Furniture showroom
Showroom

The Bentley Home ‘2022’ collection, shown at the atelier

LUX stops off at the new Bentley Home atelier in Milan to check out its latest furniture collections

Bentley Home has opened its new atelier on Milan’s Corso Venezia. An homage to British and Italian craftsmanship, it marks the next step for the lifestyle arm of the British automotive manufacturer, which, since its establishment in 2013, has evolved from skis and golf clubs to what it calls ‘spaces, places, and environments’.

To coincide with the opening, Bentley Home has launched two new furniture collections. Co-designed by the automotive designers in Crewe, in the UK, and the Italian craftspeople of Bentley Home, ‘Solstice’ and ‘2022’ reimagine the signature design elements of the coveted cars for a domestic context.

Building

The neoclassical architecture of the Bentley Home Atelier

‘We always say that you should feel as good getting out of a Bentley as you did getting in, regardless of the distance you’ve travelled,’ explains Chris Cooke, head of product and lifestyle design at Bentley. ‘It was a logical step to translate that sensory experience into the home palette.’

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The modular ‘2022’ collection is characterised by wood veneers and leather, available in a variety of swatches. Described by Cooke as ‘eclectic’, the collection is the result of the disparate industries which have come together to create it – from automotive to furniture, art to interior design.

Furniture showroom

The ‘2022’ collection, featuring a mirror designed in collaboration with Francesco Forcellini

Take, for instance, the collection’s signature degradé effect, realised in collaboration with leading artists; or the Stirling mirror, which was created in partnership with Milanese designer Francesco Forcellini. Made from a single sheet of glass, the mirror replicates the signature curvature of the cars, and features minute, cross-hatched diamonds which have been cut using a laser into its surface.

Read more: Gaggenau: The Calming Influence Of Biophilic Design

‘Solstice’, Bentley’s first outdoor furniture range, is distinguished by the steel diamond detailing which runs throughout – a variation on the front matrix grille of the Continental, Bentayga and Flying Spur. The designers have also made use of sustainable, weather-proof materials, including a first-of-its-kind marble ‘leather’, made from waste marble powder, and a water-resistant botanical hemp fabric, cultivated without the use of fertilisers and chemicals.

Outdoor furniture

‘Solstice’ is Bentley Home’s first outdoor furniture collection

With the Bentley Residences – a 60-floor luxury beachfront tower on Miami’s Sunny Isles Beach – scheduled for completion in 2027, only time will tell what heights the Bentley lifestyle sphere will reach.

Find out more: bentleymotors.com

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Reading time: 2 min
designer's studio
designer's studio

Maureen Bryan & Don McCollin in their studio. Photograph by Maryam Eisler

43 years ago, Don McCollin and Maureen Bryan met and formed a bond which would later result them to become an iconic duo in experimental design of furniture and objects. LUX’s Chief Contributing Editor, Maryam Eisler, speaks to the pair about the philosophy behind their works.

Maryam Eisler: How did you two meet and start working together?
Don McCollin: We met at Middlesex Poly college, 43 years ago in 1979. We didn’t know each other at first and then after we left in 1982, we kept in contact. We started by printing T-shirts and doing little projects like that. The first thing was a collection of Caribbean flags on t-shirts at the Notting Hill Carnival. We also printed textiles together. Eventually, we made a clock, which ended up being John Lewis’ best-selling clock! The idea was to make things. Make and sell. It’s also always been about materials. Our first commission was to do all the furniture for the restaurant at the Geffrye museum (now, the Museum of Home) in the East End.

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Maryam Eisler: If you had to boil down the ethos of your business today to one or two words, how would you best describe it?
Maureen Bryan: One or two words is going to be difficult. In a few words, both of us want to make pieces that cause a reaction in the viewer, a sort of pleasure zone. We want to move people and make them go ‘ah’. It doesn’t have to be intellectual, but it has to be from the heart. It is also about keeping the artistic integrity in what we make. We still want to put that individuality into each and every design. The pressure is on us to increase production but we’ve stuck to our guns in not wanting it to run out of control.

glass folding screen

The Aurora Folding Screen in shades of blue with a brass frame. Limited Edition of 8

Don McCollin: Yes, I always give the analogy that if I couldn’t do this, I would have loved to be a musician because music has that kind of power, to move people. I try to do what I do and have that exact reaction in people. There is always the idea of every single piece being slightly different even if the intention is not there. It’s about those accidental moments.

coloured glass on shelves

Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: Tell us about the importance of light and translucence in your work.
Maureen Bryan: My very first inspiration was a dream of a glass with ice cubes in it, and the light play. We initially made several key pieces using old lenses, old pieces of glass. We looked at the transparency of say Murano glass where you get that special depth of colour. We like playing with the depth of colour because it allows you to see more in a piece. We also started experimenting with domes on top of mirrors and realised that you get layers of reflection as well as layers of refracted light.

Read more: Alain Ducasse & Dom Pérignon’s Ephemeral Dining Experience

Don McCollin: It’s not always about what is there in front of you; it also has to do with your depth of concentration at the time of observation. Depending on where you concentrate when you look at a piece, that will then inform the perceived reflection.

glove resting on glass

Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: Do you ever consider your work in a more philosophical, poetic manner: thinking about multiple realities, imagination versus reality, the conscious versus the sub-conscious, shadow and light?
Maureen Bryan: I think we do subliminally, without necessarily articulating it. Perhaps we should try to articulate our philosophies more, but we’ve worked together for so long that we instinctively know what we’re individually talking and thinking about. In design, It’s not just how something looks on the surface; there’s always a multitude of layers and depth.

glass embossed table

The Cendrillon table, clear resin with a gilded pattern. Limited Edition of 20.

Maryam Eisler: I see beauty in your work. Is that a taboo word or are you okay with the concept of beauty?
Don McCollin: I am. I very much like to produce things that people end up liking, objects that have a certain romantic beauty about them. And, I’m highly unapologetic about it all. There might be some link to my textile background. I trained initially in textiles, in brightly coloured beautiful things. And I allowed beauty to just be there. So it’s not necessarily a bad word.

Maureen Bryan: Beauty is a funny word to use because it is so avoided by society. I think we have avoided articulating it too much because we feel it may in fact over-intellectualise a concept. You don’t want to have to explain it necessarily.

man reflected in glass

Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: What other characteristics do you take into consideration when designing?
Don McCollin: Another dimension which we sometimes incorporate into our designs is humour. When we first started making the beans, I always used to put a penny in there because I thought: if they’re not going to be of any worth, at least they will always be worth a penny!

Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: In terms of the production techniques which you use, it’s not just about the physical hand at play, you also have technology and robotics which together with the human hand create these unique pieces. Can you tell us more about that?
Maureen Bryan: Yes, we have a robot! It was born out of the problem of polishing for 8 hours a day. We soon realised that people were in fact at risk of getting repetitive strain injuries, so we thought about how we could best to alleviate that. Hence the use of the robot. The machine we use was made in Germany and we had it commissioned especially for us. We are not using machinery to create, but rather to lighten the load and purely save people’s bodies.

sanding machine

Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: It’s so refreshing to see that you still start a piece by hand, in quite an old school kind of way, that you first draw it and turn the drawing into a hand-made maquette, contrary to many other designers who solely use computer programs to materialise their design vision.
Maureen Bryan: That’s always how we start because we can relate to it better. It’s also a handy way of sending it onto the manufacturer. We don’t think through the computer but rather by holding a pencil in hand.

Read more: Pioneering Artist Michael Craig Martin on Colour & Style

Maryam Eisler: How important is the space in which you work?
Don McCollin: We get a lot of inspiration just by being in the workshop and playing with things and little ideas.

Maureen Bryan: In a world where there is a lot of ugliness, we have a strong ethos in the workplace, a sanctuary where people are kind to each other. We have a really nice team and we make our work environment as pleasant as possible with a good, positive vibe. I would like to think that this is a place where we can escape from [the world]. It helps your head a lot actually, and the team does make it work. I also think this is the best team we’ve ever had. They’ve all been with us for years.

designer in the studio

Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: Why do you think British designers do better outside the UK than they do within the country?
Maureen Bryan: I really don’t know what the explanation to that is. Maybe people are not so educated in design here in the UK. You see people here are very keen to build an architectural statement but then they furnish it in a bog-standard kind of way. I think it’s education, but also wealth in the UK is associated with tradition. Our biggest market is actually America!

Maryam Eisler: What is your dream for the future ?
Maureen Bryan: What we both want to do is to have more space to create more pieces and to have more time to design in a more hands on kind of way, with less time spent on management.

Find out more: mccollinbryan.com

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Reading time: 7 min
woman in jumper

Palermo poncho by Aessai

London-based sustainable knitwear label Aessai was founded by Argentinian designer Rebecca Kramer in 2017 to celebrate and support South American craftsmanship. The brand works with local communities and female collectives to create its collection of shawls, sweaters and ponchos, using traditional weaving techniques and fine merino wool. Following the brand’s exclusive launch on MatchesFashion.com, Candice Tucker speaks to Rebecca about her design inspirations, working with small producers and the importance of conscious consumption

woman in white shirt

Rebecca Kramer

1. How was the concept for Aessai conceived?

Aessai was born out of the desire of doing something meaningful; creating a brand with a purpose. The name Aessai is derived from the phonetic spelling of ‘essay’ inspired by a series of interwoven memories and journeys between my Argentinian identity and my European adulthood. Weaving is a very symbolic practice throughout South America, which is where both the brand and myself come full circle with our roots.

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The label embraces the skills of South American artisans entrenched in sustainability and transparency. It possess a social conscience at its heart with ethical and sustainable values that aim to make a positive impact on the life of the artisan producers and their communities.

2. What inspires your designs?

Aessai designs are inspired by indigenous artisans – they are their designs! I watch them braving the snow dressed in a poncho or weaving a beautiful alpaca blanket to sell in the market. I am the one who interprets their designs and essentially writes “the essay”

woman in pink scarf

Condor wrap by Aessai

3. As you’re based in the UK, how do you ensure that ethical practices are being upheld in your South American workshops?

Our producers are small enterprises with responsible managers who are also part of the same communities; they all share the credentials of having a low environmental impact, being members of the World Fair Trade Organisation, and carrying out cruelty free practices. When a co-operative becomes too big or too overwhelmed we tend to diversify our production and look out for a smaller collectives helping to contribute to their growth.

model wearing scarves

Rosa blanket and La Paz scarf by Aessai

4. Sustainability has become something of a buzzword in the last few years, how can consumers ensure what they’re buying is actually sustainable?

Some brands are using the word as a marketing tool, some have sustainable ideas, some are pioneers and invest in the research for developing new textiles and fibres… I suppose if someone is really concerned about the sustainability and origins of a product they should always do a bit of homework and do the research before simply adding another article of clothing into their wardrobe.

Read more: Nadezda Foundation’s Nadya Abela on running a children’s charity

5. Do you think there’s a disparity between younger and older generations in terms of their attitudes towards ethical consumption?

I believe that today the average consumer has more acquisitive power and choices than ever before. However, they are also more informed and conscious about the environmental and social damage caused by over consumerism. The older generation were more careful about their consumption choices as the “fast fashion phenomena” simply did not exist.

woman wrapped in blankets

Grace blankets by Aessai

6. What’s your five year vision for the brand?

We’ve been growing organically for the last three years consistently working on building a name for Aessai in a very saturated and competitive market. I think the time has come for the industry to promote and invest in small ethical brands. I do hope Aessai will be an established brand in the next five years and be in the position whereby it can have an influence on the consumer and be globally recognised for its quality products and work ethics.

View the collection: aessai.com

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Reading time: 3 min
luxury pen
luxury fountain pen

Montegrappa’s online configurator allows full customisation of the brand’s iconic fountain pens

Responding to the ever increasing demand for custom-designed products, Italian luxury brand Montegrappa has recently launched an online configurator which allows customers to fully personalise their hand-crafted fountain pens. Here, the brand’s CEO Giuseppe Aquila discusses the rise of a collector culture, adapting to a new generation of luxury customers and how personalisation supports the artisanal industry
Man wearing blue suit on the stairs

Giuseppe Aquila

‘As a company that has remained dedicated to handmade production, a service like the configurator is something we had always aspired to offer, but the technology and market climate simply didn’t exist until relatively recently to make such a step possible.

After spending years reorganising and refreshing our supply chain, eventually we were encouraged by the efforts of a few luxury brands to sell and offer individualised services online. From the outset, though, we knew that our offer needed to be much more than simple monogramming.’

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‘On the one hand, the generational shift in luxury is causing great upheaval. These emerging luxury customers have been nurtured on digital goods and platforms like Nike ID, so we must respond. On the other hand, people in general are much more interested in cultivating a personal style than adhering to fashion. To be different is the fashion.

Then there is the fact that acquiring truly scarce objects has become much more competitive in recent years – in almost all categories. Bespoke and custom production are avenues for collectors to expand their wish lists and secure ‘grail’ items on different terms. Collector culture is growing and diversifying – and will continue to do so.’

woman with a fountain pen

‘[Personalisation] is very welcome trend that allows artisanal industry to return to its roots. Of course, now our customer could be anywhere in the world; but in 2020, technology makes it possible to offer them a similar service to what a walk-up private client might have received in 1920. Unlike a century ago, though, production needs to be swift. This means that the modern atelier needs to be well stocked and perfectly organised.

Read more: Artist Yayoi Kusama’s designs for Veuve Clicquot celebrate joy and innovation

Personalised products also help craft businesses show their full repertoire. Many of the options found on the configurator are the result of experimentation and artisanal curiosity. Though beautiful and worthy, most would have considerably less opportunity to flourish if we were confined to offering our products within traditional distribution structures.’

fountain pen

‘The configurator is the only platform of its kind in the writing world, so it has been a been a real drawcard for our site and for Montegrappa in general. More importantly though, it has been tremendously helpful with attracting new customers: these are people whose desire to own a writing instrument is distinct from seasoned aficionados and collectors, and are interested in other paths of discovery.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect has been the acceptance from established Montegrappisti. The configurator has been like a release valve for all their ideas – all the pens they have secretly wished to own. It has helped us make many good friends within the community, and to learn from them.’

Design your own Montegrappa pen: montegrappa.com

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Reading time: 2 min
designer at work
townhouses

Mulberry Square townhouses at Chelsea Barracks

The exclusive Chelsea Barracks residential development in London aims to be the epitome of contemporary luxury living. It also draws on a wealth of traditional artisanal craft heritage, from specially designed and made oak furniture to bespoke light fittings, to forge a new historically significant landmark, as Mark C. O’Flaherty discovers

Some of the heftiest books lining the shelves of the world’s libraries are devoted to the history of London. The tale of Chelsea Barracks warrants a whole chapter of its own. It is an epic story, with handsome accents. Built as a home to Victorian infantry battalions, the original architecture stood for nearly 100 years. Since the 1960s, various plans for the site have been discussed but not materialised, but today Chelsea Barracks is a landmark again – a residential development that combines contemporary British craft with heritage inspiration. From the public artwork in the grounds to the finishings, light fittings and balustrades of the townhouses, Qatari Diar have brought together a nation of artisans.

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The ongoing story of British craft is told from numerous perspectives, and has culminated in more than just a landmark – there is also The Chelsea Barracks Collection. Under the direction of Albion Nord, the studio responsible for the overall look of the townhouse show-home interiors, an 11-piece capsule of designs has been commissioned from many of the artisans involved. Each object is handmade and represents the highest level of British craftsmanship, creating a dialogue with the Georgian squares of Belgravia. Wine glasses and tumblers echo the glassware produced in the 18th century, while the Belgravia Lamp references the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns of local buildings. “It is inspired by the orders of classical architecture,” explains Ottalie Stride, creative director at Albion Nord. “It has strong London connotations.”

designer at work

table

The Chelsea Barracks Collection, designed by Albion Nord, includes the Elizabeth Side Table made by Rory Stride (above) of Stride & Co

You can see the broader strokes of the style in London-based designer Tord Boontje’s floral elements on the townhouse balconies – the wild roses, peonies and apple blossom of the British countryside, so often showcased at the nearby Chelsea Flower Show – all forged in metal by West Country Blacksmiths, based in a 17th-century workshop in Somerset. From the physicality of their creation, to the greenery of Belgravia, they connect numerous threads within the narrative of Chelsea Barracks. These aren’t things you can take home – they are home.

Boontje’s work to date has been almost exclusively for interiors, so to have his petals adorning a façade is significant. They also form a link with the landscaping outside. From one of Boontje’s balconies you have a radiant view over the perfect floral grids planted by award-winning landscape gardener Jo Thompson and landscape architect Neil Porter. This is one of the most arresting and modern green spaces in the city today.

Read more: How Andermatt Swiss Alps is drawing a new generation of visitors

The best kind of design is often site-specific, taking visual cues from and creating a dialogue with its setting. All of the artisans involved in the development studied the site, its environment and and history. Using designs by Albion Nord, the artisans at Marina Mill created for The Chelsea Barracks Collection silkscreened upholstery in a diamond pattern that references tiling inside the restored Garrison Chapel on the grounds. Other designs by Albion Nord took inspiration from the floor plan of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. As much as upholstery, Marina Mill have been weaving history, too.

Chelsea Barracks is a style and brand as well as a prestigious residential address. The Chelsea Barracks Collection incorporates many elements that link the development to history. A metal and leather pendant lantern is inspired by the flashlights used by soldiers in the first world war, while the Barracks Bench has been created in homage to the Egypt-mania that captured London society in the 18th and 19th centuries. A collection of ceramics, titled Radnor, play on the history of porcelain in the area. Silversmith Nicholas Sprimont was the founder of the Chelsea Porcelain Factory, which from the mid 1740s became the tableware maker for the royal family. “They were the first important porcelain pottery manufacturer in England, so it’s great to bring this material to life,” says Stride.

glassware

glass making

The Collection also includes Westminster glassware made by Stewart Hearn

Some of the furniture created with the homes, and The Chelsea Barracks Collection, in mind – including a bench, bedside table, side table and writing desk – come from the Stride & Co workshops in West 38are beautifully crafted objects from carpenters accustomed to making only 15 to 20 pieces in a year. Each desk is made from a single piece of oak for consistency of grain. Detail is everything, and so is the story behind each piece – the side table is inspired by the British fondness for tea-drinking, which took hold in the mid 18th century. Other pieces are battalion inspired. “The Wellington Desk made by Stride & Co is inspired by a traditional campaign desk,” explains Stride. “It would have been used by officers and their staff during a military campaign. Our design here aims to retain the portability and simplicity of the original, whilst including special details such as the lion-claw feet and the Chelsea Barracks rose mark, featured on the key to both the desk and the bedside tables.”

metal flowers

metal railings with flowers

Tord Boontje’s specially commissioned metal floral decorations on the townhouse balconies

Like Boontje, bespoke light designer Sharon Marston looked to the history of the Chelsea Flower Show before starting work. Marston’s background flags up her instinctive approach to light and materials. Her career began in jewellery and costume design, working with Bella Freud, Paul Smith and the English National Opera. She creates objects that are luminescent, ethereal and elegant. The British flora is a constant inspiration. The two Willow chandeliers she created for Chelsea Barracks evoke the weeping willow tree found in the English countryside as well as landscapes by Turner and Constable. She was also keen to emphasise the inherent Britishness of the formal properties of her pieces. “Craftmanship is at the heart of my approach,” she explains. “The artisans I work with are small cottage industries dotted around the UK, ranging from glassblowers and ceramicists to metalwork engineers. My close relationship with each is what brings the intricate detail of my work to life. There are approximately 2,000 pieces of hand-crafted decorative components made from woven bronze mesh spread across both chandeliers, taking many weeks to create.”

townhouse gardens

Mulberry Square gardens, planted with fruits, herbs and flowers

Many of the works carried out for Chelsea Barracks pushed the boundaries for their creators. Reedway is an engineering company involved in the nuclear, space and marine industries. The ornate balustrades they created for the residences were inspired by the work of Arts and Crafts visionary William Morris and made using high-pressure water cutting on metal, usually employed in aviation, so making something very much 21st century. Reedway also worked on artist Conrad Shawcross’s tree-like sculpture at the development, Bicameral, constructed from anodised aluminium and installed permanently in the grounds.

What the designers and artisans behind the new Chelsea Barracks have done is take the romance of a classical Georgian home and refract it through the lens of today’s style but grounded it with Victorian muscle. The method in which that style has been crafted tells a story that has depth and longevity, one that will develop for generations to come.

Restoring the past

iron railing

The Grade II listed Victorian iron railings during their restoration

The Victorian railings at Chelsea Barracks were given a pass when the government was requisitioning cast iron for the war effort in the 1940s. Grade II listed for more than ten years, the railings have now been restored to their original grandeur as part of the new development. The development team at Qatari Diar worked with the foundry Paterson Engineering in Scotland on what became a complex task. The original railings were moulded 150 years ago, and despite their apparent uniformity, there was no standard fitting. Each component had to be logged before removal for restoration. Back in their original place, they look magnificent. History has been refreshed and a link has been forged between the new architecture and the Victorian era that made these five hectares world famous. “They mark the border of Chelsea Barracks and pay homage to the history of the site,” explains Richard Oakes, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Europe and Americas at Qatari Diar. “Together with the Garrison Chapel, the railings are now all that remain of the original 19th-century barracks, and their preservation and restoration has been a journey all of its own and one that we’re extremely proud of.”

Find out more: chelseabarracks.com

This article features in the Autumn 2020 Issue, hitting newsstands in October.

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Reading time: 7 min
ceramics on a table
ceramics on a table

Brunello Cucinelli’s Spring/Summer 2020 lifestyle collection includes handcrafted ceramic tableware

Brunello Cucinelli’s latest ceramic tableware collection evokes the warmth and rustic charm of rural Tuscany, says Chloe Frost Smith

Brunello Cucinelli’s Spring/Summer 2020 Lifestyle collection takes inspiration from natural forms, using traditional Italian handcrafted techniques to create a rustic mood that celebrates spontaneity and irregularity in texture, light and colour.

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The ‘Tradition’ ceramics are amongst the most beautiful pieces, combining ancient Umbrian pottery craftsmanship with striking modern shapes. Following an initial forming phase, each piece is fired three times and decorated by hand using the ‘engobe’ technique, a special application of clay coating used to achieve a light polished finish and delicate hues.

rustic ceramic set

The espresso set is amongst the highlights, comprising two dainty coffee cups balanced on saucers with asymmetrical edges, whilst the two-piece plate set features a swirling pattern reminiscent of the texture of a tree trunk.

Seemingly simplistic in design, the uneven lines create a sense of individuality throughout the collection, allowing diners to arrange the complementary pieces together or effortlessly style separately.

Find out more: brunellocucinelli.com

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Reading time: 1 min
Parmesan and grapes

Orange peeled with glassware. Image by Patrice de Villiers

In this series of interviews conducted in partnership with Gaggenau, LUX speaks to four artists, who are seeking to alter our perspectives of the world through their innovative practices and meticulous craft

Creativity is an essential part of humanity. Whether it’s a painting, sculpture, building, object, or a plate of food, we make things to better understand and appreciate the world in which we live.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

As one of the original pioneers of kitchen design, German-brand Gaggenau has long supported craftsmanship through the making of its own range of elegant high-tech products, and through collaborations with like-minded makers. Each of the four artists below was asked to create a work of art to celebrate the launch of the brand’s new steam oven range, engaging with the themes around sensory experiences, sustainability, and innovation. Here, we discuss their unique forms of creativity.

The Dance of the Flying Fish. Image by Patrice De Villiers

Patrice de Villiers

Food photographer

What made you decide to specialise in food photography?

I studied photography, film studies and English Literature at university. Back then, my photography element mainly consisted of shooting portraits of aspiring musicians and actors. It wasn’t until I came to London to assist a still life photographer that I was introduced to the concept of using food as a subject matter, and looking at it in a different way. Still life is a difficult discipline I think, but with food you have everything already there; it’s got form, texture, and colour. It gives you a head-start in making what’s hopefully an amazing and impactful image. 

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What comes first the ingredients or the photographic concept?

If it’s a commercial job, I’m given a brief and an ingredient and the concept comes out of observing it, thinking about it. I always try to think about it differently so that if you look at the image of parmesan or asparagus or whatever it is, you think I would have never seen it visually in that way. But then at other times, as I do now with a new project, I have a particular concept in mind and in my forays to the markets, I’ve been thinking about which ingredients would best suit the idea. 

How do you think an image can contribute to a person’s experience of food?

It can inspire. If you see an ingredient or dish photographed in a beautiful way, then why wouldn’t it inspire somebody to go off and create something? A publisher once said to me that most cookbooks are aspirational, meaning that an awful lot of cookbooks are bought not necessarily to cook from. People have them as pieces of art to simply look at. 

The Octopus and the Belt. Image by Patrice de Villiers

Parmigiano with Grapes. Image by Patrice de Villiers

Your images often have a distinct painterly quality, how do you achieve this effect with a camera?

It’s less to do with the camera and more about the lighting craft so I observe the object and I experiment with light on it in various compositions. With experience, you learn instinctively where things should be and equally, where they shouldn’t be.  When I come up with my ideas, I certainly don’t do it all on set; I sketch out almost all of my work. 

When I was at Uni, I was particularly struck by Edward Weston and his beautiful photographs of peppers. They’re black and white so you’re not distracted by colour. He just wanted to focus on the incredible form and texture, but the beauty of the ingredient, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. When I’m shooting a food editorial that needs let’s say a pepper or an orange, then I will go and get it because if you’ve only got that one thing in the image, as Weston only had his pepper, it has to have character. 

Read more: Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos on the poetry of jewellery

Jan Wines (with sketches) by Patrice de Villiers

‘Food is definitely a natural form of art. The joy of photography is that I get to […] abstract it so that what people might view as something purely edible becomes something else.’

I was shooting some endives for the Independent a few years ago. It was when I went closely in with a longer lens that I could see they had tiny hairs coming off the leaves. It was about the intimacy [of the image]. The hairs of the yellow endive were just close enough to slightly touch the red one – it’s a tiny thing, but it’s about finding that beauty. I’ve photographed practically everything on the planet in the edible world and there’s usually something incredible about it whether it’s something quirky or beautiful.

Touch Softly. Image by Patrice de Villiers

Tender Kiss. Image by Patrice de Villiers

Celery Cheese (with sketches) by Patrice de Villiers

Has this current period affected your perspectives and relationship to food?

During this time, working from home, being isolated, I think food and meal times have become the punctuation for many people’s days. It gives you some sort of schedule, something to focus on when everything else is so hazy, something to look forward to.

How do you think your practice aligns with Gaggenau’s ethos?

I feel that we come from entirely the same place. There’s a shared dedication to craft and to [producing] the ultimate in quality. We both pay attention to the really tiny details and have an eye for beauty.

@patricedevilliers
patricedevilliers.com

‘The Rising Tide’ (2016), The River Thames, Vauxhall, London by Jason deCaires Taylor

Jason deCaires Taylor

Underwater artist

How did your interest in ocean conservation progress into making underwater art?

I studied public sculpture at university so I always envisioned a career in the arts, but at the same time, I had a love for the sea and I trained to be a diving instructor, which I thought could be a hobby or part time thing, but then slowly, I started to think about the two things being connected. I became disillusioned by public art because besides its inherent message and aesthetics, I felt that it also needed a practical reason to occupy the space. It was through diving and exploring the underwater world, that I realised I could create artworks that also worked on a practical and functional level.

Read more: How Andermatt Swiss Alps is tackling climate change

What are some of the challenges of working underwater?

They are all very challenging projects; I haven’t done an easy one yet. First of all, there are the materials. Most public sculpture uses metal either foundry castings or armatures, but underwater, that’s not a very sustainable material, and practically it’s quite difficult to implement so we use types of cement that are formulated with marine biologists. We have to make the works extremely heavy to survive the harsh marine elements as there are a lot of forces taking place underwater. There’s a balance between trying to make the works that are solid and can be attached to the sea floor without creating monumental logistical challenges on land.

How much does the location of the sculpture influence its form?

It’s really vital that each project has a strong connection to the place where it’s set. There are a lot of community consultations and for a lot of the projects, I’ve actually lived in the locations for many years. It’s only by spending time with people, learning the languages and getting to know the local culture, that you’re able to produce designs that are relevant. I’ve also cast a lot of people from local communities so that they feel more connected to the work. On a practical level, there are many different regional currents and the transparency of the water differs, along with the marine life, which are all important considerations when creating a work. 

Top image: ‘The Coral Greenhouse’ (2019) at MOUA, The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. Below: Installing ‘Disconnected’ (2016) at Museo Atlantico, Lanzarote. Both pieces by Jason deCaires Taylor

Jason planting fire coral on his sculpture entitled ‘Man on Fire’ (2011) at MUSA, Mexico

As your works are naturally transformed by the sea, they appear as ruins from another age or culture. How do you think this contributes to the way viewers respond to the works?

I always felt that it was like looking at ourselves from a wider angle or from much further away. We have this inbuilt desire to conquer nature; there’s that traditional mentality of ‘man over nature’. I hope that my work shows that we are integral part of nature, but also that we are, ultimately, at its mercy.

‘The Coral Greenhouse’ (2019) by Jason deCaires Taylor at MOUA, The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

‘There’s something about seeing ourselves in a different environment and with a different sense of time that contextualises our lives, but also makes us aware of our underlying fragility.’

What role do you think your art plays in wider discussions around the environment?

We need a fundamental reset of our relationship to the natural world. The capitalist system of us looking at the natural world as a giant resource has to change, and it will change because we can not continue as we have been going. From a marine point of view, it’s a harder challenge because it’s an environment that’s out of sight and out of mind for most people. I hope my work brings the underwater world into urban environments.

Read more: How Gaggenau is innovating the ancient art of steam cooking

Scientists put forward all of these figures and stats, but we’re extremely emotional beings and we respond much better to an emotive argument than to a factual one. I think that’s where art, and hopefully, my work, can play a fundamental role; it can transform those facts into an emotional message, and also bring these kinds of issues to a more mainstream audience. 

What led you to collaborate with Gaggenau?

Over the years, I’ve been approached by quite a few different brands and I very rarely do them, but Gaggenau has a good appreciation for the arts and supporting artists. Their products are about quality, good design and engineering, which I think complements my own practice.

Calcareous tubeworms on part of a piece entitled ‘Crossing the Rubicon’ (2018) by Jason deCaires Taylor at Museo Atlantico, Lanzarote

‘Inertia’ (2014) by Jason deCaires Taylor at MUSA, Mexico

Have you managed to create in lockdown?

I have two young children so it hasn’t been that easy to come up with new ideas or designs, but at the same time, it’s an opportunity to reset. We have all been living too fast, and it’s a time to re-evaluate what’s important. In terms of actually creating, I get excited about an idea, and then, sometimes I feel that things are a bit futile, that I’m just finding ways to preoccupy myself.

Are you afraid of the future?

Yes. It’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of what’s happening. There are three monumental challenges that we are facing: the virus, the economy and climate change. I think it could go one of two ways. It could be an amazing opportunity to rebuild ourselves in a more sustainable way, but it’s also going to really test humanity as to whether people will think only about their immediate reality and their families, or whether they can look past and see themselves as part of a global entity. It’s tricky when fear is involved. Fear can be used for manipulation, and I worry that might happen.

@jasondecairestaylor
underwatersculpture.com

Prudence Staite and her team creating an edible countryside landscape from popular breakfast foods to celebrate Farmhouse Breakfast Week. The artwork used 11 different types of breakfast cereal, including 169 wheat biscuits and 42 shredded wheat parcels, 500g of porridge oats, 21 slices of bread, 14 bread rolls, 14 crumpets, 2 jars of marmalade, 12 rashers of bacon and 42 apples.

Koala CFA made from nuts & seeds by Prudence Staite

Prudence Staite

Food artist

When did you decided to combine your passion for food with making art?

When I was doing my art degree, I got bored of what we were supposed doing – it was an old fashioned art school, very traditional – and instead I started creating artworks out of chocolate and sugar. The idea was that people could interact with the artwork; you could go into the gallery and actually eat it. Art to stimulate all the senses. Initially, my tutors were totally against it and said that art isn’t something you’re supposed to touch, it’s something you’re supposed to look at, but my degree show was made out of food. It was a room that you could actually go into; you could look through chocolate windows, and you could eat the chocolate skirting boards. The idea was to make people think how interiors link to real food. For example, how ceiling patterns sometimes look like frosting. That was back in 2000, and I set up my company the day after I graduated. 

Giants Codway by Prudence Staite

Are all chefs are artists?

The way you set up to create a painting or a sculpture is quite similar to how you set up a plate of food. You’ve got a canvas or a plate and you have to collate ingredients or your artistic materials, and you plan and you prep. So yes, I think artists are chefs and chefs are artists.

What are some of the challenges of using food as an artistic material?

One of the main challenges is the lifespan of the food substances. Also, all of the work that we tend to do has incredibly short deadlines. We’re always chasing our tail and juggling different jobs. We try to always come up with new things that haven’t been done before, but often, we don’t have time to see whether it will actually work so we just have to figure it out whilst we’re making it. It’s fun and I love it, but it can be challenging. 

Read more: In conversation with ballet dancer Sergei Polunin

We had one job where we had to use edible insects and chocolate. Since a lot of our artworks are eaten, we always have to make sure that it’s  safe and meets food safety standards so for this project, there was a legal limit of how many insects you can have per ratio of chocolate and we had to get a veterinary certificate to make sure the insets been harvested correctly. For that kind of thing, there’s a lot of paperwork and a huge amount of planning. 

Much of your artwork is assembled on site, why did you decide to work this way?

For me, it’s that part of the theatre of my artwork. I like that people can see it all coming together. Often they see the vegetables, cheese, chocolate or whatever we’re working with, but they can’t see how it’s going to turn out. I think that seeing that process adds something to the eventual eating experience. Having people watch me work can also be a little bit stressful because things do go wrong, but overcoming the problems is part of it. Also a lot of the projects we do are large scale so you can’t transport them easily in one piece.

‘The Girl with a Pearl Earring’ created by Prudence Staite for Gaggenau’s steam oven launch, 2020

‘My whole philosophy is to give people a different viewpoint so that they can appreciate the art of food.’

What led you to partner with Gaggenau?

I was approached by the brand and asked whether I could create something that reflected the ingredients that could be used in their new steam ovens. Their ethos is very much that the products are masterpieces in themselves, they’re works of art, and that really fitted with my philosophy that food is art. The ovens are not so much of a tool, but a vehicle to create masterpieces at home. I love that idea. Gaggenau’s colour scheme had the feeling of Dutch Old Masters [paintings] with lots of rich greens and purples, which inspired the idea of re-creating The Girl with a Pearl Earring using vegetables.

How do you think your artworks contribute to the viewers’ experience of food?

My whole philosophy is to give people a different viewpoint so that they can appreciate the art of food. Food should be an enjoyable experience and not something you just quickly shovel down your throat to fulfil a calorie intake. It’s about getting people to stop and think about where we get food from and how it’s grown.

The making of ‘The Girl with a Pearl Earring’

Chocolate Motorbike Exhaust by Prudence Staite

Have you been creating in lockdown?

We were working on three different projects and they were all put on hold because a lot of what we tend to do is in a public place or in a restaurant. So, I’ve been looking at new inspirations and I’ve been experimenting with making a series of chocolate vinyl records that are actually play music. I’ve also been trying to get a rainbow, the light spectrum, captured in chocolate, which I’ve managed to do by using diffraction grading so when you move the chocolate around under the light, you can actually see a rainbow.

What’s next for you?

I never really know what’s coming next – it has been like this for twenty years. One day I’d love to do a twelve course dinner which are  all individual works of art served within a chocolate art gallery. So you can go and eat all the walls, the doors, the floors, ceilings, the chairs that you’re sitting on and chocolate records are playing music as entertainment whilst you eat. I would also like to work with more fresh produce and flowers, and to experiment with immersive produce installations.

@prudenceemmastaite
foodisart.co.uk

Brill from the menu at Paris House

Paris House in the Summer (top) and Phil Fanning in the kitchen

Phil Fanning

Executive Chef & Owner of Paris House 

Your cooking focuses on seasonal British produce – where do you generally source your ingredients?

The general principle is that we find purveyors of the best quality produce and we rely on their connections with suppliers, farmers and producers. We are keen to use local people as long as their product is good. The quality of the product is paramount.

Read more: Fashion designer Erdem Moralıoğlu’s guide to east London

What appeals to you about Japanese cooking techniques?

I’ve always loved Japanese culture. My wife and I are sushi addicts. I’ve been into martial arts all my life and I’m an amateur carpenter; Japanese carpentry is incredible. When you set up a business, you need some kind of USP or direction so it made perfect sense for me to follow that route. The principle behind Japanese food is the quality of technique, driving towards a kind of simple perfection. It’s to do with extracting the best flavours from what you put in. What I especially love about Japanese culinary techniques is that you don’t necessarily know it’s Japanese from a flavour point of view so you can enhance British ingredients with Japanese techniques without turning it into Japanese food. 

Native Lobster at Paris House

How are you incorporating sustainability into your kitchen?

We have a kitchen garden so all of our vegetable trimmings go on the compost heap and the compost heap goes onto the garden and the produce from the garden comes back into the kitchen. We are closely advised by our fish suppliers as to what is the best fish to be using that season. We very recently flipped our entire kitchen to induction services and low energy refrigeration, which saves us a huge amount of money and also means that we’re not wasting energy. We also recycle everything we possibly can. There’s plenty more we could do, but we have already improved in many areas. 

Who or what do you think influenced your tastes in food and cooking?

It stared off with Gary Rhodes who was on TV. His passion and enthusiasm was infectious. Then my grandpa, bought me a Ken Hom wok when I was about ten – I’ve still got it and it’s used on a regular basis – which opened my eyes to the Asian route. I also had a very powerful mentor: Michael MacDonald who now owns the Vanilla Pod in Marlow. He directed my skill set and greatly influenced my understanding in the kitchen. Then, there’s my chef idol: Thomas Keller.

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

As the years go by you work out what it is that the guest wants, more than what it is you think they want. In other words, you become better at understanding your customer base’s requirements. So I think I’ve become closer to what my customers like and I’ve definitely focused more on Asian techniques.

Read more: Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar & the artistic revival of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Craftsmanship is the cornerstone of what we do. Over the years, I’ve become better and better at my craft, but I don’t think I’ve drastically changed what I’m doing. Every time you go out for a meal you get inspiration and gain a deeper understanding, but you always cook what you like. Fundamentally, if you wouldn’t eat it, you shouldn’t cook it. Yes, you have to listen to your customers and ensure you fit into the market, but you have to cook food that you love. 

‘The fundamental principle is that you eat with your eyes. A good dish needs to taste, feel and look amazing; all three of those things have to be right.’

What’s your process for developing new recipes?

Our current format is heavily driven by tasting menus. We have a six, eight, and ten course tasting menu, which are influenced by the Japanese concept of Kaiseki. It’s an incredibly seasonal and locally driven food concept, and as with all things Japanese, there’s always a reason for dishes to be in a specific order, combination or at a specific time of the year. There’s a set of principles that you follow to build the Kaiseki menu.

By using some of the same principles in our menus at Paris House, we have a better and more consistent way to develop dishes. Now, we have dish “holes” so we know, for example, the dish at the beginning has to be slightly bitter, it has to be really fresh and probably seafood or vegetable-based. The next one down has to be hot, vegetable-based and with a fried element. These principles build a nice flow. Point one for us is to think about those principles, and then to look at what’s seasonal and whether there are any new or exciting ingredients, and the third point is if we want to try and incorporate any new techniques into the menu. Then, there’s experimenting and tasting. It takes about three to four months to bring a menu together. 

Crab (top) and Beef Rib dishes from a menu at Paris House

A plum dessert at Paris House

Do you consider yourself an artist, and is cooking an art form?

I think I’m a craftsman, but you could argue that all craftsmen have an element of artistry. The fundamental principle is that you eat with your eyes. A good dish needs to taste, feel and look amazing; all three of those things have to be right. The taste and texture of the piece is definitely down to craftsmanship, but the visual representation requires an artistic perspective.

What led you to collaborate with Gaggenau?

We’ve worked closely with Gaggenau for many years now. They’re a massive producer of technology, but they’re so artisan about what they do. For Gaggeanu, it’s never about mass production, it’s about quality, which fits with what we do at Paris House.

What have you been cooking in lockdown?

I’ve been cooking more than I have for years. At work, I’ve been doing the take-out menus, but at home, we’ve been baking baguettes, pizzas, sausage rolls. My favourite thing to eat in the sun is bouillabaisse so we made a big batch with mussels, which was incredible. Usually I don’t have a chance to bake bread at home, and in the first few weeks when the restaurant was closed, I was baking pretty much every day. I love baking bread – it’s such a therapeutic process. Spending more time with the kids has also been a huge silver lining.

@parishousechef
parishouse.co.uk

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Reading time: 26 min
public gardens by residential towers
Tree sculpture

Conrad Shawcross’s sculpture Bicameral at the pedestrian entrance to Chelsea Barracks.

Chelsea Barracks has already established itself as one of the most desirable places to live in London. Its gardens, with their planting schemes, public artworks and open access, are adding to the city’s continuing and defining history of garden squares, as Anna Tyzack reports

There are many measures by which London could be said to be the greatest city in the world. It is a (possibly the) financial and business hub; a crossroads between the Americas, Europe and Asia; a cultural centre that combines 2,000 years of history with being on the world’s leading edge in creativity in the 21st century.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

It is also the world’s most liveable great city. Yes, there are surveys published in trendy publications each year that tout the virtues of earthy locations in crispy-clean countries. But successful, ambitious humans want to live and work in a place where they can be surrounded by their peers: to be right in the heart of a city teeming with global leaders in finance, the arts, creativity, science, philanthropy and international trade. And yet they also crave a standard of living. Their villa on Cap Ferrat for summer and lodge in Aspen for winter have infinite light, space, nature; and London is the only city of its level in the world that can offer these semblances of space and green alongside its myriad other draws. London is the greenest city in Europe: almost 50 per cent of its surface area is parks, gardens, natural habitats or water.

In the most authoritative measure of its kind, London and New York regularly swap places at number 1 and number 2 slots in the Knight Frank Wealth Report Global Cities Index: but for the ‘lifestyle’ subsection, London is, in 2020, at the top.

Leafy walkway along a building

Bourne Walk at Chelsea Barracks

One unique aspect of London lifestyle is its garden squares. They developed naturally as spaces for inhabitants to relax and play as the city grew; became protected in law; and now many of them are the most desirable addresses in the city. Garden squares in London can be public (run by the local councils) or private (owned and used by the local landowners); the best are hives of culture, leisure and joy.

And now there is a new crop of squares coming to life. Uniquely, they are in central London, an area not known for its propensity to be developed. They are the creation of Chelsea Barracks, a new super-luxe five-hectare residential area built between super-prime neighbourhoods Chelsea and Belgravia on the site of what was for 150 years an army barracks.

Read more: In conversation with ballet dancer Sergei Polunin 

It is also unique in its concept and ambition. Rather than build yet another cookie-cutter set of branded residences inside an enclosed compound, sell them off and take the money, owner Qatari Diar is in for the long term: the aim is to create a new neighbourhood, not just for those fortunate enough to afford the residences lining the new streets, but to welcome anyone who is drawn in by the beautiful and distinctive urban planning.

And the squares. There are two hectares of garden squares and public spaces, open to all, in the development: in all, seven new squares are being created. The idea is that residents can enjoy them permanently, and through an artfully curated cultural programme, visitors can pass through, linger and enjoy the first, and last, new area on this scale likely to be developed in central London for, well, probably ever.

Residential building

Whistler Square is named after the artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler who once lived in Belgravia

They are also very much not a recreation or pastiche of existing garden squares. “Our gardens are very different from the traditional idea of railings around a set of trees and a lawn – we didn’t want rules or hostile architecture giving any sense that people were being segregated,” says Richard Oakes, Qatari Diar’s Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Europe & Americas. “Given we were working on what is going to be the most exclusive addresses in London, we had to find a new way of considering what is a garden square.”

This takes a delicate balancing act. The open spaces at Chelsea Barracks (which amount to a lot more than just garden squares) are aimed at attracting visitors and establishing the area as a cultural hub; while residents still feel a sense of exclusivity.

Read more: Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos on the poetry of jewellery

The landscaping is contemporary in style, while referencing the traditional garden square, with water features to bring a sense of calm and tranquillity and bulbs and flowering trees such as magnolia to add colour and structure throughout the seasons. The red Chelsea Barracks rose, inspired by the intricate petal-shaped window in the restored Garrison Chapel, and cultivated for Chelsea Barracks by grower Philip Harkness, features prominently in the planting. “The gardens provide a spectacular new front door for Chelsea Flower Show, which takes place next door, at the Royal Hospital,” Oakes says.

public green spaces

public gardens by residential towers

Here and above: Mulberry Square’s garden planted with lavender, rosemary and strawberries

In Mulberry Square, for example, residents overlook a shallow water rill and a fragrant garden planted with lavender, rosemary and strawberries, a tribute to the patterned canvases of artist Bridget Riley. Here there are benches to sit on with a book or to enjoy a peaceful moment listening to the sound of the water.

Read more: How Gaggenau is innovating the ancient art of steam cooking

Meanwhile Whistler Square, in the northern part of the Barracks, is named after the artist, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, who lived in Belgravia and Old Chelsea. It has as its focal point a bronze-edged Cumbrian black-slate scrim, no deeper than a finger nail, decorated with fragile etched lines to represent the lost rivers of London.

But culture, as much as gardens, is at the heart of the development. Garrison Chapel, which forms the centrepiece of the development, is a restored, listed and significant historical structure. It has been painstakingly restored by a host of British artisans including lime plasterers, fresco artists and stained-glass experts and will once again be a place for locals to gather. The new bell, an exact replica of the damaged original, was commissioned from Britain’s last surviving bell maker, John Taylor & Co of Loughborough.

Strikingly positioned, it will be the centre of an art and culture programme, which will spill out into the squares and spaces. It will involve performance art and installation as well as static art, with a focus on giving young and emerging artists a bedrock in the centre of London, an area for so long dominated by art dealers rather than artists. Striking also is the focus away from just retail: life, space and culture, rather than transaction, is what this new area aims to be about.

Public artwork at Chelsea Barracks

A tree-like sculpture by Conrad Shawcross is the first public artwork to be installed at Chelsea Barracks. Casting dappled shade onto Dove Place, the pedestrian entrance to the development, Bicameral comprises 693 components and stands 8m in height. It can be  seen, as Shawcross explains, as an Arcadian symbol for reason, humanity, rationalism, progress and hope, and it was designed to pay homage to the craftsmanship found at the Barracks. The sculpture was created entirely without welding; its interlocking forms are held together by techniques derived from Japanese wood joinery.

Chelsea Barracks in numbers

  • Apartments in Chelsea Barracks cost from £5.25 million.
  • Townhouses, each with a roof terrace, spa with pool, gym, garden and private garage, cost from £38 million.
  • The Garrison Club is for the exclusive use of residents. With all the advantages of a private club, amenities include a 1,800 sq m spa and gym; private cinema, games room, residents’ lounge and business suite with two boardrooms.

Find out more: chelseabarracks.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 6 min
fine jewellery
fine jewellery

L’Arbre aux tourmalines (1976) by Jean Vendome © MNHN/F. Farges.

The heritage of Parisian jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels is being honoured by an exhibition at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, in which their gems from across the years are being shown alongside the raw stones that such jewels are made from. On the eve of the show’s opening, LUX meets with the maison’s CEO, Nicolas Bos
Red carpet photograph

Nicolas Bos & Cate Blanchett. © Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty.

LUX: How does seeing the raw beauty of stones extracted from the earth affect your appreciation of fine jewellery?
Nicolas Bos: The aim of this exhibition is to show alongside each other the raw minerals, faceted gems and finished jewellery creations. This juxtaposition really emphasises the stones’ journey from the depth of the Earth into the craftsmen’s hands that will reveal their beauty. In front of raw minerals, we cannot but be humble and admire what nature can create. It is also with great pride that we can see what we are able to accomplish today with these treasures through our know-how.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: The exhibition shows that humans have always been drawn to adornment. Is the lure of jewellery today different to ancient times?
Nicolas Bos: Since ancient times, both men and women have enjoyed adorning themselves with precious and rare materials. Over the centuries, jewellery and lapidary techniques have evolved, new materials have been found and new sources of inspiration and artistic movements have forged new creations. Society has also significantly evolved, with changes in how jewellery is perceived.

blue and diamond necklace

Cravat necklace, 1954. © Patrick Gries.

Jewelled bluebird clip

Bluebird clip, 1963. © Anthony Falcone.

LUX: Jewellery companies seem to be doing ever more exhibitions – why is this?
Nicolas Bos: Exhibitions are a great way for a centenary maison such as ours to reveal the evolution of its style across the decades. Furthermore, for Van Cleef & Arpels, transmission, education and culture are fundamental values. That is why we conceive or participate in exhibitions (be it patrimonial or even contemporary). We display creations not just by the maison; we also focus either on the spirit of a particular era (the 1970s and Alhambra, for example), or on a source of inspiration, or on a particular material such as gems. The maison has over several years initiated relationships with great cultural institutions such as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs or the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, both in Paris, to encourage thoughtful and pertinent dialogues between jewellery and other fields such as mineralogy or the decorative arts in general. The collaboration with the American artist Bob Wilson, in 2016, with a scenography based on Noah’s Ark’s highlighting a high jewellery collection, also expressed this wish to link our creativity with other arts. Another example, in 2017, at the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, paralleled traditional Japanese craftsmanship and Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery expertise in the exhibition ‘Mastery of an Art’.

Read more: How Gaggenau is innovating the ancient art of steam cooking

LUX: How would you summarise the brand or aura of Van Cleef & Arpels to a new client?
Nicolas Bos: I would say that the maison puts poetry and enchantment at centre stage in all its creations, be it high jewellery or jewellery or timepieces. Over the years, Van Cleef & Arpels keeps reinventing itself while always staying faithful to its original DNA. Its sources of inspiration range from nature and couture to dance, astronomy and imaginary worlds.

vintage jewelled brooch

Eucalyptus seed clip, 1968. © Bertrand Moulin

LUX: The ‘Gems’ exhibition includes modern recreations of significant historical jewellery, such as the Toison d’Or worn by Louis XV. What does a piece of historical jewellery tell you about how the wearer once lived?
Nicolas Bos: I’m not a history expert and the maison did not participate in these recreations but it is true that they are impressive. The Toison d’Or underlines the magnificence in which French monarchs used to live and it highlights their taste for exceptional stones and adornment in general. I would like also to mention a special piece that belongs to the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle collection and is of real interest – the tourmalines mobile/tree created by Jean Vendome. This is a real masterpiece that exemplifies the fine work bringing together jewellery, sculpture and design.

LUX: Are lab-grown gems a threat?
Nicolas Bos: We do not consider them as such at Van Cleef & Arpels. They are another type of material which has nothing to do with our idea of jewellery. They are industrial objects which don’t have the rarity, the preciousness or charm that natural stones gain after spending millions of years in the depths of the Earth.

vintage decorative jewellery

Gladiator clip, 1956. © Anthony Falcone.

LUX: Does learning about the origins of gemstones in an exhibition such as this teach us about the earth from which they came? Does it influence Van Cleef & Arpel’s attitude towards provenance and sustainability?
Nicolas Bos: Sustainability is a core value of Van Cleef & Arpels: we are a certified member of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) which has the strictest standards of responsible practices for the jewellery industry. We also ask our suppliers to be certified with the RJC in order to promote good practices in the supply chain and we audit them as well. All diamonds purchased by Van Cleef & Arpels are compliant with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme which has worked since 2003 to put an end to the trade in conflict diamonds. We also work with multi-stakeholder initiatives on responsible sourcing and supply-chain due diligence, in particular for coloured gemstones.

LUX: Can you describe the Van Cleef & Arpels high jewellery piece that is inspired by the exhibition?
Nicolas Bos: In order to fit in with the central theme of the exhibition, the maison imagined a unique high jewellery object comprising stones, gems and jewels, some faceted, some polished, some raw. Through the work of craftsmen’s hands these stones speak with each other, adding a highly original piece to the history of Van Cleef & Arpels. It provides a fittingly precious and poetic conclusion to this exhibition.

The exhibition ‘Pierres Précieuses’ runs until 3 January 2021 at Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris 

View the collections: vancleefarpels.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue, out now.

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Reading time: 5 min
Octopus tentacles
Exotic mushrooms

Steam cooking can preserve the nutritional value and flavour of delicate vegetables such as mushrooms

The ancient art of steam cooking has gained new impetus with the revolution in healthy and mindful cuisine. Lisa Jayne Harris looks at the artful kitchen innovations from design-led German luxury appliance maker, and chefs’ favourite, Gaggenau

Alice B. Toklas, the celebrated 20th-century literary salon hostess, had one golden rule for cooking: “one must respect the quality and flavour of the ingredients”. Steaming is the most direct way to achieve her objective; it is an efficient way to cook that leaves the food tasting exclusively of itself. Just consider the simple excellence of steamed asparagus with French butter, one of Toklas’s stand-by dishes for entertaining.

Phil Fanning, the executive chef and owner of restaurant Paris House in Woburn and Gaggenau culinary partner, agrees: “You’ve got nowhere to hide with steam: It’s all about the quality of ingredients.” This is essential when you are working with delicate seasonal vegetables like asparagus, new potatoes or peas, but it is just as significant with good quality meat, baked goods or pastry.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

However, healthier eating is another powerful motivator behind the steamed food trend. Boiling vegetables reduces much of their nutritional qualities, such as vitamins C and B1, and other mineral salts readily dissolve in water. Lightly steaming does not disturb the food’s cellular structure or its aromatic compositions the way boiling does, so you preserve more vitamins as well as the colour and texture for a more health-conscious cuisine. “Gentle steam cooking can actually improve the nutrient status of food like asparagus, spinach and tomatoes,” advises registered nutritional therapist, Catherine Arnold, “It makes their nutrients more bio-available to the body.”

ovens displayed in art gallery

Gaggenau’s 400 and 200 series combi-steam ovens are ideal for the precise cooking of seafood

Gaggenau has pioneered steam cooking in the home for the past 20 years and continues to do so, including combination steam ovens: “Whether you’re cooking in pure steam, or in combination with traditional heat, you’re getting the health benefits of steam cooking, as it maintains food’s nutrients, colour and shape,” says Gaggenau’s category manager, Simon Plumbridge. Steam can improve other healthy eating habits such as juicing, too: “Our juice extraction setting gently steams hard-skinned citrus fruit such as oranges, so you get a much higher juice yield without impacting nutrients.”

Steam cooking is also gaining traction with chefs and home cooks because of the innovations in steam-cooking technology. For all its benefits – puffed soufflés, sumptuous bread, those crisp layers in a croissant – mastering the technique used to require an intimidating level of precision. Today, keen cooks are investing in internal temperature probes, gadgets and state-of-the-art appliances to emulate high-end restaurants at home. “The UK’s food scene has massively improved in the past 30 to 40 years, and this growth in skill and quality is reflected in passionate home chefs’ kitchens too,” Fanning reflects. Our private kitchens are becoming more technologically advanced, and ovens that enable amateurs to cook like professionals are both a luxury and an enabler of creativity.

Fresh black lobster

Embracing both the old and the new makes us all better cooks. “Lots of traditional techniques benefit from having precise control over the humidity,” says Fanning. “Take bread for example. For the perfect crusty baguette, you need about 30 per cent humidity for the first five minutes and then very little for the remaining bake. In a traditional convection oven that requires guesswork, but it’s easily and consistently achieved in a combi-steam oven.” Brands like Gaggenau are making this trend for precision steam cooking more accessible. Their combi-steam ovens can be controlled to within one degree, which continually revises the estimated cooking time based on temperature-probe readings from three different sensors. There is no more guessing: “Steam in its basic principle is an ancient way of cooking,” says Plumbridge. “But controlling the level of steam in combination with a fan is only achieved by modern technology – and that’s what brings professional results into the domestic home.”

Read more: Fashion designer Erdem Moralıoğlu’s guide to east London

Steam is also about convenience; rather than waiting for an oven to preheat, a good steam oven heats to temperature immediately. When you combine that with smart, Wi-Fi-enabled technology that lets you control the oven remotely from your office, or even set the bread to prove whilst you’re watching TV, you have all the benefits of ancient cooking just a voice command away. “Connectivity in the home has a lot of momentum at the moment,” Plumbridge observes, “But we’re more interested in future-proofing, so our ovens have the capacity to integrate with apps on any system such as Alexa or Cornflake smart homes.”

As much as new food trends are about keeping pace with technology, steam cooking also allows you to take your time. Next generation combi-steam ovens can sous-vide for up to almost 24 hours on a mains-connected water system or 11 hours with a tank, and cooking meat low and slow with a good level of humidity means it won’t be subjected to heat expansion and contraction, allowing for a more tender and juicy dish. Chefs also use steam to impart more subtle flavours into a dish, laying herbs under a piece of salmon to infuse the fish or steaming couscous in a traditional couscoussier, in which spices, onions and meat cook in the lower compartment and impart their flavour to the grains above.

Octopus tentacles

“Remember that with a combi oven, steam doesn’t have to be 100ºC,” Fanning advises. “You want to cook vegetables as quickly as possible at that temperature, but steaming a piece of turbot at 60ºC or even lower will give you a much more delicate result. Oxtail or lamb shanks can be very gently cooked sous-vide in a combi-steam oven for hours with virtually no chance of overcooking, and duck legs, pork belly, haricot beans or lentils – if vacuum packed with a fat or oil – can be very gently and accurately made as a confit.”

Icelanders have steamed their bread buried next to hot springs for generations and Chinese steaming baskets have been piled with fluffy rice buns and hot dumplings for thousands of years. Steam cooking might be an ancient art, but revolutionary technology, a modern regard for putting ingredients first and a drive to lighten up our diets means that the technique is equally relevant today. True innovation combines the heritage of centuries of steam cooking with precision and performance that inspires. “That’s why Gaggenau ovens are all hand finished,” Plumbridge says. “Only when you piece a product together by hand, the good old-fashioned way, are you actually putting soul into a product. And that’s what really means something to people.”

factory worker

Gaggenau’s factory on the French-German border

Precision Engineering

Darius Sanai takes a rare tour of the Gaggenau factory, pictured above, on the French-German border, and is struck by the melding of industry and creativity

The huge sheet of matte-silver metal looks, somehow, tempting and edible as it sits on the machine bed, like a giant slice of space-age food about to be sliced and diced. Lasers home in on a pattern of points on the sheet, and an instant later, it has a precise latticework of holes and is being washed clean. A few metres away, an operator is in charge of a machine that bends metal. It bends it a tiny bit, almost invisibly, but the bend makes all the difference, our guide explains, as it allows the finished product a smooth, textured finish with no sharp edges.

There is a lot of this in the Gaggenau factory; a lot of working with metal, bending and shaping it, machining it, turning it from sheets, delivered through an entry doorway in one building, into the slick kitchen appliances so beloved by professional chefs.

Metalwork in a factory

Yet metalwork was not what I expected when walking into the factory of a manufacturer of the world’s leading kitchens. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect; my experience of factories is confined to manufacturers of cars and watches. Both of these are very obviously made of metal in a way high-end ovens, cloaked in a kitchen design and so proud of their electronics and technology, are not. Yet there is far more metalworking going on at Gaggenau than in, for example, the Mercedes-Benz factory at Sindelfingen an hour’s drive to the east, or the IWC watch manufacture at Schaffhausen an hour’s drive to the south.

Read more: Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar & the artistic revival of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Perhaps this ought not to be surprising. We are after all in a real factory, rather than a mere assembly plant where components made elsewhere are put together. Gaggenau may now be synonymous with expensive homes, but, as a timeline in the visitor experience centre where we had arrived earlier demonstrated, it has a history in metal. It was founded in 1683 as Eisenwerke Gaggenau, an ironworks which made everything from agricultural machinery to road signs, by Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden. Gaggenau itself is a town in the Black Forest of Germany, which, catalysed by von Baden, became a significant industrial centre and still houses one of the biggest Mercedes-Benz factories.

Gaggenau also made stoves, and eventually specialised in the high-end, highly designed, highly technical kitchen appliances it creates today, eventually moving to its current site from its original home. From the sloping road leading to the current factory in Lipsheim, you can see the curved outline of the Black Forest clearly. “I live there, it takes 30 minutes to cycle in every day,” one of our hosts tells me cheerily. The fact that he lives in Germany and we are just across the border in France’s Alsace is irrelevant: this is the new Europe, and there is, in effect, no border.

It’s a scenic setting for a factory, and also an interesting one: just down the road is Bugatti’s factory (really, a very chic assembly plant), so you could in theory pick up your Chiron and then watch your new steam oven being made. (Actually, the factory tours are not yet open to the public, which makes it even more special.)

factory worker bending metal

The factory is a series of buildings each of which is filled with numerous sections and stations doing different creative activities. Gaggenau’s production process is still very manual; there are 350 workers, many of them trained in astonishingly particular skills pertaining to components or electronics of particular products. There is an air of extreme concentration among the small pods of workers, but unlike in watch manufactures, you don’t get the sense that you are the nth tour to visit that day. Workers are not slickly trained to respond to your questions; some of them are so lost in concentration in operating a particular piece of hot, huge or smelly machinery that they seem surprised to see you there.

What does remind me of a watch factory, or perhaps a pharmaceutical firm, is a ‘clean room’, which we observe from the outside. The room, which sits in a corner of the factory, and the people inside, assembling delicate electrical components of Gaggenau ovens, look like characters in a sci-fi movie of their own.

There is, in another section of the factory, a testing station, where every creation is subject to testing on its accuracy, function, and so on. I lingered a minute or two here, eager to see a malfunctioning multi-thousand-euro oven chucked on a scrapheap (or actually, returned to production to be corrected), but it didn’t happen.

The tour ended and we walked back to the Experience Centre, with its view of the Vosges and walls of the latest steam ovens, slick and architectural, beauty made out of, if not exactly chaos in the factory but certainly industrial creativity. More interesting than any watch manufacture I have been to.

Find out more: gaggenau.com/gb

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue, out now.

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Reading time: 10 min
Model wearing drop earrings
Model wearing fine jewellery pieces

Jordan Alexander’s signature marquis chain necklace with 18K gold and pave diamond earrings and a cushion cut morganite ring. All pieces designed by Theresa Bruno

Theresa Bruno established her jewellery brand Jordan Alexander in 2013 and since then, her designs have been worn by the likes of Michelle Obama and Julia Roberts. Here, the designer tells us about her commitment to sustainability, creating bespoke pieces and channelling her grandmother’s elegance

Portrait of a blonde woman

Theresa Bruno

1. How was Jordan Alexander born?

I was originally a musician and studied music at The Juilliard School where I learned an appreciation for the essential balance between free form and disciplined art. I suppose it’s true to say that craftsmanship was essential and noticeably present in my everyday life.

I was inspired to be a jewellery designer from an early age by heritage pieces, most notably, my grandmother’s pearls. When I had to stop piano because of an injury to my hand, I needed to find a new creative focus, and this seemed a natural progression given my long running interest in the beauty and craft of fine jewellery pieces.

My official breakthrough came when I was approached about First Lady Michelle Obama wearing some of my pieces, and everything flowed from that extraordinary honour. The company was formed, and the name Jordan Alexander is for my two gorgeous sons.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. Do you design with a particular woman in mind?

I have always been inspired by my grandmother, her Southern elegance and the ease with which she moved through the world. I channel her often when I’m designing.

Model wearing drop earrings

18K gold and diamond signature star cradle earrings with cushion cut rhodolite garnet and pear shaped morganite drops 

3. What inspires you to start a new collection?

I am often sparked by my travels; particular colours, and the different ways women adorn themselves. I love photography and visual art and it is all a constant source of inspiration. I was recently in New Orleans and wandered into this tiny little photography gallery. There was a stunning collection of photography by an Italian photographer that had so much movement and soul in the way he photographed. Those experiences are so motivational.

Long necklace worn on model's back

18k gold and diamond signature peace chain lariat with leaf wrapped tanzanite accents and Jordan Alexander logo clasp

4. As a relatively young company, how do you compete with heritage brands?

My jewellery represents my own elegant but free-spirited style. I am an independent designer who carefully hand-crafts each piece, using 18K gold, diamonds and precious hand-selected stones from trusted suppliers who can prove their credentials when it comes to sustainable sourcing. My style is a balance between everyday pieces and ceremonial rings and heirloom, bespoke collectibles. There are many other brands whom I admire enormously, but the truth is that I walk my own road and we are in no rush as a company to expand fast. My bespoke work is my passion and, in my opinion, Jordan Alexander’s point of difference.

Read more: Betye Saar’s ‘Call and Response’ exhibition at LACMA

The first step is starting the dialogue, asking the right questions to better understand the context of each piece and the personal style of the wearer, including sometimes the specific wardrobe with which the pieces will need to coordinate. Once the concept is determined, the client will work with me through every phase of the creative process: concept to sketch, design detail, stone sourcing and finally, production. I have created many bespoke pieces for ball gowns and special events.

Model wearing bracelet and ring

18k gold chain wrapped champagne moonstone ring and bangle

5. Can you tell us about the brand’s sustainability efforts?

Social responsibility is a vital thread that runs through the Jordan Alexander business, which is why I have aligned the brand with A21, a global anti-human trafficking organisation. After travelling with the group to work personally alongside victims in rescue and rehabilitation efforts, I have collaborated to launch a line of jewellery with 100% of proceeds going directly to A21. In general, we re-use gold, repurpose stones and ensure that waste is built out of the creative process.

6. Have you made any new year resolutions?

I don’t really make resolutions, but my thoughts about how I want to live this year are about balance: the balance between being brave and being vulnerable. About being strong, but living with a soft heart. It is a political year in the US with lots of energy about the Presidential election. Everywhere you go people are really heated about it. My hope is to be open enough to accept, and even listen to those who sit on a different side than me, while being true to my beliefs and values.

View the collections: jordanalexanderjewelry.com

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Reading time: 4 min
Man and woman walking through stubble field
Models posing in casual clothes on beach

Looks from Collection 03 by Riley Studio

Sustainable luxury fashion brand Riley Studio creates elegant gender-neutral wardrobe staples using recycled waste materials and natural fibres. Following the recent launch of brand’s third collection, Rosie Ellison-Balaam speaks to the brand’s CEO Olivia Dowie about the importance of production transparency and the challenges of making eco-friendly clothing luxurious.

Portrait of young woman in white tshirt

Olivia Dowie

1. How important is it for people to understand the production process of clothes?

Hugely important! We work hard to be radically transparent so that our community can understand the work that has gone into making each garment. We really believe in adding respect back into the clothing that we wear, and it is important to us that our community understands the production process and the many hands that have carefully crafted each product. From our yarn mills, our fabric mills, our factories to the Riley Studio team, we want to celebrate everyone. When you understand how a product is made and the complex supply chain involved, you understand why a sustainable and ethically made product costs what it does. We hope it also enables consumers to cherish their products for years to come.

Alongside this, the eco-innovation and research that goes into our materials is fascinating and we love sharing how each material is made and how sustainability is at the core of our business.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. What are the difficulties in working with recycled materials?

An incredible amount of research goes into finding recycled materials that are both durable and versatile.

The problem at the moment is that in most cases there isn’t the technology to have 100% recycled fabrics, because they aren’t strong enough. For example, our t-shirt fabric uses recycled cotton, but it has to be mixed with organic cotton to strengthen it. We have our fingers crossed for some breakthroughs though! Recycled materials are definitely more expensive as well, but we’re committed to doing things the right way, not the easy way.

As a small brand, the other issue we find is with high minimum order quantities, ordering lots of fabric also goes against our ethos of producing in limited quantities to tackle overproduction.

Model wearing cosy jumper hat and scarf

Look from Collection 03 by Riley Studio

3. How are you working towards a Butterfly Mark?

We have a series of policies in place to make sure that our sustainability standards are consistent across our supply chain. We will always stand by them and will never compromise. We recently got awarded the Eco-Age Brandmark in recognition of championing gender neutrality through unisex garments, promoting circularity through garment take-back schemes and education, upholding material traceability through extensive sustainability reporting and longstanding relationships with suppliers, and designing with recycled, regenerated and organic fibres.

We are continuously challenging ourselves and developing new processes so that we can create sustainable solutions at every stage of our journey, and we will look to apply for the Butterfly Mark in the near future.

4. How have you made recycling luxurious?

First and foremost, we are a fashion brand, aiming to bring elevated, timeless designs to consumers who are conscious about the state of the planet. We have strong values, so everything we make has to meet our design criteria and brand aesthetic, as well as being eco-innovative. We focus on creating gender-neutral wardrobe staples that are durable and versatile. With simple designs, we don’t follow trends, instead we focus on pieces that we hope will be cherished for years to come, designing for life, not just a season.

Our new collection features our first ever recycled cashmere, which is incredibly soft and made from textile waste. We worked with a small, family-owned factory in Scotland to develop our new beanie, scarf and sweater.

Models posing in corn field

Looks from Collection 03 by Riley Studio

5. Can you talk us through the journey of a ‘Make Good’ t-shirt?

Our ‘Make Good’ t-shirt is created from recot²® made by Gebrüder Otto in Germany, which is a mix of 25% recycled cotton and 75% GOTS certified organic cotton. Adding recycled cotton to organic cotton mix improves the eco-balance of the fabric. The recycled cotton fibres come from textile waste including yarn discards and fabric scraps. By using recot²®, you can save 5000 litres of water per 1kg, which has helped us achieve a total saving of 2,075,129 litres of water across our products.

Lurdes Sampaio in Portugal then make it into a fabric, which is sent to Wonder Routine in Portugal where the t-shirts are made!

6. Favourite piece of Collection 03?

It has to be our Recycled Cashmere Sweater, which comes in Charcoal and Cloud. It is incredibly soft and a piece that represents the best in eco-innovation, craftsmanship and heritage.

View Riley Studio’s collections: riley.studio

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Reading time: 4 min
Inside a knife making workshop
Row of vines growing on a hillside set against a blue sky

The Fattorie dei Dolfi estate in Tuscany uses traditional, sustainable practices in its winemaking.

Whether cooking or dining, some of our most memorable experiences are steeped in history and heritage. Abi Smith speaks to the craftspeople and producers who are placing time-honoured techniques at the heart of their work, with support from Gaggenau’s latest initiative

Conspicuous consumption is a thing of the past; today we all know that true luxury lies in experience and emotion. No longer blind to the damage that our disposable lifestyles are wreaking upon the planet, our gaze has turned to techniques and materials that have stood the test of time. But is this newfound focus on sustainability and durability built to last?

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Two farmers standing in rugged landscape

Kyle Holford and Lauren Smith

For Lauren Smith and Kyle Holford of Forest Coalpit Farm in Wales, who raise their large black cross pigs on pasture, it was the only approach. “From the beginning, we realised that our focus should be on quality and welfare so we kept that philosophy at the core of our decision- making,” Smith says. And though sustainability is rarely the quick and easy option, it pays dividends. “Quality takes time,” she adds. “It takes about twice as long for us to raise our pigs. We realised that we could produce pigs quicker, but there was less colour in the meat, and less of the much-sought-after marbling throughout.”

Forest Coalpit Farm pigs spend their days in the Brecon Beacons National Park woodland, a freedom that leads to “healthier, happier, cleaner pigs that get fresh air and exercise and haven’t been pumped full of antibiotics,” says Smith. There are perks for the environment, too: “Because our pigs roam and are rotated through large areas, there is a constant wheel of fertilising and regeneration, we don’t have vast slurry tanks and we don’t need to keep lights or air conditioning in the barns.”

Pigs grassing in woodland landscape

At Forest Coalpit Farm in Wales, Kyle Holford and Lauren Smith rear free-range large black cross pigs

Increasingly, consumers are turning to sustainable products for better quality. “I don’t follow the principle of sustainability for other people or because it’s popular in the market,” explains Giovanni Dolfi, who heads up the Fattorie dei Dolfi winery in Tuscany. “I do it for myself.” In collaboration with celebrated oenologist Dr Giacomo Tachis, Dolfi harnesses biodiversity and traditional processes to bring his historic Tuscan vineyards to life. “Sustainability is something I’ve always believed in and what I practise every day in my vineyards,” he continues, citing his devotion to both the environment and his customers’ wellbeing. “I am always the first person to drink my wine, and since I care for my own health, I believe that practising sustainability is a natural choice.”

Read more: Ornellaia’s auction of vintages with artwork by Shirin Neshat

This dedication to sustainability is what led German brand Gaggenau to begin working with Fattorie dei Dolfi, as part of its strategy to further promote its wine culture, and Giovanni Dolfi was invited to its International Sommelier Awards. As a maker of professional-grade luxury home appliances, Gaggenau has an instinctive respect for quality and craftsmanship: the ethos it has recently formalised through its Respected by Gaggenau programme. This mark of endorsement gives makers the recognition they deserve, while also offering the prospect of a bursary to support their work.

Wooden wine barrels in cellar

Italian style villa on the wine estate

Here and above: the Fattorie dei Dolfi wine estate in Tuscany

It is a project that chimes with the current zeitgeist. Ever since the ‘slow food’ movement showed us the power of taking natural ingredients and enjoying them mindfully (something that discerning aesthetes have always known) the world has been longing for a more measured pace of life. Love it or hate it, the philosophy of tidiness guru Marie Kondo (who proposes keeping only those items that ‘spark joy’ within you) has put a popular modern spin on the wise words of William Morris more than a century before, namely: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

It is a sublimation of beauty and utility that has led Nico Zendel – a designer at Gaggenau – to begin a side business forging bespoke knives with antique files. “Perfect function is a must and the perfect form supports the perfect function,” he says. “At Gaggenau we work with a lot of raw materials and try to highlight the handcrafted details on our products. That is the way I design my knives as well.” If you have an old file that has been handed down through your family, Zendel will use it to create a bespoke product for you. “An old file that has no use anymore is often discarded, but if you make a knife from it, you can use it every day, see the marks on it and perhaps think of your father or grandfather while you’re cooking. It has an emotional component that I’m very interested in,” he says. The result is a modern heirloom that says more about you than the most carefully curated Instagram feed ever could.

Inside workman's workshop

Inside a knife making workshop

Knife maker welding a knife

Designer Nico Zendel crafts bespoke knives from antique files which may otherwise have been discarded. Here, above and top: images by Alexander Stuhler

Zendel says that such objects last longer because people treat them with more respect: “For me, it’s important to preserve traditional techniques as they imbue the products with heart and emotion. It helps to get away from the throw-away culture; people are more linked to products that tell a story.” Dolfi’s wines are also overflowing with feeling: “Fattorie dei Dolfi is a project built by heart and hands,” he says. “By heart, we mean our passion, dedication and our love for the project. By hand, we mean the hard work we put in every day to pursue exceptional quality and unique results.”

Wine maker sniffing a glass of red

Fattorie dei Dolfi’s owner, Giovanni Dolfi

This hard work manifests itself in a natural approach to viniculture, where modern shortcuts are eschewed for gentler methods that work in harmony with the land. “My vineyards are surrounded by woodlands, where you’ll find bees, ladybugs, spiders, hares, birds and more,” says Dolfi. “The benefits of this are obvious. For example, the bees bring natural pollination and help to control the numbers of harmful insects. This ensures the health of my vineyards and the exceptional quality that I pursue.”

Read more:  In conversation with renowned Belgian painter Luc Tuymans

But the path of an artisanal producer is not always easy. In Dolfi’s case, during late summer, wild boars have been known to gorge on the grapes. A commitment to what we might call ‘slow luxury’ – much like slow food – means a rejection of the ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ philosophy that has made other entrepreneurs rich. As Smith from Coalpit Farm points out, “rearing pigs outdoors requires a lot more labour than an indoor system with automated feeding. We have to move the pigs from pen to pen, and it’s harder to get their diet just right when they burn a lot more energy running outside. And there’s the weather, too.” But Smith, who knows every sow by name, wouldn’t have it any other way.

Remembering how his grandfather would walk him round their ancestral vineyards, Dolfi says: “As we relentlessly strive for efficiency, traditional ways fall out of favour and the concept of exceptional quality can be lost.” To survive, these crafts must be supported and celebrated, and that’s where Respected by Gaggenau comes in. With the right platform and access to a global support network, their skills will endure for generations to come.

Respected by Gaggenau

Man in a suit standing in high tech kitchen

Gaggenau’s head of design, Sven Baacke

Sven Baacke, head of design at Gaggenau, shares his philosophy on supporting emerging artisanal creators

LUX: What inspired Respected by Gaggenau and why is it important to preserve traditional artisanal skills?
Sven Baacke: The initial concept of the Respected by Gaggenau initiative was inspired by our appreciation for people who are using traditional techniques to create a different and exceptional product. Gaggenau has always celebrated exceptional craftsmanship and we wanted to formalise our support for these artisans and craftsmen through this initiative.

LUX: How can advanced technology and traditional craftsmanship work hand in hand?
Sven Baacke: A unique example of how Gaggenau merges traditional production methods with advanced technology is the way in which we construct our EB 333 ovens. Since its introduction in 1986, this 90-cm wide oven, designed for private kitchens, is crafted almost entirely by hand using select materials. Yet the company also embraces the latest technology: we created a clean room at the epicentre of our Lipsheim factory to hand-build our signature TFT touch display, which features
on the EB 333. This is a clear case of how technology and artisanal craftsmanship work together in harmony.

LUX: Is craftsmanship still valued by consumers in a modern market?
Sven Baacke: Craftsmanship, now more than ever, is valued highly by luxury consumers. Our customers expect exceptional craftsmanship from Gaggenau appliances. At every stage of production, we examine our work to seek out imperfections. The quality control that we use when creating our appliances ensures that we produce an extraordinary product, every time.

LUX: How will the Respected by Gaggenau artisans benefit from your global network?
Sven Baacke: Gaggenau takes part in a range of events globally; for example, we are a proud partner of The World Restaurant Awards, which was launched in Paris at the beginning of this year. We introduced Respected by Gaggenau at the awards, with an immersive experience inspired by a traditional marketplace. It featured products curated by us and the Collège Culinaire de France, and guests could explore the collection while learning more about who made each item. We also host the Gaggenau International Sommelier Awards – a global search for the world’s best young sommelier talent – so we’ll encourage their involvement with this event too. It’s all part of our initiative to celebrate these remarkable artisans and their stories.

Find out more: gaggenau.com/gb

To discover Nico Zendel’s range of knives visit: vauzett.com.

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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Reading time: 8 min
Aerial view inside a bed making workshop
Double bed with gilded decorative head board

The KIKU by Savoir Beds features panels of hand-painted gilded silk wallpaper by London-based company Fromental

In 1905 The Savoy Hotel decided to create a bespoke bed for its guests, and so began the legacy of what’s now known as Savoir Beds. Every Savoir bed is crafted from chemical-free natural materials, carefully selected to provide the optimum sleeping environment. Here, we speak to the Savoir’s Managing Director Alistair Hughes about mastering craft, delivering consistency and the brand’s efforts to be sustainable.
Man leaning against the edge of a bed in a showroom

Alistair Hughes

LUX: Can you tell us how a Savoir bed is created from start to finish?
Alistair Hughes: Every Savoir bed is tailor-made for the client to ensure it fits them perfectly. The process starts with a ‘fitting’ at one of our showrooms, where our expertly trained staff will discuss the needs of the client and try them on the various models and different support options in order to make a bespoke bed. We have created four varieties of Savoir beds, named No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4, and they all have infinite customisable options. Beyond comfort is the design and styling of the bed, our sales team will work to the client’s requirements offering unlimited fabric options for upholstery and styles for the headboard and base.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

Following the fitting, the order is shared with our in-house design team at our Bedworks in North London. Our CAD designer will work with the showroom to create a render which is sent to the client for approval. Once the design has been reviewed and approved by the client, it is then passed on to production. Our fabric specialist will order the clients’ chosen fabric for the headboard and base, once delivered they will carefully check every inch to ensure it is absolutely perfect.

The fabric is then passed on to our cutting room which will cut the fabric. It is also during this stage that our seamstresses will cut the signature Savoir Trellis ticking which is used for all our mattresses, toppers and top of the box springs. Once cut, the fabric is left for a minimum of 24 hours to allow it to relax (when it’s on a roll, it is stretched slightly). The Savoir seamstresses will then sew the mattress, topper and mattress cases, ready to be passed on to the craftsmen.

Craftsman constructing spring base of a bed

Here and above: craftsmen assembling a Savoir bed inside the workshops

The bed set starts with the box spring. A wooden frame is created in woodwork, in which large hourglass springs are carefully secured. The springs are then hand-tied together, using eight-way star-lashing. A stitched hair role is then created on the edge of the base, through packing horsetail hair in to a neat roll and stitching in place. An abundance of hand-teased loose hair is then placed on top of the boxspring, with tufting the last stage to ensure all the hair stays in place.

Next is the mattress, hand-tied pocket springs, which are produced in the Savoir Bedworks, are sandwiched between masses of hand-laid, long, loose horse tail, with cotton and wool. The mattress is then hand-slipped to close and hand-side-stitched to ensure the springs stay in place. Like the box spring, the mattress is also tufted, stopping the natural materials moving.

The final element of the bed set is the topper, the natural casing that the seamstresses cut and sew together is filled with long, loose, hand tease horse tail, along with a layer of lambs wool, cotton or yak fibres, depending upon the chosen topper. The topper is also tufted, with beautiful fabric tufts on both sides to create a petal effect when a stitch pulls them closer together.

For clients that have specified a bespoke headboard, this will be crafted by the highly skilled Savoir upholsterers. The frame will be carved and constructed in the expansive woodwork workshop. Once created, this is passed on to the upholsterers, where the fabric which was cut by the seamstresses is carefully applied to the frame. No two beds are the same, so our upholsterers have years of experience to ensure the finished headboard is perfect.

Before every bed is delivered to the client, it is set up by the Savoir Quality Control team. The team will ensure that every detail of the bed is to the clients’ specification. The finished bed is then shipped around the world, direct to its new home.

Read more: Test driving Michelin’s tyres for supercars

LUX: How do you ensure a consistent quality of product?
Alistair Hughes: We make less than 1,000 beds a year because we are focused on making the best, not the most.

We continue to hand craft our beds at our North London Bedworks and in Wales, just outside Cardiff. Every Savoir bed is made to order for a particular client, built by hand to meet specific needs and deliver unsurpassed comfort.

We use only the finest, natural materials including Argentinian curled horse tail, which provides a breathable sleeping surface and the ultimate temperature control for enhanced sleep. The high standard of materials and skilled craftsmanship result in a consistently comfortable bed for our clients and one that matches their style aspirations, as only a bespoke product can.

LUX: The original Savoy bed was designed in 1905 and has changed very little since – how do balance heritage and innovation?
Alistair Hughes: I am immensely proud of the heritage of Savoir, I couldn’t imagine a better legacy for a bed company.

The beds were first created for The Savoy Hotel whose sole aim was to give the best night’s sleep to the most demanding clients in the world. The result was The Savoy Bed, now named the Savoir N°2, and it remains our most popular bed. Liza Minnelli had refused to leave the hotel without one; Emma Thompson said the bed had cured her insomnia.  The product had been raved about for over 100 years by the most demanding guests in the world.

However, innovation is very important to keep driving our business forward. We pride ourselves in being at the forefront of designer collaborations and each year we hand-pick the best brands and designers to create inspired designs. Last year we collaborated with the National Gallery, Fromental, Nicole Fuller and Steve Leung.

Read more: Bentley auctions new model for the Elton John AIDS Foundation

As we have control over every element of production, anything is possible which excites designers. Beds for superyachts or fantastic headboards inspired by art or architecture, we can craft and create anything. Our Savoir designers work closely with collaborators to design a personalised, unique piece of furniture. It’s always a special moment when we have designers visit the Bedworks and they are astounded by the amazing and extremely skilled craftsmen.

This month we launched our most innovative design yet and the world’s most luxurious bed: The Three Sixty. Available exclusively at Harrods, the bed is the epitome of contemporary design and bespoke British craft. It seamlessly combines aesthetics, technology and ultra-luxury.

Luxurious circular bed in showroom setting

The Three Sixty, Savoir’s latest bed design

LUX: Why did you decide to change the company name from Savoy to Savoir?
Alistair Hughes: Our heritage is of course The Savoy Hotel, but we also wanted to supply other hotels who might not want the name “Savoy” across their beds!  We liked the idea of Savoir Faire, with all its associations with quality craftsmanship, and the fact it was not a million miles from Savoy.

LUX: Having recently expanded overseas, how does Savoir cater to these new markets?
Alistair Hughes: We have 14 showrooms around the world from London to New York and Paris, as well as worldwide in China, Germany, Russia, Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong.

We have collaborated with a number of international designers to create beds for different markets. We have worked with Nicole Fuller in the US, Steve Leung and Teo Yang in Asia and we will soon be unveiling a new partnership with Bill Amberg, the UK’s leading bespoke leather product, interiors and furniture designer.

LUX: Where is the biggest emerging market for you?
Alistair Hughes: Asia is developing rapidly and Savoir is growing its presence in Asia with showrooms in Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei and next month we will be opening a 1,385 square foot showroom in the new Raffles Hotel Arcade in Singapore.  We are in advanced discussions about a showroom in the south of China too, so a lot to look forward to.  But that said, America is still the largest luxury market in the world, and as an emerging brand it is an absolutely key focus.

Read more: Meet the young model who creates ads for Nike

LUX: How do you create a sustainable product?
Alistair Hughes: All Savoir bed sets have a 25 year guarantee and we turn our back on the throw-away culture.

We refresh beds and mattresses through recycling materials. For example, the existing horse tail is removed from a mattress, it is then re-carded through the use of a carding machine, and then hand-teased and redistributed within the existing mattress casing. The re-carding machine is over 100 years old and is thought to be one of only two in the country. We can also recycle casings for mattresses, re-making and re-tying box springs to re-invigorate the perfect and bespoke mattress tension, which may have been lost over time.

Aerial view inside a bed making workshop

LUX: How does your previous role in management consultancy inform the operations of Savoir?
Alistair Hughes: I think it helped to bring a broader perspective to what I do and how the business can best meet the needs of our clients.  Within bed manufacture in general there had been a strong focus on driving down cost.  Retailers often see a mattress as a grey box, they all look the same, just get the price down. Savoir thinks more of the end client and what they want: a great night’s sleep.  So the focus has been the best product, and understanding that clients are willing to pay for something better.

LUX: Where was your best night’s sleep?
Alistair Hughes: I’m spoilt, having the best bed in the world at home.  At the end of the day, there is nothing like getting into a Savoir.  I love the feeling, especially with fresh, cool and crisp percale sheets.  I’m instantly relaxed…it’s a great feeling!

Beyond that, I grew up in Ethiopia and Malawi and have always had a thing about the big African skies.  On recent family trips we have had some great under canvas holidays, most recently in Botswana.  There is something magical about the lack of light pollution, the stars and the sound of nature (not always quiet, but definitely music to my ears).

Discover Savoir’s range: savoirbeds.com

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Reading time: 9 min
A gold ring on a pink surface with half pink circles in the background
A gold ring on a pink surface with half pink circles in the background

Working with several designers, Van Cleef & Arpels have breathed new life into their classic collection

This season, we’ve got our eye on the new, youthful additions to Van Cleef & Arpels’ Perlée collection

Perlée is one of Van Cleef & Arpels’ long-standing, classic collections so-called after the maison‘s signature style of beaded jewels. The newest additions offer a fresh twist on the traditional and have been visualised in youthful graphic campaigns created in collaboration with designers such as Santi Zoraidez and Oscar Pettersson, both of whom are known for their playful, pastel aesthetics, digital geometric formations and sizeable Instagram followings.

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This might mark the first steps to a more millennial approach for the traditional French jewellery brand as does the focus on bespoke design. For example, the transformable long beaded necklace allows wearers to swap in the central ring with a variation of three colours (onyx, turquoise and coral) to better suit their mood, outfit or the occasion.

promotional image of a woman's torso in a white top wearing a long chain necklace with a beaded circle pendant

The transformable long beaded necklace with a coral inner ring

Diamond studded watch bracelet pictured on a pale blue background

One of Van Cleef & Arpels’ new ‘secret watches’ in bracelet style with rose gold and diamonds

Even the more grown-up pieces such as the secret watches have been made-over with contrasting gemstones and precious metals – rose gold paired with diamonds, deep green malachite and orange coral, yellow gold studded with diamonds and lapis lazuli. It’s an effortless, refreshing new look for the collection, and the brand.

Find out more: vancleefarpels.com

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Reading time: 1 min
Luxury bedroom interiors showroom with double bed and grey armchairs
Luxury bedroom interiors showroom with double bed and grey armchairs

A display in LEMA’s London showroom. Photography by Emma Lambe

Founded in 1970, LEMA still remains family-owned and true to its ‘Made in Italy’ philosophy. The group collaborates with famed architects and designers to produce elegant, modern furniture and made-to-measure interior fittings for residential and commercial properties across the globe. Ahead of this year’s Salone del Mobile in April, we speak to the company’s president Angelo Meroni about working with family, discovering new talent and moving into the Asian market.
Black and white portrait of LEMA president and family member Angelo Meroni

Angelo Meroni, President of LEMA

LUX: Tell us about your history and how the brand started?
Angelo Meroni: Our family tradition in the furniture market began in the 1930s with my grandfather. In the 30s following the Brianza manufacturing tradition, he opened a small shop in the town centre. At the time, it was purely craftsman work, completely handmade, in fact, the production times would be unthinkable nowadays. Later, the 1940s saw the opening of the first store in Milan city centre. Here, during the years of the economic boom, LEMA was able to collaborate with the first nationally recognised architects and designers to embrace a production characterised by a more modern aesthetic. Then in 1970, my father founded the brand LEMA and the all-important organised industrial production started, with an innovative factory in Alzate-Brianza designed by Angelo Mangiarotti, a cutting-edge plant for a production with a new philosophy. Indeed, LEMA was the first Italian brand to design and produce integrated furnishing systems, organising the entire production cycle from receiving the raw materials to the packaging. The breakthrough came in 1981 when the “Made-to-Measure Wardrobe” was conceived, a modular custom-made closet solution, a key step in establishing LEMA in the market. The system still exists to this day, and is under constant evolution, fulfilling and anticipating the needs of private and contract customers.

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LUX: You work alongside your two sisters – what are the challenges and benefits of working with family?
Angelo Meroni: The family factor within LEMA is the ‘soul factor’, which gives our designers the possibility to communicate directly with this ‘soul’. As a family, we are directly involved in all areas of the design and selection processes where we decide what furnishings will be produced for the following year. However, LEMA is also a corporate reality, we have more than 250 employees, more than 985 worldwide dealers in over 65 countries. This way we are able to maintain the balance between a strictly family business and an international reality. My sisters and I also look after different sectors of the business, therefore we are able to capitalise on the benefits rather than the challenges.

Craftsman sanding the edge of a piece of furniture

LEMA works with leading designers to ensure the highest level of craftsmanship

LUX: Why is it so important that the brand maintains a ‘Made in Italy’ ethos?
Angelo Meroni: Since the brand was founded, LEMA has championed the ‘Made in Italy’ ethos by expertly mixing innovation and tradition, turning quality and personalisation into our unique selling point. I would say that this is one of our key strengths, where our extraordinary manufacturing ability meets the typically Italian excellence, allowing LEMA to combine the values and technological efficiencies of a large enterprise with fine and unrivalled craftsmanship, which is unique to Italy.

LUX: You created the first air-cleaning wardrobe system – how did that idea come about?
Angelo Meroni: The LEMA Air Cleaning System is the result of more than twelve months of research, which was created from an idea I had that the wardrobe should play an active role in our well being. Using patented Photocatalytic Oxidation technology, which is mainly used to purify aerospace environments where one of the main issues is to maintain the quality and cleanliness of the air. Indeed, we spend a great deal of our busy daily lives in environments outside our homes: in places such as offices, public transport, shopping centres, restaurants, hotels and gyms, where the quality of air is poor due to inadequate air-recycling: bacteria, allergens, carbon monoxide, particulate matter which permeates our clothing generating bad odours. Interestingly, the Air Cleaning System can be positioned discreetly at the top of any wardrobe, and it uses nanotechnology and a special UV lamp to generate a photochemical reaction that naturally destroys pollutants, bacteria and moulds, purifying the inside of the wardrobe and eliminating up to 90% of these.

Detail shot of a contemporary style living area

Photography by Emma Lambe

LUX: How does your design approach differ for bigger contractual work as seen in LEMA Contract fitting out of the Bulgari London Hotel?
Angelo Meroni: Our Casa and Contract divisions are tightly connected, as for both we use our “made-to-measure” and bespoke philosophy. However, through our Contract Division LEMA’s indissoluble connection with the design world finds its utmost expression. We have a cutting-edge industrial department dedicated solely to the residential, hospitality and office sectors, which has a strong and consistent growth. Our mission statement: “You Think We Make”, defines our mission; our Contract clients can find in LEMA a knowledgeable partner in the development of every project where we interpret and translate all aesthetic and functional needs. In London alone we have collaborated with some of the best-known interior designers, architect firms and developers, collaborating on projects such as The Chilterns apartments, Holland Park Villas, 190 The Strand and Bulgari Hotel, which you mentioned and we are currently delivering Lincoln Square, to name but a few.

LUX: You’ve recently moved into the Asian market, how does an Italian brand appeal to Asian consumers?
Angelo Meroni: Yes indeed, in 2017 we opened a flagship store in Shanghai, which confirms LEMA’s interest in the Asian market and China in particular. The previous year we had inaugurated more than 1000 square meters of showroom space in Shenzhen, an increasingly cosmopolitan hub, where we expressed our Italian excellence. Our Contract sector has also been increasingly busy with the Chinese market, last year we supplied more than 1,000 customised wardrobes for the prestigious One Park apartments in Shanghai.

Regarding our Casa Division, we have also produced some products with the Far East market particularly in mind. For example, at the Milan Salone del Mobile last year we presented the Bulè table that comes with a rotating ‘lazy Susan’, which is perfect for the Asian market, of course, you can also sell it without the rotating centre and then it becomes a normal table. The Asian market is extremely attracted to all that Italy has to offer, and being a strictly “Made in Italy” brand we have been able to draw on this as a unique selling point in this vast and competitive market.

Read more: Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing on redefining Parisian glamour

LUX: How do you issue a design brief for LEMA Casa and to what extent are you involved in the creative process?
Angelo Meroni: Each year, we start the creative process for the new pieces that are first unveiled at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, the most important date in the design calendar. As far as designers go, we are open to anybody. Our Art Director Piero Lissoni looks after a preferred team of designers that we have been working with for years and whom we know very well. Yet, we are especially open to young designers. This is one of the big values of LEMA, we like to discover new talents. While some of our designers such as Francesco Rota and Gordon Guillaumier have been part of our team for years, they were fairly young when they started working with us. It’s an evolving process and it carries on with no ending, a process in which I like to be personally involved across all the phases.

LUX: You fitted out all of the Vodafone shops in Italy in 3 days twice – how did you manage it?
Angelo Meroni: We started with the Italian Vodafone flagship store, in the famous Piazza San Babila in Milan, which welcomes thousands of customers in a super-technological atmosphere. We were asked to realise the whole furniture set of this selling point: demonstrating our ability to build environments according to the customer’s specific needs. It was a record – the whole furniture was engineered in just 30 days! The other challenge was the integration of the furniture with the technologies present in the store, which makes the core of this amazing selling point. LEMA Contract built 1,050 Vodafone Stores in Italy and in all of them the great ability of LEMA’s craftsmanship met with the most innovative of our production technology, meaning that we managed to fit out the stores in such little time.

LUX: What’s next for LEMA?
Angelo Meroni: You will have to wait for the 2019 Salone del Mobile in Milan! We are finalising the products, which we will be showcasing, and unveiling for the first time. It is always an exciting time for us. In particular, we have some important novelties that will be introduced to our LEMA Casa catalogue. As a company we are in continuous development and expansion, and therefore drafting new projects and ideas is definitely my favourite part of the job.

Discover the collection: lemamobili.com

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Reading time: 7 min
Campaign for Alsara by Damiani jewellery collection inspired by Kazakh traditions
Jewellery campaign for brand Damiani starring Aliya Nazarbaieva

An image from the first Alsara by Damiani campaign with Aliya Nazarbayeva wearing earrings and ring with turquoise and black-and-white diamonds

How does a historic Italian jewellery brand come to dedicate an entire collection to the traditions and culture of Kazakhstan? Through a little bit of serendipity, and some inspiration from one of the world’s ancient nomadic cultures, as LUX Editor-at-Large Gauhar Kapparova discovers
 Guido, Silvia and Giorgio Damiani of Italian jewellery brand Damiani

Guido, Silvia and Giorgio Damiani

Italian fine jewellery brand Damiani first opened stores in Almaty and Astana in 2005, following the brand’s strategy for global expansion under the leadership of third-generation Damiani family members, Guido, Giorgio and Silvia. The brand’s sensuous Italian style and commitment to hand-crafted detail quickly captured the attention of Kazakh women, whilst the Damiani siblings, who travel frequently to the country on business, became increasingly fascinated and enamoured by the culture and traditions there. A deep and mutual affection grew organically between brand and country, leading to the idea of a cross-cultural collaboration.

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To create Alsara, a collection inspired by and dedicated to Kazakhstan, the President’s youngest daughter Aliya Nazarbayeva teamed up in 2011 with Zhanna Kan, the owner of Damiani Kazakhstan and the driving force behind the new line. The name Alsara is a portmanteau combining Aliya and her mother’s name Sara, and pays tribute to the influence of not just them but also all the Kazakh women the jewellers have met.

Traditional Kazakh style necklace by brand Damiani

Unique necklace ‘Tumar’ with blue sapphires, rubies, diamonds and semi-precious stones

The collection began as a conversation between Aliya and Damiani’s Italy-based designers, during which Aliya educated the brand on ancient Kazakh ornament, such as the traditional tumar necklace and bilezik cuff. These styles were reimagined and transformed by expert craftsmen in Damiani’s historic ateliers in Valenza, where Enrico Grassi Damiani opened his first goldsmith’s laboratory in 1924. The result was a collection of intricate gold and precious stone pieces, marrying refined Italian craftsmanship with Kazakh heritage. Following a sold-out range, the collection broadened to include silver and semi-precious stones, such as onyx and turquoise, typical of Kazakh jewellery.

Read more: Meet the new creative entrepreneurs

Bridging two distinct cultures, the Alsara collection melds tradition with contemporary fashion. “Alsara pieces became not only stylish accessories for modern Kazakh women but also perfect gifts for weddings and kudalyk, which are the engagement ceremonies,” comments Zhanna Kan. “They are regarded as family jewels to be preserved and handed down.”

Campaign for Alsara by Damiani jewellery collection inspired by Kazakh traditions

The Alsara by Damiani campaign with Gulnara Chaizhunussova wearing silver earrings and a bracelet and ring with green agate, citrine and diamonds

Alsara’s most recent designs reveal a striking modern look for the collection, reflecting the evolving cosmopolitan culture of Kazakhstan. Colourful gemstones have been replaced with black and white diamonds, producing a pared-back aesthetic with hints of Art Deco and oriental motives. The Kazakh heritage has not been lost, however, and neither has the craft; the collection continues to be entirely handmade in Italy whilst the influence of traditional Kazakh jewellery remains in the threads of delicately curved silver, drawing on artisanal methods of filigree.

Discover the collections: damiani.com

This article was first published in the Winter 19 Issue.

Luxury fine jewellery earrings by brand Damiani

Earrings with wings motif in white and yellow gold with smoky quartz, garnet and icy diamonds

 

 

Ornate necklace by Italian brand Damiani

Jewellery from Damiani’s Alsara collection, including necklace in white and yellow gold with black and white diamonds and pearls, inspired by Art Deco and Kazakh ornament

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Moynat luxury leather shop

Moynat’s shop in Selfridges, London

It was hand-painted handbags at dusk at the new, gallery-like Accessories Hall at Selfridges in London as Moynat, the uber-exclusive Parisian leather goods company, opened its new shop-within-a-shop in the most prime location in the area. Moynat’s urbane, intellectual CEO Guillaume Davin (who appears more like a perfectly-coiffed character out of a Michel de Montaigne essay, than a luxury brand CEO) was on hand to greet visiting journalistic and customer illuminati, as was creative director Ramesh Nair.

Moynat's CEO Guillaume Davin, Creative Director, Ramesh Nair and LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai holding flutes of champagne in Moynat shop

Moynat’s CEO Guillaume Davin, Creative Director, Ramesh Nair and LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai at the launch of Moynat in Selfridges. Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Moynat

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Suzy Menkes Vogue Editor in wearing floral dress and heels

International Vogue Editor Suzy Menkes at Moynat launch party. Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Moynat

The star of the show, though, was surely the painter, Laure, who sat at a table in the centre of the shop painting motifs onto Moynat’s extremely expensive leather with special acrylic paints. One prototype bag featured a motif of Louis Bleriot’s ‘XI’, the first plane to cross the Channel, which appeared and disappeared with temperature fluctuations.

Artist painting onto leather bag

Artist, Laure, painting motifs onto Moynat leather. Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Moynat

Luxury leather handbags

Moynat handbags. Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for MOYNAT)

Meanwhile Nair, wearing a black T-shirt and fizzing with ideas, told LUX about a couple of new concepts he is planning, including one so avant-garde he hasn’t yet dared run it past Davin. Watch this space.

moynat.com

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New timepiece by luxury watchmakers Ulysse Nardin, the FREAK VISION launched at SIHH 2018
New timepiece by luxury watchmakers Ulysse Nardin, the FREAK VISION launched at SIHH 2018

Ulysse Nardin FREAK VISION, launched at this year’s SIHH

The venerable Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin, known for its elaborate and striking timepieces, was purchased by luxury group Kering (owner of Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Stella McCartney) in 2014 and recently appointed Patrick Pruniaux as its CEO. Hailing from Apple‘s smartwatch division, and before that rival brand TAG Heuer, Pruniaux reveals some bold new designs at this week’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie fair in Geneva. His challenges: to differentiate Ulysse Nardin from others in a crowded market; to conquer China; and to conquer the Millennial market.
Portrait of new CEO of luxury watchmakers Ulysse Nardin, Patrick Pruniaux

Patrick Pruniaux

LUX: Talk us through your releases at SIHH and also the Torpilleur?
Patrick Pruniaux: The general theme of our SIHH 2018 is #freakmeout! And the watch epitomising at best this mindset is the new FREAK VISION, a true revolution in terms of energy optimisation in a mechanical watch.

The Marine Torpilleur has been launched as our pre-SIHH novelty last October and It’s already a best seller.

LUX: What were the challenges you faced on taking up the position of CEO?
Patrick Pruniaux: Surprisingly, not so many. The foundations were there: incredible products, stunning know-how, motivated teams and great heritage. However, in terms of marketing and communication, we need to improve the storytelling and to create the dream around our products.

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LUX: What are the most interesting aspects of the luxury watch market for you?
Patrick Pruniaux: Challenges are always more interesting than assets. In the case of the watch industry, we have to invest on millennials. They represent the future and they are keener at wearing a connected than a mechanical watch.

LUX: Where are the most vibrant markets, and where do you have most growth potential?
Patrick Pruniaux: The USA, Russia and China are key markets for Ulysse Nardin. Historically, we are very strong in America and Russia. China represents for us a huge potential development.

LUX: Is the luxury watch space becoming too crowded? How do you differentiate?
Patrick Pruniaux: Creativity is the one and only answer.

Handcrafted luxury watches by Ulysse Nardin

Carriage assembly of the Tourbillon timepiece

LUX: How important is heritage vs innovation?
Patrick Pruniaux: One needs the other. Heritage always inspires innovations. Take for example our new Marine Torpilleur, its design comes directly from our onboard marine chronometers.

LUX: How important are technological advances and complications? Patrick Pruniaux: At Ulysse Nardin, innovation is driven by the research of horological performance. The best illustration I could give is our “Grinder” technology: a unique winding system we have incorporated in our new FREAK VISION timepiece, launched at SIHH 2018. Thanks to this innovation, every tiny movement of the wrist is optimised to rewind the barrel spring in the most performant way.

LUX: Are women becoming more influential in the watch market? Patrick Pruniaux: They have always been. Most of the time, when a man buys a watch, he always wants to know his wife’s opinion.

LUX: Do you wish to change what Ulysse Nardin stands for?
Patrick Pruniaux: Ulysse Nardin always stands for ultimate innovation, the desire to be different, the urge for exploration, in one word: freedom. This will remain the same, we are just going to express it in a different way.

LUX: Kering is not known for its watch brands – what is it like being a watch company in a fashion-oriented group?
Patrick Pruniaux: Great inspiration because the fashion world is going much faster than the watchmaking world, it’s very creative and drives us always one step forward.

Read next: 6 reasons to buy a high power Mercedes-AMG

Traditional craft methods used by luxury swiss watchmakers Ulysse Nardin

Wheel bridge fitting by hand in the Ulysse Nardin workshop

LUX: LUX’s tagline is Responsible Luxury; Kering has a powerful sustainability program. How important is that for your consumers? Patrick Pruniaux: It’s a key value for the group and for Ulysse Nardin. Our territory is the sea, therefore, sustainability is at the heart of our brand positioning.

LUX: What’s your favourite Ulysse Nardin watch and why?
Patrick Pruniaux: Right now, I am totally in love with the new FREAK VISION, I am sure it will be the hero of the whole SIHH.

LUX: Will smartwatches wipe out mechanical watches?
Patrick Pruniaux: I don’t believe it will. At least not in the high-end segment. Why do you think I am back in traditional watchmaking? Just because I think there is not a product that is more contemporary than a mechanical watch.

ulysse-nardin.com

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Reading time: 3 min
stem forming using wooden mould in moser glass workshop
Colourful hand blown, cut glasses

A range of glasses crafted by Moser

Moser glassworks was founded in 1857 in the tiny quaint town of Karlovy Vary, just outside of Prague, and is now one of the world’s best-known luxury artisanal glassware brands. Kitty Harris travelled to the glass workshop to speak to Moser’s Art Director, Lukáš Jabůrek about inspirations, collaborations and meeting the demands of diverse luxury markets on the brand’s 160th anniversary year.
Art Director of Moser Glass holding glass object

Lukáš Jabůrek, Moser’s Art Director

Kitty Harris: What is your background? How did you start?
Lukáš Jabůrek: I studied the cutting and design of glass at a school in Nový Bor. I later worked as a glass cutter in various glass factories in France, The Netherlands and Ireland for some years. I then worked as a teacher in a glass school and later, I came to Moser as an artist, designer and technologist.

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KH: Why did you choose glass cutting? Was it a tradition within your family?
LJ: During my childhood, I always enjoyed painting and architecture, so I decided to attend art school. During my time there, I became involved in glass cutting and I found it inspiring. It is so diverse, as it can be used to make sculptures and decorations, amongst many other things.

KH: What is the best thing about your job?
LJ: Cutting! Every day is different and I always have new ideas and designs. I find the process of cutting glass here in the studio very relaxing.

KH: Where do you draw inspiration from?
LJ: From architecture, nature and life in general. I take inspiration from everything around me.

KH: How do you encourage younger generations? It is a very specialised practice and not many young people may know about it or are interested…
LJ: It is very difficult because many young people don’t know about glass cutting or necessarily want to work with it. Physically, it is very difficult work. With oven temperatures reaching 1400 degrees the manual work is exhausting. If the temperature outside is above 30 degrees we do not allow the glassblowers to work as is it too hot in the factory. As the day goes on, the ovens cool down, to 700 degrees and at this temperature we can make larger pieces of glass – though this is even more demanding work.

Man blows glass on end of long pole in the Moser glassworks factory

Glass blowing at the Moser workshop

In order to deal with this, we partner with schools and students. I search for talent and I invite students to do internships at the studio. Now they only have three or four students per year so it is very small selection to choose from. They train for three years at glass making school and many drop out. But here in the glass factory, we have two student departments and a glass school. This year we will have the very first female glassblower to work at Moser glassworks. We rely a lot on tradition, the craft being passed down generation to generation. Recently, our master glass blower, who has worked at Moser for 60 years, retired and his son is now the manager of the glassblowing workshop.

Read Next: Britain’s newest and greatest intellectual festival at Cliveden House

KH: What makes Moser special?
LJ: It is the combination and range of colours compared to all the glass factories in the world which have a large but basic colour ranges. And of course, it is a 100% handmade production, with cutting, engraving and painting all done by hand. Visitors are invited to the Moser Museum and some guided tours are available around the site, though the work rooms are closed to the public as the workers need a quiet environment to concentrate in as one wrong 1mm line of engraving can mean a piece (that has gone through 20 other hands before it arrived) is thrown away. Once a year we do an open door day where we run competitions and invite locals and families to spend the day at the factory.

Glass engraving in the Moser glassworks workshop in Prague

Glass art engravings in the Moser workshop

KH: Why is it a luxury?
LJ: Because it is a special design from the best designers. The colour range is very unique. With regards to production, we have the best cutters and engravers. We maintain very high quality, because we get rid of 70% of the glass at the first innining – these might have bubbles, dust or imperfections. One vase may take one hour, and ten vases go to the next worker in the production chain but this ten may yield only two pieces. So, you must make many pieces for selection.

A piece must be ordered 3 months in advance. Unlike fast paced production lines, seen in other luxury brands, that produce replicated items, each Moser glassworks piece is unique. If an order requires engraving, this can take much longer than three months, bearing in mind to paint one piece can take a whole month.

Read next: Geoffrey Kent on the world’s most extraordinary natural wonders

KH: How does the company stay contemporary?
LJ: We say that we collect traditional, historic and contemporary design. We keep a specific face of Moser glassworks, but we also collaborate with other designers, artists and architects. We look for new contemporary trends and styles.

KH: The 160th anniversary collection was the biggest you’ve ever made. What different inspiration went into that collection?
LJ: The inspiration for this collection was the history of Moser glassworks as a company. We selected seven periods of time from the last 160 years to represent different eras. Every part has a few pieces from these periods, including historical motifs, engraved art nouveau plant decorations and gilded African scenes.

KH: You have to cater to different luxury markets, how do they compare?
LJ: For certain countries we have special collections, for Taiwan we do a selection of hand engraved animals on colour glass vases. In terms of platinum or gold painted detail, the USA prefer Platinum whilst the EU prefers Gold; this is why Queen Elizabeth’s Splendid Collection is painted in 24kt gold paint.

KH: You have partnerships with some big luxury brands, including Asprey, David Linley and William & Son. Which are the most successful and why?
LJ: They are successful because it is the merging of two different worlds that still have the same traditions of quality and philosophy. We are very like-minded.

Kitty Harris: How does your design approach differ for each brand?
Lukáš Jabůrek: I look at history, for example history of Great Britain and the culture. I look at these symbols for specific inspiration.

stem forming using wooden mould in moser glassworks factory

Stem forming using a wooden mould in the Moser glassworks factory

KH: Can you draw a distinction between Moser as a product and Moser as an art?
LJ: There is a very small difference, because Moser does not carry out mass machine production. It is careful art production and every piece is unique and original. In our glass factory, every piece is really specific. The construction of every piece is unique. Whilst drink sets have more classic production, our decorative objects are made differently as artistic pieces.

KH: What’s next for Moser glassworks?
LJ: I would like to maintain exceptional standards. But, I would like to introduce fresh designs whilst keeping the history firmly in the design. We would also like to develop a presence in interior design for hotels, restaurants and resorts. For example, developing lamps and chandeliers. It is always evolving at Moser.

moser-glass.com

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Reading time: 6 min
Will Chalker and family in the new acqua di parma campaign for colonia pura
Picture of model will chalker and his family in black and white for Acqua di Parma. Natural beauty

Model Will Chalker and his family star in the campaign for Acqua Di Parma’s newest fragrance, Colonia Pura

As famous for its striking yellow Art Deco packaging as its ‘colonias’, Acqua di Parma has developed over the years into a lifestyle brand that embodies the romance and artistry of Italian culture. Now under the leadership of new CEO & President, Laura Burdese the LVMH-owned brand is moving in new directions. Following the launch of Colonia Pura, the brand’s latest fragrance, LUX’s Digital Editor Millie Walton speaks to Burdese about the beauty of the Italian lifestyle, working with artisans and the future of luxury.
Colour headshot of Acqua di Parma's new ceo and president laura burdese

Acqua di Parma CEO & President Laura Burdese

LUX: All of Acqua di Parma’s products are handmade. How do you maintain a high-level of craftsmanship in the fast paced, technologically driven world?
Laura Burdese: I must admit that matching hand-crafted processes with an always faster time to market, while delivering outstanding products, is not easy at all, but this is our mission. We have some very clear convictions as a brand. We love things made slowly and by hand, so they develop a soul and we cherish the imperfect as the only true form of perfection. We admire the handcrafted, the slightly irregular, the almost perfect. As you may notice, labels on our products are not perfectly applied sometimes, this is because they are applied by hand. So are our iconic rounded hatboxes.

With this in mind, the high-level of craftsmanship resides in the ability to work closely with our artisans since the very inception of a product, controlling each phase of the process and not only the final outcome. I believe this is a very productive and stimulating way to manage the creative process, which let the essence of our products shine through.

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LUX: How does the city of Parma – the birthplace of the brand – continue to inform the company?
Laura Burdese: If you just have a walk in this beautiful Italian city, you can easily recognise that our iconic shade of sunny yellow resonates with the yellow façades of Parma’s historical buildings.

Elegance, beauty, harmony, mastery of craftsmanship: this is what you perceive in Parma and what the brand first experienced in this city, making its own from the very beginning in 1916. More than that, today Parma is a vibrant, lively Italian city, still a source of inspiration for us because here you can truly “smell” the warmth of the most authentic Italian way of life. And I believe that it’s the same spirit you can smell in all our fragrances.

Read next: Czech designer Jiri Kalfar’s bumble-bee collection at London Fashion Week

LUX: How do you see the luxury market developing over the next ten years?
Laura Burdese: It’s a very difficult question. Things are changing so fast nowadays that it’s already difficult to foresee what could happen in 1 or 2 years’ time, nothing is written in stone and 10 years is an eternity. However, I do believe that the luxury market will continue to grow, even if probably at a slower pace, therefore strategy will become paramount. Emerging battlegrounds will be e-business and data management, with the necessity to drive-up investments into luxury, bespoke and taylor made experiences and “lifestyle branding“.

Will Chalker and family in the new acqua di parma campaign for colonia pura

LUX: Acqua di Parma supports many art forms and is culture partner of venues such as the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation in Venice. How do visual arts influence the brand?
Laura Burdese: Acqua di Parma has always supported the best of artistic creativity in all its expressions with publications, partnerships and events. As you properly mention, one particularly prestigious activity is our collaboration with Guggenheim Intrapresæ, a group of companies dedicated to sustaining the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

We understand the importance of our cultural heritage and we keep considering it as a major source of inspiration in all our creations. In this respect, the values that Acqua di Parma espouses are perfectly reflected in Italian visual arts: the same adventurous spirit and the courage to set aside what is good in order to achieve the best. But also the ability to create styles that resonate with people, that communicate something new, something truthful, allowing the essence of things to shine through.

LUX: Your leather and home collections also promote hand-crafted products. Is it difficult to find traditional artisans nowadays?
Laura Burdese: Honestly, it’s pretty difficult. Making a creative process, such as the artisanal one, also effective and efficient is not simple, but this is how we work. This ambitious objective is possible only if you, as a brand, co-operate closely with your craftsman, motivating them, stimulating them and making them proud to work for you. And I believe this is what give our products such a shining soul.

Collection of fragrances by Acqua di Parma

Acqua di Parma’s latest fragrance, Colonia Pura

LUX: Do you have a favourite fragrance?
Laura Burdese: While I wear different Colonias, depending on the season, I prefer to wear Blu Mediterraneo Fico di Amalfi in summer. Usually I gravitate towards scents that are unisex or more masculine. Lately, I’m in love with Colonia Pura, our new fragrance, a light, modern interpretation of the iconic Acqua di Parma Colonia. True to Colonia, Pura opens with the brand’s signature citrus top notes of crisp bergamot, orange and petit grain. A heart of narcissus, jasmine and coriander, and base of cedar wood and patchouli give Colonia Pura a youthful energy.

Read next: Ruinart’s decadent art hub at Rosewood London

LUX: What’s next for Acqua di Parma?
Laura Burdese: We have always represented the most refined elements of the Italian way of life, but in an understated, discreet way. We are now leading the brand to the next level and keep developing this beautiful Italian story into a global success. Our new fragrance, Colonia Pura, opens a new chapter in the history of Acqua di Parma. Undeniably, Colonia Pura advertising campaign makes a turning point in the way we’ve always communicated. For the first time in our history, we presented an advertising campaign which features a man and his family.

Small boy eating yoghurt pot in a scene of natural beauty

We chose Will Chalker because we believe he embodies the spirit of the brand and conveys a strong yet modern and open masculinity. We were quite fortunate that Will’s family is in the campaign – his wife and young son add a lovely spirit of authenticity and warmth. The campaign images depict Will as a sincere and affectionate father and husband, values that are important in the Italian culture and resonate with the Acqua di Parma client.

As for the next launches, I cannot really reveal our new creations at the moment, but I can assure you they will express the Acqua di Parma personal signature and perfectly embody our brand equity. They will be scents of Italy and scents of life. The ultimate in sophistication: light and simple. Stay tuned.

LUX: How do you relax?
Laura Burdese: I do relax spending time with my kids and my husband. I know it might sound weird, but honestly I have a hectic life and quality time with them is just a gift. We do a lot of sport together, watch movies, talk, share experiences. It’s just about little things that make me feel complete and relaxed!

LUX: What’s the secret to Acqua di Parma’s success?
Laura Burdese: Acqua di Parma is so successful because it is much more than “just” a fragrance brand, it’s a way of life in its most sophisticated form. Our secret has always been moving forward into the future while keeping our DNA intact. We are very proud of our heritage, history and values but we never forget to keep an eye to the future and new generations. Our most important skill and what distinguishes us is the ability to bring style – specifically Italian style – into life.

acquadiparma.com

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Reading time: 6 min
Sophia Kah Fashion

Fashion designer Ana Teixeira de Sousa began working with textiles at a very young age, making dresses for her dolls in her grandmother’s textile factory in Portugal. Launched in 2011, her luxury womenswear label Sophia Kah (named after her grandmother) is now global, with pieces sold in Harrods, London, and Barneys, New York. Her evening dresses have adorned the red carpet on celebrities such as Kiera Knightley and Ruth Wilson. With no formal training, Ana uses techniques and family secrets to design lightweight lace dresses with her signature exposed drawstring corsetry, silk organza and leather panel additions. The evening-wear designer talks to Kitty Harris about conjuring her female muses and design secrets.

LUX: What’s your wardrobe staple?
Anna Teixeira: A black lace dress and leather jacket.

LUX: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
AT: Modernised classic with a twist, very feminine and sophisticated.

LUX: Your design signatures include corsetry and lace for “cultured strong-minded women”. How do you keep your designs feminine yet strong?
AT: I think woman can be both feminine yet strong – there’s nothing stronger and more empowering than a super feminine fitted black lace dress.

LUX: How do you create designs that are both relevant and timeless?
AT: It’s not an easy job but I believe you create timeless pieces when you use great materials, a flawless finish and exceptional cuts.

Read next: Which is the best modern classic Ferrari?

LUX: The Kah girls include the likes of Beyoncé, Keira Knightley and Sarah Jessica Parker. Does your approach to design differ when you have a particular woman in mind?
AT: No, my woman is very much present in my mind when I design. I always picture her – where she likes to go, what she likes to do, what she believes in, how she sees the world and what inspires her. Based on my muse, I then design her wardrobe; she is obviously always evolving because the world is so dynamic.

LUX: You name your pieces: the ‘Marie Victoire’ from SS’17, the ‘Sharlene’ from your signature collection and ‘Violet’ from your AW16. Why?
AT: Each collection we dream up a woman – SS17 she was a French girl living between France and Mexico with a strong passion for architecture.

LUX: Why did you choose renowned architect Luis Barragan as inspiration for your SS17 collection?
AT: I absolutely love his work, how he managed to work on colour is so inspiring.

LUX: Which techniques do you still use today that you learnt in your grandmother’s textile factory?
AT: There is still a great amount of hand work on my pieces. But the major secrets are on the construction of the pieces. The number of little tricks that goes inside each piece is tremendous.

LUX: What’s next for the brand?
AT: Continue to grow our presence worldwide sustainably.

sophiakah.com

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Reading time: 3 min