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

woman sitting on window ledge

Natasha Ginwala, artistic director. Photo by Victoria Tomaschko

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

Artwork of an eye with leaves

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

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

woman with trees in background

Soma Surovi Jannat, artist.

Man posing with painting in background

Rakibul Anwar, artist.

black and white picutre of man head down

Zihan Karim, artist.

man standing next to painting

Jayatu Chakma, artist.

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

poster of event with text on it

The Way of the Forest Poster

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

 

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

 

Online Editor: Isabel Phillips

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

Petr Pudil, collector and founder of Kunsthalle Praha

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

big building with orange roof in sunshine

Former electrical substation, art institution Kunsthalle Praha

LUX: What is your background as an entrepreneur?

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

Interior of building, empty space, white walls wood floors

The former power station redeveloped as Kunsthalle Praha

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

 

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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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Reading time: 4 min
A grey car in the mountains with snow
A grey car in the mountains with snow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A steering wheel and car interior in black leather

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

The positive experience continues as you set off down the road and go round the first corner. The steering feels chunky, muscular, and responsive all at the same time. Many cars these days have swapped that type of sensation for the ease of lightness, so you can drive with one finger. Not so this one. Keep your hands on the wheel, you feel exactly where you are aiming at, and it goes there.

The Audi TT RS has four-wheel-drive, which means that when you start becoming more enthusiastic, it sticks to the road, even if it is damp or slippery. However, the flipside compared to its rear wheel drive rivals is that its cornering is just a little bit less agile, more surefooted, but, or an empty road, less thrilling. So, more sensation at slow speeds due to the excellent steering, But less joy when really pushing on due to its bias towards safety. And that may suit many, on the crowded road spaces of today.

Read more: McLaren 720S Roadster Review

It’s a fast car also, and feels it, zipping up and down through the gears, with a highly efficient gearbox which you can take joy in snapping up and down with the steering-column mounted paddles, Otherwise it changes gears rapidly and efficiently for you, with no shortage of sensation – again, something that is being sacrificed on the altar of ease and efficiency otherwise.

Unlike some of its sports car competitors, there are even small back seats in the coupe version that we drive – the sharp looking convertible version does without these sadly.

Are we saying that the final iteration of the Audi TT, a reference point for contemporary design in cars, is actually a little old-fashioned? Possibly, and we think it is all the better for it. It looks cool without looking showy, it’s compact, speedy, and fun. There are better cars of its price point if you want to go on a race track or spend your time on perfect country roads all the time, but the TT RS has a charm and focus all of its own, and is a delight to drive around town as well. And it still looks cool.

Find out more: audi.co.uk

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Reading time: 4 min
A blue and red zig zag on white shoes

Fashion designer Manolo Blahnik is something of a legend within the shoe industry. His career truly kicked off in 1969 after meeting US Vogue Editor in Chief, Diana Vreeland; after that, he devoted himself to designing shoes, opening the first Manolo Blahnik store in Chelsea, London, the next year. He speaks to Trudy Ross about his design philosophy, dressing for yourself and looking to the future

LUX: You’ve said before that shoes are in your DNA. Can you share the story of how you first decided to spend your career designing them?
Manolo Blahnik: It was all thanks to Mrs Vreeland. When I met her I was in a state of catatonic nerves; I grew up with Mrs Vreeland, with Harper’s Bazaar. I had presented some sketches to her of set and theatrical designs and she told me to design shoes. She said “Young man, stick to the extremities and make shoes!”. She gave me the advice I so needed to hear and paved the path for me to follow.

I took a hands-on approach and learned from the best shoemakers in Italian factories. To this day, working in the factories is still my favourite part of the job.White and red leather shoe point with blue and red dots

LUX: Tell us about how you opened your first store in the 1970s.
MB: The 1970s was such a fun time in London. It’s funny, the ’70s are absolutely much clearer than the ’80s. We opened the store on Old Church Street in London and that was the very beginning. I didn’t have anything to put in the shop! A friend of mine called Peter Young found the place. He said, ‘There is a wonderful place, far away from everything with no other shops on the street except a pastry shop.”

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I loved it and I took it, not thinking about how I didn’t have any people, customers, nothing. I used to live in Notting Hill and cross the park on a bike. I would come to the shop every day. We used to open at 10 o’ clock. I ate some cookies at the pastry shop and then we would call Italy and get the shoes done.Two colourful heels displayed against a 1960's style sign

LUX: What is your favourite part of the design process?
MB: Without a doubt, working with the artisans in the factories. I have been working with the same artisans for over 35 years. Craftmanship is in their blood, passed down over generations. The team there know exactly what I am thinking and strive to bring all my creations to life, even the most intricate and embellished designs, always pushing boundaries to ensure the complete perfection and the attention to detail required in each of my collections.

Developing seasonal styles with the artisans and spending time in the factory is truly my favourite part of the job. It always has been and always will be.

LUX: Can shoes be a work of art? Can they be more than a work of art?
MB: Shoes can be inspired by art. I am always inspired by art. Francisco Goya did the best shoes in his paintings! I think I would collect all his art if I could. It has hugely inspired me throughout many of my collections and I can’t count how many hours I have spent staring at his works in the Prado museum.

I want my shoes to embody personal style and creativity, pieces of art for your feet.Leg in suede black boot against a background of white and red stripes and lights

LUX: How can one stay ahead of the fashion curve?
MB: By not following trends. Staying true to who you are and dressing the way you want is, in my opinion, true style. It is a physical attitude that cannot be bought.

I’ve never been one to follow trends. If I see too much of something, I change it. What’s the point of people wearing the same dresses and the same shoes? Everybody ends up looking like clones and I hate that. Individuality is what makes us all unique. I like independence and I love eccentricity. If you like something, buy it. Find your style and stick to it.

LUX: Style or comfort?
MB: I believe you can have both. I spend a lot of time with the artisans testing the comfort of our shoes. Elegance and comfort go hand in hand, you must be comfortable to appear elegant, one cannot exist without the other. There is nothing charming about a woman who cannot walk in her shoes.Red white and black kitten heel on a light up sign

LUX: Women’s or men’s fashion?
MB: Both! What’s wonderful is that people are starting to dress up again. In London, men and women alike are now dressed up and going to Savile Row to have suits made.

So long as we are human, we will want to be decorated—for ourselves; not for other people so much. When I wake up in the morning I say, “I’m going to wear happy colours today,” and that is for myself!

LUX: What does it take to create a truly iconic brand identity?
MB: Be true to who you are and believe in what you do! I think the most important thing is the product. That should always remain at the centre.

But for me, it’s not about being a big brand or ‘iconic’! I just want to be healthy and keep doing things. I don’t want anything else. I have everything I want, and I have wonderful memories.

LUX: In the age of e-commerce and social media, how has the digital landscape affected the Manolo Blahnik brand?
MB: You must move with the times or else you will get left behind. Our e-commerce website and social media are a crucial part of the business. When we started to work on The Craft Room, I wanted it to be online so that anyone, anywhere in the world can access this virtual world. It’s exciting! It’s wonderful to be able to connect with the world in this way.

LUX: What does sustainability mean to you?
MB: We don’t use the term ‘sustainability’ because I feel that sustainability is misunderstood. It’s binary: you either are or you are not. We use the term ‘responsibility’ because it is a journey.

My personal philosophy, which was passed down to me from my parents, is that you buy the best quality you can afford and look after it. Mend garments and shoes, have things altered as necessary and upcycled when the time comes. I detest waste and think that overconsumption is unnecessary and lazy.

LUX: In 3 words, how would you describe the world of Manolo Blahnik?
MB: Timeless, colourful and elegant!

Read more: Blazé Milano’s Corrada Rodriguez d’Acrci on creating iconic style 

LUX: Where do you predict your brand will be in ten years’ time?
MB: I am so lucky to have my niece, Kristina, as CEO. She has been working on building foundations to protect the brand. We are a family business with a family mindset and it is wonderful we are able to keep it this way. I hope that people continue to enjoy our shoes. We aim to create beautiful handmade pieces that last and make people smile.

Find out more: www.manoloblahnik.com

All images are from the Winter ’23 Collection

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Reading time: 6 min
A white car by a shed in a forest
A white car by a lake at sunset

The EQS SUV is a stylish creation by Mercedes chief designer Gorden Wagener, with none of the brashness of some rivals

Mercedes-Benz has made an electric luxury SUV quite unlike any other, and we love it

One of the fears of anyone who has been appreciative of high end automobiles the last years or decades is that electric cars, while having zero tailpipe emissions (although they still do have a carbon and environmental cost in their manufacture and sourcing of electricity) will lack an essential character.

When every car is electric, this argument goes, they will all essentially be more or less the same thing with a different brand attached – accentuated by the fact that electric vehicles also have advanced and highly developing technological interfaces, which are largely sourced from the same suppliers, like all digital technology.

We remember speaking about these matters with the legendary Mercedes-Benz designer, Gorden Wagener, a few years back; Gorden insisted that there would be as much differentiation in the design and feel of Mercedes’ electric vehicles as there has been in their conventional cars.

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The EQS is a SUV – a type of car usually associated with massive emissions. It is fully electric though, so no worries on that front, at least during its daily use. It also achieves a remarkable goal of being very big SUV that does not look either aggressive or lumpen. It is smoothly designed and seems to shrink on the road, meeting no hateful looks from the resentful brigade.

The real revelation, though, is in the way it drives. Many SUVs set out to try to emulate the driving experience of the regular saloon/sedan cousins, something made almost impossible by their high centres of gravity and inherently massive weight – most of them weigh above two tonnes and a luxury SUV can weigh close to three tonnes.

This means that not only can they not drive like sports cars, but the passengers’ experience can also be compromised, with manufacturers left in a hard place between making the ride firm and unyielding (theoretically improving the dynamic qualities) or softer, but then allowing the forces of physics to dictate something that can be quite difficult to stomach in terms of a wallowing feel, particularly in association with the rapid but silent acceleration offered by electric cars.

A black steering wheel and dashboard of a car

The Mercedes-Benz ESQ SUV has a sophisticated and contemporary driver’s environment

That’s where the EQS is unique. Shoot off in the EQS (like all electric cars, it’s fast, although the 450 model we drove is not the fastest), and you have a delicious feeling of being cosseted – this is not a car aimed at setting record track lap times. Passengers felt the same. There is a luxuriant, old school refinement to being on the move in this car: objectively that is down to a ride that absorbs bumps and bits of broken road.

There is huge refinement in terms of what car companies call NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) but also a feeling that the engineers who made this car just really understand what makes a luxury car. Step out of the EQS into any other electric vehicle and you will notice the difference on this front.

So, a point of difference and a significant one given that this is a luxury car.

The technological interface is also sophisticated and easy to use, although this is much less of a differentiator these days. And while the design feels are highly up-to-date, we wonder if Mercedes has gone a little too far or making the interior feel “contemporary“ rather than “luxurious“. It’s as if the engineers did their bit brilliantly in the way the car rides and drives, but the interior designers were a little bit wary of making it look too traditional. Shame, because no major manufacturer does interior luxury like Mercedes. Functionality is for Teslas.

Read more: Porsche Reviews Series: 911 GTS

But the most important element of a car like this is the feeling of quality, and the way it rides and drives. The EQS has one of the best electric mileage ranges of any car – although range is a technology that will constantly improve – and it is a car that you wish to sit back and luxuriate in, whether as a driver at the helm (and it really does feel like a helm, in the best luxury Mercedes, type of way) or passenger. So bravo Mercedes for having the bravery to create something that is truly – we think – what do your clients will want. Next, just add a bit of Palace of Versailles – or even Schöbrunn, if you want to keep it Germanic – to the interior for that ultimate touch of baroque ‘n’ roll.

Find out more: mercedes-benz.co.uk/suv/eqs/

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Colourful boats on a beach

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

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

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

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

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

Huge underwater scultpure

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

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

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

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

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

Young people waving flags on the beach

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

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

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

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

Inside a dark tented structure

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

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

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

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

Children running into the sea

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

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

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

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

Find out more: parley.tv

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Reading time: 7 min
Tall and grand white building surrounded by plants

A view of the Hotel Metropole’s grand exterior

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

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

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

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

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

Dark and glamorous retro bar

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

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

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

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

Carefully arranged bento bowl on a green placemat

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

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

Read more: Badrutt’s Palace St Moritz, Review

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

A blue indoor pool with lights at night

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

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

Find out more: metropole.com

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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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Model in a sparkly designer suit posing by a dark bacground
Model in a sparkly designer suit posing by a dark bacground

The Blaze Milano Gliss Bolero from the Fall ’23 Collection

Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri is a former fashion editor and stylist, and one of the founding members of Blazé Milano, the a hot Italian luxury brand on the womenswear scene. Here, she speaks to LUX in honour of the brand’s 10 year anniversary

LUX: Tell us about where your interest in fashion began.
Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri: Styling and design have been part of my life since my youngest years. I have drawings of the cartoon Jessica Rabbit in various outfits which I must have done in my first days at school, and photo albums of my youngest sister dressed up in my mom’s clothes, patiently posing for me and my imaginary fashion shoots (…I was around 14-15 years old by then). Later on my mother helped me prepare a design portfolio the year before applying for college. I went to NYC and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, and from there I never stopped.

LUX: Did your upbringing have an influence on your designs?
CR: Most definitely. I have had the incredible fortune to grow up in very colourful and creative homes; my mother is an incredible aesthete, along with being an architect. She has always brought new life to old family properties. Watching her absorbing each step of this process has made me confident with my sense of proportion, colour palettes and composition. Through my mother I had the chance to help restore and renovate – in particular I love retouching antique frescos – and this has become a hobby I cherish deeply.

Corrada Rodriguez d'Acri wearing a Blaze blazer and red shows against an orange wall

Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri

LUX: Can you tell us the story of how you met your co-founders, and when the concept for Blazé Milano was born?
CR: We met through mutual friends and immediately connected, but became close whilst working for Italian Elle, where we worked together as stylists. Blazé was born in those days, around 2012, when we were ready to start an adventure of our own. In 2013, we opened our doors to the world.

LUX: What were the biggest challenges you faced when creating the brand?
CR: At the beginning the hardest challenge was finding the perfect way to divide duties between the three of us and the best way to interact with each other. We were new at everything, so we basically reinvented ourselves as partners, entrepreneurs, and strategic thinkers.

The Serama Bomber from the Fall ’23 Collection

We started on our very own, with no financial help, and we could only count on each other. As the brand continues to grow, everyday is a surprising challenge. We have never taken anything for granted, since even our smallest successes have helped to consolidate this fulfilling present.

LUX: Do you think that fashion design is still a male-dominated space?
CR: Not really. In the past it has been, but now we have Victoria Beckham, Chanel’s Virginie Viard , the Olsen sisters with the amazing The Row, Gabriela Hearst with Chloe and her own brand, Phoebe Philo back soon, Isabel Marant, Dior by Maria Grazia, the Attico girls, Zimmermann, and many more.

Model wearing a brown blazer paired with a red button up

The Everyday Blazer from the Fall’23 Collection

LUX: Ten years on, what do you consider the brand’s greatest achievement?
CR: That our blazers, thanks to our style, aesthetics and trademark Smiley pocket, are recognized worldwide.

LUX: How would you describe the quintessential Blazé Milano aesthetic?
CR: Blazé is timeless, effortless, chic, and wearable anytime, anywhere. When you buy our pieces, you can mix them throughout the seasons.

LUX: What is your favourite piece in the Fall 2023 collection?
CR: The Serama bomber, an oversized jacket with maxi shoulders and an ‘80s vibe – one of my favourites in fashion history.

Sparkly yellow velvet jacket and blue trousers photographed by a digital camera

A shot from the Fall ’23 presentation featuring the brand’s iconic Smiley pockets

LUX: How does Blazé Milano engage with sustainability and the climate crisis?
CR: Since day one we have committed to using the most natural textiles and accessories in the industry. We produce only in Italy; every item is made by Italian artisans and companies, and we are very proud of it.

We committed back in early 2020 with the Green Future project, to reduce the impact of our activities on the planet. Green Future Project is an online platform giving companies and private citizens the opportunity to make a difference and reduce their carbon footprint. A tree is planted with every Blazé purchase.

It is difficult to be 100% sustainable in the fashion world, but by manufacturing long-lasting garments with high-end fabrics, that don’t follow trends in order to never be out of fashion, is already a small but important achievement.

Model in a black dress and heels wearing a grey bomber jacket

Another shot of the Serama bomber

LUX: Would you ever expand into menswear?
CR: We introduced the Daybreak blazer a couple of seasons ago in a style borrowed from menswear, with the addition of our Smiley pockets, a unisex look. We also have a collection of carryover knitwear, marinière and full colour, that can be worn by everyone. Our aesthetic has a masculine feel, but always with a practical feminine touch. Sometimes matched with ruffled shirts or flowy dresses, there is a ’when boy meets girl’ feeling in all the collections.

A complete menswear collection?

We’ll see, maybe one day!

LUX: How do you envision the brand will have changed and evolved by its 20th birthday?
CR: It is a very difficult answer to give, but we really hope to make Blazé a company with solid values and a great team, promoting true Italian elegance as sustainably as possible.

All images courtesy of Blazé Milano

Find out more: www.blaze-milano.com

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Courtesy of Porsche

In the third part of our Super Powers series from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

The Porsche 911 is an example of a design that has succeeded precisely because it is wrong. No car designer would come up with this car now. It is neither a two-seater nor a four-seater, it has an engine where the boot usually goes and a strangely situated storage space between the front wheels. No one else has created anything like it and nor are they likely to. But this endearing design has been with us for 60 years, initially updated slowly, latterly more quickly.

The latest generation, introduced a few years back, still has the car’s distinctive design features, but is as technically sophisticated as any other luxury sports car. The newest iteration, also known as the 992, is remarkably quiet and refined when driven slowly around town – too much so for some, who say it has been overtamed in search of ever broadening markets.

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We at LUX count ourselves Porsche 911 fans, yet, while we are in awe of the technical abilities, design and performance of the standard 992, we also felt it could offer a little more in terms of engagement and excitement. So we were pleased to be given the keys to this GTS model. Porsche typically produces some race-oriented 911 versions for enthusiasts, but they have certain compromises, including a lack of back seats and a handling set up that, while suitable for a smooth race track, is not ideal if you live in the actual world, as you find yourself rattling over potholes and scraping over bumps.

The GTS is a halfway house between the two. It is the 911 you buy if you drive every day but crave a little edge. As such, it is really a tweak of mainstream 911 models rather than anything spectacular, but Porsche engineering means the GTS models feel more special than they should.

The Porsche 911 Carrera GTS adds a frisson of extra excitement to an already practically perfect and endearingly distinctive supercar

First impressions were of a car that is a little more tuned and willing than the standard model. Everything is incremental: the engine sounds racier and is keener to engage; the steering is more lively. When we took our first roundabout, we felt the car spoke to us in a way standard models do not. On fast country roads,
the differences amplified. Our car had manual transmission – Porsche’s automatic gearshift is smooth and easy to use, but, for engagement, we like a manual when we can find one. Infamously, Ferrari has stopped making them, so raising the values of its last manual-transmission models.

With this and the other GTS enhancements, this car is a joy along country lanes. Acceleration is immediate and rapid: turn the steering wheel a fraction and it responds a fraction; exit speedily from a corner and you feel the back of the car tighten, which lovers of all 911s will appreciate. The GTS feels like a standard 911 that has taken a Chenot detox alongside Pilates and musclebuilding, like a friend who has been working on their fitness. We found it even more fun than the faster and more expensive 911 Turbo, which is a hoot for its “Look how fast we are going!” value, but less precise and delicate than this.

Read more: Lamborghini Huracán STO Review

So, the perfect Porsche? At everyday speeds, you won’t let out a rebel yell, as you might in some of its less sophisticated but popular competitors. And you will not love the manual transmission in town – always a compromise. But for adding an edge of excitement to an already beautiful, competent and desirable car, the GTS is as good as it could be. Get yours with rear-wheel drive, a manual gearbox and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres for a car true to the spirit of the model.

LUX Rating: 18.5/20

Find out more: porsche.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Model in padded silver jacket and matching silver boots walks the runway
Model in padded silver jacket and matching silver boots walks the runway

Lucrezia Grazioli’s design on the runway

Istituto Marangoni unveiled the collections of its ten most outstanding designers in their graduate showcase this month. Trudy Ross spoke to School Director Valérie Berdah Levy and Designer of the Year Hyun Jik Yoo on sustainability, creativity, and digital fashion

If you were anywhere near Pennington Street last Tuesday 11th of July, you would have caught sight of a number of impeccably dressed young people, formidable in dark glasses, loose bold cuts and striking accessories, walking the streets of East London. There would be no need to ask where they were going.

Unit 2, 110 Pennington Street, E1, was buzzing with the sexy and stylish milieu of London in anticipation of Istituto Marangoni’s graduate showcase. The large queue was slowly brought into the dark, industrial chic venue, lit by huge digital screens and pumping with music, to await the uniquely ‘phygital’ fashion show, also being streamed live in the Metaverse.

Natalie Kabelacova’s design on the ruway

Ten students from the renowned fashion school were chosen to have their collections debuted to the audience, with each creating six designs engaging with the theme DISTORT/DISRUPT. The chosen few, all with their own unique style, were Angelynne Viorenique Andersen, Anna Savchenko, Giju Kim, Hammotal Blair Hen, Hyun Jik Yoo, Jiaxi Zhuang, Lucrezia Grazioli, Natálie Kabeláčová, Rudraksh Singh, and Ummehani Kanchwala.

Follow LUX on Instagram: @luxthemagazine

As the models, prepped and preened by The London Academy of Freelance Makeup and Unite Haircare, walked the runway, the walls behind them projected digital interpretations of the designs they wore, featuring shots and videos of the models edited into colourful and dramatic landscapes. This, compounded by the sea of mobile phones snapping and streaming the event, marked a clear step into the realm of the digital experience, even in the physical space of the show.

Design from Anna Savchenko’s ‘Not Broken’ collection

When asked about the future of digital fashion, Director of the Istituto Marangoni London Valérie Berdah Levy told LUX: “…the Metaverse is the future. We started having fashion shows on the Metaverse just two years ago. We opened the school in Dubai last year and we had the first show on the Metaverse; it’s definitely the future for this. Even at school level, shortly we will have classes on the Metaverse and in the Metaverse.”

Angelynne Andersen walking the catwalk alongside a model wearing her design

The show also engaged with sustainability and responsible fashion, with Anna Savchenko from Russia using paper as the primary material in her designs, while Czech student Natálie Kabeláčová used only sustainable fabrics in her sherpa-inspired designs, and Angelynne Viorenique used scrap fabrics and yarns from the university to create her colourful and extravagant collection ‘Shedding’. The Istituto is introducing a new MA in Responsible Fashion this October; Valérie Berdah Levy noted the importance of teaching students to be both responsible and creative.

One of Designer of the Year, Hyun Jik Yoo’s designs

The winner of the Designer of the Year Award was announced as Hyun Jik Yoo, who completed a lap of the catwalk to roaring applause, accompanied by the model wearing his favourite design. His dramatic, brooding collection was inspired by Jack the Ripper, the East London murderer who Hyun Jik told us has lived near his home in Whitechapel, not far from the show’s venue. He explained that he was playing with ideas of concealing and revealing in his designs to speak to the murderer’s desire to be known and feared, while also hidden and anonymous. This translated into the use of sheer fabric and rips in his designs, working alongside thick layers and dark hoods.

Read more: Kering’s Marie-Claire Daveu on the Future of Sustainability

Hyun Jik Yoo walking the catwalk after being announced as Designer of the Year

Hyun Jik shyly told LUX that he was “really proud” of himself, and said his next steps were to rest up and then, “if I have a chance, if someone wants my brand name, I would like to set up my own brand.”

Find out more: www.istitutomarangoni.com

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A blonde woman wearing a white jacket and a watch with bracelets
A woman working with an older man in a workshop

Carolina in the Florence atelier with her father

She shot to success when Sarah Jessica Parker wore her brand’s Lucky bracelet in Sex and the City in 2002, and she has gone on to fuse playful designs with her family’s fine- jewellery tradition. Carolina Bucci talks to LUX’s Samantha Welsh about creating and developing her own brand vision

LUX: Were you expected to join the family business?
Carolina Bucci: My family has made fine jewellery in Florence since 1885, and my father joined the business in his teens. He was clear there was no obligation for us to join, but that if we were interested he would ensure we had a proper apprenticeship. My brother and sister declined, but I was keen. Even before I studied jewellery design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, I had spent time watching our jewellers work, understanding how precise and physical making jewellery is.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: How did your vision set you on another path?
CB: Growing up, I was fascinated by costume jewellery: the colours, the shapes and the experimentation. I thought traditional Italian fine jewellery was stuffy and I couldn’t understand how my family heritage could be relevant to my style. In creating Carolina Bucci, I fused these two worlds. Our jewellery is made in the same traditional workshops, but we push our craft to create colourful, unexpected silhouettes that don’t feel formal. We like to say that we make gold do things that it shouldn’t do.

A diamond and sapphire bracelet with CARO weaved into it

diamond and sapphire Color Field bracelet by Carolina Bucci

LUX: How did your brand adapt during COVID-19?
CB: We are small and family owned, so, whether it was the early restrictions in Italy, safety issues or moving business online, we were agile and I am proud of what we did. We closed our London store before there was any mandate from the UK government to do so; we donated to charities; we tried to keep this non-essential item uplifting. Our FORTE Beads seemed to capture the moment, and we found new ways to tell that story.

LUX: Who is the Carolina Bucci woman?
CB: There are so many voices to our brand. That is why we created La Catena [“chain”] on the website. I wanted a place for them to speak. Whether that is filmmaker Reed Morano talking about her creative process or art dealer Sarah Hoover on motherhood, there is an authentic passion, and I hope that is what we convey. I love designing jewellery and I love aligning myself with people who share that spirit in whatever they do.

A woman taking a photo with a camera

Filmmaker Reed Morano for the brand’s website

LUX: Are you involved in content creation?
CB: I design our jewellery, and I am also involved in everything we do: the smell in our stores, the paper and ribbon we use, our digital comms. It is my name above the door, so it is my responsibility to sign off on whatever we send into the world.

LUX: Are you tempted to be more active digitally?
CB: Jewellery is and always will be a tactile category. We have an active, growing online platform, but we couldn’t be a predominantly online brand. Our presence online is just another way for people to interact with our pieces, but it can never replace our stores. We are building a new store in Florence, and one of its most exciting aspects is how it helps us think in a fresh way about our online store. I love how that dialogue happens both ways.

A cartoon of a woman in a multi coloured dress walking up the stairs in high heels with nappies falling out her bag

An illustration from Sarah Hoover’s take on motherhood from the Carolina Bucci website

LUX: What is your social-media strategy?
CB: The word that strikes me when I think of social-media strategy is “fatigue”. I think some people design with one eye on how products will look on phones. I am at the other end of the spectrum. If the design is good, those who buy the pieces are your best ambassadors, and whether they tell friends at lunch or post photos for strangers, I am happy for that interaction to take on its own life.

A blonde woman wearing a white jacket and a watch with bracelets

Carolina Bucci wears her own designs and a watch from the Audemars Piguet collaboration

LUX: What about your collaborations?
CB: Our long relationship with Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet has been phenomenal and brought us to a new audience. It started because I owned a 1970s AP man’s Royal Oak watch. It was perfect and I didn’t think it could be improved on. I redesigned it for women through a chance meeting with the brand’s CEO, François-Henry Bennahmias in 2013. It helped that we had shared values and ideas – both fourth-generation family businesses, focused on craft before anything else.

Read more: Cindy Chao on heritage and emotion in jewellery

LUX: What is your next move?
CB: We make jewellery, and I don’t plan to make anything else. At the same time, I love collaborating with best-in-class manufacturers… we have made glass in Murano with Laguna B, and stationery and leather goods in Florence with Pineider. I love this ability to inhabit other worlds, particularly in the service of Italian crafts.

Find out more: carolinabucci.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Yayoi Kusama Statue at the Veuve Clicquot Exhibition. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

Maison Veuve Clicquot has brought its travelling exhibition to London this May. Trudy Ross stepped out to Piccadilly Circus to interview CEO Jean-Marc Gallot amidst sunflowers, paintings, sculptures, and that iconic gleaming yellow 

LUX: Queen Victoria was the first British royal to order a direct shipment of Veuve Clicquot in the 19th century. Now in 2023, with a new monarch having just been crowned, the brand still has this presence in the heart of London. Can you speak to the brand’s long history with the Royal Family?

Jean-Marc Gallot: It is a very, very, long history. I think the first shipment for the royal family was in 1868. In one of the exhibition rooms upstairs we have a menu made especially for Queen Victoria’s son, Edward the 7th Prince of Wales. He gave us the Royal Warrant in 1905, so, I would say, we have a very strong link and history with the UK.

The Maison was created in 1722, so we celebrated 250 years last year. The first shipment to the UK was in 1773, 250 years ago. So there is a long, long story between Veuve Clicquot and the UK. Out of the nine female artists we have here, two are British. We have Cece Philips and Rosie McGuinness, who have created their own portraits and interpretations of Madame Clicquot.

LUX: Throughout these 250 years, what do you think has changed about the brand and what has remained the same?

JMG: What remains today and will continue to remain, is the fact that we have an incredibly inspiring woman at the centre of our history. Madame Clicquot at her time was so courageous, determined, and audacious. She was a widow at 27 years old but her spirit, her audacity, and also this idea of being solaire, being radiant, is what remains in everything we do. It is a state of mind. Everyone from myself, the CEO, to my team, to everyone you will see here today from Maison Veuve Clicquot, works with this state of mind. I think it’s super important to have this spirit of being solaire, audacious and always surprising people. That is not going to change.

Display of Veuve Clicquot’s iconic designs through the years. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

What has changed? I would say that when you are so linked with the contemporary and the people around you, you also have to be very curious and try to evolve. So an example is right here: you have the very first ice jacket made by Veuve Clicquot. This first one was made 20 years ago out of diving costumes, but the ones we make now are made by the Saint Martins School of Business of 100% recycled plastic and this mono-material approach uses on average 30% less material than regular production. You can look at things we made 20 years ago and think, yes, this is nice, but we must continue to innovate, to respond to the times and move forward. Every single box that we make now in Veuve Clicquot is made out of 50% recycled paper and 50% hemp (not the hemp that people smoke!).

What we want to show here is that we have some duties to the world we live in. Not everyone is aware of the need for these things, so as a major brand we can help to act as an exemplar. This is what I am hoping to build with my team.

LUX: Your champagnes are offered at a range of price points. How do you balance keeping its luxurious and exclusive reputation whilst also ensuring it is accessible to a wider audience?

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

JMG: I have been working for 34 years in the luxury world. I worked at companies like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Fendi, wonderful luxury names, and I know that luxury, for some people, means something that is not easy to get or seems unapproachable.

I don’t agree with that viewpoint at all. We have a collection of products, starting with the iconic yellow label, Brut, which is the most famous bottle of Veuve Clicquot, then you go to La Grande Dame which is at a much higher price point. Both of them however, embody the spirit of Clicquot, so it’s not a matter of price, it’s a matter of how desirable your brand is and how much you have built around the brand.

Take an exhibition like this, running for 3 weeks in the heart of central London. Some people in this area are on their way to very nice upmarket restaurants, and some are on their way to Tesco. Both will pass the exhibition, they will see these artists and learn about Madam Clicquot’s story, and then they will understand the dream, the spirit and the history of Veuve Clicquot.

Outside the Veuve Clicquot exhibition in Picadilly Square. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Can you tell us about the importance of art and the art world to Veuve Clicquot?

JMG: Actually, we are not really in the art world; I would say that we are in the design world. Design is not art, it is the way of making a beautiful object which is also functional, or building something beautiful around an object. When you sell bottles of champagne you have to build something really extraordinary. We love the beauty of objects and we believe that in champagne, since you have something precious inside the bottle, you have to make the outside of the bottle exciting as well. So we constantly are looking for the next idea, and there is no set recipe. It has to be a surprise, because more than anything else, we love the element of surprise.

LUX: Beyond this all female exhibition, Veuve Clicquot has many initiatives supporting gender equality, including supporting women entrepreneurs through your Bold Woman Award. Can you tell us more about this aspect of the brand?

JMG: This is the spirit of Veuve Clicquot. Fifty-one years ago one of my predecessors thought, what can we do for the 200 year anniversary of Maison Clicquot? They had an incredible inspiration and vision and said, why don’t we celebrate the spirit of woman entrepreneurs, why don’t we shine light on some inspiring women?

What we found out through running the Bold Woman Award was that for women there are many social barriers standing in the way of them running their own company or being independent. Veuve Clicquot is trying to fight against this because we believe there should be as many women entrepreneurs as men entrepreneurs.

The statistic is the following: 92% of women entrepreneurs believe and admit that they would love to have a role model, and only 15% of them can name one off the top of their head. We want to change this and help to inspire women. The first very inspiring woman entrepreneur was Madame Clicquot, and for the last 220 or 230 years, there have been many more women entrepreneurs that we want to shine a light on. It’s about sharing, inspiring and making the world more balanced between men and women.

Cece Phillips, Window Clicquot, 2022.Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: What is Madame Clicquot’s story and why is it so important to the brand?

JMG: You are in 1805 in France, in a very traditional, even noble family. You have faced a lot of challenges because twenty years ago was the French Revolution. You have a very nice husband who you love and a very severe and traditional father in law. Then you become a window overnight. Imagine: you basically don’t exist anymore. What are your options?

You could find another  husband, but instead you say “no, I’m going to take over the company. I’m going to run the company.” Everyone tells you not to, starting with your father-in-law. He says you are not capable of it, you cannot do it, you will not succeed at it. So, you are stuck.

If I had to describe Madame Clicquot, I would say she was  incredibly courageous, incredibly audacious and took huge risks. She teaches us that if you want to do something, just go for it. Never surrender.

LUX: The artworks that are on show here are reimagined portraits of Madame Clicquot. Can you tell me a little bit more about which ones are your favourite, and which one you think speaks to the values of Veuve Clicquot?

JMG: I have to say that I have a love for the Cece Phillips portrait in particular. You have the whole story there. You have a young woman sitting at her table, you see the vineyards through the window, you see that she is studying, very focussed but also very determined. She was writing a lot at the time, writing ideas, writing about the company. She was not travelling, but she was sending letters to all the customers around the world. This and the light, the vibrant, sunny appearance of it all, this is Clicquot.

I have to say, the portrait we have of Clicquot was taken when she was 84 years old and she looks a little bit severe! With all do respect to 80-year-old women, this was maybe not Madame Clicquot at her strongest period of life. Cece Phillips gets it all in one painting, you have the whole story in one, so it’s better than words.

Ines Longevial, Ghost Guest, 2022. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Beyond the artworks, what else interests you about the exhibition?

JMG: The statue of Yayoi Kusama is pretty impressive, but my favourite piece today here in London, which is not really in touch with the exhibition itself; it is the Sunny Side Cafe. I love it because this is actually when Clicquot meets British tradition and British culture.

LUX: The exhibition has been in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and now London. Where is next?

JMG: We started in Tokyo in June last year, and then we did three weeks in Los Angeles, and now it’s three weeks in London. Next year, we might go somewhere else, perhaps a continent we have not been to yet, perhaps South Africa.

LUX: What was the decision-making process behind choosing these three cities?

JMG: These are the three most important market places for Veuve Clicquot. I loved the idea of being in Tokyo because Japanese people are so refined. Then we went to the US and we didn’t want to go to New York because we thought we were going to be lost, and we love the vibes of LA so we went there. When we went to Europe we didn’t look for France – can you imagine me, a French guy, saying that! – but we decided to take it to London.

Yayoi Kusama, Twist with Madam Clicquot! Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Would you take it to France and if not why?

JMG: No, for a few reasons, actually. First we love to speak about our brand outside of our own country, and second because the UK is very important to us, and also because there are some legal constraints in France which wouldn’t allow us to make such an impression in an exhibition like we have here.

LUX: You have a lot of tradition and history behind you. In today’s market, with the younger generation coming up, what do you think are the key changes and the key ways that you’re going to have to adapt as a brand to appeal to these younger consumers?

JMG: We are a luxury maison, and I’m a strong believer that luxury is about what you offer rather than just marketing fast-moving consumer goods. We talked about how to surprise people, how to make people dream and feel that they are getting something that they are really inspired by. My point is that if we keep on being ourselves, being super creative and bringing excitement, I think that we can offer things that people will discover and appreciate, even if they are not tailored to their tastes.

Read more: Visual art and music meet in Shezad Dawood’s latest exhibition

If we start to do it the other way round and try to anticipate what it is that people expect, what they want or think they need, we lose our spirit and our soul. Of course, we need to listen to the younger generation, look at what they do, and how they behave to a certain extent. However, I don’t want to be obsessed with creating something that people will expect.

Find out more: solaireculture.veuveclicquot.com

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Green and white glass sheets in a room
Green and white glass sheets in a room

Lexus Design Awards 2023 was presented in the Tortona district during Milan Design Week

Against the backdrop of the vibrant and bustling Milan Design Week, Lexus presented the four winners of their coveted annual Design Award, now in its 11th iteration. Trudy Ross visited Milan’s Superstudio Più to find out more

I was an awe-struck first-timer at Salone del Mobile this year, the world’s most prestigious and well-attended design fair. The city was brimming with life, with throngs of fashionably dressed professionals walking over clean, sunbaked streets, the city’s many restaurants and cafes full of old industry friends reuniting and the chatter of business meetings over fine wine. On every corner you were met with an eye-catching new installation, ready to become the venue for yet another glamorous party by the evening.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The Lexus Design Awards, presented in the Tortona district, was the perfect introduction to Salone, embodying the fair’s guiding principles of creativity, beauty, innovation, sustainability, and a focus on the potential of young designers. The competition was launched in 2013 by Lexus to give a platform to the next generation of designers. Displayed in the bright and airy Superstudio Più, the winning designs were accompanied by architect and artist Suchi Reddy’s immersive 3D collage, Shaped by Air, inspired by the Lexus Electrified Sport.

Reddy told LUX, “It all started from a drawing. I started finding these shapes that were very beautiful – I thought that if Matisse had designed a car, this would be the car…because we were inside, I had the opportunity to really play with reflection, and create this idea of a forest; you can see how the light dapples, creating shadows and unexpected things. There’s a richness to walking in a forest because you never know what shapes to expect – everything fits but it’s always different.”

A woman wearing a black dress and white top standing next to green and transparent sheets of glass

Suchi Reddy with her installation, ‘Shaped by Air’

Her installation of glass and movement was the perfect intermingling of beauty, technology, and nature to reflect the winning designs, which used technology to look to the future and to create elegance, but also prioritised purpose, practicality and the natural world. While there is usually only one winner, this year the award was expanded to comprise four winners, all of whom were given an opportunity to work with Lexus’ handpicked mentors, four leading figures from the design world: Marjan van Aubel, Joe Doucet, Yuri Suzuki, and Sumayya Vally. A public vote was then held to determine the People’s Choice winner, the design which most impressed and resonated with viewers.

Swedish designer Pavels Hedström was announced as the Your Choice winner for his innovative design, Fog-X, a high-impact hiking jacket that transforms into a tent/shelter – but its real ingenuity is not shapeshifting. The device can catch fog, even in the most arid areas of the desert, and transform it into up to 10 litres a day of drinking water. Hedström told LUX that he has always been interested in solving the big global challenges. When it came to drinking water, he was inspired by plants and animal species which can survive in the Atacama desert. He found that one of the ways they do this is by catching fog, saying his design is “basically the same principle”.

Read more: Photo London’s Fariba Farshad on Fotografìa Maroma

While the jacket itself might not currently be affordable for many of the people living in desert communities with a lack of water, he championed the Fog-X app made alongside the jacket, which anyone can use to determine and track the areas with the most potential for moisture generation. He added, “privileged people like us take for granted that we have water on the tap. We need to rethink how we get these resources, because our relationship to nature is pretty imbalanced. If we use the jacket, I hope it will also change our mindsets and our appreciation of nature.”

A man wearing cow print trousers and a black top standing next to an orange bag

Pavels Hedström, the Your Choice winner for his innovative design, Fog-X

The other designers included Temporary Office, a duo made up of Vincent Lai and Douglas Lee, who unveiled 3D topographic puzzle Touch the Valley. Designed with the visually impaired in mind, the puzzle allows people to play and learn through touch rather than sight, with each piece carefully contoured and sculpted to engage tactual sensation. When assembled, the pieces can become a model of a major mountain range or famous landmark. Beyond a tool for the visually impaired, the product can be enjoyed by all and double as an elegant coffee table piece with an interesting story to tell. Perfect for the explorer traveller who doesn’t just want to go to Yosemite, but wants to hold it in his hands.

Two men standing next to a screen showing a presentation

Vincent Lai and Douglas Lee, founders of Temporary Office

Jiaming Lui from China designed the Print Clay Humidifier, a 3D-printed humidifier made with recycled ceramic waste. This household appliance requires zero electricity or energy and is made from materials left over from industrial processes. Indeed, the product itself can be recycled at the end of its life after any damage or breakages to reform as it was initially. Lui looked to natural resources to replace the plastic, energy-using devices many of us have in our homes and created a stylish, effective and sustainable alternative.

A man standing next to a product and a screen with the words LEXUS above him

Jiaming Lui with his print clay humidifier design

Finally, and perhaps the most directly relevant to many of our own lives was Kyeongho Park and Yejin Heo’s Zero Bag, a new alternative to plastic packaging for food and clothes, made from seaweed. It looks like plastic, but rather than being an amalgamation of artificial chemicals, it actually fights them. The packaging dissolves in water and contains either a detergent for clothes, or a baking soda film which removes chemicals and pesticides from food. Kyeongho and Yejin, both currently students majoring in industrial design at Hanyang University’s ERICA campus, expressed hope for their idea to expand across regions and become adopted by major retailers.

Two men in beige jackets standing next to a screen showing a presentation

Kyeongho Park and Yejin Heo with their Zero Bag design

The theme for this year’s competition was ‘Design for a Better Tomorrow’. If these young designers are any indication of what tomorrow might look like, it seems the future will make space for both technology and for nature, cultivating the beauty of both.

Find out more: discoverlexus.com/lexus-design-award-2023

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large white yacht in the ocean

Managing Director of Lateral Naval Architects, James Roy, speaks to Samantha Welsh about innovation and sustainability in the yachting industry

LUX: What made you embark on your career as a naval architect?
James Roy: I grew up in a sailing family, and the sea must have gotten under my skin at an incredibly early age. I remember, aged five, seeing a ship sail past and drawing it; with the clear intent of doing that for a living when I was older. However, the path to success is rarely a straight line, but after some twists and turns I arrived at Southampton Institute in 1992 to study Yacht & Powercraft Design. Having never excelled academically at school I suddenly found myself with a fresh drive and ambition that I had never experienced and graduated top of my year, such is the power of having meaning and passion in one’s work.

LUX: Why did Lateral come about and how do you manage your collaborations?
JR: Lateral is the result of 26 years development. Ultimately, the company is an evolution of the first business that I joined in 1996 (Nigel Gee & Associates). Via evolution of that company, mixed with some acquisition and collaboration, Lateral was brought to life. Reflecting on that path, it has been innovation within an evolving industry that has been a key part of navigating the many possible outcomes that could have come to pass. Whilst the road ahead may be beset with uncertainty it is innovation that often acts as a compass to set direction. When it comes to collaboration, Lateral takes an ‘open-source’ approach. We want to remove any barriers for creativity. Our ethos is that engineering can enable design innovation, and we intend to make that a reality with every project.

A sketch of the inside of a boat

LUX: Engineering or architecture, which comes first?
JR: This is a good question, and much like quantum mechanics, both answers can be right and wrong at the same time! There are some projects where the performance specification may be highly demanding, and in such cases an engineering approach may be best suited at the start, and there may be other projects where the functional specification may be leading, in which case architecture takes an initial lead. The reality is that in most projects there is a requirement for both performance and function in some balance. This dictates collaboration from the outset being a key ingredient. Ultimately, collaborating all comes down to people.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What is meaningful innovation to you?
JR: Innovation is often confused with invention. To innovate does not mean inventing new things, it means finding solutions to things that did not exist before. Many innovative solutions use existing technologies, but package them in a unique way to solve a particular problem. What I find fascinating is that innovation often leads to improvements to ‘problems’ that no one was aware of, by doing so they improve our lives and experiences. These innovations becoming truly meaningful. To find such innovations is often the result of curiosity; playing with ideas in stolen moments, weaved together by thoughts from diverse projects, often finding something by chance. As Einstein said, ‘creativity is the residue of wasted time.’

black and white photo pf the front of a yacht in the sea

Sinot Yacht Architecture & Design, Lateral-Sinot net-zero concept collaboration

LUX: How do you design-in a net zero target?
JR: Net-zero is a straightforward idea but complex in execution. Designing for net-zero is quite simple, we are doing that already by engineering flexible architecture into new superyacht platforms, however they can only achieve net-zero in operation via accountancy. The use of various alternative fuels will still lead to the emission of carbon, for these to be net-zero there must be an accountancy that the carbon emitted has been captured somewhere else. Net-zero is therefore an eco-system spanning many industries, regions, and nations.

LUX: Are superyachts following the motor industry in adopting electrification as a viable alternative to fossil fuel?
JR: Yes, electrification is being embraced but in a different context. Whilst cars are mainly going full electric, yachts are remaining the equivalent of an electric hybrid. This is simply down to the scale of energy needed for a yacht to operate, and the limited storage capacity of batteries. Designs such as Kairos from Oceanco / Pininfarina / Lateral are pushing the boundary and achieving 75% of daily operation on battery. However, we can be sure that battery technology will advance and it is a core part of our future proofing strategy to make batteries part of our energy and propulsion system architecture choices.

A picture of a boat on a wall with sticky notes on it in an office with a brown chair and white table

LUX: We read about alternatives like liquid hydrogen-based systems, will these become industry-standard in the future?
JR: There are many alternative fuels being explored by the marine industry (and other industries) in the move to decarbonisation and net-zero. Some of these fuels, such as bio diesel, are a simple ‘drop-in’ equivalent for the diesel we already use. Other fuels, such as methanol and liquid hydrogen can make compelling options for future net-zero fuels. However, all of these require more space on board as they have a lower energy density than current fossil fuels. In the future there will be no singular solution, there may be many different future fuels in use. We can be certain that this will be a (welcome) challenge to designers and engineers; we will need to become even more efficient in energy use (so we require less fuel as it uses more volume) and we will also need to offer at least equivalent levels of functionality but in a smaller package. This is the creative challenge we will face in the future; such challenges drive us to innovate.

Read more:Driving Force: Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid

LUX: What do you tell your next gen clients when they are spoiled for choice?
JR: We live in an age of so much choice that it often becomes an enemy to decision making. When I was growing up, we had three TV channels, now we have hundreds but choosing which one to watch is surprisingly quite hard at times! It is a key skill of any leader to be able to guide their clients through the complexities of choice. There are some choices that are complex, technical, rational, and others which are very emotive and personal. Equally there are a multitude that fall in the grey area in between, and guiding clients in these choices without making them feel like they are taking unmanaged risks is key.

Find out more: lateral.engineering

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women in white ad red sparkly outfits and a man wearing a white suit with another in a black jacket and white t shirt

K11, the multidisciplinary art, culture, retail, fashion and design organisation created by Hong Kong mover and shaker Adrian Cheng, is staging a show in the city celebrating 200 years of couture, together with the V&A.

It’s an auspicious occasion: Cheng has just been given the responsibility to reestablish the territory’s reputation as an international cultural hub, after three years of isolation caused by COVID. During that time, the cultural and touristic pendulum has swung towards Seoul, with the opening of Frieze Seoul, Singapore, which has seen much incoming financial and cultural capital, and Bangkok. It’s a big ask, but if there’s anyone who can do it, it is Cheng, scion of one of Hong Kong’s biggest dynasties and also a cultural statesman and innovator with a visionary understanding of east, west and the future.

Meanwhile, The Love Of Couture: Artisanship In Fashion Beyond Time curated in collaboration with the V&A and production designer, William Chang Suk Ping, aims to to bring together Western European traditions with eastern innovation, highlighting the extraordinary creativity, history and craftsmanship of couture.

The opening of the exhibition was celebrated at K11 Night with some of the most influential people in Asia, particularly from the fashion industry.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

a man in a white shirt lifting his glass at a dinner
two women with their arms arund their waist and one is wearing diamond ear muffs
people standing for a photo at a party
two men and a woman at a dinner

K11 collaborated with with the V&A, assembling a team of revered industry veterans and emerging fashion designers, who, within the exhibition, explore the evolution of fashion across time and space and celebrate the next generation of designers.

Read more: Adrian Cheng On Brands To Watch In 2023

Cheng says, “Fashion throughout history is reflective of how traditions, craftsmanship, creativity and societies continue to evolve. I am thrilled to present this exhibition in collaboration with the V&A and work with our brilliant designers who have all in their own individual way, reinvented and modernised history with their unique perspective and talent. This collaboration truly reflects my mission to create a deeper cultural exchange between east and west by providing a platform for next generation talent.”

The Love of Couture: Artisanship in Fashion Beyond Time Exhibition is on until Sunday 29th January at the K11 Art & Cultural Centre

Find out more: www.k11experience.com/love-of-couture

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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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A woman sitting with a pug in a pink stone terrace house
A woman sitting with a pug in a pink stone terrace house

“This is one of my favourite areas of the house, as we often have meals or work together at this table. In the mornings, the sunlight as it hits the pool is reflected on the walls and ceilings. It’s quite magical” – Sophie

In the 1980s, Hans and Caroline Neuendorf had a dream. The German art entrepreneurs wanted to build a house in Mallorca unlike any other. Pioneering and minimalist, the house would go on to redefine luxury living. More than 30 years on, Caroline and her daughter Sophie reflect on life at one of the world’s most distinctive homes, Neuendorf House

 “In 1984 we accidentally met John Pawson on a holiday in Porto Ercole, Italy. He was a young architect working with Claudio Silvestrin at the time. Neither had so far ever built a house. They transformed some flats in London into divine empty spaces with little furniture. We immediately fell in love with their concept – it was long before ‘minimalism’ was coined. We had bought a big piece of land in the Mallorcan countryside and we gave both architects carte blanche. We wanted a holiday house for our growing family. It was an adventure for the architects and us. At the time, Mallorca was largely undiscovered, and we were lucky to find a builder who was at the same time mayor of the little village nearby. With his help we were able to build this amazing structure. Little did we know that this house would become famous some day – on the contrary, most of our friends made endless jokes about us. Who would excavate a huge piece of land to build a sunken tennis court? Who would build a 110m wall with the sole purpose of defining the space between house and countryside? We would.”

A pool with umbrellas and a tree and pink stone house

You take it all in from there: what a view!” – Caroline

Neuendorf House was built when I was just born, so my brothers and I spent nearly all our childhoods there and most summers since. We moved around a lot, from New York to Berlin and London, so the house represents for me a place of constancy, peace and happiness. I travel there both to spend wild holidays and special occasions with family and friends or to disconnect. For years, we had no phone, TV or internet there, and my parents encouraged us to read if we were bored. There is a soft wind, the smell of wild lavender, thyme, almond trees and sea air, which is intoxicating. Time moves slowly – we’ve had many long languid lunches and dinners at the house. It’s important for us to come together there every summer, as I live in Madrid, my brothers in New York, Paris and London, and my parents are in Berlin. For me, the house was always protective, yet many friends didn’t understand how we could feel comfortable in a house that’s so empty. It’s the emptiness that gives room for laughter and creativity, that lets the mind wander. One is stripped down to nature and togetherness without distraction. I’ve spent the happiest days of my life at the house, notably my 30th birthday. And now my wedding, one of the most important moments in one’s life.” 

trees in a garden

“These trees were always on the property and as there is so little distraction they almost become sculptures” – Caroline

 

Two deckchairs in front of a pink wall and a cactus between them

“These deckchairs stand in the courtyard, from which you can contemplate a piece of private sky – and that happens a lot! The cactus was left by Cartier, when they shot the famous Cactus Collection” – Caroline

 

green grass on either side of a path

“The long view – the runway, as we call it” – Caroline

 

A woman leaning against two large pink walls

“The light coming from the ‘door’ is like a sundial. Depending on where the light and shadows fall, one can roughly tell the time of day. I’ve always used it as a good reference to see if I’ve overslept!” – Sophie

 

A pink stone house

“A view of the house from the north. The little windows give a postcard view of the landscape” – Caroline

 

A swimming pool

“A view of the smaller saltwater pool. In the winter it is heated; I have spent such wonderful moments there in the winter months, turning on the Jacuzzi and enjoying my first coffee” – Caroline

 

A tennis court

“The clay tennis court, a dream for any tennis aficionado” – Caroline

 

stairs in a garden leading to a basement

“The stairs to the sunken tennis court – the Tennis Temple” – Caroline

Sophie Neuendorf is Vice President at Artnet

neuendorfhouse.com

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Reading time: 4 min
white chairs on the grass by a pond
white lounge chairs by a swimming pool under a willow tree

LUX stopped off for an al fresco lunch with Fiona Barratt Campbell, founder of her eponymous interior design studio, FBC London and Sol Campbell, English professional football manager and former player. Sitting in their sequestered country home, in a lee of the Wessex downs the couple’s vision is clearly focused on the restoration of landscape, terraces and gardens, and the repurposing of original outbuildings

We sipped aperitifs amid darting blue dragonflies on the jetty lounge and adjourned poolside for a locally-sourced meal. Conversation ranged widely to include Fiona’s most innovative business development yet. Fiona’s bespoke FBC furniture blends with her personally-discovered antiques. We inspected the couple’s artwork in the pool house, the gardener’s cottage, walled kitchen garden, self-seeding wild flower margins, and listened to plans to re-wild the downland pastures. The second phase of restoration to their home is the refurbishment of the main house, predominantly of Georgian origin. Behind the scenes, effective estate management and skilled groundsmen underpin immaculate presentation, there are no short cuts… if necessary even Sol will get on his tractor!

a deck on a lake with a fire and sofas in a circle at the end
white deckchairs in front of a hut and grass

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white chairs on the grass by a pond
white tables and chairs in front of a swimming pool with a hut in the background
white chairs in front of an olive tree and a hut on the grass
white chairs by a pool with a dining room in the background
white tables and chairs in front of a swimming pool

Find out more: fbc-london.com

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Two cars
Art

Original digital art by Mercedes-Benz at Design Essentials IV: The Art of Creating Desire

LUX stops off at the Mercedes-Benz Design Centre in Nice to hear about its latest projects – from EVs to NFTs, and everything in between 

Few places can evoke desire like the Cote d’Azur. Home to the world’s superelite and their superyachts, it is where the most exclusive communities migrate in summertime – and where the aspirational go to see them.

All of which made it a fitting backdrop for Mercedes-Benz’s latest Design Essentials instalment, ‘The Art of Creating Desire’. Presented between their Design Centre in Nice – a cylindrical, spaceship-like structure hidden in the pine forest of France’s tech hub – and the newly-opened Maybourne Riviera, the showcase featured the marque’s latest projects and outlooks on the future of luxury.

Building

The Mercedes-Benz Design Centre in Nice

‘We aspire to design the most desirable cars in the world. With Design Essentials, we illustrate how we approach this privilege in concrete terms,’ explained Chief Design Officer Gorden Wagener. ‘The venue – our Design Centre in Nice – plays a central role in this. I see it as a creative melting pot where we forge ideas for the luxury cars of the future.’

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

That future, according to Mercedes-Benz, is digital. The marque has joined as the fifth and final founding member of the Aura Blockchain Consortium – a non-profit association of luxury brands investing in blockchain solutions for the industry – alongside LVMH, Prada Group, OTB Group, and Cartier, part of Richemont.

Car interior

Mercedes-Benz is expanding into in-car digital art experiences

‘Every product going forward will have a digital twin,’ explained Daniela Ott, General Secretary of Aura. ‘This is for all the use cases you can imagine, from traceability and provenance to resale and second-hand, NFTs and using the physical products you own in the metaverse’. In Mercedes’ case – the first and only premium automotive manufacturer to have joined the consortium – this means providing new digital art experiences both in-car and beyond.

Elsewhere, the marque is strengthening its commitment to the global fashion scene with the concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture, an S-Class reimagined through an haute couture lens. The car, which is expected to appear in 2023 in a limited release of 150 units, features a two-tone midnight blue and champagne exterior, and a nappa leather interior with bouclé fabric and gold trim.

Car interior

The limited edition Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture

We also had a sneak peek of the new Limited Edition Mercedes-Maybach. Soon to be available in a 150-unit run, the model was borne out of Project MAYBACH, the off-road EV concept created in collaboration with the late artist and fashion designer Virgil Abloh, which was presented at the Rubell Museum during Miami Art Week. The limited edition model marks the third and final collaboration with Abloh, whose Project Geländewagen set a benchmark for fashion and automotive collaborations in 2020.

Two cars

The Mercedes-Maybach by Virgil Abloh (left) and Project MAYBACH (right)

The grand finale took place over aperitifs at the Maybourne, where we were introduced to the Vision AMG, Mercedes’ new, all-electric sports car concept, slated for release in 2025. The car offers a preview of the all-electric future of Mercedes’ performance brand, having embarked on an electrification plan which will see electrified alternatives in every segment by the end of 2022, and an all-electric fleet by 2030.

Read more: Octopus Energy Founder Greg Jackson On The Green Revolution

Car

The Mercedes-Benz Vision AMG

Speaking of the formal aspect of the Vision AMG, Wagener said, ‘it continues to write the history of the VISION EQXX and raises it to a completely new level’.

If the future really is electric, we want to do it in the Vision AMG.

Find out more: mercedes-benz.com

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A woman in a white shirt and black jumper working in a factory

a woman in a red jumper sitting on a chair wearing bracelets and a watchRonna Chao is Chairman of Novetex Textiles Limited, CEO of Novel Investment Partners Limited, Director of Novelpark Investments Limited, and has taken on various advisory and leading roles in foundations.  Here she speaks to Samantha Welsh about leadership, particularly at Novetex

1. How much is good leadership about effective communication?

Often as CEO, you find colleagues look up to you as the leader of the pack. Leadership is as much about offering a show of strength as it is about allowing the members of your team to feel that they are truly a part of something. During meetings, I regularly say: “What do YOU think?” This is because I want to promote an atmosphere in which everyone, regardless of rank, feels safe and free to speak and voice their opinions and recommendations. There is so much we can learn from each other and I really believe that mentoring is not one-way. Communication is a skill that requires constant practice and honing.

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2. What is it about this collaborative style of leadership that you are passionate to share with next gen through Bai Xian Asia Institute?

Bai Xian Asia Institute is the brainchild of my dad, who had the opportunity to study overseas and believed in the importance of fostering friendship and understanding in young people across different cultures. We focus on supporting Asian students to study abroad within the region because we believe that one needs to understand and appreciate one’s own home region and culture before becoming good ambassadors elsewhere. We provide our scholarship recipients a secure space where they can exchange views, and this environment enables them to grow as individuals and as part of a community. As they become leaders in the various fields of their choosing, our hope at Bai Xian is that they extend their circles of influence and propagate their perspectives and experiences with the wider community. Having studied abroad for extensive periods of time myself, I too see the necessity and the advantages that come with intercultural and interdisciplinary education. The world is getting smaller and smaller, and the need for collaboration across borders, across industries, is so apparent.

Hong Kong with high rise buildings and the river

3. At a personal level, how do you manage challenges in, or to, your leadership?

Things always evolve, and one way to maintain an open mind and curious mindset is to accept and embrace the fluidity of circumstances and situations. One thing I strive to keep in mind in my leadership is that I do not and cannot know everything. My liberal arts education at Brown allowed me to explore interests in different subjects and topics as an undergraduate. These experiences trained me to keep an open mind and have broader perspectives. My three children are growing into adults themselves, and I am constantly in awe of their wisdom and ability to absorb everything around them. At their age, it’s natural that they begin questioning me – but they know that questions, criticism are always welcome to me and the communication lines remain open. These days, the roles are reversed in many instances as there is so much that they teach me and I look forward to considering their experiences and perspectives, especially as they come into their own and forge their own paths.

4. What compelled you to return from US back to Hong Kong to lead Novetex, a pioneer in the global textile industry?

Returning to Hong Kong and working with Novetex was a wonderful opportunity and an enormous honour for me that our family trusted me to let me try and helm the company. Ron’s heavy investment in research and development (R&D) proved fundamental to modernising our business practices. We initially created The Billie System, an innovative upcycling process that reduces environmental impact, to address the textile waste that our company was producing on an internal level. Over the past decade, we’ve identified new ways to minimise our environmental impact, even down to our supply chain. We arrived at the idea of The Billie together with Hong Kong Research Institute for Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA). Because of how we began this venture, the focus has been on preventing materials from entering landfills and recapturing the value of these fibres.

A woman in a white shirt and black jumper working in a factory

5. Novetex is also a first mover in textile R&D and you are invested in a sustainable future.  Where have you found innovation to be most impactful under your leadership?

Novetex has been in business for five decades. We began this journey toward sustainability almost fifteen years ago when the topic was not popular as it is now. At Novetex, we pride ourselves on being our customers’ “Complete Yarn Resource,” which means we strive always to be creative and innovative in offering a wide variety of qualities, colours, custom-designed and specialty yarns.

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

In a self-reflection process, we audited our environmental impact, and reviewed processes from our operations down to our supply chain. Textile waste was identified as one of our pain points and we started having conversations with stakeholders and other parties to address the issue. Rather than worry about whether the timing was right, we went full steam ahead – and incorporating sustainability into our mission and vision is paying off, slowly but surely.

lines of colourful thread

6. What was the take-away in your speech to other leaders at Hong Kong’s Business of Design Week?

Prior to joining Novetex in 2010, I had little to no hands-on experience in factory operations, textile R&D, sales and marketing, and brand management. Having to assume a leadership role with such “limitations” was a challenge. Nobody knows everything, and humility, curiosity, open-mindedness, and the attitude for life-long learning are key drivers that can help us as we journey in uncharted waters. Innovation and change require not only vision and courage but also patience and persistence. It is a marathon, not a sprint; setting goals, constant reviewing, keeping the balance between reaching for stars and keeping your feet on the ground enable us to cover the distance bit by bit.

Find out more: www.novetex.com

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Reading time: 5 min
a kitchen with a white table and wooden unit

Designer Rob Ryan’s fresh take for Gaggenau’s ‘Art of the Kitchen’ series

With our increasingly urban lifestyle, biophilic design is becoming ever more urgent – in fact our happiness and wellbeing depend on it. Mark C. O’Flaherty speaks to three visionaries in the field, on why reconnection with nature not only induces calm, but is the only sustainable solution

There’s nothing new about the principles of biophilic design. As a philosophy for living, it was the status quo before the industrial revolution, and in many cultures it’s still the norm. But we have literally built walls around ourselves to create a distance from the natural world. In Japan, hinoki wood is one of the most popular materials for construction, not for its impervious and practical qualities, but for the intense aroma it gives off. To live in a room furnished in panels of hinoki is to have your olfactory senses transport you to the most fragrant wilderness. In many Nordic countries, city dwellers customarily have a rural cabin to escape to, to reconnect with nature.

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As our ecosystem continues to face what increasingly feels like insurmountable challenges, and urbanisation becomes the default, biophilic principles are growing in importance in design. Though they aren’t radical or new, we’ve lost sight of how crucial they are to our wellbeing. This isn’t about recycling, sustainability, or alternative ways to generate energy (although they are part of the greater narrative), it’s about how we can engage with nature in our homes in a way that will have benefits for our physical and mental health.

A man in a black suit sitting in a brown room

Head of Design at Gaggenau, Sven Baacke

Product designers are taking this on board luxury brands are creating functional areas, objects and spaces with emotion in mind, and an understanding of natural pathways. “Our customers may create indoor-outdoor kitchens, spaces where kitchen and living and dining are integrated and designed with a lot of natural materials, leading to a herb garden or natural wall,” says Sven Baacke, the head designer at Gaggenau. “It is tied into wellbeing, to being at one with nature, and also to sustainability: water features, green spaces, flora and plants, and the use of natural and found materials that both reduce carbon footprint, and elements like water use in manufacture. We design our products with their broader concept, and the lives and values of our customers in mind.”

Biophilia is about connections and feelings. It is the presence of living walls, pleasing aromas and good quality air. It is the marriage of colour psychology with an awareness of light, fragrances, textiles and acoustics, and has become an increasingly sophisticated discipline. It is a complex exploration of how neuroscience intersects with architecture, and when biophilic design is incorporated within urban planning as well as interiors, it treats what was once seen as just bricks and mortar as part of a living organism. It can contribute to tackling serious environmental challenges, including the Urban Heat Island effect (major cities are profoundly hotter than rural areas in summer), restoring lost natural habitats, and lowering the effects of CO2 emissions. In his hugely influential 2012 book The Shape of Green, the architect and author Lance Hosey who died last year – argues that sustainability can’t exist without beauty: “Long-term value is impossible without sensory appeal, because if design doesn’t inspire, it is destined to be discarded.” Our future can, if we let it, be shaped by what truly nourishes us as human beings.

The Biophilic Visionaries

Oliver Heath 
Director of Oliver Heath Design

A man sitting on a pink couch with plants around him

Oliver Heath, the director of Oliver Heath Design

I switched to investigating a human-centred form of design about 10 years ago. I had been working in the field of sustainable residential design for years, but became frustrated because people weren’t adopting the methods, ideas and principles. They weren’t engaged. There was a fatigue around the idea of sustainability. I changed the tone of my conversation to be about creating a home that supports your physical and mental wellbeing. That resonates because everyone wants to be happier and healthier.

Design is much more than aesthetics – it’s about how you feel inside a space. Stress is endemic in our lives. We’re living in built-up urbanised spaces. By 2050, 66 per cent of the world will be urbanised. Biophilic design is a means to reconnect you with nature, and elicit a similar response to wonderful times you’ve had on beaches, in forests or on mountains. Built environments are hard-edged and geometric, and they aren’t the space you actually want to be in. Biophilic design works – it increases productivity in the workplace by 6-15 per cent, and helps you recuperate in a hospital 8.5 per cent faster. We are taking what we’ve learned from those spaces to residential projects.

A bed with white sheets and plants around it

A Heath-designed bed landscape for a biophilic hotel project

Instead of looking at what next year’s colour is going to be in terms of trends, there are more important things to think about. Your bedroom should have soft acoustics, and no electronics in it apart from lighting. I use smart systems that change the colour of light by my bed, and an alarm clock that wakes me up gently with changing, increasing levels of light. Materials are important: if you sleep in a pine bed, it lowers your heart rate.

a bath with a living wall

A biophilic hotel bathroom by Oliver Heath

We know that by connecting with people in a natural environment that it creates a certain mood and dynamic. The most obvious example is sitting around a campfire, when you feel the warmth of the fire, hear the crackle of logs and smell food cooking. Shared moments in nature bring people together. I have wood panelling in my home made from salvaged larch, from trees that came down in Kew Gardens in the big storm of 1987, and we used the same material to clad the kitchen cupboards. We know that just seeing natural wood makes us feel better. The work surfaces in my kitchen are made from crushed recycled glass, and the walls are painted with Volatile Organic Compound-free (VOC) eco paints. As kitchens can be limited in space, I often recommend introducing greenery via a small green wall system – it can improve air quality and provide you with fresh herbs.

We have worked on numerous white papers studying biophilic design. The latest is about designing for cognitive and sensory wellbeing. Sustainable design is about engineering, but biophilic design is different. We have established a series of courses to teach the core principles, helping you explore what’s possible and how to achieve the best results. People have found them hugely rewarding, and a total revelation.

Matt Morley
Founder and director, Biofilico

A man sitting down with plants around him

Matt Morley, the founder and director of Biofilico

Biophilic design is an instinctive response to our disconnect from the natural world, an attempt to redress the balance by bringing the outside world in once more, especially in dense, urban environments.

There are various models out there, such as Stephen Kellert’s ‘14 Patterns of Biophilic Design’ and things can get fairly technical if we go down that rabbit hole, but, in general, I keep it simple by referring to biophilic interiors as spaces that harmoniously balance sustainability and wellbeing, with nature acting as the bridge between the two. For me there is nothing more mood-enhancing and visually appealing than a display of organic, seasonal, and locally sourced fruit and vegetables on a kitchen counter, preferably in a variety of ceramic bowls with a wabi-sabi finish and perhaps a Monstera leaf in water for a final botanical flourish.

white and bronze vases and jugs

Close-ups of natural elements in Morley’s interiors

Installing a botanical-print wallpaper with toxic adhesives that create VOCs that damage indoor air quality, or placing a couple of randomly chosen plant species in plastic pots in the corner of a room and claiming ‘purified indoor air’, doesn’t cut it. By applying evidence-based design principles we can avoid bio-washing. Wellness tech, such as commercial-grade indoor air quality monitors, accompanied by cloud- based 24/7 analysis and even certification from a standard, such as RESET Air, are now a part of the service our studio offers – especially post- Covid when Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is more relevant than ever.

Ornaments on a mantlepiece and a painting

Close-ups of natural elements in Morley’s interiors

Advances in bio-based, organic and above all healthy building materials also provide us with an ever-growing tool kit of green and healthy alternatives to paints, fabrics, insulation materials, furniture and adhesives that can otherwise contain toxic chemicals and have a negative impact on the environment. Biophilic soundscapes from the likes of SWELL (sound wellness) now offer on-demand access to nature-based sound experiences designed for mental wellbeing.

The corner of a navy blue throw with a grey throw on it by a coffee table

Close-ups of natural elements in Morley’s interiors

A biophilic lighting strategy combines efforts to maximise daylight exposure, with LED circadian lighting systems that mimic our natural 24-hour cycles to both enhance productivity during the day and improve sleep at night, while reducing energy consumption in the building. Simply by providing more of the natural light spectrum and intensity our bodies are programmed for at certain times of day, we can gently improve energy levels by day and promote restorative rest by night.

Harleen McLean
Harleen McLean Interiors

The term ‘biophilia’ was first coined by Erich Fromm in the 1970s – calling it “the passionate love of life and of all that is alive” – and it has been the basis of my practice since I established it more than 30 years ago. It’s always been a part of my approach to design. I grew up in Africa, surrounded by nature, and it was only when someone in the US said to me, “Oh, you’re a biophilic designer”, that I put a name to it. I had just always been inspired by wildlife and landscapes, and the colours linked to them. It is inherent, because of where I come from.

Often when you’re working on a home, you have major obstacles. I am working on a Victorian residence in London, and the structure doesn’t lend itself entirely to the changes I want to make. But often you can use modern elements to create a biophilic interior. A floating staircase works well, because it’s all about space and light.

A kitchen with a painted purple, green and yellow wall and wooden unit

An original bug-themed kitchen splashback designed by Harlan McLean

Certain simple things can contribute a lot, such as lavender. The colour brings something from the natural world, you can use the fragrance via candles, and also bring it inside, literally, as a pot plant. You can buy fresh culinary lavender and hang it up to dry in your kitchen. You’re creating a multi-sensorial experience in the room you entertain in, through textures, shape and colour. It’s important to have ease of
movement in the kitchen, while activating your taste buds and other senses.

Technology has changed a lot since I started my practice, which has helped. Years ago we had ‘mood lighting’, and now you can do a million things with the colour temperature of light.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf: NFTs – Hype or Here To Stay

Visual elements within my designs aren’t always obvious. I was interested by what WilkinsonEyre and Grant Associates did with the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. The architecture is inspired by orchids, but the lighting used in the towers is inspired by the patterns in a mammal’s eye, so when they light up you have a connection to that, even if you don’t know what it is. I frequently incorporate a visual representation of animal or plant DNA in fabrics or wallpapers that I create for an interior. It’s subtle, but it has impact and meaning.

Find out more: gaggenau.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 10 min
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
luxury hotel
luxury hotel

The Royal Champagne is built into south-facing vineyards on the Montagne de Reims

In the final part of our luxury travel views series from the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks into Champagne’s newest and most luxurious hotel: the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa in Épernay

If the devil is in the detail, the Royal Champagne is a devil of a place. In the best possible way. What detail to pick on? The barista-style Italian espresso machine in the room? The pale-leather welcome box containing a bottle of boutique Leclerc Briant champagne in an ice bucket, two champagne glasses and some fruit slices? The delicate mesh on the light wood occasional table? So many.

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In truth, Champagne has been in need of this hotel forever. I have been visiting the region on business and pleasure for years, and the choice has been between a couple of old-school country luxe hotels with little in the way of contemporary pleasures, and an array of functional places wholly out of keeping with champagne (the drink) and its image of indulgence.

From the very start, it’s plain that the Royal Champagne is something else: an indulgent hotel created with extreme love and style (and budget) by deep-pocketed owners wanting the best and hang the cost. (That is my impression, and I challenge them to prove me wrong.)

spa swimming pool

The pool overlooks the champagne vineyards of Épernay

You approach from Reims by driving up the Montagne de Reims, the forest-topped big hill with vineyards on both sides that demarcates the territory between Reims and Épernay, the two capitals of Champagne. Through the forest at the top of the hill, onto a lane through the vineyards, and the hotel entrance appears out of nowhere.

The Royal is built into the hillside, a contemporary building and a feat of engineering beside the historic building that gives it its name.

Read more: LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai on Effective Climate Action

Inside, everything is light, open. The welcome is professional and swift, and our room, like all of them, faced out over the vineyards, with a big balcony and vista down to Épernay and to the hills of the Côte des Blancs beyond. The balcony table shaped as a hollow-sided mini-barrel was particularly cute. Inside, everything was generous, light grey, cream, gold: the big bathroom has a sliding wooden screen to the bedroom so you can bathe with a view.

The temptation to hang out in the beautiful bedrooms is extreme but should be resisted. A couple of levels below, an indoor pool stretches the length of the main building of the hotel, all with picture windows out to the vista; there are beds on pedestals at either end to relax on, as well as more conventional loungers all around, and on an expansive terrace outside there are more chill-out spaces and an outdoor pool, warmed to cope with the north European weather, on the edge of the vines.

luxury hotel bedroom

Then there’s the aptly named Le Bellevue restaurant, with a vast terrace with a view, where you can choose from an array of specialist champagnes and – amazing for the region – choose from a light, modern, organic-based menu. Bulgur and coriander tabbouleh, baked monkfish with chard risotto, that sort of thing. And do yourself a favour and allow the sommelier to choose for you from one of the small-grower champagnes: you may never have heard of them, because they only sell locally and make in tiny amounts.

The Royal Champagne is so good that it could be a destination hotel and resort for someone not interested in drinking champagne. It manages the trick of being desirable for couples, friends or families without overwhelming with one. The service is brilliant without being corporate (it’s not part of a group) and like another LUX favourite, the Alpina Gstaad, it redefines contemporary hôtellerie. It really is that good.

Book your stay: royalchampagne.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 3 min
Books
Books

tat* by Andy Altmann

Some people collect wine or classic cars; others collect coins or stamps. Andy Altmann collects graphic ephemera – or what he calls ‘tat’. Altmann developed his interest in scraps during his career at Why Not Associates, the multidisciplinary studio he founded upon graduating from the Royal College of Art over three decades ago. Now, the graphic designer has compiled his collection in a singular, self-designed publication. Here, Altmann speaks to LUX about how the book mirrors his design evolution, and why brash design need not be devoid of beauty

man with box1. Of all the things you might collect, you chose ‘tat’. Why?

It’s hard for me to explain exactly why I collect tat*. When I was a young boy, my mother noticed me sitting at the kitchen table, carefully studying the label on an HP Sauce bottle. When she enquired why, I apparently replied, ‘someone must have to design this’. I was instinctively attracted by the lettering, the colours and the illustration of the Houses of Parliament on what is still my favourite condiment. It’s a classic example of what was once known as ‘commercial art’. It did its job and pulled me in.

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However, I didn’t start collecting any graphic ephemera until I was studying graphic design at St Martins School of Art in the early 1980’s. We were encouraged to keep sketchbooks, where we could practice our drawing and put our creative thoughts down on paper. I wasn’t as gifted as some of my peers at drawing, so I started to turn these sketchbooks into idea notebooks where I would also stick in any relevant piece of graphic ephemera. With time, these developed into pure scrapbooks with more and more tat* lovingly glued into their pages. There is a great nostalgic attraction to the particular era that the ephemera has been produced in. But it is also my fundamental fascination with popular culture, including the history of Pop Art, which was and still is a huge influence on me – where the everyday is embraced and celebrated.

2. tat* emphasises the disposability of graphic ephemera even while immortalising it in book form. What fascinates you about that interplay?

These ephemeral pieces of tat* were not designed to survive for a long time. They had a job to do and, in the majority of cases, they end up in the bin. There is certainly irony in me celebrating what some may see as poor graphic design, destined for the trash, ending up in a fancy hardback coffee table book. But I hope people can also see the beauty in the ugly. The cheap production values of much tat* means that the printing is often poor and mis-registered – but to me, this only adds to their aesthetic attraction. I don’t know why this should be: maybe it’s like a stamp collector who is looking for a printing mistake, which makes a stamp much rarer. I think it may however be that they just feel more human, less perfect.

book

tat* by Andy Altmann

3. You frequently extrapolate memories from the graphic scraps reproduced in tat* – of your upbringing in Warrington, or sitting and watching World of Sport with your grandfather. Could we call it a diary of sorts?

I guess it is a kind of diary, as it illustrates moments through my life in association with printed pieces of ephemera. They can evoke various memories of where I may have found them, who gave it to me or a subject that is dear to me. A good friend of mine, on reading a copy of the book, described it as now being his ‘favourite autobiography’. I really like that description. It was a revelation to me, as I had not thought of it in that context, but it’s a really interesting way of viewing it.

As a graphic designer, it is rare for me to be asked to write about anything. I consider myself more of a visual person, so I was hesitant to include any written words in the book. But I was encouraged by friends to have a go at including relevant stories after recounting some of them when showing them work-in-progress spreads. In the end, I found the writing a really enjoyable and rewarding experience, and it turned the final book into a much more interesting piece of work.

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

4. Much of that depicted in tat* is brash, erroneous, or what might be considered ‘bad’ graphic design. What value is there to be derived from this kind of design?

Having a collection of graphic ephemera can be useful to any practicing graphic designer. It’s a library of visual thoughts. Some may be deemed naff or crude but any piece could spark an idea, illustrate a great colour palette, inspire a typographic layout or choice of font. It doesn’t really matter that it may be considered ‘bad design’ – there may well be something that could be taken to start a tract of creative thought.

I was a co-founder of the multidisciplinary design practice Why Not Associates. I used to keep all my scrapbooks of tat* in the cupboard next to my desk. If a designer was having a creative block I used to encourage them to flick through some of the scrapbook pages in the hope that they may spark an idea or just freshen the mind. Some of our best ideas started from a thought inspired by a piece of tat*.

book

tat* by Andy Altmann

5. tat* is clearly fascinated with vintage or retro design. Would you say that any one period inspires you most as an artist and, if so, which one?

That period would be the 1960’s and 1970’s because, as with many people, I think I am most strongly drawn to the period of my childhood. It is where we form our fundamental characteristics and loves that stay with us for life. I guess it’s the basic human desire for nostalgia for our youth. One only has to watch contemporary television to see the many shows dedicated to salvaging objects from peoples childhoods or early adulthood.

Read more: Big Boy Blue: In the Studio with Idris Khan

6. You ran a design studio, Why Not Associates, for 33 years before you decided to embark on more personal projects like tat*. How have you ensured that your designs stay inventive and surprising throughout your career?

I co-founded Why Not Associates with two fellow students on leaving the Royal College of Art in 1987. We never worked for another design company, and I think because of this direct transition we maintained the spirit for experimentation and surprise that we had developed as students. We left the RCA with just three drawing boards, but we were among the first design groups to buy an Apple Mac. We were not scared of the change, unlike many of our contemporaries, and we embraced the technology which led us to be one of the first multidisciplinary design groups. An open mind to change, collaborating with people of all ages and not taking yourself too seriously help to keep new, inventive and surprising ideas flowing.

I don’t think my approach to solving a creative problem has basically changed over the years. I am a curious person who loves researching the background to a project and this always forms the platform to relevant and strong ideas. However, you still need that child-like mind to embrace the unexpected. Look at it upside down and back to front. What at first may seem to be a daft notion or irrelevant idea could turn it into a thought provoking concept.

Find out more: circa.press

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Reading time: 6 min
Dining room
dining room

Chelsea Barracks, with spatial layout and interior design by Elicyon. Photo Michael Sinclair

An architect by training and an interior designer by trade, Charu Gandhi cites her multicultural upbringing as the source of her fascination with people and how they occupy space. To translate her design language to others, she founded design studio Elicyon in 2014, and has since completed super prime luxury residential projects in New York, Dubai, Shanghai, and London  to name just a few. Here, Gandhi speaks to LUX Contributing Editor, Samantha Welsh, about the importance of finding fluidity between disciplines and cultures, and her optimism about the future of women in design

A woman sitting on a sofa with flowers on a table in front of her

Charu Gandhi

1. What are Elicyon’s chief design principles?

At Elicyon, we are led both by how space is used and a fine attention to detail. We also focus on how those can be executed differently for each project. Often you can walk into a project and know how the home would work best for the client. I have a strong spatial understanding that helps to guide the design scheme. What we aim to do is to make our clients fall in love with design, and embark on the journey of learning about materiality and craftsmanship when they work with us.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. What questions do you ask when considering the design brief for a super prime residential scheme?

We have an extensive briefing process that’s about getting to know the client. We ask how each room is used differently by family members and at what times of the day. Designing a home is often about evoking a feeling: I always ask clients to think about a time they really enjoyed themselves – be it an experience in a restaurant or a holiday destination – and what they loved about it. They might remember that they loved the linen on a hotel bed, the details of a ceiling in their favourite restaurant or even the size of the bedside tables in a hotel room.

luxurious interiors of private residence

41-43 Beaufort Gardens, designed by Elicyon. Photo Michael Sinclair

3. How does Elicyon deliver projects globally?

We’ve delivered projects in every continent, and what it really comes down to is great planning. It’s paramount to understand the logistics of a project thoroughly, and often working with a strong local team has proved invaluable. They act as our eyes and ears on the ground. For each new location, we do a recce to understand the particularities, culture and to be familiar with the buildability (seeing what is physically possible to build locally).

Having worked internationally for many years, we have built up a solid black book of partners that we can rely on, from transport companies to logistics managers, the majority of which are based in London but have global reach.

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

4. How did this cross-cultural appeal come about?

Having an international client base naturally means we are asked to help on projects in many different continents – we might start with their London home, and end up designing their homes in Dubai, LA and Shanghai too. It’s a reflection of how multicultural London is as a design centre.

Ultimately, however, it comes down to my upbringing. I have travelled extensively since an early age and was educated at an international school, so my school friends live in all parts of the world. I also have an innate interest in people and how they live and occupy spaces.

A living room with fireplace and armchairs

Chelsea Barracks, with spatial layout and interior design by Elicyon. Photo Michael Sinclair

5. What during your training most inspired your vision as an architect and designer?

My first year at the Architectural Association was my most formative year, led by a brilliant teacher, Julia Wood, who passed away too young some years after. She turned the notion of architecture on its head – and we explored concepts through dance, through sculpture and the human body, and she introduced us to a myriad of conceptual artists of the time. I remember being particularly struck by Rachel Whiteread’s work.

6. What do you think has changed for women in architecture in recent years?

There is no better time to be a woman in architecture: the playing field, from a London-centric view, is full of great women designers, thanks to groundbreakers like Zaha Hadid who cracked the mould. Nevertheless, there are worrying statistics of those who graduate as architects versus those still in the role 10 years on. In my mind, the UK needs to fix its childcare challenges, and only then will the female-led architecture and design ecosystem thrive.

I know the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Architects Registration Board (ARB) have task forces working on it, and that I too have a responsibility as a leader to grow and build female teams.  I am proud to say that at Elicyon our senior leadership team is entirely female. As an industry, however, we must endeavour to always do better.

Find out more: Elicyon.com

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Reading time: 4 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
jewellery designer's studio
drawings of jewellery designs

Pomellato’s Kintsugi collection brings the old Japanese technique of repairing broken ceramics with lacquer and gold dust to the upcycling of broken gemstones. Courtesy of Pomellato

Continuing our focus on sustainability in line with COP26, Torri Mundell explores how jewellery house Pomellato’s latest collection makes use of broken, upcycled stones
portrait of a man

Vincenzo Castaldo. Photo by Angela Lo Priore

Sustainability and ethical practices are a constant challenge for the jewellery industry. On the one hand, customers want the most desirable products and are willing to pay what it takes, so jewellery very rarely ends up as landfill. On the other hand, the sector is beset by reports of unsustainable practices and labour scandals.

Pomellato, the Italian jeweller known for its whimsical and colourful creativity, has set up camp firmly on the ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) side of the jewellery industry. The company is part of Kering, the French luxury giant run by François-Henri Pinault which has long made a virtue of its ethical endeavours (it was the first luxury group to introduce an environmental profit & loss account and expects its brands to follow it).

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Vincenzo Castaldo, creative director of the brand, is at the heart of the company’s challenge: how to continue its trademark originality and freshness of design, while ensuring everything is produced via a supply chain strictly internally audited for its ESG credentials.

“With its timeless nature, a jewel carries the message of sustainability like nothing else,” says Castaldo. He says the pandemic has strengthened his customers’ resolve to shop more conscientiously. Fine jewellery is no longer simply about “the intrinsic value of materials and craftsmanship but about ethical and cultural values… The events we have recently experienced are addressing us to a more conscious luxury. Our clients are more and more interested in the story you are telling, the ‘behind the scenes’ narrative.”

jewellery set with necklace, earrings and ring

A selection of pieces from the collection. Courtesy of Pomellato

Establishing supply chains for precious metals and gems is the industry’s biggest challenge. The chains are notoriously murky, mainly because raw materials often originate from some of the poorest places in the world and pass through many countries and hands – miners, cutters, refiners and dealers – before they arrive to market.

In 2018, five years after its acquisition by Kering, the Italian jewellers achieved 100 per cent responsible gold purchasing – valuable because gold-sculpted pieces set with colourful precious stones as well as bold, chunky chains have been central to the brand’s relaxed, modern aesthetic since its founding in 1967.

jewellery designer's studio

The atelier where the collection is made. Courtesy Pomellato

three rings

A selection of rings. Courtesy Pomellato

The market for coloured gemstones and diamonds is even less regulated than that of precious metals. The brand has been collaborating with the Responsible Jewellery Council to develop their network of diamond suppliers. Brokering a direct relationship with a mining company is another way to establish the provenance of gems: lapis lazuli stones sourced ethically from an artisanal mine in Chile were used in the brand’s earlier, made-to-order Denim Lapis Lazuli collection.

Read more: Two designers on sustainable luxury design

When it comes to design, Castaldo says, “the biggest challenge is to keep alive the conversation between creativity and sustainability.” The Kintsugi collection, using upcycled stones, benefits from a “cross pollination” between the two. Castaldo was inspired by his visit to Japan in 2019, where he became captivated by the tradition of reassembling broken objects with lacquer and decorating the original fracture with a seam of gold. “I was drawn to the elegance of Japanese thinking and the idea of something broken becoming more precious through this ritual of repairing,” Castaldo remembers.

Slightly flawed stones have been used by Castaldo in previous designs, but the Kintsugi collection showcases gems that are actually broken: damaged pieces of jet and kogolong which would normally be discarded. A female kintsugi artist repairs the gems in Tokyo before they are brought to Pomellato’s craftsmen in Milan; the collaboration yields minimalist rings, earrings and pendants that tell a story through the gold seams streaking across former cracks and fissures in the gems. “Each jewel is truly one of a kind,” he says, “and this, to me, is the real essence of preciousness.”

Kintsugi is an ancient craft, but for Castaldo, “the idea of celebrating your scars as a sign of strength through healing is a very contemporary philosophy”. So, too, is the movement to reorder our priorities and shop more conscientiously.

Find out more: pomellato.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 3 min
luxury living space
open plan living room

An impression of the ‘Tiger’s Eye’ bespoke decorative scheme for one of the Chedi Gems, a series of penthouses in The Chedi Andermatt hotel

A major hotel, property and infrastructure development has swept the village of Andermatt in Switzerland onto the world stage of luxury. Karen Chung speaks to some of the key shapers of the future of this still-expanding project, which has attracted real estate buyers from around the world

For such a little place, Andermatt punches well above its weight. With its seductive mix of luxury hotels and apartments, restaurants, boutiques and a chic cultural centre nestled around the historic village, it is a glamorous playground in the heart of the Swiss Alps.

This sleepy little skiing village was reawakened with the arrival of The Chedi Andermatt, the five-star hotel and residences masterminded by Jean-Michel Gathy, the lauded hotel designer behind the soaring Aman Canal Grande Venice, LVMH’s Cheval Blanc Randheli and the soon-to-open Aman New York. Launched in 2013, The Chedi Andermatt pulled off a pleasing paradox: a relaxed riff on the classic Swiss chalet with an undeniably Asian influence, ultra-aspirational yet delightfully relaxed and unstuffy. With 50 hotel rooms, 107 residences and 13 penthouses, award-winning restaurants, a first-rate fitness centre and a state-of-the-art spa, cigar and wine libraries, ski-in ski-out facilities and even a flotilla of ski butlers to warm your boots, it swiftly won a slew of awards, including Gault Millau Hotel of the Year in 2017.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Over the phone from Kuala Lumpur, where he has lived for 40 years, Gathy muses over The Chedi Andermatt’s show-stopping design interpretation of Swiss chalet heritage. “People ask me, why did you design in an Asian style, but the stone, wood, fireplace, leather, everything is Swiss! The Chedi Andermatt is totally Swiss. The window size, balustrades, materials, everything follows Swiss codes – and believe me, Switzerland has a lot of codes! There’s no one single architectural or design feature that’s Asian. What is Asian is the layering of the space and the lighting, which enhances the layering by creating depth of field.

“I’m from a traditional European background, but when you live in Asia this long you unconsciously assimilate the attitude, the culture, the habits, the values. You do it consciously at first, then you just absorb it. For me, design is an emotional expression of an inner feeling. You just feel this is the way it should be.

Jean-Michel Gathy. Courtesy Jean-Michel Gathy

“And what makes The Chedi Andermatt different is the layering. Think of Europe and how you move from room to room. In Asia, it’s not like that. You don’t have a door from one room to another, you have screens. The flow is very different. You’re always somewhere but you never know where. I don’t do this on purpose anymore. It’s the way I think. In luxury, there’s more emotion. So, when you apply that layering to the logic, you get The Chedi Andermatt. It’s dynamic, layered, pleasant, comfortable, and it serves its purpose.

“I’ve designed luxury resorts my whole life, and know my clientele very well,” he adds. “I’m very lucky. In luxury there’s room for creativity and emotion, and I know how to use the tools to translate that understanding. I design exactly the way I am and create every single project by hand. It’s very natural.”

luxury living space

A render of a living space in one of the penthouses at The Chedi Andermatt

Indeed, your first instinct as you arrive is to kick back, curl up and gaze at those expansive mountain views from the comfort of the capacious sofas. Gathy’s response to an exacting brief was an intuitive one, perfectly fitted to how we want to live now.

Read more: How to create a truly sustainable luxury hotel

The wealthy have long been attracted to Switzerland but buying here has been notoriously hard. All residences in Andermatt, however, are exempt from the Lex Koller law, which limits foreign ownership of Swiss property, while a popular scheme that manages and rents out apartments while owners are away adds to buyer appeal. It’s seriously accessible, too – just 90 minutes’ drive from Zurich, two hours from Milan and four from Munich, while private jets and helicopters can fly to Buochs Airport, a 45-minute drive away.

spa bathroom

An impression of a private penthouse spa at The Chedi Andermatt

“The past year changed everything,” says Russell Collins, the amiable British head of real estate who’s also on the Andermatt development board. “But we really didn’t envisage how busy we were going to be. We’ve sold over CHF500 millions’ [£394.5m] worth of apartments – almost everything we had available – and 2020 was a record year. There were obviously a lot of people sitting at home thinking, we could be skiing now…! Roughly half the buyers are Swiss, half are international – many from neighbouring countries such as Italy and Germany, as well as from the UK, and also Singapore, Hong Kong and Russia. We’re selling the last few remaining Chedi Andermatt penthouses now, which can be fitted out by our team of architects and interior designers, who work with the buyer to their exact spec.” Penthouses start from CHF6.2 million [£4.9m] for a 333 sq m space.”

Developers are also working with Protect Our Winters (POW) to preserve the unique microclimate that makes Andermatt a skiing paradise. Sustainability has been at the heart of the development from the start, with The Chedi Andermatt and all private residences built to stringent Minergie standards for low-energy-consumption buildings. Services run on natural resources (and, refreshingly, are hidden below ground), and in winter an electric bus zips round the car-free development.

swiss mountain village

Andermatt with the new village quarter of Andermatt Reuss to its left. Photograph by Valentin Luthiger

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Andermatt is nailing that all-important lifestyle mix as it becomes a year-round destination without losing its still relatively low-key charm. Its burgeoning mix of hotels, apartments and chalets nestle alongside traditional historic buildings and an expanding boutique retail and restaurant offering. And in summer, as well as hiking and walking, there’s the option of golf on the award-winning course. And after coming to an abrupt halt, its annual music programme is also reviving after an 18-month hiatus.

“I think residents are really encouraged by the fact that we’re so committed to making this a great place to live,” says Collins. “The danger is that we just become a ski resort for the winter months, but we’re looking hard at the year-round offer, creating life at street level and making it a joyful place to spend time.” It’s for the next wave of pioneering buyers to see how well Andermatt achieves that.

The Chedi Andermatt Spa and Health Club

There are spas, and then there is the spa at The Chedi Andermatt, a multi-award-winning, divinely decadent 2,400 sq m temple to wellness. Exclusive organic products are a key feature of the spa; particular highlights are the Tata Harper Natural Glow from Head-to-Toe Ritual and the divinely relaxing Oromovizca Golden Full Body Massage, inspired by the curative properties of Hungarian thermal waters and which includes an invigorating gold-and-sugar peel. The health club boasts the very latest TechnoGym equipment and there’s a hydrothermal spa with a seemingly endless array of baths and saunas, as well as a stunning 35m indoor pool, the longest in Switzerland.

cheese selection

The cheese tower of local Swiss cheeses at The Restaurant

The Restaurant at The Chedi Andermatt

“A sense of occasion for our guests is key,” says Armin Egli, Executive Chef at The Chedi Andermatt, “and creating great experiences is a big part of that. In our four open-plan kitchen stations in The Restaurant, guests can take a seat at the chef’s table to watch food being prepared, whether that’s Asian-inspired delicacies, traditional Swiss fare, or simply see our pastry chefs at work. We also have a five-metre-tall cheese tower, currently showcasing 43 cheeses unique to Switzerland; guests can taste and learn the story behind each one. And we often reinstate favourite dishes. Black pepper beef is a stand-out favourite from the Asian kitchen that we keep having to bring back by popular demand. If it’s not on the menu when you visit, just ask…”

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 7 min
hotel bar
hotel bar

Over a century after Vincent van Gogh moved to the Provençal city of Arles with the intention of setting up an artists’ commune, Maja Hoffmann, Swiss art collector and founder of the city’s contemporary art centre LUMA, is reviving his dream with l’Arlatan, a hotel and artist residence occupying a 15th-century palace. Filled with more than a million handmade, glazed ceramic tiles in vivid shades of yellow, tangerine, lavender and blue, the historic building has been transformed by Cuban-born American artist Jorge Pardo into an inhabitable piece of art. LUX Contributing Editor Maryam Eisler photographs its kaleidoscopic surfaces

curved stone staircase
swimming pool
lounge area of hotel
swimming pool
vase of flowers
ceramic tiles in bathroom
colourful hotel restaurant
colourful glass bottles
hotel bedroom
light fixtures hanging in stairway
hotel room with tiled floor
courtyard restaurant

Book your stay: arlatan.com

 

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Reading time: 3 min
designer seated in a chair
designer seated in a chair

Jörg Neuner, Head of Gaggenau’s brand centre in Lipsheim, France

Jörg Neuner, Head of the Gaggenau Brand Centre, speaks to LUX about heritage, handwork, and embracing a hybrid design philosophy

Seamlessly absorbing technological advancements into its DNA, the Gaggenau design philosophy is second to none. The secret? “Traditional handwork with the lightest of mechanical touches,” says Jörg Neuner, Head of the Gaggenau Brand Centre.

LUX travelled to Lipsheim in north-eastern France to speak all things design with Neuner, and find out how – from champagne-supplemented culinary workshops to getting down and dirty in the forging room – the centre offers visitors a fully immersive expression of the Gaggenau brand.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: How has the Gaggenau Brand Centre evolved since its opening in 2012?
Jörg Neuner: When we originally opened the Brand Centre, it was based just on design. Our first ambition for the space was for our internal product training, so it was used primarily for prototypes and new products. When there were guests here, like trainers and dealers, it also gave them the chance to visit the factory. That’s the interesting thing, to look behind the scenes and see how it’s all done – the handwork, the materials, and so on. So, that’s what we’ve been doing here since 2012. In 2019, after seven years of operation here, we had 10,000 visitors!

The Gaggenau Brand Centre, featuring a showroom, space for training courses and working kitchen, is located next to the brand’s historic factory

LUX: What makes the Lipsheim location different to other Gaggenau showrooms globally?
Jörg Neuner: We have showrooms like the one here in countries all around the world, and they’re all in the same style. I think what draws people to Lipsheim is the factory, being in the place where everything happens. Normally, we have all the guests here, aprons on, sleeves up, and in the kitchen; you can go and see inside the factory, too. That’s why people come. It’s a very dense experience of the brand, probably the most dense that you can have. Everything we do here is related to Gaggenau: its history, its characteristics, the products.

LUX: What does a typical visitor to the centre look like?
Jörg Neuner: Most of the groups that come here are dealers or retailers. A particularly important group is the product developers, the people building high-rise buildings completely equipped with Gaggenau. They travel throughout Europe to visit all the suppliers they have in their buildings, and they come here to see how it’s done, to understand the brand. Even if they are old-timers with Gaggenau, and have a strong knowledge of the brand, they always say how good it is to come and see how we do it – to see that, still, the products are unique. Now, too, because we have this next to the factory, we can really provide an event.

industrial factory

Visitors to the centre can also tour the factory to gain an insight into how the brand’s products are made

LUX: What does the centre have in store for its private clients?
Jörg Neuner: For the moment, the main thing for end consumers is our cooking classes. We have star chef here, from the region, who has a long-time connection with Gaggenau. He does a cooking course here every month, so you can come here, if you pay a certain fee, to cook lunch with him with a glass of champagne. It’s a big dream of ours, to accommodate more private clients in the future.

LUX: One of the most fascinating elements of the centre is the heritage pieces. Is that something you’re interested in, showing more of the brand’s heritage?
Jörg Neuner: Sure. We have a little interactive forging museum with some of our old appliances in it. I always see guests with big smiles on their faces when they take the hammer and make a piece of really authentic heritage using their own hands, which they get to take home with them. This is how we communicate our history: we try to put guests in touch with it, to make it as tangible as possible.

Read more: Vitalie Taittinger on family business and philanthropy

LUX: Which aspect of the manufacturing process is most surprising to visitors?
Jörg Neuner: I think the most fascinating thing is that with every process, there are people involved. There is still so much handwork and complexity involved, which we try to show to visitors. We have only one process that is automatised, which cuts flat sheet metal and can run around the clock, but in all other processes we have people. It’s really traditional handwork too: we don’t cut any corners. The best example is the 90cm oven. The door takes ninety minutes to assemble, and it’s one person, putting together 515 pieces, 37 metres of cable, step by step, all alone. 90 centimetres, 90 minutes: one centimetre a minute. It’s quite a huge depth of production. That’s really special, and it’s important for the dealers when they come to see it here.

craftsman at work

Traditional craftsmanship is at the heart of Gaggeanu’s manufacturing processes

LUX: Technology has not replaced the human element of Gaggenau’s manufacturing process, but has it influenced the design evolution of products over the years?
Jörg Neuner: Our philosophy for our products is traditional avant-garde. We respect where we have come from – how people have cooked, what they know, what traditions there are – and, when it makes sense, we incorporate technology. For example, all the tapping indicators on the induction and ceramic cooktops have knobs. We have some [appliances with] touchscreens as well, for flexibility, so that you can do further programming, but you have full control at the manual level. Modular products have also come up over the course of the last few decades. With Gaggenau it started by developing our ovens, making the panels smaller, giving the cavity more space; and eventually we put the oven not below the cooktop but into the wall. We were the first ones to do that. Then, we realised, with this new development, that you could combine it with the steamer, or the coffee machine, and that brought up new forms again. It all contributes to a certain story about the ergonomics of cooking; it’s not just an oven without a panel. So that shows how, on the one side, things develop, and we get a new avant-garde style, but on the other side it still has the things which still make sense. That’s the traditional avant-garde.

LUX: Have any Gaggenau designs remained untouched by time or technology?
Jörg Neuner: We now have two oven series, the 200 and the 400, while the 300 stays as an icon. We did our first attempt to update that one, and I was very happy, and it’s stayed the same ever since. To me, that’s amazing: that you can have an appliance for thirty years in the catalogue without any major change in the design or technology. Nobody else has that. We have a successor, but while it’s technically based on our new oven platform, with the same functions and features, the outline is the same. It has the same face. For me, that’s the Gaggenau face.

Find out more: gaggenau.com

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architectural pavilion in a city
black and white portrait of a man

Santiago Calatrava. Portrait by Jacqueline Roberts

The beauty and purity of form of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s buildings around the world belie the marvels of engineering that he brings to his show-stopping designs, as well as sometimes the controversies over budget overspends, design flaws and construction delays. But, as Mark C. O’Flaherty finds when he speaks to the architect, his extravagant vision never loses sight of each project’s singular purpose

Few things truly warrant the term ‘sensational’. Santiago Calatrava’s architecture demands it. You don’t look at his structures, you experience them. He engineers a feeling. Each project has its own potent energy, from the exhilarating elongated archery bows of his Puente de la Mujer in Buenos Aires and Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin, to the balletic falcon silhouette of one of his most recent works, the UAE Pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai. “Look, let me show you something,” he says, sitting in the garden of his home in Zurich. “See…?” Taking a finger to his iPad, he draws the outline of a bird in flight, with curlicued feathers, reminiscent of a Cocteau sketch. “And here is my signature…” Again, he creates an effortless swoosh and a soaring gesture on screen. “Birds were a big part of my childhood. I grew up in a house next to a tower full of doves and watched them come and go. Using nature as an approach to architecture has always fascinated me. Not in a decorative way, but as a purity of spirit.”

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Calatrava’s career began in the early 1980s, with warehouses and railway stations in Germany and Switzerland and the Bach de Roda Bridge in Barcelona. Even then his style was fully formed, with its roots in fine art. He left Spain in 1968 with the intention of studying in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts. But fate – and that year’s student riots – closed one door and opened another. “I visited Notre Dame one morning,” he recalls. “The light was streaming through the windows on the south side of the building and it was the first time I realised how sublime architecture could be, and how it can reach levels of expression that move your heart.” He left Paris and returned home to Valencia to study architecture for the next six years. Today, his work has been acknowledged with twenty-two honorary degrees, a retrospective (in 1993) at MoMA in New York, and a gold medal from the American Institute of Architects in 2005.

radical architectural structure

Innovation, Science & Technology Building at Florida Polytechnic University, designed by Calatrava in 2014. Image by lan Karchmer for Santiago Calatrava

In person, Calatrava radiates enthusiasm and charm, frequently appending sentences with an endearingly accented English “…isn’t it?” When he isn’t hard-wired into his studios in Zurich, Dubai and New York, he reverts to painting and sculpting. “I think of it as patient research, and parallel to my architecture,” he explains. “It all has the same energy. All my work is figurative. Even when I sculpt something abstract, the weight and tension in it are related to the human body. It’s all based on nature.” Those doves at the family home are part of an expansive flowchart of a global ecosystem that is Calatrava’s mood board. “I used to visit the Paleontological Museum in Valencia with my brother, and I was fascinated by the shells there,” he says, “I take inspiration from things that are skeletal, but also unicellular organisms visible by microscope. My PhD thesis was called ‘The Natural is Mother and Teacher’. I see the science of engineering as empirical – it comes from observing the behaviour of natural structures.”

a bridge lit by pink neon

The Puente de la Mujer, Buenos Aires, 2001. Image by Diego Grandi/Alamy. 

A Calatrava building is anything but simple. It also certainly isn’t cheap. In 2013 The New York Times ran a critical piece on the architect, flagging up certain projects in Europe that ran two or three times over budget. His striking red bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice, completed in 2008, had various parties lawyering up after it took an extra €4.6m to complete, while his PATH station in New York City – the World Trade Center Oculus – is rumoured to have cost $4bn, twice its original estimate. Money aside, many wondered if the Oculus would ever actually be finished. But, as the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and Calatrava’s are some of the most ambitious buildings in history. Walking into the Oculus, despite the visual noise of its retail outlets, is akin to walking into the Sagrada Família in Barcelona, or St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The spatial qualities are sublime.

new york buildings

The World Trade Center Transportation Hub, New York, 2016. Image by Alan Karchmer

The architect’s vision for the future of our cities is as ambitious as his individual projects. While much of his work is for private clients – including the Turning Torso residential skyscraper in Malmö – he is a go-to for governments. He creates landmarks that market their location, but he is also, for all his flash, obsessive about the impact on a landscape. “We have an obligation to deliver for the next generation,” he says. “Communities need to be respectful of all things natural – something that begins with government, and then private clients react to that.” One forthcoming project is a new bridge across the Rhine in Eglisau, intended to pull traffic flow from the town centre, while being harmonious with its idyllic landscape. The jury behind the project flagged Calatrava’s design as having “a certain discretion” while still being “extremely elegant and self-confident.”

steel building entranceway

Innovation, Science & Technology Building at Florida Polytechnic University, Lakeland, FL, 2014. Image by Ian Karchmer for Santiago Calatrava. 

Modern architecture and nature can seem at odds, but Calatrava’s skill is in elevating what currently exists – he is a paradigm of the future of city planning as well as a high-profile architect. His 2015 Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) in Rio de Janeiro, which focuses on the role of science in the future of the environment, is remarkable for several things. The structure features solar panels that shift according to the direction of the sun, while water from the bay it overlooks regulates the temperature inside. “If you visit the museum, you learn so much, so simply,” he says. “We built a miniature forest and created a series of pools around the museum, drawing from the river. Gravity pumps it to the end of the pier and it cascades to the sea, not only filtering it, but oxygenating it. We are condensing an idea – showing how important the forests are around the city, and how the bay can regenerate things.” The museum also represented a major intervention in the existing urban plan of Rio. “We demolished the viaduct that had cut the city in two,” explains Calatrava. “Architecture can transform a city and contribute to a better way of life. Look at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco – it brings magic to that Pacific bay.”

Read more: Product designer Tord Boontje on sustainable materials

While working in Rio, Calatrava met Brazilian master architect Oscar Niemeyer, whose contemporary art museum opened in Niterói in 1996. Its blindingly white, futuristic, flying-saucer form offers a dialogue with Calatrava’s new building across the water. “He was over 100 when I met him, but still capable of enormously clear thinking,” he says. “He was my idol. His work showed me how you can transmit a kind of poetry through the shapes and forms of architecture, and how it goes beyond the everyday needs of people, and becomes art.”

station escalator

Guillemins TGV Railway Station, Liège, 2009. Image by James Ewin

Art is inherent in Calatrava’s work. Like the sculptor Richard Serra, he creates negative space that generates a sensation: “It is the void that delivers the atmosphere and emotion,” Calatrava says. “It is a constant for me. Even with my bridges, there is a space beneath them, and looking up at it can be as interesting as crossing over it. Architecture is essentially a material casket around a space you are developing. And, like a wheel without the hole in the middle, it won’t turn. It’s the most important aspect.”

walkway through a building

The Oculus at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, New York, 2016.

His use of negative space to create emotion is perhaps most apparent at the Oculus and at the neighbouring St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, currently under construction. Both are in his typical reductionist Mediterranean white, and both expose internal space to the sky. “The Oculus is a strip and the church is a circle,” he explains. “The latter has ribs in the dome to let the light in, and the void there has an image of the Almighty at the centre of the roof.” Calatrava references the beauty of the Pantheon in Rome, where the focal point of everything is, essentially, the hole at the centre of the ancient dome – “The emotion of the immaterial being framed by the material,” as he describes it. So with the church, it is Jesus that is framed rather than the sky. But at the white-winged Oculus, it is pure air. “The roof is designed to open,” Calatrava explains. “We calculated it precisely so that when it retracts each 11th September, at 10.28am to mark the time of the 2001 tragedy, the orientation of the sun delivers a strip of light down below. It is the light, and the void, that deliver the message.”

Find out more: calatrava.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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drummer on stage
man playing drums

Carl Gerges. Photograph by Charbel Abou Zeidan

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

The best place to listen to live music in Beirut…

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

What I love most about Lebanon…

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

The advice I would give to my younger self…

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

My favourite building in Beirut…

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

And my favourite building outside Beirut…

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

man in leather jacket

My happiest memory…

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

My favourite local dish…

Desserts with orange blossom.

My favourite musician…

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

What I would like to achieve next…

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

One thing I wish my country had more of…

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

My materialistic weakness is…

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

Interview by Candice Tucker

Find out more: mashrouleila.com; carlgerges.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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glass vessels
abstract light fixture

The Bouquet Light designed by Tord Boontje for Habitat in 2014

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

Tord Boontje 

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

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

glass vessels

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

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

abstract chandelier design

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

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

green chandelier

abstract light

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

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

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

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

artistic light fitting

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

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

Find out more: tordboontje.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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corridor and stairway
corridor and stairway

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

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

1. What is your design philosophy?

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

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

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

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

women leaving a hotel

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

3. What do you like your guests to do?

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

Read more: The gastronomic delights of Suvretta House, Switzerland

4. What makes the Costes different?

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

marble staircase

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

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

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

hotel bedroom

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

6. Why don’t you give interviews?

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

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

Find out more: hotelcostes.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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terrace views
terrace views

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hotel bedroom with views over a river

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book your stay: mandarinoriental.com/geneva

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue. 

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immersive art installation
immersive art installation

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

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

Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst

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

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

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

interactive floral installation

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

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

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

portrait of an artist

Es Devlin. Photograph by Jasper Clarke

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

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

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

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

metallic and mirrored installation

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

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

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

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

Found out more: superblue.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 5 min
selection of potatoes
potato farm with mist over the hills

Lucy and Anthony Carroll’s farm in Northumberland

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

Lucy & Anthony Carroll

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

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

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

selection of potatoes

A range of heritage potatoes produced by Lucy and Anthony Carroll

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

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

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

vineyard

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

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

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

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

bottle of white wine and two glasses

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

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

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

man working on vineyard

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

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

portrait of a chef in apronChef and culinary curator
SANTIAGO LASTRA

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

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

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

chef in the kitchenChef and culinary curator
CYRUS TODIWALA OBE

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

Find out more: gaggenau.com/gb

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 7 min
women looking at art
women looking at art

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

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

Philip Hewat-Jaboor. Photograph by Danny Evans

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

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

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

ancient sculpture

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

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

Read more: Olivier Krug on champagne and music

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reading time: 4 min
man with handbags and watches
man with handbags and watches

Founder of Xupes, Joe McKenzie

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

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

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

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

watches

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

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

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

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

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

Read more: Uplifting new paintings by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

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

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

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

002_Daytona-Stainless-Steel-Gents-6239

A pre-owned Rolex Daytona Stainless Steel watch

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

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

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

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

Find out more: xupes.com

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Reading time: 6 min
performance art
performance art

Chin Cheng-Te, Lee Chia-Hung, Lin Chuan-Kai, and Chen Yi-Chun, still image from Making Friends/ Fire, 2020, mixed media installation, dimensions variable. Videographer: Lee Chia-Hung.

Independent curator Eva Lin worked alongside French philosopher Bruno Latour and Martin Guinard to select contemporary artists and designers interrogating climate issues for the 12th edition of the Taipei biennial. Here, she speaks to Tara Sallaba about experiencing artworks in a digital format and how art can help to raise awareness

portrait of a woman in glasses

Eva Lin. Image by Etang Chen

1. The biennial has transformed the Taipei Fine Arts Museum into “planetarium”, representing different interpretations of the world. Which one most closely aligns with your views and why?

What I want to answer intuitively is the Planet Terrestrial*, but it should be the sum of all planets including the unveiled one. It’s like you plant a tree in your garden and underneath, the tree’s roots are intertwined with other species and cannot be separated anymore. Each mountain is not independent, but a symbiosis interactive with soil, species, bacteria, humidity, sunlight, wind. Geopolitical methods are no longer the answer to climate emergency. All problems nowadays are closely related to ecology, and each of us is no longer an outsider.

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2. How do you think art can most effectively participate in wider discussions around climate change?

We, as art workers, have to be modest about this issue. Art is certainly not the solution; it’s not created for problem solving. However, art can certainly serve as an alarm to wake up audiences and draw attention to social issues which cannot be solved due to the scientific uncertainty.

industrial boat on a green lake

Liu Chuang, still image from Lithium Lake and the Lonely Island of Polyphony, 2020, 3 channels video, colour, sound, 35mins 55 secs. Courtesy of the artist and Antenna Space

3. Are there any artists who are particularly inspiring you at the moment?

From the biennial, Chang Yu-Tang and for work about the Anthropocene, Forensic Architecture.

Read more: How women artists are reshaping art history

4. How do you think experiencing art through online formats affects our relationship with the pieces?

It’s somehow similar to observing the reflection of the moon on the ocean. You feel really close to the moon as you could actually catch the moon from the water, though you can’t feel the texture and temperature of the moon. We can easily access and experience art through online formats, though we certainly lose something and may not be able to encounter the soul of the piece.

man in jungle with bee hive

Pierre Huyghe, Exomind (Deep Water), 2017, concrete cast with wax hive, bee colony, figure: 72×60×79 cm, beehive dimensions vary. Courtesy of the artist, Winsing Arts Foundation and Taipei Fine Arts Museum. Photographer: Rex Chu

5. Do you think the art industry is doing enough to be sustainable?

There is still a long way to go. It’s really a lifetime task as the world is changing every day.

6. Once international borders open, which galleries/museums will you be visiting first?

Haus der Kulturen der Welt [HKW] in Berlin.

The Taipei Biennial runs until 12 March 2021 at Taipei Fine Arts Museum. For more information, visit: taipeibiennial.org/2020

*According to the biennial’s press release: ‘Planet Terrestrial restlessly looks for ways to achieve prosperity while staying within the limits of planetary boundaries.’

 

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Reading time: 2 min
dancers
dancers in the desert

Still from Within, directed and choreographed by Benjamin Millepied with music by Thomas Roussel. Photograph by Melissa Roldan

To celebrate the launch of their latest timepiece, Richard Mille invited choreographer Benjamin Millepied and composer Thomas Roussel to create a short film incorporating original dance and music. Here, Abigail Hodges takes a closer look at the performance and watch design
silver watch

RM72-01

The Richard Mille 72-01 Lifestyle In-House Chronograph is the brand’s first flyback chronograph made entirely in-house, and through its design it aims to weave together tradition and modernity – a concept which is also at the heart of WITHIN, a short film created by Benjamin Millepied and Thomas Roussel, set in the desert landscape of southern California.

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The film brings together the physical wonder of a ballet performance and the powerful sound of orchestral music to celebrate the precise art of watchmaking and Richard Mille’s bold, contemporary design aesthetic.

dancer in the desert

dancers

Both images: stills from Within. Photography by Melissa Roldan

While Millepied’s choreography – performed by two dancers – reflects how classical structure and form may be artistically reinvented, Thomas Roussel’s composition blends orchestral and electronic elements to create a dramatic, vibrant soundtrack which was performed by the 50 musicians of the London Symphony Orchestra and recorded at St. Luke’s Church in London.

Read more: Philanthropist Keith Breslauer on combining business & charity

The watch itself aligns with Richard Mille’s avant-garde approach to time-keeping and design (the watch face, for example, features only the numbers three, eight and eleven), but it is also one of the brand’s subtler and more elegant models. Worn on the wrists of both dancers in the film, it pairs perfectly with their formal costumes and the stark, dramatic landscape.

Watch the film below:

For more information visit: richardmille.com

 

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Reading time: 1 min
fashion shoot image

The Circular Fairisle Sweater from Connolly’s Autumn/Winter collection. Photograph by Robbie Lawrence 

Practical design does not have to mean dull looks. What about these subtle and elegant yet useful must-haves?

Originally a saddler and shoesmith, Connolly now enjoys cult status for its minimalist designs and luxury tailoring. Crafted from soft blue denim with a relaxed fit, the 4 Pocket Safari Jacket is the result of a collaboration with Neapolitan tailoring brand Finamore.

connollyengland.com

The Natural Dior short-sleeved dress is a hallmark piece of the French maison. Cut from beige and black tussah silk in a houndstooth pattern, it makes for an elegant and timeless addition to a workwear wardrobe. Accentuate the waistline with a simple black leather belt.

dior.com

The Sweet Alhambra timepiece is one of the latest additions to the Van Cleef & Arpels signature Alhambra collection, featuring the maison’s emblematic icon of luck in yellow gold with an interchangeable glossy-blue alligator strap.

vancleefarpels.com

 

Brother Vellies was founded to support traditional African design. The brand’s luxury handbags and shoes, including these chic Lauryn boots, are handcrafted in South Africa, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Italy, Haiti and at home in New York City.

brothervellies.com

Moynat’s new collection of ‘across straps’ were designed by artistic director Ramesh Nair to transform the brand’s handbags into stylish hands-free versions using a special jacquard weave. We love this bright herringbone graphic variation paired with the green Réjane model.

moynat.com/en

Celine has long embodied Parisian chic with its contemporary minimalist aesthetic. This camel Chesterfield revives a classic design with an elongated cut and subtle detailing. Wear it over a sharply tailored suit to achieve a look of nonchalant formality.

celine.com

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

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Reading time: 2 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
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.

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‘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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woman with red hair

Yayoi Kusama portrait with La Grande Dame x Yayoi Kusama Limited Edition © Yayoi Kusama

Contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s artistic impressions of Veuve Clicquot’s new vintage La Grande Dame 2012 pay tribute to the lasting influence and creativity of Madame Clicquot

After her husband’s death in 1805, Madame Clicquot took the reins of the eponymous champagne house. In era when women were excluded from the business world, this was an achievement in its own right, but she was also extremely good at her job, earning her the nickname ‘La Grande Dame of Champagne’. Two centuries later, Veuve Clicquot is paying tribute to her legacy through their latest vintage and a stunning artistic collaboration with Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama.

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Renowned for her flamboyant, quirky aesthetic, Kusama’s designs for the bottle and box incorporate flowers and her signature polka dot pattern in yellow, referencing the champagne’s bubbles, and expressing a sense of joy and energy.

floral sculpture

My Heart That Blooms in The Darkness of The Night, special object designed by artist Yayoi Kusama for Veuve Cliquot

polka dot interiors

Yayoi Kusama at Selfridges’ Corner Shop

She has also created an exuberant floral sculpture, in continuation of her Flowers That Bloom at Midnight series, that wraps around the champagne’s bottle. Available in only 100 numbered pieces (12 are available for sale in the UK), the sculpture is cast in fibreglass reinforced plastic and painted by hand in vibrant hues.

The La Grande Dame x Yayoi Kusama designs will be on display within the Selfridges Corner Shop in early Spring 2021. The limited edition is available to purchase online via: selfridges.com For enquiries regarding the special object visit: veuveclicquot.com

 

 

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hands holding grapes

The Respected by Gaggenau initiative recognises excellence in the categories of food, wine and design

German luxury appliance maker Gaggenau begins its search for three extraordinary makers and producers for their Respected by Gaggenau 2021 campaign. LUX reports

The inaugural Respected by Gaggenau prize aims to bring global attention to three exceptional regional producers in the categories of food, viniculture and design. A team of global experts have put together a long-list of 80 nominees from across Europe, which will be whittled down to 15 by Dr. Peter Goetz, Gaggenau’s Head of Design Sven Baacke, viniculture expert Sarah Abbott MW and culinary critic Tom Parker Bowles before the announcement of the final recipients in January 2021.

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The winning producers will receive a promotional package to support their business and showcase their craft, including videography and photography created by Gaggenau. They will also become an official Gaggenau global brand partner for 2021 giving them access to the brand’s high-net-worth customer base.

The Respected by Gaggenau 2021 long-list nominees from the United Kingdom were selected by LUX’s own editor-in-chief Darius Sanai, Kol restaurant chef Santiago Lastra and celebrated chef Cyrus Todiwala. Nominees include:

Culinary

Caroll’s Heritage Potatoes @carollsheritagepotatoes
Elchies Estates @elchies_animals
Keltic Seafare @kelticseafare
Langley Chase Organic Farm – Jane Kallaway @langleychasefarm
Rhug Estate Organic Farm – Lord Newborough @rhugestate

Design

Billy Tannery – Jack Millington @billytannery
Cara Guthrie Ceramics @caraguthrieceramics
Retrouvius – Adam Hills & Maria Speake @retrouvius

Viniculture

Albury Organic Vineyard @alburyvineyard
Coates and Seely @coatesandseely

Watch the campaign video below:

For more information visit: gaggenau.com

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sunken terrace
man in suit

Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar. Image by Marko Delbello Ocepek.

Iranian-born designer Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar does it all – interiors, architectural design, weddings. Whether large-scale events or private homes, a converted airplane or a château, he runs the gamut from extravagant to minimal with equal flair and imagination, bringing his clients’ stories to life. Torri Mundell reports

Architectural designer Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar is a man on the move. Since 2003, his striking design projects have made their mark on coastlines, private islands, mountainsides and city streets in Europe, Asia and the Gulf, while his events company operates from Dubai, London, Paris and Monaco. The spaces he conceives, from the cargo plane he transformed into an airborne apartment to a spectacular eco-friendly château in Provence and a refurbished 150-metre yacht extended with landscaped green spaces, are equally dynamic. “I think of spaces and events like personal books,” he says. “They are stories that we experience through an introduction, a body and a grande finale.”

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Though Behnam-Bakhtiar claims not to have a signature style, the emphasis on experiencing a space – rather than simply passing through it – is an essential part of his aesthetic. “To create this kind of extra dimension, I am very detail orientated. I study the space carefully, I envision the memories that can be created and I focus on the senses that can be discovered.”

floral wedding display

Behnam-Bakhtiar’s floral design for a wedding in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

Ali Bakhtiar Interiors clients do not commission him to create something they have already seen somewhere else. “Everything I do is one of a kind,” he says. “I don’t hold on to what I have done or what has been done.” Conceiving wholly original designs for every project can be hard work, he admits, but it means that he never caves in to “the dullness of repetition.” Instead, each project is always “a learning process that definitely keeps me challenged and excited.”

Read more: Meet the marine biologist pioneering coral conservation

Behnam-Bakhtiar’s curiosity, extensive research and the relationships he fosters with his clients to “deeply understand their values, wants and needs” all feed into his vision for a project. Every aspect of design is thoughtfully considered to create a harmonious whole, but his spaces are also full of daring, unexpected moments. Consider the château he restored in Provence: he preserved the historic façade and added a self-sustainable modern basement, a pond that irrigates the rest of the estate and a formal dining room with a glass floor that overlooks a garden lavishly planted with lotus flowers. “I believe it is important to embrace modernity as much as ancient knowledge, because something might look cool and new but it also needs to age well,” says the designer about his blend of the traditional and contemporary.

sunken terrace

A 2019 house on Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat designed with glass walls to make the surrounding forest part of the interior. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

Though the scale of the properties he designs can be vast, Behnam-Bakhtiar imbues his spaces with personal elements as well. “Generally, my favourite events or interior projects are the ones in which I deeply connect with my client, because this is what inspires me to go beyond expectation, and create something ‘out of this world’, a visualisation of their dreams and more.” In the château, for instance, each of the 34 suites was decorated to represent places or moments in time that are meaningful to the owner.

Creating a blueprint that encompasses both grand design moments and personal detail requires a nuanced approach. “Architecture to me is about conserving memory; creating spaces that host our lives but remain in existence beyond it,” Behnam-Bakhtiar continues. “Unlike events, architecture has permanence and so you are not just working on one experience in time, you are working on a timeless structure that impacts repeatedly. I believe architecture, landscaping and interior design need to merge to bring true and lasting harmony.”

He takes his cues from the outdoors to create this harmony. “I used to design houses that stood out from nature,” he remembers. “I now create ones that integrate with nature. The house becomes engulfed by the landscape rather than being simply set in it.” This approach also chimes with the current drive for sustainability. “Much more than ever, we now see nature as something that needs to be integrated in interiors and architecture. Rather than fighting the rules of nature or working against it, which we have done for so long, we are finally starting to see the incredible benefits of an alliance.”

Luxury villa

A 2018 house design in Florida with a characteristic Behnam-Bakhtiar blending of natural and built environments. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

The “green and self-sustainable” glass house he designed for a client on a private island epitomises how this can work. In building the residence from scratch, Behnam-Bakhtiar gave it a “system that transmits and observes energy” along with an ultra-modern, sleek exterior and sumptuous Art Deco furnishings.

Read more: American artist Rashid Johnson on searching for autonomy

Similarly, on a property refurbishment in the French Pyrénées, Behnam-Bakhtiar preserved the ancient rocks that predated the house by encasing them in glass boxes and installing a “hydraulic system to make the house ‘convertible’; completely open towards the seascape, on multiple levels. We also created several distinct courtyards and fountains, to give the landscape exciting layers.”

architectural render

A render of an island house off the coast in Abu Dhabi, with an Art Deco inspired interior in contrast to the building’s ultra-modern minimalist exterior. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

Born in Tehran, Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar was still a child when he moved with his family to Paris after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. He grew up surrounded by art and culture and his parents indulged his drive to “redecorate their interiors on a weekly basis”. Even so, he says, “it was very much a conscious adult decision to develop my creativity professionally.”

His early memories from Iran, particularly before the revolution, “in which large-scale events and gatherings were considered normal” may have informed Behnam-Bakhtiar’s other hugely successful business: event planning. Orchestrating large-scale, fantasy weddings, celebrations and parties is a complementary discipline to his design work but he came upon it entirely by chance. “I was working on the interior design of a palace for a client of mine, whose daughter was in the midst of planning her wedding. Completely uninspired by the process, she had sort of given up on her dream wedding until she coincidentally saw my plans for their winter garden. In love with the plans for the garden, she convinced me to design her large-scale royal-like wedding for 2,500 guests.”

events space

A reception that took place in Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

Behnam-Bakhtiar’s ability to imagine multidimensional, immersive spaces works as well for one-off events as it does permanent buildings, and working across the two disciplines allows for a beneficial cross-pollination of ideas. “I mix architecture and interior design with event planning, and do things that have never been seen or done before. This has allowed me to evolve and remain modern. I embrace the future and the process of change and growth.” In 2019, Ali Bakhtiar Designs was named “best wedding planner in the Middle East” at the Destination Wedding Planners ACE awards, and in the same year the company won an honorary award at the Influencer Awards Monaco.

As with his architectural designs, the events he designs are inspired by their setting. “The location and not the budget is what creates the possibilities,” he says. What would he conjure up for a wedding at a castle with an unlimited budget? “I’d probably create a sunset moment, curate different areas so there is movement and a multi-layered experience of the castle. I would also do something with the façade, so the guests can view it differently throughout the evening.”

Read more: Why the market for modern classic Ferraris is hot right now

He is delighted to be commissioned for wedding and parties abroad. “Like creating a world from scratch, the entire infrastructure is purposefully built and specifically curated for the event, in the middle of nowhere.” The possibilities are endless, he points out, describing a beautiful event he planned on “a private island lit by 50,000 candles. The guests arrived by raft laid with beautiful flowers and in the middle of the island, we created a pond and fountain on which the gala’s dinner tables floated.” More unusually, Behnam-Bakhtiar also oversaw a divorce party on a cruise ship.

As with his design projects, Behnam-Bakhtiar and his team ensure they have oversight of every detail. “The design of the food, the uniforms, the bar; anything that has to do with the visuals, the service, the presentation… To me an event is never just about decoration, it is about continuous implementation; everything needs to run smoothly and as we visualised it.”

floral wedding display

An impression of flower-covered columns for a wedding at the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata in Florence, January 2020. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

floral arch

A rendered image of a tunnel of flowers for a wedding in Cape Town, 2020. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

With high-profile architectural and interior design clients and starry party guest lists, discretion is part of the Ali Bakhtiar Design service. He will not be drawn on the high profile personalities that have commissioned him. “We work with a lot of different people including celebrities and royalty, but under no circumstances do we share our clients’ names, whether we signed confidentiality agreements or not. We pride ourselves on being private.”

Word, however, is out – partly because of the design company’s huge international reach. “We go where our clients are, so it was only natural to expand,” Behnam-Bakhtiar explains of his company’s outposts in Dubai, London, Paris and Monaco. The company does not promote its productions but exposure has come nonetheless through guests’ photos on social media. And who can blame them? The vast hall filled with reflective ponds and dancing LED lights for a party in Shanghai and the arcade of pink roses for a church wedding in St Barts demanded a selfie. “Much of the current exposure of our work is not just because we have expanded but also because it is shared,” Behnam-Bakhtiar agrees.

Contemporary living interiors

A digital impression of a 2019 building design in Switzerland that brings nature into the heart of the home. Copyright and courtesy Ali Bakhtiar Designs

Like the architectural design industry, the events business is also becoming more mindful about expenditure. “I would like to see more consciousness around long-term trust and a sustainable use of funds,” Behnam-Bakhtiar asserts. “Rather than creating an event for the budget and exhausting funds, we now look at what we need for the event. This means we spend less on unnecessary things, so that these funds can be used elsewhere or go to charity.”

Behnam-Bakhtiar’s diligence is even more relevant in a post-Covid era. “Events of up to 7,000 people are postponed for at least a year,” he says, “but the smaller events are starting to take place now, in a more down-sized manner. We’re on stand-by, like the rest of the world.” With his vivid imagination, a roster of international clients and almost two decades of experience, he won’t be standing by for long.

Find out more: alibakhtiardesigns.com

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

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contemporary design

Tom Dixon’s Fat chairs, Beat pendant lights and Tube table. Image by Peer Lindgreen.

Millie Walton speaks to four design leaders – Bentley’s Stefan Sielaff, Gaggenau’s Sven Baacke, Tom Dixon and Cristina Celestino – about innovation, sustainability and the evolution of their industries

TOM DIXON
British designer and founder of the Tom Dixon design studio

man portrait

Tom Dixon

“After trying art college for six months, I broke a leg in a motorcycle accident and gave up education in favour of a career as a bass guitarist in a disco band. After another fortuitous motorcycle accident, I was unable to join the band on tour. I discovered welding and, driven by my enthusiasm for making functional forms in metal, I began a series of radical experiments in shape and material. There is a freedom in music that I transferred to design.

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“I rarely think of the final shape of an object or the surface before I start. I’m always thinking of the material possibilities, the potential of the factory and the structure of the object, which means that I’m a vertebrate designer rather than an invertebrate! I’m obsessed with how you make things and what they are made of. My style is reductionist and constructivist, meaning I try to make things as simple as possible.

“It’s hard to not be overwhelmed by outside influences. It’s important to develop your own design personality. I avoid looking at design and look at art, industry, cooking, science and nature.

“A designer has to work on the edge of their comfort zone, to use new processes or materials or shapes or new functions to create something new. They have to be in the present.”

tomdixon.net

modern pink furniture

The Back Home furniture collection designed by Cristina Celestino for Fendi Casa. Image by Omar Sartor

CRISTINA CELESTINO
Architect and designer, founder of Attico Design

woman portrait

Cristina Celestino

“When I design a product, a chair or a lamp, I start by thinking not only about the single item, but also about the whole mood, and where it could be settled within an interior. I pay a lot of attention to the proportions and scale. For me, there is not much difference between designing an interior or a piece of furniture; in the end they must both have strong personality and power. Details are always what matter most. Every last finish, all the colours and fabrics, must be perfect and work together. What’s important is the coherence of the story that you are telling.

Read more: Gaggenau is bringing global attention to regional artisans

“The way we approach design and, in particular, architecture should be definitely changed by the theme of sustainability. Nature should be protected and valued like an infrastructure that is always ready to help us when needed. In the furniture and interior design fields, I work with sustainability at different scales. It is not enough to use the ‘right’ or eco-friendly materials if they are not related to the design or to the success of a project.

“Sustainability should be part of all logistic and manufacturing processes, not just about the final product itself. This is why I pay careful attention to the materials I use, from their sourcing to the geographic location of suppliers and the manufacturing techniques.”

cristinacelestino.com

adventure car

The 2020 redesign of the Bentley Bentayga. Courtesy of Bentley Motors.

STEFAN SIELAFF
Director of design at Bentley Motors

Stefan Sielaff

“Our customers expect a luxury product, manufactured with integrity. They want a unique, timeless piece of art that they will feel happy with for many years; an object that does not age from an aesthetic point of view so that it can be passed on to their daughters or sons. Bentleys are a fusion of the best. The sporting aspect of Bentley models is historically in our genetic code, but we don’t design, engineer and manufacture sports supercars in the common sense. The power in our Bentleys is not for showing off, it is discreet and sophisticated.

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

“Very often the source of inspiration comes when we are in a team setting and sparks a whole series of design concepts, not only with me, but with the whole design team. This works like a chain reaction. If the idea is really good, there is a natural flow in the team.

“Car design will change dramatically in the next 10 years, as the car industry itself will also change. There will be new and completely different challenges from a technical as well as social acceptance point of view. The mind-set will change especially for luxury cars just as it will in the luxury industry as a whole. Sustainability is a key factor already within the Bentley brand, and it will continue to be crucial to the driver and passenger experience.”

bentleymotors.com

oven

Gaggenau’s 200 Series combi-steam oven. Image by BJP Photography Ltd

SVEN BAACKE
Head of design at Gaggenau

Sven Baacke

“In my opinion, there is no such thing as timeless design because design is always in the context of people and the time in which it is bought and made. I call Gaggenau’s design approach traditional avant-garde. The brand has a heritage of over 300 years, but on the other hand, it has always been looking to the future and doing things that other people thought would never sell. Balancing these two things is in the DNA of Gaggenau, but what we have done in the past two years is to think about the traditional and the avant-garde in the extreme. One extreme could be that in the future there is no kitchen at all.

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

“We have been thinking about megacities where space is a luxury and about the future of housing more generally. What does it mean when luxury comes in a nutshell? What is compact luxury living? What will happen if the whole kitchen becomes even more invisible when not in use? What happens if people don’t go to work anymore, but work from home?

“The other major question is: can luxury be digital or is it always analogue? At the end of the day, I believe that the kitchen is still and always will be the heart of the home. We will still gather around a fireplace even if it’s a digital one in the future.”

gaggenau.com

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

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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
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
Render of apartment
Render of apartment

One of the luxury apartments in the Arve building with spectacular views of the surrounding landscape

Two new apartment buildings in the Swiss village of Andermatt offer the calm and luxury of contemporary Alpine living. LUX speaks to the architects behind the designs

The historic village of Andermatt is fast becoming one of Switzerland’s most desirable year-round destinations offering a variety of winter and summer sports, activities, dining options, and accommodation. Located in the village’s car-free area known as Andermatt Reuss, Arve and Enzian are the development’s latest apartment buildings, designed to harmonise with the traditional alpine setting whilst catering to a contemporary luxury lifestyle.

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Designed by CAS Architects, the Arve building comprises 17 apartments with spectacular views of the village and surrounding mountains whilst the Enzian building comprises 12 apartments designed by Swiss architecture firm Schmid Generalunternehmung. Here, Michael Häfliger of CAS Architects and Men Vital of Schmid Generalunternehmung talk us through the design concepts for each property.

What inspired the design intent for Arve and Enzian, and what differentiates the two properties?

Michael Häfliger: In the design for Arve alpine tradition meets contemporary with clear forms and natural charisma. We have combined cosy ambience, warmth and rustic security with the need for high comfort. 
These exclusive apartments are as dignified and enduring as the Swiss pine trees after which the building was named (Arve is the German name for the Swiss pine). Much like the noblest tree in the mountain landscape, the Arve Chalet Apartments offer spectacular views of the world below.

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

Men Vital: The Enzian Alpine Apartments are styled on modern Alpine villas. We wanted each apartment to provide the ideal place to sit back and unwind after an active day in Andermatt, with an atmosphere as calming as the Alpine herb after which the building is named (Enzian is German for “gentian”). Some of the apartments feature a fireplace and sauna, and some boast a private roof terrace or a garden terrace on the raised ground level. The private gardens are raised above the level of the adjacent paths, allowing residents to relax in privacy whilst the interiors are designed to fit all the needs of a peaceful Alpine lifestyle.

detail interior shot

Arve’s apartments combine alpine tradition with contemporary furnishings

How much of a consideration was the resort’s heritage and commitment to sustainability?

Michael Häfliger: When developing the design for Arve, we greatly considered the inclusion of the local conditions and the extraction of the resort’s identity by creating features as important prerequisites during the planning. The urban structure of the central zone of Andermatt does not follow an orthogonal grid and does not show any symmetry. Crystalline building forms, narrow and wide alleys merge into an urban density and create spatial tensions. We have taken up and adapted this atmosphere with the building structure. The interior of the building does not follow a grid either and arranges the apartments in a free structure whilst the external appearance takes up elements that are typical for the location, such as bay windows, stone plinths or wooden facades, and translates them into a contemporary form.

CAS Architects have been committed to sustainability in its mission statement for years. Conscious use of resources is a matter of course for us and has also led to efficient processes and procedures at Arve. The building materials and construction materials were procured as far as possible in the Ursern valley and the landscaping consists exclusively of local plants. Arve also meets all the criteria of the Minergie standard and is certified accordingly. High-quality external insulation and a ventilated wood cladding façade underline the sustainable energy concept.

interiors of an apartment

luxury apartment interior

Here and above: Enzian apartments feature luxurious interiors with unique detailing such as parquet flooring

Men Vital: The design of the Enzian building took the specifications from the architectural competition into account and buildings will be constructed to the Minergie standard with controlled ventilation. Mineral-insulated rock wool has been used for the façades, which is a high-quality, non-combustible material with a high sound insulation value. The use of fibre concrete is similar in quality to natural stone and the flat roof is extensively greened, which increases the outflow of water and helps to create a better ambient climate.

Can you talk us through some of the materials that were used for the interiors?

Michael Häfliger: High quality and timelessness underline the Alpine character and so precious and durable materials such as wood, natural stone, glass and steel dominate the design of Arve.

Read more: Meet the winners of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s awards

Men Vital: Durability and quality were taken into account when selecting materials. For example, we used parquet flooring and wet room panels with an oriental-style design.

open plan apartment

The open-plan living space in one of Arve’s apartments

How do the designs fit into the larger Andermatt Swiss Alps development?

Michael Häfliger: With Arve, the Alpine tradition of Andermatt is continued, and the chalet style is interpreted in a modern, self-confident way. The exclusive apartment building is strongly reminiscent of the character of the Arve; it takes up the sublimity and tranquility of the pine tree and creates a clear reference to the surroundings. The house has an unusual form that creates exciting exterior and interior spaces.

Men Vital: Enzian house is distinguished by its cubic architecture with a frescoed roof, bay window, loggias, and plinth. This is further emphasised by the window partitions in sandstone look, which are reminiscent of a traditional patrician house. It sets an extraordinary accent within the Andermatt Reuss area of the resort due to its architectural form and its lower height compared to the neighbouring properties. In terms of colour, the house is based on the wider surroundings; it is like a rock covered with lichen.

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

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Reading time: 5 min
Luxurious hotel bedroom
brutalist building

The exterior of The Standard hotel, Kings Cross. Image by Tim Charles

East London-based architecture and design practice Orms masterminded the renovation of Camden Town Hall Annexe in Kings Cross for The Standard hotel group’s first UK property. Here, James Houston speaks to one of the company’s directors John McRae about the project and its challenges

1. How does your approach differ when working with an existing building versus a new build?

On all of our projects we undertake extensive research and analysis to understand the site, its context and history. When retaining an existing building our research is forensic in order to establish the parameters and rules that will inform and guide the design. We believe it’s important to understand the thinking behind the building, its structural principles and construction techniques. We were fortunate to work with structural engineers Heyne Tillett Steel who share the same research ethos and they were able to build a Revit 3D model from the archive drawings.

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2. What are the challenges when refurbishing a brutalist building?

The use of raw concrete defines Brutalism and in nearly always used on both the structural frame (insitu) and facades (precast). This building was no exception and to add to the complexity it was a two way spanning ‘waffle’ slab that transferred the load of the façade back onto a very deep first floor slab and the inboard columns. This fully integrated structure and façade solution meant that major internal interventions or a new facade would not be viable. Surprisingly, the residual structural load capacity within the building structure was limited and this needed careful consideration when adding the new top floor extension.

Luxurious hotel bedroom

The 9th Floor Suite with views of St. Pancras Station. Image by Tim Charles

3. How do you see The Standard fitting into the wider redevelopment of the Kings Cross area?

The vast majority of regeneration projects within the Kings Cross have been to the north of the Euston Road so it was always an aspiration of the project to draw that energy to the south. A key component of this strategy was to have an occupier such as The Standard, a respected brand with an established following, that can attract people and act as a catalyst for further regeneration within the area. The hotels variety of spaces to socialise, listen to live music and talks means there are reasons to keep coming back.

library space

The hotel’s library lounge offers a space to meet, socialise and read. Image by David Cleveland

4. Do you have a favourite room or space in the hotel and why?

My favourite space is the library lounge on the ground floor. Set within an eclectic collection of eating, socialising and drinking areas that provide visual activity to the street but a moment of calm in the hustle and bustle of Kings Cross the library lounge is a nod to the former Camden public library. Surrounded by carefully selected and arranged books the space is used for meetings, live music and talks.

Read more: Entrepreneur Dr. Li Li on the importance of global relationships

5. What was the inspiration behind the external lift pod?

A new lift was required to supplement the main bank of lifts and serve the 10th floor restaurant and bar. Given the complexity of the existing structure the idea of an external lift was explored to provide a visual marker and signal that something special was going on at the top of the building. The red lift demarcates the entrance to the restaurant, which was always intended to be able to be separate from the hotel entrance. The concept and look and feel of the lift was led by Shawn Hausman Design and inspiration for the form came from the Mercedes Benz museum elevator and the iconic Routemaster bus for its red colour.

architectural sketch

External lift pod

Orms’ preliminary sketches of the hotel’s external lift (above) which takes its colour from London