Male with arms crossed standing next to art
Male with arms crossed standing next to art

Petr Pudil, collector and founder of Kunsthalle Praha

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

big building with orange roof in sunshine

Former electrical substation, art institution Kunsthalle Praha

LUX: What is your background as an entrepreneur?

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

Interior of building, empty space, white walls wood floors

The former power station redeveloped as Kunsthalle Praha

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

 

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LUX:  When did you become involved with art philanthropy?

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

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

Pavlina and Petr Pudil, collectors and cultural philanthropists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Art light installation in gallery

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

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

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

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

Man walking between bookshelves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Online Editor: Isabel Phillips

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A dark green walkway to a bar overlooking the Freedom Tower in New York
A dark green walkway to a bar overlooking the Freedom Tower in New York

Nubeluz at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Nomad by Martin Brudnizki bring guests to the skies of New York

Martin Brudnizki and Bruno Moinard are two of the most celebrated names in interior architecture and design today. Here, Brudnizki takes LUX on a grand tour of Martin Brudnizki Design Studio’s most recent projects, while Moinard shares his design inspiration and creative process

Martin Brudnizki

Nubeluz at the Ritz-Carlton new York, Nomad
With Nubeluz located on the 50th floor of the Ritz-Carlton, our concept for its interior was to create a star in the New York sky. The project’s core is a central backlit onyx bar, and the surfaces are designed to reflect its lighting. A high-gloss lacquer ceiling, a marble floor, mirrored and onyx tables, plus six statement brass saucer chandeliers ensure that light bounces around the room in a magical way.

A man sitting with this hands to his chin at a bar

Martin Brudnizki

The colour scheme takes the project from lightbox to jewel box with a teal envelope to the walls, floor and ceiling, highlighting the coral seating in its luxurious mohair and flame stitch-patterned fabrics. We didn’t want to disrupt the views, so sheer teal-trimmed roman blinds hang across the windows. Our interior is a celebration of light and the city, referencing the classic hotel bar and saluting the views over an iconic skyline. It is modern and quintessentially New York.

nubeluzbyjose.com

Hôtel Barrière Fouquet’s New York
This is the illustrious French five-star hotel brand’s first foray into the US. In Paris it is located on the Champs-Élysées, so you might think its natural New York home would be the Upper East Side, but its team chose Tribeca – a decision I love. Our design challenge was to combine a distinctly Parisian ambience with a downtown location.

A brown and red bar with velvets and wood

Hôtel Barrièrre Fouquet’s New York by Martin Brudnizki brings the iconic Parisian hotel to Paris

We have brought together high glamour and elegance in a modern, timeless design, while leaning on the building’s loft-style architecture that blends seamlessly into the Tribeca landscape. Parisian design accents can be found in the rich materiality and colour palettes, while a carefully curated art collection, featuring many local artists, has a gritty urban appeal.

hotelsbarriere.com/en/collection-fouquets/new-york

Vesper Bar at The Dorchester, London
With this project, it was important to respect the past while bringing it to a new era. We were inspired by celebrated Roaring Twenties creatives, such as Cecil Beaton and Oliver Messel, who each had a history with The Dorchester.

Two green chairs next to a wooden table and wooden wall

Vesper Bar at the Dorchester by Martin Brudnizki

Their inspiration was integral to the spirit of this landmark bar. We also nodded to designer Syrie Maugham in our use of the mirrored columns. The hope is that the Vesper Bar inspires another Roaring Twenties.

dorchestercollection.com

Mother Wolf, LA
Situated off Sunset Boulevard, Mother Wolf is a playful Italian restaurant that has become a magnet for LA celebrities since its opening in 2022. Working with chef Evan Funke and Ten Five Hospitality, we created a homage to the glamour and elegance of Italian design.

A room with green plants and red leather furniture and mirrored walls

Mother Wolf, LA by Martin Brudnizki

References to architects Gio Ponti and Carlo Scarpa can be found in the dining chairs and central bar, while a trompe-l’oeil scene depicts lemons and pomegranates – an ode to Italy’s chic riviera. With its Murano-glass lighting, antique mirrors and Siena-marble table tops, every aspect of the restaurant’s interiors connects to the design heritage of Italy.

motherwolfla.com

Bruno Moinard

I am guided by lines, materials, light, energy and movement: whether in my work as an architect – in our projects around the world with Claire Bétaille for famous brands and high-profile clients – or in my more intimate work as a designer and painter.

A man standing amongst blue paintings in a studio

Bruno Moinard in his studio amongst his paintings

When I began to appreciate beautiful old cars – and I have three mythical English models – I saw their design is a distillation of everything that makes me vibrate in my creative process. I see these qualities in the bodywork, the leather, wood and chrome, the colours, the interplay between interior and exterior, the vision of the future in front of me and of the road travelled behind.

A red and white lobby with flowers hanging on pillars a large chandelier hanging over a rug

Interiors of Hôtel Plaza Athénee lobby, Paris by Bruno Moinard

So the challenge I set myself is to work with authenticity to evoke an emotion, to give a simple pleasure and generate unique sensations. This is luxury. It has nothing to do with glitz or so-called rarity.

A hallway with a marble floor and staircase

Hôtel du Marc lobby, Reims by Bruno Moinard

So in the cellars of Clos de Tart, a 1,000-year-old Burgundy vineyard with a Cistercian history, we built on the exceptional quality of the historic building, bringing light into the space, giving it life, to place it in harmony with the pure elegance of the wines.

A dark dining room with a chandelier hanging over the table

Hôtel du Marc dining room by Bruno Moinard

In “Résonance”, my recent exhibition in Paris, we made each painting an experiential space that I invited people to enter. My recent furniture collections also seek this sense, which has a direct impact on quality of life and on the welcoming nature of a space.

A living room with cream and grey furniture and a blue painting on the wall

One Monte-Carlo living room, Monaco by Bruno Moinard

My lights, furniture, carpets and objects bring freshness and softness with natural forms and materials. I am privileged to work in complementary fields and my inspiration in both is based on the same triptych of emotion, continuity and sustainability, while promoting the finest workmanship and expertise.

brunomoinardeditions.com

moinardbetaille.com

brunomoinardpeinture.com

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

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Red letters spelling out the word love looking as if they are melting on eachother
Red letters spelling out the word love looking as if they are melting on eachother

‘Crushed Love’. Courtesy of Ammann Aallery. © Gimhongsok

PAD London, the renowned international design fair, reopens celebrating its 15th anniversary this Frieze week in Mayfair’s Berkeley Square

Since PAD London was founded in 2007 by Parisian antique dealer Patrick Perrin, it has remained the only fair in the UK exclusively dedicated to 20th-century and Contemporary Design. Attracting approximately 70 galleries from Europe, Asia, and North America, the design fair draws a diverse audience, from collectors, consultants, interior experts and art connoisseurs to casual browsers and the general public.

A painted plate with a fish on it and knife and fork

Assiette de la mer by Superpoly. Courtesy of Florian Daguet-Bresson

Patrick Perrin commented on the milestone anniversary of the fair: “Over the course of fifteen years, our dedicated efforts have transformed PAD London – the only design fair in the UK – into the popular and vibrant platform it is today: a place of boundless inspiration, dedicated to creativity, quality, learning and discovery for all.”

A beige drinks cabinet that looks like it is melting to the ground

Blonde Drinks Cabinet by Christopher Kurtz (2022). Courtesy of Sarah Myerscough

Eight prominent contemporary and high-end jewellery galleries will also take part in the fair. Elie Top will make his debut at PAD, unveiling jewellery inspired by nature; an emerald crocodile Bouclier ring and a diamond Serpent cuff adorned with rubies are featured. Elisabetta Cipriani presents jewellery by male artist jewellers of Italian heritage, emphasising traditional techniques.

Lose Control Table (2021) by Mircea Anghel. Courtesy of Mircea Anghel © Richard John Seymour

PAD London has always included renowned designers but this year many more new 20th century-designers will be amongst the more familiar names, including Giulia de Jonckhere, who is collaborating with the Belgium-based gallery New Hope and Luiz Kessler who will be presenting a selection of 20th-century Brazilian furniture by renowned designers like Lina Bo Bardi, Jorge Zalszupin, and Jose Zanine Caldas, among others.

PAD London will be taking place from the 10th to 15th October 2023 at Berkeley Square, Mayfair.

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CMG Orchestra in Hollywood performing a piece composed by AIVA. Photo by Lance Bachelder

AIVA AI is an AI music composer which allows people to create their own personalised life  soundtracks. Here, LUX speaks to its founder, Pierre Barreau, about the future of AI and its impact on the music industry

LUX: Can you give us some background about your company and why you founded it?
Pierre Barreau: AIVA is a company I started almost seven years ago with my co-founder, whom I met at university. We were both musicians and engineers, and there was a natural inclination to start this company with a focus in both fields. The premise we started with was that, while music is an insanely rewarding thing to do and create, it also requires a lot of time, money, and tools. We believe more people out there should be able to create music and would enjoy it, but they don’t have the time or resources.

Our idea was to bring music creation to the masses: we want to help people who are complete amateurs or be able to create music with technology, as well as assisting professional musicians who may just want an assistant to suggest ideas when they have writer’s block, or need a guiding hand to in their creative process.

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LUX: You have both a creative and scientific background, from your filmmaking experience to your studies in computer science and engineering. When did you realise it was possible to marry these two fields?
PB: When you do any sizable project, it becomes very obvious that a good director or composer is one who is well-versed in technology. As a film director, you need to deal with camera software to edit the video you are shooting, you need to deal with lighting. For music creation, it is a bit more nuanced; of course, you can write music with pen and paper, but some of the most prolific music creators these days use their laptops to create music or synthesisers to create music digitally.

You open yourself up to the realm of possibilities if you consider technology as a creative partner when creating music. There is sort of no way, in my opinion, you can be an effective composer or director if you completely shut off technology.

Pierre Barreau

LUX: How would you respond to claims that AI is going to devalue the work of human beings, especially in the creative industries where job security is an issue?
PB: It is an important question; whenever you have a technology that raises the bar for what people are able to do in terms of creating music, it can be a bit scary. But what I would say is that historically there have been other technical advances that have brought music-making to the masses, and these have not reduced human creativity. In fact, they have supercharged it.

When the synthesiser was created, people were very scared that it was going to replace acoustic instruments and that it was going to lead to this world of digital, horrible sounding music. Instead, what it created was a world where we have new genres of music like hip-hop and electronic music. Another example is the invention of the digital audio workstation. It allowed people from their bedrooms to become producers so they didn’t need to hire expensive studios to record their music.

LUX: Can you tell us about your vision to create a personalised life-soundtrack for every person?
PB: I think the interesting thing is using AI to do what we can’t do as humans right now. One such thing is this idea of personalised soundtracks; let’s say you are going running and you want music tailored to your own performance or to stimulate you for the extra mile. Then imagine an AI that could compose what you need based on your own rhythm.

I think that would be a hugely powerful thing to have for very different industries, in this case, running, video games, and interactive content that have a lot of diversity in the gameplay and the stories that they tell, but the music tends to stay the same. Just being able to generate the music as the player moves through the game and the experience, and help them create their own story, can enhance the experience they are having.

LUX: Do you ever think this tool could ever be a danger to society? Could people use it as a means to cause damage?
PB: I don’t think I am worried about the directly manipulative aspects of AI, specifically in music. There could be a lot more said in other domains, like the audio, text and visual domains.

CMG Orchestra in Hollywood performing a piece composed by AIVA. Photo by Lance Bachelder

I think one potential challenge that could be very real is giving powerful tools to those whose intentions are just to flood the market and devalue music by humans. But I think that, fundamentally, human music operates on a completely different set of parameters. We go to concerts not to see a computer performing music but a performer dances, has a show and tells us about their own personal life story through their lyrics. People connect to stars because of their own personal drama and the story surrounding them. I think for that reason, It is more about the economic side, not about manipulation, despite what many depictions of AI would have you think.

LUX: Do you think we could ever get to a point where AI could compose a piece of musical genius, or would they always need human input to do this?
PB: In my opinion, whether we call someone a genius tends to be determined by two things. Firstly, the personal; some people will argue certain composers are geniuses, whilst others will argue totally the opposite. It depends on taste. Secondly, there is hindsight, like how we celebrate composers of the past who weren’t appreciated in their time. I think one of the reasons for that is because, in order to create something which is truly genius, you have to be ahead of your time. It won’t be appreciated immediately, but people will learn.

I think with AI , the aim is to create something humans appreciate now – that’s kind of the point. I am not sure anyone will be able to connect to something that an AI creates that we can’t appreciate now. That is also part of the reason why I am hopeful there will still be human creativity, because we can really only connect to something that pushes the boundaries if it is created by humans, if there is a story behind it. Otherwise, it may be devoid of meaning. But as far as creating something that is exceptionally good in terms of quality, I think AI can definitely do this.

CMG Orchestra in Hollywood performing a piece composed by AIVA. Photo by Lance Bachelder

LUX: How do you imagine an amateur would use your service, and how is this different to the way a professional musician might use it?
PB: For amateurs, the AI will help them to create a composition. Maybe they will modify the composition to better fit what they have in mind, or swap an instrument, add a little bit of musical effects, or switch a few notes here and there. But fundamentally, they will be equal partners, with the AI as writers.
Professionals may use more in-depth features like providing their own musical material instead of letting the AI generate compositions based on that. In general, Making a more in-depth modification of the material is usually the difference between the two.

LUX: Will AI be able to create experimental music like the kind that has never been heard before, or would it always be taken from what’s already existed?
PB: It is very possible to do something that does not exist. But again, we go back to this idea of being able to appreciate what pushes the boundaries, and I think it is harder for humans to appreciate something that is truly out there if it is created by a machine. Whereas, if it is created by humans, it is easier to find a way to connect to the story behind it, which leads you to appreciate this novel idea. Whilst it is functionally possible to do it, I don’t think it creates as much value as when a human does it.

Read more: Deutsche Bank’s global innovators meet in Silicon Valley

LUX: Do you think musicians today are welcoming this kind of innovation, or do you anticipate any backlash to this? What responses have you received so far?
PB: Both. Some people are extremely enthusiastic, even some professional composers that see it as an extension of their own abilities, as a tool. And then there are some people who are completely against it. Looking back at previous technological innovations, it is pretty much the same as before. There tends to be a change of opinion when people try it. Once they begin to try the software, they quickly realise it is just a tool. But when you just talk about AI music on a high-level, conceptual basis, people might be more inclined to fill in the blanks and think the technology is something that it actually isn’t, or does something that it actually can’t do. And so, for that reason, the feedback tends to be quite positive when people tend to use the product themselves instead of discussing high-level concepts.

Find out more: aiva.ai

All photos courtesy of AIVA AI

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A man wearing a black suit and pink shirt sitting on a chair in front of green portraits hing up on a wall

During the pandemic, the conventional public and private art spaces closed their doors as it was clear art was not a necessity at this time. Durjoy Rahman realised this but thought there must be a way for creativity and discussion to still occur during this difficult period and so the DBF Creative Studio was born in collaboration with Porcelanosa Studio Bangladesh

A sculpture of a lion walking in a wooden room
buddhist statues underneath a chandellier
A brown sculpture on a wooden plinth

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DBF Creative Studio, located in the heart of Dhaka City, invites creative thinkers to showcase their work for others to enjoy and appreciate. This alternative space allows people to engage, converse and experience art and creativity on a limited scale whilst maintaining safety parameters.

Nupami Grupo, founded in 2013 in Spain, originated with the goal of brining high-quality products from Spain to different South Asian markets. Nupami, as a Porcelanosa Associate, very quickly became a leader in the high-end building materials sector. Nupami’s collaboration some of the industry’s most prestigious architects and developers has provided a platform for new materials to be discovered and used as well as refresh the market with new trends in the architectural and design field.

wood crafted sculptures and furniture in a room
green portraits on a wall
portraits in a room hung on a wall

CEO of Nupami Bangladesh Ltd, Porcelanosa Associate of Bangladesh, Aritz Izura commented “The planning and design of this 1,450 square foot gallery included the reuse of materials from old cultural heritage sites, resulting in a beautiful interplay of the old and the new. So, when we were tasked with choosing the material for the gallery display wall, we gave it careful consideration and research.

Art and the contexts in which it was displayed changed dramatically with the rise of modernism. The use of neutral colors was thought to be an effective way of creating a “pure” space; a void-like atmosphere in which art could be experienced without being distracted by extraneous distractions. For private galleries, the practical solution was to select a color and material that would complement the majority of the works on display.

We felt that XLight, a timeless large-format porcelain tile featured on these walls with artworks by such great artists, would provide the ideal setting and enhance the aesthetics of the space. Marble has long been used in both art and architecture as a design element. Thanks to technological advances, the beauty of marble has been captured by Porcelanosa’s exclusive range of products. Concrete Grey, the XLight used in this project, serves as a subtle canvas on which artists can tell their stories for many years to come.”

This article was published in association with the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

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artist in front of mural
artist in front of mural

Artist Shahrzad Ghaffari in front of her work-in-process at Leighton House. Photograph by James Houston

Leighton House, the former home and studio of British artist Frederic Leighton, was once a lively meeting place for artists and writers who would gather beneath the domed ceiling of the elaborate Arab Hall (named after the vast collection of Middle Eastern tiles adorning its walls) to converse and listen to music. Now, a major renovation, including the construction of a new wing, seeks to reestablish the house as a creative hub by inciting a dialogue between its Victorian heritage and contemporary visual culture through a programme of events, exhibitions and artist collaborations. Ahead of its reopening later this year, Millie Walton visited the museum to speak to Shahrzad Ghaffari, the first contemporary artist to be commissioned by Leighton House, and preview her work-in-progress

LUX: Much of your work is inspired by Persian poetry. How do you see the visual medium of painting interacting with poetry?
Shahrzad Ghaffari: Painting has been my passion since I was a child. Everybody always knew what to buy me: paper, crayons, paints. Then, slightly later on, I became interested in poetry and started to read a lot but the two came together when I was experimenting with trying to find my own style in painting, an honest way of expressing what’s within.

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artist at work

Ghaffari at work. Photograph by James Houston

LUX: Oneness, your mural for Leighton House, is based on a poem by Rumi. What was your process for coming up with the composition?
Shahrzad Ghaffari: I started with the poem in mind, but the shape of the composition took some time to develop through sketching. That said, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do when I walked into the space. I chose silver for the background, for example, because there’s a lot of gold in the old wing of the house and silver responds to that in a modern way. In a way, I think it also works as a kind of mirror, reflecting the heritage of the house just as the shape of the form mimics the spiral movement of staircase. The textured surface, however, makes reference to the notion of history. I built it up in layers of acrylic paint mixed with mediums, but nothing is scraped away. Each layer is applied on top of the next and has its own story. Then, the turquoise I’ve used for the abstract form is traditionally the colour of hope in Persian culture, but it also pays homage to the turquoise tiles in the Arab hall while the bits of burnt orange that you can glimpse through the background are supposed to represent the red bricks of the building’s facade.

LUX: Have you painted a mural of this scale before?
Shahrzad Ghaffari: No, I haven’t and it has been quite challenging! I originally intended to project the calligraphy onto the wall, which is what you would normally do with a mural so that you can then trace it, but I couldn’t because the space is so tight. Instead, I made a grid and did everything by hand. That said, it has been a lot of fun too, especially painting the upper part near the skylight at the top of the stairs.

wall mural

A render of Oneness by Shahrzad Ghaffari. Courtesy of Leighton House

LUX: In a more general sense, what role do you think public art can, or should play?
Shahrzad Ghaffari: As the name suggests, public art is for the public so it must be able to connect with its audience, which, in this case, are the visitors to the museum. I also think it needs to be loud enough or perhaps, unusual enough to make people pause in front of it, to pull them out of their everyday life and to convey its message in just a few seconds. In a way, public art acts like a bridge between architecture and the public because it echoes what the architecture wants to convey but often, in a more accessible way.

Read more: The Best Exhibitions to see in March 

LUX: Which artists or movements have influenced your practice?
Shahrzad Ghaffari: When I was younger, I was quite heavily influenced by Impressionism. When I was studying art they would make us copy classical works and so, when I first encountered the looseness of Impressionism it felt very freeing. I think that had, and continues to have a big influence on my work. Also, the light! I always try to incorporate something that reflects light, like the silver I’ve used in Oneness. I remember first seeing Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss and feeling so drawn to it for that same reason.

LUX: What is it about paint, as a material, that appeals to you?
Shahrzad Ghaffari: I use paint for two reasons. The first is to create something very visually strong. I want to engage the viewer, to captivate them. But I also use it to reflect my emotions. I used to mainly paint with oil and I recently changed to working with acrylic for the practical reason that I live in Canada and oil takes ages to dry, but using acrylic has also changed the way I work because you have to paint very quickly.

artist portrait

Photograph by James Houston

LUX: Do you have to be in a particular state of mind to create?
Shahrzad Ghaffari: Yes. I can’t just sit and start painting. For me, [the creative process] starts with a strong feeling. It could be happiness, for example. Then, I take the brush and I start to act upon that feeling, usually very quickly. The mural is different because the composition is planned, but usually I have  three or four canvases that I’m working on simultaneously and that helps me because I might not be in the mood to work with red paint, for example.

LUX: Do you paint every day?
Shahrzad Ghaffari: Even if I’m not painting, I show up in my studio every day. Maybe, I’ll write something down instead, but I have to show up. That’s very important.

LUX: What else do you have coming up?
Shahrzad Ghaffari: I have a show of my works here at Leighton House, when then museum reopens, and I’m also looking into exploring NFTs – mainly out of curiosity. I think as an artist, you should always be open to everything, to exploring all the tools that are on offer. That’s what it’s all about it, it’s what motivates you to keep making. Where curiosity stops, the creative process ends.

To find out more about Leighton House, visit: rbkc.gov.uk/museums/

Follow Shahrzad Ghaffari on Instagram: @shahrzadghaffariart

 

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woman lying on sofa in red dress
As fashion week kicks off in London, we’re celebrating designers who are paving the way for a more sustainable and ethical industry. Here, Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, the founders and creative directors of cult fashion label Preen, discuss their collaborative design process and instinctive approach to sustainability
man and woman

Justin Thorton & Thea Bregazzi

Justin Thorton and Thea Bregazzi have been upcycling and recycling materials since well before ‘sustainability’ became a fashion world buzzword. The couple first met as teenagers on an art foundation course on the Isle of Man, where they both grew up. They moved to London in 1990s after university to launch their label Preen in a small shop in Portobello, the creative hub of the time.

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One of their first design hits was drainpipe trousers, made famous by Kate Moss, and over the years, they have continued to draw a celebrity cult following. Their pieces have been worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Alexa Chung, Scarlett Johansson and Michelle Obama.

Today, the brand maintains its punkish sensibility, but with a grown-up edge of sophistication. With a focus on longevity and practicality as well as beauty, many of their pieces are made to be worn in different ways. A mac coat from their Pre-Fall 2022 collection, for example, comes apart into a cropped jacket and a gilet dress while a double-layer dress of red stretch tulle and acid green floral print can be worn together or as two separate pieces. Here, the duo talk through some of their recent inspirations.

two models in dresses

LUX: How would you describe Preen’s design ethos? And has that changed at all since the brand’s inception in 1996?
Justin Thornton & Thea Bregazzi: We have a very organic approach to designing. There is a certain irregularity to all that we do. We have developed and grown throughout the years but “darkly romantic” has all ways been our style.

Read more: Patrick McDowell on the social impact of sustainable fashion 

LUX: What’s your typical process for designing a new collection? Do you each play specific roles or do you work collaboratively throughout?
Justin Thornton & Thea Bregazzi: Every time we design a new collection, we try to open ourselves up to experience as many things as possible. We talk a lot about what we are loving and what’s inspiring us, and then we start to edit our inspirations and draw from those. We work very collaboratively throughout the designing and creating processes.

LUX: How do you think your experiences of living and working in London and then, New York have shaped your design thinking?
Justin Thornton & Thea Bregazzi:
Showing our collections in New York really made us focus on being an international brand. However, living and working in London is so inspiring to us, it’s such a multicultural, creative city.

LUX: You’ve said before that you pay some consideration to how your clothes will photograph. How do you think image-based social media platforms have impacted the fashion industry?
Justin Thornton & Thea Bregazzi: When we design it’s important to consider [how the garments will appear] on all platforms, but at the heart of it, what we’re trying to create is an emotional reaction whether that’s in person or through a screen.

Read more: Olivia Muniak’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in Los Angeles

LUX: You’ve been upcycling fabrics more or less since the beginning and are now on a mission to become a 100% sustainable brand. What does that mean exactly?
Justin Thornton & Thea Bregazzi: We’ve never considered ourselves to be “a sustainable brand“, but we try our best to offer as many sustainable, recycled and organic options within our collections as possible. It’s important that all designers make an effort to produce a product that doesn’t destroy our planet.

Two models wearing dresses

LUX: What was on your mood-board for the Summer & Resort 2022 collections?
Justin Thornton & Thea Bregazzi: We were greatly inspired by the work of [French artist and photographer] Guy Bourdin: his bold colours and strong graphic lines. We also looked at dance – in particular [Scottish dancer and choreographer] Michael Clark’s work.

View the collections: preenbythorntonbregazzi.com

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Reading time: 3 min
portrait of a man leaning on a chair

portrait of a man leaning on a chair

After the unexpected success of his first two books, Amish Tripathi resigned from his career in financial services and became a full-time writer of spiritual fiction. Twelve years on, he has sold 5.5 million copies across 9 books and achieved the records of fastest- and second-fastest-selling book series in Indian publishing history. The polymath has since added more strings to his bow as a fledgling film producer and Director of London’s Nehru Centre, which promotes cultural exchange between India and the UK. Tripathi speaks to LUX about his life philosophy and the future of Indian culture on the global stage

1. Your first book, The Immortals of Meluha, was rejected by 20 publishers before you self-published it, and yet it went on to become a bestseller in India within its first week of sale. To what do you owe your persistence?

Ancient Indian wisdom says that the most persistent and effective are those who are detached from success or failure, because failure fills demotivation in your heart, which can stop you, and success fills pride in your mind, which can distract you. If you can detach yourself from consequences, and just enjoy your work, your karma, then you become unstoppable.

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Perhaps, without realising it, I was following this ancient Indian wisdom from the Bhagvad Gita. I was happy in my financial services career. I was earning well. So, I wasn’t really thinking too deeply about whether my book Immortals of Meluha, would succeed or fail. I wasn’t seeing it as a way to make money, let alone a pathway to another sustainable career option. The book was, in a way, the voice of my soul. And I just wanted to try everything that I could to get it to readers. After that, it was up to the readers whether they liked it or not.

I still follow this philosophy of detachment when I write. I genuinely don’t care at all about the opinions of readers, critics, editors etc when I write. I write the way it comes to me, trying to be as close to my heart as I can. That’s the best way, I think, for any creative to be. Be detached, true to the art, and don’t think about success or failure. The rest is up to fate.

2. You started writing full-time – resigning from your 14-year career in financial services – following the success of your second book, Secret of the Nagas. What prompted that change from banker to author of spiritual fiction?

By that time, my royalty cheque had become more than my salary. So, it was a pragmatic, albeit apparently boring decision. I know it sounds sexy to get a great idea, kick your boss, and jump into something new, but I had to be pragmatic and practical with my career choices. I come from a humble family background; I cannot be irresponsible. There are always bills to pay!

3. Your books tend to amplify the historical. What role do you think the past plays in informing the present?

There are two approaches to change in human civilisation. One is evolutionary, where the present builds upon the shoulders of the past, taking along the best of the past, while reforming that which is not good. The other is nihilistic, where it is assumed that everything about the past is bad, we need to break it all down, and start from scratch. I am certainly not nihilistic: I am evolutionary in my approach.

That doesn’t mean that I think we should oppose all change, where we worship traditions to the extreme and become hidebound; but the other extreme of being nihilistic is not good either, since it usually leads to too much chaos. The evolutionary path, where we retain the best of the old, and bring in the best of the new, is, in my opinion, the best way. And I guess that reflects in my writing.

panel event of speakers

Amish Tripathi speaking at an event with Anil Agarwal and Amitabh Shah

4. Your next project will see you produce the film adaptation of your book, Legend of Suheldev: The King Who Saved India. How are you preparing for that challenge?

I have been an author for over a decade. And the Gods have been kind to me in this field. But film production is a completely new area for me, and when one is entering a new area, it’s always wise to get good partners. This project is also period war film, so the budget is quite significant: we need to manage it well. We have hired senior people in my production company, Immortal Studios, based in Mumbai. We have also tied up with a TV production company (one of the largest in India) as a partner for this project. I am hopeful that we will be able to put together a good film on King Suheldev. We will certainly try our best!

Read more: Emilie Pastor & Sybille Rochat on Nurturing Artistic Talent

5. Besides being an author and columnist, you’re the director of the Nehru Centre, London, which works to facilitate intercultural dialogue between India and the UK. Why is it important for you to engage in diplomatic work of this kind?

I genuinely believe that ancient Indian culture has particular relevance today. We are told about a dichotomy nowadays: namely, that one can either be traditional or liberal; one cannot be both. There are problems with this approach. If we destroy all traditions, sense of family and community, then we atomise society. We end up with the problems of loneliness and the mental health and stress issues that naturally result. At the same time, if we put all traditions on a pedestal, then we have no space for liberal ideas like women’s rights, LGBTQ rights etc. Society would be in a far worse situation without these liberal ideas.

Ancient Indian culture can provide a model for that balance, of being both traditional and liberal at the same time. This gives you the roots and solidity that traditions give you, but also the freedom and ability to soar that liberalism provides. Isn’t that worth propagating? This is what I get to do through this diplomatic role, and it’s why I enjoy this job – because it is in consonance with the values I try to imbibe into my writing.

6. Are you optimistic about the future of Indian art and academia on the global stage?

Certainly. I think ancient Indian culture always had something positive to contribute to the world. But since for most of our post-independence existence, India was an economic under-performer, with very little global power, it was understandable that few foreigners were interested in our culture. Despite those constraints, however, many parts of our culture have been accepted across the world, including yoga, Buddhism, cuisine, films, and so forth. As our economic footprint expands and India becomes a wealthier and more influential country, I am sure that more and more aspects of our culture will find salience across the world. I am proud that through my diplomatic role and my books, I get to make my own small contribution to this journey.

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Reading time: 6 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.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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
graphic painting of glasses
graphic painting of glasses

© The artist, courtesy of the artist and Gagosian. Photo Mike Bruce.

man and woman in front of artworkIn the mid 1960s, Michael Craig Martin emerged as a key figure in early British conceptual art, later becoming the teacher of many of the YBAs such as Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas. Today, he is one of the world’s most prominent artists, known for his brightly coloured paintings and sculptures of everyday objects. Millie Walton speaks with him about colour, style and listening to his own advice

1. By focusing on everyday objects, are you searching for a kind of universality?

Everyday objects do seem to me to offer a path to understanding the universal. By making drawings of as many objects as I can, one by one, I have tried to implicitly account for everything. I have discounted all the hierarchies by which we normally categorise things: size, use, materials, social importance, aesthetic quality, monetary value, moral worth, etc. I draw everything the same way, each with equal care and attention – a democracy of images.

2. Do you recreate the objects from memory or are they drawn from life?

I never draw from memory, only from the observation of an individual object.

3. Are the objects you use as subjects artworks in themselves?

With a few exceptions, such as Duchamp’s urinal or Magritte’s pipe, the objects I draw are not artworks. My drawings of them are.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

4. You’ve said before that incorporating colour into your work was a breakthrough moment. How so?

I discovered that I could unsettle the familiarity of the drawing of an object by introducing non-naturalistic, wayward, intense colour. The drawing is logical, general, bland, familiar; the colour instinctive, specific, vivid, unexpected. This confrontation gave my work a new visual impact and emotional intensity.

5. In aiming for what you’ve termed ‘no style’, you have created a style that is now widely recognised as yours. Has this changed your attitude towards what style means?

Yes. I used to look on style as a kind of self-conscious ‘arty’ signature. Now, I see that it can be the manifestation of the essential characteristics of one’s visual language.

6. Did teaching art at Goldsmiths College affect your own practice?

Yes, because, at best, I saw my teaching as virtually an extension of my practice. One thing I discovered was to always listen to the advice I was giving my students, as it was often the advice I wished to hear myself, but couldn’t do so directly.

digital artwork

Michael Craig Martin, Oxford Street Installation. © The artist, courtesy of the artist and Gagosian. Photo Mike Bruce.

7. How do you decide what to create next?

My work is a continuum. I work on many things at the same time. One thing leads to another. Work comes from work.

8. Is it important for you to be surrounded by your own artworks?

It’s not important, but I am happy, these days, to have some works hanging in my own apartment. In general, I quickly lose interest in a work I’ve just completed because I’m working on something else. I don’t like having much finished work in the studio, but I often do. Unexpectedly coming across something you did years ago, and have forgotten, can be very rewarding.

9. Are you interested in exploring more digital tools within your practice?

I have done quite a lot of digital work over the years, the first in 2000, I think. I develop all my work on a computer and what I do is well suited to digital productions. There are things one can do digitally involving change and movement that other mediums don’t allow.

red bulb sculpture

Michael Craig Martin, Bulb (red), 2011 © The artist, courtesy of the artist and Gagosian. Photo Mike Bruce.

10. Do you create commissioned work?

I always consider commissions. Some I accept, some I don’t. It’s interesting to consider something you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.

11. What led you to transform your drawings into transparent sculptures?

Two-dimensional images normally need a material ‘ground’ (paper, canvas, screen and so on) to exist at all. Making my drawings out of steel means they can be self-supporting and therefore dispense with the need for a ‘ground’, thus appearing transparent.

12. Are your works intended to provoke a particular reaction in the viewer?

I try to make work that catches the eye and the imagination of as many viewers as possible. I never seek a particular reaction, but try to provide the provocation for individual, personal speculation.

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 3 min
shoe campaign with red heels and trainers
man sitting in chair

Legendary shoe designer Christian Louboutin. Copyright and courtesy Christian Louboutin

Superstar shoe designer Christian Louboutin, whose signature red-soled pumps with vertiginous stiletto heels are the de facto shows for glamourwear, has dominated luxury footwear since the nineties. Harriet Quick speaks to him about his long career, his charity work with actor Idris Elba, Kate Moss and sailing down the Nile

Good ideas take time to mature and, when entwined with hope and empathy, they can flourish. Such was the situation when Christian Louboutin picked up the phone to his friend, the actor Idris Elba, after the tragic murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Both were in deep shock, amplified by the isolation of lockdown, and wanted to do something, to take action. Louboutin, remembering his friend enjoyed sketching designs for shoes, proposed a philanthropic venture: Walk a Mile in My Shoes. In essence, a capsule collection of shoes with 100 per cent of the profits going to benefit charities fighting oppression and advancing racial justice, equal rights and access.

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Elba immediately said yes and proposed the idea to his wife Sabrina on her birthday. She was over the moon. “Not to act, to remain silent was not an option – I knew this in my heart,” says Louboutin. “We decided that if there is a message – it has to be optimistic. I don’t want to emphasise the toughness of reality and we picked organisations that are proactive. We want to show that we can all do better and drive optimism,” says Louboutin.

model wearing black trainers

The 1988SL high-top sneaker designed by Idris Elba from the Walk a Mile in My Shoes collection. Copyright and courtesy Christian Louboutin. Image by Julien Vallon

The friends got to work choosing designs for the collection, which was launched in June 2021. It includes the 1988SL sneaker designed by Idris, a suede calfskin pump with the Walk a Mile message embroidered in signature Louboutin red on the upper, and a birds-of-paradise print skate shoe and stiletto. The phrase was chosen by Elba and references Kim Abeles’s 2014 public artwork dedicated to Martin Luther King in Los Angeles. “I wanted to make sure the styles were already in my collection, as this is about giving money to people and not using funds for design and research. Sabrina really drove the charity side, choosing organisations that have a positive impact,” says Louboutin of the beneficiaries, including the Somali Hope Foundation, Purposeful in Sierra Leone, which supports marginalised young women, Gathering for Justice in the US founded by Harry Belafonte, the Be Rose International Foundation’s work in Sierra Leone, and Immediate Theatre in east London.

Read more: Emilie Pastor & Sybille Rochat on Nurturing Artistic Talent

The scale and scope of the initiative is impressive and inspiring. While charitable products often fall short on desirability, here is a collection that one would be proud to wear, as it is infused with the wit, optimism and elegance that is part of Louboutin’s DNA. The French Egyptian designer, now 58, has always been driven by passion coupled with a deep knowledge and expertise in his craft. Louboutin became fascinated with shoes in the mid-seventies. A visit to the Musée national des Arts d’Afrique et d’Oceanie on the Avenue Daumesnil in Paris was a turning point. It was there that he saw a sign from Africa forbidding women wearing stilettoes from entering a building for fear of damage to the wood flooring. Louboutin was enraptured by the poster image of a stiletto and set out to create designs that made women feel empowered and not embarrassed or compromised. “I could not believe the elegance of these shoes and became obsessed with them,” he remembers.

tote bag

Small tote bag from the Walk a Mile in My Shoes collection. Copyright and courtesy Christian Louboutin.

With no formal training, Louboutin learned by sketching and by studying the craft until he was hired by Charles Jourdan and, later, the highly inventive shoe maestro, Roger Vivier. By 1991, Louboutin had opened his first store in the Galerie Véro-Dodat and went on to sell internationally, building fame and fortune around his bestselling black patent, red-soled stilettoes that rose to 120mm and showed off ‘toe cleavage’. Indeed, it was Louboutin who became one of the first superstar shoe designers building a brand that became associated with fetish and fantasy. He has been to court on numerous occasions to protect the trademark red sole that over the decades has been widely copied. To balance and dance gracefully on these leg-lengthening, needle-thin points was, and still is, considered the quintessence of chic, a triumph of style over the quotidian. Like Manolo Blahnik, Guiseppe Zanotti and Vivier, Louboutin excelled in making the shoe an object of wonder. “My wardrobe is brimming with Louboutins,” Kate Moss told Vogue in 2014. “The classic Pigalle stiletto in patent or matt-black leather is my go-to shoe. I have so many pairs that Christian designed a style with a sharper point and nail-thin heel which he named the So Kate.”

extravagant shoe design

Louboutin’s reworked Double L sandal for the Oiseaux du Paradis capsule collection, launched in September 2021

As we all adopted Birkenstocks and trainers during 2020, it might not have been a great year for heels but it was a significant year for Louboutin. He spent much of it in his home in Portugal, blessed by the fact he could enjoy his garden and the company of his children. “There was a form of solidarity as everyone was in deep shit. Businesses were drowning and it was happening across the board. I understand that I could not get too pissed or angry if I had no control over the situation. Why beat your own head? I was not locked in a small apartment, and I took measure of the levels of comfort and privilege that surrounded me. I took the upside: there was no way to complain about my situation,” says Louboutin, who talks energetically and whose conversation is constantly punctuated with smiles and those inimitable French hand gestures and raised eyebrows. “It slowed my pace and that’s a good thing. I had more time to think and concentrate. I took it as a message, an opportunity to reformulate, and go into ideas, develop creativity. You realise nature is constantly replenishing – after three months the air was cleaner, the waters were clearer in Venice and Paris, and animals returned to the city. If we give nature a chance, it will recover much more quickly. We all experienced that reality,” he says of the learning.

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

Out of adversity, there come opportunities. Louboutin also had the chance to weigh up and analyse the future of his business, which encompasses sales through approximately 150 department stores in more than 35 countries, a beauty line that he launched with nail lacquer in 2014 (it is now licensed to Puig), men’s and women’s collections as well as accessories. A promising suitor came in the shape of Exor NV, the luxury group owned by the Agnelli family in Italy. In March, Louboutin sold 25 per cent of the business for €541m, a figure which gives a clear indication of the value and promise of the brand which has seen remarkable success in Greater China where there are six stores. Exor, which is chaired by chief executive John Elkann, also has investments in Ferrari, PartnerRe, Shang Xia and Juventus FC.

shoe campaign with red heels and trainers

The Hot Chick pump and Fun Louis sneaker from the AW21 collection. Copyright and courtesy Christian Louboutin

“The best business partner is one that enhances your way of thinking. We will remain the same and no one wants to interfere with how we do things – we have the same team and now we have solid partners who are great thinkers. The Agnellis are a family of entrepreneurs and I respect that,” says Louboutin, who works alongside his business partner, Bruno Chambelland.

“In the next five years, we will ‘muscle’ digital. We already have a successful e-commerce [side of our business] but digital is a bigger world encompassing operations and logistics. And we will also be looking at sustainability but not as a trend. In these matters, because sustainability is a complex science, you need to practice precaution and responsibility and have the time to take the right measures. It’s not about jumping on the first idea – this is a serious issue, and you have to be accurate,” says Louboutin, taking a balanced approach to fashion’s hot topic.

designer trainers

The Loubishark Flat trainer from the AW20 collection. Copyright and courtesy Christian Louboutin

Louboutin has a fresh outlook. He also sees great potential in the gaming world and has created a dematerialised Loubishark sneaker with a Pop Art graphic shark-tooth-style sole for sites. “Gaming has an interesting aesthetic and there is a distinct visual language which I find so fascinating. Since I was a teenager, I have liked calligraphy and optics and this is like learning a new code,” he says. Take a tour of the brand’s Instagram feed and its website and you can see playful virtual and augmented realities in the LoubiFuture world. The retro-futuristic vibe is playful and dynamic, just like the vibrantly coloured collection. There was also the chance to immerse yourself in Louboutin’s imagination at ‘L’Exhibition(niste)’, a monograph show at the Palais de la Porte Dorée in Paris in 2020 where the designer’s sense of showmanship and theatre were celebrated.

Read more: Molori Designs Founder Kirk Lazarus on Ultra Bespoke Luxury

His own sense of luxury is more shaped by the real world. He owns a 13th-century château in the Vendée and a beautifully restored 100-year-old sailing boat which is moored on the river Nile. When visiting the boat, he says, “by the second night, the stress of the city has evaporated. I’m looking at this beautiful panorama at a pace that is caressed by the wind. There is no motor, so if there is no wind, you stop. I love to sketch on the river with the landscape passing by. Everyone is affected by stress – even if you adore your working life, it’s important to extract yourself,” says Louboutin.

man on camel

Christian Louboutin in Egypt, 1999. Copyright and courtesy Christian Louboutin

“Luxury – it has to create a form of reverie. Yet, it’s a huge word and belongs to so many territories. My luxury is not to buy expensive things – I see luxury as a door, an exit that allows for the freedom of mind and identity. And to have that escape is necessary for wellbeing,” says Louboutin. Being able to realise his own dreams has also made him something of a role model for a younger generation. If his twenty-year-old self could see his fifty-something self now, what would he see? “I would see a man living through his dreams. I would look at that person and see someone who tried not to live through preconceived ideas and who has a voice and that means someone who also listens,” says Louboutin. “Success is an added value.”

Christian Louboutin on how male/female fluidity is affecting his design thinking

“Something that has affected my design in recent years is the shifting of identities and the fact that I was compartmentalised between men and women before. That has dissolved for me into another way of thinking about male and female identity. Now, I have a freer way of designing. Outside of the traditional stereotypes, there is a bit of the showman in every man, and this is a new discovery.”

Find out more: christianlouboutin.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 9 min
portrait of a young black woman
portrait of a black woman in a cream robe

Ebinehita Iyere, founder of charitable youth organisation Milk Honey Bees

Milk Honey Bees celebrates and empowers Black girls and young women by providing a safe space for creative expression and healing. Here, the organisation’s 28-year-old founder Ebinehita Iyere discusses her personal journey, the impact of violence on women and the importance of putting ‘HER’ first

LUX: What’s your earliest memory of wanting to be involved in youth work?
Ebinehita Iyere: Youth work has always been a significant part of my life. My earliest memory of wanting to be involved was at the latchkey after school club I attended in primary school, supported by some amazing youth workers. I naturally started applying those skills to other young people around me.

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As I got older I really realised the impact that those youth workers had on me. When I left home aged 15, I became a youth worker without even knowing it, providing peer support to other young people like me. I was living in a hostel, so I created a youth work space in my small hostel room and everyone would come to my place. The community always had an impact on me and how I viewed society because people didn’t understand us, but the community did, the youth workers in the community understood us.

LUX: What inspired you to set up Milk Honey Bees?
Ebinehita Iyere: The work I was doing centred around young men. I was raised to believe that most issues in the community predominantly affect young Black men. That’s all I knew. Then, after a very tragic event affected me deeply, I realised that there weren’t any spaces for girls and young women to process the things they had experienced. I thought, when an incident happens in the community, where do the girls go?

Milk Honey Bees started with me, working on myself. My traumas had forced me to grow up far too quickly. So, there was a long process I had to go through to heal my own inner child, and through that important work I saw what I could do with other Black girls.

I had always used reading as an escape and when I read Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur it was the first book that I felt in a long time really connected with me, so I shared it with a few girls, and essentially, with and for them Milk Honey Bees was created. ​​​​​​​

No one had ever asked these girls what they needed. My whole view on the needs of girls changed. Through creativity and putting ‘HER’ (Healing, Empowerment, Resilience) first, we were able to create a safe space for girls, where they could finally put themselves first, celebrate themselves and be visible.

LUX: How has the organisation evolved since its inception?
Ebinehita Iyere: The organisation has evolved in many ways and continues to do so. Milk Honey Bees began as a project that sat under my full-time job at Juvenis, where I work as a Therapeutic Diversion Practitioner. Through Juvenis we quickly found that the intersection of race and gender is incredibly important, and as a result Milk Honey Bees has evolved into something far bigger than we ever thought it would be – a space for Black and Mixed Girls to be themselves – which means we’ve been able to reach and support more girls than I could have imagined.

We’ve been able to take our time to develop our presence: who we are, what we want to achieve. Black girls are forever evolving so as an organisation we must grow with and for them. We have built and sustained more relationships with the community, schools, parents, and professionals. Some of the girls came to me at 17 now they’re in their early twenties – we’ve all been growing and evolving together.

Read more: The artistic legacy of Valmont’s Didier Guillon

Before the pandemic, we were doing creative projects and most of our work was done face-to-face. So, we set up online spaces where the girls could just chill and be still, feel empowered and vent about things. We also used creativity to stay connected which has led to us being able to reach and impact many more young lives.

Through the pandemic we actually evolved to become more sustainable and more visible, and are emerging with enormous energy and exciting plans for the future, both on and offline which led to being supported by the likes of major brands like Barbie, Sony Music, PR agency DH-PR and Adwoa Aboah’s media platform the ‘Gurls Talk’ podcast.

barbie commercial

Milk Honey Bees’ partnership with Barbie aims to instil Black girls with the belief that they can do anything

LUX: Can you tell us more about the concept of H.E.R and how it works in practice?
Ebinehita Iyere: The concept is about putting ‘H.E.R’ first because Black and mixed race girls typically have to wear an armour. They have to mobilise in their families and communities and tend to be denied the time and space for healing themselves.

H.E.R stands for Healing, Empowerment and Resilience. It works in practice through helping the girls learn how to navigate themselves, and in turn, how they can navigate within the sisterhood and the wider world. Essentially, it teaches them to understand whilst being understood.

Healing comes first, and we use creative expression to do much of this work because people need to feel safe and comfortable to express how they feel. We use tools like play, art and healing circles, which allow the girls to be vulnerable in a supportive expressive environment.

Empowerment is about the reclaiming of power. So, taking back the power they felt they’d lost through their negative experiences. We do this by doing things the girls were told they couldn’t do. Black girls are often told they can’t or shouldn’t do certain things, but we empower them to do whatever they want, through raising aspirations through giving them amazing opportunities, such as new educational opportunities, writing for magazines like Grazia, and working with exciting brands like Barbie and Sony Music. It’s important to show the world the power the girls have, so they in turn feel self-empowered.

Resilience is about building on what the girls already naturally possess – and they possess a lot of it – especially with this generation dealing with the pandemic and social media pressures for example. Milk Honey Bees shine a light on various forms of resilience and support our girls to build it within and beyond the community. We also focus heavily on the fact that it’s OK not to be OK, and even just articulating this is a form of resilience. We show ourselves that we don’t always have to be strong or present a certain way. You have put HER first!

LUX: Why is it so important to enable and support creative expression amongst young Black women?
Ebinehita Iyere: As I mentioned before, creative expression is really important for healing. You can feel a sense of both strength and vulnerability through creativity in all its forms. It comes from within – plus, creative potential is limitless.

It’s particularly important for Black girls, who have long been the pioneers of creativity – yet are rarely credited for it. We support them to take ownership of it. Creative expression also determines how your internal feelings are shown and embraced by the world. For Black girls and young women, it’s so important, so that the world doesn’t continue to only see one side of them. Our one-to-one and group sessions often lead into social action projects. Their creativity fuels their voice and visibility.

LUX: Are the girls you work with referred or do they tend to reach out directly?
Ebinehita Iyere: Both! We have a referral system in place through Juvenis, which is our parent charity. We also get referrals from social care, education, mental health partners and sometimes local institutions like the police.

We are really strong on encouraging and facilitating peer-to-peer support, which means that girls can reach out to us directly – they often refer their friends or refer themselves. We even have boys referring girls to Milk Honey Bees! Young men who see the work we do sometimes refer their sisters or girlfriends to us, which is great. We also get a lot of parents coming to us.

LUX: How do you ensure you’re meeting the needs of the individual within the collective?
Ebinehita Iyere: Before anyone is put in a group, our work always begins with a one-to-one session. I always start by asking the girls how they are, who they want to be and what they need, and we co-design an individual support plan.

The next step is the group process. We spend time getting to know each other and ourselves as individuals. Within the group, everyone has a role, or ownership/leadership of something. Everyone is individually celebrated, even within a group.

We create a space free of judgement and rooted in the celebration of Black girlhood. We work to the ethos of: “I am my sister’s keeper, while I’m keeping myself.”

creative workshop

Milk Honey Bees organises creative workshops and projects based on what the girls want to do, see and learn

LUX: You’ve said before that “people need to start seeing Black girls and stop putting them in the same category as women”. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Ebinehita Iyere: A lot of the time Black girls are judged as adults when they are still children. One of the key barriers to the intersecting needs of Black girls and young women being centred by services is the manifestation of adultification bias, where notions of innocence and vulnerability are not afforded to certain children due to racial prejudgement. They are held to greater levels of responsibility due to being treated as though they are more mature, with their rights often being diminished or overlooked.

For example, research has found that adultification contributed to the perceptions amongst those in authoritative positions view Black girls and young women are less innocent, which influences a greater use of force, harsher punishments, and decreased protection and support from services in comparison to white girls. This can have further damaging impacts on how they view themselves, their mental health, as well as negative experiences and interactions with various professionals across so many systems, including education, justice, health, and social care.

If society views Black girls as Black women they are essentially taking away their childhood. There’s an erasure of innocence because of this assumption. We need to allow Black girls to thrive and fail in their girlhood, in order to become the best women they can be.

It’s easy for others to try and write you off and label you as an “angry Black woman” without even knowing who you really are or based on your expressions. I know this stigma first-hand from teachers, to social workers and even previous managers. It affected me deeply. I don’t want any more girls to have to go through that as girls or women.

LUX: As a young founder, what challenges did you face in setting up the organisation and how did you overcome them?
Ebinehita Iyere: Initially, my biggest challenge was me and not being able to process myself. I realised very early on that I had to work on myself first before I could really help anyone else. So, I learned to look after myself while trying to look after others. Now I allow myself to process my feelings and sit with my emotions. They are valid.

You’re allowed to cry, rest, be happy, feel confused – you’re allowed to ask for help. There is amazing strength and power in helping others, but you have to love and take care of yourself first before you can do that for anyone else. I’ve learned how to embrace my vulnerability and turn it into great strength, by speaking up for myself when it matters and allowing myself to be vulnerable with others, knowing it’s more than OK.

Your experiences do not define you; they will only allow you to learn, grow and become the best version of yourself for you. My experiences have not allowed me to grow personally and professionally.

Read more: Juanita Ingram on empowering women in the workplace

Outside of my personal life, my transition to a founder was as a result of most of my work being with boys in the community, but I started to realise that there was a real lack of understanding when it came to creating safe spaces for Black girls to express themselves in the community after incidents happened, or even spaces that celebrated Black girl joy. Creating safe spaces for girls is something I assumed people would understand, but they didn’t. People couldn’t understand what I was doing.

Being supported by my passion, family and a core group of people in the youth sector who understood my vision (Jenni Steele, Winston Goode and Whitney Iles), and receiving funding and recognition through awards and press also helped my journey to ensure that no matter the challenge I could overcome it.

LUX: How do you think education systems can better support young people? Are there any skills, for example, which you think schools should be teaching?
Ebinehita Iyere: I think education systems can provide better support by allowing young people to be creative. Life, career, and success – none of these are linear. Thinking creatively helps young people navigate these things.

I also think schools should be teaching more life skills – processing emotions, managing money, and mindfulness for example – to prepare young people for the highs and lows of the working world.
Schools should have a four-day teaching week with one day set aside for play, mental health, life skills, pastoral care etc – for both staff and students – plus engaging with families. Showing that it’s OK for them to express themselves because without expression you can’t function. We saw it in the pandemic – imagine if adults had had the personal tools to have been able to support kids more during the pandemic?

LUX: What impact does the exclusion of women from conversations around violence have on individuals and communities?
Ebinehita Iyere: For every experience of violence whether it’s structural violence, domestic violence or youth violence, there’s always a woman on the end of it – whether that’s on the side of the perpetrator or victim. Violence is not just the act itself. It’s the aftermath. Instead of grieving and healing, girls have to wear this armour and protect boys and men. In other words, girls are spending more time mobilising for others than healing themselves.

Excluding women from these conversations leads to overwhelming feelings of invisibility, not feeling like our voices are heard, and erasure from our experiences. We are more than just a hashtag, we should not only be visible when being mourned but also while living. We should not be excluded from conversations about our safety in fact we should be safe.

Even when we are included in these conversations we aren’t leading them. The impact is really bad. Giving the women of tomorrow the skills, language and tools to be able to have these conversations in their spaces and beyond is essential in my opinion.

woman at award ceremony

Iyere at the Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman of the Year Awards 2021 in London. Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Veuve Clicquot

LUX: What upcoming projects are you looking forward to?
Ebinehita Iyere: We have so much coming up for us and essentially everything is led and developed by the girls. We are developing a new schools based project for teen girls and have just launched our project with Barbie for 5-10 year olds.

We are super excited for the launch of Creative Connection, our a brand-new project in partnership with Sony Music UK. I’m really looking forward to this because it’s an incredible chance for young women to navigate the industry they want to be in – and an amazing chance for the inspirational businesses and creatives they engage with to learn from the girls.

Creative Connection is a 8-week mentoring project purposed with empowering Black/Mixed Black young women, who have an interest in getting into the music and wider creative industry, through a series of introductory workshops and sessions. In collaboration with Sony Music UK, Milk Honey Bees have curated a unique curriculum supporting a selected group of 10 Black/Mixed Black female creatives aged 18-23, by offering them creative mentoring and work placements. Being able to fuse creativity, work and wellbeing together to all work hand in hand is really exciting, and the ten young women who are selected will be the first of their kind.

LUX: And finally, you were recently nominated for the Veuve Clicquot Bold Future award. What does that mean to you personally and to your organisation?
Ebinehita Iyere: It was so amazing to be recognised by Veuve Clicquot, mainly because it’s so rare to see that kind of visibility for people like me. Even though I didn’t win the actual award, I am still a winner!

My name, Ebinehita, means ‘my destiny’. My journey fluctuated from not feeling like I had a destiny to fulfilling my density. I’ve worked so hard to create one for myself through hard work and self love, so to be recognised by such a prestigious brand made me so proud. For every woman who fought to get where you are: continue to be bold because you are the future.

Find out more: milkhoneybees.co.uk
Follow Ebineita Iyere on Instagram: @ebinehitaiyere_

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Reading time: 15 min
perfumer's studio
portrait of a woman in black and white

Hermès perfumer Christine Nagel. Photograph by Sofia Etmauro

Christine Nagel is one of the most admired perfumers in the world, and has worked as the “nose” of Hermès since 2016. Most recently, she created H24, the brand’s first scent for men in fifteen years. Here, she discusses her approach to creating fragrances and how the industry has changed over the course of her career

LUX: What was the catalyst for your decision to become a perfumer?
Christine Nagel: I am a Swiss national with an Italian mother, I grew up a long way from Grasse and the world of perfumery. My encounter with perfume came through my studies in organic chemistry and my first professional experience. Alberto Morillas, whom I saw from my office window, was instrumental in my decision. He asked two young women to smell his trial fragrances. I saw their smiles, I felt their emotions, I perceived their pleasures. At that precise moment, I knew. I was sure that this job, that allows you to give so much, was for me. So, it was through the infinitely small that I discovered the richness of perfumery. Then, I couldn’t rest until I had become a perfumer, constantly learning, experimenting and perfecting my knowledge. And some wonderful encounters have marked my life. I wasn’t afraid to take risks and luckily, they turned out well for me.

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LUX: What is your favourite scent?
Christine Nagel: The one I’m working on, that is to say the next one. Seriously, though, my favourites fluctuate, and I have no preconceptions about any material or any scent. All raw materials interest me. I like to transform things, I like to make green notes warm, woods liquid, and flowers hostile. But if I really had to choose one, it would be patchouli.

LUX: Do you have a set strategy when creating a new perfume?
Christine Nagel: Once again, there is no marketing intervention before creation. It supports creation, it doesn’t dictate it. What is remarkable about Hermès is the constant faith placed in creation and the creator. If I was chosen by the house, it was for this signature. This recognition is a source of delight every day because I am living my dream of creating fragrances that uphold and embody all the values of this house. My only aim is therefore to create exceptional fragrances.

bottle of perfume

Hermès’ new fragrance H24. Photograph by Quentin Bertoux

LUX: Should people have different perfumes for separate occasions?
Christine Nagel: A fragrance touches or speaks to us through how it resonates with our emotions, memories and desires. It can make us feel seductive or protected in turn. Everyone can find what they need for a particular time of day or year, or in a personal or professional context.

LUX: Are there advantages to having one gender create scents for the other?
Christine Nagel: No, from my point of view it is not a question of gender but a question of style, a question of signature and sensitivity. I don’t believe that people choose a fragrance on the basis of the perfumer’s sex anymore. That era is over. Women are behind some great creations, whether for famous names or niche brands.

Read more: Celebrating women in wine with VIVANT

LUX: Why has it been so long since Hermès created a male perfume?
Christine Nagel: There have been interpretations of Terre d’Hermès, but it is true that there have been no new creations from scratch. The success stories that have become classics have shaped the history of Hermès for men: Equipage in 1970, Bel ami in 1986, and Terre d’Hermès 15 years ago. They were all bold, and decisively different at the times they were created. They all represented the house’s values, with perfumery that made a statement, a free and committed type of perfumery that was deeply anchored in heritage to better innovate in the present. It was time. H24 is a fragrance for a new audience, in keeping with a desire for innovation and with the tradition of great French perfumery promoted by the house.

perfumer's studio

Christine Nagel in her atelier in 2017.  Photograph by Quentin Bertoux

LUX: During the past 30 years has there been a noticeable change in desire for perfume generally, or the type of scent demanded?
Christine Nagel: Since my early days in this wonderful profession, perfumery has changed, and I’m very glad it has. It has changed and adapted to every era. The changes are as much sociological and economic as they are artistic and technical. Economic because mass-market perfumery has emerged, sociological because it has adapted to everyone’s tastes, artistic because the perfumers who create the fragrances are named and showcased. And finally, technological because new methods for extracting materials, new molecules and tools for understanding and analysing materials have also shaken up the way fragrance is designed. As for predicting the future, I don’t want to do that because talking about trends is already talking about the past. But if I had a dream it would be to ban consumer tests and panels that have standardised and confined the world of fragrance.

Read more: Olivier Krug on champagne and music

LUX: Do you prefer combining scents or creating completely new ones? Creating a fragrance that belongs to an existing family or starting from scratch as for H24?
Christine Nagel: It’s not the same exercise and both are exciting. It is perhaps a little more difficult to create a fragrance within an existing family because it involves respecting its spirit, structure and imaginary world while adding your own signature.

Working on an icon, like I did with Terre d’Hermès and Eau des Merveilles, is daunting but also extremely stimulating. I move onto creation after a phase of observation where I examine the formula in depth. I want to understand its workings, decode its mysteries, and then, I immerse myself in creation without fear, which allows me to go quite far. And to be clear, each one is a genuine creation.

fragrance bottle

H24 100ml bottle by Hermès

LUX: What do you think a choice of perfume says about a person?
Christine Nagel: Fragrance says a lot, as does how it is worn. As I said before, perfume can be protective, acting like armour, a protective bubble to avoid others or, on the contrary, it can be a projector, seeking to seduce, to be seen, to show oneself. But it is nothing without the person who wears it. It only exists and speaks to the senses in the way it is used, whether that is abundant or discreet. However it is used, it makes it possible to be.

LUX: What is the most surprising thing you have noticed during your journey as a perfumer?
Christine Nagel: The incredible emotion that a fragrance can trigger. Scent is an endless source of emotions and stories, because each individual scent opens up a new narrative in an imaginary world.

LUX: Do you think in this day and age it’s appropriate to differentiate perfumes by gender?
Christine Nagel: No, I don’t. For me, fragrances are works of art, and as such are not created specifically for women or for men, but for humanity. The fragrance exists in itself, not in relation to its destination. In Eastern and Indian cultures, rose or patchouli can be worn by men. So it’s not the scent that makes the gender, because a scent becomes masculine on a man’s skin and feminine on a woman’s skin. We just have to know how to dare, be bold, trust ourselves and try things out.

LUX: Do you think the best perfumers are born with a creative olfactory sense or is it something you can learn?
Christine Nagel: That’s not an easy question to answer, but it seems to me that you need a certain sensitivity, a curiosity about the world and an open-mindedness that allows you to capture its richness, not forgetting a certain amount of generosity and the desire to share. You also have to be a hard worker because this job also requires great discipline and a lot of work. Finally, and this is as difficult to explain as it is essential, you need an extra measure of soul, a special something.

Discover Hermès’ collections: hermes.com

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Reading time: 7 min
man sitting with bags
man sitting with bags

Jonathan Riss has designed a collection of bags exclusively for One&Only

Belgium-born designer Jonathan Riss is the founder of JAH AHR, a luxury brand which transforms authenticated vintage designer bags through embroidery techniques. His latest collaboration with One&Only Resorts – a collection of limited edition custom-designed vintage Louis Vuitton Keepalls – is inspired by the local heritage and culture of each of the brand’s destinations. Here, Abigail Hodges speaks to the designer about his creative process, sustainable fashion and the future of travel

1. What led you to start re-crafting iconic vintage fashion pieces?

We live in a society of significant over-production and if you analyse consumer behaviour, you quickly see that people prefer iconic pieces, not because of their value, but because of the work and effort to perfect these pieces over time so they too reflect the values and desires of society.

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Today, there is an increasing demand for sustainability as well as individualisation. The idea that we not only take vintage objects and give them a new lease of life, but also to continue to work on them. To be part of this pursuit of perfection, but at the same time to continue to reflect the wants of society by offering singularly unique pieces is very interesting.

gorilla bag2. Can you tell us your favourite story about one of the bags you’ve sourced?

There are so many stories across the different mediums that we are transforming. One that springs to mind for the Keepall collection is a bag we sourced in Moscow that was originally made in 1991, on which we placed the USSR flag as this was the year of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Another bag we found was in Hong Kong that was made in 1997 which was the year of the historic handover so we imprinted this bag with the Hong Kong flag. We also sourced some bags in Tehran which have our Persian rug design reflecting the philosophy of our collections, which is to highlight the imprint of the local culture where the object was used or sourced.

 

designer in the studio

Riss at work in his studio

3. What does your design process typically involve?

The most important aspect of what we do is not the design itself, but the narrative that sits behind and around each piece. So the provenance often leads the design as the actual story of each object is much more interesting, and the design is an extension of the story, but of course, exploring different techniques of texture is a vital part of the design process enabling the execution of the narrative.

Read more: Win two life coaching sessions with Simon Hodges

4. How did your collaboration with One&Only come about?

This is a beautiful topic. One&Only owns a stunning portfolio of unique properties all over the world that really reflects the philosophy of our collection. The opportunity to create a bespoke heritage collection that allows us to showcase the cultural, social and natural aspects of each destination was an incredibly exciting opportunity as this is exactly what we do with all of our collections.

bag and kangaroo

5. When deciding how to celebrate each destination, which elements were particularly important for you to highlight?

There are almost too many elements to consider, so again, we were often led by the bag itself. For example, for Cape Town we had a bag that was originally made in 1994 which was the first year of Nelson Mandela’s Presidency so we created a design celebrating the great man himself.

Similarly, we had a bag for Rwanda that was from 2002 which is when the new Rwanda national anthem was officially inaugurated so we placed the lyrics from the anthem on an interpretation of the national flag. For Dubai, we wanted to showcase the incredible architecture as well as the importance of Islam so we overlaid a blessing on the Dubai skyline. In Mexico, we are fascinated by the contrast of the colour and vibrancy of the Dia de los Muertos with meaning behind the celebrations. In Malaysia, we loved the romance of discovering ancient statues and carvings in the jungle. The breadth of inspiration is also important to us.

6. What’s inspiring you currently?

Given what has happened in the past year, I am getting excited by the future of travel, and how the quality and experience of travel will evolve. As we have seen, anything can happen that impacts society in a dramatic way so what is interesting is to see how we elevate ourselves and I am working on a new project thinking about this, so watch this space.

Follow Jonathan Riss on Instagram: @_jay_ahr_

To purchase one of Jonathan Riss’s bags for One&Only email: [email protected]

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Reading time: 4 min
women at charity
women at charity

Wendy Yu on her trip to Rwanda with Women For Women International charity

Fashion entrepreneur Wendy Yu is the founder and CEO of Yu Holdings, an international ambassador for the French Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, and a supporter of The Metropolitan Museum of Arts, BAFTA and numerous other charitable foundations. As part of our ongoing philanthropy series, LUX speaks to Yu about her long-standing commitment to the arts, female empowerment and children’s education

LUX: As well as supporting the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, when did you first have the idea to set up a China program and why?
Wendy Yu: Having spent many years residing in London, travelling for business and working with international organisations, upon returning to Shanghai to live a few years ago, I felt an immediate sense of responsibility to my country in terms of helping to shape the creative and cultural space and provide a bridge between East and West.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

This is why conversations about China with The Met were initiated. Having been fortunate enough to spend some time with Andrew Bolton, I wanted to give the design community in China the opportunity to meet him and understand more about his work at The Costume Institute. The Met has such a big following in China, but mostly because of the Met Gala, and yet there is so much more to know and learn.

I invited Andrew to China in 2017, where he and Angelica Cheung co-hosted an event to meet emerging Chinese designers. I’m passionate about providing a platform for creative and cultural exchange.

woman wearing a ballgown

Wendy Yu at The Met Gala

LUX: Have you always been passionate about costume?
Wendy Yu: I’ve always been passionate about fashion as part of the wider creative industry. Fashion and costume are so intrinsically linked to a sense of identity, emotion, stories, a moment in time and culture. It’s also provides us with an opportunity to dream, and further nowadays, share our voice as our wardrobe is beginning to say something about our values.

LUX: Is there anyone the philanthropy world who particularly inspires you?
Wendy Yu: Amal Clooney, and Queen Rania.

LUX: What exactly does the Women For Women International charity do, and how do you ensure your support is optimal?
Wendy Yu: Supporting women is one of my priorities and I have loved to support Women For Women International as they are a wonderful charity dedicated to helping women, who are living in areas of conflict and are often marginalised. I travelled with Women For Women to Rwanda a few years ago to meet some of these women, and it was one of the most enlightening and heartfelt experiences of my life. It was incredible to see how these women had benefited from Women For Women’s training program, which provides them with the necessary skills to become financially independent and support their families.

woman sitting amongst children

Wendy with some of the women helped by the Women For Women International charity in Rwanda

LUX: Do you think that the role of private philanthropy is becoming more important, with increasing limitations on government funding?
Wendy Yu: Absolutely, particularly for the creative industry and especially at the moment, where much of government funding is having to be redirected due towards the pandemic. With philanthropy comes a true personal passion and commitment, often deriving from a special relationship that goes beyond financial support and can be truly game-changing for the people and organisations on the receiving end.

Read more: Why The Alpina Gstaad is top of our travel wish list

LUX: In terms of your support for the educational prospects of China’s children, is there anything that concerns you about the path ahead for Teach for China, and what made you decide to launch an art fund?
Wendy Yu: I believe in the importance of creativity in enhancing our lives and particularly that of children. Teach For China does an incredible job at providing education and facilities for children living in rural areas of China. What I felt I could bring to the table as one of their committee members was to provide the means for them to integrate art in their program, a subject that can often get sidelined when there is a lack of funding. Together we established an art fund, which would see the funding of art teachers and the necessary materials for schools in rural areas.

woman in classroom

Wendy working in one of Teach For China’s classrooms

LUX: Do you enjoy collaborating with Teach for China?
Wendy Yu: Very much so. Working with Teach For China has given me the opportunity to meet and spend time with the children who are benefiting from the art fund, as well as integrate their artwork in some of my own projects, including a clutch for a collaboration I did with Olympia Le-Tan where we used an artwork created by one of the students.

LUX: How will COVID-19 affect what do you do?
Wendy Yu: Covid hasn’t impacted my interests and what kind of initiatives I am directing my energy to; the causes I am committed to continue to be the arts, female empowerment and children’s education. That said not being able to travel means that at the moment any activity is by default mostly China centric.

Read more: Montegrappa’s CEO Giuseppe Aquila on personalised luxury

We have just launched the Yu Prize, which is an annual award and incubator program to support promising emerging fashion designers from China. The CFDA, the BFC, Camera Moda and FHCM are so good at championing creativity and providing a support system for their rising stars; this is something that is lacking in China and yet we have a burgeoning fashion community of very talented designers. I’m excited and want to nurture this generation of designers, who compared with their predecessors, have mostly studied abroad (CSM, LCF, Parsons) and so are more globally minded. They marry this with a sense of pride of their cultural roots, and from this a new wave of creativity and confidence is born, which serves to reposition “Made in China”. Huishan Zhang, Guo Pei and Caroline Hu craft many, if not all, of their demi-couture pieces locally in China to an international standard.

fashion event

Wendy Yu (middle) with Anna Wintour and Andrew Bolton

LUX: Do you often get to personally experience the difference you have made to a foundation or group?
Wendy Yu: My philanthropy has always stemmed from a personal relationship and a special connection that I have felt with a cause and therefore my involvement tends to be hands-on. It’s incredibly grounding and rewarding to be close to the people whose lives and/or careers are being transformed. Equally working with organisations that are specialised, and have the power and platform to make a difference is very inspiring. In today’s world and coming from a position of privilege, I believe in the importance of doing good as part of a wider definition of success.

LUX: Any other advice for our readers who might be considering going into the sector?
Wendy Yu: Follow your passion. Have in mind a wider sense of impact that you would like to make to a particular sector or area of interest, and then cultivate specific objectives and tangible projects that can be brought to fruition. Work closely with professional organisations that align with your vision and from whom you can learn more and gain access, however don’t be afraid also to champion people on a more personal level.

Find out more about Wendy Yu’s work: wendy-yu.com

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Reading time: 6 min
man outside in shirt and tie
portrait of a man

Abdullah Ibrahim by Lex van Rossen

Abdullah Ibrahim was discovered by Duke Ellington, fought against apartheid, and played at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration. The South African jazz legend speaks to LUX from his Cape Town home about his hopes and dreams

My favourite view…

The stars in the night sky over the green Kalahari.

The best place to listen to jazz…

Where your chosen jazz musicians are playing.

Where you’ll find the coolest new bands…

In the place you least expect.

The only thing I’ll queue up for is…

A masterclass with a master.

Most overrated tourist spot…

The beach.

Most undiscovered tourist spot…

The unlisted one you discover.

man outside in shirt and tie

What I love about Cape Town…

The flowers and animals.

My favourite smell…

Musk.

I feel most at one with nature in…

The desert, hills and rivers.

The best local dish…

The traditional dish prepared at home.

My favourite memory is…

The next one.

What I think of the youngest generation…

I was once like them.

If I live to be 200 I would like to see…

If that bird at daybreak still sings the same song.

My proudest achievement is…

Realising and accepting that the process of learning is boundless.

My greatest fear is…

Becoming complacent and lapsing into a comfort zone.

My biggest regret is…

Not doing enough to seek for knowledge.

Find out more: abdullahibrahim.co.za

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue. 

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Reading time: 1 min
women on the red carpet
women on the red carpet

Caroline Scheufele (left) and actress Julianne Moore at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival wearing Chopard.
Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Chopard’s Artistic Director Caroline Scheufele speaks to Torri Mundell about the Swiss company’s new Magical Setting range, aimed at creating a whisper-light collection of jewellery to be worn anywhere, anytime

diamond necklace

emerald ringWhen Chopard’s artistic director and co-president, Caroline Scheufele, developed an innovative technique to render the setting of gemstones nearly invisible, magnifying their light and lustre, she knew she wanted to apply the technique to everyday pieces as well as show-stopping designs. “I imagined this collection for a chic day-look and easy-to-wear style,” she says. “Chopard pieces are works of art that come to life when they are worn; I want women to feel as free as the light of the diamonds, and to be able to wear their jewellery with an evening dress as well as with a pair of denim jeans!”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

blue diamond ringThe custom of saving something for best may have fallen out of favour and after several months of lockdown and the tedium of staycations and leisurewear, it holds even less appeal. Created around traditional clusters of diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds with a modern, ‘barely there’ setting, Magical Setting necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings add a dash of sparkle to the most ordinary of days.

woman wearing red lipstick

model on the red carpet

Lea Seydoux (top) and Natalia Vodianova at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival wearing Chopard

Read more: Halloween thrills on the slopes in Andermatt

Scheufele knows that versatile design is the key to conceiving fine jewellery that can be worn every day. She even designed pieces such as earrings that convert from “long earrings for special occasions” to “stud-like cluster earrings for a more day-to-day basis”. She also advises her clients to follow their instincts when it comes to choosing jewellery that will stand the test of time. “Some women are ‘emerald people’ while others are ‘exclusively diamonds’,” she says. “When I am with a client buying a piece, I want to make sure the jewellery she is buying is true to her, that she can see herself wearing it tomorrow, as well as in 10 years, for any kind of occasion.”

View the collection: chopard.com

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue. 

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Reading time: 1 min
artist in the studio

Afshin Naghouni in his studio. Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Born in Iran, visual artist Afshin Naghouni immigrated to London in his mid-twenties where he began to establish a reputation for his imaginative and dynamic artworks that blur the lines between figurative and abstract. Ahead of his upcoming exhibition in January 2021, LUX contributing editor Maryam Eisler visits and photographs the artist in his London studio

Maryam Eisler: So right now, I’m looking at your self-portrait. It’s complex…
Afshin Naghouni: When you do a self-portrait, or any focus on configuration, you tend to go towards the physical features, making sure that it looks like it should do. The moment you go towards abstraction, it becomes about focusing on other things rather than the obvious. A lot of it is conscious or self-conscious. I think a self-portrait needs to be more accurate than straightforward representation.

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Maryam Eisler: Yes, I see very few cues about you in the physical sense. Is it difficult to define oneself?
Afshin Naghouni: It is if you think about it; I don’t think about it much. When I was doing it I just thought: this is me painting my inner being. I just splattered myself all over the canvas trying to think about what I am and most importantly what I am not!

Maryam Eisler: Yes, it looks like you splattered your guts! Talk to me about the reality of the last five months for you; this period of confinement and self-isolation. How have ‘Covidian times’ affected your mind, and your psyche ?
Afshin Naghouni: For me, the only direct consequence is that I have not been able to paint. Of course, I’ve doodled around at home, but nothing can replace the air in this place [the studio]. I just love it. Sometimes I don’t even paint; I just sit around, I listen to music and I breathe the air. So not being able to come to the studio for me was difficult. So what did I do instead? Well, I painted in my head, cut off from the outside world!

studio painting

Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: What do you mean by ‘painting in your head’?
Afshin Naghouni: It becomes a race between what I can bring into my head and what goes onto the canvas. My mind is always way ahead of me, and I am constantly trying to catch up. When it happens, it is exciting. because you can’t stop and it becomes more physical, the application and all that. The other thing that can happen, of course, is that you haven’t figured anything out and you just want to paint. It becomes a slur because you can be ahead of your thoughts on the canvas, and you need to come back, have a cigarette, have a coffee, and try to figure out what you are trying to do. They are both equally exciting and challenging. Well, not challenging; painting is not hard. The hardest thing is just trying to keep working, and stay motivated.

abstract painting

Untitled #6  (2017), mixed media on canvas 150×120 cm from Afshin Naghouni’s Nostalgia & Reminiscence series

Maryam Eisler: Have you managed to remain motivated during the last few months?
Afshin Naghouni: During this whole period, I have been desperate to work. I only went out for essentials for four months. My issue is that I like people. I am a social creature. I need to have human contact and connection, and a lot of it. So, not having been able to come here [into the studio], to work and see friends, has been very difficult.

Maryam Eisler: But has it also afforded you the gift of time?
Afshin Naghouni: I have had the time to slow down. To kind of bring together all my thoughts and to reflect on the things that are moving me forward. My struggles are more conceptual in nature. For example, I have never been a great fan of abstract painting and that is primarily because I have fundamental problems with modernism, and what it stands for in its essence.

Read more: Why do we act the worst with those we love the most?

Maryam Eisler: What are those problems?
Afshin Naghouni: I find modernism just like [Clement] Greenberg did: elitist, sexist, inaccessible. I am not saying that art has to be accessible, but today, I am personally focused on form, movement, rhythm and the attempt to breathe emotion into the canvas. In the past, I would start with abstract forms on the canvas and I would gradually work my way to make it representational. I think I am going backwards now. I find that reverse process interesting and exciting. I want to create overall compositions filled with life and energy, paintings that are visually engaging, playful and experimental.

I don’t care if it’s done before one way or another. We are at a point where not much is left undone. I pinch, borrow and steal from those before me, to make things work, to empty my guts on the canvas, and then I use my knowledge to polish it. I really don’t know if it’s any good and to be honest I’m too old to overthink it.

Maryam Eisler: Is that not part of the artist’s journey?
Afshin Naghouni: I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and about why I’m doing what I’m doing – trying to make sense of it in my own head. The truth (whatever that is) is that I am sick and tired of identity-centred, self-obsessed art; art that sacrifices a great deal in order to cement the artist’s place as Middle Eastern, African, female, LGBTQ etc; art that identifies the person with everything under the sun, except for being an artist; art focused on addressing something seemingly so profound that it ceases to be art – all that self-obsessed, self-indulgent, pretentious pile of shit that crawls up gallery walls!

paintings in artist studio

Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: How about art-driven identity instead of identity-driven art?
Afshin Naghouni: Ah! The art market is such a precarious thing and it has been for such a long time. I do not pander to it much. You have to, first and foremost, please yourself, present yourself I guess. It takes courage to move in different directions and it takes conviction. The truth is that I get bored! I cannot sit down and do the same thing for years on end even if I know my collector base likes certain types of my paintings. I don’t want to leave any what ifs… So I am experimenting all the time.

Maryam Eisler: How many paintings do you trash?
Afshin Naghouni: [Laughs] I do not trash. I do not burn. I just put aside.

Maryam Eisler: Who amongst art historical figures has affected you the most?
Afshin Naghouni: Picasso.

Read more: Artnet’s Sophie Neuendorf’s guide to shopping for art online

Maryam Eisler: What is it about Picasso‘s work that appeals to you?
Afshin Naghouni: His carefreeness, I think.

Maryam Eisler: Is there one of his paintings in particular that comes to mind?
Afshin Naghouni: I will always be in love of his analytic period, but I am also very much enjoying the paintings he did of his lover Marie Therese around 1932-33. I love the freedom of application and the loose strokes, childish, free and sensuous at the same time.

Maryam Eisler: Who else inspires you?
Afshin Naghouni: [Anselm] Kiefer, Cecily Brown, Caravaggio.

Maryam Eisler: What is it about Kiefer’s work?
Afshin Naghouni: The sheer scale, and his ability to achieve such amazing compositions within that scale. He is one of those few artists who has found the perfect balance between form and concept.

abstract earthy painting

Nostalgia (2017), mixed media on canvas 160×200 cm from Afshin Naghouni’s Nostalgia & Reminiscence series

Maryam Eisler: Is that something you are striving for?
Afshin Naghouni: I am still trying to find that balance. Now I do not pay that much attention to concept any more; I focus on form instead. I find it exciting, it gives me energy to think about the things I want to do.

Maryam Eisler: What are you reading right now?
Afshin Naghouni: I am reading The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins. The author is a Central St Martins graduate. You do not have to be an artist to be creative. Everybody is born with creative genes. They just get suppressed by life events. I’m also reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, but it kind of depresses me.

Maryam Eisler: Why does it depress you?
Afshin Naghouni: The future that Hariri describes is not the kind of society I want to live in.

Maryam Eisler: Do you mean that you like humanity with all its flaws?
Afshin Naghouni: Yes, absolutely. I had this deep and heated conversation with a friend recently, who insisted that art and artists are going to become irrelevant, and that AI is going to create the very best art that art can ever be. But how is that possible? Until AI can get angry, can cry, can fall in love the way that we, as humans, can, it will surely never be able to surpass art created by human hands. Frankly, I would rather not be around when or if AI is ruling the world. It is often our human flaws that add greatness to any artwork.

abstract painting

Untitled #3 (2017), mixed media on canvas 160×200 cm from Afshin Naghouni’s Nostalgia & Reminiscence series

Maryam Eisler: Do you have an overall concept for your upcoming show in January?
Afshin Naghouni: I just want to paint between now and then the way I want to paint, free, without overthinking the process. If I only have five paintings by then, then that will be it.

Maryam Eisler: Talk to me about the courageous choice of colours in your paintings and the energy they exude.
Afshin Naghouni: Those who are familiar with my work know well that it never used to be this colourful. That’s why I say, I feel I have really rediscovered colour. I like and want to play, and if colour is the exciting dimension in the game, then let’s put it to work. I’m also a city boy. I like big cities with all the people that inhabit them. I am in love with London. It is a melting pot of cultures and that in itself is pure colour. The energy in this place is unique. I equally love the countryside, but after two weeks away, I need to return to urban colour.

Maryam Eisler: Finally, I want to talk to you about place. You mentioned that you love London, and urban life. What about the location of this particular studio [in Ladbroke Grove], and the connections that you’ve made with your local community?
Afshin Naghouni: It is amazing. First of all, in this line of arches here, there are mechanics, fashion designers, recording studios, different kinds of professionals working together, next to one another. I know them and they know me. It feels good. I like the walk from here to home and back. I never get tired of the route; everything about it offers me a colourful visual canvas of life in London. When I am going down the road, I just listen to the sounds that accompany me all along, and I feel the energy. I love everything about it. The community around here is also very strong; we try to make things work together all the time. We rely on one another. I really miss that interconnectivity.

Discover more of Afshin Naghouni’s artworks: afshinnaghouni.com
For more information on the artist’s upcoming show at HJ gallery in January 2021 visit: hjartgallery.com

Note: this interview was conducted prior to the UK lockdown in November 2020.

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Reading time: 10 min
man listening to music with headphones
man listening to music with headphones

Warwick Acoustics’ flagship headphone system, the APERIO, promises the ultimate listening experience. Image courtesy of Warwick Acoustics

British company Warwick Acoustics has developed a reputation for innovating and producing innovative audio technology. Their flagship headphone system, the APERIO, takes both sound quality and product design to the next level with a 24 karat gold hand-finished limited edition. Here, LUX discovers how the ultimate listening experience is achieved

Numerous studies have shown that listening to music can positively impact your mood, well-being, sleep quality and cognitive ability, reduce stress, and even ease physical pain, but is there such thing as a perfect listening experience?

‘Sound is definitely a subjective experience and what is considered ‘perfect’ for one person may not be for another,’ says Martin Roberts Director of the Headphone Business Unit at UK-based audio technology company Warwick Acoustics Ltd., whose products are designed to achieve an exceptionally high level of sound clarity. Their recently unveiled flagship headphone system, the APERIO (named after the Latin word meaning to uncover or reveal), follows the company’s Sonoma Model One (M1) electrostatic headphone system, and is the result of three years of extensive sound exploration and technical development carried out in their Warwickshire workshops.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

‘Simply put: the APERIO is designed to reproduce audio content as pristinely and accurately as possible – revealing the details and complexities in the original recording without colouration or alteration,’ explains Roberts. A review in Hi-Fi News claims that the system possesses the ability ‘to deliver rare insights into your music.’ Whilst this level of sound quality is naturally more geared towards professionals in the music industry, the company hopes the product will also appeal to music-loving high-net-worth individuals as a high-functioning collectible item.

design workshop

Each APERIO is assembled by hand in the company’s Warwickshire workshops. Image courtesy of Warwick Acoustics

In terms of design, the company believes in American architect Louis Henry Sullivan’s ethos that ‘form follows function’, and aspire to create products that have a timeless appeal.

Read more: Why it’s important for banks to incentivise sustainability

The standard version of the APERIO, for example, is understated in sleek black with soft sheepskin leather and stylish detailing such as the curved metal patterning of the headphone grilles, which visually evokes undulating sound waves.

headphones

The APERIO standard version. Image courtesy of Warwick Acoustics.

The limited-edition Gold APERIO is more flashy, crafted from 24 karat gold (including the headphone grilles, hardware and Amplifier front panel) in England’s historic jewellery quarter in Birmingham. Limited to 100 units globally, the system is now available to buy in the UK exclusively from Harrods in Knightsbridge, London.

It’s not just the design that has been upgraded, however, the Gold system also utilises the highest grade Balanced-Drive HPEL Transducer (the component that determines the quality of sound reproduction) innovated by Warwick Acoustics to guarantee outstanding performance. That level of quality doesn’t come cheaply though; the Gold model retails at a cool £30,000/US$35,000 whilst the standard version is priced at £20,000/US$24,000.

gold headphones

The Gold Aperio is limited to 100 units, available in the UK exclusively at Harrods, London. Image courtesy of Warwick Acoustics.

But how exactly is audio performance or sound quality measured? Each APERIO undergoes rigorous testing, including at least three human listening tests, before the product is released from the company’s Warwickshire facility. ‘The APERIO is about listening to music as if you were there,’ says Roberts. ‘I remember when I visited a very famous recording studio in Los Angeles and a mastering engineer listened to a remastered recording by the great Frank Sinatra… He listened intently to the same track several times then just sat back and said, “Wow.”  When I asked him how his experience was he said, “Amazing, I have literally listened to that Sinatra track a thousand times and this is the first time I have ever heard him smacking his lips in the pauses between verses of the song…Simply astonishing detail”.’

Read more: Artist Yayoi Kusama’s designs for Veuve Clicquot

sound testing

Warwick Acoustics’ anechoic chamber where the headphones are tested. Image courtesy of Warwick Acoustics.

Attention to detail is at the heart of Warwick Acoustics’ engineering philosophy. The whole system is designed to work harmoniously together, rather than piecing together disparate components and technologies. In many ways, it’s a similar process to the development of a supercar or ultra-high-performance watch, and ultimately, that’s what you’re paying for: the experience. Listening to music is, after all, a process of immersion, of gradually getting closer to the sound, of being slowly transported into another place, self, or way of being.

For more information visit: warwickacoustics.com/headphones, or contact [email protected]

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Reading time: 4 min
cityscape
cityscape

Nur-Sultan, the capital city of Kazakhstan with landmark Baiterek tower. Image by cosmopol.

Dynamic leadership and entrepreneurial thinking are required to help the global economy recover. We speak to seven leaders in the Kazakhstan chapter of one of the world’s most respected business organisations about mutual support among entrepreneurs, and their country being a touchpoint between east and west. Curated by Gauhar Kapparova
portrait of a woman

LUX’s Editor-at-Large Gauhar Kapparova

A first-time business visit to Kazakhstan is likely to end up with two overarching impressions. Firstly, of the sheer size of the country. The distance from the biggest city, Almaty, to the centres of oil production on the Caspian sea is an astonishing 3,000 kilometres. Even the short hop from Almaty to the shiny new(-ish) capital Nur-Sultan is an hour and a half on a plane.

The second impression is likely to be one of the openness and dynamism of a new entrepreneurial community. Kazakhstan often speaks of itself as a key country between east and west, with China to the east and Russia and the Caspian sea border of Europe to the west. It is also focussing on moving beyond its oil and gas-based 20th-century economy, with the majority of growth coming from other sectors.

To this end, the country teems with spirited, can-do entrepreneurs, unfazed by the distances they have to travel to get to the world’s financial centres and proud of their country’s potential. A new generation of largely western-educated business people add to the cosmopolitan feel.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

At the heart of this enterprising business community is the Kazakh chapter of YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization), a global members group for chief executives and owners of significant businesses. Entry is by invitation only and open to those who own or run substantial businesses. Benefits are notable: an instant network of the highest level of contacts in your country and around the world, gatherings, conventions and seminars, and a highly sophisticated support network.

True to the country’s buccaneering business spirit, the Kazakh division of the YPO is known as one of the world’s most dynamic. There is no better insight into the opportunities in the central Asian country or into the minds of its prominent business leaders than from the YPO Kazakhstan chapter leaders we interview here.

ALINA ALDAMBERGEN

Chair of the Management Board, member of the Board of Directors of Kazakhstan Stock Exchange

Aldambergen’s career in the finance industry began in 1997 as an analyst and manager at ABN AMRO bank in Kazakhstan, then as a senior rating advisor in the global finance markets for the same bank in London before returning to Kazakhstan to chair the bank’s management board. After a series of senior posts at various financial institutions, she moved to the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange in 2016.

woman in orange top

Alina Aldambergen. Image by Sergey Belousov.

LUX: Tell us about yourself and your experience. What distinguishes you from other YPO members?
Alina Aldambergen: I’ve been working at the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange since February 2016. In the 17 years since I was first appointed as chairperson of ABN AMRO Pension Funds Asset Management Company in Kazakhstan back in 2003, I have held a number of different management positions at private and state-owned companies.

My key expertise is in being a senior manager. Unlike other YPO members, I’ve never been an owner of a company. It is possible, of course, that one day I might decide to set up my own company, but I haven’t come to that decision yet.

I like to manage large-scale companies. It is important for me that I work for institutions that make an impact, which is why during the past ten years I have worked for companies in Kazakhstan that are owned by the state.

Read more: Deutsche Bank’s Claudio de Sanctis on investing in the ocean

LUX: How did you became the manager you wanted to be? How did you train and did you have any formal business education?
Alina Aldambergen: I happened to develop my career when the country was changing from the Soviet planned economy to a market economy. This was a significant transformation for the whole country, economically and mentally.

The country’s president was a visionary, he knew that this would require a new mindset and people with new sets of skills. That’s why the government set up a scholarship programme to send students to study abroad. I was awarded one of these scholarships and studied for an MBA at the Simon School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester, one of the top 25 business schools in the world at that time. I studied corporate finance and accounting, essential for doing business and setting up the financial system in Kazakhstan. Another major influence on my career has been working for the country’s first international bank.

Even though now I would think that doing an MBA straight from undergraduate school is a bit too soon, in my case it gave me all the essential skills to do business and manage business in Kazakhstan. I am still using all the concepts that I studied at business school in my everyday life.

Of course, I took various courses in different subjects later on, but still, the fundamentals are what keep you going. I am a strong advocate of keeping up your business education throughout one’s lifetime.

LUX: What motivated you then and what motivates you now?
Alina Aldambergen: I am motivated by excellence. However, that has to be adjusted for the environment that you are working in. At any job I have always tried to come up with the best business model, get support from the stakeholders, and follow it through. I will leave a company if my values do not coincide with those of the company.

I am a strong believer in not wasting time – why do so if you could be doing something more valuable and interesting elsewhere? It is important for me to bring worth to a company, its employees and shareholders, and to society. I want to see the results of my work make an impact.

office environment

Courtesy KASE

LUX: Why did you decide to become member of the YPO? Why it is important for you?
Alina Aldambergen: I joined YPO in Kazakhstan in 2018. For me, it was an exclusive members club of business people – true, self-made achievers. To become a member was prestigious for me. Another point is that YPO is an international organisation, so in that regard I considered it as another step forward for myself. I also recognised that it is an influential organisation that can make an impact on various issues concerning society.

LUX: What else does YPO bring to you?
Alina Aldambergen: I think I discovered even more value once I had become a YPO member. There is a wealth of knowledge, significant networking opportunities and an exchange of opinions that you can draw on.

I like the YPO concept of oneself, family and business all together. I think it is important that YPO encourages this amongst its members. Your spouse or child can become a member of the organisation and it provides access to the same education as you can get elsewhere. It really enables generations of business people to grow.

I also like the forum meetings. I found that they are a place where you can receive and share professional advice with your peers on dealing with different situations. I think this is the most valuable experience of the YPO membership.

ARMANZHAN BAITASSOV
Chairman of the Tan Media Group and publisher of Forbes Kazakhstan magazine

Baitassov is a Kazakhstan media manager, professional TV journalist and businessman. He has founded multiple media outlets, including his first TV channel, Channel 31, in 1992 the Megapolis newspaper in 2000, the Business FM radio station in 2018, and in 1994 the Radio 31 radio station. In 2017 he was elected chairman of the board of the Kazakhstan Media Alliance.

business man

Armanzhan Baitassov. Image by Andrey Lunin

LUX: What age were you when you thought you might go into business as a career?
Armanzhan Baitassov: I was 19 years old when I decided to go into business. The first time we thought about business was in the late 1980s, when it became possible to engage in private entrepreneurial activity.

LUX: Who were your inspirations in business and how and why did they inspire you?
Armanzhan Baitassov: We were inspired by the guys who were able to earn a lot of money back then in Soviet roubles, guys as young as us who were also searching for opportunities to make money.

LUX: What were your first steps? Did you have any formal business education?
Armanzhan Baitassov: We started in advertising, reselling the advertising slots in newspapers. At that time, there were no textbooks about business, so we learned everything along the way.

Read more: Sculptor Helaine Blumenfeld on the power of public art

LUX: What were the most important parts of this learning phase of your business life?
Armanzhan Baitassov: I graduated from the Faculty of Journalism at Kazakh State University and immediately went into the media industry, where I still work. Of course, in the early 90s there were problems with funding, there was not enough equipment or it was incredibly expensive, and legislation in Kazakhstan was not fully regulated. But we had enough advertising in the first year and big contracts with Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

LUX: What motivated you then and what motivates you now?
Armanzhan Baitassov: At first, the big motivation for us was creative work. We were young, we worked day and night to make our media more and more popular. Now, of course, we are more mature, but the main motivation remains to do something new to make our world better.

LUX: What are the unique challenges of business and enterprise in Kazakhstan?
Armanzhan Baitassov: There is the powerful influence of the state on the economy. It hinders entrepreneurship and corruption has penetrated all levels of power and the economy. Doing business in Kazakhstan can be simply unsafe, but there are also development institutions that are helping small and medium-sized businesses thrive. All systems work well, but look carefully at your segment, especially if it contains any state-owned companies and corporations.

forbes building

The Forbes building in Almaty, Kazakhstan

LUX: What’s the secret of success in business?
Armanzhan Baitassov: For me it’s that I am interested in doing business, in watching companies develop and doing it myself, and not just being a shareholder and observing. When you are immersed, then you’ll succeed. And what probably helps is my belief that everything will get better every year.

LUX: What are your plans for the future?
Armanzhan Baitassov: The pandemic has changed all my plans for 2020 but I really want to develop media abroad in Russia, Uzbekistan and Georgia.

LUX: Who are your business heroes now?
Armanzhan Baitassov: Of course, there are people I admire such as Jeff Bezos, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin. There are also people here who inspire me, such as Vyacheslav Kim and Mikhail Lomtadze at Kaspi Bank. But today my business heroes are the young entrepreneurs in Kazakhstan.

LUX: The media business is going through unique challenges now. What do you think these are and where do opportunities lie?
Armanzhan Baitassov: The main thing is a sharp drop in income from advertising. Many media companies have begun to work remotely from home, which is a great opportunity because of the high office costs. There may also be greater digitalisation – print newspapers are living their last days.

LUX: When did you first hear about YPO?
Armanzhan Baitassov: I learned about YPO in 2010 from Nurlan Kapparov. A year or so later we went with him to the USA, where we were invited to an event held by the YPO chapter in Washington DC.

LUX: Emotional support in business and other matters seems to be an important part of being a YPO member – is that correct?
Armanzhan Baitassov: Yes. In Kazakhstan, most entrepreneurs encounter some difficulties, maybe even injustice, and we can openly discuss these within the chapter. It is an incredible support.

LUX: How does YPO support your business?
Armanzhan Baitassov: The biggest support that I get is when we hold events at Tan Media Group, almost all members are happy to come. I am especially pleased that they support the youth forum and are happy to speak to young entrepreneurs.

LUX: What does running the Kazakhstan YPO chapter mean to you?
Armanzhan Baitassov: It has become very influential. We want as many members as possible, but getting in is difficult. We have a committee that reviews all applications and only then sends them for consideration to the YPO members. We all feel a great responsibility, because each YPO member is one of our team.

AIGUL DJAILAUBEKOVA
Partner at InnoVision Management Consultancy

Djailaubekova began her career in banking 1996 in Amsterdam at MeesPierson and then ING Bank. In 2004, she returned to Kazakhstan to continue working for ING. Since 2007, her work in banking has included senior management roles at Citibank and HSBC in Kazakhstan and at large regional banks. At InnoVision she focuses on management consultancy, financial services and education.

businesswoman

Aigul Djailaubekova

LUX: What age were you when you thought you might go into business as a career?
Aigul Djailaubekova: I started my career about 25 years ago. Prior to then, being an ambitious straight-As student, I was set on an academic career but after a short teaching tenure, I decided to explore new opportunities in commercial and international business.

LUX: What were your first steps? Did you have any formal business education or training? Which companies did you work for?
Aigul Djailaubekova: I won a British Council scholarship to study at Lancaster University in the UK. After graduation, I landed a job in the Trade & Commodity Finance department of the Dutch bank MeesPierson in Amsterdam. I moved to ING Bank N.V., where for several years I covered financial institutions in various countries as a senior regional manager. Then I joined ING’s office in Kazakhstan as an expatriate manager.

LUX: What have you learned in your business life in recent years?
Aigul Djailaubekova: Over the past decade, I have been deputy chairman of the management board at Citibank and HSBC in Kazakhstan and in a few large local banks. Those were vastly different experiences for me in terms of their corporate cultures. All the successes and disappointments made me a stronger and perceptive manager as well as a more resilient and, hopefully, wiser person.

LUX: What are your business plans?
Aigul Djailaubekova: A few years ago I started thinking about setting up my own bank with a team of like-minded investors and banking professionals. In view of the multimillion investment required, it’s ambitious but most successful businesses at their early stages dare to dream big.

LUX: What are the unique challenges of business and enterprise in Kazakhstan?
Aigul Djailaubekova: It is important that foreign investors have a strong local partner who will be on the same page in terms of their business vision to help them navigate through the local bureaucracy.

LUX: Who were your inspirations in business and how and why did they inspire you?
Aigul Djailaubekova: My main inspiration in life is my family. I’ve always been driven by a desire to do something meaningful, to contribute to financial prosperity of our family, to be a good example for my children and to be a source of pride for my parents. Thanks to them and my husband, I have never had to face the choice of being a mother and wife or a being a banking executive.

man and woman

Aigul Djailaubekova with her husband

LUX: What advice would you give anyone starting out in business?
Aigul Djailaubekova: I would say three things. Firstly, dream big and dare to have it all. One might not achieve each and every goal along the way, but it’s worth trying. Secondly, dare to follow your dreams, especially when you’re young. And thirdly, when you feel that the current trajectory is no longer satisfying, or that there are other opportunities opening up, dare to change to a new path.

LUX: How did you first hear about YPO?
Aigul Djailaubekova:Several years ago from some of my friends and business acquaintances. The Kazakhstan chapter was founded by Nurlan Kapparov, a highly respected businessman and visionary. It was very flattering when two of the long-standing members suggested I join, which I did more than five years ago. I was the first female YPO member in Kazakhstan.

LUX: Has being a woman member made a difference to the local chapter?
Aigul Djailaubekova: One of my missions was to break the image of our chapter as a closed, all male club. Later, I heard that initially some members had been cautious about a woman joining the chapter, but knowing several members before I joined and the fresh perspective and insights I brought helped me to gain the trust of other members.

LUX: How does YPO Kazakhstan benefit wider society?
Aigul Djailaubekova: Kazakhstan’s chapter has evolved from an elite business club to an organisation that strives to make differences in society. Some initiatives between the government and local businesses were introduced at the instigation of YPO. The charity balls supporting good causes are regular events now. And there are charity projects, such as the Ana Yui (Mother’s House) founded by one our members, which has become a nationwide movement saving thousands of babies from being sent to orphanages.

LUX: In what way does being a YPO member support and help you personally?
Aigul Djailaubekova: For me, YPO brings great value through business advices and insights and as a platform for personal development through the forums, training and special events. I have become good friends with most YPO members and their families, socialising outside official chapter events. When making a radical career shift, I took comfort from the forum and some closer friends at YPO to whom I could turn for advice.

SIDDIQUE KHAN
Founder and CEO of Globalink Logistics Ltd

Khan has worked in transportation since 1990. He established Globalink Logistics in 1994. In 2011 he was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the American Chamber of Commerce. As well as chairing multiple committees relating to his sector, he also advises Kazakhstan’s government on the development of transportation and has a particular expertise in the Belt & Road Initiative.

businessman

Siddique Khan

LUX: What age were you when you thought you might go into business as a career?
Siddique Khan: I started part-time work while I was studying to gain practical experience and to earn some extra money. It turned out to be one of the best opportunities of my life. I was able to learn how small businesses work, and the hands-on experience helped me turn my visions into practical business ideas.

LUX: Who were your inspirations in business, and how and why did they inspire you?
Siddique Khan: I was always fascinated with the ancient Silk Road and became particularly aware of it when I started a job in transportation and logistics in 1990 while supervising the distribution of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. I saw the Silk Road’s heritage everywhere. In 1994, following the collapse of the USSR three years earlier, I set up a new business in Almaty to build a world-class transportation and logistics business that would eventually revive the ancient Silk Road.

Read more: Gaggenau launches initiative to support innovative artisans

LUX: How did you go about setting up this business venture?
Siddique Khan: Fundraising for a start-up to revive the Silk Road was anything but easy. After months of struggle, I managed to raise the seed capital, helping me launch Globalink Logistics on a shoestring budget. Choosing Almaty as a base was not a popular decision in those days, as most foreign investors were entering the former USSR market through Russia. Looking back, it was the right decision. It has helped Globalink gain recognition as the first international logistics company in Kazakhstan. Today, it has operations in nine locations in this country, more than 32 service centres in the former USSR and with representation in 55 countries.

LUX: What were the most important parts of this learning phase of your business life?
Siddique Khan: Companies have to re-invent themselves frequently, adapt to ever-changing market conditions, manage risk effectively, develop a competent workforce and invest in new technologies to be able to compete on a global stage. We must learn to overcome the uncertainty of the future and continuously educate ourselves to be able to stay ahead.

industrial container

One of Siddique Khan’s company’s containers on the move

LUX: What motivated you then, and what motivates you now?
Siddique Khan: Giving financial success a purpose is still the most incredible motivation for me and gives me an enormous satisfaction in my work. My real thrill in life is not accumulating wealth, but to seek ways to use financial resources to create life-changing opportunities for others.

LUX: What are the unique challenges of business and enterprise in Kazakhstan?
Siddique Khan: Kazakhstan is a typical frontier market, offering high risk and higher reward. Overall, it and the Central Asian Republics are resource-rich economies with limited service sectors and infrastructures. There are viable business opportunities if one can cope with the numerous challenges of these emerging markets.

LUX: What advice would you give to foreign companies coming to Kazakhstan?
Siddique Khan: It is essential to learn and appreciate the cultural differences when you are doing business in this region.

LUX: YPO seems to be a unique business organisation. Is this true?
Siddique Khan: YPO is a unique group of exceptional executives that provides a network with a common aim: to become better leaders through lifelong learning. Every member seeks the knowledge and principles of success not only for their businesses but also for their families, friends and, most importantly, for themselves.

LUX: In what way does being a YPO member support and help you personally?
Siddique Khan:  Much of the YPO member experience comes from the local chapter, where you meet other business executives in your area. Although the organisation attracts high-achievers who are very competitive, the chapter also offers a sense of openness. Chapter life is full of action, ranging from family retreats and business events to executive education, counselling, healthcare and much more.

Depending on the size of the chapter, there are several forums. A forum is a group of about eight to ten people who meet frequently to discuss business and personal issues in a judgment-free and confidential environment. Forums become the sounding board for topics that you wouldn’t like to discuss anywhere else. I can confidently say that my forum has become my family. We trust and support each other – no matter what.

The professional, educational, spiritual and networking support that I got from the organisation helped me not only to transform myself but my business and family life as well. Thanks to YPO, I have become a better executive, spouse, father and friend.

RAMIL MUKHORYAPOV
Chairman of the Board of Directors of Chocofamily Holding

After early enterprises in Moscow, Mukhoryapov returned to Kazakhstan in 2011 to work in e-commerce, founding Chocolife.me, the country’s first online marketplace. This has since expanded to become Chocofamily Holding, Kazakhstan’s leading internet company with eight brands covering services such as online payments, health, travel and food delivery.

man in polo neck

Ramil Mukhoryapov

LUX: What age were you when you thought you might go into business as a career?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: I was 19 years old when I started my first business. It was a club for parties for students. My first idea was for a comfortable and fun student life.

LUX: Who were your inspirations in business and how and why did they inspire you?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: I was inspired by a few Russian and international entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Oleg Tinkov, Sergey Galitsky and Evgeny Chichvarkin. I was inspired by their energy and their desire to change the world.

LUX: What were your first steps – which companies did you work for, how did you train and did you do formal business education?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: I studied at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation in Moscow. I used to read interviews with various entrepreneurs in the business newspaper Vedomosti, in which they described all sorts of business situations and how they dealt with them. Reading newspapers was my main training. I had no formal business education, just my basic finance education at the university.

LUX: What were the most important parts of this learning phase of your business life?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: I loved reading the biographies of top entrepreneurs such as Howard Schultz of Starbucks, Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, Steve Jobs, John Rockefeller, Feodor Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, and Richard and Maurice McDonald. I was inspired by their lives and their decision making.

LUX: What motivated you then and what motivates you now?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: At first I was motivated by money and the photos I saw in magazines that depicted businessmen like happy guys with beautiful lives. Now, my main motivation is to change the world. I would like to change the relationships between companies and employees, to change the service in our country and to create new possibilities in economics. I think that business people are sort of engineers of the world.

LUX: What are the unique challenges of business and enterprise in Kazakhstan?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: I don’t think that Kazakhstan offers any particularly unique challenges in business but it does have great potential for entrepreneurs, because of the very low levels of competition.

LUX: What advice would you give to foreign companies coming to Kazakhstan?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: First of all, welcome to our country! There are many great possibilities to start a business here. We are growing very fast, have a stable economy and political regime. Also, we have potential in retail, e-commerce and so on.

LUX: What is the secret of success in business and what keeps you going?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: I think that it depends on two things. Firstly, you should work a lot and very hard. And secondly, ambition. If you are not satisfied with the results, they have to push you to go further. It’s important not to say “enough” – that’s a very dangerous word in business.

LUX: What are your business plans?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: Our plan is to build the biggest e-commerce company in the region and to become the first tech company from Kazakhstan to be known worldwide. To keep pace with Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple and others – that’s our goal and I believe that everything is possible.

LUX: Who are your business heroes now?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: My business hero now is Elon Musk. He is a person who makes crazy things. He does not just dream about something, he does it. He inspires me to think the same way. We shouldn’t build barriers in our minds.

LUX: When did you first hear about YPO?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: The first time was when I was a student. I read a book by Artyom Tarasov, one of the first Russian millionaires and the first YPO member from Russia. That was about 19 years ago and I knew then that I wanted to join YPO.

LUX: What were your perceptions of YPO before you joined?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: YPO is a unique business organisation. It consists of the best entrepreneurs from Kazakhstan and enables you to communicate with others from different countries.

LUX: How does YPO support your business?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: I have two examples. First, two of the YPO members in our chapter became investors in my company: Timur Turlov and Aidyn Rakhimbayev. Second, when I need to speak with the managers of the big Russian e-commerce companies, I can get their contacts through YPO Connect and they answer quickly.

LUX: How often are chapter meetings held?
Ramil Mukhoryapov: Formal meetings happen on average 10 times a year. They take priority in my schedule. I appreciate the ideas and advice I get from them – they are like a personal board of directors.

ELDAR SARSENOV
Chairman of the Management Board of JSC Nurbank

Before his banking career, Sarsenov led the marketing at TAG Heuer in the US and worked his way up to being deputy director of sales and marketing at Helios LLP, the Kazakhstan petrol station company. He was the managing director of JSC Nurbank for three years, during which he managed the credit card department, IT and marketing, before he became the bank’s chairman in 2015.

businessman

Eldar Sarsenov. Image by Valery Ayapov

LUX: What age were you when you thought you might go into business as a career?
Eldar Sarsenov: I started thinking of myself as some kind of business person when I was maybe six or seven years old. At the time, I was in the US living near tennis courts where I worked as a ball boy. It was then that I understood the value of being paid for your services.

LUX: Your family was prominent in business already – you took a very international route when starting your career. Why?
Eldar Sarsenov:My career started early, helping out in my family’s business when I was still in school. When in college, I did some internships and later on I was working in a few businesses in Kazakhstan, so my career started locally. My first international work was in New Jersey, at TAG Heuer, as part of my MBA.

LUX: Who were your inspirations in business?
Eldar Sarsenov: I was inspired first by my parents’ enterprise in the early 1990s. When I was in college, a few professors who were also successful business people also influenced me.

Read more: Kering’s Marie-Claire Daveu on benefits of the blue economy

LUX: What business education do you have?
Eldar Sarsenov: My bachelor degree in science and business administration was from Suffolk University in Boston, and my MBA is from Northeastern University. Formal education helped my decision making and my ability to assess business practices in all sorts of situations.

LUX: What motivates you now?
Eldar Sarsenov: That’s easy. I am motivated by problem solving, by overcoming crises. I look at the person I was prior to certain events and can see how they transformed and improved me.

LUX: What are the unique challenges of business and enterprise in Kazakhstan?
Eldar Sarsenov: It’s a great place to conduct business, but one of the biggest challenges is its population size. It is a little below 20 million and no matter how efficient or effective you are, technologically and otherwise, at some point you will hit the ceiling of what market you can get.

yellow flag

The flag of Nurbank, of which Eldar Sarsenov is chairman

LUX: What’s the secret of success in business?
Eldar Sarsenov: There’s no big secret. Work hard, be kind to people, be a good person, and stay motivated. That’s harder than it sounds. You’ll be motivated at first but, later, obstacles might slow you down. The trick is to keep moving.

LUX: What are your business plans?
Eldar Sarsenov: Going international is in the plan for me. As a company, you need to cover as many countries as you can. It is healthy and financially sound.

LUX: Who are your business heroes now?
Eldar Sarsenov: The ones who surround me, such as those who survived the break-up of the Soviet Union and prospered for the benefit of the country. Also my YPO friends, who are people of high ethical standards and great business acumen.

LUX: When did you first hear about YPO?
Eldar Sarsenov: I first heard about it through friends and business acquaintances. My friend and mentor Armanzhan Baitassov, who is a YPO member of some stature, suggested I join.

LUX: What were your perceptions of YPO before you joined?
Eldar Sarsenov: I thought it was something along the lines of a fraternity of some sort. But when I saw a meeting, which was informal, I was impressed by the comradeship.

LUX: In what way does being a YPO member support and help you personally?
Eldar Sarsenov: It’s put into perspective what I am today as a business person. It has shown me how my strengths could be furthered, and how my weaknesses can be minimised.

LUX: YPO seems to be a unique business organisation, especially in its forums.
Eldar Sarsenov: Yes, the forums are what make YPO so sought after. Chapters consist of five to eight people. They are designed to be part of the YPO experience, where people can meet regularly within their own groups and discuss problems with work, family, or personal development.

LUX: Does YPO help with international contacts also?
Eldar Sarsenov: International contacts are what YPO bring to the table once you become a member. It provides a platform called YPO Connect that enables you to connect with YPO people round the world. I have helped members from Latin America, Europe and Australia who were interested in financial services in Kazakhstan.

LUX: What does being a YPO chapter member involve and what do you need to do?
Eldar Sarsenov: You get from YPO what you invest. If you make time, reach out to people, follow guidelines at meetings and participate in forums, then YPO gives back a lot. Since I joined in 2019 I have tried to be at every event and reach out to every member. YPO has been great for me. I look forward to meeting new people after the pandemic, and I urge everyone to consider joining this great organisation.

TIMUR TURLOV
Founder and owner of Freedom Holding Corp.

Turlov is an entrepreneur and financial expert who established Freedom Finance in 2008. Becoming part of Freedom Holding Corp. in 2015, the company is a leading retail brokerage and investment bank in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Turlov is a specialist in the US stock market and regularly comments, reports and lectures on financial and economic matters in business publications.

businessman

Timur Turlov, CEO of the Freedom Holding Corp.

LUX: What age were you when you thought you might go into business as a career?
Timur Turlov: I was hungry to earn money when I was at least 13. At 15 or 16 I had my first more or less serious job (as a junior media analyst) with an ‘adult’ salary.

LUX: Who were your inspirations in business and how and why did they inspire you?
Timur Turlov: I am not sure that I really can name any. I started my own business not because of my ambitions, but because my employer closed its investments arm.

LUX: What were your first steps? Which companies did you work for, how did you train and did you do any formal business education?
Timur Turlov: I have no formal business education. I started my career in the stock market industry in Moscow at a small proprietary trading firm founded by American who was a former Soviet Union citizen. Then I switched to a retail brokerage firm that was part of a medium-sized commercial bank, and became the youngest TOM manager by my third year. Then the investment arm closed after the 2008–09 crisis.

Read more: Prince Robert de Luxembourg on wine, gastronomy & storytelling

LUX: What were the most important parts of this learning phase of your business life?
Timur Turlov: I always was very practical. I learned a lot from my colleagues and partners, from googling and reading the necessary information to solve specific tasks.

LUX: What motivated you then and what motivates you now?
Timur Turlov: We live in a world where the winner takes it all and you need to be the best in the industry just to survive.

LUX: What are the unique challenges of business and enterprise in Kazakhstan?
Timur Turlov: The main challenge is being almost alone in your industry. A weak competitive landscape can be a problem when you eat your bread alone. And that’s an opportunity as well, of course.

LUX: What advice would you give to foreign companies coming to Kazakhstan?
Timur Turlov: Kazakhstan is a country of open doors. It’s very easy to get here and you will be warmly welcomed, but you have to manage expectations extremely carefully.

LUX: What is the secret of success in business and what keeps you going?
Timur Turlov: My ability to build relationships, to sense the direction the wind is blowing in and to create products that are in demand. And, of course, luck.

LUX: What are your plans and business dreams?
Timur Turlov: We need to expand more actively into the EU and from there, globally. Competition in my industry is already global and we need to grow to be competitive enough tomorrow, to be attractive enough to become a target for acquisition, or to acquire our competitors worldwide.

office reception

LUX: Who are your business heroes now?
Timur Turlov: My team, my competitors… No stars.

LUX: When did you first hear about YPO and from whom?
Timur Turlov: From my friend and client, Marat Shotbaev, three or four years ago.

LUX: What were your perceptions of YPO before you joined and what made you want to join?
Timur Turlov: I knew it to be a club of successful people from the business elite in our country.

LUX: YPO seems to be a unique business organisation. Is this true, and if so, how and why?
Timur Turlov: The spread across medium and large enterprises in Kazakhstan seems to be wider than usually found elsewhere in the world. So here, YPO is a club for large businesses.

LUX: In what way does being a YPO member support and help you personally?
Timur Turlov: Through the unique experience of the forum meetings, which unfortunately have been less frequent over the past year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

LUX: How does being a YPO member support your business?
Timur Turlov: Business is always about the development of relationships, and YPO helps to develop it much further.

LUX: Does YPO membership help you with international contacts as well?
Timur Turlov: I have never tried to use the international power of YPO.

LUX: What does being a YPO chapter member involve? How frequently do you have formal meetings, and international meetings?
Timur Turlov: Unfortunately, I have never participated in any of the international meetings, but this is only my second year of membership and international travel has been restricted, of course, for most of 2020.

Find out more: ypo.org

This article features in the Autumn Issue, which will be published later this month.

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Reading time: 32 min
public sculptures
public sculptures

Installation view of Looking Up, Helaine Blumenfeld’s exhibition at Canary Wharf 2020. Photo © Sean Pollock

Helaine Blumenfeld OBE is best known for her large-scale public sculptures whose undulating, ethereal forms evoke a sense of fragility and movement, transforming the environments into which they are placed. In the light of a major exhibition of her works at Canary Wharf, Digital & Art Editor Millie Walton speaks to the artist about working intuitively, the importance of touch and how public art brings people together

LUX: What’s your creative process like? Do you follow a routine, or need a particular atmosphere to create?
Helaine Blumenfeld: I think I have quite an unusual creative process which has changed in a few ways over the years, but essentially, it has always been a process of trying to coordinate what I am feeling and thinking with what I am doing with my hands. That has taken a very long time. Now, when I go into the studio, I am able to disconnect from everything that is going on around me. Francis Bacon used to say that to release that [creative] energy he would either need to be drugged or drunk or both, to allow him to enter into a kind of trance state. I can go into that state, happily, without drugs. For me, it is a state of being. I go into the studio, close the door, and I am there.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

I don’t really look at the work whilst I am making. I take clay and I just keep adding to it or taking away. I have no plan of what I am going to do; I have no drawings. I just communicate with it, and that is how I have worked almost from the very beginning.

I had been working on a doctorate of philosophy, and I could never find the exact words I wanted, but when I made the very first piece in clay, I just thought: ‘This is just incredible! Did I really just do this?’ It was a talent that I had never understood I had, and yet it was so clear. Every piece I made in those early days was a wonder to me and then, we moved back to England from Paris and during the move, some of the pieces got broken. I thought I’ll never be able to do anything like that again.

Now, I do not have that feeling; I see it more as a process. There is a communication between what I am in terms of experience, and the work, and if one piece is interrupted or breaks or collapses, the next piece will follow it.

woman with sculpture

Helaine Blumenfeld with one of her sculptures. Photo © Sean Pollock

LUX: You mentioned that you were studying philosophy – when did you start making art?
Helaine Blumenfeld: I always had these amazing dreams that I could never seem to translate. The only way that I knew was words, and yet, to have an incredible dream and then to use words is so bizarre because it is a completely different language. For a while, philosophy seemed like the right method for my expression, but I was never satisfied. When I discovered sculpture and began to understand what very simple forms could communicate, I decided I wanted to be a sculptor.

I think that being an artist is not just about having something to communicate, but also finding the right way to communicate it, and if you don’t, you can be frustrated. Discovering sculpture opened up the whole world to me.

small abstract sculpture

Helaine Blumenfeld, Exodus V, 2019, Photo © Henryk Hetflaisz

LUX: Was lockdown a creative time for you?
Helaine Blumenfeld: Well my main studio is in Italy, so I have not been able to go back at all. In fact, because I had this very big show [Looking Up] in Canary Wharf, I was meant to go back before we had finished the installation to bring back two pieces that I had not quite finished, but my husband said not to go. It was lucky that he did because otherwise I would have spent the whole lockdown without my family.

In the end, we managed to get the entire show of 40 pieces up at Canary Wharf just two days before lockdown. The opening, which didn’t happen, was intended to be the day of lockdown. When I went back to Cambridge, I was suddenly aware of the virus and what it was doing, which I hadn’t been, and the first two weeks were very anxious. I thought I would have contracted it because I had been working with so many people, including one of my assistants from Italy who had come over, and whose wife had the virus. But after that period, and I think a few artists will tell you the same, it was one of the happiest periods in my whole life. No pressures from the outside world, no commitments, no engagements, no travelling back and forth to Italy, which I normally would do for two weeks here and two weeks there. I was with my husband all the time which I hadn’t been since the beginning of our marriage. And I had clay; I had all the clay I needed. I was working, and I have done more work in the period of lockdown than I have in the last three years I think. So, yes it has been immensely creative.

Read more: Confined Artists Free Spirits – artists photographed in lockdown by Maryam Eisler

LUX: Do you ever start a sculpture and decide to abandon it if it’s not working?
Helaine Blumenfeld: There are different ways of working. Someone like [Constantin] Brâncuși, who I admire enormously as an artist, was held back by his own sense of perfection. Each piece had to reach what he wanted, and it never did, so he would have to abandon and try again. He was tied to certain ideas, whereas I believe that each piece is as good as it can be. I work through the idea rather than trying to get it right in that particular piece. As I said, I never have a clear idea of where I am going or a vision that I need to achieve; the vision comes in the piece.

large scale public sculpture

Helaine Blumenfeld, Taking Risks, 2018, Photo © Henryk Hetflaisz

LUX: That sounds very liberating.
Helaine Blumenfeld: In sculpture, the gesture can be completely yours. When I am working, I don’t look at what I’m doing I feel it intuitively as it happens. Very often when I am in Italy, I finish something in clay and I cover it and wrap it with wet cloth, and then when I go back, I have no idea what I am going to find. I have never seen it objectively or critically, I have just seen it intuitively. When I do unwrap it, then sometimes I will say  ‘Oh, that doesn’t work’, and I won’t go on with it. At that moment, I am really seeing with a critical eye. It’s like seeing your lover in another way from the corner of your eye or a different angle which allows you to seem them objectively for a moment. When I come back to the work, I am able to see it objectively, and at that moment, I know intellectually whether or not it is working.

It is a bit of a different process if I want to do a large piece, however, because when I am working, I have no armature or inner support system. If I had that I would know exactly what I was going to do because the inner structure would dictate what I was going to make. Without that structure, the sculpture is initially incredibly fragile and if it is going to last, I need to have it cast in plaster quickly. Then, when I know the forms, I don’t feel the same resistance to having an armature. At that point, I have an assistant who will mechanically enlarge the piece for me with a proper armature and leave it in a rough state for me to take over. It does happen when I think a piece is very good, but when the scale changes, it doesn’t work. I think that is a mistake that certain sculptors make, thinking that everything can be large when some pieces work better on a small, intimate scale.

small marble sculpture

Helaine Blumenfeld, Exodus IV, 2019, Photo © Henryk Hetflaisz

LUX: What role do you think public sculpture can play in urban environments such as Canary Wharf?
Helaine Blumenfeld: I think that sculpture, in general, in a public place, creates a private space for people to enjoy. In a way, it creates a space that people can claim ownership of. My idea is to somehow mediate between the personality and the mechanism of a landscape and to create something that is personal and that people can relate to. For example, my first public commission was in centre of a walkway, and I went around and had a look at how people used space. There was a gigantic sculpture there that people would walk around to avoid. Somehow the massiveness of it mirrored and competed with the architecture in a way. So, I decided to do a sculpture in five pieces, that people could walk in between and interact with that would be on a human scale, and it was such a success.

sculpture

Helaine Blumenfeld, Fortuna, 2016, Photo © Sean Pollock

public art

My piece Fortuna, which was put up in 2016, was originally meant to go to the new area of Wood Wharf. When it was finished, it was temporarily put into an area in Jubilee Park, and in a very short space of time, that area in the park was overwhelmed with people coming to interact with the sculpture. When word got around that it was going to be moved, people were horrified. That particular area was meant for changing exhibitions, but the piece remains there and people still go to see it.

Read more: American artist Rashid Johnson on searching for autonomy

Also, in that same area, there is a sculpture called Ascent. After lockdown when you could have groups of six, I went back to see the piece and they had made circles on the ground around it so people could sit in those circles and know that they were social distancing. On that lawn there were six different circles of people sitting. They obviously knew each other and they were celebrating something. I had gone there because wanted to photograph the piece. When I arrived, a man looked at us and said ‘Oh, I see that you want to photograph Ascent‘ which was amazing, that he even knew the name. He said ‘Let me show you the best view!’ He took me round to the side and in fact, it was my favourite view. My friend told him that I was the artist and he knew my name too. He announced to the group of people in their circles: ‘This is the artist’. Every person in that area stood up and clapped. It was like it had been an opening. He told me that he came to the sculpture every day and that it was his point of light in the darkness, it gave him some hope that things could be better. It was an amazing experience for me.

bronze public sculpture

Helaine Blumenfeld, Flight, 2019, Photo © Sean Pollock

LUX: Speaking of intimacy, you’ve said before that you like people to touch your sculptures. Why is that important for you?
Helaine Blumenfeld: Oh, I think it is vital for people to touch the work. I think we do not touch enough in our society. So much of our feeling and experience comes from touch. As babies, our world  is all about touch, but we are are losing that. Very early on I had a show with people from LightHouse for the Blind, and all they could do was touch. You would be astounded at what people could feel from touching a sculpture, another level of understanding, from just their hands.

You can see that people are entering into the sculptures where the bases have worn away. I often ask the children who are sitting inside, ‘What are you feeling?’ And they say something like, ‘I am in a secret forest and I am protected from all the things around me.’  It is lovely to see how a sculpture encourages imagination.

Often at public exhibitions, whether it is in a cathedral or in Canary Wharf, I see people discussing with each other, and they don’t know each other. ‘What do you see in it? What are you looking at?’ Not only does art introduce a huge audience to beauty, it is also allows people relate to something outside of themselves, it introduces them to another realm. I think that is an incredible way that art brings people together.

LUX: One final question: what’s inspiring or interesting you at the moment?
Helaine Blumenfeld:  It is hard for me to use the word inspiration; I feel incredibly moved. When an artist dreams a dream that is so deep within his own being, it is not just his dream, it is not just his pain, it is universal. That is what I hoped I was doing before, it was coming from within, but much of what I am doing now is coming from without. I am thinking about how people are trying to connect at this time, to reach out and see the perspective of other people. There is a much greater effort because we are all in this together. It has broken down that sense of isolation which I felt was leading to the precipice. So instead of expressing something deeply personal, I am trying to feel something that effects everyone. I think that is where the new work is going.

‘Looking Up’ by Helaine Blumenfeld runs at One Canada Square until 6 November 2020 and throughout Canary Wharf until 31 May 2020.

For more information visit: helaineblumenfeld.com

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Reading time: 11 min
Woman standing amongst tyres
woman in car garage

Ruth B. photographed during making of her video for the single ‘Dirty Nikes’, 2020. Image by Gabriel LN.

Is Canadian singer-songwriter Ruth B. the new Tracy Chapman? She has a soulful voice, thoughtful and concerned lyrics, and a growing wave of followers around the world. She also has some of the most creative videos around. Oh, and she speaks fluent Amharic. LUX speaks to her about the music business, social media, BLM and whether playing the piano matters

Ruth B. is a musician very much of her generation. Born Ruth Berhe in 1995 in Edmonton, Alberta – her parents had emigrated from Ethiopia to Canada – she started posting short videos on the now defunct Vine platform in 2013. One of these fragments of a song gained thousands of likes and eventually became her bestselling single ‘Lost Boy’, which in turn has received over 500 million plays on Spotify alone. That song features on her album Safe Haven, released in 2017 on the Columbia label.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

This kind of rapid rise in the music industry is one that has been made especially possible by social media. But it has also been made possible by Ruth B.’s own skills as a singer and keyboard player – her warm, soulful voice and subtle piano style have won her fans across the generational divides – and by her dedication to her art and her ambition to have artistic control over her songs and videos.

Like most musicians, Ruth B.’s career has been put on hold during lockdown brought about by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, but it hasn’t stopped her working entirely as she continues to write songs at her home in Edmonton, where she was living when LUX spoke with her.

LUX: When did you start being interested in music. Was it when you were very young?
Ruth B.: I think for me music was always a really prominent part of my life. I just naturally gravitated towards it. I loved singing; my mum sang a lot around the house. I just really loved to make noises with my voice or make sounds with pots and pans, or whatever it was.

LUX: And were your parents musical? Did they encourage you down that route?
Ruth B.: My mother sang in a choir. No-one was particularly musical, but my whole family appreciates music, and they were always very supportive of me, and put me in piano lessons.

Woman on the phone

Image by Gabriel LN.

LUX: You’re a very contemporary singer, but there’s something very classical in the way you play piano and sing. Are you aware of this?
Ruth B.: I don’t know if I’m aware of this, I just think that’s the type of music I love listening to and love making. When you start to get more into the music world you get to know what kind of production you want, but I’m aware that I want to keep it organic and stripped back.

LUX: When you were young, playing around with music, did you think you would end up as a global star? Was it an ambition of yours?
Ruth B.: I kind of always hoped I’d end up in music. I didn’t know in what capacity or what that meant, but I certainly knew that music was going to become the focal point of my life.

Read more: Prince Robert de Luxembourg on wine, gastronomy & storytelling

LUX: Do you feel that you have succeeded? Or are you on the path to other things?
Ruth B.: Yeah, I’m always working towards different goals. I’ve definitely had successes… I think in the beginning I was always super critical and hard on myself, but now I think it’s important to celebrate wins and the good things that happen. But I think I still have a long way to go, and there are still things I want to accomplish.

LUX: Like what?
Ruth B.: One goal that I always tell people about is to put out an album that I write, produce, engineer, all by myself. I’ve done the writing, and the production a bit, but all the other stuff I’m still learning. So that’s my biggest goal, to put an album that’s just, you know, completely me.

LUX: Are you releasing an album or some more songs this year?
Ruth B.: Yes, I brought out a new single this summer, and we shot the video for it it in my hometown. And an album towards the end of this year or the beginning of next. It’s been in the works for the past three years now.

LUX: Your videos are very dreamlike and artistic. Do they come from your ideas, or is there someone else who directs them?
Ruth B.: For most of my music videos have been made by different directors, but I’m pretty heavily involved in everything I do. So, I write up my ideas for the video of a song and send it out to three or four producers, and whoever’s vision matches mine is who I’ll go with. I’ve been lucky to work with some really talented people.

LUX: Some of the ideas in your videos are quite surreal, aren’t they?
Ruth B.: They really are. I like to focus on the little details and surprises here and there. I’ve always been into fantastical and magical stuff since childhood, so it’s seeped its way into the videos for my songs.

surreal image of woman floating

A still from Ruth B.’s ‘Lost Boy’ music video.

LUX: How important are the videos?
Ruth B.: They’re very important. A visual alignment with what you’re hearing is important, especially for a lot of people, and it can sometimes make or break a song. I’ve had songs in the past where we’ve shot an entire video and spent three days and a lot of money on a video, and it just doesn’t work, so we end up not using it.

LUX: Looking on, it seems you’re just doing what you love, and that’s it. But is it difficult?
Ruth B.: Yeah, it is, like any job. But with music it’s hard because sometimes people forget that just because you love music, it doesn’t mean you’re like this super outgoing, big personality. For me, that was the hardest part – getting used to being at the forefront of things. Even being on stage at the beginning was super hard, because growing up I was pretty introverted, but I think over time I’ve got used to it and grown a love for it. It comes with its hardship. You pretty much give your whole life to touring. But I think at the end of the day, if you really love it, then it is worth it.

Read more: Penélope Cruz on designing jewellery for Swarovski

LUX: And what are the biggest challenges?
Ruth B.: I think for me it’s the being away from home and family. Being from Edmonton, Alberta, I spent a lot of the early years, at 18 and 19, away from home. That was difficult – just always being on and ready to go. Shows can be really tiring, and that whole thing of being on stage for an hour or two every night can be hard, but again, you’re doing the thing you really love, so in the back of your head, you’re thinking this is amazing, regardless of how tired you are.

LUX: Do you find it difficult being a young black woman in music?
Ruth B.: Yeah. Being a young black woman in general is difficult in our world, but in music I’ve definitely faced some adversities, but it’s kind of always been that way. It’s not new. It’s stuff I’ve faced in workplaces before now, or in school. It’s certainly there, which is unfortunate.

LUX: Do you think things are changing with Black Lives Matter and recent developments?
Ruth B.: It’s inspiring to see people talking about it and it being at the forefront of a lot of conversations. That inspires change, and with the people I work with, talking about how we can change the industry for black people.

LUX: Do you experience any ageism as well?
Ruth B.: Yes. I think in the beginning I had a hard time with it, because I would always be like this 18 or 19-year-old girl walking into a room of older, usually white men, and it can be a little bit… ergh. But I think for me, at least in my experience, the older I got the more confident I became in my ideas, and more married to the idea of executing things in the way that I wanted them done. Over time I’ve grown a thick skin.

LUX: Thinking about ‘If I Have a Son’, did you write that as a reaction to BLM?
Ruth B.: Yeah, I wrote that after everything happened with George Floyd. I mean, those feelings were always there, but I never thought to put them in a song, just because I never thought I’d get that honest or deep in my music. But when you’re faced with such a hard pill to swallow all you can do is try to channel it, so for me that’s always been music. It’s my go-to therapy, just writing out everything I’m feeling in response to what’s going on.

woman being filmed

The singer on set for ‘Dirty Nikes’ 2020. Image by Gabriel LN.

LUX: Do you have a good idea about who your fans and listeners are? Is there a single type?
Ruth B.: You know, I don’t think it’s one type of person, because at my shows it’s such a diverse mix of people. That’s like my favourite part, you have little kids and older people and different races and backgrounds. It’s really nice.

LUX: Do you have plans to direct movies or anything beyond pure music making?
Ruth B.: I’ve always been really interested in a lot of stuff. I love to read; I love to write. Eventually, one day, I would like to write a book. I don’t know what kind; it’s always been on my bucket list.

Read more: American artist Rashid Johnson on searching for autonomy

LUX: What kind of books do you like reading?
Ruth B.: Growing up, it was very much fantasy, magic, dragons. As I got older, I got to like mystery. I like poetry, that’s where my heart is now. It goes hand-in-hand with music.

LUX: What poets are you reading?
Ruth B.: I read a lot of Maya Angelou, I love Robert Frost. I also really love Pablo Neruda. I think for me it just helps with my song writing, and garnering inspiration for that. Poetry is really just music without melody, so it’s inspiring when I’m trying to write my own music.

LUX: Do you see yourself as a businesswoman? Is making money a goal or just what happens?
Ruth B.: As you get older you start to think more about business, and you get more on top of your stuff. It’s never been that important to me, but I have my friends and family who tell me I need to keep on top of that. So, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to become more business oriented. In the end, though, the main priority is making music, and I’m happy to be where that can be my main focus, just creating art.

LUX: You came to prominence through Vine. How important is social media?
Ruth B.: It’s really important. And I say that mostly because I’m from a tiny little city in Canada that not a lot of people know about. It’s such a great tool just to get your voice out there in real quick time to spread the word fast. You know, ‘Lost Boy’ started off as a six-second Vine and if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

LUX: Has your use of social media changed?
Ruth B.: I’m not as active now as I once was. I don’t plan things out as I used to. In the beginning I would post a cover or some kind of lyric every day. It’s really important when you’re trying to get your foot out. Now I use it to tease music, when I’m about to put something out. Or I’ll tweet lyrics, and I won’t tell people that they’re lyrics, over a few months, and then the song will come out and people will say, “Oh, I remember when you tweeted this ages ago”.

Read more: Designer Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar on bringing dream worlds to life

LUX: I guess you’ve been at home in lockdown like the rest of us. What’s that been like?
Ruth B.: It’s been a challenge, for sure. There’s been some good things, spending time with friends and family. Returning to my roots, and being in my bedroom just writing and with my keyboard. I’ve been so lucky to work with different producers and writers all over the world, but now it’s back to the very beginning, in my room.

LUX: Outside of lockdown, what is a normal day for you?
Ruth B.: A normal day for me… I was living in New York and I would probably spend somewhere between nine and twelve hours in the studio, and then come home, eat dinner, go to bed. And it’s probably my favourite part about all this, being locked in to create music and getting to do that every day.

music studio

Ruth B. in the studio. Image by Marc Offenbach

LUX: You once said that you weren’t a big party person, but do you still feel like you have to be on the scene to keep up your image?
Ruth B.: Erm, no. I think you can be whoever you are, whoever you want to be. It’s easy, when you’re young, to get caught up in who you should be and what you should want to do, but I’m 25 now, and I have a good idea of who I am, and where I’m going… I’m still figuring it out, but I’m OK with being who I am, and with the fact that I don’t like to go out. I do, from time to time, but it’s not my thing, and that’s OK. There are people who are the same as you and who can be your clique or group. The older you get, the more you’re just like, “Hey, I’m me”.

LUX: Looking forward 10 or 15 years, what would you like to have done by then?
Ruth B.: I guess by then I just want to have made music that means something to me. With everything going on over the past few months, with ‘If I Have a Son’, it’s really inspired me to use my voice and my platform to do good, and to talk about things that actually matter. I just hope I will have done that in some sort of way, and stuck true to who I am. That’s the most important thing to me.

Read more: Get to know the marine biologist pioneering coral conservation

LUX: The reflective and spiritual nature of your songs remind me of Tracy Chapman.
Ruth B.: Well, thank you, that’s so kind. I love Tracy Chapman. That means a lot. I’m a very spiritual person, and very into what I love (which is music), and if people feel that, that’s always a really good feeling for me, so thank you.

LUX: How have you managed to stay grounded as your career has exploded?
Ruth B.: In the beginning it was a lot to handle, because you’re whisked away from home and it’s not like you can call up your friends like you used to. It’s a whole new life. For me the hardest thing was just feeling misunderstood, even by friends and family. You know, as much as they wanted to, they just couldn’t really understand what was going on in my life. They could be there and support me, but I couldn’t go to my best friend and say, “What do I do here?”, because she just didn’t get it. But I’m so thankful to them for keeping me grounded. I think it’s just about keeping those people close to you, and keeping those things the same, because it’s not easy staying yourself when the whole world is changing around you. I think if you make it a priority to not lose yourself in all of it, it’s doable.

LUX: You’ve said that you’re filming a video in your hometown soon. Why is that?
Ruth B.: Mainly because I’ve been isolating at home with my family. I didn’t go to New York when all this started, so I’ve just been in Alberta with my family. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to shoot something at home. I think it’ll be cool for people to see where I’m from and where a lot of these songs have come from.

LUX: How do you write a song? Does it come to you quickly, or does it take months?
Ruth B.: It’s become very abstract. When I started writing two years ago, there was a method to everything. I’d sit at the keyboard, and have a lyric, and I’d write around that. Now it’s all over the place, and I prefer it that way. I could be having a conversation with a friend, and something they say could stick out, and I grab my phone and write a note. Lately I’ve been into coming up with new melodies and writing around that. Life inspires me, really, so whatever feelings I’m feeling – happy, sad, mad, in love, heartbroken – that’s the main focus.

Find out more: ruthbofficial.com

This article features in the Autumn Issue, which will be published later this month.

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Reading time: 15 min
protest painting
artist studio

Marc Quinn in his studio with his work Viral Painting. A Man Tapes Himself to the Colorado Soldiers Monument, Artnet (2020)

From his sculpture for Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth to his recent guerrilla monument to replace the toppled bronze of a slave trader in Bristol, British artist Marc Quinn has shown a commitment to giving form to political urgency. Maryam Eisler talks to him about his time during lockdown, his engagement with history in the making, and his renewed excitement at creating art

Maryam Eisler: Marc, tell me about your lockdown experience.
Marc Quinn: It’s totally abstract and totally real at the same time. This moment is one of the most real things we’ve lived through. There are people dying. People’s businesses are closing. Horrific things are happening. And then when you go onto the street, until very recently, there’s no-one around. It’s not like a normal war or natural disaster, where there is visible chaos. This experience is quite abstract. In the end, apart from the people who are near me, the only way I know about what is going on in the world is via my phone and the internet.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

This time has also been about a completely new way of thinking. We have been forced to learn how to navigate the difference between our virtual selves and our real selves.

In terms of making work, it’s been great. It’s me, alone in the studio making things. It’s like going back to square one again and rediscovering my roots. It’s about making art in a way that I used to do 25 years ago. And I really enjoy it.

It’s a great time for transformation. People are actually engaging with the world. There has been a whole resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement after the horrific death of George Floyd. That is amazing, and hopefully something lasting will come from it this time around. We’ve had moments of focus on these types of issues before but never to this extent. I think it’s a time when societal tectonic plates are shifting. Our old life is also shifting.

Collage artwork

Viral Painting. If You Are Neutral in Situations of Injustice You Have Chosen the Side of the Oppressor, Marc Quinn, 2020. Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio

Maryam Eisler: Tell me about your series History Painting and how it has led to the new series Viral Paintings. How are they made?
Marc Quinn: History Painting is a series of paintings that I have been quietly working on for about ten years. The history of art tells you about how art was classified in the 18th and the 19th centuries, with the lowest genres being portraiture or still-life and the highest being history painting. Works in that genre were commissioned by the state or by the aristocracy. When I saw images taken during riots, such as in London following the death of Mark Duggan in 2011, I thought to myself that this is actually quite interesting because the genre is being flipped on its head. History is now being made from the bottom up, coming from the people instead of the other way around. I thought I could take this idea behind the history painting genre and make new history paintings that are about the day, the moment.

sculpture of a head

Hassan Akkad (2020) from the series 100 Heads. Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio

sculpture of a pregnant woman

Alison Lapper Pregnant (2005). Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio. Photograph by Todd-White Art Photography

For the first in the series, I found an incredible press photo of a masked man on the streets of Hackney, which was the most iconic one. I contacted the photographer. I bought the rights to make a painting from it. And then I spent three months making a painting of it. At the end, I took all the paint that was left on the palettes and chucked it on top. It’s called History Painting (London, 8 August 2011) ROYBWN. I had this sense that the paint was disrupting it, in a way. But it was also sort of freezing it. And it was also about looking at matter. You can view it as a sculpture; when you squeeze a tube of paint, you always feel that it has so much potential. It’s about that beautiful moment before you actually crystallise it into something that may or may not be good. The paint that’s thrown on top is paint which exists as potential, as matter, as energy, as the unconscious. In a way, this process creates a screen. That screen is between the image’s dematerialised world of the image and the material world, where the paint exists straight from the tube. That was quite unconscious for me, I think. It also felt like it was about change, about movement, about how things are reconvening.

protest painting

History Painting Ieshia Evans Protesting the Death of Alton Sterling (Baton Rouge, 9 July 2016) GPBW (2017). Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio

I made those types of paintings for about ten years, including a few about the Black Lives Matter movement. One painting focused on the photograph of Ieshia Evans protesting the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, an important, big picture. The large paintings would take six months to paint, so I couldn’t make that many and I had to really focus.

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When the events of 2020 started unfolding, starting with Covid-19, I felt like history was in fast forward at high speed. I don’t have time to spend six months painting each picture. I have to make these in the moment. So, I had to let go of all that craft, but also of my idea of what a painting should be. I have a big printer that takes canvas, so I just thought I’d take a screenshot from my phone of events in the news as they take place, I’ll print them up and paint on top of them. This is how the Viral Paintings were born.

collage painting

Viral Painting. Baby Erin Bates (Painted 15 April 2020), Marc Quinn, 2020. Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio

Maryam Eisler: So, you had to revisit your own practice from a whole new perspective?
Marc Quinn: Yes. It just felt so good because I went with the situation, and it took me somewhere completely new, which was really exciting.

Maryam Eisler: It’s an exciting time to be making work.
Marc Quinn: Absolutely. I always want to be excited by the work, otherwise I’d just stop. Great work has historically been produced during moments of crisis, I think. Times like these make you focus quickly on what’s important in life. And what, on the other hand, is a load of bullshit. It gets rid of a lot of fluff and noise. You also realise that your relationships with other people are important. How everyone gets along in the world and how people are treated are important. Love is important. It makes it pretty simple. Times like these bring us back to what being human is all about, and it’s an exciting time to make art because of this potential for change that seems to be all around us.

Maryam Eisler: Colonial history means that events in the US relate directly to what’s going on in the UK and in Europe.
Marc Quinn: It’s all connected – enslavement is a part of colonial history. The roots of our systematically racist present stems directly from that, a colonial history that we’re all involved in. Britain, Europe and the USA were all involved.

collage artwork

Viral Painting. Dazed 100, Dazed, Marc Quinn, 2020. Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio

covid painting

Viral Painting. Bafta-Winning Film-Maker Becomes Hospital Cleaner, The Guardian (Painted 10 April 2020), Marc Quinn, 2020. Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio

Maryam Eisler: Tell me about the increasing importance of public art at this particular time.
Marc Quinn: It’s quite interesting to see how public art, which normally no one looks at, has suddenly taken on this urgency and this real symbolic value within society, in a way that it has never had in the past. I think that’s really interesting and it started in Bristol when they tore down the statue of Edward Colston. It’s incredible to experience the power of art in catalysing change, even if it’s iconoclasm.

Read more: Looking back on 125 years of Swarovski and into a new era

Maryam Eisler: Yes, you made a replacement sculpture. Tell me why you did that.
Marc Quinn: Jen Reid [one of the protesters] created the sculpture when she stood on the plinth and put her arm in the air. That incarnation of the artwork lasted just three minutes. When I saw the picture of her on Instagram, I immediately got in touch and asked if she’d like to collaborate and crystallise her original action for a bit longer. We then created the resin piece and put it on the plinth to activate the space. It was always conceived to be a temporary installation, to create debate about the idea of representation in the public realm and to continue the momentum of the BLM movement. We both felt it did exactly that. Its 24 hours on the plinth was enough to have the impact.

public art statue

A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, Marc Quinn, 2020. Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio.

Maryam Eisler: Do you think art has been too politicised?
Marc Quinn: Most art is purely decorative and that’s not the kind of art I want to make. Art should be political. I make art about the world. I want to reflect and affect the time that we live in and the issues that are most pressing today through art.

Maryam Eisler: What effect is social media having on the art world?
Marc Quinn: Social media and the sharing of online images is great for the art world. It’s a way of making art more accessible and visible to new audiences who may not always go to a traditional gallery or museum. Instagram in particular is a brilliant platform for following emerging and established artists. Of course, as with most public forums, there can be a downside and there can be negativity.

bronze statue

Zombie Boy (Rick) (2011). Courtesy and copyright Marc Quinn studio.

Maryam Eisler: How do you see the art world changing?
Marc Quinn: I think that there will be, and should be, a greater emergence of black artists, curators, writers, architects, and so on. Can you believe that only one per cent of practicing architects today are black? Another interesting angle is that black people and white people are coming together to talk about issues that involve us all. If you don’t do anything about it, you’re complicit in it happening. So, you’ve got to act and speak up. There is no choice. It resonated with me when [US journalist and teacher] Jelani Cobb said, “I’ve probably gotten this question 50 times from white students who ask me if it’s okay for them to write stories about people of colour and racism. And I was like, you absolutely have to write these stories.”

As a privileged successful white artist, I have access to an audience. If I don’t use that influence to talk about what matters, then what’s the point of it all? That’s what I love about the Viral Paintings – they’re tracking what I’m engaging in, now, every day.

Maryam Eisler: How do you think art history will change now, after these events?
Marc Quinn: What’s exciting is that we don’t know what the future holds, but it’s largely in our hands to open a new future and to consolidate some of the gains that have happened during this period and not just go back to the old ‘normal’.

Maryam Eisler: What about the future of museums and art galleries post-lockdown?
Marc Quinn: I think that will be really interesting to observe. No one’s really talked about it, but all the museum schedules have been completely thrown off. Most museums’ programmes work on a two- to five-year lead time, so, they can never really react to the moment. Perhaps this is a time for museums to rethink their planning and do exciting new shows that offer immediate reactions to what is happening around us. It’s an opportunity for these institutions to take an active role in the dialogue. Better representation of black curators and people in art institutions means the work of black artists can be properly contextualised and celebrated. I hope for a more inclusive art world that mirrors the diversity of the world today and celebrates artistic talent from all backgrounds and perspectives.

Find out more: marcquinn.com

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

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Reading time: 11 min
artist studio
abstract artwork

Untitled drawing by Hugo Wilson made with charcoal, black chalk, sandpaper and a sanding machine, paper mounted on aluminium. Photograph by Maryam Eisler

London-based artist Hugo Wilson works with drawing, painting and sculpture, combining images and techniques from Old Masters with contemporary references to create dynamic, layered artworks. LUX contributing editor Maryam Eisler visits his studio to photograph him and discuss refining his practice, creativity in lockdown and finding artistic freedom
colour portrait of Maryam Eisler photographer and contributing LUX editor

Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: Let’s talk about your surfaces.
Hugo Wilson: I think a lot of my work has been very clean in the sense that the surface is quite finished, and quite considered. Whilst I wasn’t particularly aiming for that, that is just how I work. People have said to me over the last few years, ‘You should be leaving thin bits… you should have thick bits…’ and that is fine, but there needs to be a good reason for it all. Just creating surface texture to please makes no sense to me. I am quite bloody minded. I am certainly not going to do something unless I think it is the right thing to do. But slowly, after five or six years, rubbing away has become a part of my practice. Re-painting has also become a part of it. In the case of these particular drawings, I have also pulled things out of seven or eight dark layers which are muddied or clashed to the point of a problem. Suddenly, a sanding machine seemed like the only option. What I realised is that textures were beginning to appear, but they appeared out of clean, conceptual ideas. That required intuition, that required pulling something out of a chaotic situation.

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Maryam Eisler: There is also great physicality and dynamism involved in your process. Would you agree that the paintings possibly represent a stamping of your own collective energy?
Hugo Wilson: Not consciously, but I think that any great work of art that I love has an honesty of intention, and an honesty of process to reach that intention. In the case of these works, I have, maybe, in a way, understood that my intention is less fixed than I had previously wanted it to be. In the past, I had a plan which I delivered, one way or another, but in this case what I’ve realised is that having a plan is almost pointless. So, creating works that are borne out of an obstacle course make perfect sense. These works also refer to many things, without ever holding a single position. Obviously, collective consciousness then has to come into play.

Man on chair

abstract drawing

Hugo Wilson (top), and one of the artist’s works in progress (below). Photographs by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: To me, it seems like you are referencing freedom?
Hugo Wilson: I feel freer today than I ever have felt. That is for sure. I think moving towards more confidence is what I’m doing do. I also think that a heart punch is far more powerful than a head punch.

Maryam Eisler: Less agonising over process?
Hugo Wilson: I think all artists have this immense problem when they walk into an empty room with an empty canvas or a piece of clay or a block of wood. So, we sort of have to have a strategy in order to start, but also, we need to remember to break the rules that we have imposed on ourselves and to trust in that process. It is hard because it requires dropping things that have worked whether that is making a successful work of art, or selling it, or being liked by curators. Just because you are an artist you are not immune from all that; I wish I was. This last year was really hard because I had success for the first time in my career, and then decided to suddenly throw a hand grenade into my own practice, but it got to the point that I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do it.

Read more: Diango Hernández’s disruptive Instagram art project

Maryam Eisler: Speaking of bombs, how has this COVID period affected your work?
Hugo Wilson: The last six months have been the best period of work that I have ever had, for two or three reasons. One, the imagined pressure of the art world sort of disappeared for a bit, which I liked. I also realised that I’m terribly untrendy. I think that what is going on in the art world may be a great thing, but the fact that I am not involved in it, is not something that I am bitter about. In a way, I have had to look at that and question ‘well, what does that mean?’ In my case it meant freedom, the freedom to truly know what you care about and want from this. And I think that the answer is to create something, that goes well beyond my own limits, consistently. It can be exhausting though.

sculpture and drawings

A collection of Wilson’s charcoal works and sculptures. Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: Would you say it’s also about personal evolution and revolution?
Hugo Wilson: I think last year was particularly difficult because I had given myself a year to change my practice. I thought, okay I shall only do one show, which was the Berlin show I did earlier this year, which actually ended up feeling and going much better than I thought it would. I also had to have my right lung removed. I have been sober for many years since my mid 20s, for a good reason! And suddenly I was on morphine… It was tough, much tougher than I thought it was going to be, because I am one of those lucky people who nearly crashed and burned young, but didn’t. Most of my adult life, however, I have felt pretty happy, no more or less unstable than most other people. And then suddenly, I was right back in the darkness again, mentally. It was very frightening. At the same time, I was sitting in an empty studio. You know, I sound posh. I sound like I have had advantages that actually I didn’t. I was on big scholarships and so on, but actually, I set myself against the world quite early on. I have always been very intolerant of the “hippy artist” and the idea of self-indulgence. As an artist, it’s natural that you experience bleak periods where you don’t like your own work, but you are going to have to keep going into the studio to make it happen. I had one of those periods, quite a long one, and I can tell you, it is hell.

abstract sculpture

An untitled glazed ceramic sculpture. Photograph by Maryam Eisler.

Maryam Eisler: Now you have come out of that darkness with these wonders, and you’ve almost cut out all the noise …
Hugo Wilson: I am using a 300-gram paper on aluminium. This stuff can take a real beating. I am also using sanding machines and spikes, maybe even fire one day.

Maryam Eisler: And yet, you are classically trained.
Hugo Wilson: I am very classically trained, within an inch of my life!

Read more: Loquet’s Sheherazade Goldsmith on sustainable jewellery design

Maryam Eisler: Can you tell me about your early days in Florence?
Hugo Wilson: I remember going on a school trip to Venice when I was fourteen. I was sitting in front of a Tintoretto and I nearly cried. Now, I understand that I was completely moved by the power of the image, but not one part of me thought I was going to become Catholic. I think, in a way, that the sort of silly, ambitious, quite stupid, young man just thought, ‘I am just going to fucking learn how to do that. He did it, why not me!’ The classical training was, by the way, extraordinary. It was a seventeenth century atelier. There was the master, and everyone who had been there longer than they could teach you, and it was amazing; we drew from plaster casts for a year, before we could draw a naked person, and only two years later, could we actually paint. I do not regret the training at all, but it was a very difficult thing to unpick. It was very addictive. The point is: I was interested in that language, and I learnt it.

artist studio

abstract sculpture

Hugo Wilson in his studio with charcoal works in progress (above) and an untitled bronze sculpture. Photographs by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: So, that old world story is in your DNA?
Hugo Wilson: I am an English man. The works I have seen throughout my life are from this tradition. Slowly, slowly I am getting far more interested in other traditions actually, like Japanese woodblocks for example. I have also always loved those medieval bronzes and the historical anomalies where you look at a bronze from the fourth century and then you look at a Japanese incense holder, and you realise that they are identical, and that idea is at the very core of my practice. That we don’t change. It doesn’t matter what colour you are, or what time in history you are from, we will create idols which speak to us viscerally. I am not really doing anything different. The advantage I have is the internet, two thousand years of art history available at my finger tips and the ability to compare and contrast, and initiate dialogues. Also, 200 years of psychology and human psychoanalysis, and the realisation that actually the human need to create is far more important to understand than what is actually being done.

Maryam Eisler: What inspires you today?
Hugo Wilson: I am far more interested in process than I have been for years. I’m also looking at artists like Auerbach and Kossoff. Lovely Bacon… sexy Francis! Physical Freud…I have equally realised that these intuitive works take a really long time to create. I know that sounds odd, but, in my case, it’s been twenty years of me in the making, from being classically trained to using a sanding machine!

Maryam Eisler: Why so long?
Hugo Wilson: The process is the reason why it took so long. I think I rather stupidly assumed and felt that these were big physical gestures done in a week, but no. I suppose growing older makes you relaxed. But did I trust the process even last year? No. And it was my wonderful panel maker, that called me and he said, ‘Hugo you have ordered ten panels last week, and I came into your studio and every single one of them has been painted on and then painted over. Are you okay?’ To which I said ‘I am not, actually!’  All of that feeds into what is happening now and the weird joy that I am experiencing. I am not often this joyful, trust me!

art studio

Artworks by Hugo Wilson. Photograph by Maryam Eisler.

Maryam Eisler: You seem able to seamlessly move across mediums. Your sculpture works in particular appear to be an extension of your paint brush, with a few ‘sculptural’ interventions.
Hugo Wilson: Yes, that is what I want. I think that, with these new sculptures particularly, I can be “brave” in a way that I would find trite if they were to be paintings. In a way, given that I have not had a formal training in sculpture, I feel I can be braver with it. I am taking an object and in a way re-contextualising it. Just like a scholar rock, but even a scholar rock is a ready-made. I think it talks about what I am interested in, which is the human need to make systemic ideology. Three thousand years of non-monotheistic history has been placed on these rocks. But, it’s a fucking rock! It is bonkers. These things are going in Christie’s for millions!

Even though I had classical training, I then did a very conceptual master’s degree at City & Guilds [of London Art School] and I had a brilliant tutor called Reece Jones. He was an absolutely wonderful man and a good artist. He was also an angry young man; he would punch me for saying that. Most importantly, he made me ask these questions before starting any artwork: Should this be an artwork? Should it be an artwork made by me? And if it should be an artwork made by me, what is the delivery? And in the case of these bronzes, they are far better than anything I could ever draw. I also like the surface which you really notice. I don’t want to talk about the history of sculpture at all. Hence, my choice of sand casted bronze with its non-finish look, like stone or wood. It is a finish which doesn’t hold any historical position, and that suits me.

Find out more: hugowilson.com
Follow Hugo Wilson on Instagram: @hugowilsonstudio

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Reading time: 11 min
shop interiors
shop interiors

Loquet’s London shop located at 73 Elizabeth Street, SW1W 9PJ

London-based jewellery brand Loquet is renewing the concept of a keepsake locket with sustainable, modern designs that consumers can personalise and pass through the generations. Here, Abigail Hodges speaks to co-founder Sheherazade Goldsmith about the brand’s ethical ethos, her love of vintage fashion and collaborating with the Wild at Heart Foundation

1.How does your environmentalist background inform your approach to making jewellery?

women portrait

Sheherazade Goldsmith

I’d say it informs everything. Environmentalism isn’t something you frequent; it’s a way of life and seeps into everything you do. Once you understand the repercussions of not protecting our future and that of our children, it’s impossible to ignore. As a fine jewellery collection, Loquet is part of a luxury world and to me, luxury is sustainability. Our process informs that message by taking the time to source the very best materials, crafted with care and implementing practices that create longevity. Our jewellery is for the generation that makes the purchase, the next generation and the generation after that. It’s about preserving someone’s story to be told, treasured and passed on. At Loquet we are preserving what is important to an individual, without sustainability there would be no point in what we create.

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Our first port of call is the office itself, we use recycled or recyclable materials wherever we can, and we create a product that has no existential timeframe, it is recyclable and has no waste. The problem with so much of what we consume is the waste, but in jewellery there are no seasons and the sentimentality of the pieces make them heirlooms.

2. What inspired you to reinvent the classical locket form?

I already had a classic photo locket and a charm bracelet. My locket was an Indian antique made in 18kt yellow gold with elaborate coloured enamelling on the inside. I love Indian jewellery for this reason. They believe that everything should be as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. My charm bracelet was fun and gregarious, full of charms that patted against my laptop keyboard. On a visit to a fairground my son bought me a present, a pendant made with dried flowers, something I use to do with hedgerow flowers when my children where little. It inspired the idea of being able to combine the two and personalise it myself.

locket necklace

The hexagonal locket with a selection of charms

3. Is there a particular piece that you feel best expresses the story you set out to tell through your work?

Our sapphire crystal lockets are our signature. They allow our customers to be there own designer and create a piece that tells their story, in essence a unique talisman of everything that brings them luck and makes them smile, to be worn close to their heart. We’ve recently relaunched our 14kt collection to include some of my favourite pieces to date, that elegantly translate from day to night. Each of these geometrical shapes is hand cast in 14kt gold encasing a clear faced sapphire crystal facade and can be opened to personalise with our endless selection of meaningful 18kt charms.

charms

A selection of charns

4. How do you ensure that the elements of your design process are ethical?

I spent a lot of time visiting jewellery studios all over the world before deciding to work with our current ateliers. This was to insure that the working conditions where healthy and vibrant, and to also talk through the designs with the artisans that were selected to make our jewellery. The companies I ended up choosing are all members of the responsible jewellery council or similar organisations and are, therefore, required to adhere to certain workers rights and high environmental standards.

Read more: British-Iranian artist darvish Fakhr on the alchemy of art

The human connection behind what we do is paramount to the Loquet design. Our pieces are emotional and as such need to be made that way. So many of us jewellers won’t work with a company unless they have the same ethos and it’s important to champion those that have worked hard to campaign for their workers and implement high standards that look after both their employees and the environment.

Locket necklaces

Loquet’s pear and hexagonal locket necklaces

5. Besides purchasing from you, how would you advise a consumer looking to shop more sustainably?

Sustainability is about longevity and well-designed things don’t have seasons. Whether that be furniture, clothing, accessories or jewellery, if something is worthwhile it will last through time and trends. With luxury items, less is most definitely more and that is my philosophy both in the way I decorate my house, my jewellery and wardrobe. Admittedly, I wear mostly designer clothing, but much of it is purchased from secondhand websites such as Vestiaire Collective, Hardly Ever Worn and The Real Real. I love vintage fashion, but you can also find all kinds of past-admired items for a quarter of the price. The buying and selling aspect makes you feel part of a community, almost like an exchange and gives your clothes a limitless life.

6. What’s next for Loquet?

We have a very exciting year ahead with some brilliant collaborations. The first launches in October with Nikki Tibbles and the Wild at Heart Foundation. We have put together a charm collection of Nikki’s favourite flowers chosen for their association with her beloved dogs, each epitomising the way we feel about our pets. A percentage of all sales will be donated to her very special dog charity that was set up a few years ago after rescuing a stray from the streets of Puerto Rico, who became her beloved Rose. The charity is now global and works tirelessly to end the unnecessary suffering of these much-loved pets.

Find out more: loquetlondon.com

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Reading time: 5 min
dining table
dining table

Woolsery Cottage, a private residence with interiors by Hannah Lohan

Since launching in 2015, Hannah Lohan Interiors has developed a reputation for designing uniquely decorative spaces. The studio’s portfolio includes numerous residential properties, boutique hotels, restaurants and spas with two ambitious hotel-village projects currently in development. Here, we speak to the studio’s founder Hannah Lohan about creating immersive environments, the return of maximalism and collecting vintage furniture

1.Where does your design process typically begin?

Hannah Lohan

It starts with the client – we spend as much time as we can getting to know them and developing a deep understanding of how they want their space to feel to their guests. We get them to list their key adjectives – do they want to create somewhere calming, nurturing and tranquil, perhaps? Or would a buzzy, vibrant and eccentric environment be more appropriate? It sounds basic, but the act of narrowing down to just five words can really focus the design process, as well as being a useful reference to prevent the project veering into another direction.

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The next step is to consider the architecture and locality of the building. We try to draw on the surroundings as much as possible, including local artisans and makers in the design wherever we can. Personal touches and stories from the owners are also so important. The Dunstane Houses in Edinburgh, for example, was a lovely project for us as the owners were keen for us to include references from Orkney, where they grew up. We looked into Orcadian culture and history and came up with a design story for their whisky bar, the Ba’ Bar, based on the Kirkwall Ba’ – the traditional street football game that has been played in Orkney for centuries. We celebrated this with a picture wall full of historical photographs of the games, and even an old Ba’ ball that sits proudly on the shelves. The heritage and history of the building and its owners can play a huge part in shaping the character of the space.

interiors hotel bar

bedroom interior

A bedroom at The Dunstane Houses hotel in Edinburgh, and above,Ba’ Bar, the hotel’s whisky bar

2. How do you utilise theatrical and storytelling techniques?

I think my passion for theatre in design comes from years of running a creative events company, designing immersive environments that transport people to other places. We love designing boutique, independent hotels, because they allow us to incorporate that sort of theatrical detail and employ unique elements that create truly memorable spaces. Good interior design isn’t just beautiful, it tells stories and sends you on imaginative journey as you experience it. That can be achieved by including elements of the unexpected and the playful – from treehouses and luxury safari tents hidden in the grounds, to pop-up bars in old horse boxes or disarmingly offbeat boot rooms.

restaurant interiors

Hook restaurant at The Fish hotel in the Cotswolds

3. Is it more important to have a recognisable aesthetic or to be adaptable?

As designers, it’s our job to be adaptable and to tell our clients’ stories by guiding them through the creative process but I recognise that, as our studio has grown, we’ve become known for a more layered, decorative aesthetic. We wouldn’t be a good fit now for someone wanting a truly minimalist look. I don’t want us to be pigeonholed, and we never, ever take a cookie-cutter approach to our projects, but I am proud of all the work my team and I have put in over the years to research and build a fabulous library of materials, finishes and interesting furniture suppliers and makers, so it would be foolish not to see this as one of our biggest strengths.

pub interiors

The Farmer’s Arms, a Grade II listed pub in Devon, with newly renovated interiors by Hannah Lohan

What makes a design rich and interesting is layer and detail. We have to love what we do and be fully invested in order to create something truly magical. The hardest thing is to get clients to trust you – this is why we work best with creative owners who are willing to push themselves out of their comfort zones and understand that designing a hotel is very different to designing a home.

4. What do you think have been some of the most interesting evolutions in design in recent years?

Hotel design has evolved very quickly in a short space of time. My brother and his wife, James and Tamara, are the founders of boutique travel company Mr & Mrs Smith. When they started 17 years ago, they struggled to find enough hotels with strong enough interior design to fill their first book. Today, it’s completely different; you can really pick a hotel that appeals to your personal taste or go for somewhere that offers something completely different. This has pushed designers and hoteliers to be braver and bolder and makes for a really exciting era in design.

One trend that has been really interesting to be part of is the demand for quirky, outdoorsy places to stay, from cabins and shepherds’ huts to treehouses, like the ones we designed in the grounds of the Fish Hotel in the Cotswold. From the gorgeous Bert’s boxes at The Pig hotels to the luxurious treehouses at Chewton Glen, they’ve proved that you can connect guests to nature without compromising on style or comfort. And as we discover more and more about how important the countryside is for our mental wellbeing, this trend is going to continue to thrive.

luxury treehouse

treehouse bedroom

The treeperches at The Fish hotel in the Cotswolds designed by Hannah Lohan interiors

Provenance is another key trend – guests are engaging with food much more deeply and taking an interest in ingredients and where they come from. This has led to a boom in hotels opening cookery schools (there’s a lovely one at Thyme), and in hotel restaurants opening up their kitchens – first by adding windows, then kitchen theatres, then chef’s tables, and now it’s gone even further, with glass cabinets of butchered meat and wine cellar tours. This has a direct impact on interior design – what was once storage is now display.

The return of maximalism is another trend I find fascinating. Minimalism is such a niche style and shabby chic has evolved in to a more finished and polished look. Amazing designers such as Martin Brudzinski, Kit Kemp, Abigail Ahern and the Soho House design team have shown that maximalism and chintz is all about layering to give a more modern, curated and very glamorous interior. We’re even seeing the trend towards coloured bath suites again – at our project in Devon, we’re bringing back the avocado tub, thanks to the stunning Water Monopoly supplier who we love!

5. Your concepts often combine vintage and modern pieces – is there a design era that you’re particularly drawn to?

I’ve always been attracted to vintage furniture and I love nothing more than finding an old tired chair and giving it a new look with modern fabric and a good French polish. It’s so satisfying to see something old look current again; it just takes a little imagination – maybe contrast piping or a different pattern on the back. We sell a lot of revamped 1950s and 1930s chairs like this through our shop at the Old Cinema in Chiswick. I’m certainly not an antiques expert like lots of my fellow dealers there and I don’t have a preferred era. I buy on instinct, so you’ll find anything from old industrial factory tables to Victorian dressers to French vintage tableware. It’s a constantly evolving collection of lovely finds from our travels and contacts we’ve built up over the years of designing hotels. We love using these pieces in our projects; they add character and it’s a much more sustainable approach.

Hannah Lohan Interiors shop at The Old Cinema in Chiswick, London

6. Does good design last forever?

What is considered ‘good design’ is constantly evolving – but that doesn’t mean you have to do a total refurb every five years. It’s amazing what can be achieved with some simple styling and up-cycling certain pieces of furniture. My favourite design studio, Roman and Williams, headed by Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, are such an inspiration to me. They started off their career as set designers for movies and then went on to design amazing hotel interiors, such as the Ace Hotel and the Standard in New York. Their designs are all story-led, as though they were following a film script, which makes them brave in their approach. They don’t follow trends or rules – they love to surprise and disrupt traditional ideas by doing things like painting a Georgian cabinet red, or mixing eras to create a really eclectic, unexpected design. This, to me is good design – having the vision and confidence to adapt what’s there, rather than replace it as trends change.

Find out more: hannahlohaninteriors.com

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Reading time: 7 min
silver timepiece
silver timepiece

The new Oyster Perpetual Submariner, 41mm in Oystersteel. © Rolex/Alain Costa

LUX discovers Rolex’s striking new editions to the iconic Submariner, Datejust, Oyster Perpetual and Sky-Dweller collections

The New Submariner

Submariner Date © Rolex/Alain Costa

Rolex’s history with the world of diving dates back to 1926 when the brand invented the now iconic waterproof Oyster case. Following a series of experiments in collaboration with diving pioneers, the brand launched the Submariner in 1953 as the first divers’ wristwatch waterproof to a depth of 100 metres. Since then, the brand’s Submariner collection has gained iconic status with the Oyster case now guaranteeing waterproof to a depth of 300 metres.

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The latest editions to the divers’ collection – the Oyster Perpetual Submariner and Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date – both feature a redesigned, slightly larger case in the classic aesthetic of Oystersteel. Other variations of both watches include a 60-minute graduated Cerachrom insert in coloured ceramic, allowing divers to monitor their dive times.

diamond silver watch

Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31 in white Rolesor. © Rolex/Alain Costa

The New Datejust

Four new white Rolesor (combining Oystersteel and 18 ct white gold) versions of the Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31 include a diamond-set bezel and aubergine dial with the three other timepieces fitted respectively with a mint green, white lacquer or dark grey dial.

silver watch

Oyster Perpetual 41 in Oystersteel. © Rolex/Alain Costa

The New Oyster Perpetual

Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual collection features direct descendants of the brand’s original 1926 Oyster waterproof case. The latest model, the Oyster Perpetual 41, is available with a silver or black dial, whilst updates of the Oyster Perpetual 36 feature a range of vibrant lacquer dials in candy pink, turquoise blue, yellow, coral red and green.

Read more: Paris-based artist Cathleen Naundorf on photography, fashion & activism

Both models are equipped with Rolex’s newly launched movement, calibre 3230, which offers gains in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.

gold black timepiece

Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller, 42 mm, 18ct yellow gold. © Rolex/Alain Costa

The New Sky-Dweller

The perfect watch for frequent travellers, the Sky-Dweller displays the time in two time zones simultaneously and has an annual calendar. This latest 18ct yellow gold version of the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller is fitted with the brand’s innovative Oysterflex bracelet made of high-performance black elastomer, promising both durability and comfort.

Find out more: rolex.com

 

 

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Reading time: 2 min
fashion portrait
portrait

Sunset, a limited edition photograph by Cathleen Naundorf. Courtesy of Cathleen Naundorf studio

colour portrait of Maryam Eisler photographer and contributing LUX editor

Maryam Eisler

Following in the footsteps of Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Peter Beard, Cathleen Naundorf is a world renowned photographer who works with large format analogue cameras to create a unique painterly aesthetic. Photographer and LUX Contributing Editor Maryam Eisler speaks to the Paris-based artist about photographing the Dalai Lama, creative influences and developing her own style

portrait of a woman

Cathleen Naundorf. Courtesy of the artist

Maryam Eisler: Cathleen, you have been working with analogue and large format cameras for some years now. I am interested in your visual aesthetics, especially in what you call your ‘Fresco’ imagery, which sits somewhere between photography and painting, in my opinion.
Cathleen Naundorf: Yes, that is correct indeed. The technique achieves painterly photographs. As a kid, at the age of four, I already had a pencil in my hand; I drew all my life. I was sponsored very early on, and had my first painting atelier at the age of twelve. It was only later that I decided to become a photographer, because I was looking for something that would allow me to both travel and remain close to painting, at the same time. I was young and didn’t want to be isolated in a studio, I wanted to go out and explore the world.

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I was raised in East Germany, and moved out before the wall was taken down; it was very difficult to get out. At the time, I was desperate to travel, and so, I applied for jobs with book editors and printed media. I landed my first job very early on, at the age of 23, for which I had to do a reportage on the Dalai Lama. By luck, I became a travel photographer, and I fell in love with this medium.

corset on a woman

Corset by Cathleen Naundorf. Courtesy of Cathleen Naundorf studio

studio photographer

Cathleen on a studio shoot. Courtesy of the artist

To go back to your ‘Fresco’ question and achieving that painterly look, I decided to work with polaroid because you see the result immediately. Many 70s photographers also used polaroids as it was a great way to check up on lighting during the photo sessions. Helmut Newton used the XS – 70 polaroids, for example. I used small format polaroids during my travels, and took polaroid portraits of the people I photographed, in order to retain an immediate memory of them. From 2003, I started working in studios and so I chose the professional 8 x 10 inch and the 4 x 5 inch polaroid sheets. There were two reasons behind my choice of this particular material. Firstly, it allows for the development of unique pieces, and secondly,  it captures the light in a painterly way. In 2006, I started with the ‘Fresco’ technique, a complicated process, but well worth the complication as it produces stunning results!

Read more: ‘Confined Artists Free Spirits’ – Maryam Eisler’s lockdown portrait series

collage storyboard

One of Cathleen’s storyboards for Anastasia, Vogue Thailand. Courtesy of Cathleen Naundorf studio

Maryam Eisler: I imagine this technique requires everything to be pre–planned?
Cathleen Naundorf: If you work with large format cameras and settings, you have to prepare the photo production well in advance. I draw everything first, each shot, just like you would if you were producing a movie. My storyboards explain the narrative which I have in mind. Each sitter (client or model) receives the story board several days before the shoot so as to get “in the mood”. My team also gets briefed in advance, and as such, all is well prepared. So, once you’re on set, the atmosphere is relaxed, giving time and space to concentrate on the subject, whilst allowing me to pull the trigger at the right moment … the extra ‘wow’ factor!

Read more: British-Iranian artist darvish Fakhr on the alchemy of art

Maryam Eisler: So storytelling is a significant part of your process?
Cathleen Naundorf: It’s always about storytelling. As mentioned, I started as a reportage photographer. When I worked with big agencies, they would always tell me ‘one picture needs to say it all’. I first put this theory to the test when I photographed the Dalai Lama, once when I was 24 and the second time at the age of 26. I think a photograph should always tell a story – this also applies to fashion photography, at least in my case.

vintage style photograph

Magic Garden, III ,Valentino Garavani, Wideville by Cathleen Naundorf. Courtesy of Cathleen Naundorf studio

Maryam Eisler: Would you say that your collaboration with your sitter equally becomes an integral part of the process?
Cathleen Naundorf: I always ask the person if he or she has agreed to be photographed. It’s a question of respect. Some situations are also very intimate, and the sitter needs to feel more comfortable than usual. With culturally diverse ethnic groups, especially, you need to take time, explain, share with them the process and the purpose of your work. It is a question of trust and communication. With models, they may find themselves nude in front of you. As such, you need to develop trust, respect and comfort, in the rapport which you establish with them. As a photographer, you have to have the ability to open the sitter’s soul, and in turn, they need to be made aware of that. That’s when you bring the best out of people.

fashion portrait

Pose enchantée by Cathleen Naundorf. Courtesy of Cathleen Naundorf studio

Maryam Eisler: Do you have a secret formula or recipe in your photography? A signature of some sort?
Cathleen Naundorf: Not really. I am very critical of myself and try to improve the quality of my work with every shoot. It’s a daily task, step by step.

Read more: A new retrospective of photography by Terry O’Neill opens in Gstaad

Maryam Eisler: Most artists are doubters. They never know when the painting is finished. It is quite wonderful to have that certitude and to be able to say, ‘This is done! This is it!’
Cathleen Naundorf: Yes. When I shoot, I say to the team, ‘Guys that is it; we have it!’ It’s also fantastic to have the polaroid result in 60 seconds. Once I had to shoot the cover for a US magazine and I was photographing Laetitia Casta. I only shot seven polaroids and sent just ‘the one’ to the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine. They complained and asked to see more options, but I knew that that was the one. The magazines sold out, and there was the proof in the pudding! When you have it, you have it!

fashion photography

The enchanted forest I by Cathleen Naundorf. Courtesy of Cathleen Naundorf studio

fashion portrait

The doubt by Cathleen Naundorf. Courtesy of Cathleen Naundorf studio

Maryam Eisler: How old were you when you left East Germany? And how much of an influence did your country of origin have on your career?
Cathleen Naundorf: I was 17 when I left East Germany. When I was 6 years old, people around me used to say ‘Oh she is an artist, she is so sensitive’. I knew then that I was different. Being raised under that regime made me very strong over the years. Freedom and human rights took top priority in my life as a result. To be physically and mentally free are essential to me. You need to make choices in life and stand for what you believe in. I had to pack my suitcase in 24 hours and take what I could. That teaches you a lot in life!

Maryam Eisler: The choice of photojournalism could be considered activism in itself.
Cathleen Naundorf: Yes, I wanted to give something back to society. At 18, I became an active member of Amnesty International. I worked on cases in Yugoslavia during the war and also in Turkey. In 1993, I met the Dalai Lama. I was very fortunate. As mentioned before, I did a reportage twice on him. I was the youngest photo reporter and I was also the only woman. It was, and still is hard for a woman to be in photojournalism. In East Germany where I grew up, women and men were really equal. So, when I came to the West, I was disappointed. I felt like I had to battle even more in order to gain respect. Even today, I sometimes feel like I have to battle in order to protect my rights and justify my job.

Read more: SKIN co-founder Lauren Lozano Ziol on creating inspiring homes

Maryam Eisler: How do you marry your two worlds together: activism and fashion? It seems like they would normally be at polar opposites of each other?
Cathleen Naundorf: Honestly, I never saw myself as a fashion photographer. Horst [P.Horst] became my mentor and influenced me in the direction of fashion photography at the beginning of my career, alongside the influences of work by Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. I was eventually taken under Tim Jefferies’ wing (Director of Hamiltons Gallery, Mayfair), and the rest is history! When I moved to Paris in 1998, fashion was a kind of ethnic voodoo, with a touch of glamour, especially during the times of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. It was great and I saw eye to eye with that kind of fashion. But those times are over, there is no Diana Vreeland or Francesca Sozzani anymore. People think I belong to the fashion bunch, but I don’t really. I am considered an artist, even by the fashion industry, and I always want to keep it that way.

black and white fashion photography

In the clouds, II by Cathleen Naundorf. Courtesy of Cathleen Naundorf studio

Maryam Eisler: Talk to me about the influence Horst had on you.
Cathleen Naundorf: When I discovered Horst’s photography, I called him in New York. I realised, that if this is and can be called fashion photography, then I must try and learn it. His work was magnificent. Later we found out, that my family and his family knew each other, because they each had big shops in the town of Weissenfels, in East Germany, on the same street! Can you believe that? He saw my travel pictures and he said ‘ Why don’t you try fashion?’ He influenced me at the beginning, and, of course, later on in my career, I developed my own personal style.

Maryam Eisler: Where do you find your inspiration?
Cathleen Naundorf: Everywhere. I always have pictures in my head! My fantasies drive me. And, I like to realise my dreams. It is these dreams and fantasies that empower me and make me feel alive!

View Cathleen Naundorf’s portfolio: cathleennaundorf.com
Instagram: @cathleennaundorf

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Reading time: 9 min
colourful dining room interior
colourful dining room interior

A dining room interior by SKIN. Image by Andrew Miller Photography

Founded by interior designer Lauren Lozano Ziol and graphic designer Michelle Jolas, SKIN is a luxury interior design studio that offers its clients the opportunity to accompany designers to furniture markets, design shows and antique shops. Ahead of the studio’s London launch, we speak to Lauren Lozano Ziol about the business concept, her inspirations and designing spaces to promote positivity
two women in contemporary interior

Lauren Lozano Ziol (right) with Michelle Jolas

LUX: How did the concept for SKIN first evolve and who’s your target customer?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Since Michelle and I first met over a decade ago, we have succeeded in pushing each other out of our respective comfort zones of graphic design and history of art, allowing us to continually challenge style boundaries. When we founded SKIN in 2017, we bonded over our love for materials that can be used in design. There are so many exciting and interesting ways to use materials such as cowhides, shagreen, snakeskin, leather, fabrics, veneer and so much more. Wallpaper is another critical consideration for us, in the past, we contemplated creating a wallpaper line, and the name ‘SKIN’ was a fun play on all of the above. As we considered what SKIN as a company meant, we realised the meaning is profound – it’s your outer layer, what you show to the world, it’s inner and outer beauty, it’s diversity – this led us to name our website skinyourworld.com.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Our target customer is a discerning client who appreciates the beauty of high-end, quality interiors and materials, with a shared interest in art and furniture history, who isn’t afraid of mixing period pieces and jumping out of their comfort zone to create unique, elegant and sophisticated interiors. Also, a client that likes to have fun with the process.

LUX: What’s your creative process when you start on a new interiors project?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Firstly, we learn about the client, who they are, what they like and what inspires them in their daily lives so that we can understand their needs. The creative juices then start flowing. We create vision boards, art collection ideas and materials. We lay out the floor plans and make sure the scale is perfect, we then select potential furniture, sketch ideas and pull it all together with renderings to show the client. We love being in the client’s space with all the materials. Colour and texture, lighting and luxurious material all play a synchronised role in the complete design. When we present to a client, we love to collaborate with them, it sparks creativity and new ideas.

luxurious home interiors

A private residence project by SKIN. Image by Andrew Miller

LUX: In terms of the design side of the business, is it important to have a style that’s recognisably yours?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Yes, and no. Yes, in terms of being refined, elegant, timeless, classic and chic – whether the interior is modern or traditional. However, every client is different, so we like to explore what that means to the project and not box ourselves into one look. We want each project to be unique.

Read more: Two new buildings offer contemporary Alpine living in Andermatt

LUX: Is there a design era that you’re particularly drawn to or inspired by?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: French 40s and Art Deco in terms of style and materials. We also adore Maison Jansen.

luxury library

Library design by SKIN. Image by Andrew Miller

LUX: How much of a consideration is sustainability?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Very much so, our environment has never been more important, so we work together with architects and contractors to bring the right materials that are long-lasting and good for the planet. Now more than ever the need for healthy communities, clean air and non-toxic environments is paramount.

LUX: Why do you think lifestyle services have become more desirable in recent years?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: We firmly believe that environments influence how you feel. They have the potential to promote creativity and help make you your best. If you like the space you’re in, you feel happier amidst the disruption of Covid-19. The well-being achieved from a well-thought-out, organised home can have long-term positive effects on the whole family.

Read more: Three top gallerists on how the art world is changing

LUX: Are your excursions designed to inspire or educate, or both?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Both! We make a list, head off to explore and see what catches our eye. We love talking about the history of pieces when we go on an excursion, but ultimately, we settle on what speaks to us and inspires our project goals. The day can end very differently to what we set out to accomplish because there are always hidden gems and treasures to find along the way.

LUX: Should good design last forever?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Yes, our philosophy is “timeless, classic, chic with an edge” which allows us to create an ageless design yet pushes us to look for new and exciting trends.

LUX: What’s next for you?
Lauren Lozano Ziol: Our London launch, which we are so excited about. We are ready to meet new and interesting clients and breathe life into amazing projects. Again, our environments have never been more critical, and we are ready to take on our new adventure.

Find out more: skinyourworld.com

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Reading time: 4 min
Two men in conversation
Black and white portrait of a man

Giorgio Armani. Courtesy Giorgio Armani

The designs of fashion superstar Giorgio Armani have become synonymous with the relaxed yet restrained and sophisticated style that has, over the nearly half century he has been in the business, transformed Italian tailoring. Harriet Quick talks to the legend about his global empire, which spans womenswear, menswear, interiors, hotels and more

Even with increased life expectancy and delayed retirement age, there is only a tiny percentage of us who, at the age of 85, will wake up every morning motivated by the prospect of a full days’ work. That Giorgio Armani is in charge of a multibillion-euro company, more than 7,000 employees and owns a personal property portfolio of nine houses (plus a 65m superyacht named after his mother’s nickname, Maín), a personal fortune estimated at 6 billion euros and a whip-sharp brain makes him that rarity.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Who does he see in the mirror each morning? “I see a man who, through sheer hard work, has achieved a lot, turning a vision of style into an all-encompassing business. This assumption might sound like an overstatement, but it is a matter of fact,” says Mr Armani (Mr is his preferred address), dressed in his ‘fashion-worker uniform’ of blue sweater, cotton trousers and white sneakers. “And yet, in spite of all my achievements, I still feel the fire. I am never content – I am always challenging myself. That’s how I keep young and aware, by always raising the bar a little higher,” he says.

In January 2020, Armani will have presented Giorgio Armani menswear during Milan fashion week, the Armani Privé collection during the Paris haute couture collections and overseen looks designed for celebrities attending the Golden Globes, the Oscars and the Baftas. He also picked up the GQ Italia Award in January in swift succession to the Outstanding Achievement Award that was presented to him by Julia Roberts and Cate Blanchett at the British Fashion Awards in December 2019. By way of acceptance, he simply gave a big thank you while Blanchett added, “Mr Armani is a man who prefers to let his clothes do the talking”.

Antique photograph

Two men in conversation

Armani with his mother Maria in 1939 (top), and with his partner Sergio Galeotti. Both images courtesy of Giorgio Armani

The new decade marks forty-five years in the business during which the Armani brand has grown from a seedling collection of subtle, relaxed men’s suiting into a global powerhouse that encompasses 11 collections a year (including Privé and Emporio Armani) fine perfume and cosmetics, underwear, eyewear, denim, interiors, furnishings and hotels. Armani, who is the CEO and creative director, remains the sole shareholder making him, alongside the Wertheimer family that owns Chanel, Sir Paul Smith and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, one of the last remaining fashion industry founder/owner titans. Ralph Lauren stepped down from his role as CEO in 2015.

“A vision like this takes a long time to be fully developed. The slow growth made it organic and all encompassing,” says Armani. “I had the first glimpses that style could turn into lifestyle back in the eighties, sensing that my philosophy could be applied to many different fields. Across the nineties, as the business grew, I started adding new elements, be it furniture, restaurants or hotels. My intention today is to offer a complete Armani lifestyle. New things can be added all the time. The vision has not changed over the years, it has grown, evolved and expanded,” he says as if observing the horizon line. But the roots were set firm and fast. In the first year of trading (1976) the turnover was $2 million. With Italian producer GFT and American know-how, Giorgio Armani and his right-hand Sergio Galeotti learnt how to manufacture and distribute at scale. In 1981, Emporio Armani was launched offering denims and sportswear at accessible prices and emblazoned with the graphic triumph that is the EA eagle.

Read more: How Hublot’s collaborations are changing the face of luxury

Armani’s lifestyle vision of pared-down elegance (in shades of aqua and greige) has proven as enduring as the bewitching romance of Pantelleria, the tiny island that lies off the coast of Sicily. The myth of Armani seems to predate the man himself, reaching back through the 20th century into some misty pre-industrial past and lurching forward into a tonally harmonised borderless utopia. In Armani’s universe, shapes, moods and memes may change, but not excessively so and one would be hard pushed to date one collection versus another. In this age of responsible luxury and sustainability, that interchangeability is now again being considered a virtue rather than a freakish anomaly. The brand, which Armani describes as a ‘physiological entity’, speaks of constancy, grace, strength and good health seemingly impervious (or very well sheltered from) the rude chaos of real life, just like the founder himself. The allure of Armani’s serene aesthetic harbour (in jackets and the best-selling Luminous Silk Foundation alike) seems to grow in inverse proportions to the spiking rates of anxiety and turbulence in the world.

Celebrities

Armani at the 2019 British Fashion Awards with, from left, Cate Blanchett, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise and Roberta Armani. Photo by Stefano Guindani

Yet upheaval, tragedy and human destruction is part and parcel of the Armani story. Young Giorgio (one of three siblings) grew up in poverty-stricken postwar Italy, in the town of Piacenza, near Milan. Food, healthcare, building materials, fuel and clothing were in short supply. Bombing raids were imprinted on his childhood memories as were the visits to the local fascist HQ where his father worked as an office clerk. Armani distanced himself from the ideology and the relationship (his father died when he was 25) decades ago. “We had little, very little, so we treasured what we owned. My mother was wonderful in that sense: we were always impeccable, even if we did not have anything to show off. It was all about being clean, being proper. I’d call it dignity,” he reflects. The autumn/winter 2020 menswear collection, with its distressed-leather donkey jacket, soft shouldered tweed suits and shearling mountain coats and combat boots, had strong echoes of wartime civvy and military garb, albeit in luxury and technical materials.

“As industrialisation grew, we came into contact with new stuff. I remember my first incredibly stiff pair of blue jeans and I immediately felt like James Dean. As the economy boomed we all became eager for more. The social fabric disintegrated a bit and being modern became a must. That’s when I really understood the power of clothing – it’s the first projection of the self into society,” he continues. To note, Giorgio Armani SpA was one of the first brands to enter the Chinese market – he has an innate understanding of aspiration.

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

Like Ralph Lauren, Armani received his fashion training on the shop floor at the swish Milanese department store, La Rinascente. “I was dressing windows and working as a buyer. I got to observe people, and that was an invaluable lesson. Milano at that time was a bursting, innovative city and people were constantly on the lookout for something new. I developed a passion for fabrics and shapes. Then I had the privilege of working as an apprentice with Nino Cerruti, where my career truly took off. I quickly started to develop strong, personal ideas. It was Cerruti himself – to whose foresight I owe a great deal – who asked me for new solutions to make the suit less rigid, more comfortable, less industrial and more tailored,” says Armani.

It’s hard to imagine in our century of casual how modern and desirable the deconstructed jacket and roomy fluid trousers on which Armani made his name would have appeared. But his work to soften the silhouette was as impactful as Coco Chanel’s cardigan jacket on women’s fashion. The silhouette was not only ‘comfortable’, it also projected a certain sense of cosmopolitan ease and adaptability, qualities that were in keeping with a flourishing economy (cars, furniture, fashion, fabric, lighting) and the birth of the ‘Made In Italy’ pedigree.

“By deconstructing the jacket, I allowed it to live on the body, using far from traditional fabrics. That principle is the one I used to build my own brand. Suiting at the time was very stiff. Women, in the meantime, were making progress in the work place and needed a new dress code: ‘ladylike’ was not suitable for the board meeting. I made the suit suitable for men on the lookout for something more natural and for career women. I sensed a need and offered a solution. The rest, as they say, is history,” says Armani, who is wont to gently shrug his shoulders.

Fashion model wearing dress

A look from the Armani AW14 advertising campaign. Image by Solve Sundsbo

“I think Armani’s success is due to his fashion and the images that went with it,” says Gianluca Longo, style editor at British Vogue. “He personally art directed the advertising campaigns and created the Armani style. He hit the American and the Japanese markets in the booming 80s and the Armani suit became a symbol of success at work. For men, it was a relaxed style and for women, a structured jacket that was still elegant and feminine in the cut.”

Armani’s success is rooted in a close group of loyal collaborators that were particularly effective in navigating the closed-shop Italian fashion business. “Sergio Galeotti has been the pivotal figure for me. He was the one who pushed me to go on my own and who was also by my side to manage it all. When he passed away [in 1985] I had to take my destiny into my own hands. Finally, that was his biggest push. I would not be where I am now without Sergio. I owe a lot to many people I have met across the years, especially Leo Dell’Orco, but I am a truly self-made individual,” he says. He also cites his mother Maria as a mentor: “She taught us the importance of taking care of yourself as an ethical choice. The idea of achieving so much with so little left a lasting impression on me.” Even at 85, he exercises for 90 minutes daily.

Restaurant pool terrace

The Amal restaurant at the Armani Hotel Dubai.

In his professional life, he cites John Fairchild (founder and editor of WWD) and Karl Lagerfeld as mentors. He admits he is not easy to get on with in terms of journalistic portrayal (he is succinct to the point of being terse) but does remember Jay Cocks’s 1982 Time profile. The cover bore the headline “Giorgio’s Gorgeous Style” and featured the leather-jacketed designer in his own incarnation of James Dean. This was also when Armani took on American retail (Barneys was one of the first stores) and then Hollywood. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Kevin Costner (The Untouchables) and Richard Gere (American Gigolo) are among the early pin-ups in a line-up of celebrities looked after by a highly active VIP and Entertainment division overseen by his niece, Roberta Armani.

Read more: Discovering Deutsche Bank’s legendary art collection

In the leagues of big business, a beige Armani suit (in fluid crepe wool) became the uniform of choice for a generation of female leaders, president of Bergdorf Goodman, Dawn Mello, and first ladies included. Today’s soft-power designers, including The Row and Gabriela Hearst, share a surprising amount in common with Armani’s aesthetic. Where peer-group brands built billion-dollar businesses on accessories, Armani’s strength has always been clothing. The cohesive brand architecture works from top to bottom with a bespoke velvet tuxedo on Brad Pitt boosting everyday entry-level purchases of underwear and scent. For the best part of the 1980s, Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferré and Valentino Garavani ruled the Italian fashion business before Gucci was resurrected and Miuccia Prada launched into ready-to-wear.

Working at Giorgio Armani SpA is not for slouches. Team Armani work with military precision, expertly choreographing Armani’s interactions with press and dignitaries while exuding brand values 24/7. The notion of a team is always emphasised over individual stars and the same is true of the catwalk presentations and campaigns. The models are rarely supermodels or names but appear as a lithe army, with naturalistic make-up, hair and gestures and clothes that blend in with the wearer. “The founding principles of my company are based upon autonomy and independence,” says Armani. “Jobs might be short lived today, but not in my case. My first employee, Irene, still works for the company.” The Armani Group’s reach has been impacted by a flood of street-credible brands, including Balenciaga, Off White, Burberry and Kim Jones at Dior. In 2016, revenues dropped by five per cent (estimated at 2.51 billion euros) and various strands of the business were given a sharp nip and tuck to refocus on core values.

artistic design display

Furniture in the Armani/Casa 2019–20 collection at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. Image by Fabrizio Nannini

As a private company, rumblings and frissons behind the scenes are hard to detect. The Armani world is elegantly orchestrated, from the polished-concrete Armani HQ in Milan designed by Tadao Ando to the flagships, many designed by architect Claudio Silvestrin, and the low-rise converted dammuso on the island of Pantelleria where Armani has a holiday home. “Clothing is about the space between cloth and body, architecture is about the space in which the body moves. I do not see many differences, and I think soulful simplicity always wins,” says Armani. And tactility. “The virtual is cold. We need to touch things, we need to make bonds.”

Read more: Inside Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat studio

“Mr Armani is a very loyal person, he relies on his close friends and has an acute sense of humour,” says Longo who last year was invited onto the superyacht, Maín. “That always helps. And he still loves to be involved in everything that he sees around him. From a button on a jacket, to the cutlery on a table.”

The spring/summer 2020 collection of misty fog and aqua cadet suits and cloud-like organza-topped shimmering gowns was dedicated to Earth, echoing this era’s concern over climate change. The company has been a supporter of Acqua for Life for more than ten years alongside other charities supported by the Giorgio Armani Foundation, set up in 2016. As fashion goes through epochal changes in purchasing behaviours and attitudes, the business will be remarkably different in ten years’ time.

Antique film still photograph

vintage film photograph

Richard Gere in American Gigolo (1980), and Andy Garcia and Kevin Costner in The Untouchables (1987), for both of which Armani designed the costumes

“The outlook for the fashion business and the outlook for fashion are two separate issues,” Armani says. “Fashion, I feel, has a great future, as people are becoming more and more confident in making decisions about what to wear based on what suits them, and are also becoming better educated in matters of style. The fashion business, on the other hand, must adapt to this new situation, and the fact that consumers are able to access new ideas from their digital devices at any hour of the day, anywhere in the world. How to best respond to the new landscape hasn’t changed – make clothing and accessories that help people fulfil their potential and look their best and bring out their characters.” The focus should be on style, not trends, he argues. “And you should have your own vision and viewpoint as a designer. If you do these things, you will be successful. Consumer behaviour may change, but why people buy fashion in the first place will not.”

On the matter of succession plans, Mr Armani remains a closed book. The internal leaders are likely to be in place. “Freedom gives me pleasure. I experience it in my business, as I am still my own boss. I experience it in my boat, suspended between the sky and the sea.” One intuits that this sense of inner peace has been hard won yet the reaching for it is what drives the Giorgio Armani brand.

Discover the collections: armani.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 13 min
Exhibition of kitchen appliances
Exhibition of kitchen appliances

Gaggenau’s new combi-steam ovens 400 and 200 series

Last week, LUX attended the launch of Gaggenau’s new combi-steam ovens, presented alongside underwater artworks by artist Jason deCaires Taylor and food prepared by executive chef Phil Fanning

Steaming food might be the latest trend in healthy eating, but it’s also a way of enhancing the natural flavours of ingredients. With an increased capacity of 50 litres, Gaggenau’s new combi-steam ovens offer chefs – both budding and professional – the opportunity to get creative with their steaming.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

At the brand’s launch event in Fitzrovia, London, executive chef and owner of restaurant Paris House Phil Fanning showed guests the kind of results that a Gaggenau combi-steam oven can achieve with not just vegetables, but also meats, baked goods or pastry.

Chef preparing food in the kitchen

Chef Phil Fanning preparing dessert using a Gaggenau combi-steam oven

Gaggenau’s ovens work by combining hot air with varying percentages of humidity (ranging from 100 to 0%), whilst an in-built probe monitors the temperature and continually revises the estimated cooking time to ensure best results and the preservation of nutrients.

Read more: Chef Alain Ducasse on the importance of telling your own story

Gaggenau’s new ovens shown alongside artworks by Jason deCaires Taylor

Strikingly sleek and minimalist in design, the ovens were presented alongside a series of intriguing glass-encased underwater sculptures by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor. Made from pH-neutral cement, deCaires Taylor’s sculptures are ordinarily encountered on the seabeds where they transform into coral reefs as they are consumed and naturally transformed by aquatic microorganisms. Viewed in this new setting, the artworks appeared even more otherworldly, whilst also inviting guests to reflect on the poeticism of the steaming process.

For more information visit: gaggenau.com/gb/

 

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Reading time: 1 min
Historic jewelled brooch

Model wearing large jewelled necklace

The creations of quintessentially Parisian jewellery maker Chaumet may have been fit for an empress in the late 18th century when the company was founded. But the jeweller aspires to be equally at home with the modern woman around the world. CEO Jean-Marc Mansvelt tells Irene Bellucci how they make the new out of the old
portrait of a man in a suit wearing glasses

Jean-Marc Mansvelt

“For me, luxury is about craftsmanship and excellence. But it’s more than functionality – it’s also about emotion. And luxury transcends fashion, too; it takes time to invent, create and make.

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“Chaumet’s founder Marie-Etienne Nitot trained under the jeweller to Marie Antoinette, and after the Revolution became Napoleon Bonaparte’s official jeweller in 1805. This led to numerous commissions from the great and the good, including jewels for Empress Joséphine, after whom one of our most iconic collections is named. The brand’s tiaras went on to be worn by queens and rulers across the globe.

Vintage diamond tiara

Laurel Leaf Tiara by Joseph Chaumet (1920)

“Yet, our history isn’t enough to sustain us in the 21st century; consumers’ tastes have changed as has the function of jewellery itself. Nowadays, a tiara is not really worn beyond special and rare occasions, so in 2010 we reinvented them by moving them from head to finger for our Joséphine ring collection. Once they were crowns expressing power, but now we have brought them into the modern era in a more delicate and wearable form.

“But not all of our pieces are reinventions. We try to mix tradition and contemporary art; we also like to look to the world of music for ideas. In referring just to the past, the risk is that we will repeat ourselves – we need to inject new elements into the process.”

View the collections: chaumet.com

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue

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Reading time: 1 min
White dessert with layers of pastry
White dessert with layers of pastry

The White Millefeuille is chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s ‘masterdish’ at her restaurant inside the Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square London

Anne-Sophie Pic’s London restaurant La Dame de Pic has already been awarded two Michelin stars for its innovative French cuisine, but there’s one dish that everyone’s talking about – and Instagramming. LUX visits Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square to try the infamous White Millefeuille
Female chef in white shirt inside kitchen

Chef Anne-Sophie Pic

Millefeuille is one of the most classic French desserts – even if you don’t recognise the name, you’ve probably eaten, or at least seen it in the window window of a smart pastry shop. Traditionally, a millefeuille is made up of three layers of puff pastry divided by layers of crème pâtissière. French chef Anne-Sophie Pic‘s millefeuille, however, is something quite different.

The dessert arrives on our table in the shape of a perfectly seamless white cube. If you’re active on Instagram, you’ve most likely seen hundreds of pictures, but for those of you who haven’t: it looks a little bit like a giant marshmallow surrounded by foamy white puffs (see above).

We’re anxious as to how to actually eat it. Which side are you supposed to start with? Will it collapse? Will something jump out?

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Fork in and it holds its cubic form perfectly to reveal layers of thin pastry interspersed with Jasmine jelly and vanilla cream. More importantly though, it’s completely delicious: light and sweet with an unexpected hint of spice from Madagascar pepper.

‘The desire of this dessert was to make a monochrome dish, which is as elegant in its visual approach as it is in its taste,’ Anne-Sophie Pic says. ‘And for me, elegance, then and now, is white. ‘

Contemporary of a stylish restaurant

La Dame de Pic is Anne-Sophie Pic’s two Michelin-starred restaurant at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square

Read more: Why Hôtel de l’Etrier is the perfect alpine hotel

It’s an elegance that resonates throughout the restaurant from its glassy, bright interiors and crisp table settings to the service and inventive presentation of each dish. The bread, for example, comes as a complete miniature round loaf, served on a bed of smooth white pebbles, which we mistake for dough balls and almost eat.

‘The White Millefeuille lends itself to playfulness: deriving from its perfect shape a signature dessert for each of my restaurants is a game, both for me in creation, and for the customer taking a tour of the Dame de Pic,’ says Pic, whose culinary creations have recently earned the restaurant its second Michelin star and Pic’s seventh.

If you haven’t made it to the restaurant yet, now is the time to go.

For more information visit: fourseasons.com/tentrinity/dining/restaurants/la-dame-de-pic-london/

 

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Woman wearing a bowling hat wearing jewellery
Woman wearing a bowling hat wearing jewellery

The Cleopatra alexandrite and diamond set by Hirsh

Founded in 1980 by Anthony and Diane Hirsh, luxury jewellery brand Hirsh is now under the creative direction of Jason Hirsh with his wife Sophia as Managing Director. Here, Chloe Frost-Smith speaks to the second generation Creative Director about designing, selecting gemstones, and the relationship between art and jewellery

Man wearing a blue jumper in front of ads

Jason Hirsh

1. Is it true that you designed your first piece of jewellery when you were 10, and if so, what was it?

Yes it is, I used to sit in my father’s office, looking for things to do. My father used to have me draw the jewellery on stock cards (before digital cameras and film was too expensive). I loved the colour gems more than diamonds and drew out a suite of jewellery (necklace, earrings, bracelet and ring) using a pattern of emerald, ruby, sapphire, diamond set in 18k gold, very 80s! My father humoured me and made it. In those days Hirsh, used to manufacture jewellery for other retailers, our first store was still 2 years away, so he took the suite to the Dallas Jewellery show. I went with him and my mother and the suite sold on the first day. It was purchased by a prominent jewellery chain in the U.S. that had 16 stores at the time, so my father needed to make a few more! My father paid me $1 commission which I spent on a coca cola and cracker jacks (American popcorn), let’s just say my taste and remuneration has changed somewhat.

Precious stones shown on work bench inside a studio

Inside the Hirsh London atelier

2. What is the inspiration behind your new Autumn/Winter collection?

I’ve always been inspired by nature and the beauty of the different colours found in nature – be it in gemstones or in the changing of the seasons. My father also shared this love of nature and began a tradition of designing a unique snowflake pendant every winter. This is a tradition that Sophia and I have continued and really look forward to every year. As the Hirsh 40th anniversary is soon approaching, we decided to create three beautiful snowflake pendants this year; an emerald, sapphire and a ruby piece. Just like snowflakes found in nature, each snowflake we design is completely one-of-a-kind and very special. Our new spring 2020 collection also takes inspiration in nature and features natural colour diamonds – definitely one to look out for.

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3. Which gemstones are you drawn to work with in particular and why?

I am drawn to work with anything unusual, I try and seek out gems that are hard to find other examples of, be it the rarity of colour or the combination of shape and colour. It is especially why I like round natural colour diamonds such as the 7-carat round, colour changing chameleon diamond I parted with last year. With the amount of rough you lose, natural colour diamonds are rarely cut in round which is what makes them all the more special when they are. In colour gemstones, my favourites are those with an emerald cut. The reason for this is that, emerald cut gemstones leave no place to hide inclusions in the gemstone. However, my personal favourite gemstones of all are Alexandrites and sapphires, mainly for the colour change in the Alexandrite and the range of colours found in sapphires. My wife Sophia has an amazing bi-colour sapphire (half yellow, half blue) that I thankfully get to see on her every day. We also have an amazing selection of Alexandrite jewellery at Hirsh that I’m very proud of.

Image of a necklace in the middle of a christmas cracker

The snowflake pendant set with pink and blue diamonds

4. How would you describe the relationship between jewellery and art?

Well, art is subjective and whilst in the past artists like Seurat would spend four years on a painting, some artists today create art in a day, in some cases multiple pieces in factories. You can find the same thing in the world of jewellery. There are many jewellers who mass produce their craft either to satisfy their clientele who want the same pieces, or to fill their many stores. At Hirsh, we individually produce each piece by hand so we consider everything we create to be a piece of wearable art. In addition, the vast majority of our pieces are the result of a collaboration with several artists, from my creative direction  through to the design team who draw and refine each piece and then on to the mounters who turn our dreams into reality, and finally, the setters, who refine the claws on each stone.

Read more: Why we love TAG Heuer’s Monaco anniversary collection

5. Do you ever consider trends when designing your pieces?

Whilst remaining quite timeless in style (the majority of our jewellery is made to be worn season after season), I always feel like we are right on the pulse. When we were creating our “Cloud” collection, 9 months after the initial design, I was walking down Bond Street and saw Anya Hindmarch’s window displaying her latest bag collection featuring clouds which made me smile. Three or four months later, Hermès launched new windows with cloud bags and a cloud theme. The difference is that, unlike high fashion and just like London’s ubiquitous rain clouds, our collection is set to stay.

rings on a woman's hand shown dipping biscuit into tea

Ruby and diamond trio, ice and duet ring

6. Which piece of iconic jewellery from past or present do you wish you had designed?

I have a lot of respect and admiration for Andrew Grima– a British jewellery designer based in Mayfair during the 1960’s and 1970’s. I feel he truly transformed the world of jewellery at that time, by creating intricately designed pieces of jewellery using textured gold and unique stones. My wife and I love watermelon tourmalines so I specifically love and would have loved to design his ‘gift’ ring featuring a beautiful watermelon tourmaline and a gold bow. I really enjoy his use of colour and texture in his creations and find is work highly skilled yet playful which is something we always aspire to in the creation of our jewellery at Hirsh.

To view the brand’s collections visit: hirshlondon.com

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Reading time: 5 min
Abstract painting with geometric patterns
Abstract painting with pink and black

Punta Norte (2008), Ruben Alterio

Argentinian artist Ruben Alterio is known for his large-scale abstract paintings, created in his Parisian studio, two floors up from the one once inhabited by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. We speak to the artist ahead of his upcoming exhibition at the Argentine Ambassador’s Residence in London
Artist portrait

Artist Ruben Alterio

1. Do you need a particular atmosphere or environment in which to create?

Yes, I do. To work properly, I need to be in my studio in Paris. I have been working there for decades now and have created, over these years, an atmosphere that allows my mind to fully focused, a set up that inspires me a lot.

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2. What inspires you to start a new painting?

My working space is filled with objects, sculptures, photographs, paintings, images that I have created or gathered. I get my inspiration from these shapes and colours that surround me. I must have created that environment with that intention I guess…I collect these images and artefacts because they bear some formal and historical aspects that I can use in my paintings.

Artist studio filled with artefacts and paintings

Alterio’s studio is located in the same building that Renoir once worked from

3. Can you tell us about the concept for your upcoming exhibition?

It is the gallery, the space in itself that gave me the idea for the exhibition. I wanted to create a crowd of paintings, a group of 21 paintings to be precise. This is to be seen as an installation, a stage occupied by 21 painted-beings welcoming the viewer into their personal journey.

Read more: Why responsible travel means authenticity

4. As well as painting, you’ve worked on set and costume design, and collaborated with major fashion brands. How does your creative process change when you’re making commercial work?

I’ve had the chance to collaborate with amazing, creative people all along my career. It has always been a pleasure to share and work with such people that trust you and your vision. My creative process doesn’t change that much, it’s mainly a matter of adaptation. Whether it’s in my personal work or in collaboration, the goal is always to create a window for me, and I hope the viewers, [through which] to escape.

 

Abstract artwork

Flores (2016), Ruben Alterio

5. How often do you throw away works?

I throw sometimes, yes, but I usually prefer to consider these works as part of a work in progress, which, as a matter of fact they are. I keep them because it’s always interesting to let time do its magic and look at them [again] after a while. Time can bring many surprising elements to my work.

6. Which artists from the past or present do you admire the most?

Velázquez, Piero Della Francesca, Picasso and Francis Bacon.

Ruben Alterio’s exhibition at the Argentine Ambassador’s Residence runs from 4-8 November 2019, 49 Belgrave Square, SW1X 8QZ. Entrance by appointment only. rubenalterio.com

Ruben Alterio is represented in the UK by Laurence Bet-Mansour of Art in Style. For all enquiries, please contact: [email protected]

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Gold contemporary art piece
Abstract artwork with digital rendering

A pregnant woman wishing her child to be beautiful must look at beautiful objects by artist LouLou Siem

Young British artist LouLou Siem’s latest solo exhibition entitled A pregnant woman wishing her child to be beautiful must look at beautiful objects at MAMCO Pavel Șușară in Bucharest centres around contagion, or more specifically the contamination and interplay of materials. Working chiefly in sculpture, Siem’s work delves into the realm of the macabre, presenting a perverse kind of beauty that’s born out of mutilation and sickness.

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The faces and objects Siem sculpts appear drowning in their materials, as if the work of the artist is less about giving shape to her own creativity and more about returning the material to its raw state. Throughout the exhibition there’s a palpable sense of struggle that’s simultaneously repulsive and compelling. It’s the struggle of the artist and her materials, but also of life and object. As the viewer confronts the rippling gold shapes seemingly erupting before the eyes, we are invited to more closely consider the value of artefacts and the processes of their making.

Gold contemporary art piece

Sculpture of a woman's head formed in clay

‘A pregnant woman wishing her child to be beautiful must look at beautiful objects’ runs until 3 November at Pawel Susara Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, Romania. For more information visit: loulousiem.com

 

 

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Charging elephants photographed in black and white
Charging elephants photographed in black and white

Peter Beard & Mock Elephant Charge (1985), by Mirella Ricciardi

Born in Kenya, Mirella Ricciardi has worked as a photographer for over 65 years, shooting everything from high-profile fashion campaigns to documentary series. Following the opening of her latest exhibition Past and Present: Vanishing and Contemporary Africa, Rosie Ellison-Balaam speaks to the prolific artist about her influences, creative process and archival work with her daughter

1. How did you decide which of your photographs to show in Past and Present?

We judged the images from the Past according to how they were received in previous shows. For example, The Somali Cattle Herder with Turban recently purchased at Augustus Brandt, in this new large format, as a chromogenic c-type print and then, we introduced my unseen contemporary work taken from 2008 onwards.

Photographer capturing tribal chief

Mirella photographing a Paramount Chief in Kenya. Image by Shaibu Shakua, Mirella’s Assistant on Vanishing Africa.

2. How do you think your work fits into the surroundings of Augustus Brandt?

They fitted wonderfully into the elegant Edwardian setting of Newland House, alongside Nicola Jones’s [curatorial] vision that complimented the modern and antique concept.

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3. Which photographers have most influenced your practice?

Harry Meerson and Sam Haskins for their high contrast images, and the Italian camera man Antonio Climati, who taught me to shoot into the light source.

Tribal dancers in Africa

Cover image of Ricciardi’s book Vanishing Africa featuring Pokot Dancers in Western Kenya, East Africa (1968), by Mirella Ricciardi

4. Which series do you feel most proud of?

What I did on my Vanishing Africa shoot, where I quite instinctively seemed to capture the soul of the wild and gentle tribal people I was photographing.

Read more: Chaumet’s latest exhibition in collaboration with photographer Julia Hetta

5. What was it like working alongside your daughter?

It wasn’t always easy because Amina [Ricciardi’s daughter and director of the photographer’s archive] had her own very strong opinions on the work we were dealing with due to structural differences, i.e. I was more interested in the visual aspect while she needed to maintain the acceptable status quo of the photographic establishment.

6. How does your approach to a shooting documentary series differ from a fashion project?

They are two entirely different approaches: documentary focuses on storytelling, while fashion focuses on visual form.

‘Past and Present: Vanishing and Contemporary Africa’ runs until 20 November 2019 at Augustus Brandt, Newlands House in Petworth, West Sussex. For more information visit: augustusbrandt.co.uk/mirella-ricciardi/

To view Mirella Ricciardi’s full portfolio visit: mirellaricciardi.com

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A man painting onto an orange wall
A man holding a paint palette

The artist Secundino Hernández in Venice, holding one of his preparatory studies for a larger palette painting

LUX Contributing Editor and photographer Maryam Eisler is entranced by Spanish artist Secundino Hernández. Here, she visits and photographs him on his residency in Venice to discuss inspiration and physicality in painting and the organised chaos of the creative process

Maryam Eisler: It is intriguing to hear about your visceral/carnal take on Venice; its tones and its ‘fleshiness’, as you call it.
Secundino Hernández: It was a coincidence. I only noticed it when I came here. I never had these memories about Venice before; I never thought about the colour of the buildings looking like flesh. It suddenly became evident as I looked out the window of my studio. I walk the city streets inspired, and I now combine the flesh tones by mixing them in the studio.

Maryam Eisler: What about the parallels with the work of L.S. Lowry?
Secundino Hernández: Yes, the palette! It’s amazing how Lowry developed his whole career with only five colours! The challenge is not to imitate, but to be inspired by his process. I have done this before with watercolours, based on Cezanne’s 14 colours.

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Maryam Eisler: It’s interesting that you’re taking a figurative approach to painting in Venice. It seems to me that you are very much about this yin and yang, constantly meandering between lightness and heaviness; between monochromes and colour, the abstract and the figurative.
Secundino Hernández: Yeah. Someone asked me once, after I was done with these black and white works: “What is next?” and I said, “Back to the body.” It was shocking but it was true. After the freedom of the abstract paintings, I needed to go back to the exercise of representation. The mentality changes with the technique. It’s a new, open field for me. This is the most exciting part of painting. It’s not that I feel obliged to do this or that, but I push myself to try something new all the time. That’s what makes it rewarding.

Painting of a female nude

Maryam Eisler: You have taken an almost academic and art-historical approach to figuration; you even use a human model, although your figurative work is quite abstract.
Secundino Hernández: I want to explore how to paint figuration, after painting abstraction for a long time. It’s what I feel comfortable with. That’s why I paint with a model present and be academic in that way, but I always try to go a step further.

Maryam Eisler: So, you layer your work? You take all your past experiences, including the abstract, and layer it with the figurative. And then there’s magic…
Secundino Hernández: Yeah. I don’t move to figuration just for the sake of it. It’s about this inner exercise in order to see where the abstract works lead to. It’s like a mirror game. I want to test my abstraction, and for that, I need to have a reference, and that reference at this moment is the figure. This is the starting point for something new. The main thing is to open possibilities and new potential. I always thought it was easier to explain figurative work more than abstraction because abstraction is based on concepts, but I am realising that figures and bodies can also be very conceptual. We have seen the figure represented in paintings for centuries, so how do I paint a figure as if it’s being painted for the first time?

Artist painting a model in the studio

Hernández works with a live model to inform his figurative yet abstract works

Maryam Eisler: Going back to the language of the figurative and carnal, you often talk about ‘skin’ and ‘bones’, even with your abstract paintings. You scratch the surface of the painting like the surface of the skin and you dig deep into its bones.
Secundino Hernández: The pure linen is the bone because everything starts from this structure. I also like the idea of going backwards. It’s more like a sculpture, where you are sculpting and taking away from the form. Normally with a painting, you add to it. I like the idea of working with almost no paint at all, or even just with the primer.

Watercolour painting of a female nude

Maryam Eisler: You talk about ‘scars’ and you’re interested in dereliction. I see it so evidently as we walk through Venice. Anything that peels, anything that’s scratched, anything that has weathered texture to its surface. Is there an element of temporality and or timelessness in your work?
Secundino Hernández: Yes, that is very much present at the beginning of the palette works. They are nice to admire, but for me, they’re about the memory of what happens in the studio – every day, the process, the passage of time. I used a clean brush and I started to mix colours and they started to grow and grow and grow. I like this idea of growth and subtraction because the works are like pendulums. Some are about adding, and others are about taking away. Everything happens in between and in the physicality of the paintings.

Read more: Louis Roederer’s CEO Frédéric Rouzaud on art and hospitality

Maryam Eisler: Speaking of physicality, your act of painting is very physical, almost performative. You also ripple between large and small-scale works…
Secundino Hernández: It’s demanding. I like it now, but maybe in ten years’ time I will not have this energy level. It’s about not repeating the same process, the same scale. So, going back to the body, I thought it was nicer to paint on a small scale because it is more practical and, in a way, easier to develop the idea faster.

Maryam Eisler: In both your abstract and figurative work, in the way that you use the power-jet, the steamer, in the way that you peel and scratch the surface of the canvas, it seems to me that there is an element of chance and creative fate.
Secundino Hernández: It’s all about fate, you know. I believe that it’s got to be that way, otherwise I would never do any of it.

A man painting onto an orange wall

Hernández is inspired by derelict surfaces and the ‘fleshiness’ of the colours in Venice, such as this peeling wall and rows of buildings

Maryam Eisler: Does the sublime play a role in your practice? Spirituality, or just trust in the universal powers of being?
Secundino Hernández: It’s about reflection. When you work every day as I have for so many years, there needs to be something meditative and spiritual in the process.

Maryam Eisler: Primal?
Secundino Hernández: Yes. I’m a very primal person [laughs].

Abstract white artwork

‘Untitled’ (2018), by Secundino Hernández, rabbit skin glue, chalk, calcium carbonate, titanium white on linen, 276 x 249 cm

Maryam Eisler: You also go from monochrome palettes to a plethora of colours. Is there something emotive going on when you do this ?
Secundino Hernández: Actually, it’s about practicality. When I go to the studio, I start mixing colours and I work on these palette works which have no limits. If I get a bit overwhelmed or stuck, I go back to the palettes. The palette works are always there because their physicality enables the creation of other paintings. Without them, the others don’t exist.

Maryam Eisler: Coexistence and codependence? From peace to chaos?
Secundino Hernández: Yes, but it’s organised chaos. I’m not that chaotic, as you see in this studio. I’m very tidy. The surface of the canvas, on the other hand, looks chaotic because I tried this and I continued with that; everything is very well planned, most of the time. I even do small sketches to plan it all out in advance. Especially for the large canvases – because if you start painting a 5-metre canvas like a crazy monkey, it’s going to be a crap painting.

A man standing above Grand Canal venice

A man standing on a bridge holding a notebook

Hernández on a bridge near his temporary studio in the city. Above, on the roof of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, overlooking the Grand Canal.

Maryam Eisler: You’re often compared to American Expressionists, such as Pollock.
Secundino Hernández: I think it’s fine, but I feel more comfortable with ‘slow motion’ Expressionism.

Maryam Eisler: Let’s talk about your studio and the lonely business of being an artist.
Secundino Hernández: It’s always a lonely business. Because right or wrong, you are the one and only final judge. And you have to trust yourself.

Read more: Spring Studios Founder Francesco Costa on creative networking

Maryam Eisler: How much work do you destroy?
Secundino Hernández: I try to be successful with everything. But if I do destroy work, I don’t think about it anymore. I learn from the failure and move on. Now, with age, something strange is happening. I sometimes struggle with my paintings and what I can’t control is the frustration. With age, your passion is meant to lessen. It’s not the case with me… it’s getting stronger every day, and I judge myself all the time. I always said there are no mistakes in painting. But how do you know when something is good or bad, right or wrong? It’s difficult. It’s about the relationship between your actions and what you present to the world. I guess I’m only human!

Maryam Eisler: Would it be fair to say that painting is about reality – your reality?
Secundino Hernández: Yeah. That’s the miracle of painting. With some dust and a little bit of egg, you paint something that never existed before. It’s amazing. This is the miracle of painting I think. Also, painting for me is a way of naively understanding the world. Here, with the act of painting, I see Venice with different eyes. I see its surface, its different skin colours and its many people.

Abstract coloured painting

‘Untitled’ (2018), by Secundino Hernández, acrylic, alkyd and oil on linen, 261 x 196 cm

Maryam Eisler: What does it mean to be a painter in the 21st century?
Secundino Hernández: I don’t really know what it means. But I want my paintings to age in a timeless way. I want them to still feel fresh and talk to you in 40 years. This is the whole point. I may be asking for too much. But that’s what I am trying now and always will. Now, more than ever, I’m getting very ambitious. This morning, I was reading an article about Rembrandt and it said that the difference between Rembrandt and his contemporaries was that he not only was a great painter, technically speaking, but that he provided the figure with a certain life and soul. And that’s why his paintings look alive, even today. This is the point. And I was wondering if Rembrandt was even conscious of this. Maybe he was simply enjoying painting or maybe he was suffering and struggling as well, but it’s nice that at least someone writes in this way about your work, 300 or so years later.

Maryam Eisler: And the role of social media in the life of a 21st-century artist? Unlike most artists, you’re not present on social platforms?
Secundino Hernández: I’m not on Facebook and I’m not on Instagram. I have no time for that. Once I went on Instagram and I saw that there were 2,000 posts with my name, then I calculated, if you spend one minute per post, that’s 2,000 minutes of my time, which means two days of my life nonstop doing this sh*t. I just couldn’t do it. I prefer to sit and do nothing.

Maryam Eisler: Is it actually important for people, especially artists, to do nothing?
Secundino Hernández: It’s very important for everyone to be bored. I’m even making big efforts to check my mobile messages once or twice a day only. It’s difficult. It’s like cocaine. I feel like my brain needs it.

Secundino Hernández is represented by Victoria Miro Gallery. His latest exhibition runs at Victoria Miro Venice until 19 October. For more information visit: victoria-miro.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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Reading time: 10 min
Facade of a contemporary building at night
Facade of a contemporary building at night

Spring Place Beverly Hills is housed in a building designed by Belzberg Architects

Colour portrait of founder of Spring Studios Francesco Costa wearing a black blazer and a blue shirt, smiling

Francesco Costa

Is he the new Nick Jones? Is he the new Adam Neumann? Or is Francesco Costa a totally different type of entrepreneur to the founders of Soho House and WeWork? His Spring Studios and Spring Place businesses, which operate in New York, LA, London and, soon, Milan, offer hip coworking spaces, club membership and studios for shoots, and are becoming a creative force in themselves. Clients include Procter & Gamble, Louis Vuitton, Estée Lauder, Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford. Milan will represent another big step in the global reach of a group that is harnessing the creative energy of its members in a way that might just be making the all-conquering Soho House group feel a little envious. LUX Editor-at- Large Gauhar Kapparova, a Spring member, fires some questions at the Italian creative rainmaker over lunch in London
Close up portrait of a woman with black hair and a black top

Gauhar Kapparova

LUX: Does anything else like your business model exist, and how did you think of it?
Francesco Costa: There is nothing like it, we put together workspace, creative agency, production, events and content creation.

LUX: Did you always intend to create Spring Place even when you were creating Studios?
Francesco Costa: No, the idea came later when we saw there was a request for space from our friends and associates.

LUX: How important was the buy-in of creative leaders?
Francesco Costa: Very. Spring is a platform created for them.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxresponsibleluxury

LUX: Spring Place is set to open soon in Milan, following on from NYC and LA. Why is this model so successful?
Francesco Costa: Because the community we serve has many occasions to meet socially, but not so many to meet and interact professionally.

LUX: Why Milan?
Francesco Costa: Milan has an incredible energy. Milan was the art capital of the world in the 1960s, then the fashion capital of the world in the 1980s. Today, it is the centre of design. And, I am Italian.

Contemporary communal living space

Luxury meeting room with contemporary interiros

The meeting space and bar (above) in the LA building

LUX: Did you need to get the buy-in of the big fashion houses for Milan and how did you do this? Who else? Agencies? Celebrities?
Francesco Costa: Most of the fashion houses in Milan are already our clients or investors or friends. I expect a big support from them.

Read more: The opening of Turkey’s newest contemporary art museum OMM

LUX: Is there a signature look and feel to all of the Spring locations, or does the design of each space reflect the personality of its host city? How will the Milan space be different?
Francesco Costa: Every one is different, but there is a common factor: the quality of design and the modernity. Milan will be the same .

Facade of a contemporary building with two palm trees

The Spring Studios building in New York City and the bar (below)

Contemporary style bar with barman mixing at the counter

LUX: There is an obvious logistical advantage in signing up for the whole Spring ‘package’ (production, location, content, events, workspace and entertaining), but does this joined-up approach somehow open up more creative opportunities as well?
Francesco Costa: My goal is to give opportunities beyond the obvious advantage of signing up for ‘a package’.

LUX: Tell us about examples of the creative community supporting or encouraging their peers through the Spring network.
Francesco Costa: There are so many; our members just had the opportunity to invest in the real deal one year ago at one third of the actual stock price.

Contemporary luxury meeting space with sofas and plants

Smart contemporary style terrace

Each Spring Place location – from LA (above) to NYC and soon Milan – is unique, but the common factor is “the quality of the design and the modernity,” says Costa

LUX: Fashion, film, advertising, digital, media, print – is one more important than others for you? How do they work together?
Francesco Costa: They all work together, but fashion pays for everything.

LUX: How do you communicate with your community and bind them together?
Francesco Costa: By email.

Read more: Lenny Kravitz on creativity and champagne

LUX: Are you the new Soho House?
Francesco Costa: No. Soho House is where you grab a beer, Spring is where you create a new venture or idea.

LUX: Is food and entertainment an important part of the Spring brand?
Francesco Costa: Very!

LUX: What are your biggest challenges?
Francesco Costa: To find amazing buildings like the NYC and LA ones.

LUX: What’s your ten-year plan?
Francesco Costa: To have Spring in every major creative city, a Spring audience, and great brands incubated out of Spring.

Notes: Costa co-founded Spring Place with Alessandro Cajrati; Olivier Lordonnois is its CEO. Costa reinvented the Spring Studios concept after buying it as a studio facility in London.

Find out more: springstudios.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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Reading time: 4 min
Man in a suit standing next to a red ferrari sportscar
Detail shot of a sports watch with black and red watch face

The Hublot Classic Fusion Ferrari GT 3D

No detail is small enough to escape Ferrari designer Flavio Manzoni’s razor-sharp focus. Rachael Taylor discovers how his expertise in supercar design lends itself masterfully to the Hublot and Ferrari watch collaboration

In the Ferrari Maranello plant in northern Italy, you will often find Flavio Manzoni and his team convening at a ten-metre-tall LED wall display. The images they’re looking at are often enormously scaled-up photographs of the miniscule parts of a Ferrari engine or exterior. The extreme magnification is used to perfect infinitesimal details you might never notice should you take the car for a spin. And this, says Manzoni, is the essence of luxury design.

“The luxury of a Ferrari is more a consequence than an objective,” says Manzoni, the car manufacturer’s senior vice president of design, who this year accepted the Red Dot Design Team of the Year award. “There are two perspectives [of design]. One is from the distance, where you see the whole harmony of the object. The other is with the lens, when you magnify every element and put a lot of art into every single detail.”

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Focusing on each and every element – no matter how small – and making sure that it not only performs brilliantly, but is also aesthetically exciting, is what makes Ferrari cars among the most sought-after, and expensive, in the world. It is also this zoomed-in approach to design that has made the switch to designing watches a seamless transition for Manzoni.

Manzoni joined Ferrari in 2010. The following year, he was working on a top-secret project for the company’s first hybrid sportscar, LaFerrari, when he was also brought in to oversee the development of a watch in collaboration with Swiss atelier Hublot. He kicked off their first meeting with a rejection.

Man in a suit standing next to a red ferrari sportscar

Award-winning designer Flavio Manzoni has been with Ferrari since 2010

“At the beginning, their idea was to propose some concepts to us,” says Manzoni. “They wanted to draw inspiration from the central shape of a Ferrari, the dynamic shape, but my idea was to avoid that because it makes no sense to give an aerodynamic shape to a watch.”

Instead, he wanted the Hublot team to look beyond the obvious and dive deep with him into the romance of the details. “I tried to guide the research towards the technical beauty of certain mechanical components of a Ferrari, like the engine for example.”

Luxury watch product image in black and gold

Hublot Classic Fusion Ferrari GT King Gold

Product image shot of a luxury watch

Hublot Techframe Ferrari Tourbillon Chronograph

The result – the Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari watch – was spectacular. A tapered, angular case covered entirely with sapphire crystal, showed off the inner workings of an unusual movement, with the time displayed on off-centre cylinders rather than hands. In place of the traditional flat cogs and springs, an industrial-looking central column of gleaming aluminium barrels gave the impression of a watch that revs rather than ticks. Being Ferrari, performance excellence was important too, and a super- charged power reserve function was created that allowed the mechanical tourbillon watch to carry on ticking off the wrist for what was, at the time, a record 50 days. “I think they attract customers because of their uniqueness,” says Manzoni of the Hublot Ferrari watches, which he believes appeal to a much wider audience than the Ferrari fan base. “They speak out from the mass in the field of watchmaking because they are different. We try to use an out-of-the box approach, which comes from the attitude that we have towards our cars.”

Read more: Rockstar turned designer Lenny Kravtiz on champagne and creativity

It has been eight years since Hublot and Ferrari first joined forces, and Manzoni and his team have very much taken control of the design process. They select which movements to build around, and work up 3D models of prospective timepieces before presenting the concepts to Hublot. Each watch produced (using that same digital ‘wall’ for extreme close ups) continues to focus on the details of Ferraris – the ceramic carbon brake discs, the peccary leather seats – and often uses the same materials that are lavished on the supercars. No flourish is too small to champion, and it gives the team a platform to celebrate much-considered elements of the cars that might otherwise be overlooked simply as pleasant minutiae.

Black watch pictured on a red background

The limited edition Scuderia Ferrari 90th Anniversary Platinum and 3D Carbon watch

This year, Scuderia Ferrari is celebrating 90 years of making supercars, and to celebrate, three Hublot Ferrari watches have been released to mark its past, present and future. Each a twist on Hublot’s popular Big Bang model, the trio of timepieces are all powered by a UNICO movement with a flyback chronograph that offers a 72-hour power reserve and are anchored with bezels cut from the same ceramic carbon that helps Ferrari’s cars to screech to a halt.

Man in a suit standing by an abstract artworkThe first watch in the series recalls long- past glory days with a brushed platinum case to echo the dashboards of classic Scuderia Ferrari models, as well as a leather strap and bright-yellow markers and hands to bring to mind old-fashioned speedometers. The model celebrating the here and now does so with a 3D carbon case and a strap made from Nomex, the fire-resistant material Ferrari drivers rely on to keep their suits from going up in flames.

The third watch, the one that nods towards what Ferraris might look like in the future, uses sapphire crystal to create a see-through case that exposes its inner workings. The futurist aesthetic is continued with a strap made from Kevlar, a composite material that Ferrari uses to protect its carbon-fibre chassis from stones spraying up from the road.

The latest automotive launch from Ferrari is the SF90 Stradale hybrid, an evolution of the LaFerrari that inspired that first Hublot Ferrari watch. So are we likely to see this latest model transformed into a wrist-ready format? “I don’t think that there will be a literal translation, but for sure there will be some inspiration,” muses Manzoni, who never feels bound to tie the latest watches into the latest cars. “It’s always nice to create cultural bridges between different disciplines.”

Discover Hublot’s collections: hublot.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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Reading time: 5 min
Lenny Kravitz wearing an animal print blazer holding champagne
Lenny Kravitz wearing an animal print blazer holding champagne

Rock star turned interior designer Lenny Kravitz created a limited-edition collection for Dom Pérignon

The rock star turned interior designer takes the LUX hot seat, and shares a particularly fond memory involving a bottle of 1964 Dom Pérignon. Interview by Irene Bellucci

1. You’re best known as a musician, what drew you to interior design?

Because you can create the environment around you. It’s like theatre. That’s what I do – I feel the vibe, the mood. For the piece I designed for Dom Pérignon, I wanted to create a piece of furniture unique, never done before, building an object representing the idea of drinking champagne.

2. What inspires you?

Life. I just have to open my eyes and look or close my eyes and listen. I’m inspired by what’s around me.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxresponsibleluxury

3. Who do you confide in about your art?

Artists – people who have great eyes and can always tell me their true opinion.

4. You collaborated with Dom Pérignon on a photographic series, Assemblage, and you’re also its new creative director. Is there an interaction between different forms of art for you?

They feel each other and they are connected. I always loved to create, but after a month in the studio making music, you need to take a break. Not because you want to stop creating, but because you need to change and come back fresh. That’s why I go to shoot pictures, or I go and design objects.

5. What’s your fondest memory of drinking champagne?

I still remember one evening drinking 1964 Dom Pérignon at Château Dom Pérignon. I spent that evening in front of the fireplace with a friend. It was extravagant. I’ve always been a champagne lover, and I am very close to the chef de cave at Dom Pérignon, even before starting our amazing collaboration. Everything started out of a friendship.

6. Speaking of Dom Pérignon, what’s your favourite way to drink it?

I like to go high and low, that’s the beauty of it. Before this interview I was sat here, sipping champagne and eating my vegan pizza – it was perfect. You don’t need to do anything too extravagant.

Read more: Artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s tales of sadness and beauty

7. Tell us about the casting of Assemblage?

At the beginning I didn’t choose my daughter, Zoë, but they asked me, and she said yes. We had fun; it was a great group of people. Susan [Sarandon] is such a force, still so young, vibrant and beautiful. And Alexander [Wang] came with Zoë – they have known each other since high school.

8. Are you working on residential projects?

Yes, we are doing six residential projects in Miami, Malibu, Aspen and Detroit, but more are coming.

9. What are the challenges you face when designing?

Everything starts with a space in which I see the object I’m going to design, because I always design something that I want to use. I ask myself how I can amplify the space without taking over it; it’s a balance.

10. Where does the creative process start for you?

My mood board always helps me to visualise my ideas. I love to work with people that want to make art, in complete freedom; you can go deep and find unique and exceptional pieces. At the moment, there is a lot of interest in fine vintage furniture, pieces by Gabriella Crespi, Paul Evans, Pierre Jeanneret, to name a few.

11. Tell us about your design style?

I love to work in different environments – the concepts I create for the countryside are different from what I create in the city. However, you can see the thread in my work. The furniture is very sculptural, the art and the lighting are both important for my aesthetic. And I always look for organic materials, such as stone and wood.

12. And finally, how would you describe your life in a song title?

My first album, my first song. Let Love Rule. This drives my creativity and my life since.

Discover Lenny Kravitz’s limited-edition collection for Dom Pérignon: domperignon.com/uk-en

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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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
Luxury dining room area with contemporary stylish furnishings
Luxury dining room area with contemporary stylish furnishings

The Penthouse kitchen and dining room designed by Roksanda. Photography by Michael Sinclair. Styling by Olivia Gregory

Fashion designer Roksanda Ilinčić has curated the interiors of a penthouse apartment inside Gasholders London, a new residential development in Kings Cross. We get the grand tour

The trend for designer home-wear has reached its pinnacle. The new penthouse apartment curated by fashion designer Roksanda Ilinčić shows not only her designs, but how they integrate with art and iconic pieces of design history. The apartment is about how we can live with art and how all arts engage with each other; fashion crossing into ceramics, furniture and architecture. It is a unique space, which encompasses her artistic vision through unifying and contrasting colours, textures and luxury materials.

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

Roksanda’s own home-wear collection, naturally, takes centre stage. In the apartment’s whimsically named ‘Sun Room’,  a ‘Roksanda X Linck Ceramics’ vase stands next to a stylish velvet chaise in red and orange with a coral curtain backdrop. The vase’s monochromatic shades are striking against the vibrancy of its surroundings.

Still life image of a contemporary flower vase against a bright pink blind

A Roksanda X Linck Ceramics vase in the penthouse’s ‘Sun Room.’ Photography by Michael Sinclair. Styling by Olivia Gregory

Here and throughout the apartment, we see the designer using colour and form in an unexpected way, just as she does with her clothing and accessories. The sculptural shapes and distinctive cuts associated with her clothing lines are translated into her choice of furniture; in the sharp angular Pierre Jeanneret chairs (1950s), the sleek, almost weightless Guillerme and Chambron oak desk (1960) and the organic, rounded form of the ‘skin lamp’ by Eny Lee Parker.

Read more: Kuwait’s ASCC launches visual arts programme in Venice

Stylish contemporary living space

The living room with curated furniture by Roksanda. Photography by Michael Sinclair. Styling by Olivia Gregory

Coat and bag hanging on contemporary style zigzag coat hanger

Roksanda’s creations are dotted around the apartment. Photography by Michael Sinclair. Styling by Olivia Gregory

The link between fashion and art is further emphasised by the designer’s own pieces, which are dotted around the apartment. A deep red jacket hangs in the hallway, a dress is draped across a bedroom chair with a pair of matching slippers, giving the impression that the designer is living in the space. This, of course, is the desired effect. The pieces are positioned so as to reveal just how liveable the space is, allowing viewers to picture themselves in the scene.

Rosie Ellison-Balaam

The Penthouse sits over three floors, with a double-height sunken courtyard garden and staircase providing access to a private roof garden with views of Coal Drops Yard. The apartment is available to buy fully-furnished for £7,750,000. Find out more: gasholderslondon.co.uk

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Reading time: 2 min
Architectural rendering of luxury beach side villa with a private plunge pool
Rendering of Rosewood Half Moon Bay luxury resort

Studio Piet Boon are the lead designers on Half Moon Bay Antigua, the new and exclusive Caribbean resort

Dutch designer Piet Boon’s eponymous studio envision every detail of a design from the exteriors to the interiors, lighting and upholstery. They’ve worked on major projects all over the world, most recently as the lead design team behind the major new Caribbean resort Half Moon Bay Antigua. Here we put Piet Boon in the 6 Questions hot seat.

Black and white portrait of designer Piet Boon

Piet Boon

1. What’s your ideal working atmosphere to channel creativity?

The ideal working atmosphere for me? A balanced environment free from dissonance. I believe that creativity is a state of mind, so I like to get rid of distractions when I need to think. At our studio we need to be creative every day because our clients rely on us to deliver the best. It is therefore crucial that our workspace facilitates creativity. The interior is timeless and calm, but is also filled with art and beautiful objects to inspire and provoke creative thinking. The best ideas arise when our designers come together and think out loud. You get positive vibes, good discussions and a lot of energy. We then bounce off each other’s ideas and create the most amazing design solutions.

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2. Can you tell us about your vision for Half Moon Bay Antigua?

Our vision for Rosewood Half Moon Bay Antigua is to, together with landscaper VITA and architects OBMI, create an ultra-luxurious hospitality destination that blends in with its natural surroundings as if it came up from the ground and has always been there. This vision will also apply to the Rosewood branded residences surrounding the hotel: design imbued with a strong sense of place. At the same time, guests will experience comfort and understated luxury at every turn. At Half Moon Bay nature reads as a prominent feature. Just like the typical typology of the island, the rooftops at Rosewood Half Moon Bay are kept below the treetops, allowing the units to blend in from all angles. An inside/outside connection was also the key point for the design. Bespoke contrasts weave the natural surroundings throughout the interior and exterior of every room. We envision Half Moon Bay to be an unparalleled Caribbean retreat where both hotel guests and those who own a branded residence or one of the bay’s ten estate residences can relish in luxury, comfort and time.

Architectural rendering of luxury beach side villa with a private plunge pool

Rendering of a residence at Rosewood Half Moon Bay Antigua

3. What’s been your most challenging project to date and why?

Every project has its own challenges and in different ways. That can vary from time constraints to building regulations, and from weather conditions to challenges specific to the location. Our first project in New York was a very large apartment on Fifth Avenue that we were commissioned to renovate completely…within a time-frame of three months. That was a bit of a challenge. We managed to deliver, and the result was great. That client has been with us ever since.

Read more: Rosewood’s flagship hotel opens in Hong Kong

4. Is it important to develop a signature style as a designer?

I would think so, definitely. How would you be able to differentiate otherwise? What would be the added value for clients to come to you? Even more important is being consistent when it comes to your signature. Staying true to your values and identity. We have been designing for over 35 years now, and although our designs have evolved, we still maintain the same signature. I think that that is also the reason why we are still able to do what we do; balance functionality, aesthetics and individuality. Clean lines, strong axis, subdued colors and rich natural materials have informed our work from the very beginning.

Luxury interior of a bedroom with an outdoor bathtub

Bedroom interiors with a outdoor bathtub, designed by Studio Piet Boon

5. Do you have a favourite material to work with?

At Studio Piet Boon we like to work with rich natural materials. Not only because of the quality, look and feel, but also because they become even more beautiful over time. When we design something, we want it to last. Or at least last very long. Another material I like working with is concrete. Firstly, it is a strong and durable material, secondly, it’s honest and beautiful; sober and at times even breathtaking.

6. Are trends valuable in design or a hindrance?

That depends on how you go about them. You should use them in a way that you benefit from. It becomes a hindrance if you have to unnaturally adapt yourself for the sake of following a trend. I must say that we’ve never been trend followers. We observe the world around us and find inspiration in many things, and use this in our designs and creations.

View Studio Piet Boon’s full portfolio: pietboon.com

For more information on Half Moon Bay Antigua visit: halfmoonbayantigua.com

Kitty Harris

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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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Reading time: 3 min
Portrait of London College of Fashion student and youtube star Derin Adetosoye
Portrait of the makers and hosts of 'The Receipts Podcast' pictured in their studio

Tolani Shoneye, Milena Sanchez and Audrey Indome of ‘The Receipts Podcast’

Remember the days when being creative meant you were someone who couldn’t cut it in the world of real jobs? Now artistry and enterprise go hand in hand, says Emma Love
Photography by Kate Peter

A LUX x ROSEWOOD COLLABORATION

What do you get if you cross eBay with Instagram? The youth-targeted, app-based selling platform Depop where vendors post images of the items that they want to sell, that’s billed as the ‘creative community’s mobile marketplace’. Depop can be as basic as a teenager posting pictures of unwanted jewellery they are selling from their bedroom, and as sophisticated as a highly stylised vintage fashion shoot – quite possibly also created by a school kid from their bedroom.

For many millennials, these apps are a neat way to make extra money on the side; the most entrepreneurial have turned selling via Depop and marketing themselves on social media into full-blown businesses. Jade Douse fits into the latter category. After realising how much money she could make by selling clothes on Depop, she teamed up with friend Symone Mills to set up street-style-inspired label Oh Hey Girl on Big Cartel in 2016. “It was a slow burner until we started putting sponsored ads on Facebook and Instagram,” recalls Douse. “We literally went from making £8,000 to £35,000 in a month.”

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Two years on, with fans including models Bella Hadid and Jourdan Dunn, Instagram is still integral to their business. “It’s our biggest network,” says Douse. “And sponsored ads are cheap. There really is nothing to hold anyone back from giving it a try.” Alongside the brand’s strong visual identity and magazine-worthy styling, its success lies in its simple shopping process: click on a pair of high-waisted, belted jeans or a puff-sleeved shirt on @ohheygirlstore and you are redirected to its website to pay. It’s a shopping solution for design conscious, iPhone-wielding buyers, and easy to manage for iPhone-wielding vendors. No wonder it works.

Founder of online clothing retailer Oh Hey Girl, Jade Douse

Portrait of Symone Mills, Oh Hey Girl founder

Jade Douse (above) and Symone Mills (here) set up Oh Hey Girl in 2016, selling exclusively online

“Social media is increasingly becoming [the place] where we discover new products,” says Petah Marian, senior editor at WGSN Insight, the industry analyst. “For many people, it feels like an intimate place to spend your time. When you see new things on these platforms, you get the sense that it’s a friend suggesting an item,even when it’s a professional influencer.”

The biggest challenge for Oh Hey Girl? Being able to react quickly in a fast-paced industry.“We’re always looking at how other brands market themselves, so we can find similar strategies that work for us,” explains Douse, who says she wouldn’t dream of doing anything else.

Retail isn’t the only industry where advances in technology have spawned out-of-the-box thinkers creative enough to carve out a unique niche. Research from Nesta and the Creative Industries Council shows that the creative industries are driving economic growth across the UK, with one million new jobs expected to be created between 2013 and 2030. “There are many jobs in the creative industries that didn’t exist 20 years ago,” explains Eliza Easton, principal policy researcher on creative economies at Nesta. “In terms of new sectors, the impact of digital can be seen across the board,especially in areas such as augmented and virtual reality, where we found 1,000 specialist companies making £660million in sales.”

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Deborah Dickinson, associate professor in creative practice at City University London, agrees, citing UK Government statistics that show the creative industries were estimated to be worth £87.4billion in 2015, up 34 percent from 2010. “One of the most fascinating aspects of my job teaching creative industries to undergraduates for the past decade has been the complete change in the type of creative enterprises students move into. Probably the biggest area of job growth and employment opportunities is around digital technologies.”

Image of a home recording studio with wires hanging on hooks on the wall and a deskOne place where the impact of the digital revolution is most evident is on online platforms such as Sedition, where you can buy, rent and trade limited-edition digital artworks which are viewed on any connected device or screen.“When we first started Sedition it was an entirely new concept,” recalls director Rory Blain. “Before the digital advent many artists were working on the fringes, waiting for the technology to catch up with the vision they had. For us, it was the big advancement in screen resolution and bandwidth that meant artists were then happy to present their work on a screen.”

Take artist Gordon Cheung, whose New Order series of paintings, derived from the Dutch Golden Age and modified using an algorithm, sell on the website. For Cheung, who creates a deliberate ‘glitch’ in the code to distort the image, it’s been a learning curve. “The first time I used the code it took five minutes to make one glitch; I calculated that if I wanted to do 2,000 glitches it would take far too long,” he says. His solution to speed up the process was to ask a friend to create a user-friendly interface. Experimental artist duo Overlap, AKA Michael Denton and Anna McCrickard, also use software programmes to deliberately disrupt their music and moving-image-based artworks, including Lands, an audiovisual series of 40 iterations of the same multilayered electronic landscape (also available on Sedition).

Experimental art duo overlap at work in their home studio

Portrait of artists Michael Denton and Anna McCrickard in their home studio

Michael Denton and Anna McCrickard use Sedition as a platform for their audiovisual art

“The values that are attributed to digital artworks are exciting and frustrating at the same time; a lot of people are still nonplussed by time-based painting,” says Denton, who started out VJing for big-name music acts nearly 20 years ago. “The other side of the coin is that people are getting used to listening and reading things in different ways.” He is also excited at how the creative industries are moving forwards, and what the future holds. “In terms of where it’s going next, I think more people will become specialists in more obscure things. Technology throws up so many creative possibilities and so few of those have been explored. For instance, in visual-editing software, there isn’t a facility to move images around in relation to bars of music. If there was, I would be using it all the time, but areas like this haven’t advanced at all.”

This year, Nesta studied 41 million job adverts to identify the digital skills required for a ‘future-proof’ job, and it seems the most secure involve creativity. “What’s going to be needed is cognitive thinking and communication, so creative jobs are most likely to grow as they require those skills,” says Easton, citing a boom in entrepreneurship as another current industry trend. “In the creative world, a third of people are freelance. It’s a sect