 2020. Acrylic and spray paint on cotton canvas © Mathieu Julien, 2020. Image courtesy of Saatchi Yates

5. What sort of art would we find on your walls at home, and do you have a favourite piece?

Currently, I am living in a fully furnished apartment, with wallpaper and no hanging space! There is a very long list of paintings I can’t wait to hang when we next move…

6. Which emerging artists are you currently keeping your eye on?

I feel really excited about all the artists we are yet to show! There are so many exciting talents whose shows that we have had to postpone due to lockdowns, so I feel quite giddy about being able to finally see their work in our space!

“Allez La France!” is available to view online until 11 April, after which it will be open to the public until 15 May 2021 at Saatchi Yates Gallery. For more information visit: saatchiyates.com/exhibitions/allez-la-france

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Reading time: 2 min
textured figurative artwork
artist portait

Portrait of Maxwell Alexandre 2020. Copyright the artist. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner

In our ongoing online series, renowned art consultant Maria-Theresia Pongracz profiles rising contemporary artists to watch in 2021. Here, she speaks to 30-year-old Brazilian artist Maxwell Alexandre about the difficulties of preparing a show during lockdown, his devotion to the Church of the Kingdom of Art and the precariousness of his paintings

Maria-Theresia Pongracz

Discovering new artistic talent is often also discovering different parts of the world, different cultures and different human experiences. One of my highlights last autumn, and one of the few shows I was able to see during the short period when galleries and museums were open in between lockdowns, was the Brazilian Maxwell Alexandre’s UK debut at David Zwirner. Having seen some images online before, I was very excited about the show and delighted to discover that the work was even more powerful in person.

Hailing from Rocinha, the largest favela in Brazil, located in Rio de Janeiro’s southern zone, Alexandre’s work is a reflection on growing up with organised crime and state violence, as well as the evangelical church acting as a sort of saviour from such. The title of the show Pardo é Papel, which takes its name from the Portuguese word pardo (meaning brown), refers to Brazil’s class system and the upheld belief that an individual’s skin colour determines their value – the less black or the whiter a person looks, the better. The exhibition’s subtitle Close a Door to Open a Window is a reference to lockdown and isolation during the pandemic.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Your exhibition Pardo é Papel: Close a Door to Open a Window at David Zwirner London (2 December 2020 – 30 January 2021) was planned during a period of lockdown. How was this experience for you, and how long did it take you to conceive and create the show?
Maxwell Alexandre: In 2020, I had two big solo shows to be held at two highly prestigious institutions: David Zwirner Gallery in London, and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Things happened very quickly for me once I became a part of the art circuit, so I have been working hard and largely without interruption since 2017 to meet demands from institutions. I had just come back from an artist-in-residence stint in Marrakesh for a group show at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Morocco, but as soon as I arrived back in Brazil, the pandemic broke out and all plans were suspended.

The year was promising, the proposals were very good, and I was ready to leverage the reverberations my work had caused and push my art to a higher level, but I have to admit that the pandemic also brought me relief because it allowed me to pursue a direction of my work without a deadline. It had been a while since I had entered my studio without a plan. That’s when I decided to take up oil painting on canvas. I had wanted for some time to work in that direction, and this moment of social isolation was the perfect scenario for that. With my entire team working remotely because of the lockdown, I was left alone to do all the steps of the work; everything from cutting the canvas, attaching it to the wall, preparing the paint, cleaning the brushes… I felt that I was back at the first moments of my career and was able to remember how much I loved this solitary way of working.

detail of a large scale artwork

exhibition installation of large scale mixed-media works

If you could die and come back to life, up for air from the swimming pool, 2020 (installation image and above, detail). Maxwell Alexandre. © Maxwell Alexandre. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, A Gentil Carioca, and David Zwirner

Then David Zwirner gallery started making contact with me again, and wanted to continue with the plan of the exhibition in London. But while things were getting better in Europe, in Brazil we were entering into a worse phase, and I could not commit to delivering such an important exhibition in just three months without my team and without a large space to work in. This was a delivery that could not be achieved with a slow approach, I would need to throw myself totally into it. But I admit the greatest resistance I had to accepting the invitation was that I would have to stop making oil paintings, and by that time, I felt I was too much involved in the works to begin another exhibition project. I continued to consider all of this, and eventually, found a good justification to commit to the show at David Zwirner. Namely, the main principle of the church of which I am a follower – the Church of the Kingdom of Art – which is that when you set a date to hold the worship service and deliver the works, then you do not pay any heed to adverse conditions. It is a dogma: if the date is set, it cannot be postponed, one must do it and deliver it. And I, as a follower of that church, could not escape from this. If anyone were to break the commitment, it would have to be the gallery.

large format artwork

Pisando no céu, 2020, Maxwell Alexandre. © Maxwell Alexandre. Photo by Gabi Carerra. Courtesy the artist, A Gentil Carioca, and David Zwirner

The other thing I kept in mind was something I was told by my teacher Eduardo Berliner about making a great effort to obtain nothing as a result. This idea is very powerful to me. Opening an exhibition with the strong possibility that no-one would see it, fitted with that way of thinking and motivated me to move forwards. I got together with two of my assistants and brought them to live with me on my street. We started working hard in order to finish everything on time.

This moment that we are experiencing is unique, and I could simply not waste it. When would I ever have another chance to open an exhibition during a pandemic?

Read more: How women artists are reshaping art history

LUX: How and when did you become interested in art and what was the first medium you explored?
Maxwell Alexandre: I was raised in an evangelical home and my mother always said that God had given me the gift of drawing. In my childhood, my drawing was already more developed than that of my peers. I think that my interest in art was beginning then, but my first contact with contemporary art took place when I was 22, during my second year of college, in a class of visual arts taught by Eduardo Berliner.

LUX: In the exhibition walk through you mentioned that painting is considered elitist in the Brazilian favelas. From what I gather, you mastered going down the path of a fine artist and showing at a blue chip gallery like David Zwirner whilst still keeping your street cred. Would you consider involving yourself in arts education, teaching or mentoring underprivileged kids in the future?
Maxwell Alexandre: I think that, yes, I have a pastoral calling, because my work attracts followers, but I am not the sort of pastor who takes care of sheep. My calling is that of a messenger; one who brings specific, sporadic messages and good news whether it’s through words, photography, video, music, painting, or by example.

painted portrait with gold background

Installation view of Pardo é Papel: Close a Door to Open a Window at David Zwirner. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, A Gentil Carioca, and David Zwirner

LUX: You pay homage to Kerry James Marshall as a kind of icon in a gold portrait. KJM is probably the most important black painter living today and someone who has inspired a whole generation of young artists. How important is he to you?
Maxwell Alexandre: Kerry James is the man. I think about how far it is for someone to paint a black character not through observation, but through imagination. That man was already leaping over that abyss back in the 1990s. Of course, there were other masters before him, and KJM himself has mentioned that he was inspired by Charles White, but I think the visibility of, and possibility to bring the black man as a central theme of narratives picked up momentum and significant relevance with Kerry.

LUX: Most of your paintings are densely populated, except for one striking work, a diptych entitled Dois quadros SAMO na parede with painted golden baroque frames but nothing inside. Basquiat often used the tag ‘SAMO’ in his graffitis. Why this reference?
Maxwell Alexandre: The piece Two SAMO paintings on the wall is a translation of a verse from the track Preto e prata by Baco Exu do Blues. The verse plays with a conjugation of the Portuguese verb ‘ser’ (to be), and Basquiat’s signature SAMO, an abbreviation of ‘Same Old Shit’. The diptych is part of Novo Poder, a sub-series of Pardo é Papel, which deals specifically with the physical presence of black people in art spaces, such as museums and galleries, contemplating and relating to contemporary art and more specifically, painting. The work emphasises the idea of acquisition, which is why there are no figures depicted in it.

gold diptych artwork

Dois quadros SAMO na parede, 2020, Maxwell Alexandre. © Maxwell Alexandre. Photo by Gabi Carerra. Courtesy the artist, A Gentil Carioca, and David Zwirner

LUX: Your Evangelical Christian upbringing is also apparent in some of your paintings. How important are Christian values to you?
Maxwell Alexandre: I know that religious fundamentalism is shit and that’s why there is a very pejorative image about people of faith. One of the definitions of faith is to believe without seeing, without evidence and this seems like foolishness to many people in the art world, who for the most part have an academic education, which values reason, science and evidence. But what is artistic practice if not an enchantment? Artistic practice is prophetic and without faith, there are no prophecies. So I am astonished about how an academic atheist manages to disdain religious faith and yet enshrine artists like gods, or to shed tears in front of a painting. Art is a religion, and as stated by Brazilian rapper Filipe Ret, one needs faith even to believe in reason.

Read more: Alia Al-Senussi on art as a catalyst for change

Evangelical religion saved my life. I did not go into crime, alcohol or drugs because my mother taught me for a long time that those things were part of the crooked path of sin and divine abomination. I no longer hold onto that sort of belief, but when I believed it as a child, I did not fall into those things.

exhibition installation

Installation view of Pardo é Papel: Close a Door to Open a Window at David Zwirner. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, A Gentil Carioca, and David Zwirner

LUX: Your paintings are all very large. Why do you choose to work in this format? And would you ever consider making smaller formats to make your work more accessible to a wider range of collectors?
Maxwell Alexandre: To answer this question, allow me to make a brief mapping of the art circuit and its agents. We have the artist, who is at the cutting edge of the research, experimenting, with his sleeves rolled up, making the art object. The critic, who develops the silo of knowledge around the work, is an agent of legitimation, perhaps one of the most important ones. The curator, who selects what is going to be shown and how it will be shown, is the bridge between the studio and the public, often based on a specific thinking. The gallerist, who is the display window, is the commercial connection between the object. The art patron is the person who directly applies financial resources to the artist’s research and the institutions, and the collector acquires the work, and takes on the responsibility of preserving it. What all of these agents should have in common, beyond their personal interests, is the fostering of the development of the artistic field. Ultimately, each one is part of something that has a social function for the collective.

If the artist proposes something that is not commercial, and the gallerist does not welcome and support it as they are thinking only about sales rather than fostering the field, then this agent does not understand his or her role. If the art patron provides support by financing an artist’s research, but wants an artwork in return, that art patron does not understand his or her role. If a curator only organises exhibitions for the beautiful photo at the vernissage with a roster of important faces, that curator does not know his or her role. If the collector is buying works only as an investment, or because of the hype of the artist in question, that collector does not understand his or her role.

When I began to develop the Pardo é Papel series, the decisions I made were not arbitrary. Assuming a monumental format for the paintings was a way I found to intensify the dialogue between the amount of paper used and the number of black bodies in contemporary positions of power. I wanted density and contrast between the black body and the brown craft paper; I wanted people to feel the presence of the paper. The way in which the artworks are installed helps in this sense. I wanted the adhesive tape and the torn parts to be visible; the fragility of the artworks was important for the work’s poetics. I understood that I was not only dealing with dimensional questions of painting itself, but also talking about air, space and sound. The decision not to present the works in a frame or any rigid kind of structure was made to emphasise the precariousness of the materials that go into the work’s construction. All these characteristics are important for the semantics of Pardo é Papel.

collage artwork

Close a door to open a window, 2020, Maxwell Alexandre. © Maxwell Alexandre. Photo by Gabi Carerra. Courtesy the artist, A Gentil Carioca, and David Zwirner

All of this potential, however, would be lost if I had listened to a series of agents there at the outset, when I showed the first large panel, which gave rise to various questionings skewed toward a market logic. I heard things like: ‘don’t do that because it is a big problem to conserve these paintings’ or ‘it will be very difficult to sell, work with smaller formats and we will be able to sell everything.’ Even a large museum institution asked me to paint five canvases so that they could acquire them instead of the large paintings on paper. Their concerns about the work’s conservation and vulnerability was a great hindrance.

I did not follow this advice because I had not constructed the large paintings of Pardo é Papel to be something commercial or durable. My commitment was to the research. I knew the potential the work had, and I chose it as a flag to stake into the ground of the institutions; to open a path, without any concern about sales.

The only progressive advice I received during this period was from Paulo Herkenhoff, perhaps the greatest living critic in Brazil, who upon seeing the works said that I would be able to choose my path because of the power and coherency of my research. He also gave me an example of what he called the ‘greatest squander at MoMA’ which is when museum declined to acquire the work Monogram by Robert Rauschenberg because conservators said it would not last. Today, that work is one of the most emblematic in the artist’s production. And this is what I would like to talk about: people want a souvenir, they do not want art. The collector should be educated in this sense. The acquisition of an art object is not only the expansion of his or her asset portfolio, but involves the responsibility to shelter that which has now become an asset of humankind. My large pieces of brown craft paper will get ripped and they will deteriorate in time, and this responsibility lies not only with the artist, but of all the agents concerned with the fostering of the field and artistic development. Hopefully, the museologists and conservators will accept the challenge of preserving these works and gallerists will support less-formatted works, and collectors will start dealing with the need to collect things that are not permanent. There is nothing more contemporary than this.

LUX: Talking of institutions, your next big show is at Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Are you excited and can you reveal anything about what you are planning?
Maxwell Alexandre: The Palais de Tokyo is allotting me the largest exhibition space I have ever had. I am going to present Novo Poder, a sub-series of Pardo é Papel, which as I mentioned was created to talk about the physical presence of the black community in museums, foundations and galleries. We are already working hard on it!

Follow Maxwell Alexandre on Instagram: @maxwell_alexandre
Follow Maria-Theresia Pongracz on Instagram: @mt_mathisen

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Reading time: 14 min
performance art
performance art

Chin Cheng-Te, Lee Chia-Hung, Lin Chuan-Kai, and Chen Yi-Chun, still image from Making Friends/ Fire, 2020, mixed media installation, dimensions variable. Videographer: Lee Chia-Hung.

Independent curator Eva Lin worked alongside French philosopher Bruno Latour and Martin Guinard to select contemporary artists and designers interrogating climate issues for the 12th edition of the Taipei biennial. Here, she speaks to Tara Sallaba about experiencing artworks in a digital format and how art can help to raise awareness

portrait of a woman in glasses

Eva Lin. Image by Etang Chen

1. The biennial has transformed the Taipei Fine Arts Museum into “planetarium”, representing different interpretations of the world. Which one most closely aligns with your views and why?

What I want to answer intuitively is the Planet Terrestrial*, but it should be the sum of all planets including the unveiled one. It’s like you plant a tree in your garden and underneath, the tree’s roots are intertwined with other species and cannot be separated anymore. Each mountain is not independent, but a symbiosis interactive with soil, species, bacteria, humidity, sunlight, wind. Geopolitical methods are no longer the answer to climate emergency. All problems nowadays are closely related to ecology, and each of us is no longer an outsider.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. How do you think art can most effectively participate in wider discussions around climate change?

We, as art workers, have to be modest about this issue. Art is certainly not the solution; it’s not created for problem solving. However, art can certainly serve as an alarm to wake up audiences and draw attention to social issues which cannot be solved due to the scientific uncertainty.

industrial boat on a green lake

Liu Chuang, still image from Lithium Lake and the Lonely Island of Polyphony, 2020, 3 channels video, colour, sound, 35mins 55 secs. Courtesy of the artist and Antenna Space

3. Are there any artists who are particularly inspiring you at the moment?

From the biennial, Chang Yu-Tang and for work about the Anthropocene, Forensic Architecture.

Read more: How women artists are reshaping art history

4. How do you think experiencing art through online formats affects our relationship with the pieces?

It’s somehow similar to observing the reflection of the moon on the ocean. You feel really close to the moon as you could actually catch the moon from the water, though you can’t feel the texture and temperature of the moon. We can easily access and experience art through online formats, though we certainly lose something and may not be able to encounter the soul of the piece.

man in jungle with bee hive

Pierre Huyghe, Exomind (Deep Water), 2017, concrete cast with wax hive, bee colony, figure: 72×60×79 cm, beehive dimensions vary. Courtesy of the artist, Winsing Arts Foundation and Taipei Fine Arts Museum. Photographer: Rex Chu

5. Do you think the art industry is doing enough to be sustainable?

There is still a long way to go. It’s really a lifetime task as the world is changing every day.

6. Once international borders open, which galleries/museums will you be visiting first?

Haus der Kulturen der Welt [HKW] in Berlin.

The Taipei Biennial runs until 12 March 2021 at Taipei Fine Arts Museum. For more information, visit: taipeibiennial.org/2020

*According to the biennial’s press release: ‘Planet Terrestrial restlessly looks for ways to achieve prosperity while staying within the limits of planetary boundaries.’

 

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Reading time: 2 min
painting of a woman in green
painting of a woman in green

Tamara de Łempicka, Young Lady with Gloves (1930)

As part on an ongoing monthly column for LUX, artnet’s Vice President Sophie Neuendorf outlines a brief history of women artists, and discusses their recent rise to prominence

Sophie Neuendorf

We define ourselves, as nations and individuals, mainly through our respective cultures. Since the stone age, art has been a signpost for humanity, and a reflection of history and the zeitgeist. Over the past few years, we’ve often been amazed by the discoveries made by archaeologists and what these tell us about generations past and how humanity has evolved since.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Artists were first commissioned to illustrate the word of God for those unable to read and since then, art has evolved to not only depict religious or mythological scenes, but also the joys and perils of everyday life. Especially in Italy, France, and Spain, prominent political, royal, and influential families commissioned artists to portray their lives for posterity.

However, the artists receiving public recognition for their contribution to the documentation of culture, have until, very recently, only been male. But how can an accurate portrayal of humanity take place when women (who make up half of the world’s population) are marginalised or ignored?

women artists

Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Self-Portrait

Paying a historical debt, the contribution of women to the canon has only been recognised in recent years. The first documented female artists emerged during the Renaissance, during a time when it was either considered not ‘seemly’ and completely forbidden for women to be artists, and several obstacles stood in their way. First and foremost, their training would include the dissection of cadavers and the study of the nude male form, while the system of apprenticeship meant that aspiring artists would have to live with an older artist for several years. This made it nearly impossible for Renaissance women to follow this path, seeing as other “expected duties” took precedent. Florentine artist Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1653) was one of the few artists able to practice her passion. Trained by her father, she was the first female artist to be admitted to the prestigious Florence Academy of Fine Arts.

Read more: Alia Al-Senussi on art as a catalyst for change

Several years later in France, Neoclassical painter Adelaïde Labille-Guiard (1749 – 1803) became one of the first women artists to be admitted to the distinguished Académie Royale, where she exhibited her works. Soon after, she was appointed Peintre des Mesdames: painter to the King’s aunts. Astonishingly, several male painters were so threatened by Adelaïde, that they spread rumours alleging sexual misconduct in order to discredit her. But she persevered, and became a mentor many other female artists.

One of her contemporaries was the completely self-taught artist Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. Active during some of the most turbulent times in European history, she was admitted into the French Academy as one of only four female members, thanks to the intervention of Marie Antoinette. Forced to flee Paris during the Revolution, Vigée Le Brun traveled throughout Europe, impressively obtaining commissions in Florence, Naples, Vienna, Saint Petersburg, and Berlin before returning to France after the conflict settled.

abstract painting

Joan Mitchell, Untitled (1979)

Only a few years later but on a different continent, American artist Mary Cassatt was born in Philadelphia. Headstrong and independent, she trained as an artist and fled to Europe in order to study Old Master paintings in Spain and France. After befriending Edgar Degas, Cassatt was invited into the Impressionist circle, and by the turn of the century, her reputation was thriving in France. In 1904, she was named a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur. Soon, American artists in Paris sought her blessing and advice, while wealthy Americans sought her discerning eye and connections.

Courtesy of artnet

In the same century, Polish-Russian aristocratic artist Tamara de Lempicka took the French art scene by storm. Forced to flee St Petersburg and the Russian Revolution in 1917, de Lempicka headed for Paris, where she studied painting in the ateliers of Maurice Denis and André Lhote, and quickly found success. By the early 1920s her works were appearing in major Paris exhibitions, such as the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Tuileries. Nicknamed “the baroness with the paintbrush,” she is renowned for her art deco style which oozed cool chic and elegant sensuality.

Not long after, but on the other side of the world, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama began painting at an early age. Without any formal training, she emigrated to New York to pursue her passion. Now famed for her psychedelic paintings and sculptures, Kusama remains one of the top 10 highest grossing women artists in the world.

artist in the studio

Yayoi Kusama in the studio

That brings us to 2021, the era of ‘me too,’ and a question arises: has the work of women artists been reduced to gender politics and to the circumstances of its production rather than being judged for its quality?

Read more: A prima ballerina dances in the London lockdown moonlight

Even though women artists are finally being recognised and forming a formidable part of the canon, it will take another few years for them to feel completely secure and appreciated in the art world. Ground-breaking artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, or Cindy Sherman have liberated themselves from identity politics and are held in esteem by the quality of their oeuvre.

However, regardless of the obvious quality of their work, there is one glaring aspect which hasn’t yet translated: when looking at the monetary value of female artists in comparison to male artists, female artists are still incredibly undervalued. In 2020 alone, the top 10 highest grossing female artists achieved $322,780,748 in comparison to their male counterparts, who achieved $1,590,134,429 (source: artnet Price Database).

graph tracing gender imbalance in art world

Infographic courtesy of artnet

While we can’t undo the past, we can work towards building a richer and more equal picture of art history, ensuring that future generations see us through all facets of humanity. How else, if not through the arts, are we supposed to learn from the past and create a brighter future for humanity?

Follow Sophie Neuendorf on Instagram: @sophieneuendorf

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Reading time: 5 min
interior space
interior space by Culture A

Culture A’s hospitality projects include London’s new wellness hotel Inhabit, which will open this summer. Image courtesy of Inhabit Hotels

Anne T. Rogers is the founder of Amsterdam-based art consultancy  Culture A, which curates collections and experiences for a range of clients from hotels to luxury retail and residential. Here, she speaks to Candice Tucker about visual storytelling, AI-generated art and how to curate a collection at home

monochrome portrait

Anne T. Rogers

1. What inspired you to create Culture A?

I’m a trained art historian and experience strategist. After years of working in curating, interior design, and retail design, I saw the opportunity to position art as an experience as well as an investment. I started Culture A to curate and produce art as something that transforms a public space. Art is an important design differentiator, particularly for clients such as hotel owners, property developers, and retail brands. We find the best art suitable for investment, visual storytelling, or pure aesthetics.<