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Veronica Colondam champions the field of social entrepreneurship in Indonesia with the establishment of YCAB Foundation in 1999

Veronica Colondam was the youngest ever recipient of the UN-Vienna Civil Society Award, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and received accolades throughout her career including Globe Asia’s Most Powerful Women in Indonesia, Forbes’ one of 10 most inspiring women in Asia and one of Asia’s 48 Philanthropists, and one of UN’s Solution Makers;  through YCAB Foundation she helms a social enterprise that aims to improve welfare through education and innovative financing, running programmes that have reached over 3.3 million underprivileged youth. She speaks with LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh about creating a sustainable system that scales change.

LUX:  How have your spiritual beliefs informed your leadership values?

Veronica Colondam: I established YCAB Foundation in 1999 when I was 26 years old. Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa Foundation (YCAB) means ‘Loving the Nation’s Children Foundation’) and reflected my love for all Indonesia’s children and my aspiration to nurture intelligent and innovative young minds. As a committed Christian, I believe we are called to be the Salt & Light of this world, to be a Good Samaritan, to love our neighbour and to help all those in need. My leadership values foster a culture that prioritises Integrity, Service, Empathy, Resilience, Vibrancy, and Excellence (iSERVE.)

LUX:  Was there a catalytic ‘aha’ moment, when the scale of social injustice in Indonesia impelled you to set-up YCAB to drive change?

VC: For me it all started with education injustice.  About three years after YCAB was founded, I realized that the school drop-out rate in Indonesia was very high.  Millions of students did not complete their primary education. Further, the ASEAN Free Trade agreement 2010 put Indonesians at a competitive disadvantage as our schools did not offer teaching in tech and English.  In response, we launched our first Rumah Belajar (Rumah = house, Belajar = learning to improve English and tech literacy.  The ‘aha’ moment was when my 12-year-old daughter, Adelle took me as parent chaperone on her school community project and introduced me to the concept of microfinance.  This catalysed our YCAB family intervention model.

YCAB Foundation is the founding and flagship organisation in the YCAB social enterprise group which bases its operations on a mutually reinforcing and financially sustainable social change model

LUX:  What was the thinking behind that?

VC: We implement a family intervention model that empowers both mothers and children – ‘prosperous mothers smart kids’.  We can transform low-income families and lift them sustainably out of poverty. We focus on the mothers because research shows the critical impact of a mother’s prosperity on the household.  Economically-empowered earning mothers are in a better position to support their children’s education, reducing high school drop-out rates and lifting the family unit.

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

LUX:  Why is YCAB’s microfinance model sustainable?

VC: This comes down to the integration of financial support with educational advancement.  We deploy capital to fund low-income women entrepreneurs ensuring their children’s education is a precondition for loan access.  This dual focus on immediate financial aid and long-term educational goals fosters a cycle of empowerment.  Additionally, YCAB’s transition into a self-reliant social enterprise, where profits from its ventures are reinvested into its mission, underpins its sustainability. The model’s success is evidenced by its recognition and supervision by the Indonesian Financial Services Authority, highlighting its impactful and sustainable approach to breaking the cycle of poverty and promoting community welfare

YCAB’s change model has one clear mission which is to improve welfare through education and innovative financing. YCAB aims to vitalize underprivileged youths to become self-reliant through economic empowerment and education, bringing them from mere subsistence to sustainable livelihood

LUX:  Twenty five years on, how successful has YCAB been in mobilising resources throughout Asia?

VC: We mobilized more than $120M US to reach over five million low-income young people, together with hundreds of thousands of mothers. This is equivalent to a per capita increase from $2 to the threshold of an aspiring middle class at $8.

LUX:  How did YCAB evolve from a not-for-profit to a social enterprise model?

VC: Honestly, I didn’t know anything about the concept of social enterprise back in 1999!  In fact, the term “social enterprise” only began gaining recognition in Indonesia about 12-15 years ago. I initially founded YCAB with financial sustainability in mind and after the first year, I started-up a company as the first business unit of the foundation.  Over time, we developed several business units to support the foundation’s mission and around 10 years’ later, after my INSEAD program, I realised we were operating under a social enterprise model.

LUX:  Where does microfinance fit within social impact entrepreneurship?

VC: Microfinance operates as a business model and enables the poor to access capital. This embodies the essence of social entrepreneurship, where business and social impact are integrated into the model. We leverage our for-profit businesses to support the mission of YCAB, the foundation, so we operate our education program under the YCAB Foundation structure, and the economic empowerment program for mothers (or MFi) under YCAB Ventures, a company licensed by the Indonesian Securities and Exchange Commission (OJK) since 2015. Under the Ventures structure mandated by OJK, we engage in equity-like investments to support SMEs and have expanded into impact investment. This structure allows us to consolidate all our companies that support YCAB’s mission into a portfolio — from our original business units to new impact investments. The Ventures structure provides us with the flexibility to engage in financing (MFi), investments across all business units and new impact ventures, all while advancing our agenda of empowering families out of generational poverty towards a prosperous future.

YCAB believes in the power of education to improve welfare. To date, YCAB has brought impact five millions underprivileged youths and hundreds of thousands of low income families

LUX:  YCAB’s partners rank among the world’s leading corporates;  what is it about your approach to partnerships over 25 years that secures engagement at this level?

VC: We are commited not only to meet the needs of our beneficiaries but also to align closely with the objectives of our partners, some being the world’s leading corporations. One key aspect of our partnership strategy is our engagement with governments. Sustainable change requires collaboration across sectors, so partnering with governments allows us to leverage their resources, expertise, and influence to optimise our impact. Furthermore, our board members bring their expertise, networks, and insights to the table which enhances the value proposition for our partners, because partnerships are strategic, impactful, and mutually beneficial. Successful partnerships are built on a foundation of trust, collaboration and a shared commitment to driving positive change.

Read more: Zahida Fizza Kabir on why philanthropy needs programmes to achieve systemic change

LUX: Was there any time that you overcame a barrier that, in retrospect, catalysed a systemic solution to a particularly challenging social problem?

VC: The first standout catalytic moment was our shift in focus from preventing youth drug addiction to primary prevention through education and soft skill development, addressing the root causes of youth curiosity toward substance abuse. However, gaining access to schools, the focus of our target audience was a significant challenge. In 2002, in a pivotal moment for YCAB, I and our board member Professor Rofikoh Rockim met the former Minister of Education, Mr. Yahya Muhaimin. He granted us his influential letter of recommendation so we could access schools and campaign with authority. This shows the impact of personal connections, advocacy, and strategic partnerships that sparked transformative change and empowered communities throughout Indonesia.

The second catalytic moment was the covid pandemic. During lockdown, we could only help people who had basic literacy and smartphones to access e-support, including e-donations.  We also used a WhatsApp-based chatbot. This revolutionised the financial literacy of mothers, the clients of our MFi program.  The pandemic also opened the door to financing social goods using capital market products, such as mutual funds. To coincide with YCAB’s 25th Anniversary in August 2024, we will launch financial products that offer financial returns with social impact. This is gamechanging because with philanthropy in Indonesia, there is generally no tax deduction for donations aside from Islamic zakat giving which is regulated by a national zakat collection body. For non-religious non profits like YCAB, giving is not tax deductible so private corporate CSR donations are not taken from EBITDA, contrary to public-listed companies.

YCAB is now exploring ways to implement the last link in its change model, that is, to create a sustainable system whereby students who graduate and become entrepreneurs or employed can pay it forward

LUX:  What is impact exactly for a social impact entrepreneur and how can you measure it fully?

VC: For a social impact entrepreneur, impact is not just about the numbers but about the tangible difference we make in people’s lives. Impact needs a holistic approach that incorporates quantitative data alongside qualitative insights. At YCAB, we embed impact measurement into all our programs. With our microfinance initiative, for example, we conduct our “welfare survey” with our beneficiaries tracking our impact on their increased earnings, business expansion, and perhaps most significantly, the educational opportunities their children receive as a result of our interventions.

LUX:  Finally, how do governments and financial institutions benefit by partnering with SIEs?

VC: We are not sitting behind our desks, we are out there in the heart of communities, listening, learning, and understanding their real needs. These grassroots connections mean our initiatives are genuine and address issues where they make impact, right where people live and breathe. We are always pushing boundaries, finding fresh ways to tackle age-old problems. When governments and financial institutions join forces with us, they are tapping into that spirit of innovation. When we innovate together, that vision becomes more than just a dream – it becomes our shared reality.

ycabfoundation.org

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Roia
Roia

The modern fine dining restaurant Roia offers a division between Asia and Europe. The Chef-Partner Priyam Chatterjee explores traditional French techniques with a focus on the flora found in the Botanic Gardens from where they source key herbs and flowers.

In our Spring/Summer 2024 Print Edition, the opening page of our LUX Report is dedicated to an intriguing new development from a fascinating Singapore entrepreneur. Kishin RK’s new fine dining destination, Roia, is located, unusually for Singapore, in a historic building surrounded by lush tropical foliage. It’s a new landmark destination, as Kishin explains to LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai

Kishin RK, owner of the new landmark Roia restaurant set in a réapplication of a Unesco World Heritage site in Singapore and featured on this page, is something of a paradox. Softly spoken and understated, he eschews the glitz and high profile sought by some of his fellow young(ish) billionaire entrepreneurs from Singapore and its sibling, Hong Kong.

Roia

The restaurant’s ambiance is a reflection of its culinary philosophy

When LUX meets him in a café in an upscale Singapore mall, he is full of boyish enthusiasm for his new projects – enthusiasm backed by the forensic eye for detail that made him the country’s youngest billionaire. But Kishin’s paradox is that he doesn’t want to just be a dealmaker, acquiring wealth through real estate and his other investments: he also wants to be a game-changer, a place-maker.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

His family has already achieved this through the redevelopment of Robertson Quay in Singapore, home to the swanky 1880 private members’ club (a kind of Soho House for the finance sector); and, in a subtle way, through the reshaping of the heritage site at the Singapore Botanic Gardens that now houses Roia.

restaurant

Chef Priyam Chatterjee’s dishes, are reflections of blending his experiences and artistic inspirations into each course.

Kishin has international ambitions for his place-making, with London at the top of the agenda. His philosophy? “The most exciting and fascinating thing to me as a developer is focusing on districts and creating a very strong energy, shaping the behavioural patterns of people who visit.”

Read more: Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, Review

restaurant

From power lunches that talk business to intimate gatherings, Roia has a space for every kind of meeting

His philosophy – casual but distinct, energetic, with a tailored style and high standards in cuisine – will be arriving in London, his favourite European city, soon. Watch this space.

www.roiasg.com

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Recently reimagined Singaporean elegance at Marina Bay: LUX Checks In

Checking-in from the heat of a long day, MO’s calming presence of a vast ring of concentric rooms welcomes one in. Across its new colour scheme of pinks and greens, one feels that Wimbledon might just take some notes, to be lifted to a quiet Singaporean elegance.

The room had an immense view of Marina Bay’s iconic skyline (but safe from its heat): lay back, feet up, and helped myself to delicious Singaporean chocolates.

Singapore skyline with a pool

Up on the 5th floor, Mandarin Oriental’s 25-meter swimming pool looks over the Singapore skyline

Wandering around vast zen corridors, I checked out for myself what are supposedly world-renowned cocktails at the MO Bar. Dark blue suave, art deco chic – I had a reclaimed Singapore Sling to begin, naturally. It had a sweetness without overdoing it – and cutting beneath with jagged sourness  it was balanced by a bright lollipop – a humorous play on Singapore’s original historic drink.

A cake store with lavish decorations

Mandarin Oriental has various food stores and its cake shop has artisanal confectioneries, specialising in cakes, pastries, festive treats, and premium gifts for all occasions.

After their recent revamp, I’d like to see the room where the chemistry of cocktails takes place – it seems a Willy-Wonka-cum-James-Bond enterprise – and it delivers. Onto the ‘White Rabbit’ cocktail, made with an edible layer of an image of a White Rabbit, the type that slips onto the tongue and dissolves. But the real taste lies underneath, with a laksa tang.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

From fresh Singaporean breakfast to lunch the next day, I swanned up to the pool for a dip with another view of the skyline, before a welcome Italian twist. Ruinart blanc de blanc, antipasti, fish and exquisite cheese looking over the pool – what more could one want, apart from an Italian waiter himself serving with Mediterranean charm and gastronomic expertise? Well, it had that too.

Read More: Nira Alpina, St Moritz, Review

Night facade of Mandarin Oriental Singapore

Mandarin Oriental has 510 rooms, and 8 restaurants, also including MO BAR, The Spa, and a lounge and club HAUS 65.

A much needed massage at The Spa after months of London brought a zen which – well, I only wish I could maintain it in London, but without the Singaporean skyline and fresh noodles it won’t be so easy.

See More:

mandarinoriental.com

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woman
woman

SAJIDA Foundation is a value-driven, non-government organisation. It embodies the principle of corporate philanthropy.

From a garage school start-up with 12 children educated for free with two meals a day, fast forward 30 years and SAJIDA’s annual budget is close to US$13 million with a microfinance portfolio of approximately US$300 million and seven independent portfolio companies.  CEO Zahida Fizza Kabir speaks with LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh, about relieving extreme poverty through systemic interventions in climate change resilience, women’s health and livelihood, mental health, and urban poverty.

LUX:  How did SAJIDA come about?

Zahida Kabir: In 1972 my father was MD & Chairman of Pfizer Bangladesh, which in 1991 reincorporated as Renata. Renata is the fourth largest pharma company in Bangladesh. SAJIDA Foundation was the brainchild of my father, who was driven by compassion and a strong sense of duty towards the less fortunate. It started modestly in 1987 as a school for underprivileged children in my parents’ former garage.

In 1993, my father gave 51% of Renata’s shares to SAJIDA as a 25th wedding anniversary gift to my mother. I have been with SAJIDA since the start, shared my father’s vision, and helped it grow to the organisation you see today

LUX:  How did you evolve your leadership role?

ZK: I have always believed in empowering women, particularly mothers; SAJIDA recognizes the pivotal role women play within the family, community, and broader social context. At SAJIDA, we advocate for the holistic empowerment of women within the context of their multifaceted roles and contributions. Bangladesh is still a country with about 32 million people living below the poverty line. Women in particular face significant barriers to recover in health and education. SAJIDA is committed to mitigating the gaps by focusing on women’s and mothers’ welfare.

woman

The organisation, founded in 1993, aims to empower communities, catalyse entrepreneurship, build equity and establish enterprises for good with an overarching vision of ensuring health, happiness, and dignity for all.

LUX:  What are SAJIDA’s standout impacts?

ZK: Thirty years on, we have representation in 36 districts impacting lives through our Development and Microfinance programmes. Microfinance Programme empowers over 700,000 participants, mostly women, to benefit from our USD 377 million portfolio.

This lifts more than 6 million individuals, or 1.5 million households, annually. At SAJIDA, we see all our work through a gender lens. How is our work benefiting women? Are we investing in the welfare of the mother?

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

LUX:  How are women’s rights reflected in SAJIDA’s governance?

ZK: SAJIDA is a family of over 6,000 employees, each contributing to drive meaningful change.We advocate strongly for our female employees at all levels when it comes to implementing safeguarding policies at in their workplace. We also advocate for female leadership at all levels.

Since founding, SAJIDA has been led by a woman. Women encounter disproportionate challenges across various domains, yet their invaluable contributions are often overlooked for short-term gains.  At SAJIDA we understand that empowering women leads to exponential impact.

LUX:  What are the main areas of SAJIDA’s work?

kids

SAJIDA’s operations in Bangladesh have touched over 6 million individuals through its multi-sectoral development programmes which focus on poverty alleviation, community healthcare and climate change.

ZK:  SAJIDA interventions are under two main umbrellas – healthcare (which includes Renata Ltd) and financial inclusion. Our development programmes blend both within our main themes: climate change, women’s health and livelihood, mental health and urban poverty. Our Climate Change Programme targets vulnerable communities, utilizing a Locally Led Adaptation approach.

Uttaran Programme focuses on women’s health and livelihood development striving to improve Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child, and Adolescent Health outcomes. We recognize the unique multiple challenges faced by the urban extreme poor with our SUDIN programme adopting a holistic approach encompassing economic, health, education, community mobilisation together with our Mental Health Program.  Indeed, we are dedicated to advancing mental health care in Bangladesh and have one of the country’s largest multidisciplinary mental health care teams.

LUX:  How is this work supported at grass roots level?

ZK: We support the health programs in a number of ways. We have a 80-bed hospital equipped with ICU, NICU and dialysis facilities; our Home & Community Care service for the elderly; Inner Circle Private bespoked suite of services for special needs and autistic children; and, most recently, Neuroscience & Psychiatric provides mental health care. My commitment is to prioritize solutions to social challenges over purely profit-driven ventures and we catalyse entrepreneurship to empower communities through our financial inclusion interventions. Our Microfinance Programme fosters economic empowerment. We have also established our Impact Investment Unit to offer investment opportunities to smaller ventures.

LUX:   How do you teach women to value entrepreneurship?

ZK: SAJIDA’s Microfinance Programme prioritises women’s economic empowerment by providing collateral-free loans. Our interventions are also at point of inter-generational wealth transfer, as it is important to guide second-generation women and affluent women to make good decisions and use their resources effectively. To extend our entrepreneurial ecosystem, we collaborate with Orange Corners to launch initiatives to support innovative ideas provided the company has at least one female founder.  We believe using tech is a driver to women’s effective entrepreneurship and innovation. Digitally-literate women entrepreneurs deliver 35% higher ROI compared to their male counterparts.

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

LUX:  How is SAJIDA using tech to scale engagement with your programs?

 ZK: Our goal is to be a fully-digitised organization so we have launched several mobile and web Apps to offer a range of functions and services to our beneficiaries, stakeholders and SAJIDA employees. Our Microfin360 FO collection App is a digital credit system that synchs all transaction history in real-time with a web application, allowing Field Officers to view essential daily reports such as due reports, unrealised collection reports, and loan settlements. We are developing a Digital Passbook ‘Agrani: Amar Pashbook’ to give our Microfinance Programme clients access to their financial information, facilitate communication, and offer essential services.

Our Field Force Management Platform (FFMP) is an App which automates outdoor workforces and facilitates easy monitoring of field employees in real-time with its instant notification feature. In 2022, we launched our Monitoring Module to streamline our Monitoring and Evaluation processes through a dashboard for our monitoring officers to access data, analyse, share and report on impacts from their laptops.  We favour a programmatic approach over projects if we are to maximize lasting impact. And for this we need sustainable, long-term funding.

school

The foundation enables communities to have agency over their own development, be their own drivers for change and instill a vested interest in their own futures.

LUX:  How can microfinance help communities, for example, to become climate resilient?

ZK: Bangladesh is the seventh most extreme disaster risk-prone country in the world.  To build climate resilience we have to open up access to water and sanitation infrastructures. Microfinance can facilitate tailored loans and microloans for constructing rainwater harvesting systems, ensuring communities have access to clean water during the dry season, significantly improving community health and resilience. Customized financial products, including savings, credit, and insurance, which are tailored to the local context can be instrumental in supporting smallholder farmers in disaster-prone regions. Microfinance can facilitate investments in climate-resilient practices and the adoption of environment-friendly technologies by designing loans to support MSMEs to purchase environment-friendly technologies and agro-machineries. Weather-indexed insurance and bundle insurance for both crop and livestock can act as a shield against unprecedented climate events.

LUX:  Where do you collaborate to scale climate resilience?

ZK:  In areas where SAJIDA microfinance branches are not present, we collaborate with other Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) to reach a wider range of climate-vulnerable communities. By providing first-loss guarantees, or credit guarantees, SAJIDA facilitates the provision of zero-interest loans through partner MFIs. This strategy maximizes the impact of our resources, enabling us to extend the benefits of reduced-interest loans to a broader population, acting through intermediaries.   It is important to take a collaborative approach with public and private agencies to enhance the effectiveness of microfinance interventions. Remote consultancy and weather advisory services can increase the community members’ capacity to implement resilient practices. Matched savings products where the community members can collectively save and receive matching funds from the programme and rotational savings products to facilitate savings and investment in resilient agricultural practices, can further empower these communities. The programme can also support the green skills enterprise within these communities, which are necessary for implementing and maintaining climate-resilient practices

LUX:  What is the role for NGOs? 

The foundation covers four thematic areas: catalysing entrepreneurship, fostering equity, community empowerment and enterprises for good.

ZK:  As Bangladesh’s journey progressed, and the country graduated from an LDC to an LMIC, we, at SAJIDA also evolved our approaches accordingly. We transitioned from a service delivery mindset to a system-strengthening approach. This evolution involves enhancing existing public systems rather than operating separately.  NGOs have a crucial role to play in shaping broader climate financing and sustainable development strategies at the macro level. NGOs also serve as incubators for innovation, testing, and refining models that can be scaled up and replicated across diverse contexts.  However, they should engage with the public administration, private entities, and policy-making bodies from the outset so that real-world needs are aligned with broader development goals.

LUX:  What is the approach to public private partnerships?

ZK:  The start-up and social enterprise ecosystem is at a nascent stage in Bangladesh and many parts of Africa. To support ecosystem development, sector-specific incubation and accelerator programs need to be introduced and the deployment of blended patient capital will be critical. As mentioned, this is why SAJIDA is currently implementing the Orange Corners program, to provide heavy-touch mentorship to budding entrepreneurs to develop effective business models.  SAJIDA also implements smart solutions in the areas of WASH, agriculture, and health to empower and uplift communities. I believe an empowered community will be attractive to the private sector and thus paves a pathway for mobilising additional capital.

LUX:  Philanthropists talk about taking ‘baby steps’, how would you guide a philanthropist starting on their journey?

My father was a caring, compassionate and empathetic man.  From a young age he was deeply troubled by the inequalities in the world around him.  He wanted to solve a very complex problem, that of poverty.  I believe that behind every desire to make a change is a passion to challenge and to stand up for the most neglected in society. We all have to believe that it is our responsibility to make a contribution to the betterment of our society. The size of the contribution does not matter – no amount is too small.  Ask yourself this, what will be my legacy?  What kind of a world do I want to see for the next generation? I urge everyone to take that leap. Take that small step to see what you can do.

www.sajida.org

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Two artists who are men standing in front of a mirror with a blue background

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restaurant
restaurant

Set between Belgravia and Knightsbridge, Pétrus by Gordon Ramsay is a Michelin starred restaurant serving exceptional modern French cuisine.

LUX heads to Gordon Ramsay’s classic London restaurant, which has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, and experiences effortless gastronomy at its best

Petrus is located in one of the quietest and most bijou parts of the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate, in London’s Knightsbridge. We parked right outside, on a Friday night, which is an achievement in itself in London – although most of the residents here had likely left for their country manors immediately after school on Thursday.

The restaurant’s seasonal menus include A La Carte, Lunch, Kitchen Table and Prestige Menu

The ambience of the restaurant  is peaceful and refined, although not at all stuffy or pressurising. There is plenty of space between the tables, which are laid out cleverly so you are not sitting either in rows or with numerous other diners in your eyeliner: this is a discreet place, to go when you don’t really want to be seen, rather than the opposite. In fact there wasn’t really a “bad” table in the place: given a choice, I am not sure which table I would pick, the layout is so intelligently done.

dinner

As one would expect from a restaurant named after one of the world’s finest wines, the wine list features many different vintages of Château Pétrus and is the first restaurant in Europe to offer it by the glass.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The menu is best described as clean modern British: Isle of Skye Scallop with coastal herbs, lemon and olive oil sabayon, smoked eel with oscietra caviar, celery and apple: these were as fresh tasting as the country landscapes they came from. Rack of Dover Sole with with white asparagus. Chervil and citrus Hollandairse was beautifully and gastronomically wrought, although it prompted a debate at our table about whether sole should only ever be served on the bone, rather than as a rack – none of us felt like arguing with Gordon about it in person, though.

Read more: La Fiermontina, Palazzo Bozzi Corso, Review

As much as the food was memorable, the service and theatre was even more so. This is a place that really knows how the theatre of gastronomy works, and it wasn’t so much that it was all seamless, as you would expect; it was fascinating to watch the staff in their silent dance as they whizzed about their duties, never conspicuous but never absent. We also engaged the very engaging sommelier in a discussion about small grower champagnes; people here seem to love their work, as well as their food and their wine.

Available for up to eight guests, you will be greeted by the restaurant team and served a seven-course bespoke menu.

Petrus is not for every Friday night, just as you wouldn’t take the Ferrari GTO out every weekend. It’s for when you really want an immersive and inspirational gastronomic experience, with someone you are close to or want to be discreet with.

The restaurant has held one Michelin star since 2011

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hotel mandarin
hotel mandarin

The Mandarin Oriental is in the beating banking heart in the old town of Zurich

Zurich has seen the transformation of one of its oldest hotels into a gem in the historic heart of the city

For those unacquainted with Switzerland’s largest city, a visit to Zurich always comes as a positive surprise. You may expect banks and pharmaceutical company HQs in a clinical row; instead you get a bijou medieval old town on the banks of a river filled with swans and storks, a dramatic lakeside waterfront with a view of the Alps, and plenty of olde-Europe atmosphere.

The spiritual centre of the town is the Paradeplatz, the point, a few hundred metres from the lake, where the chic Bahnhofstrasse luxury shopping street meets the edge of the old town, amid some serious-looking private banks housed in historic buildings and trams coming and going (cars are banned from this part of town). And now, for the first time in decades, the Paradeplatz has a hotel to match its stature as the world’s centre of discreet wealth management.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The Savoy has been on the Paradeplatz for generations; it was one of Switzerland’s original luxury hotels, but until recently had slipped off the pinnacle of hotelerie and was a rather uninspiring and old-fashioned five star hostelry. Now, following a magic wand by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, it is the talk of the town.

The LUX lodgings certainly deserved to be making waves. After walking in and being recognised by the staff without saying our name (always impressive, even if pretty easy with a quick online search), we were whisked upstairs to a corner suite, beautifully and elaborately decorated, with a view over the little square and the streets around. Decor was fresh, light and airy, with thick light taupe carpets and some beautiful marquetry.

balkon

Guest can enjoy their morning coffee on their balcony overlooking the famous Paradeplatz

Read more: Visiting Ferrari Trento: The sparkling wine of Formula 1

One of the fascinating questions about the hotel was: how do you meld old Switzerland (the Savoy) with Mandarin Oriental, a luxury brand with its roots in East Asia? While there were hints and accents of contemporary Hong Kong in the design cues, this was, pleasingly, not an attempt to insert one culture inside the other.

Dinner the first night was at the Savoy Brasserie & Bar,  blending just a hint of Swiss formality (white coats for the wait staff) with an ease of spirit and sense of life. Oysters were a feature here – to go with an art deco theme – and we particularly enjoyed a main of monkfish escabeche, with bell pepper and crispy rice chips.

mandarin

Guests can have drinks and light bites in the Mandarin lounge

The culinary highlight was the next evening; Orsini is technically in the adjacent Orsini building from the 14th century,, but to reach it you stroll around the side of the building, with a historic church reminding you of where you are, and into a narrow entrance opening out into a bijou dining room. Our fellow diners included two highly wealthy finance people of international origin, quietly celebrating a deal, a couple celebrating an anniversary, and another finance person quietly making his next billion on his iPad.

The cuisine was as rarefied as the atmosphere. Artichoke with “cacio e Pepe” milk, grapefruit and Mazara red prawn tartare; potato gnocchi with grilled eel, “Giulio Ferrari” Spumante sauce (that’s a top Italian sparkling wine), fava beans and caviar; both were outstanding in their subtlety. Bravo to Mandarin Oriental for running two such brilliant but contrasting restaurants under the same roof

food

There are two superb dining options in the hotel: The casual Savoy Brasserie & Bar and the intimatefine dining restaurant Orsini

Those would have been the hotel’s public space pieces de resistance, but while LUX was staying there, the MO opened its rooftop bar. And we learned something quite spectacular about Zurich rooftops. Even if the building is not very high – the MO is just one storey higher than its neighbours – they can make for astonishing views, because as soon as you rise above the buildings around you, you are greeted not just by a view of the city’s churches and other landmarks, but the sweep of the Alps and lake on one side, and dramatic forested hills on the other. A few floors and you are in another world. So the MO is not just the most chi-chi spot in town, but one of the vibeiest also.

This is a boutique MO, not a grand one, but the company has over the years shown it can do old-world boutique (Munich) just as well as it does new and palatial (New York), the sign of a hotel brand immensely comfortable in its own skin and flexible enough not just to move with the times and spaces it operates in, but lead with them.

www.mandarinoriental.com/de/zurich/savoy/

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palazzo
palazzo

Dating back to 1775, this building is nearby the Basilica of Santa Croce in Lecce

Authentic. immaculate, aristocratic, contemporary family-curated luxury in a Baroque palace in a city that’s a living museum? Take us to the Palazzo Bozzi Corso in Lecce, Puglia

Authenticity is becoming an ever greater part of the luxury travel experience. People want experiences when they travel, and cookie-cutter luxury simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

That’s why you get French and Italian fashion and luxury creating spectacular hotels in territories as far apart as Australia and Las Vegas. But authenticity cannot be created through replication or over the Internet; by definition it is something that comes from inside.

outside

The hotel was designed by the 18th-century architect Emanuele Manieri, this historic building attained its unique blend of traditional and contemporary features when it was developed in conjunction with the La Fiermontina Family Collection.

That, more than anything else, is what strikes you when you walk into the Palzzo Bozzi Corso. You are walking along a historic street in Lecce, in the heart of Puglia, buzzing with tourists, locals, craft shops, wine bars, local food markets.

room

Dedicated to the memory of the boxer and actor Enzo Fiermonte, La Fiermontina Palazzo Bozzi Corso offers its guests spaces with ornate furnishings and artworks

This is and was a wealthy town and the Baroque era buildings are grand and imposing. Then you walk into the Palazzo and you are whisked into the private home of a wealthy merchant of hundreds of years ago: the equivalent of walking into a Rockefeller house in a different era.

Except the Palazzo Bozzi Corso has been sylishly and impeccably updated so it feels almost like a perfectly curated exhibition, a museum of contemporary and 18th century Italian design, immaculately reimagined as an intimate luxury hotel.

Art by the likes of John Lennon (a friend of the owning family) and Fernand Leger sits among the Renaissance artefacts; no interior designer in the world could create a passion project so warm and thoughtful. This is a place to live, or at least to stay for as long as possible.

room

The building is also home to original drawings by John Lennon, donated by Yoko Ono, a friend of the owner’s mother.

There are only 10 suites here and every one is different: ours had a stone arch above the bed, church-like high ceilings, modernist furniture, a combination of ancient and contemporary art, eggshell walls, vast mirrors. Bathrooms are out of a show suite at Milan Design Week, except the work, both physically and in the destination.

Walk out of the building and you are in the living museum of Baroque that is Lecce; there is a roof terrace, and you can use the pool in the garden at the nearby sister hotel (also gorgeous), La Fiermontina. Authentic luxury doesn’t even begin to describe Palazzo Bozzi Corso.

Guests also have access to the secret garden and rooftop terrace to see the sunset

www.lafiermontinacollection.com/en/palazzo-bozzi-corso

Darius Sanai is Editor in Chief of LUX and an Editor in Chief at Condé Nast International

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pink wall
pink wall

The artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar meditating in the Amarta space by James Turrell, during his Patina Maldives residency in January and February 2024

French-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar is renowned for his abstract works hinting at a paradise with a twist. On the eve of the artist’s residency at an eco-luxury resort in the Maldives, the Italian collector Andrea Morante, former CEO of the Pomellato jewellery brand, which was acquired by Kering in 2013, tells LUX about why Behnam-Bakhtiar’s works have stirred his collection

It all started over a dinner with LUX’s Editor-in-Chief, Darius Sanai. He was standing – very serious, with a bottle of the Tuscan wine Masseto in hand – going on about its virtues in absolute terms, as he does… my gaze drifted behind him, to a beautiful painting I hadn’t seen before.

I decided right there that I had to know the artist: it turned out to be Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar. There was an immediate connection when I first met the artist, in the south of France where he was then based. A great dialogue soon started, perhaps because of my own childhood spent in Iran, which extended to all facets of life choices, family complexities, Iranian roots and personal sufferance.

man

Andrea Morante is an art collector and the former chief executive officer of Pomellato (the fifth largest European jewellery company) which was acquired by Kering in 2013

From the very beginning, the pleasure of visiting Sassan’s atelier was shared with my partner, Caroline. It was not only limited to sharing a common attraction to Sassan’s original signature style of peinture raclée, involving scraping, relaying and spreading blends of colour, it extended to a healthy competition on who would first spot the preferred work of art to acquire. (The competition continues after six years across Sassan’s artistic evolution.)

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

One visit, I was looking at a specific artwork immediately respectfully signed the painting with the name of the yacht. The mutuality of the collector-artist – blue and white in colour. The blue reminded me of a gentle summer day, the white seemed a reminder of its dramatic change – all of a sudden the sea can turn into rough waves.

And, while looking at it, by utter coincidence, I saw through the window next to it the yacht I was very sad to have just sold. I felt that the yacht, Cyrano de Bergerac, was waving goodbye with one of her masts. Sassan understood, and immediately respectfully signed the painting with the name of the yacht. The mutuality of the collector-artist – blue and white in colour. The blue reminded me of a gentle summer day, the white seemed a reminder of its dramatic change – all of a sudden the sea can turn into rough waves.

artist

Artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar with two of his works. He is a French – Iranian artist. Born in Paris in 1984, he lived in Tehran as a teenager and young adult. Many of his works are well-known for exploring his visionary and philosophical views on life and humanity.

And, while looking at it, by utter coincidence, I saw through the window next to it the yacht I was very sad to have just sold. I felt that the yacht, Cyrano de Bergerac, was waving goodbye with one of her masts.

Sassan understood, and 18 relationship has been formative, I think, for both sides. I used to travel frequently to Brazil to collect contemporary art, like that of João Câmara. Before that I’d stuck to 18th- and 19th- century Neapolitan gouaches, from Pietro Fabris to Pierre-Jacques Volaire.

Read more: Dakis Joannou interview in Hydra

But you think less about masters when you are in Brazil – there is no nostalgia there, and no very long historical track record. Spending time with artists, I found that some were destroying themselves, unable to cope with life.

Others were more able to find the balance between preserving artistic values and embracing the world of the commercial. I hoped that a collector might help with this issue, and that, conversely, the artists might also teach me.

house

Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar, wife of the artist, crafts luxurious interior designs.

“SASSAN IS ONE OF THOSE WHO FEEL IN THEIR BLOOD THAT SOMETHING MUST BE DONE TO CHANGE. IN HIS WORK, HE SEEMS TO ASK, ‘WHAT WORLD WILL
I LEAVE MY CHILD?’”

Sassan has done just this. In his work, and in his blue and whites, one feels the tug between pain and happiness. He has taught me how pain can be transformed from negative to positive energy, and how this makes all the difference. Sassan’s art, I think, has this disposition at the moment, perhaps associated with the arrival of his first child.

painting

Energy in Nature, from the “Life Energy” series of miniature Living Paintings, 2024, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Fatherhood seems to have translated onto his canvas. The stratified pain of darker colours have been gradually substituted by a calmer, more joyous, colour combination. Three of my favourite pieces of his work – coloured canvases uniquely characterised by the superimposition of an explosion of flowers – express this bold optimism. Its palpable effect is felt by many I know.

I recall a woman who, then pregnant, spoke about just how well in herself she felt seeing this work. He harnesses that power in art. When Pino Rabolini, the founder of Pomellato and a well-versed collector, was my mentor, I learned to work with artists who share the same principles and ethics.

painting

Mixed Energy, from the “Life Energy” series of miniature Living Paintings, 2024, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Sassan’s attention to sustainability is an inspiration for me. There are people for whom sustainability is a marketing scheme, and those who feel in their blood that something must be done to change. Sassan is one of the latter and we share that. Indeed, in some ways his fatherhood plays into this in his recent work.

“SASSAN HAS TAUGHT ME HOW PAIN CAN BE TRANSFORMED FROM NEGATIVE TO POSITIVE ENERGY, AND HOW THIS MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE”

He seems to ask himself, “What world will I leave my child?”. Sassan’s work keeps me company wherever I am. Here, in this chalet near Gstaad, where I am writing this piece from, the art is mostly tied to the mountains and snow, but two little Sassans sit behind me, looking beautiful and feeling comfortable in the mountains.

painting

Energy in Nature, from the “Life Energy” series of miniature Living Paintings, 2024, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

I even used to have his paintings behind me on Zoom calls at work, and they were the source of many compliments. Thinking back on that dinner, shared with Darius all those years ago, it seems funny that we drank Masseto, of all wines: the company is almost exactly the same age as Sassan, who was born in 1984.

It feels only right, then, that I have a room dedicated solely to Sassan’s works at my place in Tuscany. Those wonderful colours talk to and blend in with one another, treading – with all his grace and elegance – Sassan’s tightrope walk of optimism from pain.

painting

Soleil Couchant, from the “Life Energy” series of miniature Living Paintings, 2024, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar has recently completed a residency at the Patina Maldives, Fari Islands, and will be unveiling ‘Life Energy’, a new body of 20cm x 20cm miniature Living Paintings, created using sustainably sourced and natural materials during his time in the Fari Art Atelier. The series will be showcased at private gatherings in Doha and London, culminating at an exhibition and art sale at Patina Maldives in July. Sales proceeds will be donated to funding local marine conservation.

sassanbehnambakhtiar.com

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mountains
mountains

The hotel is located at the highest point in the village of Surlej, just 5 kilometres from St. Moritz. As a result, the hotel offers ski-in ski-out to the slopes

With a spectacular view of the Engadine Valley, and located right by one of the region’s best ski and hiking mountains, Nira Alpina is a hip hotel to inspire the soul – and palate

The Nira Alpina is not actually in St Moritz, and is all the better for it. It’s in a location that is far more dramatically connected with the landscapes of the Engadine valley, ten minutes’ drive away, in the village of Surlej.
The village is by a deep blue lake of the same name, and the hotel itself is connected to the lift station for Corvatsch, the area’s most challenging mountain. You avoid St Moritz town centre, which is not as pretty as it should be, while enjoying easy access to everything.
table

Nira Alpina offers views of untouched natural scenery and is suitable for both summer and winter adventures

We arrived there one sunny summer evening and immediately were whisked to the rooftop bar, at sunset. Sunsets at sea get a lot of love, but this mountain sunset was quite astonishing in a completely different way. The Nira Alpina is high on the valley’s eastern edge, just below the forest that coats the slope as it rises up towards the peaks.
As the sun lowered over the opposite side of the valley we had an astonishing array of colour, from rose snow on the peaks, to green-blues of the valley air, thick with forest resins but devoid of the sunshine that still lit the rocks above. The valley below became green black while the sky above the peaks was a still a brilliant late afternoon blue.
spa

The spa of the hotel offers a relaxation room with coloured mood lighting, a steam room, a sauna, a vast whirlpool, and five large treatment rooms

After a couple of Aperols it was an easy slide along the same long, light and airy floor, past the bar, to the restaurant, similarly filled with light and view. Here at Shanti, the cuisine is brilliantly and refreshingly global, from the Shanti salad, Swiss with a Southeast Asian touch, through tuna sashimi and an excellently presented hummus platter, to a very Swiss carrot and ginger soup, a very Thai (and absolutely vivid) Tom Yam Gang, various absolutely delicious varieties of dim sum, and mains varying from a schnitzel Cordon Bleu to miso cod with glass noodles and a dramatic Thai red curry.
As the Nira Alpina is a place you will likely stay several days in, the excellent execution of the different dishes meant you could eat a different cuisine every night without going out – and you wouldn’t wish to go out as the view is utterly memorable.
,mountains
Our room had doors opening directly out onto the hotel’s lawn, with a vast view in either direction down the Engadine valley. Walk onto the lawn, turn left, and you quickly reach the path that leads up through the forest on the Corvatsch mountain; from our door we could have walked up to the pass at the Fuorcola Surlej hut, high above the treelined, down the glacial Roseg valley on the other side, and then climb up the glaciers to ascend the snow-encrusted 4000 metre giant Piz Bernina, in crampons, without passing another building.
Feeling rather less adventurous, we instead walked down to Lake Silvaplana, the centre of watersports in the area, for a kitesurfing lesson, and around the lake and through the forests.
Then it was back to our room, sitting outside on the grass, and watching another memorable sunset as the mountain moon and stars (you’re that bit closer to them at an altitude of 1800 metres) came out of the aquamarine sky; before another beautiful dinner.
mountains

In the summer the hotel offers multiple outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing and watersports.

Nira Alpina also has its own patisserie, where we spent the mornings choosing from a variety of buns and pastries, and a yoga class in a suite with a vast mountain view.
The Zen of the yoga class was appropriate: this is a luxury Alpine hotel that feels like a forest retreat on an island, for the sense of sheer balance and calm it creates. We visited in summer; in winter, with its connection to the Corvatsch lift station, the Nira is apparently quite a party spot in the early evening, but the views, cuisine, and uplifting nature of the place would not change. And for summer and winter sports, the connection up the mountain could not be more convenient.
chalet

During the winter guests have a wide selection of winter activities, including ice skating, winter hiking, sledding, bobsledding, horse riding, hang gliding, sky diving and Nordic walking.

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F1

The sparkling wine of Ferrari Trento is being splashed around by the winners at the F1 podium

Formula 1 celebrates with sparkling wine from Italian winemaker Ferrari Trento – They have been the official partner of the competition since 2021. Fabienne Amez-Droz visits the alpine city of Trento, tastes their different wines and experiences the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix first hand.

Ferrari Trento is the “Official toast of Formula One,” celebrated globally by drivers spraying each other with sparkling wine at the end of the races. The Ferrari Trento vineyards are located in Trento, nearby the dolomites mountains in Italy, and the company is, as many would suspect, unrelated to the Ferrari racing team. Actually the Ferrari Trento family company came first – their business dates back to the early automobile era, predating Enzo Ferrari’s first race car. But the brand’s name recognition has been clearly beneficial.

villa

The family-owned Villa Margon in Trento, situated above the vineyards, is a Renaissance-era estate with 16th-century frescoes.

Founded in 1902 by Giulio Ferrari, the business was sold to Bruno Lunelli, a local wine shop owner, in 1952. Since then, the brand seeks to communicate “The italian art of living” with its costumers worldwide.

Today it is managed by the third generation of the Lunelli family with Matteo Lunelli as CEO and President of the family business. Ferrari Trento’s other executive family member is its vice-president, Camilla Lunelli, niece of Bruno. A story that does the rounds in northern Italy is that Bruno was friends with Enzo Ferrari, and Enzo once expressed interest in investing in his namesake wine company, although the Lunelli family declined, as they wanted to keep it as a family business.

The family has an estate, called Villa Margon, located above the vineyards, where you can walk around the ancient building, gardens and learn about the family’s history. The Villa is covered in-and outside with frescoes dating back to the 16th-century. A little drive further down from the estate, you can find their big, modern winery, where they produces all of their so-called Trentodoc‘s, available in six different lines – each of which expresses its own distinctive characteristics.

Trento DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata), commonly known as Trentodoc, is an appellation for white and rosé sparkling wine made in Trento in Italy. They produce the sparkling wines with a traditional method, just like Champagne. In this method, the second fermentation occurs in the bottle, creating the bubbles. Along with Franciacorta, it is a region of Italy widely considered to make world-class sparkling wines, leagues above cheap Prosecco.

After visiting the large Ferrari Trento winery in the valley, Camilla Lunelli invited me to the Michelin-starred Restaurant Locanda Margon  and explained all of the different sparkling wines, which they offer and how to pair them with a gourmet meal.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The modern Ferrari Trento winery in the valley can store 20 million bottles, with over six million sold last year.

Read more: 6 Questions: Matteo Lunelli, CEO & President of Ferrari Trento

For this year’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, I was hosted by the Lunelli- Ferrari Trento- family. This particular racing track is one of the most well-known racing venues in the history of the Italian Grand Prix’s and 2024 marks the 30 years anniversary since the deadly accident of Brazilian F1-driver Ayrton Senna (1960-1994).

For the Imola Race, the brand designed a special Ferrari Trento bottle in honour of Senna which has been signed by the winning drivers: Max Verstappen, Charles LeClerc and Lando Norris, and it will be up for auction for the Senna Foundation in Brazil.

The Ferrari Trento Team took me around the Paddock and gave me an intimate tour of the Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber– garage to show what it would be like, to be down there during a race. You could see the Netflix “Drive to survive” camera team taking shots for the show. An experience worth celebrating!

champagne

The bottle of Ferrari Trento designed in honour of Ayrton Senna for the Imola Grand Prix 2024

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Reading time: 3 min
art gallery
art gallery

Mucciaccia Gallery is delighted to present the exhibition Tête-à-tête in its gallery in Rome, curated by Catherine Loewe

Tête-à-Tête is an exhibition that explores the private and creative lives of contemporary artist couples.  Here LUX speaks to curator Catherine Loewe about the inspiration behind the show and the fascinating connections between the work of these modern-day duos.

The exhibition Tête-à-tête sizzles through the summer months in the heart of Rome at Mucciaccia Gallery, providing a rare glimpse into the world of creative couples where love, life and art collide. The show features eight acclaimed international contemporary couples whose multi-disciplinary work is placed in dialogue with each other.

The title from the French expression “head to head’ refers to the conversations and dynamic interplay that has such a significant impact on their practices, whether working individually or in collaboration.  In an ever-evolving cultural landscape, this exhibition examines how artists navigate the complexities of relationships while pushing the boundaries of artistic expression in the 21st century.

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

LUX:  Where did the inspiration for the show come from?

Catherine Loewe: I’ve always been fascinated by the passionate stories of artist couples who played a key role in the development of avant-garde art.  These revolutionary couples reflected the shifting structure of both art and society, like Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin, Josef and Anni Albers, Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning, who rode the wave of radical thinking in the wake of Cubism, Bauhaus and Surrealism.

There was a fantastic exhibition at the Barbican that covered this topic and I wanted to bring the narrative up to date with contemporary artists.   I was also inspired by Vasari’s incredible work the Lives of the Artists which so memorably set forth the connections between artists lives and their works, in many ways providing a template for art historical documentation right up to the present day.

art gallery

The exhibition brings together eight internationally acclaimed contemporary artist couples, featuring multi- disciplinary work, including photography, textiles, sculpture, painting and digital art.

LUX:  How did you select the artist couples?

CL: I was looking to include artists working across variety of disciplines from painting, sculpture, textiles and photography to convey an overview of artistic practices today.  I was greatly supported by Maryam Eisler, whose incredible photographic portraits feature as part of the show and the accompanying catalogue.

Thanks to Maryam we included pioneering artists who have witnessed seismic social, political and cultural changes like Emilia and Ilya Kabakov, the hugely influential conceptual artists whose story began in Soviet era Russia. Also, Iranian couple Shirin Neshat and Shoja Anzari, whose powerful and poetic film and photographic work centres around issues of exile, oppression and resilience.

These artists couples have truly created a lasting legacy for future generations.  British artist Rob and Nick Carter have worked in collaboration for over 25 years, pioneering cutting-edge digital techniques and more recently exploring notions of authorship through the use of robots.

The paintings in the show based on Venus, Botticelli’s rendition reprised by Andy Warhol were executed by a six-axis robot called Heidi, switching brushes and colours using hundreds of thousands of lines of bespoke software code – something I think would have amazed both Botticelli and Warhol.

art pieces

As the title which refers to the French expression “head to head’ suggests, the exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the dynamics behind artist relationships, revealed through intimate conversations with them.

Read more: Dakis Joannou interview in Hydra

LUX:  Were there other artists you would have liked to include?

CL: It is a big theme and there are many artists we could have shown like Bharti Kher and Subodh Gupta, Elmgreen and Dragset, John Currin and Rachel Feinstein, Rashid Johnson and Sheri Hovsepian to name but a few – perhaps for an enlarged version of the show.

LUX:  Had all the artists shown together before?

CL: Charlotte and Philip Colbert had never shown together, although both fascinatingly share a subversive and surreal outlook, curiously mirroring each other with their chosen symbols, in Charlotte’s case the all-seeing eye, uterus, and breast and Philip’s the lobster, cactus and shark.

These motifs are seamlessly fused in their house which is a work of art in itself filled to the rafters with their art and designs – my favourite being a bathtub called Mother’s Milk made up of over a hundred silicone breasts.

LUX:  How has being together influenced the work of the artists?

CL: Creatively, these partnerships clearly act as a catalyst for artistic growth and exploration, the constant exchange of ideas is something one cannot achieve alone.  Whilst some couples maintain separate practices and others collaborate, the way they bounce ideas of each other creates this dynamic flow which translated into their work often produces major breakthroughs.

Of course, there are also rivalries, and I love the stormy life of Italian painters Pizzi Cannella and Rosella Fumasoni who so evocatively sums it up saying, “Talent always needs company. The beauty of having an artist close to you is the mindless mutual trust in the invisible.”

art pieces

With works displayed in dialogue with each other, the exhibition explores how the creative interplay between these couples has impacted their practices

LUX: How did you tackle the issues of gender inequality?

CL: For centuries the prevailing concept of the male genius meant that women’s careers were eclipsed by their ‘famous’ partners, whilst they were locked in the roles of mistress, muse or mother.  Such was the case with Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner or the often toxic relationship between Pablo Picasso and Francoise Gilot – both women are only now receiving long overdue recognition.

Today these issues are certainly being vigorously addressed but still not fully resolved, for instance Sue Arrowsmith struggled to gain exposure in contrast to the meteoric career of Ian Davenport, who was one of the YBA’s in Damien Hirst’s circle.

What did however become apparent whilst doing this show is the huge amount of love, support and resilience these couples have in the face of many challenges both creative and personal.

The interviews reveal how much of a juggling act being an artist couple can be, particularly with the demands of a hectic international exhibition schedule and a young family – more like the collision of love, art and life!

art pieces

The exhibition in Rom opens its doors from the 10th May until the 2nd August 2024

LUX: What did you most enjoy about this show?

CL: It is beautiful to see the synergies between the works of these artists – like the striking geometric sculptures of Conrad Shawcross juxtaposed with the tactile, abstract hand stitched pieces by Carolina Mazzolari – a visual yin and yang both in their respective ways profoundly philosophical.

art gallery visitors

The guest enjoyed the Tête-à-tête exhibition at the Mucciaccia Gallery

Or the singing colours of Annie Morris stacked spheres in conversation with the hovering hues of Idris Khan which are so full of emotional and spiritual yearning, charting their experiences of love, loss, and catharsis.  Sue Arrowsmith and Ian Davenport have created paintings especially for the show that explore the interplay of colour, form and space take inspiration from the work of Fra Angelico fusing Sue’s use of shimmering gold leaf and Ian’s interest in the palette of Old Masters.

I also really enjoyed spending time with the artists in their homes and studios, doing photo-shoots and interviews, which I tried to keep quite light-hearted, but which turned out to be surprisingly revealing.

Tête-à-tête runs until 2 August 2024, at the Mucciaccia Gallery, Rome

mucciaccia.com

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Reading time: 6 min
Dakis Joannou with Live Painting of Dakis and Lietta, 2018, by George Condo.
Dakis Joannouwith Live Painting of Dakis and Lietta, 2018, by George Condo.

Dakis Joannou with Live Painting of Dakis and Lietta, 2018, by George Condo.

He was Jeff Koons’ best man, is a regular dinner companion of Maurizio Cattelan
and Urs Fischer, and has invited George Condo to create a show for his non-profit Deste Foundation on a Greek island this summer. Darius Sanai meets Dakis Joannou, the art world’s most consummate host and one of its most imaginative and significant collectors, and finds that what drives him is friendship and curiosity

Anyone floating in more rarefied circles at Art Basel, the world’s preeminent art fair, in Switzerland this June won’t help but hear “See you at Hydra!” being tossed around with parting air kisses as collectors depart. In this case, the reference to the Greek island is not to a private yacht or party, but the most desirable and intriguingly democratic art event of the year.

The brainchild of the Greek-Cypriot tycoon, collector, and artists’ friend Dakis Joannou, “Hydra” refers to a series of initiatives both on the Greek mainland and the small island near Athens, centred on the spaces of Joannou’s non-profit Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art (the name Deste comes from the Greek word for “look”).

Joannouwith Maurizio Cattelan<br />

Dakis Joannou with his dear friend, italian artist Maurizio Cattelan

The building on Hydra is a converted slaughterhouse, which each year features one of the world’s most interesting art shows and related events in the Hydra Slaughterhouse Project. This year’s superstar is George Condo, whose show is entitled “The Mad and the Lonely”.

He follows on the heels of Jeff Koons two years ago, who also designed the exterior of Joannou’s yacht. The uniqueness of Hydra is generated by Joannou himself.

No usual collector, he is, famously, close friends with the artists whose work he procures, spending long evenings with the likes of Koons, Condo, Urs Fischer and Maurizio Cattelan
, talking about life, the universe and everything.

“We meet, we drink, we go for dinner, we talk – maybe it’s about gossip or about art,” says Joannou. “I love how artists think, the original thoughts they have and the angles they take about things. It’s very different to say the way a banker thinks.

I enjoy being with artists a lot.” While there are private dinners, the shows are open to the public and, as it’s a small place, artists and art-world illuminati bump around with tourists who come along to see the art. Anyone can experience 90 per cent of the buzz at Hydra just by buying a ferry ticket. Is Joannou driven by a higher philanthropic calling?

Joannou and Jeff Koons,with Koons’ Gazing Ball Tripod, 2020-2022

Joannou and American artist,Jeff Koons, with Koons’ Gazing Ball Tripod, 2020-2022

“No, not at all. I don’t put any responsibility on myself about what I’m doing,” he says. “I just do what I feel like doing and it’s up to the public to respond. I’m not doing it for this sake or that sake, I’m just doing what I feel I should do.”

Is it important for Joannou that visitors understand the underlying impetus behind the shows, his raisons d’être? “It’s up to them, I don’t mind,” he says. “I’m just putting out there what I think and feel, but people can take it as they like.”

But he must take some pleasure out of GREEK GIFTS He was Jeff Koons’ best man, is a regular dinner companion of Maurizio Cattelan
and Urs Fischer, and has invited George Condo to create a show for his non-profit Deste Foundation on a Greek island this summer.

Darius Sanai meets Dakis Joannou, the art world’s most consummate host and one of its most imaginative and significant collectors, and finds that what drives him is friendship and curiosity 18 creating something out of nothing, so to speak? “I am very pleased to see a positive response,”
he says.

Joannou with artist Jeff Koons and artist Urs Fischer

Joannou with artist Jeff Koons and artist Urs Fischer

“I cannot deny that. I mean, we started on Hydra in 2009 with about 150 people on a long dinner table. And now there are up to 4,000 people who come, so I am very proud of getting a big crowd there.” Joannou says that he gives complete carte blanche to his artists.

When I ask him about Condo’s theme of “The Mad and the Lonely”, he replies, “You’ll have to ask George about that.” Like many highly driven people, Joannou has a hyper-creative mind of his own, and he knows enough to respect his fellow creatives.

See you on Hydra.

You can read Maryam Eisler’s interview with George Condo here.

Condo’s “The Mad and the Lonely” exhibition is at the Deste Foundation Project Space Slaughterhouse, Hydra, Greece, 18 June – 31 October 2024; deste.gr

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Reading time: 4 min
Gabriel Scott Design
Scott

Portrait of Scott Richler, founder and creative director of Gabriel Scott

The furniture and lighting studio Gabriel Scott was founded in Montreal, by Scott Richler. It was established in an effort to blend his jewellery design experience developed over many years to designing lighting and furniture. He speaks to LUX about the process behind it and how he focusses on craftmanship and exquisite materials

Q: Where do you draw inspiration from your furniture and lighting?  Which brands, or elements of brands, inspired you when you began your design line?

Scott Richtler: Mostly the language of our Gabriel Scott pieces is based on some prior experience in my life.  Mostly from the time I spent in jewellery design and fashion with a separate brand called Jennifer Scott between 2000 and 2005. I created statement jewellery from semi-precious stone.

This led to a career in design, mostly in women’s accessories like handbags seen in Bergdorf’s and Neiman Marcus. Working in high end fashion design meant I developed a high range of design skills learning from the best artisans in Italy.

Before this though I had an architecture background, so I have macro scale and smaller scale design experience; I like the immediacy of this, I speak many different design languages.  I’m into details and you can see the story of my background come through into our lighting fixtures.

Gabriel Scott Design

The Welles Glass Chandelier, curated in essence of timeless jewellery

Q: In the 18th century, furniture was elevated from functional pieces to works of art, acting as a status symbol in the Victorian home. What would you say is furniture’s symbolic purpose today?

SR: The function of an architect is to look at a space and interact with it. Furniture and lighting are all objects you interact with in one way or another. Everything in your life surrounding you has a form of dialogue around it.

Furniture can be seen as sculpture or more precisely functional sculpture. It’s also about how the user of that space interacts with the environment. Decorative lighting can be viewed as a pretentious status symbol and pretentious pursuit.

Decorative lighting is functional but not totally necessary in a home. Decorative lighting is a focal talking point, creating interest and texture in a home, it is an elevated art form in this sense.

interior

Greg Natale’s East Brisbane house in Australia: This riverfront residence combines interior architecture with the layering of sumptuous finishes to create a “modern palazzo” that celebrates its owners’ deep connection to Italy.

Q: The lighting industry now faces issues with regard to electricity usage and sustainability. How do you combat or navigate these issues, and how do they challenge your principle that designs should be ‘Timeless’?

SR: Gabriel Scott designs use low LED’s and these drop very little electricity, you could keep them on forever and they’re very environmentally friendly. I’ve always approached design through timelessness because it should be like this.

Gabriel Scott furnishings and lighting are classic with longevity just like Chanel. You can wear a Chanel piece from 60-years ago and it’s still as contemporary in present day today. I’m in the camp sitting with vintage Porsche’s being more sustainable than Tesla’s.

The amount of investment required to build a Tesla that will be used for no-more than 10-years is less sustainable than driving a Porsche that’s been on the planet for 50 years. Investing in a Gabriel Scott light is much the same, it’s an investment which will stand the test of time and last.

Q: How else does Gabriel Scott engage with sustainability?

SR: Like a fine designer quality brand, Gabriel Scott’s pieces are investments, well made, amazing materials with longevity.  The materials come from the earth, they’re minerals and glass is recyclable. We use materials that are long-lasting, if you invest in our furnishings they will last forever and you can move with them from home to home.

I do feel strongly that the word sustainability needs to be used carefully by companies. There are so many brands out there greenwashing their companies in a way that is detrimental to the wider sustainability agenda.

Q: Is it important for contemporary art to be functional as well as aesthetic?

SR: It’s not important for any art to be functional.  The dialogue of art is to not be functional whatsoever. As a matter of fact, if it’s not functional, sometimes it creates more questions in the user, which therefore creates a dialogue that may be intentional or not.

The Welles Long Chandelier 17, Smoked Purple and Gray Glass. The Welles collection was coined by notable architect and designer, called David Rockwell.

Q: Would you say furniture and lighting are of increasing importance in the art world now?

SR: Lighting and art in juxtaposition are increasingly important and the majority if not all high-end clients have both in their homes.  We’re recognizing this and from May our London showroom will be welcoming in the Virginia Damsta gallery.

We’re creating a art and lighting gallery with an inaugural exhibition, titled “The New Artists: When Machines Dream” departing from the conventional white cube concept, we’re going to be presenting a synthesis, a symbiosis of art and design. This fusion illuminate’s artwork and creates a harmonious interplay between art and design.

Q: What key changes have you noticed in lighting/furniture design since you founded Gabriel Scott in 2012?

SR: I’ve seen a shift culturally, pre-2012 most high-quality furniture and lighting was manufactured mostly Italian.  Italy is known for being refined and creating the best.  But most of its industrialized and this was the key to the Italian success, being able to industrialize production of beautiful lamps and furniture.

For the last 10-years, there’s been a pivot towards a more artisanal approach. A much more hands-on, handmade approach to furniture and lighting which is more appreciated. The shift has been from the benchmark of quality Italian pieces which have been industrialised. Not the benchmark is more artisan like a carpenter trained in skills from hundreds of years ago which is just exquisite so there has been an elevation.

Q: Do you feel like people are getting more adventurous with their lighting?

SR: Yes I 100% agree with this, but if you look back into time you’ll find plenty of people who were adventurous with design. For example, if you look into interior designer’s in North Carolina, it would not have been surprising to find a sculptural element to a wall sconce in a Gio Ponti house like 50-60 years ago.

You would find sculptural lighting, it just was something that was very European it never really traded into the sort of mass market.  The general public are more conscious about lighting due to big interiors companies being more adventurous with media campaigns.  Decorative lighting has kind of become the norm – with more people on board!

The Myriad Chandelier, 12 Long. The chandelier projects a warm light through its double-blown glass and is hand-made to order.

Q: With your background in architecture and fashion, you interpret decorative lighting as larger scale jewellery. How else has your experience in the fields impacted your perspective on interior design?

SR: I’ve taken inspiration from many great interior designers such as Joseph Dirand. My perspective on interior design is that you can easily interpret a space through the objects that populate that space. My perspective is being an interior designer doesn’t necessarily have to be a maximalist pursuit.

You don’t have to put a great deal into a space to make it special. You can put in an amazing table, piece of art and light fixture – the look can be pretty minimalist. But there’s something unique and special about it is because of the objects in space.

Q: Are there any elements of different brands that have inspired your line?

SR: I love to look at jewelry lines like Pomellato, Cartier and De Beers for inspiration for our lighting. A discontinued Cartier ring inspired the Harlow light.  The ring was like a series of balls that are cold and explode.

In terms of furnishing’s I find Gio Ponti inspirational. Buckminster Fuller is an incredible inspirational architect. I’m enthused by Olafur Eliasson the artist. So its varied, it doesn’t come from furniture traditions. It’s just like images that are blended.

www.gabriel-scott.com

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Reading time: 7 min
bodrum
bodrum

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

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

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

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

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The festival features top international cuisine

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

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

chef

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

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

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

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Michelin-starred cuisine for all palates

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

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

Festival guests enjoyed DJs and a variety of top international acts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

darius sanai

Medbodrum guests on the beachside deck at the Macakizi

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

www.medbodrum.com

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Reading time: 4 min
boathouse
boathouse

LongHouse Reserve in Long Island photographed by Philippe Cheng

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

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

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

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

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

Follow LUX on instagram: luxthemagazine

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

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

Read more: The future of philanthropy, with UBS

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

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

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

Carrie Barratt, Director, LongHouse Reserve

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

Pamela Willoughby, independent curator

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

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

Joel Mesler, artist

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

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

Shirin Neshat, artist

facetime

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

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

 

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Reading time: 2 min
kids
neera nundy

Neera Nundy is Co-Founder of Dasra India

Dasra, or ‘enlightened giving’ in Sanskrit, was co-founded in 1999 by Neera Nundy and her husband Deval Sanghavi as a venture philanthropy fund in India to invest in early stage non-profit organisations working in SDG areas of gender equality, urban resilience and sanitation. In twenty-five years, Dasra has unlocked over $350 million US for 1500+ non-profits and impacted over 180 million people through its trusted ecosystem, one recent start-up GivingPi being India’s first Family Philanthropy Network.

LUX: You are a recipient of multiple awards from inter alia the Canadian Governor General, Forbes India, Forbes Philanthropy, Vogue India, and you partner with Harvard, Stanford, USAID. How did you embark on this journey as a change-maker?

NEERA NUNDY: In hindsight, while it feels like there was a clear strategy in fact the pathway was more zigzag than linear! Twenty-five years’ ago, when we started, I was very young, an analyst at Morgan Stanley who had just graduated in statistics, followed by business school at Harvard then UBS.

With all this access to privilege, not of wealth but I mean privilege of education and exposure to diverse experiences, I was always asking myself if there was something I could do that would make a difference in the world? Whilst I was born and raised in Canada but I felt a deep connection to India. My mother had founded a school for tribal children in India, I went back myself when I was ten to boarding school, so I had a sense of identity and belonging and I wanted to make a difference there.

kids in school

Visit to partner Satya Special School in Muntrampattu, Puducherry advocating for the inclusion of children with special needs in education, employment, and society.

LUX: How did your background in finance influence your approach to unlocking capital for good?

NN: I really started out on this road with my husband. We met at Morgan Stanley as analysts in1999. If you think about financial services, there are so many different kinds of ways to move capital around and, to move philanthropic capital, you also need intermediaries. We are one of India’s few infrastructural bridge builders, helping organizations on the ground working with the most vulnerable, working with communities and growing their impact. We did not have funding at the start, so the real skill we had was helping organisations institutionalise. So from a management side, what the private sector takes for granted, we asked how could we enable organizations to strengthen themselves institutionally so that their impact could grow? Very quickly we realised that all of that costs money and you need flexible money so we decided to use some of our capabilities to raise money from families and corporates. At that time in India the CSR mandate had also emerged so our role evolved to connect philanthropy to organizations doing great work on the ground.

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

LUX: How did Dasra evolve from a social impact bridge-builder to a leading non-profit collaborator impacting over 180 million lives?

NN: Over the first decade, it was honestly all about survival. We were a very small team trying to raise money and make ends meet. We started Giving Circles so that there would be some funding. We had families pool money and support non-profit organisations who are the pioneers now in their field like Educate Girls SNEHA, The Audacious Project, Magic Bus, ARMMAN and we had a good feeling that we had in some way contributed to this success. The next decade became about staying relevant, accelerating our impact rather than just raising money. So over the last 25 years, although we have influenced around $350 million USD and motivated our teams, we have always focused on impact. That is why we moved our work from 1-2-1 relationships to more platform-building, growing networks, holding ourselves more accountable on outcomes. That’s really when we launched our first alliance, Girl Alliance, a collaborative fund for adolescent girls, focusing on girls from 10 to 19 years old. Only fifteen years ago, you would meet someone in CSR asking if they wanted to fund adolescent girls and the men around the table would not get why this was important as for them it was over as the girls would soon be married. So it was for us to create a market. Some of what we have done in 25 years is to create markets for different issues, bringing them together, evolving platforms for a real array of organizations trying to support the unlocking of philanthropy but also supporting organizations on the ground. It may feel that Dasra does a bunch of different things but it is because the sector needs it.

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Industree partners’ project, GreenKraft, Tamil Nadu, a virtually 100% women’s collective engaged in creating and selling handicrafts made from recycled banana bark.

LUX: Who is the audience, the target group?

NN: I’ve really tried to emphasize the part of our vision where a billion thrive with dignity and equity, that at the core of all we do must be in service of the most vulnerable, supporting them and investing in creating thriving communities. To do that you need to bring together and invest in NGO leaders, invest into funding and philanthropy and build that trust between the three of us.

So are we in service of the funder or in service of the NGO leader? Neither but we need both of them to be part of being in service of the community. To do that, we make the issues more visible, help them engage, show them the impacts on the ground. Ultimately though you need funding! So you are still in the most immediate sense catering to the needs of different funders and the needs of NGO leaders and bridging them.

In terms of hierarchy, though, I would say first, the community, then the NGOs, and then the funders. We are in a privileged position that we can take a stand with funders and say there is a right and wrong and we can support you in doing a better job by working with you.

LUX: You also work with leaders from the smaller NGOs and minorities, engaging with communities and collaborating bottom-up: how did that come about?

NN: That’s also been a journey for us over the last 25 years. When we started we were much more proximate when we had Giving Circles and were working with NGO leaders. These were all very small organizations then. Educate Girls was only in 50 schools and when we started working with them they became or established and now they are in thousands of villages and impacting around two million girls.

About 10 years ago we started working with various established organizations and the ecosystem grew because everyone was funding the same organizations and spotlighting them. Then we shifted on the back of Covid, with all those challenges within communities experiencing the pandemic, the way proximate leaders risked their lives to support communities and to support India, we felt strongly there was now a new role for us. We decided to go back to the grassroots, to some of the more proximate organizations and to continue to support the next generation of organisations and that is the $50 million USD Rebuild India Fund.

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SEEDS partners training local communities in construction principles and practice to build robust safe homes, schools and infrastructure.

LUX: What do they want, the leaders of the next generation of organisations?

NN: They want to make what was invisible more visible, be engaged and be part of the nation building. India is only going to flourish if we move this group. We are a sort of nexus between what next gen and what they want to contribute to, showing them the effectiveness of listening to communities and working bottom-up to make change.

LUX: How important is an intersectional approach in bringing about successful outcomes?

NN: Around 15 years’ ago when we moved toward a platform-building model, we started our work around adolescent girls and there was real awakening in India with a new focus on outcomes. A girl needs an education, health, and employment and although funding is sectoral that does not mean you deliver ultimately for this girls’ empowerment via these separate lenses.

You need extensive health interventions to make other outcomes sustainable. Our ‘10 to 19’ anchored outcomes for a collaborative fund, so an education funder can come in, a health funder can come in because the kinds of outcomes we had were keeping girls past grade 10, delaying marriage, delaying first pregnancy, increasing their independence and employability. So multiple funders can come in because you are delivering on the outcomes.

We are supporting a particular State, or a number of different organizations and the measurement is providing a view on and links to these outcomes. So there is a role for us as an intermediary, or backbone collaborator, or systems orchestrator that can be enabling, to show where funding might take a certain shape for good, show the need in the community for these girls, and bridge the parties. That has been a lot of what we’ve been working towards and to make change you need that intersectionality.

LUX: Is that intersectional approach also appropriate with climate change and the disproportionate adverse impacts on women and children in the Global South?

NN: Climate is a tough one to get our country to engage with, especially if you move down this path to energy transition. We do not want to compromise economic growth. If you want to buy a washing-machine there are emancipatory benefits for a woman in saving her time from washing clothes. There is a role you need to play to shape the intersectionality. So climate and gender, climate and health, climate and livelihood, being able to link the impact of climate on these sectors. What we call intersectionality will actually unlock greater interest and potential for both funders and organizations to engage.

Read more: Hansjörg Wyss on his pioneering work in conservation

LUX: Is intersectionality offering new opportunities that change the model of family-giving in India?

NN: It has been evolving and I think it’s a newer category at least in India, where promoter-led giving ie business leaders are also family-owned businesses. Corporate giving is aligned with family-giving and this synergy is still evolving. Family philanthropy has deep history in India. Wealthy families have been part of our Independence movement, the cornerstone of our religious structures and organisations, and they have invested back into their communities through education, institutions, and hospitals.

Families, especially those with a family office structure, give to communities based on their personal values and their corporate governance. Rather than advising them to be more strategic, we recommend they continue to with their philanthropy, which some may say is traditional, but also explore with them what has been happening in their chosen field of philanthropy, so can they engage in these intersections for the most vulnerable? Again we are spotlighting needs. We now have 300 families in this Giving Pi giving network, 80 of them Indian families.

LUX: Who are the emerging philanthropy leaders among India’s next gen?

NN: Women really understand the intersectionalities and it is really exciting to see around 70-80% of the family offices are women-led. While they may not have created the wealth, they represent their families and are the decision-makers for where their families will direct and engage their philanthropy. That dynamic is shaping and forming a whole new way of giving. To be honest it is more collaborative.

There is a real appetite to want to build the community. These women want to engage with gender-focused philanthropy, with climate as an emerging issue, arts and cultural philanthropy which has always been there and is growing further, and with mental health. So these are the four themes we are seeing emerge in this community that is giving now around 200 million USD each year to India for India.

kids

Vanavil (Rainbow) Trust, Tamil Nadu: Revathi Radhakrishnan, managing trustee, in conversation with mothers from Boom Boom Mattikarar and Narikuravar nomadic tribes, about their children’s education.

LUX: How important is trust to collaborative philanthropy?

NN: Trust has always been a cornerstone for anything we do, whether in business or philanthropy, in philanthropy even more so because you may be quite removed from the lived experience of what’s happening in these communities, or not know what it takes to make this kind of change.

You have to be patient, it takes longer to measure impact, and costs a lot. So there is a lot of complexity. Ultimately, delivering on the impact really rests on our trusting that we are all aligned with the intent of where we’re all trying to get to, the change we want to see, and it is dynamic so it needs flexibility.

All players have to come in with those values and sometimes that is missing in the hustle and the urgency. So coming to the table with that trust and willingness to be flexible on all sides is important.

LUX: Finally, what is the relationship between trust and finance?

NN: Trust and finance are closely linked to the extent that you can structure finance in a way that enables trust. So trust means you do not have expectations of each other or of the work, yet you can structure the finance and the philanthropy with that flexibility. It is not about just giving money.

Trust-based philanthropy has taken on this kind of mania that you can write a cheque without understanding where it was spent but you have to ask how it made the difference. Trust is about clear communications, expectations, measurement and requires financial structures like blended finance, alternative business models and transparency about the areas which need subsidisation.

www.dasra.org

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Reading time: 11 min

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

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

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Chief Winemaker Peter Gago

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

wines

A line-up of Penfolds classics

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

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

Read more: Lewis Chester on Giacomo Conterno

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

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

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

Tasting notes by LUX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wines

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

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

Lewis’s Best 3 Wines from Giacomo Conterno

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

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

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

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

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Nina Hoas of LGT (right) and Silvia Bastante de Unverhau (left) of LGT Philanthropy Advisory in Kenya, tree planting

Global annual philanthropy giving today is estimated at over $1tr. The world will see the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history by 2045, some $84tr being passed down in US alone. Next gen inheritors are finding purpose in their wealth, responding to urgent causes, and driving change ‘in my lifetime’. LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor Samantha Welsh speaks with Head of LGT Philanthropy Advisory, Nina Hoas, on strategies for enhancing impact through collaboration, leadership, innovation and doing good, well.

LUX: What made you decide on a career centred on addressing inequalities and social justice?

NINA HOAS: I am Swedish,  but when I was growing up my family moved and travelled around a lot, from Latin America to Asia, and I had the opportunity to live in places like Bangkok in Thailand where my family was for seven years. So I grew up in a family that was not afraid of being in different communities or sharing their experiences and being with different cultures. Every year from when I was one year old we would go to Kenya to stay with my godparents who lived in Nairobi and had a holiday home outside Mombasa. We would go to the Swedish school for a few weeks where my aunt was a teacher, and visit the nature conservation areas. Those experiences in Kenya really shaped my awareness of the socio-economic contrasts to my own home in Sweden as well as of course nature and biodiversity.

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Preserving and replanting mangroves, which store carbon, preserve coastlines and act as biodiversity incubators, is important to many next generation philanthropists

LUX: What did that perspective teach you about privilege and shape your ambition?

NH: That holiday home outside of Mombasa was a different world to Sweden, with the housekeepers Kasongo and Yomo living a long bike ride away, in a mud hut, in a tiny village with no running water or electricity. Every year our family would visit and see their kids growing up. Back in the day we only thought in terms of charitable giving, not the empowerment approach we promote today. Donating clothes and food to their extended family was my first real experience of doing good. Schooling and education was not taken for granted for these children either, and all those experiences formed my career path. My godparents lived in Nairobi and were part of the United Nations (UN) community there, so I knew quite a bit about the UN and decided that was what I wanted to do. I therefore studied political science, and received a scholarship by SIDA, Sweden’s development agency, to make a MinorField Study in a refugee camp in West Africa for my Master’s degree. But already before University, I had interned in Kenya with an NGO and UNICEF which coupled with my studies set me on the path to a UN career.

LUX: What for you is ‘doing good, well’?

NS: Strategic philanthropy advisory at LGT is about encouraging more and better philanthropy. We share our network of experts and change-makers, provide platforms where philanthropists can come together, connect and learn from each other with the aim to help them embark on the philanthropy journey in a more strategic way. Strategic philanthropy is about the long term impact your wealth can have.

LUX: What is the approach to wealth in strategic philanthropy?

NH: The relationship managers in our office, together with family advisors, have conversations with clients around the elements of wealth as the starting point. How their wealth was created, how it is invested, how it is spent, how it is given and how wealth is governed and passed on. Every time there is a financial transaction there is an opportunity to have a positive impact. It is about how family values are passed on with the wealth and how these values are reflected in the philanthropic activities.

mangroves

Rainforests are a carbon sink and produce life-giving oxygen; they are also essential for the maintenance of the earth’s biodiversity, which is inextricably linked to the planet’s habitability and sustainability as outlined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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LUX: Has your network been affected by the women social investment entrepreneurs’ (SIE) phenomenal growth globally, also why are they so successful in scaling?

NH: We usually talk about seven trends and right now next generation funders and specifically women funders is a significant one within those. Looking at our philanthropy network, we have a lot of women philanthropists we are working with and we noticed that for them it is not only about giving. They are keen to have a strategic approach to their philanthropy and ensure impact. Women drive a lot of the development and community. As a woman, I hence see it as not only the right thing to do, but also economically efficient to focus on the women in communities.

LUX: How far is technology influencing next gen investing strategies?

NH: Technology is very important, especially in scaling various invtiatives, which our Guide to Strategic Philanthropy we co-wrote with Pi covers this in one chapter. Though we increasingly see foundations start asking for technology and even AI and they want it because they understand they can grow and deliver faster services. On the approaches towards social good, the giving is one part, but it does not matter what the methodologies are that you are using, whether through impact bonds, mezzanine funding or partly impact investing or pure giving, whichever, you have a social goal and there are many approaches. We notice some entrepreneurs are very successful in using technology and are very often the ones that also want to adopt or adapt their skills and their experience to do good and they’re using that space.

LUX: Has ‘giving while living’ and philanthropy within a limited time frame created volatility and been disruptive?

NH: With next generation wealth holders in particular, they may have created a structure but want to show they are putting a time frame on it to clarify to donors, to family members and peers that if, for example, it is an endowment then they would spend down within 20 to 30 years. They are still relatively young, in the middle of their careers, and embarking on their philanthropic journey, and they want to act right now on the urgent issues, well before those issues worsen. They also feel strongly and passionately that they want to enjoy doing it in their lifetime and not leave the responsibility to another after their death.

Read more: Terre Blanche: The luxury resort pioneering sustainability

forest

Recent research shows that forests are not just collections of distinct flora and fauna; they vast interlinked collective ecosystems which communicate with each other, and underpin sustainable development

LUX: What does inherited wealth mean to next gen U/HNWIs?

NH: LGT’s newest study is about wealth and about what wealth can do. We are asking only next generation wealth holders, the inheritors not the wealth creators (though some are both). Wealth needs to come with purpose. It is very hard for some of them inheriting and by being rich they do not want to feel poor. They want to separate themselves from their net worth and to have self worth. They want to use their wealth in a catalytic way to do good. They bring purpose to their own life if they can use their wealth through investment for a purpose to empower others. For example, one of our women philanthropists is working in communities in a few developing countries to empower women. In one community, she is reaching around 10,000 women and while they know the funds are coming from a specific foundation, they do not know that the founder is out there in person in the field alongside them as technical support; she remains anonymous to avoid the donor dynamic as she wants to be out there, able to hear if something is not right. She is caring for there to be a good systemic change on the ground and is concerned she will not get truthful feedback because the community will fear the funds will dry up if the project is not going right. She really wants to know what is going wrong so she can learn from mistakes, improve it and change it.

LUX: How does peer-to-peer collaboration help your clients?

NH: This is where strategic advisory comes in as well the connection to other philanthropic leaders. Our clients want to meet others who are focused on similar issues because they want to maximise impact and to collaborate to achieve that. Philanthropists can feel isolated so our purpose is also to connect philanthropists with one another, introduce them to others working in the same area, in order to learn and potentially to partner and to add value. This works well for example in the area of biodiversity and nature. We advise around 50 individuals that are focusing specifically on scaling conservation and nature-based solutions. In this context we took a group to the Massai Mara, which is one of the key initiatives of LGT Venture Philanthropy – the independent charitable foundation established by LGT Group Foundation and founded in line with the vision and values of the Liechtenstein Princely Family. The Princely Family’s long-term vision and commitment to sustainability are deeply rooted in LGT’s corporate culture, and they are very happy to collaborate with others also in philanthropy and impact investments.

www.lgt.com

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MACAN, in Jakarta, is Indonesia’s global standard contemporary art museum

Fenessa Adikoesoemo and Venus Lau are at the helm of MACAN, Indonesia’s premier contemporary art institution, founded by Fenessa’s father art collector, Haryanto Adikoesoemo. They speak with LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor Samantha Welsh, about their mission to foster cultural engagement across the ten nations of Southeast Asia, to further enhance MACAN’s reputation, and to elevate the perception of Indonesian contemporary art to the rest of the world.

LUX: Fenessa, why was your father’s focus drawn to collecting contemporary art?

Fenessa Adikoesoemo: He started collecting in 1992 after he visited a collector friend’s house in Bali. He saw how art can transform a home and made it feel more alive, so he began exploring the idea of acquiring art for his own house. He started with a lot of impressionist art. Unfortunately, when the financial crisis hit in 1997, he had to sell his beloved art collection.
When he started collecting again in 2001, the prices of impressionist works had gone through the roof. That was when he was introduced to contemporary art, and he fell in love with it. He feels that contemporary art is more in touch with our current times—a reflection of the world we live in today, capturing the essence of modern issues, societal trends, and cultural shifts.
On a more personal level, art has had a profound impact on my father’s life. It has served as a source of inspiration, fostering his own creativity and providing a sense of calm amidst life’s challenges. Engaging with art has taught him to appreciate different perspectives and embrace the beauty of diversity. He strongly believes that by engaging with art in general, including contemporary art, we can better understand and navigate the complexities of our world.

LUX: How is MACAN rolling out art education to extend the country’s cultural ecosystem?

FA: When we established the museum in 2017, we knew that we wanted to share art and make it more accessible to the public. We also knew that we wanted to focus on art education, especially for the younger generation. Our programs are rolled out to leverage the transformative power of art. By engaging with art, we encourage critical thinking and reflection, nurturing a community that values creativity and embraces the richness of cultural diversity.
Museum MACAN’s art education initiatives are designed to cultivate a cultural ecosystem that encourages mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation. Through our programs, we aim to promote dialogue and introspection, creating a space where diverse perspectives are welcomed and celebrated.
With the help of technology, we have reached educators from all over the country, giving them the resources and tools to teach art to their students and ensuring our programs can be easily integrated into the national curriculum. At year end 2023, the museum team was working with 736 schools and 3,162 educators from 23 provinces across Indonesia, and our programs have been accessed by more than 272,000 children and students.

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Fenessa Adikoesoemo is the chairwoman of the museum and Venus Lau is the director.

LUX: Please tell us how this integrates with the Children’s Art Space and why early years’ engagement with the arts is so important?

FA: Museum MACAN’s commitment to promoting dialogue, creativity, and diversity of thought extends to our youngest visitors through tailored programs and interactive experiences. These values are integrated into the Children’s Art Space. We create a nurturing environment where children are encouraged to express themselves freely and think creatively, interacting with art in a different way.
For example, for our upcoming exhibition, CARE by Patricia Piccinini, which will open in May, our education team has come up with ideas for the Children’s Art Space that reflect on Patricia Piccinini’s ideas about care as a natural instinct that transcends species. Incorporating role play and spatial exploration to explore different love languages and acts of kindness, the experience aims to encourage curiosity, kindness, responsibility and acceptance, with an emphasis on kinship and kindness as an important element of care that can be nurtured in every child.
Early exposure to art is essential because it lays the foundation for a lifetime appreciation of creativity and cultural understanding. Art serves as a tool for exploration and self-discovery, empowering children to develop their unique voices and accept different viewpoints and can help them cultivate essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and empathy. By engaging with diverse artistic expressions, children learn to appreciate the beauty of diversity and recognize the value of collaboration and cooperation.

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LUX: What is your wish for MACAN’s legacy for Indonesia?

FA: I hope Museum MACAN can serve as a timeless beacon of cultural enrichment and inspiration, leaving a profound and lasting impact for the next generations, inspiring them to embrace art and help build the country’s cultural vibrancy and identity for years to come. I envision a legacy where the museum becomes an integral part of Indonesian society and plays a pivotal role in shaping the country’s cultural landscape, where it serves as a hub for cultural exchange, innovation, and collaboration, contributing to the country’s artistic development and global recognition.

LUX: Venus, how does MACAN support the national cultural discourse and help to shape Indonesia’s relationship with the rest of the world?

FA: Venus Lau: Several key initiatives are at play. Museum MACAN provides public access to contemporary art, including artists never exhibited in the country. For example, we will open Care, the first major solo exhibition in Indonesia by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini this May. In addition, with a diverse range of exhibition programs by local and international artists, we are building a cultural dialogue between artists, providing perspectives for understanding contemporary art within Indonesia and positioning Indonesian artists within the global art scene.
Museum MACAN also contributes significantly to art education, the institution’s mission. Education is not a one-way track: we deliver art knowledge through the programs, and at the same time, we learn from our audience and collaborators, who share with us their precious points of view that allow us to rethink art’s role in societies outside the box of the art world.
The educational aspect is vital for nurturing talents and encouraging critical thinking. The museum also serves as a space for dialogues and discussions on contemporary art and broader cultural (and social-political) issues. We host talks, workshops, and events that unite artists, curators, scholars, and the public. These dialogues and exchanges of ideas are essential in fostering a deeper understanding of Indonesia’s cultural identity and its relationship with the global art world.

LUX: What is the vision for MACAN’s programming across exhibitions and cultural activations?

VL: We aim to showcase diverse contemporary art practices to reflect the richness of artistic expressions and cultural perspectives. This diversity (perhaps our Indonesian archipaelago of 17,000 islands may be a good metaphor) allows visitors to encounter a huge variety of artworks, from traditional to experimental, and local to global perspectives. The museum presents inclusivity and celebrates the diversity of voices within the art world by presenting such exhibitions. Additionally, cultural activations at Museum MACAN are designed to encourage dialogue and interaction, inviting visitors to engage with art in different ways or even dimensions; for example, along with our exhibition by Patricia Piccinini, we are presenting a multi-sensory project at our Children’s space (all age groups are welcome!) that adds multiple dimensions of sense to the context of the exhibition.

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Exhibition of Agus Suwage “The Theater of Me”

LUX: How are contemporary artists in Southeast Asia exploring issues that concern our future generations?

FL: I think I may speak from my personal experience instead of for all the artists in the region (or any region), as every artistic practice has its own individual epistemological and affective cosmos. From the dialogues I have had with the SE Asian artists, issues including Asian diaspora, archipelagic thinking, spectralities and technologies, ecologies, and non-binary thinking are terms brought up pretty often. There are also a lot of discussions on how globalisation, urbanisation, colonisation, and decolonisation reshape the ideas of modernity and traditions. There are also practices of artists in the region exploring the concepts of non-Western futurism and technology (and its mythologies), which are themes rethinking the ideas of temporality and futures.

Read more: Magnus Renfrew on Singapore’s Art SG Fair

LUX: How will MACAN continue facilitating cross-cultural dialogues through contemporary art across Asia?

VL: Through targeted exhibition and education programs that initiate multi-disciplinary diversities, we encourage collaborations and foster cultural exchange. We are constantly initiating educational programs—organising workshops, talks, and digital programs to engage with our audience, locally and internationally. Through these efforts, we aim to actively contribute to a more form of connectivity and culturally enriched contemporary art landscape across Asia.

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Agus Suwage is one of Indonesia’s leading artists whose practice emerged in the lead up to the tumultuous social and political changes in Indonesia in the mid-1990s

LUX: Finally, what influence does Indonesia have at the regional level in enhancing the cultural emancipation of the Global South?

VL: Speaking from our museum’s perspective, through our initiatives at Museum MACAN, we embrace archipelagic thinking and engage with diverse interests among the new generations. The museum’s approach reflects Indonesia’s rich cultural diversity, serving as a model for celebrating traditions and fostering creative expression.
We’ve learned the importance of inclusivity and dialogue from the museum’s audience. By showcasing diverse contemporary art and facilitating cross-cultural conversations, the Museum could inspire similar regional initiatives. This approach empowers the Global South to assert its cultural narratives and perspectives on the global stage, contributing to a more equitable and enriched cultural landscape.

www.museummacan.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colourful art

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

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

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

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

Read more: Shangri-La, Singapore, Review

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

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

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

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

art exhibiton

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

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

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

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

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

Collectors

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

Institutions

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

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

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

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

people talking to each other

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

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

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

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

artsg.com

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Reading time: 12 min
beautiful dinner arrangement
beautiful dinner arrangement

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

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

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

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

man with champagne glas

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

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

Read more: A tasting of Drouhin’s fine Burgundies

beautiful french house

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

Champagne-bollinger.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

car inside

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

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

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

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

Read more: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Review

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

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

Car driving on a cliff

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

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

www.bmw.com

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Reading time: 3 min
art that looks like eyes
art that looks like eyes

Iwan Lukminto at the Tumurun Museum in indonesia

Iwan Kurniawan Lukminto is VP of Sri-Tex, one of Indonesia’s original and fastest-growing textile manufacturers, which supplies product to garment factories across the world, manufactures uniforms for 33 nations’ armed forces, workwear for global corporates, and merchandise for a significant number of global fashion multiples. Lukminto speaks with LUX Leaders and Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh, about art philanthropy and national identity in a post-colonial world.

 

LUX: You are a much-awarded textile entrepreneur, what do good governance and philanthropy share in common?

Iwan Kurniawan Lukminto: Well, the basics of any good organization, whether it is focused on society where philanthropy is key or on corporate shareholders where good governance is required, both need to promote accountability, transparency, and adhere to ethical conduct. Both aim to have positive impacts. At the end of the day, the basics are the same; the difference lies in the contexts and settings where they are focused.

LUX: What is it about art philanthropy that appealed, as opposed to other ways of giving back to communities?

IKL: Art has always been my passion. In art philanthropy, we focus on the arts, starting with Indonesia’s art scene, which I feel is still lacking support from both the government and the private sector, despite its good potential and quality. Indonesia, with its unique historical background and multicultural diversity, has much to offer, yet it remains under the radar of the international art scene. Thus, I aim to preserve and promote it, hence the birth of the Tumurun Museum.

Art philanthropy interests me particularly because it is enriched with human experience. It tells stories about the past, the present, and the vision of the future in creative, thought-provoking ways. In art, we catalyze the essence of knowledge, looking beyond science, mathematics, politics, etc., and translating it in the most aesthetic way. For example, consider how Alicia Kwade talks about mass and physics by placing a globe on a plastic chair.

In short, art intrigues and excites me, making me see outside and beyond the box. Thus, I want more people to have the same experiences.

Follow LUX on instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What was the founding vision for Tumurun Museum?

IKL: Tumurun aspires to be a flag bearer for Modern and Contemporary Indonesian art while remaining inclusive and receptive to global artists who dialogue, engage, and enrich its core collection.

LUX: How are audiences responding to its outreach programs?

IKL: The city of Solo is one of the art centers in Indonesia, focusing on performance art, while Yogjakarta city (around 100km away) is another art center in Central Java. The absence of an art museum in the region enhances our visibility and perception among our audience.

a man and a woman standing next to each other

Iwan Lukminto founded the Tumurun Museum, Surakarta, in 2018 to house the extensive collection of modern and contemporary art amassed by the Lukminto family.

LUX: What was the art landscape when the so-called East Indies was a colony of the Dutch?

IKL: There are broadly two categories of audiences: the art community and those outside of the community. For those from the community, it is again subdivided into a few groupings: for those who are from the home community, such efforts are very much appreciated as curated narrations are not common in the scene, and any such effort would spark conversations for new findings and alternative perspectives, which is always positive. For those from the outside, outreach programs allow them a chance to come close to art that is not part of their daily life. Their appreciation might not be within the art historical context, but the joy and, more importantly, the curiosity of looking at something new, something beautiful, or even something strange are real.

LUX: How are artists developing new narratives from exotic ‘Utopia’?

IKL: During the 18th to 19th century, these Western artists were amazed by Indonesia’s tropical land and began recording all they saw and experienced with drawings and paintings. Then, Indonesian artists were directly taught by Western artists on how to draw and paint, strictly following the rules of Dutch School teaching with Romanticism style of portraiture or landscapes. This teaching persisted for generations until the 1930s, when the revolutionary era emerged, and artists began to oppose this approach to art-making.

Indonesia is not solely about beautiful landscapes and pretty people; we also face social issues such as poverty, discrimination, and genocide. Therefore, this group of artists shifted to freeform expression and discovered the true “Indonesian” identity in their paintings.

LUX: Is this shaping a new identity for the nation?

IKL: Indonesian modernist artists began to embrace nationalist “characters and elements” in their works, which was a direct critique of the colonial painters who, according to the modernists, were not depicting the real Indonesia. I don’t believe any art movement alone can shape a new identity for a nation. However, art always reflects the spirit of the time. After the WWII, with pro-independence movements rising all over Southeast Asia, the art of that era also reflected a desire for independence, respect for indigenous cultures and art, and the aspiration to be authentic Indonesians. This sentiment is not only evident in visual art but also in literature, music, films, and other forms of expression.

Read more: Hansjörg Wyss on his pioneering work in conservation

LUX: Can this benefit Indonesia’s international relations?

IKL: Yes. For centuries, art has been a tool for international relationships. Art speaks a language so gentle that many willingly listen, yet so powerful that it can incite nations to rebel. Regarding Indonesian art, it initially served as a promotional tool where the Dutch showcased the beautiful landscapes and cultures of Western Indonesia.

If this is referring to Tumurun, then I believe that as a private museum whose core collection aims to showcase a narrative of modern and contemporary Indonesian art within a local/Asian context and aspires to expand the dialogue to a global context, it would always be useful for the purpose of education, dialogue, and exchange. This contributes to a greater understanding and appreciation, which are the foundations of all foreign relations, between countries and, more importantly, between cultures.

LUX: What do you hope your legacy will be?

IKL: Tumurun originates from the Javanese phrase ‘turun temurun,’ which literally translates as “passing on from generation to generation,” standing at the heart of the founding principle of the museum. Committed to education, Tumurun collects, preserves, and interprets modern and contemporary art, and explores ideas across cultures and regions through curatorial and outreach initiatives. We hope that by standing proudly with our vision and mission, the collection could inspire more generations to come.

Tumurunmuseum.org

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Reading time: 5 min
Big pool at a nice hotel
Big pool at a nice hotel

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

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

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

hotel lobby with lots of plants

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

Read more: Waku Ghin, Singapore, Review

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

nice room with great interior

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

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

big hotel building with lots of green

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

shangri-la.com

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Reading time: 2 min
restaurant asian
restaurant asian

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

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

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

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

Follow LUX on Instagram:  luxthemagazine

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

Asian restaurant out of wood

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

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

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

Read more: Rosewood Hong Kong review

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

Stylish bar with red chairs

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

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

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

cocktail being poured into a glass

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

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

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Reading time: 3 min
Ancient, historical building made out of stone
Ancient, historical building made out of stone

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

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

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

Interesting animal Illustration engraved in a stone wall

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

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

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

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

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

Construction site with stone building on a desert like ground

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

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

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

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

Map of Asia

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

Read more: Hansjörg Wyss and the Wyss Foundation

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

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

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Reading time: 3 min

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

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

The Grosvenor square suite

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

The Grosvenor Square view suite

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

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

Grill 88 at the Biltmore

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

Head Chef Luis Campos

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

The Pine Bar at the Biltmore

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

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

Find out more: thebiltmorehotels.com

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

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

Green sports car, boats in background

It may look good outside the yacht club…

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

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

Green sports car on empty road

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

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

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

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

green drop top sports car

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

Read more: Ferrari F8 Tributo and F8 Spider

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

 

Find out more: lamborghini.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Big red brick building with trees and blue sky

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

DS: What were your biggest challenges in its creation?

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

two men in suits sitting on steps

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

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

LG: Curious, creative and kind people.

 

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

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

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Reading time: 5 min
Bar with lots of drinks and lights and chairs and mirror
We check in to the Principe di Savoia, a palace hotel offering grandeur and glamour for anyone visiting Italy’s fashion capital, Milan
outside of a hotel with green plants and blue sky and balcony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bar with lots of drinks and lights and chairs and mirror

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

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

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

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

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

Find out more: dorchestercollection

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Reading time: 2 min
Dubai at night

World leaders gathered in Dubai, UAE for COP28 with the aim of curbing climate change from 30th November to 12th December 2023

German sustainability leader Darius Maleki, co-founder of one of the country’s most important business sustainability initiatives, gives us his candid lowdown of more than a week spent at COP28

Arriving at Dubai Airport from Frankfurt, I was impressed to see the amount of buzz around the conference, with dedicated entry points for COP28 delegates, as well as information counters in every corner.

I  made it to the site of Expo City on the morning of 2nd December. At the entrance of the Blue Zone, I was overwhelmed by the diversity of the crowd, all in line to pick up their UN badges.

Man standing at a sunny conference

Darius Maleki in the opening area of the Blue Zone, where formal negotiations involving world leaders, senior climate politicians and scientists take place

The first official event I attended was the DZ Bank x UNECE Conference in the Action Room of the Blue Zone, discussing Transition Finance. Keynote speakers included Dario Liguti and Souad Benkredda, with a summary by Tatiana Molcean revealing concerns about the current 2-degree trajectory, the need for sector-specific plans, and financial institutions’ lack of understanding of or ability to identify these sectors. The session emphasised the importance of financial institutions, especially fund managers, recognising the commercial value of their undertakings for effective scaling. There was a realisation of a technical knowledge gap for private sector scaling, prompting discussions on incentives for private sector funding for transition funds.

Large plant like structures

Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion at COP28 was designed by UK-based Grimshaw Architects and hosted talks and events around green finance, nature, energy and policy

I approached a UNECE director to discuss how we can scale the technical know-how for the private sector. It is commendable for the government to be ahead, but if they cannot scale alongside the private sector, it may lead to a massive “drag-along,” increasing reluctance from investors and fund managers to follow net-zero activities. There is a need for clear incentives to signal the scaling of private sector funding for transition funds.

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The director’s response was blurry, as they honestly do not know either. However, this signals to foundations like ours that there is a technical knowledge gap that charitable, non-partisan institutions can fill. This realisation opens interesting new opportunities.

Boardroom at a conference

Topics covered at this year’s COP included adaptation and resilience, capacity-building, climate finance and climate technology

The interconnectivity of the buildings and areas at COP28 was incredible. Never have I been in a place where every visitor’s wish was fulfilled. From food booths to bikes and shuttles everywhere, we could easily escape the heat while traveling from building to building. For the first three days, I visited countless Country Pavilions in both the Green and Blue zones. I was particularly surprised by the strong presence of Ghana, Vietnam, Iraq, and Japan compared to other big nations.
The topic of sustainability will remain relevant for decades, so we need to prepare ourselves and act as a role model for future generations. Perhaps we should reconsider the term “sustainable transformation” to “sustainable and generational transformation”.

Read more: Ted Janulis of Investable Oceans on his hopes for COP28

For now, I will start by working my way through all the business cards, emails and presentations gathered during my 6 days at COP28. I might need to be prepared for an all-nighter.

Find out more: unfccc.int/cop28

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Reading time: 3 min
Large spherical sculpture of the earth at an art fair
Large spherical sculpture of the earth at an art fair

Seung-taek Lee’s “Earth Play” was first conceived in 1989, but has become all the more relevant today. Photo by Parker Calvert

Artists and brothers Clayton and Parker Calvert are the founders of NYC culture club in New York. Here, they give us an exclusive glimpse into one of the most prestigious art fairs in the world, describing some stand out pieces – and some unforgettable afterparties…

The weather was chillier than normal for South Beach on Wednesday on the opening day of the 21st edition of Art Basel Miami Beach. The mayor of Miami welcomed guests to a pre-fair breakfast in the Collectors Lounge, setting the tone for the day ahead. Guests and attendees sipped coffee and Ruinart champagne as they browsed the New York Academy of Art booth, sponsored by Chubb.

Art fair image taken from above

A bird’s-eye view of the fair. Photo by Parker Calvert

The energy in the air was palpable as collectors and aficionados eagerly waited the moment when they could rush in for a first view of the fair. The doors opened at 11 and visitors flooded in to survey the scene and find out what was available. Many galleries had pre-sold quite a bit, but there was still plenty of top tier art for purchase as the fair commenced, suggesting a somewhat cooled-off art market.

Archway leading to a complex paper scultpure

Jospin is Ruinart’s Carte Blanche artist for 2023. In this piece, she offers her vision of the terroir of Maison Ruinart, creating a landcape resembling Montagne de Reims. Photo by Parker Calvert

One notable piece was Seung-taek Lee‘s “Earth Play,” presented by Gallery Hyunda in the Meridians section, stood out as a powerful metaphor. Originally conceived as a call to action on environmental issues, the giant balloon adorned with satellite imagery of the Earth now rested partially deflated, a relic from its global travels in the 1990s.

Among the standout booth presentations were Michael Werner‘s brilliantly curated program, Acquavella‘s high-quality historic presentation, Roberts Projects with their consistently innovative approach, and Pace‘s showcase of blue-chip pieces highlighting the greatness of various artists. The Convention Center buzzed with activity as celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Venus Williams, Shakira, Cindy Crawford, Joe Montana, and JR mingled with guests amid the art.

Janelle Monet performing in a large black and white coat

Janelle Monet performing at the Tropicale and the Miami Beach EDITION. Photo by Clayton Calvert

The perfect end to a long day at the fair was the toast Ruinart hosted with Eva Jospin to celebrate the finale of their year long collaboration. Eva is an alchemist, turning cardboard into extraordinary masterpieces while also referencing classical architecture and nature.

I think it is safe to say Eva is an alchemist, turning cardboard into extraordinary masterpieces while also referencing classical architecture and nature. Mickalene Thomas always throws some of the most memorable parties at the fair. This year she partnered with Janelle Monae for a poolside concert that was not to be missed. Janelle electrified the crowd with a high energy performance complete with her signature vocals and inimitable dance moves before she finally jumped in the pool after the last song of her set. She graciously got back on stage, soaking wet, to belt out a couple more notes and thank everyone for being there.

Dwayne Wade in sunglassses making an announcment

Dwyane Wade at the Soho Beach House. Photo by Parker Calvert

Soho House always packs a punch during the art filled week and this year they partnered with Porsche on an opening day beach tent event with Juvenile as the headliner. Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade introduced the artist before a high-energy performance that spanned 16 songs, blending new and old material.

Other Art week standouts included Design Miami, always an extraordinary presentation of cutting edge and historic design. Friedman Benda‘s exceptional booth featured a rare wood-carved two-seat bench by Wendell Castle and a curvilinear bench made of red travertine by Najla El Zein. New Art Dealers Alliance continued its tradition of being a fair for discoveries, with Storage Gallery presenting Michiko Itatani’s captivating solo exhibition.

Man standing with artwork

Storage Gallery creator Onyedika Chuke at NADA Miami 2023. Photo by Parker Calvert

Tariku Shiferaw‘s piece at Galerie Lelong stood out, resembling a night sky or twilight landscape with its subtle hues and intricate detailing. Perrier Jouet’s collaboration with Fernando Laposse took center stage at both Design Miami and Soho House, paying homage to flora and fauna, emphasizing the delicate beauty and fragility of the natural world. Laposse’s presentation at Soho House drew a captivated audience eager to delve deeper into the series.

It is safe to say that the art world is alive and well in Miami.

Parker and Clayton Calvert conceived The NYC Culture Club is a project offering opportunities for curators and artists to have exhibitions free of charge.

Find out more: nyccultureclub.com

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Reading time: 4 min
Colourful boats on a beach

In August 2022, Parley for the Oceans and the Government of Andhra Pradesh celebrated the official launch of Parley India with one of the largest coastline cleanups in the world, spanning 28km of shoreline, 14 beaches and eight fishing villages

Cyrill Gutsch is the founder and driving force behind Parley for the Oceans, an organisation dedicated to protecting the oceans through underutilised avenues such as art, design, fashion and collaboration. He speaks to Trudy Ross about the material revolution, the pivotal role of artists in inspiring change, and the unique approach of partnering with big corporations for a sustainable future

LUX: What is the Parley for the Oceans movement?
Cyrill Gutsch: The core of what we are striving to do is to bring about a ‘material revolution’. We want exploitative and harmful materials and business practices to become a thing of the past. When you look at all of the environmental issues we face today, it always comes back to the way that we run businesses, which is based on an old belief that we can only survive if we are strong and even cruel. It is a very masculine, and outdated, idea of how to run society.

We must switch our model towards true collaboration, between humans and also with nature, instead of taking and taking, and then discarding what we no longer like.

LUX: Why are artists and art so central to your vision of sustainability?
CG: I believe that the artist, in every revolution, has a big role to play. Artists are in a unique position; people come to them, without any predefined expectation, ready to be provoked and to learn. They are also special people, in that they don’t have a hidden agenda, and they are extremely good communicators. Artwork can play an important role in supporting a movement like Parley’s for fundraising, communication, and to build doors to subject matters which can otherwise be difficult for people to understand.

Huge underwater scultpure

Sculplture from Underwater Pavilions, an installation by artist Doug Aitken, produced by Parley for the Oceans and presented in partnership with The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA)

A good artist can have the impact on people that schools, conferences, and news articles can’t have. They have a superpower – they get close to people’s hearts. They open people up to new values.

At Parley, artists have a convening role. When Julian Schnabel collaborated with Parley for the Oceans in 2019, a diverse audience of politicians, wealthy individuals, collectors, other artists, people from the entertainment industry and entrepreneurs showed up in New York to discuss a topic which was new and challenging for most of the people in the room. The art community is the home for the Parley movement.

LUX: Repositioning artists in the centre of the climate change cause is quite radical. What would you say to people who would argue that, to make real change, you have to look to science, facts and hard policy?
CG: Artists have the perfect vantage point: they cannot be bound by conventional limitations, and therefore they can redefine reality. Unlike other groups, they can do this in a way which does not put themselves in danger. It is so easy for an artist to call for a revolution. First, you create a space for the protection of revolutionary ideas. Science and policy come second. If you don’t begin by gaining support of the right people, then you cannot succeed – even with the right tools in hand.

At Parley, we cannot tell governments to implement new, sustainable economic models. Rather, we collaborate with them. Once we see true intention from them to do better, we can work with them on policy and incentive programmes for industries. Ultimately, however, it comes down to the people who own businesses. If company shareholders make the choice to ditch the use of fossil fuels, plastics, and exploitative and harmful business matter, then it will happen.

Young people waving flags on the beach

The Ocean Uprise Internship Program gives young people from around the world opportunity to learn from ocean experts, take part in skill-based workshops, and implement a local community project

Our audience is a mix of people. First, there are wealthy people who often do not know how unsustainable the companies they invest in are, or how they could invest better. Second, there are the corporations themselves, who are under pressure to deliver the numbers. They cannot take risks. Now they are finally being challenged by legislators to change their business model, but this is still not quick enough, and there is still not enough pressure from the government. The government could change climate change overnight. It is a complex riddle.

The way that we believe that you can create radical change is through a combination of new ideas, access to knowledge, and eco-innovation. This technological innovation is made up of two things – the first being natural, or bio-fabricated materials, the second being green chemistry. We can easily revolutionise our industries with a bit of willingness, understanding, strategy and investment into new technology. All of that is driven by imagination. The moment that we want to do something – and radically believe in it – then we have the skill to make it happen. That is the beauty and the danger of our species.

LUX: How do you approach forming relationships with bigger, for-profit organisations while standing by your values as an NGO committed to protecting the planet?
CG: The environmental issues we are facing today are caused by corporations. That is it. You can protest and not buy their products, but this is difficult. We depend on the products that they make – but we know that they are destroying our planet. But at Parley, we have a more innovative approach: if we come to one company, then we can make a much larger change.

Inside a dark tented structure

Parley for the Oceans is working with Christo and Jeanne-Claude to rework the fabric from their public artwork L’Arc de Triomphe

LUX: You have partnered with many iconic brands. Which collaboration are you most proud of?
CG: I want to speak about Dior. As part of the LVMH group, they are a representation of an old economy. Sustainable change is a big challenge for them. It is difficult for such established companies to innovate, to find alternatives to leather and fur, to plastic, to dyes and prints.

But Dior allowed us to help them. Making the yarn and fabric, and recycled materials, was a long but rewarding process. Eventually they saw that it was great. Now they’re saying “What can we do with leather? How can we replace plastic? How can we use 100% natural materials?” We must be willing to invest. It might take two years for material made from banana leaves in the Philippines to get to the level where it can become part of a collection.
We need commitment – like Dior had – from big brands.

LUX: Do you think that this time and economic investment is the future of the luxury industry?
CG: Yes. And Parley is giving the luxury industry the laboratory for that, changing material use and educating on innovative methods. And we must revamp the whole supply chain and lifecycle of a product. We must look at unsustainable agriculture. Fertilisers and pesticides destroy the nutrition value of the soil; pesticides run through waterways to the sea. There are huge dead zones in the ocean because fertilisers and pesticides have destroyed everything. Yet there are beautiful alternatives in farming. Every detail counts.

Children running into the sea

Parley Ocean School youth programs are made in collaboration with with local schools, NGOs and governments around the world

LUX: How do you imagine that our oceans will look in 10 years’ time?
CG: Ten years is long and short. On one hand, it is long: if we stalled human activity, I have no doubt that the oceans would be fully recovered in ten years. Extinct species would not return, but other species would evolve. Unfortunately, we are not doing that, and the speed of changing the market and the way we are working is much slower.

On the other hand, in transforming the economy, ten years is a blink of an eye. The only way to drive change in a ten year window is to aggressively address the issues we face. That means the intersection of carbon dioxide, methane gas, stopping plastic pollution, or at least cutting it down at scale. And then, 25 years down the road, we will have eradicated most of the toxic materials we are using.

Humans are very good under pressure. When humans understand that they are threatened, they will aggressively transform. And I believe that humans are ready for peace. There is a desire in us now to drive this revolution.

Find out more: parley.tv

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Reading time: 7 min
Collage of black and white digital artworks

A collage of works from Ash Thorp’s ‘Nascent’ series (2022)

California-based Ash Thorp is a digital artist who creates complex, conceptual artworks. LUX met him recently at a solo show of his works on the giant screens of the W1 Curates space in Soho, London, during the Frieze Art Fair, an exhibition supported by uber-creative super luxury watch brand Richard Mille. We caught up with him in his studio in San Diego, southern California, to speak about past projects, future plans, and the tide of digital art.

LUX: You first started with traditional art and then transferred into digital art. Does digital art creates more of a dialogue between the art and viewer than traditional art?
Ash Thorp: All forms of art serve diverse purposes and employ their own unique mechanisms to engage viewers. For me, the key distinction with the dialogue digital art creates is its symbiotic relationship with the advancement of humanity. Technology plays a pivotal role in shaping our world in this current era and digital art is intricately linked to it. It mirrors the current state of our society and reflects our ongoing transformation as a species. This connection introduces multifaceted levels of engagement, contributing utility and value, not just to the artist but also to the audience.

LUX: You have mentioned a 80/20 rule in our discussions about your art.  Can you elaborate this?
AT: I strive to supply 80% of the context and intention of the artwork, and then invite you, the viewer, to extrapolate and complete the remaining 20% based on your own narration. The hope of this artistic intention is to prompt you to apply your own personal values, make predictions, form estimations, and view the piece through your unique lens. My role is merely to provide an initial platform upon which you can create further dialogue. I believe that art is most potent when it transforms into a conversation between the creator’s intent and the viewer’s interpretation by provoking questions, stimulating thoughts, and evoking emotions.

I welcome and value this engagement with my work, urging viewers to explore further and contemplate the underlying themes and ideas that elicit their thoughts and feelings.

An array of brightly coloured pills

The Happiness Pills from Thorp’s ‘Nascent’ Series’

LUX: Is training in traditional art fundamental to the practice of digital art?
AT: I believe in order to develop a profound understanding of any chosen pursuit, it is important to understand its origin and then dedicate yourself to its further exploration. This journey of self-discovery involves understanding one’s place in the artistic landscape, appreciating the work of those who came before, and gaining insights into how they expressed themselves. My early exposure to the traditional fundamentals of art during my formative years provided invaluable insights into the development of my current artistic practice. Absorbing as much knowledge as possible from all pathways will help cultivate a diverse and enriched mind, thereby benefitting both the individual and the broader world.

LUX: AI is, of course, the buzz topic of the current moment. How do you think it will shape our view of digital art?
AT: The ever-present allure of being introduced to anything new and technologically significant is a phenomenon that can be very captivating; in the realm of art currently, this is the integration of AI. While AI can provide an alluring spectrum of possibilities, allowing it to assume a dominant role in the creative process doesn’t evoke the same intrinsic value for me. I believe the essence of artistry is found in the triumphs and pitfalls, of creating it, and being able to experience the pure joy and raw emotions resulting from personal exploration and discovery.

Two images on panels one dark and one light

Balaclava by Ash Thorp from the ‘Nascent’ series

LUX: Do you feel that the AI-employed art is still yours?
AT: The ethical considerations surrounding the use of AI, particularly in generating content, hinge on the specifics of the training model and the group of data utilized. Before AI, plagiarism was more easily tracked back to a distinct source and straightforwardly deemed a transgression in any form of communication. Now we seem to be entering a new era without transparency and a range of polarizing answers to this question. The implications of this ongoing debate will profoundly change the art industry and the world. Ultimately, our actions should not deprive oneself or others of an authentic mind and voice.

LUX: In terms of collecting and selling, how will new concepts such as crypto art, blockchain and NFTs change finances in the art world?
AT: The value of art has always been subjective, based on its own unique currency determined by those who acknowledge and collect it, but not always made public. Blockchain and NFT technology facilitate an evolution of this valuation process by transparently enhancing the public tracking of changes in ownership and value. Works of the past involve an extensive review process to determine proprietorship and authenticity which can now be more easily verified with technology.

LUX: You recently featured at Frieze London collaborating with W1 Curates, Seth Troxler and Richard Mille. How did you find the collaboration and do you enjoy digital art’s interdisciplinary possibilities?
AT: Showcasing an art exhibition during Frieze London was a monumental and wonderful experience. I greatly enjoyed working with everyone at W1 Curates and being introduced to Seth Troxler and the team at Richard Mille. Bridging the relationship across multiple industries through art created such a profound moment which everyone celebrated and commemorated together. This blending of media should hopefully inspire others to continue to follow suit with future collaborations and more venues, as it truly creates a surreal magical experience.

LUX: You have a particular interest in cars. What inspires you about them?
AT: My fascination with cars is a childhood passion that has endured time. The love of cars encapsulates so many aspects I cherish in life: the intricate design, precise engineering, scientific underpinnings, technological marvels, and the connection between humans and machines. I don’t merely see cars as vehicles of transportation. I enjoy the mental retreat to a space of childlike innocence, and perceive the deep-rooted romance within them.

Two art pictures side by side, the first of the back of white heads and the second of a robot like sculpture

Following by Ash Thorp from the ‘Nascent’ series

LUX: How has your digital art changed over time?

AT: Previously my work was primarily recognized on feature films like the Batman, but now I’m also able to showcase the more personal evolution of my digital art with blockchain technology. I’ve found the opportunity to delve deeply into a personal journey of my thoughts and curiosities. It’s a transformative journey that has significantly shaped both my perspective and my artistic endeavors, granting me the sovereignty to explore.

LUX: What are your upcoming projects and where do you see your art heading?
AT: I’m currently engaged in several exciting projects that cannot be disclosed just yet until their public release. As for the direction of my art, my overarching objective is to continue self-discovery, to understand further why I create this work, and to recurrently explore the fundamental answers to life.

We’re talking over Zoom and email. Though technology facilitates our distanced conversation – San Diego to London – in my opinion, it is less personal than an in person meeting. Are there areas of digital art which, relying on technology rather than the body or physical tools, make the relationship to the artist less personal? If so, does it matter?
Art curation is necessary and often overlooked in the digital space, primarily due to the convenience of technology.  Traditional works often demand a dedicated physical visit to a specific gallery or institution, which assists a narrative that it must be of higher value and experience. The challenge for digital art lies in finding opportunities for it be equitably appreciated and valued, for it to be seen to enhance our lives as much as any other form of art.

Find out more: www.altcinc.com

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Reading time: 6 min
A galley with black walls and red paintings
A galley with black walls and red paintings

Works by Thawan Duchanee at The Museum of Contemporary Art Bangkok

Boonchai Bencharongkul founded The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Bangkok in 2012 to create a space to appreciate the works of talented Thai artists. Here, Boonchai Bencharongkul and his co-owner son, Kit Kanachai Bencharongkul, speak to Samantha Welsh about the Thai artists inspiring them and the growth of the collection

LUX: You are renowned for your drive to succeed in everything you do. Where does this come from?
Boonchai Bencharongkul: When my father passed away, he left me with a significant responsibility – to take care of everything that he held dear and worked so hard for. He was a perfectionist and a self-made man, which made following in his footsteps quite a challenge. Fortunately, being a business student and part-time art student allowed me to blend these two worlds together. Art has given me the ability to think freely and imagine beyond the constraints of economics and commerce. I have been doing my best to excel in everything I do, pushing my limits as much as possible.

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I remember someone once telling me, “If you want to go to the moon, just try to go as far as you can. Even reaching halfway is an accomplishment.” It’s fascinating to see that humanity is now building a space station halfway to the moon, proving that progress can be made even when we strive for ambitious goals. When I was young, I had a strong desire to pursue a career as an artist. I believe I had the potential to become a successful artist. However, I had to make a decision that aligned with my father’s wishes and also helped me manage the debt for our family business at that time. In retrospect, I think everything worked out for the best. While I may not have followed my artistic passion, I was able to make responsible choices that benefited me in the long run.

A man standing by a painting in a blue suit with his arms folded

Boonchai Bencharongkul

LUX: What characteristics do entrepreneurs and philanthropists share?
BB: An entrepreneur is someone who creates businesses or corporations and brings their visions to life. Similarly, a philanthropist must also possess a vision to see what they can do to make a positive impact. Both roles require individuals to have a clear understanding of their strengths and abilities. Additionally, they must possess the skill to effectively manage budgets. It is crucial to avoid situations where a social fund or foundation runs out of budget halfway through a project. For instance, in my own experience with my foundation “Ruk ban kerd,” where I provided scholarships for thousands of students from grade 7 to university graduation, I had to carefully calculate how much money I could allocate and for how many years I could sustain the scholarship program. This allowed me to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of the program.

Kit Kanachai Bencharongkul: I believe that both entrepreneurs and philanthropists excel in the realm of business. It is likely that they share common traits such as being innovative, creative, and skilled in making strategic decisions.

A man wearing black with his arms folded standing in front of a red, black, green and yellow asian painting

Kit Kanachai Bencharongkul

LUX: What was your vision for founding MOCA?
BB: First of all I must admit, it’s not only my vision but Thawan Duchanee’s vision. Thawan is one of the greatest figures in Thai modern art. And he made me a bargain: he didn’t give me a timeline but he said that if I were to make a place where Thai artists can place their works permanently on display, in return I would not have to chase after his paintings anymore. I would be the first to see and choose his paintings – on the condition that I go to all artists’ show openings with him. He also told me in Thai the saying “be those raindrops on the cracking hard soil”, to give life back to the country with these amazing artworks. Our establishment was most likely one of the first private art museums in Thailand of this magnitude. As a result, collectors and individuals who are interested in creating their own private museums can consider us as a prototype or model to guide them in their endeavours. The more museums and art spaces we have, the better it is for the country.

LUX: Is there method in the madness of collecting?
BB: With my art collection I initially focused on acquiring works that align with my own artistic style, specifically surrealism. Additionally, I developed a strong appreciation for Thai art, which was not extensively taught in the US. Beyond these preferences, I followed my passion when selecting artworks. I believe I have a good understanding of art, so I rely on my instinct when deciding which pieces to acquire, whether they are abstract, surreal, or Thai art. I also take into consideration what the general public might find enjoyable.

A white room with white lit up art on the walls

Ramayana masks and Asian masks from the Museum’s permanent collection

LUX: Why are dreams and mythology so central to the Thai psyche?
BB: During the past century, Thailand underwent significant development but also witnessed huge disparities in wealth and social class. In rural areas, it was common for individuals to face extreme poverty to the extent they had no money to feed themselves. In desperate situations, some had to resort to selling their families or animals for much-needed funds. Although it may sound primitive, this unfortunate reality existed. As a result, the dreams, soap operas and the tales they enjoyed became a means of escape, portraying unrealistic scenarios such as a poor village girl meeting a prince from the city. These stories served as a source of hope and comfort in Thai culture, reminding individuals that even in the most challenging and hopeless situations, it is important to maintain a positive outlook and a smile.

LUX: Which artists have inspired your curation journey?
BB: Two artists I particularly admire are Thawan Duchanee and Modigliani. Thawan Duchanee’s work captivates me, and Modigliani’s portrait paintings, with their elongated necks, have a unique and striking appeal. Salvador Dalí is another artist I admire. There are numerous painters who inspire me, and sometimes it only takes one or two of their paintings to make a profound impact. When it comes to collecting, I don’t limit myself to a specific style. Instead, I collect what I personally enjoy and what I believe others will appreciate as well. I strive to gather pieces that have the power to make people pause and truly appreciate their beauty.

KB: Having spent over a decade as a fashion photographer, and having a background in architecture, I draw constant inspiration from the world of photography and three-dimensional spatial artworks. The works of photographers like Tim Walker, Guy Bourdin, Gregory Crewdson, Erwin Olaf and Steven Klein have greatly influenced my creative journey. Furthermore, artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Xu Zhen, James Turrell and Anish Kapoor captivate me with their boundless creativity and innovative approaches. Meanwhile, I also hold a deep appreciation for painters like Rothko and David Hockney, just to name a few

A blue room with paintings on the walls and benches in the middle of the room

The MOCA Bangkok’s ‘Bloom Room’

LUX: As an early collector of multi-sensorial, immersive art, why was this so compelling for you?
BB: These artists have a unique ability to convey the true meaning and expression behind their work. When you experience these works, you can truly feel, see, and be a part of the emotions and messages they are trying to convey. Their art has a powerful way of connecting with viewers on a deep and personal level.

LUX: How is MOCA continuing to grow the collection?
BB: I am currently immersing myself in the rich heritage of South East Asian art, delving into the roots of this captivating artistic tradition. My latest endeavour involves curating an exhibition that explores the earliest moments of Asian civilization, spanning back an impressive 2300 years. Through meticulous research and analysis, I am unearthing fascinating insights from a time when historical records and archaeological evidence were scarce. By studying trade patterns between South East Asia, China, and India, I have discovered intriguing connections, such as the inclusion of a lantern from Rome in the collection of our country, dating back 1500 years. This exhibition aims to shed light on the cultural exchanges and influences that shaped the artistic landscape of ancient South East Asia. Therefore I’m commissioning more works under this theme and topic of this unknown history.

A museum with red walls and black and yellow paintings

More works by Thawan Duchanee at MOCA Bangkok

KB: When it comes to expanding the collection, my personal taste and how well a piece fits within the existing collection are the primary factors I consider. However, my father’s collection is already quite extensive, so my focus is less on acquiring new pieces and more on hosting temporary exhibitions. Currently we curate a new show almost every month, offering a diverse range of art forms, from paintings, to photography, to digital and the performing arts. These exhibitions cater to a variety of audiences, attracting individuals who may not typically visit or be familiar with our museum. It’s truly enjoyable to bring together different crowds and introduce them to the world of art! Additionally, I have plans to collaborate with more international artists for future exhibitions, thereby further enhancing our museum’s offerings.

Read more: Aliya and Farouk Khan on the Malaysian contemporary art scene

LUX: What advice did you offer your son when you handed him the reins of the family business?
BB: My son is thriving, and I take pleasure in imparting daily guidance to him, knowing that one day he will have full control. I aspire to live until the age of 90, relishing the opportunity to continue to collaborate with my son and work together. The museum holds a special place in my heart as I find great delight in being there and contemplating our next steps. Often, I encounter individuals whose elderly parents express feelings of depression and boredom. In response, I inform them that if their parents are over 60, they can visit the museum free of charge. It is my hope that we can contribute to brightening people’s days through the enchantment of art. My sole advice to my son is to continue creating joy for others, as it is our devoted mission to serve the public in this manner.

white building with light coming through

The Atrium Space at the MOCA Bangkok

KB: Although my dad hasn’t completely handed all control of the museum to me (and I don’t think he ever will, as he takes great pride in it!) I am here to assist him in reaching a younger audience and to adapt to the ever-changing world of art. He has been supportive and open to my ideas and contributions to the curations and events we put on. While he hasn’t given me specific advice, he always encourages me to have fun and enjoy what I do. However, this can be challenging, as there is a stark difference between loving and appreciating art and managing the financial responsibilities of running a museum. It can be quite stressful at times but I make an effort to find enjoyment in my work because of my deep love for art.

Find out more: mocabangkok.com

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Reading time: 9 min
Women standing together wearing big pink and black puffy dresses with petty coats
Women standing together wearing big pink and black puffy dresses with petty coats

First looks, Giambattista Valli Haute Couture 25

Giambattista Valli moves as easily in the classical world of haute couture as in the contemporary world of social media and in the boardroom as CEO of his brand. Harriet Quick talks to the modern couturier as he prepares to take his maison to the next level

Environments have a way of seeping into the psyche of a designer and a brand. Rome-born designer Giambattista Valli is currently in the throes of bidding adieu to the wood-panelled, fresco-ceilinged lateral space in Paris that has been home to his brand since its inception in 2005. “It’s my historical space. When we first moved in, it seemed huge, a big undertaking and commitment. But now it feels small,” says Valli of the elegant, characterful HQ that lies on the rue Boissy d’Anglas in the 8th arrondissement, near Place de la Madeleine.

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The office has witnessed the brand move in ebbs and flows since its inception, which was funded by Valli himself. The mid noughties were a volatile period in fashion, with extremes of bling and the highest of heels usurped by post-Lehmann brothers stealth wealth, as luxury brands clipped their wings and aesthetics to suit sober times. Now we are amid a new wave of financial crunches and the impact of the environmental crisis, triggering a new wave of quiet luxury.

Yet Valli is a deft hand at riding the waves and telling his own story in chapters that evolve and twist over time rather than chase hot trends. It means his company has been able to evolve and adapt, to the point where it is now time to upgrade and move his company of around 50 colleagues under one roof. Groupe Artémis, the Pinault family-owned company, has a stake in the brand, which in 2022 turned over an estimated $6.4 million. Valli himself has had an influence on fashion proportionately far greater than mere turnover numbers may indicate.

A man wearing a white t-shirt an jeans with his hands in his pockets

Portrait of Giambattista Valli

The new Valli offices are just up the road from the old, near Opéra, but offer two floors of light-filled space to house everything from the showrooms, atelier, PR and communications office, the commercial team and a VIP haute couture suite. “It is almost a townhouse, as we have our own entrance. The structure is good and there is beautiful stuccowork and frescoes,” says Valli of the interior, which features clean white “boxes” he has designed himself. “We always have so many prints, volumes and textures – I needed it to be neutral,” he explains.

With his dark thick hair, big eyes, fashionably deep yet sharply sculpted beard, Valli appears like a Renaissance artist transported into our times wearing a black T-shirt and chain necklace, instead of a doublet and ruff. He reserves his treasured 17th-century Mughal “good luck” pearl necklace for special occasions. “It is very rare,” he says. The pursuit of beauty in people, objects, environments and in fashion has been Valli’s lifelong pursuit. Soon he will be receiving VIP clients into his new showroom to choose from his latest haute couture offering, which was shown in Paris in early July 2023.

“I love to have the level of excellence that comes from pushing the boundaries of the atelier and the research required to propose new ideas of beauty. I approach haute couture in a classical-modern way, and each collection is like a new chapter of the same story,” says Valli, who frames himself as a romantic poet but is also CEO and an astute brand director, with a vision that appeals to a collective sweet spot.

The tradition of creating one-off gowns for an elite clientele who might attend three fittings before a garment is finalised might seem an anachronism in a click-and-produce era that can see whole collections turned around in a matter of weeks. But the experience offers an unparalleled luxury for both creator and client alike, a transcendental experience that sees centuries-old savoir faire reimagined for today. “Haute couture is the extreme side of this fantasy. It is also a practice that nourishes ready to wear, so what we see in the shapes, volumes and techniques filters through from a couture dress to a T-shirt or a knit piece,” says Valli of the osmosis. “When creating haute couture, ‘real’ time seems to stop and you float into another time zone.”

A woman wearing a long green ball gown that is long at the back and short at the front with a black bow around her waist

Look 09, Giambattista Valli Haute Couture 25. The maison describes the collection as “celebrating the modernity of classics and the timeless art of Atelier”

The 57-year-old couturier intertwines the many threads of his upbringing into his metier. Valli attended secondary school at a strict Vatican liceo near the Vatican Museum, took a degree in art, studied fashion at the Instituto Europeo di Design in Rome and in 1987 did an illustration course at Central St Martins in London. In 1988 he entered high fashion as an assistant for Roberto Capucci, the designer known for his opulent colour and sculpted gowns, who became a magnet for Roman high society during the 1960s and enjoyed a renaissance in the 1980s.

“From Roberto Capucci, I can say that I learnt the philosophy of not being trendy; I learnt to step a little bit out of the spot of the moment and also to keep the human side intact,” says Valli. He went on to Fendi, which had Karl Lagerfeld at the helm, then Krizia in Milan. In 1997, he moved to Paris and the haute couture atelier of Emanuel Ungaro where, as first assistant, Valli learnt about the arts of flou and tailleur and the rituals including passing the pins in complete hush. Ungaro was so impressed by Valli’s light, fresh work that he made him Creative Director of ready to wear and the stores adored what he did.

Valli channelled that love of volume, of light, fresh romantic designs into his own label and started making a name for himself attracting socialites, creative types, young women and older women into his fan-club circle. Count in there Priyanka Chopra, Marina Ruy Barbosa, Eugenie Niarchos, Bianca Brandolini, Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert (Valli made a macramé minidress with organza-chiffon cape for the party of her cliff- top Capri wedding in 2016), as well as more actors and royalty. They, in turn, became the best ambassadors for the brand and for its joyous, “go big or go home” dress-up daring.

“When I launched, all the houses had big stars, but we were independent and every cent counted. It’s almost like the Valli Girls chose us, We did not pay them to get dressed. They continue to be people who inspire me and they capture l’air du temps and I am nourished by that,” says Valli of his famously mercurial, nomadic, cultured muses and champions.

A man wearing a brown jacket, black top, necklace and sunglasses standing next to a woman with his arm round her wait who is wearing a green and black coord crop top and trousers

Giambattista Valli with muse Bianca Brandolini

In her 2013 book, Giambattista Valli, curator and fashion historian Pamela Golbin wrote of the designer, “Here is a story of duality, in which the exuberance of his Italian roots is artfully coupled with the formal rigour of the French.” She adds, “Complicity with women – through their body language and the gestures they adopt – is central to Valli’s practice because like a film director he directs his models as if they are actresses.”

In store and online that fantasy continues to seduce. “I have bought Giambattista Valli for most of my career. The brand consistently offers amazing and diverse occasionwear, from beautiful romantic floral gowns to tweed or bouclé suits and dress coats, which can be styled with a cute ballet pump or a sophisticated kitten heel depending on the occasion,” says Liane Wiggins, Head of Womenswear at Matches. “Giambattista Valli has a strong DNA and our customers continue to return for these well-cut, flattering pieces.” The store recently launched an exclusive capsule collection with the brand, which includes a floor-length silk fil coupé gown.

The current Giambattista Valli autumn/ winter 2023 line up finds raw-edge sleeveless tweed jumpsuits, semi-sheer tiered prairie dresses and a series of pieces including tunics and floral embroidered outsize jackets that were worn by men on the catwalk but are designed for every gender. “I do think there is fascination with beauty and how far one can push the fantasy,” says Valli of the zeitgeist. “The social-media message might be dreamy, critical or creative, but the platforms are a more democratic way to learn about this universe that was previously closed off and exclusive. It gives a chance for people to understand the work behind fashion.” He laughs as he adds, of his gowns that burst from the Instagram frame, “Image-wise, well, I have always loved big volumes, so that fits very well!”

Read more: Maryam Eisler’s photography series at legendary Parnham House 

From his new Paris HQ, Valli will lay the groundwork for the next chapter. “I would love the maison to sit alongside institutional houses like Dior and Chanel and to have that presence beyond my lifetime,” he says. “I want the brand to be coherent with a 100 per cent DNA that is about excellence and savoir faire. To do that, one has to move with consistency.”

With his 10-year-old son, Adam, Valli also has a young future to look after. “Right now, he is 100 per cent football! But he is very gentle, inquisitive, surprising, and I learn a lot from him,” says Valli. “How do I see myself age 70? Curious, still able to receive energy from beauty and wanting to share it. I hope I am going to surprise him, too.” This Roman in Paris knows his road.

Find out more: giambattistavalli.com

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

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Reading time: 8 min
Split shot of the oceans and some cliffs
Split shot of the sea and some cliffs

The rocky desert coastline of the northern Red Sea. Sea levels around the world are rising and coral is being bleached by acidification due to increasing CO2 levels

Amid much scepticism about whether the global climate summit COP28, taking place in Dubai over the next few weeks, will actually bear any positive results, there are rays of hope. Ted Janulis, investor, entrepreneur and founder of Investable Oceans, outlines the reasons he is feeling cheerful in the run-up to an event that needs to change the way we think about and deal with climate change

In just a few days, 70,000 people will convene in Dubai to attend COP28 (the 28th annual “Conference of the Parties”), where delegates from countries all around the world will discuss how to address the climate crisis. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – tasked with finding ways to reduce emissions – will track member states’ progress on emission reductions and negotiate further collective action, alongside business leaders, climate scientists, journalists, and others in attendance. Major topics will include how vulnerable communities can adapt to climate change and how to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

We’re at a critical juncture for our climate and oceans, so this COP is particularly important. While increased commitments provide grounds for some optimism, our oceans and climate face continuing serious challenges. We’re not on course to stay within the 1.5C increase above pre-industrial levels scientists warn is required to avoid serious environmental and human consequences, and in addition we’re falling far short of the $150 billion per year cited by recent research needed to achieve the goals of Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water by 2030. The bottom line, as former president of Ireland Mary Robinson eloquently put it: “We cannot afford to have a bad COP”.

A camel walking by the sea

Desertification and coastal erosion are major issues facing the world

Despite these daunting circumstances, we’re looking forward to seeing oceans having a substantial presence at COP28. This is a continuation of a theme that has gained momentum throughout 2023: there is growing recognition that the oceans, the world’s largest carbon sink, will play a pivotal role in providing solutions for climate change.

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This year’s Climate Week NYC in September was a clear demonstration of this progression, as the number of events, announcements and real outcomes increased substantially from previous years. Amy Novogratz, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Aqua-Spark, asserted that: “Climate Week is feeling very Blue this year, finally!”

External shot of an ocean pavilion

The Ocean Pavilion at the 2022 COP in Sharm el-Sheikh. The 2023 Pavilion features ten ocean themes

A substantial increase in investable opportunities has added to this marine momentum. At least 10 new blue economy dedicated funds have launched over the past year, bringing the total count to over 30. A major focus of these funds is how to measure the environmental impact of sustainable ocean investing. In other recent news, a variety of blue bonds have come to market that involve debt-for-nature swaps, sovereigns and corporations, and Rockefeller Capital Management and KraneShares now offer an ocean engagement themed Exchange-Traded Fund (KSEA).

On the investor side, oceans made their debut on the plenary stage at the GIIN’s annual conference in Copenhagen, where discussions covered the proverbial waterfront, from ecosystem conservation to coastal resilience to blended finance to nuclear sharks. We also saw increased interest in the ocean sector from “terrestrial” investors. For example, sustainable agriculture funds are beginning to look at aquaculture as an attractive adjacent opportunity to their core focus.

Coral reef under the sea

A towering Acropora coral, one of the hundreds of coral reef species that help support up to 25% of all marine life

The upcoming COP28 will seek to capitalise on this surge of ocean interest and activity. Notably, oceans will be included in the COP28 thematic programme for the first time, with a special focus on 9th December. Together with an array of ocean events, gatherings and presentations at different pavilions, this represents a substantial increase in the ocean’s presence in global climate conversations and solutions.

Read more: Baroness Scotland and Markus Müller: a call for action at COP28

One of the highlights of COP28 will be the return of the Ocean Pavilion, which will bring diverse stakeholders together in a dedicated space within COP’s “Blue Zone” for its second year. The organizing partners, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, will lead 32 partners through two weeks of events. The Pavilion programming is structured by ten themes organised under three tracks: Changing Ocean, Climate Consequences, and Future Ocean.

A pod of dolphins swimming in the sea

A pod of charismatic dolphins swimming in the shallows. Overfishing and bycatch are major issues for our oceans

The Pavilion is meant to inspire ocean-focused solutions through 70+ panel sessions, meetings and in-depth discussions. We are particularly excited about the “Blue Economy and Finance” theme, which explores the role that finance can play in ensuring that the ocean can continue to protect and provide for human societies in the coming decades. For example, Margaret Leinen, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will moderate a panel, Frontloading Equity in Financing Coastal Climate Resilience, exploring questions such as: How can we scale climate finance to reduce climate risks, speed recoveries, and reap the benefits of resilience? And how can our quantification of the financial costs of climate change be redesigned to yield equitable outcomes?

Despite all the headwinds, we are hoping for positive progress over the next weeks in Dubai.

Ted Janulis is Founder & Principal, Investable Oceans

Co-written with Helena Janulis, Business Development and Special Projects, Investable Oceans

All photos by Morgan Bennett-Smith

Find out more: www.investableoceans.com

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Reading time: 4 min
Tall and grand white building surrounded by plants

A view of the Hotel Metropole’s grand exterior

In the heart of Monaco is a grand yet intimate hotel that offers fantastic dining, a world-class indoor/outdoor pool, one of the best spas in Europe and a mystique that makes it even more than the sum of its parts. Darius Sanai checks in

The arrival at a great hotel is a key part of its story. The Metropole is situated on the Casino Square of Monte-Carlo, one of the most celebrated public destinations in the (luxury) world. And yet your arrival is refreshingly discreet. Your car turns into a driveway, lined with supercars, away from the public gaze. You are ushered into the lobby as if arriving at a grand private home. The lobby itself is a visual feast, but a discreet one: no overbright lights and high ceilinged grandeur, but a dramatic floral display, tapestries on the walls and intriguingly lit corners and a segue into a bar area to the right. This is a place for insiders – those who really know Monaco.

The hotel lobby’s floral displays change according to the season

Our room, a Prestige Suite, was lavish and contemporary, a hard act to get quite right. Chandeliers and rich drapes, pale furnishings and walls, blonde wood loungers, floor-to-ceiling windows. A place of light, comfort and silence in a town that can sometimes be very hectic.

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The Metropole is famous for its food, and on the first evening we had a highly memorable meal, not at one of its celebrated restaurants but in the cosy heart of the bar, off the lobby. This is where Monaco residents go for casual dining. It’s comfort food, Monaco-style: a fabulous gazpacho, delicate artichoke with parmigiano, and a brilliant summation of Mediterranean cuisine: minestrone with monkfish, black beans and guianciale. Sublime yet simple.

Dark and glamorous retro bar

The glamorous Hotel Metropole Bar was designed by architect and interior designer Jacques Garcia

The bar is a place to see friends as they swoosh back and forth to the lobby and the restaurants beyond: so we chose an excellent Pink Kiss, the house cocktail, gin-based, refreshing and balanced, to toast them.

The hotel recently opened its gastronomic restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs, by chef Christophe Cussac, who has overseen the food and beverage option at the hotel for almost two decades.

For LUX, though, the Metropole’s culinary piece de resistance is Yoshi, a small but exquisite Japanese restaurant situated in the courtyard, with a flower garden outside – a great indulgence considering the price of real estate here. The lacquered chicken – a delicious dish somewhere between teriyaki and yakitori – was memorable, the grilled black cod fleshy and fulsome with miso, and the miso soup refreshingly umami.

Carefully arranged bento bowl on a green placemat

The Obento menu at the hotel’s Michelin Star restaurant Yoshi offers a light refreshing lunch option

Beyond the rooms and the cuisine is the spa, the hotel trying its hardest to ensure you never have to go anywhere in Monaco outside its domain. A wander down a corridor leads to a big terraced pool area, with views across town, a health food restaurant attached (with requisite, impossibly perfect men and women perched at the bar). The service at the pool is magnificent, intuitive and thorough without being overbearing. The pool miraculously turns into an indoor pool in winter, the walls of its pavilion swathed in Karl Lagerfeld frescoes.

Read more: Badrutt’s Palace St Moritz, Review

Just downstairs from the pool, we were wafted into the transformational world of the Bastien Gonzalez ‘Pedi:Mani:Cure’. If you ever wondered why women in Monaco have hands that look 20 years younger than they are, you now know the answer, although seeing a teenage girl emerging from the spa after us did beg the question of whether her hands disappeared altogether into a pre-natal state.

A blue indoor pool with lights at night

Designed by Karl Lagerfield, the ODYSSEY installation and heated pool is covered throughout the winter and al fresco during the rest of the year

But we digress. More than the magnificent hardware, any memory of the Metropole is dictated by the even more magnificent service. Not a given, even in this part of the world, it gives this uber-chic grand hotel in one of the world’s most iconic destinations the feel of a fantastic, extensive private home – albeit one with some of the world’s best chefs cooking for you, and a butler who can rustle up a fantastic club sandwich and cocktail if you just feel like chilling with your house guests in the drawing room. The Metropole is an absolute LUX favourite.

Find out more: metropole.com

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Reading time: 4 min
A woman wearing a black and yellow dress standing between two old men
A woman wearing a white blazer with her arms folded

Italian art collector and philanthropist Umberta Beretta

Italy’s contemporary art scene is blooming. After decades of being perceived as a museum of the past, the home of the Renaissance is experiencing another rebirth under a new generation of philanthropists, curators and collectors. Guest editor Umberta Gnutti Beretta introduces and curates some of the key figures on the new Italian scene for LUX’s Italy Art Focus series

Art philanthropy has been a part of Italian culture since before the time of the Medici. It is a tradition that is not incentivised by tax breaks, as it is in countries including the US, but it is very prominent all the same. It is for this reason that we see the significant and powerful exercises of Italian philanthropy that we are showcasing in LUX.

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Italian philanthropy happens among all generations including the young. We can see this in the case of Edoardo Monti, who was 26 and living in New York when, in 2017, he decided to move back to Italy, to a family palazzo in Brescia, to start the Palazzo Monti residency.

A woman in a white jacket standing next to a man in a suit

Umberta Beretta with Edoardo Monti at Spazio Almag

We are also seeing the increasing role of women. There is Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, who supports contemporary artists and whose team curates art for everyone to enjoy. There is Gemma De Angelis Testa, who created ACACIA, an association of friends of Italian art, and who has donated 105 works to Ca’ Pesaro Gallery in Venice from her private collection. Giovanna Forlanelli Rovati opened the Fondazione Luigi Rovati, named after her late father-in-law, recently adding an art museum showing Etruscan and contemporary art. Beatrice Trussardi runs the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi as a nomadic project that creates exhibitions in often forgotten spaces and places. L’Espresso magazine did a story on all of us: the mecenate, female patrons of the new Italian art revolution.

Two women standing together, one waving her hand

Umberta Beretta with artist Jenny Holzer

Despite its rich art history, Italy is not a leader in the contemporary art world in terms of money – most auction activity is in London, New York, Paris or Asia. But in terms of seeing art, everyone wants to come to Venice or Milan or Florence. The quality here is very high. We have artists such as Maurizio Cattelan
, who stands out in the contemporary art scene, and Lucio Fontana in modern art history, but there is so much more. Paola Pivi and Marinella Senatore are very interesting, and there are rising stars like video artist Diego Marcon, transspecies performance artist Agnes Questionmark and industrial artist Arcangelo Sassolino.

Two men and a woman standing on a gold staircase

Umberta Beretta with Arcangelo Sassolino and Paolo Repetto

In addition to hosting foundations, Italian cities have become places for contemporary artists from around the world to live and work. Danish artist Leonardo Anker Vandal is in Brescia; Ignasi Monreal from Barcelona and
Thelonious Stokes from Chicago live and work in Florence; and Ukrainian artist Daria Dmytrenko is in Venice. As well as being the location of the Palazzo Monti residency, Brescia is the Italian Capital of Culture this year. And Florence has the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, where Arturo Galansino has created a world-class art museum. So artists can come to Italy and take a look at what surrounds them, old and new, and be inspired. It’s different, in my view, from going to a loft space in New York and taking a look around that.

A woman wearing a black and yellow dress standing between two old men

Umberta Beretta with artist duo Gilbert and George

Our very strong commercial galleries include Massimo de Carlo, and kaufmann repetto by Francesca Kaufmann and Chiara Repetto, both in Milan. In my Brescia hometown, Massimo Minini opened Galleria Massimo Minini in 1973.

Read more: An Interview with Maurizio Cattelan

He is a great gallerist and has a long history of friendship with amazing artists, including artists of the Arte Povera of the 1960s. The art scene in Italy is very old, but it is also very new. It’s an exciting time both in Italian art and Italian art philanthropy.

Umberta Gnutti Beretta is a philanthropist who supports work in fields of medicine, women and children’s rights and the arts. Among many roles, she is on the governing council of the Fondazione Brescia Musei and is President of the Restoration Club of the Museo Poldi Pezzoli.

umbertagnuttiberetta.com

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 3 min
A man sitting on a blue couch with yellow cushions
A man sitting on a blue couch with yellow cushions

Francis Sultana in his apartment in Albany

World renowned interior designer Francis Sultana has been taking the world by a storm through his residential, hospitality and commercial projects. Here, he speaks to Samantha Welsh about how he went from designing his mother’s home in Malta to leading the design team at the Hotel Palma in Capri

LUX: What was your route into the design industry?
Francis Sultana: I come from a very small island off Malta called Gozo. Growing up in the 80s meant there was little access to the world of design and so I had to read magazines like House & Garden, and World of Interiors. I was lucky my mother was hugely supportive and so she let me start decorating her house, which in fact appeared on the front cover of World of Interiors – so I must have been doing something right!

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When I was 19 I moved to London. I had read about David Gill and how he was establishing a gallery offering collectible contemporary design and art which was functional as well as beautiful. Many artists from the turn of the century had created collectible furniture as part of their work, but David really began to champion artists such as Jean-Michel Frank, Garouste and Bonetti and Donald Judd and so I began to learn from him. I also spent a lot of my time at the Victoria & Albert museum where I taught myself all about the history of design and furniture. It is why the V&A is still so dear to me now and why I sit on the museum’s Advisory Council, and why supporting museums like the Design Museum, the Serpentine Galleries and now MICAS in Malta is so very important to me.

A room with a large colourful painting behind a striped blue couch with touches of gold around the room

In Francis Sultana’s palazzo in Valletta

LUX: Where have you most enjoyed living?
FS: I love London and I really owe my success to this city. However, my heart is still Maltese and several years ago I bought a palazzo in Valletta (the capital of Malta) and have lovingly restored it back to magnificence. I love interiors and I love travelling, so tying myself down to one place or location is very hard to do! I recently became custodian of King Henry’s Hunting Lodge, a National Trust property in rural England, that was once home to two legendary interior designers, John Fowler and then later, Nicky Haslam. I cannot wait to spend time relaxing, drawing, designing away from the hubbub of London.

LUX: What is your typical working day?
FS: I get up around 5:45am everyday and check my US and also my Middle Eastern/Asian emails and then go and do my work out – as one passes a certain age this becomes a necessary daily chore sadly, but I have a fabulous trainer Jack Hanrahan who keeps me on my toes. I get to the office and have a black coffee and Eloise, my EA, goes through my diary for the day, before my daily meeting with my teams. I then go downstairs to David Gill Gallery, of which I am also CEO, and check in with the team there as we will be planning new exhibitions. I usually have lunch meeting with artists or clients and am then often dealing with the architects and designers who are working on our projects that are based all over the world – so when one time zone ends, another wakes up, so it’s pretty relentless. However, luckily I do a job that I adore and get to work with amazing clients and artists who make all the hard work so worthwhile.

A blue bench in front of a beige stone exterior entrance

Part of the Chatterley Collection by Francis Sultana

LUX: You offer innovative solutions for large scale art installations, yet are renowned for the focus you bring to bespoke design and aesthetics. How do you take a brief and adopt your clients’ requirements?
FS: I am an editor, I am very lucky that my clients usually have a very advanced sense of aesthetics and often have collected their own works over many years. I also know many of my clients quite well, so I understand what they need to accommodate in their homes – from their family life, to socialising and entertaining, to their comfort and wellness. My clients all have very big personalities and so I design around them, to complement them and their lives. I bring an understanding of how to work with contemporary art and design for sure but I also love introducing clients to artisans and traditional skills and materials that really make their homes something very unique and elegant and not like anything they will see elsewhere. The word bespoke is rather overused these days but for me, each house or hotel is a special journey and I never create a one size fits all approach, I create homes and spaces that defy time, that will remain relevant. I do not do fleeting trends.

LUX: How can design also contribute to conserving heritage?
FS: One shouldn’t be scared of period houses but one should also honour the history of a house. I have worked on quite a few historic houses – my first commission was for a piece of furniture for Spencer House in London. My own apartment in Albany which was built by Sir William Chambers required meticulous attention to detail to get the correct colours and plaster work, recreating rooms, whilst not suspending them in aspic. It is important to make a property your home, to suit your needs but the history of it should always be sitting beside you. My work on Poston Court, an estate in Herefordshire (and another Chambers construction) was similar. We respected the past and paid huge attention to the details of the building but we also made sure it was a house fit for purpose for the 21st century. The Hunting Lodge is no different. We are taking huge pains to respect the house’s unique history with the work of both John Fowler and Nicky Haslam, but I am also making it a lasting home for me.

A dining room with a round table and green and wooden chairs with a purple patterned carpet

At Poston Court

LUX: In the Summer of 2023 you launched your first hotel project, for the Oetker, at ‘La Palma’, Capri; what was the appeal for you about this mandate, and how did your concept exceed expectations?
FS: I travel a lot. So I suppose I am my own perfect client – I know what works in hotels and what doesn’t – I also think a hotel must always reflect its location – what I would design for Capri would never be the same for London or Rome or Paris. Capri is about escape, about calm and peace and about going back to nature and this is what I did at La Palma. I created a beautiful home away from home, I looked at the hotel’s iconic history but also made it work for a new luxury traveller. The reviews have been amazing and I am thrilled that this project exceeded all expectations and will introduce the hotel to a new audience without alienating those who already love staying there.

LUX: Your passion for Italy is evident, where especially do you draw inspiration?
FS: Capri for me is inspirational which is why I created an entire collection of furniture and lighting entitled Capri – based on a white colour palette (with a touch of Verdigris) with materials like white plaster, white bronze and marble. It’s a big move for me to do an all white collection but people seem to love it. Earlier this year I collaborated with Italian brand Bonacina – who I have worked with for years. It is a large indoor/outdoor collection that we launched in Milan and really is all about summer living and La Dolce Vita which the Italians do so well. I also did a plate design for Ginori 1735 for David Gill Gallery which is rather pretty. I just love Italy and Italy seems to love me back, which is nice!

A white lounge with white furniture and two green chairs and some trees

Hotel La Palma in Capri

LUX: Outside Europe, where would you say there is a tradition and appreciation for design, be it architecture, furniture, craft?
FS: Funnily enough I recently started several projects in the Middle East and I find that my clients there are incredibly knowledgeable on design matters – if you don’t care about good design then I am probably not the best designer for you as it’s really at the core of what I do! But luckily it seems that across architecture and furniture as well as crafts and artisanal skills, this is something that a growing coterie of clients across the region are really focusing on right now. It’s not about new new new, it’s about finding something more lasting.

LUX: Do the destinations for multiple home-owners such as Monte Carlo, St Moritz, Middle East and the US influence how design ideas mutate?
FS: Of course – groups of friends tend to know each other and go to the same hotels, restaurants etc and so there are styles that move from one country to the next for sure – however I feel with most of my clients with multiple homes, whilst they like some elements to remain consistent like quality of bathrooms and bedrooms, they really like to have a sense of place in each of the homes – there is no point creating the same look in New York as in St Moritz – the climate wouldn’t suit and the past times are completely different after all.

A colourful blue, green, brown and yellow room with a mirror over a fireplace

Francis Sultana’s drawing room in Albany

LUX: In 2018, you were appointed Ambassador of Culture for Malta; what is your cross-cultural vision for MICAS, Malta’s new museum space opening in 2024?
FS: When I was growing up I didn’t have anything in Malta to help educate me – I had to go to Paris and to London to learn. For MICAS we are really focused on creating an international space for art and design that will be for the Maltese people, not only in terms of the level of global exhibitions that can be hosted in a space that can truly accommodate large pieces of work, but also providing educational platforms for the young Maltese to learn and be inspired so they don’t have to leave their home country to achieve a career in the arts.

Read more: Winch Design’s Aino Grapin On Sustainable Yachting

LUX: How do you feel London will hold its own against the fast-evolving Paris art ecosystem?
FS: London is London and Paris is Paris. They are two very different places which both have their roles. London has always been about business. Paris has always been about desire. I think the cultural heart of London is still very much here and people love London and living here, so whilst Brexit caused shockwaves that still have consequences for us all, London will always have its place at the heart of many deals.

Find out more: francissultana.com

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Reading time: 9 min
Thibaut Hontanx is the seventh Chief Blender of the historic Maison Courvoisier. Here, he speaks to LUX about the brand’s famous past, and the importance of celebrating the present

LUX: Can you start by telling us a bit about Maison Courvoisier’s history and why the heritage of the brand is so important to its identity?
Thibaut Hontanx: Courvoisier was founded by Félix Courvoisier in 1828. The brand was officially registered in 1843, and Félix then built the Maison in 1857, which still operates on the banks of the Charente River. He ultimately created the brand because he believed in celebrating the joy in the everyday, and this is something which still holds true for us.

When Félix passed away in 1866, he left Courvoisier to his two nephews, the Curlier brothers, who had lived in Jarnac their entire lives. They expanded the business internationally to London, and Courvoisier was awarded a gold medal at the 1889 Paris World Fair and its cognacs were then served at the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower.

LUX: Indeed, and Courvoisier has been served at many historical celebrations – it was also served at the opening of Moulin Rouge. Are there any upcoming landmark occasions in which you are planning to cement the presence of the brand?
TH: Next year will be a landmark year for Maison Courvoisier; we are thrilled to reopen our home in Jarnac in 2024 after more than a year of renovation work. Beyond our exciting Maison reopening, we will have more updates to share soon…

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Can you speak to the Maison’s Foundation 1828 project and your vision to support small business owners and entrepreneurs?
TH: Foundation 1828 is Courvoisier’s philanthropic platform. It provides meaningful financial and educational support to empower small business owners and entrepreneurs in underserved populations across the world.

In the US, we have established a multi-year partnership with the National Urban League, which is a historic civil rights organisation dedicated to economic empowerment, equality and social justice. Since 2020, Foundation 1828 has also contributed to a $1 million financial commitment over five years to assisting Black and minority small business owners and entrepreneurs in the U.S. This year and beyond, our Maison is aiming to expand its support globally.

LUX: What would you say to someone who has an appreciation for luxury drinks and spirits, but who does not usually drink cognac?
TH: I would say that our Collection of cognacs have something to offer for every taste preference. For spirits drinkers who are looking for a sessionable, refreshing cocktail, I would recommend that they try the Courvoisier Gala cocktail. This drink is very festive and gives people from all backgrounds and taste preferences an opportunity to explore the rich world of cognac through an approachable experience.

If you prefer a neat or on the rocks style pour, I would suggest trying Courvoisier XO Royal from our prestige portfolio collection of cognacs. Courvoisier XO Royal really embodies the roots of Maison Courvoisier through the vision of our charismatic founder, as well as its rich history of revered cognacs that graced the royal tables of Europe. Our ultimate expression, L’Essence de Courvoisier, is also great to enjoy neat.

LUX: Could you describe the significance of terroir in the production of Courvoisier cognac, and how it influences the flavour profiles of your Cognac/Blends?
TH: The significance of terroir is paramount, as it has a huge influence on the flavour profiles of our cognacs and blends. The fruity and floral style of our Maison has been defined by the successive generations of Chief Blenders as Cognac in Blossom. We deeply respect the Cognac region, where our art of making is rooted in harnessing, liberating, and revealing the spirit found in our terroir, crus, and oaks. This philosophy results in an exuberant cognac infused with the vibrancy of the Cognac region.

LUX: In the world of luxury spirits, what are some of the key trends you anticipate in the near future?
TH: I think there will be a continued focus on premiumization and heightened enthusiasm within the cognac category. At our Maison, I expect more experimentation with blends of older, rarer eaux-de-vie to develop our prestige and ultra-prestige segments of the business.

Read more: Entering Veuve Clicquot’s Garden of Gastronomy

LUX: You have a lot of tradition and history behind you. How will you ensure that you continue to appeal to younger generations in today’s market?
TH: We will continue to innovate offerings, introducing new and exciting blends and cognacs that align with evolving preferences, emphasising inclusivity and approachability. Our goal is to continue to offer a cognac experience that is welcoming and accessible to all.

LUX: Why was British artist and designer, Yinka Ilori, the right person to be the Maison’s ‘Ambassador for Joy’?
TH: Yinka is committed to making art playful and community-driven. Likewise, we believe in making the cognac experience a joyful one that can be enjoyed by anyone. We are continuing to redefine the cognac category by placing Courvoisier in consumption moments that are vibrant and vivid. Our work with Yinka continues to bring to life our brand world that is about savouring life’s pleasures.

Find out more: www.courvoisier.com

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Reading time: 4 min
Huge green field with a cluster of small houses in the middle
Huge green field with a cluster of small houses in the middle

Photo courtesy of Fresh Del Monte

Hans Sauter is the Chief Sustainability Officer at Fresh Del Monte. He speaks to Trudy Ross about the company’s sustainability journey and the importance of creating a culture of respect for the environment

LUX: Could you provide an overview of the company’s sustainability journey and a few key milestones you’ve achieved in recent years?
Hans Sauter: Let me mention that I’m not just Chief Sustainability Officer but also senior vice president for Research and Development. That’s not just out of coincidence. We approach sustainability from a scientific and data-based point of view, not a marketing or sales perspective. I have been with the company for 35 years; I started at the farms doing agricultural research and worked my way up to corporate. I know our global footprint in great detail and have accompanied this process of incorporating sustainability into our operations all along.

About 30 years ago, we started designing our farms to make the best use of the soil, carving out the areas which would be best adapted to our own crops and then leaving those other areas to re-forest and create opportunities for conservation. Starting all the way from water conservation to erosion control, pollination, etc, our operations have transformed themselves over time into combined systems where we see nature and large-scale agriculture co-existing. That’s very exciting.

A green Del Monte farm in costa rica beneath a sunny sk

Photo courtesy of Fresh Del Monte

A few milestones: in 1998, we got our first ISO 14001 certification around sustainability systems. In 2010, we set our first global sustainability goal to reduce our consumption of key resources, like water and fuel, by 10%. In 2015, we got our first carbon neutral certification at one of our operations, specifically the banana farms in Costa Rica. We escalated that last year, to estimate our carbon footprint going all the way from the farm to the consumer. We established programs where we promote those efforts, such as the Del Monte Zero pineapple, where we have sequestered enough carbon through our own on-site forests to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions all through the supply chain up until the consumer’s table.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Do you think it is important to engage with the consumer and make them aware of sustainability initiatives, or are you more focused on the problem itself?
HS: We started this journey so long ago that we initially attacked the problems where they were occurring. On our farms, being in tropical and rural areas which are normally the most vulnerable areas and communities, we saw a great need for action. We engaged ourselves in projects to collaborate with our neighbours and see how we could improve conditions there.

We now understand that the consumer needs to hear about those efforts. In the last five years we have been more vocal about those efforts, because we have truly strong programs to talk about. It’s not making a lot of noise about little things; we’re talking about legitimate programs. We have carved close to 30% of our land just for conservation, and that’s what nations are trying to accomplish now – we’ve done it already.

Jumble of pineapples

Photo by Justine Alipate

LUX: Do you have faith that the rest of the food industry is going to continue to engage with sustainability and make this a key focus, or do you worry that there is an element of greenwashing and shouting about sustainability efforts when there aren’t concrete initiatives to back them up?
HS: There’s a little bit of both. There has definitely been some greenwashing and more talking than acting; but on the other hand, I don’t think anything can stop this train. The current events are making us brutally aware that we need to act. I’m convinced that the only thing that is needed is to get to the tipping point. If you have strong leaders that move the needle, the rest of the industry will follow. Just look at the electric motor industry – who would have said we would be moving at the pace we are moving at today? I’m definitely optimistic about the food industry.

LUX: How would you describe Fresh Del Monte’s approach to responsible sourcing, and does this impact your supplier chain further down the line?
HS: That’s probably the most difficult point at this stage. All of us are struggling with scope 3, which is essentially our suppliers. Rapid engagement of that part of our supply chain is crucial and not as easy to move. One of the advantages we have as a company is that we grow close to 45% of what we sell, so we are heavily invested in farming and understand what farmers are going through. That gives us an opportunity to talk to them on a one-to-one basis with a hands-on approach. We collaborate with them and we share experiences.

I think our example will help us leverage some moral authority when it comes to protecting the environment because we have done it, and we continue to do it and invest in it. Definitely scope 3 will continue to be a more difficult area, particularly because margins in the food industry are small. Here the retailers could be very effective in moving that needle because they are the intermediaries between the grower and the final consumer, making sure that they also are a part of this shared responsibility.

LUX: What is the biggest challenge facing the food industry and the agriculture industry?
HS: I would say the biggest challenge is time. The climate is changing so fast and most of us don’t realise that the clock is ticking. We could run out of time to implement large-scale solutions that make a difference.

Vineyard in the setting sun

Photo by Sven Wilhem

I see no shortage of solutions available, but there needs to be a lot of resources invested in research, specifically for many crops in tropical regions where regenerative agriculture practices have not been developed. We are very optimistic about regenerative agriculture in temperate regions, but the rest of the world has not had that privilege and we need to invest in those areas.

LUX: How much of this responsibility for climate change lies with big corporations like Del Monte, and how much do you think lies with the consumer?
HS: We are all in it together. Consumers make the difference with their purchasing decisions. That’s one of the reasons we decided to launch the Del Monte Zero. It’s a small, boutique program. We wanted to make a statement by allowing the consumer to choose a climate-responsible product, so that we are all made aware of what we are going through.

Each of us, in large companies and small companies as well, each of us has a huge responsibility at this point. We are working with our communities and we are looking at our impact on a watershed level, rather than just ‘my farm’. Because it doesn’t matter how much I protect the forest that runs through the river that runs through my own farm, if I don’t bring all the neighbours to protect that watershed, that river will eventually dry. We need to act as communities.

LUX: Waste reduction is a very important issue taking place in the food industry. Has Fresh Del Monte implemented any strategies to minimise waste reduction, and have you seen any outcomes?
HS: This is a very exciting area of opportunity. It can bring more business to the food industry. We initially started investing in waste reduction a long time ago, in our pineapple operations, using food which could not go to market to produce concentrate and juice. With that kind of systematic investment we have reduced waste at the farm level, and almost 95% of our product is used and not wasted. We are working on solutions to compost and to work with cattle-growers.

Food is too valuable to throw away. There should never be a reason to send food to landfill. What we are doing now is taking that one step further and looking at our crop residues, because that’s also a huge area of opportunity and we’re working aggressively to develop composting solutions and also other opportunities. It’s just investing in research and time.

Orange tree branches against a blue sky

Photo by Dan Gold

Read more: Unilever’s Rebecca Marmot on the Sustainable Everyday

LUX: What sustainability developments are you most excited about at Fresh Del Monte?
HS: I would say the most exciting thing which I have seen over the course of 35 years is the development of a culture of respect for the environment. No systems, no programs beat culture. If your team members have a culture of respect and admiration for the planet and your community, everything comes out of there and you have success with your systems and your programs.

We have seen engagement all the way from the farm workers, who have been sharing pictures of the biodiversity that they see while they are doing their field work. The excitement and the passion that we see is huge. When your own farm workers are excited and are taking pictures of biodiversity while they’re working, you have made an impact not only in your farm but also in the community. That multiplies by four every effort in education you have brought in.

LUX: How do you envision sustainable practices in the food industry in ten years?
HS: I envision it having huge contributions from new bio-science discoveries. There are companies which are working on deploying microbes that can fix nitrogen so that you don’t have to apply so much synthetic fertiliser. Synthetic nitrogen is one of the biggest challenges we have in agriculture as an emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. That will definitely make a big difference in the future.

Find out more: freshdelmonte.com

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Reading time: 8 min
A man sitting in a wheelchair, wearing red trousers, in a courtyard of a building with plants hanging over the interior balconies
A man sitting in a wheelchair, wearing red trousers, in a courtyard of a building with plants hanging over the interior balconies

Yinka Shonibare at the Guest Artists Space Foundation, Lagos, one of two artist residencies he has established in Nigeria

The Birtish-Nigerian artist and philanthropist is the official artist of, LUX’s partner, Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, at this year’s Frieze in London. In just a few short years, the Guest Artists Space Foundation spaces in Nigeria, founded by Yinka Shonibare, have seen art residences that are inspiring transformative creative conversations and programmes between artists, local communities, activists, ecologists and more. Will Fenstermaker reports

It used to be the case that if an artist working in Africa wanted a prestigious residency at which to hone their practice and dedicate uninterrupted time to their work, their best option was to look towards Europe and North America, where many programmes sought to address colonial legacies by strengthening a sense of artistic internationalism. A growing cadre of artists, including Kehinde Wiley and Yinka Shonibare, are now working to expand the opportunities available to African artists by opening residencies directly on the continent, especially focused around emerging art centres including Dakar, Senegal and Lagos, Nigeria.

clothes on the floor next to tapestries hanging on the walls

A view of “The Politics of Fabrics” exhibition by Samuel Nnorom

One such initiative is the Guest Artists Space (G.A.S.) Foundation, a non-profit established by Yinka Shonibare that occupies two sites in Nigeria. Through his programme Guest Projects London, Shonibare has hosted artists in his east London studio since 2006, more recently extending to the digital space, enabling “a laboratory of ideas and a testing ground for new thoughts and actions in which the possibility of failure became an opportunity for artistic growth”, according to its website. Shonibare, who was born in London and raised in Lagos, was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004 for work that investigated postcolonial Nigerian identity, including whimsically ornate sculptures dressed in “African” textiles and shorn of their heads. In recent years, he considered how to extend his guest programme to offer opportunity, support and space for collaboration to artists within Africa.

A headless mannequin with a dress on it in a courtyard

A view of the inaugural exhibition, curated by Miriam Bettin, at the G.A.S. Farm House

In 2019, the project realised a kind of homecoming when Shonibare first conceived G.A.S., with two spaces in Nigeria completed by 2022. The idea is to develop artist practice and facilitate cultural exchange between the continent and the UK. “I realised a lot of local artists wanted platforms in which they could enhance their work and meet other international artists to exchange ideas,” says Shonibare in a video published by the foundation. “I felt very much that I’d love to contribute to building some of the institutions there.”

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The Oniru, Lagos residency occupies a building that fuses Yoruba and Brutalist principles around a central courtyard, and was designed by Ghanaian-British architect Elsie Owusu in collaboration with Nigerian architect Nihinlola Shonibare. The residency was made open to more than artists – its first class of 2022 included designers, architects, curators, economists and researchers, all of whom, Shonibare believed, were strengthened by a sense of interdisciplinary community and creative dialogue. “I feel that we’re creating a platform for conversation between local people and our residents,” Shonibare says. “I think you actually get the best out of creatives if you put them with people in other disciplines.”

people sitting in a circle holding as pink ribbon

A moment from performance artist Raymond Pinto’s movement workshop

G.A.S. also opened a rural second space three hours outside the capital near Ijebu Ode. Like the Oniru building, the residency in the Farm House, a sustainable building designed by Papa Omotayo with interior design by Temitayo Shonibare, strives to support a conception of culture beyond the visual arts. Belinda Holden, CEO of G.A.S. and the Yinka Shonibare Foundation, the residency’s sister organisation in London, says, “Ultimately, our mission is about breaking down barriers between cultural differences. It’s about building those bridges across different cultures and different practices, and allowing those conversations to develop into opportunities for the exchange of ideas and knowledge.”

A man wearing black trousers and a white short sleeve shirt with a black top underneath sitting on the floor with a geometric picture beside him

Artist Femi Johnson at work

Yet the residency does embody a certain remit. The pastoral property is on the site of a 54-acre working farm. Corn, cassava, peppers and cashews are all grown on Shonibare’s Ecology Green Farm, established in 2018. This July, the farm welcomed its third set of residents, having previously supported short-term stays for G.A.S. Lagos-based practitioners taking part in the programme. In 2022, as a result of its inaugural open call to artists and researchers living in West Africa, G.A.S. awarded seven funded residencies to individuals based across Nigeria and Benin. Raqs Media Collective was especially motivated by the setting’s ties to the land. At the G.A.S Farm House it established an outpost of the World Weather Network, a project that sees a global network of artists and writers submit “weather reports” in the form of works of art from a “constellation” of weather stations worldwide: In Peru, Luz María Bedoya and Pablo Hare record cloud, fog and associated sounds flowing over Oxapampa; in South Africa, four artists create odes to the Orange River; in Dhaka, in Death Valley, in Svalbard, correspondents from the London Review of Books send dispatches from the extremes of climate change.

A woman wearing a white and blue top painting on the floor with blue paint

Evan Ifekoya at their presentation “Water Is Life, O!”

During her stay at the G.A.S. Farm House, activist and spatial designer Mariam Hava Aslam began pickling foods from the farm, inspiring Apocalypse Pantry, a project that supplies preserves to food-scarce areas of Lagos. Berlin-based curator and researcher Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock invited artists to cook for residents and share their work over dinner.

Read more: An Interview with Maurizio Cattelan

“We’ve had painters, sculptors, writers, poets, architects. We’ve had digital artists, we’ve had archivists, we’ve had dancers, we’ve had sound designers,” continues Holden. And that’s only year one. “Our aim is that next year we’ll really shift our focus onto the farm and encourage agriculturalists who are interested in land, environment and ecological impact.” For the upcoming year, the foundation is looking to support people “who are considering food and ecology, or thinking about the materiality of the work they produce”.

Three people speaking including a woman wearing a black and white dress and a man wearing a striped yellow shirt

Discussing work by Emma Prempeh

From the start, the ambitious residencies have attracted an impressive amount of institutional attention – perhaps most significantly in the form of a recent donation of material from John Picton, Emeritus Professor at the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS, University of London, and Sue Picton. Professor Picton, an expert on Yoruba and Edo (Benin) sculpture, spent decades assembling an important archive of West African art and ephemera, including journals, magazines, pamphlets and books covering Sub-Saharan architecture, textiles, sculpture and more, as well as African American and Black British arts. In 2022, Picton gave 1,500 volumes from the collection to G.A.S., a donation that has inspired the foundation to “look at the role of art libraries across Africa and the role they play in developing, educating and supporting the growth of creative and critical thinking and writing,” says Holden. To that end, this year G.A.S. is seeking fellows to be based in Lagos and focus their work around research into Picton’s archives.

A woman with a pony tail looking at a work of art hanging on a string with a man beside her looking at another work on the string wearing a green cap

A view of “The Last Time I Called…” exhibition by Ofem Ubi

In just a few short years, G.A.S. has become a beacon of artistic collaboration, cultural exchange and interdisciplinary dialogue. Shonibare’s vision to provide a platform for everyone has blossomed into a vibrant community that extends beyond visual arts, encompassing designers, architects, agriculturalists and ecologists. With its ambitions to break down traditional barriers that have separated the liberal arts, it has firmly established itself as a catalyst for creative and critical dialogue between two regions that have historically been defined by a very different, and much less egalitarian, form of intellectual and labour exchange.

guestartistsspace.com

Yinka Shonibare at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge, Frieze London
Fittingly, for an endeavour that grew out of his artistic practice, Yinka Shonibare’s presentation in the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge at this year’s Frieze London includes a documentary that showcases the development and aims of Guest Artists Space Foundation. The film supplements a diverse array of visual works, including sculptures, masks, quilts and free-standing sculptures.

frieze.com/tags/frieze-london-2023

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Reading time: 7 min
Model in a sparkly designer suit posing by a dark bacground
Model in a sparkly designer suit posing by a dark bacground

The Blaze Milano Gliss Bolero from the Fall ’23 Collection

Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri is a former fashion editor and stylist, and one of the founding members of Blazé Milano, the a hot Italian luxury brand on the womenswear scene. Here, she speaks to LUX in honour of the brand’s 10 year anniversary

LUX: Tell us about where your interest in fashion began.
Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri: Styling and design have been part of my life since my youngest years. I have drawings of the cartoon Jessica Rabbit in various outfits which I must have done in my first days at school, and photo albums of my youngest sister dressed up in my mom’s clothes, patiently posing for me and my imaginary fashion shoots (…I was around 14-15 years old by then). Later on my mother helped me prepare a design portfolio the year before applying for college. I went to NYC and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, and from there I never stopped.

LUX: Did your upbringing have an influence on your designs?
CR: Most definitely. I have had the incredible fortune to grow up in very colourful and creative homes; my mother is an incredible aesthete, along with being an architect. She has always brought new life to old family properties. Watching her absorbing each step of this process has made me confident with my sense of proportion, colour palettes and composition. Through my mother I had the chance to help restore and renovate – in particular I love retouching antique frescos – and this has become a hobby I cherish deeply.

Corrada Rodriguez d'Acri wearing a Blaze blazer and red shows against an orange wall

Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri

LUX: Can you tell us the story of how you met your co-founders, and when the concept for Blazé Milano was born?
CR: We met through mutual friends and immediately connected, but became close whilst working for Italian Elle, where we worked together as stylists. Blazé was born in those days, around 2012, when we were ready to start an adventure of our own. In 2013, we opened our doors to the world.

LUX: What were the biggest challenges you faced when creating the brand?
CR: At the beginning the hardest challenge was finding the perfect way to divide duties between the three of us and the best way to interact with each other. We were new at everything, so we basically reinvented ourselves as partners, entrepreneurs, and strategic thinkers.

The Serama Bomber from the Fall ’23 Collection

We started on our very own, with no financial help, and we could only count on each other. As the brand continues to grow, everyday is a surprising challenge. We have never taken anything for granted, since even our smallest successes have helped to consolidate this fulfilling present.

LUX: Do you think that fashion design is still a male-dominated space?
CR: Not really. In the past it has been, but now we have Victoria Beckham, Chanel’s Virginie Viard , the Olsen sisters with the amazing The Row, Gabriela Hearst with Chloe and her own brand, Phoebe Philo back soon, Isabel Marant, Dior by Maria Grazia, the Attico girls, Zimmermann, and many more.

Model wearing a brown blazer paired with a red button up

The Everyday Blazer from the Fall’23 Collection

LUX: Ten years on, what do you consider the brand’s greatest achievement?
CR: That our blazers, thanks to our style, aesthetics and trademark Smiley pocket, are recognized worldwide.

LUX: How would you describe the quintessential Blazé Milano aesthetic?
CR: Blazé is timeless, effortless, chic, and wearable anytime, anywhere. When you buy our pieces, you can mix them throughout the seasons.

LUX: What is your favourite piece in the Fall 2023 collection?
CR: The Serama bomber, an oversized jacket with maxi shoulders and an ‘80s vibe – one of my favourites in fashion history.

Sparkly yellow velvet jacket and blue trousers photographed by a digital camera

A shot from the Fall ’23 presentation featuring the brand’s iconic Smiley pockets

LUX: How does Blazé Milano engage with sustainability and the climate crisis?
CR: Since day one we have committed to using the most natural textiles and accessories in the industry. We produce only in Italy; every item is made by Italian artisans and companies, and we are very proud of it.

We committed back in early 2020 with the Green Future project, to reduce the impact of our activities on the planet. Green Future Project is an online platform giving companies and private citizens the opportunity to make a difference and reduce their carbon footprint. A tree is planted with every Blazé purchase.

It is difficult to be 100% sustainable in the fashion world, but by manufacturing long-lasting garments with high-end fabrics, that don’t follow trends in order to never be out of fashion, is already a small but important achievement.

Model in a black dress and heels wearing a grey bomber jacket

Another shot of the Serama bomber

LUX: Would you ever expand into menswear?
CR: We introduced the Daybreak blazer a couple of seasons ago in a style borrowed from menswear, with the addition of our Smiley pockets, a unisex look. We also have a collection of carryover knitwear, marinière and full colour, that can be worn by everyone. Our aesthetic has a masculine feel, but always with a practical feminine touch. Sometimes matched with ruffled shirts or flowy dresses, there is a ’when boy meets girl’ feeling in all the collections.

A complete menswear collection?

We’ll see, maybe one day!

LUX: How do you envision the brand will have changed and evolved by its 20th birthday?
CR: It is a very difficult answer to give, but we really hope to make Blazé a company with solid values and a great team, promoting true Italian elegance as sustainably as possible.

All images courtesy of Blazé Milano

Find out more: www.blaze-milano.com

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Reading time: 4 min
The back of a metal watch
The back of a metal watch

Every watch collector knows you can’t just walk into a luxury boutique and expect to buy an in-demand timepiece, any more than you can walk into a gallery and pick up the latest Richard Prince. The space between demand and supply can be acute, and some watches acquire a status beyond value or taste. Here are six of the best compiled by James Gurney

 

A metal watch with a red face

An icon returns: Demand for Zenith’s heritage re-issues such as this Defy Revival is intense. It’s easy to see why. The faceted octagonal case and 14-sided bezel combined with the steel ladder bracelet, gives the £6,100 Defy a character as unique today as it was radical at its 1969 launch.

zenith-watches.com

A black watch with a tech style silver face

Go faster: If ever a watchmaker could adopt the ad slogan “reassuringly expensive”, it is motor-racing favourite Richard Mille. The 1.75mm RM UP-01 Ferrari, created with Ferrari, is the thinnest watch ever designed. All 150 watches to be made are reportedly reserved, at £1.88m.

richard-mille.com

a blue watch with a blue face and strap

Blue blood: François-Paul Journe set up as a watchmaker nearly 25 years ago, after restoring antique clocks. That tradition, combined with a modern aesthetic, has collectors content to wait for years, even for the simplest creations such as the Chronomètre Bleu, which retails for just under $40K, but resells for upwards of $50K.

fpjourne.com

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

 
A blue strap watch with a silver face with a hint of blue

What is the world: Greubel Forsey raises watchmaking to an art form by preserving and reviving craft skills. That the brand is looking to bring prices down to below £200,000 (the covetable GMT Balancier Convexe is around $400,000) and reduce waiting times to under two years tells you all about demand.

greubelforsey.com

A silver metal watch with three black dots in the face

Classic cool: The value of the most sought-after vintage Rolex watches can reach absurd extremes. With others, such as the 1971 pandadial Daytona, the perfection of the design was enough to justify an estimate of up to €500,000 euros at Sotheby’s March 2023 Fine Watches sale.

rolex.com

A silver watch with a blue square face

Dreaming on: Demand for key Patek Philippe designs exceeds supply, reaches fever pitch for Nautilus variations and is beyond reason ($6.5m in 2021) for the Tiffany blue-dialled 5711/1A-018. For a white gold 5811/1G (£58,391), you might have a chance in a few generations.

patek.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 5 min
A blue car on a road by some trees
A blue car on a road by some trees

The Lexus NX 450 on the road

In the third part of our Great Drives series, Darius Sanai travels, in a Lexus NX 450, from the Lake Zurich, Switzerland to the Tuscany Coast, Italy, ending his trip on a bottle of Masseto 2015

What is the best vehicle for transporting a lot of clothes – the spoils of a visit and meetings in various Italian fashion houses – and a lot of wine – the result of a spontaneous drop by the vineyards of Franciacorta in northern Italy? Sitting comfortably just above the speed limit on the Italian autostrada, cruising carefully while listening to the GreenBiz 350 podcast, we were fairly sure we had the answer in our Lexus. Its full name is the NX 450h+ F Sport, but for our purposes it was the car that could just do everything.

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The interior design of cars is becoming increasingly important as we do more things in them (they are effectively 3D extensions of the internet), and driving becomes more controlled and less of a sport. And here was a car with a truly beautifully designed interior. It was light, high enough off the road to give confidence – you could see everything that needed to be seen, but not so high that you felt domineering or unstable. Controls that needed to be easily touched were within sight and within reach without any fuss. Displays were clear with excellent typography. The air conditioning was a notch above the usual in terms of its ability to separate climate zones. Like any good design, it didn’t shout about itself, and it had grown on us over the previous two weeks.

A blue car next to a mountain and lake

The journey started in a small town near Lake Zurich on the northern side of the Alps. The road rose and became increasingly winding as it made its way towards the mountains we were due to cross, and we wondered briefly if we had chosen the right car. This is a hybrid SUV, efficiently powered by both electric and petrol engines, but it is also a high car, with plenty of ground clearance, excellent for driving across fields. So would it be right for twisting mountain roads?

A beach at sunset

The beach and pine forest at the Riva del Sole hotel, Tuscany

We need not have worried. This new-generation Lexus uses technology to miraculously minimise the amount the car leans when taking corners, a key consideration when driving to the Alps, as you do not want something lurching from one side to the other like an old Range Rover. The Lexus drove flat, smooth and responsive, even over the highest points of the Julier Pass, between north and south Switzerland. Sure, it wasn’t the thrill of racing a sports car to the edge of its abilities on a sinuous mountain road, but that would not have been possible anyway, given the rest of the traffic and also the strictness of Switzerland’s traffic police. Fast enough was, well, fast enough.

A bedroom with grey and gold colouring and hints of red

The Exotik Suite

Over the border in Italy, after more mountain passes and ice cream, the Alps fell into the low, hilly meadows of Franciacorta, which is where our favourite sparkling wine from Italy is produced. At its best it is creamy, complex and refreshing, like a good champagne, but with the added joie de vivre. At the main farmers’ outlet store for all the producers (and would that there were one of these in every wine-producing region), we picked from producers and cuvées impossible to find in other countries.

A sign of a well-engineered car is that it doe snot flinch when loaded up and driven hard, and this was very much the case with the Lexus. Onwards, it seemed to say, after a couple of days in Milan, as we arrowed through straight autostradas in northern Italy towards Tuscany. Here, we spent an excellent few days enjoying this car’s other attributes: its economy (fuel stations are very hard to find in rural Tuscany), its ability to deal with rough roads and unmade tracks with no fuss, and the comfort and efficiency of its interior in a hot summer. The full-length sunroof also came in for much praise, although it was mainly open at night, when it let in views of the stars and the cries of owls. A car for all reasons, indeed.

A room with a stage and a large vase in the centre of a table

Objets d’art at the Riva del Sole

Our final destination was a place well known to a certain class of intellectual Italians, roughly the equivalent of Britain’s Cotswolds set, but without the pretentions. Castiglione della Pescaia has none of the bling that has been acquired by its fellow Tuscan resort, Forte dei Marmi, but it has nature, and culture, on its side.

A swimming pool lit up a night

The hotel swimming pools by night

There is one resort hotel to stay in at Castiglione: the Riva del Sole, a resort built in the idealistic style of the mid-20th century, when Europe was thriving and confident, and nobody flew to the Maldives or Bali. You approach along a long, straight coastal road flanked on both sides by the stone pine trees that are a feature of the Italian coastline. The hotel appears amid the pineta (pine forest) on the left, between road and sea, a low-rise 20th-century modern building (Swedish owned) that, when you enter, reveals a cavalcade of original and updated modernist designs.

A wooden divider next to a bed looking out to trees

The Coral Suite

The reception area is out of a 1960s David Niven film (duly updated, of course) and our room, while compact, had a lovely aspect across the trees towards the sea. You wander from reception, past a dramatic Italian restaurant housed in another forest building, past a little newsagent shop straight out of a Jacques Tati film (magazines, beach balls, sweets) and a boutique-chic deli. A huge outdoor pool complex – several pools, really – appears on your right, with keen sports swimmers doing their lengths from the early hours. Past a hut serving snacks and drinks (there is some excellent Franciacorta on the menu), the path rises over a dune and down onto the resort’s lengthy private beach.

A restaurant with white table cloths, green chairs and plants around the room

Modern dining at Riva del Sole, Tuscany

Part of a strip of sand that stretches for 15km in a gentle arc, it is one of Italy’s most famous private beaches. The sea is warm and shallow, and the most memorable aspect is stepping out 20 metres into the sea, your feet still standing on white sand and your chosen drink in hand, looking back at the beach. The hotel and all of Castiglione have been subsumed into the pineta, such is the attention to detail of the design. All you can see is beach, forest and the mountains rising up behind. No wonder it is a haunt of the discerning Italian intelligentsia.

A blue car on a patch of grass next to a castle with a tower and turrets

The Lexus making a pit stop at the fortress of Montalcino – ancient Tuscan hilltop village and home of the celebrated wine Brunello di Montalcino

Hidden inside the pineta, the hotel also has a sophisticated Tuscan restaurant, La Palma. Sweeping interior architecture and the forest visible through windows all around combines with a wine vault of Tuscan wines – particularly from Montalcino – that a collector would die for. We chose a Masseto 2015. All savoury power and a wealth of flowing flavours, it is one of Italy’s great wines, and comes from just up the coast from Riva del Sole. In the main hotel there is also a glamorous 1960s-style piano bar, where you sit inside or out on the terrace and are served Bellinis.

Read more: Great Drive: Jura Mountains to London via Burgundy and Champagne

This is not high luxury, but it is high class; a place where the intelligent, artistic and sophisticated go to enjoy themselves with friends. And throughout, inside and out, the interior design, a subtle 21st-century take on mid-century modernism, is both playful and gorgeous. Chapeau to designer Eva Khoury. There are hotels with grander views and bigger rooms, but very few we would want to spend more time in than the Riva del Sole.

Find out more:
lexus.co.uk
rivadelsole.it
masseto.com

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Reading time: 6 min