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a man sitting on a silk rug
a man sitting on a silk rug

NIGO will be leading the creative vision for Penfolds in a multi-year artistic collaboration

Fashion and wine meet with the collaboration of Japanese fashion designer NIGO and the iconic Penfolds wine brand

One of the world’s most iconic wines just got a little more special. For years, collectors have lusted after Penfolds Grange, Australia’s most celebrated wine and quite possibly the most revered luxury brand to come out of the country. The phenomenon of Grange, as it is known to connoisseurs the world over, from Shanghai to San Francisco, is largely due to its sheer quality – many consider it the world’s best wine made from Shiraz (otherwise known as Syrah) grapes, but also due to its originality.

a bottle and a bandana

This collaboration sees the influence of NIGO’s company, Human Made, which was founded in Tokyo and draws upon
graphic design, subculture and streetwear

Unlike every other iconic world wine, whether from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa or elsewhere, Grange is not made from a single vineyard, or even from the same designated vineyards in a small, geographically distinct area, every year. Rather, it is made from grapes from Penfolds own vineyards and grower partners’ vineyards across Australia, selected by the Penfolds winemaking team for their Grange-like character. It is an icon that is also an iconoclast.

Read more: Inside Penfolds, the global luxury wine brand

a man with lots of wine barrels

NIGO, visiting Penfolds’ Magill Barrel Room, ahead of his collaboration, ‘Grange by NIGO’

So, how suitable that Penfolds Grange has partnered with the wildly original – some might say iconoclastic – Japanese designer and cultural hero NIGO, who is also Artistic Director of the Kenzo fashion brand and founder of Human Made. Appointed as the wine brand’s first ever Creative Partner in 2023, NIGO is working on a series of collaborations with the brand, none more exciting and iconoclastic than the recently released Grange by NIGO, which has seen NIGO design a limited edition gift box for the 2019 vintage. With each gift box individually numbered and including a bandana and bottle neck tag also designed by NIGO in his signature style, it’s a bold step for a fine wine brand, as Penfolds Chief Marketing Officer, Kristy Keyte, explains:

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“This is a different direction for us, and the first time we have changed the distinctive gift box of our flagship Grange. Collaborating with NIGO has been inspired by Penfolds history of pushing boundaries in winemaking, and now we expand this to exploration of new creative ideas. As a collector, NIGO understands the reputation of Grange and its legacy. He was able to create a limited-edition approach that is both playful and fresh while remaining respectful to the history of the wine. We have never done this before, and the result is brave and refreshing.”

a guy sitting looking at a bottle of wine

‘Penfolds has always been one of my favourites’, says avid wine collector, NIGO

NIGO, a fine wine collector himself, commented : “I have been a collector of Grange for many years, but it wasn’t until I visit Penfolds Magill Estate that I truly understood the craftmanship and history behind the historic wine. It was an honour to be the first person to collaborate on a design for Grange, especially as the brand celebrates its 180th anniversary.”

a man holding a bottle of wine

According to Drinks International’s 2024 list of The World’s Most Admired Wine Brands, Penfolds is one of the top three wine brands globally

There are only 1500 standard-sized 750ml bottles and 150 magnums available globally and they are selling fast in this, Penfolds 180th anniversary year, following their initial release in Australia and Asia recently, and they are likely to become highly collectible. We suggest buying as many as you can: its a wine whose box (and nifty bandana) is as striking and delicious as the liquid inside.

Penfolds Grange by NIGO is available globally. Future projects between Penfolds and NIGO will be announced later this year, 2024.

penfolds.com

 

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restaurant with bar and bottles

Is it a club, an Italian restaurant or a sushi house? Actually, Sumosan Twiga on London’s Sloane Street is all three, and all the better for it

Top quality food with a fun vibe has taken off in the world’s cultural capitals over the past few years. For a showoff dining experience, you are no longer restricted Ito temples of gastronomy. Top-quality ingredients and cheffing can now combine to make the ultimate comfort food.

But there’s still a challenge. What if you want a vibe, but can’t work out whether to go for a perfect pasta with beef and herbs, or some top-quality sushi? Or what if your party has split opinions and nobody wants to compromise?

sashimi on a blue plate with flowers

Launched in November 2016, Sumosan Twiga is the combination of the Japanese restaurant, Sumosan, and the brand Twiga

What you do is secure a booking at Sumosan Twiga, on London’s Sloane Street. Past a couple of intimidating doormen – to ensure the maki rolls are not consumed by the wrong type of customer, presumably, to be greeted by a glamorous receptionist, you are then whisked up in an elevator and enter a world of DJs and a partying crowd all dressed in Cavalli and Etro.

Ponder the menu over a couple of Bellinis and you soon note, if you didn’t know already, that Sumosan Twiga is effectively a sushi restaurant and a high-end Italian wrapped into one place. Back in the day, that might have meant some compromise – a chef practiced in one cuisine trying to master the other, with limited success. But not here: whether you stick to Italian or focus on sushi or (as we would recommend) you sample both, this is top-quality cuisine which, a little like the clientele, is here in in generous and beautifully presented portions.

cocktail with a mint leaf and a man pouring sugar over it

The menu offers an array of classic Italian dishes and flavours paired with contemporary Japanese cuisine.

We started with burrata with datterino tomatoes, Kobe mini sliders (OK, more Meatpacking than Milan), and lobster with lollo blondo salad as a pre-starter; ingredients with beautiful and it was put together with care. From the Japanese menu we went on to seared salmon, lime soy and mustard miso, as delicate and umami as it sounds, and some rolls: buba, seabass with jalapeno and cucumber, wasabi tobiko and albemarle and salmon with orange tobiko: meatily fulsome and also featherlight.

food on a plate with a leaf

Sumusan Twiga is the brain child of Flavio Briatore, of Formula One fame & Janina Wolkow, pioneer of the luxury Sumosan brand.

Mains were veal milanese with rocket and cherry tomatoes, hugely satisfying, what might be London’s best tagliatelle bolognese with chunks of feelsome beef, and Alaskan black marinated miso cod.

The only discord in our party was over whether it’s better to keep things pure by having Japanese starters and Italian mains (or vice versa) or just order a huge selection; the general agreement was one cuisine per course (whether that’s two or five courses) was better, so your palate does not train itself for the slicing umami of the tuna sashimi and freshly grated wasabi only to have a piece of breaded Milanese and pasta pomodoro, from a different gastronomic planet, with the next mouthful. The general consensus was to split the cuisines by course. But then we ordered another caipirinha, got up and danced, and forgot all about it.

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man and woman sitting next to each other
man and woman sitting next to each other

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colourful art

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

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

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

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

Read more: Shangri-La, Singapore, Review

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

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

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

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

art exhibiton

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

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

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

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

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

Collectors

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

Institutions

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

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

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

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

people talking to each other

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

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

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

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

artsg.com

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Reading time: 12 min
restaurant asian
restaurant asian

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

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

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

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

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

Asian restaurant out of wood

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

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

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

Read more: Rosewood Hong Kong review

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

Stylish bar with red chairs

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

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

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

cocktail being poured into a glass

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

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

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Reading time: 3 min
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).

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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
fine dining restaurant
sushi platter

A sushi platter from Zuma’s menu

When chef Rainer Becker opened the first Zuma restaurant in Knightsbridge in 2002, it set a new benchmark for informal high end dining. Sven Koch joined the restaurant group Azumi Ltd Worldwide in 2011 and now, their portfolio includes ROKA, ETARU, Oblix at The Shard and INKO NITO, with locations spread across the globe. Here, Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai speaks to Sven Koch, the group’s CEO, about embracing competition, working collaboratively and handling the challenges of Covid-19
portrait of man

Sven Koch

LUX: You opened Zuma in Boston last year. How is that going?
Sven Koch: Zuma Boston has done very well; I am pleased to say it was an instant success. We have a beautiful bar area at the front of the restaurant which quickly turned into “the place to be” within the city.

Obviously, Covid-19 has affected things hugely and the restaurant has been closed for a significant amount of time, but we are positive about building the business back up once we reopen.

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LUX: You have a number of different brands in the portfolio. Do they all have different customer bases, or is the idea that clients can flip between them?
Sven Koch: It’s a mix really. We have some crossover between the brands, in fact individual locations more so, like Zuma and ROKA Mayfair, due to the proximity a lot of guests dine at both. Other than that, I would largely say they have their own customer bases. The ROKA locations have more a neighbourhood vibe, a lot of people frequent specific locations because it’s close to where they live or work, although obviously there are destination diners. Both INKO NITO locations, in London and LA, are young, vibrant area’s and very much represents the type of clients that the brand is aimed at. Oblix at The Shard, has a vastly different clientele as its our only non-Japanese restaurant and due to the restaurants location.

luxurious dining room

Zuma Boston is the brand’s latest opening

LUX: Which is the more powerful brand, between Zuma and Roka, and why?
Sven Koch: It’s hard to say if one is more powerful than the other, they are both strong in their own right but obviously different. Zuma has more international recognition due to its global footprint and the nature of the clientele who travel a great deal and regularly will eat in our locations in other countries. ROKA is predominantly based in London, with four locations, and has a huge following locally but this is also growing. We recently opened ROKA Dubai which has been very successful, and we have plans for other international locations. Ask me again in a year or two and I may be able to give you a more concrete answer!

LUX: It is famously hard to create a group of restaurants operating around the world. Why have you succeeded where others have failed?
Sven Koch: Honestly, it’s down to the people – our teams! We have always operated on the philosophy that it’s important to nurture and grow good people within the business. We have a lot of staff that have worked in multiple locations around the world for us and we really support these internal transfers as it helps to spread the company’s DNA, they are effectively like ambassadors. Additionally, we try to empower the teams in individual restaurants, they are on the ground and understand customers the best.

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

LUX: You are one of the first pioneers of informal high end dining. Is the scene moving on? If so, to what?
Sven Koch: I don’t think so, you only have to look at the influx of international restaurant brands opening in London to realise that the trend is not going anywhere. That is not to say that the industry is not diversifying because I believe it is. The lifestyle element is key, people don’t simply want to go out for a meal anymore, they want to be able to spend an evening in that location; enjoy drinks before and/or after dinner, music, atmosphere… We are fortunate that all of those elements have always been part of our concept and that Japanese food is timeless as many other cuisines go in and out of fashion.

LUX: How will the coronavirus crisis affect dining out in general and your group in particular?
Sven Koch: Sadly, it seems to have affected everyone, although the hospitality industry has been particularly badly hit. We had to close all of our locations internationally, bar one (Hong Kong), at the peak of the crisis. Slowly we have been able to reopen the majority, but some cities or areas are still suffering from the aftermath so we have made the choice to wait. I think we’ve been very fortunate on the whole with government support in the countries we have restaurants in, additionally our landlords have been very understanding during this difficult time.

LUX: For years, we have seen an expansion of global travelling young wealthy people – are these your base? Is that now changing, with political and global uncertainties?
Sven Koch: Yes, they definitely are the Zuma customer base. Obviously Covid-19 has had huge effects on travel both nationally and internationally and I think it is too early to determine the long-term effects at this stage.

Having said that I just returned from the South of France for work and it was packed. It almost felt like Covid had never happened, international travellers everywhere… Prior to this trip I would have said it will take some time for travel to recover but now, you tell me?!

fine dining

Oblix at the Shard is the group’s only non-Japanese restaurant, offering a rotisserie and grill menu

LUX: Is food miles an issue? Will it be?
Sven Koch: Food miles is certainly something that we need to be conscious of. It is a tricky one for our restaurants as so many of the speciality products we use can only be sourced from Japan. You obviously try and buy as locally as we can but in some cases its just not possible. In recent years we have experimented with making our own products, like soy sauce for example which was fantastic. I think that this and the resurgence of smaller artisanal producers are the way forward…If anyone knows people producing miso in the UK then let us know?!

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

LUX: Is the food offering at Zuma and ROKA evergreen, or does it involve constantly? Would a diner from 12 years ago recognise the menu now?
Sven Koch: I would say 70% of the menu is evergreen but honestly that’s dictated by our customers who sometimes uproar if we take dishes off. We have several new seasonal dishes that are added to the menu and change quarterly which are developed by the individual restaurant teams. If one of those dishes happens to sell exceptionally well then, we add it to the menu permanently. In answer to your questions, yes, they would recognise it 12 years on.

LUX: You have a lot more competition now. How has that affected things? Do you get irritated by imitators?
Sven Koch: Competition is good, it keeps you on your toes and pushes you to keep evolving. When new restaurants open in competition with us we generally feel it for the first month or so. Customers love to try the latest new thing and we do see a small downturn in business which is always a little difficult to deal with, but they soon return to us, which is a testament to the quality of our product and our team.

Ha! Do we get irritated by imitators?… Good question! I must be honest; it is irritating when you see another restaurant directly ripping us off, it happens regularly that I go to another restaurant, open the menu and its surprisingly so familiar! I always just think: why don’t you make it your own? Be a bit creative, work a little harder – fundamentally I think it’s a very lazy approach.

fine dining restaurant

ROKA Aldwych. Image by Richard Southall/Agi Ch

LUX: Are we facing a speed bump or a new paradigm?
Sven Koch: 2020 has been a difficult year to say the least and things have certainly shifted but I would love to think this a speed bump and we are approaching as such. We are pushing ahead with plans, albeit a bit more cautiously from a budget perspective. Between Zuma, ROKA and Oblix, we aim to open in excess of 15 new locations in the next 3  years.

LUX: What cities or countries would you like to be in, which you are not in currently?
Sven Koch: As I mentioned we have substantial expansion plans in the not too distant future and are looking at sites in Europe such as Paris, Cannes, Saint Tropez, Monaco, Madrid and Capri, and further afield in Cabo, Mexico, and Morocco… I don’t think that leaves much left! From a personal perspective, I would love to open something in Germany – as would Rainer [Becker] – given that it’s our home country but so far, the right opportunity hasn’t presented itself. Watch this space!

sushi plate

Sliced yellowtail with green chilli relish, ponzu and pickled garlic from Zuma’s menu

LUX: How do you and Rainer Becker share duties?
Sven Koch: We don’t really share duties to be honest, we have never sat down formally and assigned roles as it has always been a lot more natural and organic than that.

Obviously, Rainer created the restaurant concepts and he is still heavily involved in the creative side of things including the food and design. I tend to take care of the day to day running of the company including the expansion and growth. We are very collaborative however and always tend to bounce ideas off each other.

LUX: What has been your greatest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
Sven Koch: For sure Covid-19 has been the biggest challenge both personally and professionally. The pandemic has hit everyone hard and its devastating to see people’s families effected and being so hard hit financially. As a business we are working hard to ensure we can bring as many members of staff back into the business as possible. It really is a frightening time.

Find out more: azumirestaurants.com

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Reading time: 8 min
luxurious restaurant interiors
Chefs wearing masks

Novikov 2 Go is a new service from the innovative Mayfair restaurant, offering tasting menus cooked, packaged and delivered to your door.

Novikov, the famed Mayfair restaurant, is now offering perfectly prepared cuisine from its Asian and Italian kitchens, delivered to your London home. Our Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai had to check it out

Your chef and brigade are back with you, thank goodness, being tested every day after a trying time in isolation during lockdown during which you had to try to fend for yourself.

But while her involtini di salmone con senape e marscapone is as divine as ever, you are missing the innovation, the intricacy, not to mention the vibe, of your favourite go-to restaurants.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Enter Novikov 2 Go. A new service from the modern-legendary Mayfair restaurant, this involves the chefs creating a tasting menu of up to 15 dishes for you, your loved ones, and the guests you are inviting to sit in your garden (suitably physically distanced) and delivering it cooked, packaged, and ready to serve, at the time of your choosing.

luxurious restaurant interiors

Sliced steak

Above: The Italian restaurant at Novikov in Mayfair and below, Italian tagliata with rocket salad and Parmesan

We have been fans of Novikov ever since Russian dining maestro Arkady Novikov, who owns the Vogue café and Tatler Club in Moscow, came over to Mayfair to open this huge, innovative space containing an Asian restaurant, Italian restaurant, and a bar. It should not, perhaps, have worked, but the place is packed (or rather, it was when it was allowed to open) simply due to the quality of its food, as well as its vibe.

We had to try out Novikov 2 Go.

We placed our order, mentioning that we were slightly more biased towards seafood than red meat, sat back, and let it happen. At the appointed time, a black cab rolled up outside with eight Novikov branded paper bags, containing an array of packages and boxes. The food was steaming hot. (It helps if you live near the restaurant).

asian restaurant interiors

Asian salad

Above: the Asian resturant and below, Novikov’s crab apple salad with wasabi dressing

Image by @sheherazade_photography

A beautifully presented menu, printed for each guest, explained what we were getting. Starters included the Novikov duck salad, a crab and avocado salad, salmon tartare with yoghurt dressing (which came, like all the dressings, clearly marked in separate containers so you could add them just before eating), and ultra-creamy burrata with Sicilian datterino tomatoes.

Read more: How ionic cars are transforming classic cars for an electric future

The next course skipped into Asia: delicate hamachi yuzu truffle maki, and scallop jalapeño Maki with a sting in the tail. (Plenty of soya sauce and wasabi was provided). These went particularly well with the icy bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier (a classy champagne for a classy meal) that came with the meal in its own white cooler bag.

An unexpected treat was Novikov’s signature pizza with black truffle, fior di latte and soft cheeses (a COVID kilo in one go). The miso baby chicken, which I had not tried before, was the highlight of the meal, rich and detailed; and the miso black cod was like welcoming an old friend, together with its signature bamboo leaf.

red prawns

Novikov’s Italian Sicilian red prawns

Old favourite accompaniments were also there: grilled asparagus skewers with an umami sauce on the side, sauteed spinach, excellent egg fried rice and Singapore noodles that were light, bright and full of flavour.

We didn’t have space for the desserts and kept them for the next day. Ok, the Rocher XL, a giant ice cream and extremely rich dark chocolate ice cream and nut coated Ferrero Rocher ball, was devoured, but the hazelnut profiteroles, Tiramisu and Panna Cotta just had to wait.

Was it as good as going to Novikov? In some ways, it was even better. We had cuisine from both restaurants at once, something you can’t do there; we didn’t have to leave our home, and we were sitting in the garden. It was like having the chefs and all their ingredients turn up at your home, but with zero disruption, and served exactly when we wanted.

This could become habit-forming.

Novikov to Go delivers to selected address in London. Private jet orders can be delivered direct to the runway. For deliveries, customers will need to email [email protected] or call 020 7399 4330. To view the menu visit: bbot.menu/novikov2go

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Reading time: 3 min
Side profile portrait of an elderly woman wearing a statement earring
graphic banner in red, white and blue reading Charlie Newman's model of the month
Side profile portrait of an elderly woman wearing a statement earring

Daphne Selfe is the world’s oldest professional model. Instagram @daphneselfe

LUX contributing editor and model at Models 1, Charlie Newman continues her online exclusive series, interviewing her peers about their creative pursuits, passions and politics

colour headshot of blond girl laughing with hand against face wearing multiple rings

Charlie Newman

THIS MONTH: It comes as no surprise that the world’s oldest professional model, Daphne Selfe, who turns 91 next month, ‘doesn’t do retiring’. The British model has clocked up over 70 years of experience, working for the likes of Olay, Eyeko, and Dolce and Gabbana, as well as posing for artists, making TV appearances and writing a memoir. This year, she was included in the Queen’s New Year Honours list and was awarded a British Empire Medal for her contribution to fashion, and whilst she no longer wears high heels, she can still do the splits. Here, she tells Charlie how she got into fashion, and why the Queen is her style icon.

Charlie Newman: Firstly, let’s talk about your upbringing – what was it like and how do you think it informed your choice of career?
Daphne Selfe: I spent most of my childhood in Berkshire until my parents moved to Hertfordshire. I always had an eye on fashion because my mother was very beautiful, smart and always made my clothes, but my true love was horses, I was mad on horses. I learnt to sew but I didn’t really get into fashion until I started working at Helles (what John Lewis was) in the coat department. At the store, there was a competition for the cover of a local magazine. All the girls, including myself, went to meet the photographer, and I won! It turned out the photographer was a royal photographer called Gilbert Adams and funnily enough he knew my parents from an amateur Opera society! The last time he saw me I was 2 years old, so when I turned up all 5ft 10 and a half of me aged 19, he really took me under his wing and taught me how to behave in front of a camera. I did lots of little odd jobs for him, assisting him for a while whilst working part time at Helles. The store then had a fashion show and the agency who were supplying the models was one short, so I was propelled onto the catwalk and thought, ‘Oh my god, what am I doing?’ After that they all said I should join the agency. In those days you had 3 weeks of training to be a model. Mummy thought this was a lot better than breaking a collarbone and being kicked in the head by horses so off I went!

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After 3 weeks training, I belonged to the agency. I met my husband, Jim, through Gilbert Adams, because he was the lighting technician of the ballet show we were working on. We didn’t get married straight away because he was busy travelling and I was busy with my dance school. I did my ballet training far too late, at 19 years old, but I assiduously learnt because ballet is the basis of all dance. I learnt from a very interesting choreographer called Buddy Bradley, who was well known in the twenties for having put on an amazing musical called Evergreen with Jessie Matthews. I joined his company because I could sew and help with the costumes and because I loved dancing! Of course nobody went abroad in those days, so when his little company went to Belgium, Rome and Madrid, I was delighted to go with them!

Then I decided Jim was the one, so I got married and in those days you didn’t work once you got married, so I retired and had three children but always kept up with my dance classes. Jim worked in television and one of his friends asked me if I would be an extra in The Arthur Haynes Show. Jim happened to be the stage manager that day, and he said ‘What on earth are you doing here?’ and I said ‘I’m working!’ He thought that was terribly funny, then from that I did more and more extra work, as well as fashion shows and commercials.

Elderly woman poses in a ballerina posture

Instagram @daphneselfe

Charlie Newman: How did your modelling career continue into later life?
Daphne Selfe: I was doing my extra work and in 1999 when I was 70 my agency asked whether I would do a fashion show at London Fashion Week for Red or Dead. I love prancing about in nice clothes so of course I did it! The stylist on the show, Jo Phillips, called me up three months later and said Vogue are doing an article on ageing and suggested I get involved. At the shoot was the scout from Models 1 and I’ve been with them ever since, some 20 years later! I didn’t give up the extra work once I was signed with Models 1 because I know how the industry can like you one minute and not the next. But then I was getting more and more modelling work so I had to drop the extra work in the end.


Charlie Newman: What has been a career highlight for you?
Daphne Selfe: I think going abroad for the jobs is the best thing, because I would never have been able to afford that otherwise. I mean I’ve been to Australia, China, Japan, Africa. Whatever next!

Elderly woman poses sitting in a chair

Instagram @daphneselfe

Charlie Newman: Having worked throughout many fashionable decades, what do you think style means today?
Daphne Selfe: It doesn’t matter what time you live in, you must wear what suits you because then people will always admire you in it, it’s very important not to be driven by the trends of the moment.

Charlie Newman: In a dream world, who would you want to dress you and why?
Daphne Selfe: Currently, I love Roksanda Ilinic’s designs. I love going to Roksanda’s shows now and wearing her clothes at events, they always feel very fun and boost my confidence.

Charlie Newman: What advice would you give to young models starting out their careers?
Daphne Selfe: Taking care of your health is the most important thing because modelling is hard work if you do it properly. It’s long hours, lots of hanging about, lots of physical activity and also you need a good work ethic. In other words, that means be on time, don’t mess about once you’re there, and stay off your phone.

I was working with a Dutch photographer the other day and I was doing all my normal things; inventing poses, jumping around, all the usual. At the end he said to me ‘I’ve never worked with such an energetic model’ which did make me laugh! Just throw yourself into the shoot and give it everything.

Modelling can be horrendous too. I lost a big job the other day, but so what? It wasn’t my fault, it’s about what they want. It’s no good worrying about it, but I know a lot of people find that difficult. Being a model is very difficult if you don’t have much confidence because you have to put yourself in a room of people you don’t know and work with them effortlessly.

Elderly woman posing for a portrait

Instagram @daphneselfe

Charlie Newman: What keeps you happy and healthy?
Daphne Selfe: Well, I do a series of exercises most days, something along the lines of yoga, ballet, a little bit of weights but also static bicycle. Of course, I can’t do everything every day, but I do always do some stretching.

I suppose because I grew up in the war we never ate masses. We grew all our own fruit and vegetables so we had a very strict diet and that’s a mentality which never leaves you.

Charlie Newman: Who was your fashion icon when you were younger?
Daphne Selfe: I suppose in a way we always looked up to royalty, the young Queen, of course, was gorgeous. They all lived such glamorous lives, or so we thought. Whereas now, people don’t want to dress up anymore which I think is such a pity because I love dressing up!

Charlie Newman: Lastly, who is your role model of the month?
Daphne Selfe: It’s got to be the Queen, she’s absolutely fantastic! She always wears bright colours but is also discreet. I know of course she has money, but it really doesn’t cost a lot to look good. I’ve always made my own things and looked as good as anybody else.

Follow Daphne Selfe on Instagram:@daphneselfe

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Reading time: 7 min
Panel discussion held by YPO with speakers sitting on stage
Panel discussion held by YPO with speakers sitting on stage

One of the panel discussions at the YPO Edge global leadership conference in Singapore in 2018, an annual event that brings together nearly 3,000 business leaders

The YPO may just be the most influential organisation in the world that most people haven’t heard of. An association of major business owners and chief executives spanning Asia, the US, Europe, Africa, South America, Australasia and the former Soviet Union, it is part high-end networking forum, part extended family. It is notoriously difficult to join, and those who are in say its discussion groups, events and networks have transformed their business and, sometimes, their personal lives. LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai hears some insights from YPO members in Asia

Portrait of Joelle Goudsmit, CEO of Dimension-all Group, Philippines

Joelle Goudsmit

Joelle Goudsmit, CEO of Dimension-all Group, Philippines

YPO member since June 2012

LUX: How did you first come across the YPO in the context of your business?
Joelle Goudsmit: I took over the family company when I was 24, because my mother passed away quite suddenly. I had a liberal arts degree that I enjoyed but it did not really prepare me for working in construction and scaffolding, the family business in the Philippines. A degree in economics and Japanese literature does not prepare you for negotiating with contractors.

I was talking to someone in Hong Kong, who asked whether I’ve ever heard of this group called YPO and said that I really should join. I was a bit suspicious, as she was a random
person in my yoga class, so I answered that I was a bit overwhelmed just then and that I didn’t have room for anything else. Then YPO came up in a business context with several other people across Asia. So, I joined when I was 30, when there was critical mass with lots of people who were around my age, and it was wonderful.

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Leading a company is really quite lonely. You don’t necessarily have peers at work, you have colleagues who work for you. That’s a very different dynamic. When you work in a family business, there can be complications because the work tends to come home and your family then becomes stakeholders first, not necessarily family.

Your YPO forum does not have a vested interest in your business, they just listen, they are peers, and tend to be willing to share. Looking across the organisation, the common denominator is that the people come in with a willingness and a desire to constantly learn throughout their lives. I personally think that it doesn’t matter how challenging work gets, there is a point at which one gets a little stupid doing the same thing over and over. It’s much better t go to a YPO event to unplug, get inspired, and get new energy in order to bring that drive and inspiration back to work, and to maybe look at problems in a different way.

LUX: When you joined, did being a member help your business in specific ways?
Joelle Goudsmit: Yes, I have a number of examples of where I received unbelievable business support. When I purchased my first company, I was trying to find out about the business as quickly as possible. I decided I’d be doing business development straight away, not to be the CEO, just to go out, meet with potential clients and see whether the business was truly viable.

YPO has chapters and networks. The networks deal with your current interests , whether they be business or personal/social. I joined the deal network, I was quite active with them, and they organised these sessions around the world where you went in and met with a group. You were open about what your company needed at this point and whoever was in the room would volunteer leads for you or they could suggest someone they know or a chapter mate or someone in your realm. I remember I was in Dubai at that point and was looking for potential strategic partners. I put my need out to the table and really wasn’t expecting anything. Someone at the table goes, “come speak to me at work tomorrow”. They became my first client I acquired on my own for the company, and it was a wonderful “Phew! This company is viable” moment. It gave me a lot of confidence and hope for that company. That came out of YPO and has repeated a lot of times ever since.

I recently had breakfast yesterday with someone I met through YPO. Previously, he had a work colleague he had sent to the Philippines who needed emergency medical care. He didn’t know what to do, so he had sent a message out to the network. We responded and we were able to make a phone call to someone who owned a hospital close to where the man was, and was able to get him the right care.

So, at breakfast recently, he mentioned he was going to Kazakhstan, and I mentioned I’d like to explore potential business opportunities in Kazakhstan. So, he is phoning people to make introductions. You never know where these will lead, but it saves you having to go into a country that is very foreign, where you don’t know anyone. It’s a huge deal.

Audience at a YPO conference

Delegates at the YPO Edge conference in Singapore, 2018

Portrait of Asian businesswoman Jennifer Liu

Jennifer Liu

Jennifer Liu, Hong Kong-based owner of The Coffee Academics and founder of HABITŪ, Asia

YPO member since May 2017

LUX: Why did you join the YPO?
Jennifer Liu: When your entrepreneurial businesses reach a certain international scale, the YPO makes great sense, in terms of forming an alliance with other business friends and understanding the business environment.

I have not been a member for long, and I am getting active; for example, there is a very interesting event where YPO members in Hong Kong and the region visit the Greater Bay Area of China [the region connecting Hong Kong with mainland cities such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou]. YPO has a very selective process for its members. The calibre and the sophisticated mindsets of the people set it apart. I believe there are fewer than 100 members in Hong Kong. I went through three interviews.

LUX: What kind of questions were you asked?
Jennifer Liu: They want to know if you really are the person who makes all the important decisions in your company. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a top manager. And whether or not you can impact your company and the city or the world, one way or another both in the business world or the charities space.

Read more: Tips for a successful application to one of London’s most exclusive members’ clubs

LUX: You have been a member for less than two years ; how has it been?
Jennifer Liu: I love it. There are the very senior members who have seen it, done it, and they have all the words of wisdom. They have so much to share and for us, coming into this point in time where you’re no longer a young business person and you’re quite big, but you still have a lot to work on and to learn about, YPO has that resource of some of the best talents in town and also in the region or in the world, to openly and safely provide suggestions or networks. So, I think, in a way, when we come out and we say we are YPOers, it immediately means a certain standard, in terms of trust, respect and confidentiality. And in YPO, there is no specific hierarchy. Everyone is equal, and we all share . When it comes to confidentiality, it very clear what is level one, what is level two, and you feel very comfortable to share things you can’t even share with your family or your spouse or your co-workers.

LUX: In what way is it useful for your business?
Jennifer Liu: It’s very useful for me as person to have a safe environment to open up and to know people and to know what’s going on in Hong Kong or elsewhere in the world. It has a well-built system where we are not soliciting business between each other, but it’s a platform where we share useful and trusted information, both for business and personal matters.

Portrait of Matthew Boylan CEO of matador singapore

Mathew Boylan

Matthew Boylan, President and CEO of Matador Systems, Singapore

YPO member since October 2010

LUX: How has YPO helped your business?
Matthew Boylan: YPO has done two incredible things . Number one, it is an amazing security blanket because for a company like mine the only way that we can survive is to be able to support clients in more than one location. Our clients need to work with one supplier for their entire IT support strategy whether that is in Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, Korea or Japan. That means we need to have operations in all of those countries, meaning we have to incorporate a legal entity in those countries, meaning we have to navigate the rules and regulations that apply to employing permanent staff in those countries.

Before I joined YPO, one of the experiences that we had when we wanted to set up an office and incorporate a legal entity in China, we started talking to corporate consultants in Singapore who provided that service. The frustrating thing was that we would receive a quote from one corporate consultant for US$30,000 to incorporate in Shanghai, we would receive another quote for US$300,000 for exactly the same service. You are going into a market that you don’t have much knowledge about or experience in, you have to put a certain amount of trust in third party suppliers, but it is very difficult if you have not been recommended to those third-party suppliers, you have to do your own diligence, your own research.

You completely bypass the entire process by being a YPO member. All you need to do is pick up the phone or send an email, in this case it was to a YPO member who is based in Shanghai, and ask, “Can you please provide me with a recommendation to a corporate consultant who you have done business with, who you can trust, who you know will be able to support our needs in Shanghai?”. You know straight away that you can trust whoever they recommend. No matter where you are doing business you know that through the YPO network you can receive trustworthy and credible recommendations to third parties you need to rely on.

Read more: Inside Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps

Number two – and this is so important in today’s business world – YPO allows you to conduct business at hyper speed.

I have been able to leverage off Matador’s expertise and infrastructure and resources to incubate and accelerate a lot of other different businesses. So, if you are looking for a manufacturing partner in a certain market, you’re looking for a distribution partner in a certain market, again you can leverage off the YPO network to actually source those.

One of my new businesses for 2018 was releasing a new product into the Japan market, we needed to source a manufacturer either in China or Vietnam, and through the YPO network I was able to source potential manufacturing partners within 24 to 48 hours. The two business partners who I am working with are based in Tokyo, who are not in the YPO, they have been struggling with this for twelve months with no progress, and they just said, “Matt, how did you do this?” I said it was through YPO and they were fascinated. Basically, within a 48-hour period I was able to source a manufacturer in Vietnam and also a manufacturer in China and in both cases, they were recommendations from YPO members in those respected countries. So, you can really work at speed, which is critical.

A speaker standing on stage in front of a large audience

A speaker at the YPO Edge conference in Singapore, 2018

Portrait of Asian business woman Noni Purnamo

Noni Purnomo

Noni Purnamo, President Director of Blue Bird Group Holding, Indonesia

YPO member since November 2003

LUX: You were one of the first female YPO members in your region.
Noni Purnamo: Yes, I was first introduced to YPO about 15 years ago by a good friend who is a very successful businesswoman, Shinta Kamdani. When I joined there about only like three female members in Indonesia, including her and myself.

LUX: How has the YPO helped you?
Noni Purnamo: YPO has help me grow all sides of my life. I went through the ups and downs of various challenges. When I was in my mid thirties I was faced with this challenge of how do you balance being a mother and being a business person at the same time. It was the busiest time of my business life, when you have the most energy and so many things to do, you have so many things to handle and yet you have to handle young children because that’s normally what happens when you’re in your early thirties . So, during those times I was really relying on the YPO network, YPO experiences and YPO learnings. I have really relied on the forum [where up to ten members get together and talk confidentially], I have been in the same forum for the almost 15 years now, and they know more about me than I do myself! They have been through all the ups and downs of my life and the good thing about sharing this in a forum is because of the forum’s rules – it’s strictly confidential and there is no judgement, you can only share.

That structure really helped. At one point I faced what was almost a depression, and I went to the YPO Life, which is a five- day course for members in Mumbai, and doing it I learned a lot about myself. It saved me from that depression.

I then initiated the mother/daughter retreat in Indonesia. YPO is one of the organisations where you can get help in all aspects of your life. Some organisations are purely commercial, some organisation are purely networking, with this you can have a family, you can grow with it. That’s what I have gained from YPO.

Portrait of CEO ASIA BUCCELLATI business man Dimitri Goutenmacher

Dimitri Goutenmacher

Dimitri Gouten, CEO Asia, Buccellati

YPO member since 2012

LUX: Why did you join the YPO?
Dimitri Gouten: In my previous company [the luxury goods conglomerate Richemont], we were doing an entrepreneurship award with a similar organisation. Some members went on to join the YPO and they recommended it. For many reasons. The first reason being the networking; with the YPO you are not seven degrees of important people, you are one or two degrees because you can really access entrepreneurs, bankers, investors, in a very quick manner. And then once you join, you have a lot of expertise available to you, and there are events where there are presentations on different subjects, so it’s like a university . You can be talking about the US economy one afternoon, then the singularity another afternoon, and AI. There are many subjects that are discussed at a high level and that are very interesting for all the members.

There are also events related to family, also events with children, because the whole point is about learning something – so you can learn something with your children, or you can learn something with your spouse, there are different kinds of events that are organised to promote business, family and personal life. That’s the holistic approach that it offers.

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It’s a later stage the YPO forum comes, which is when you have this group of people that we gather every month to talk about personal, business and family subjects which are shared in an environment that’s 100% confidential, where you have trust with the different people. And the idea is really for everyone to really express themselves, share their emotions, share their values, and you know, tell you stories, memories that happened to them in a similar case to what’s happening to you or friends of theirs.

The idea is never to judge you, never to give you advice, but to just give you some relevant information that they see could help you make your own decisions. So, it’s not about “Oh you should do this, you should do that”, it’s really an open forum, where everybody can share and everybody can take the most out of what they want. It’s never about “Oh, I have this problem, what are the solutions?”, it’s “I have this problem, I’m going to do a small presentation to my forum mates, my forum brothers, and we will see and they all share”.

One of them can be in a family business, one of them can be an architect, one of them can be in the printing business, or finance.

LUX: It sounds like the forum is something that doesn’t really exist elsewhere?
Dimitri Gouten: Yes, and it’s true that you don’t really find it outside this forum because it’s ruled by confidentiality and trust, and the other aspect is the quality of the people, because the people who are also recruited join the YPO because of certain criteria that are fixed by the YPO itself.

LUX: And you found it useful in terms of business and personal support?
Dimitri Gouten: Very useful. As well as the forum, you also have all the rest of the YPO network, that you can also contact for certain things. For example, I can ask if there is anybody who has experience in importing jewellery into China? You will find somebody, and then you will have some sharing of information if the person wants . That’s the whole idea of the organisation, that you share with others and you benefit from that.

For example, a few years ago, we went to Taiwan with a member of my forum and we met other, different companies that belong to YPO and studied their business models . So, you mix that with excellent food on the trip, and it’s a very interesting experience. We also went to Japan at one time where we saw a company making electric cars. In Asia the YPO is very powerful, you can quickly touch some entrepreneurs, and most of the time we share because we know what YPO is and we are willing to share.

LUX: Is there a mechanism by which contact happens?
Dimitri Gouten: Yes, there is a website where you have access to all the members worldwide. It doesn’t accept solicitation, so it means a member can’t call me and say, “Do you want to buy this?” But they can send me a message and say “I’m in this type of business and I’m in Hong Kong next week, could we meet for a drink?” And you trust them, you know that they are in the same organisation and they also follow the same standards.

For more information visit: ypo.org

 

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Reading time: 16 min
Penguins in Antartica against backdrop of ice glacier
The great migration of wildebeest through Tanzania and kenya is one of the nature's most extraodinary wonders

The Great Migration, Tanzania & Kenya

Geoffrey Kent is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent, one of the world’s most respected luxury travel companies. In his first column for LUX, Mr. Kent marvels at nature’s most extraordinary wonders.

From Africa at its rawest to Japan at its most genteel, experiencing these natural phenomena will remind even the most jaded traveller of what a privilege travel is and our place in the world. I have always believed that in nature we are completely unified with all of life…

Sakura, Japan

No season’s arrival is more celebrated than that of spring. People rejoice in shaking off winter’s grip and greeting the season of new life. In Japan, one million cherry trees blossom. Known as sakura, it starts in the south and moves northwards, following a wave of warm weather. Clouds of pink appear as daytime temperatures reach 17 degrees Celsius. As they have been doing for centuries, locals picnic under these trees – a custom known as hanami. In the modern capital Tokyo, people flock to Ueno Park. In the ancient Kyoto, the Philosopher’s Path is an inviting place to relax and reflect on the wonder of nature.

Nature's blossom in spring in Japan

Sakura, Japan

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In my experience the most rewarding, but often over-looked way to experience Japan – from its timeless mountain villages to its delicate cuisine, distinctive architecture and graceful gardens – is to approach it from the sea. A small expedition yacht provides just the right balance between luxurious on-board amenities and access to remote villages, places that the big cruise ships simply can’t reach. This access illuminates Japan’s history and culture, arts and architecture, gardens and nature, as well as its culinary traditions, with experiences that reveal the country through a local lens.

Each day brings unexpected delights. During one visit to beautiful Kenroku-en Gardens, we were invited into a teahouse to savour delicious ‘fragrant peach’ ice cream.

The Great Migration, Tanzania & Kenya

Every year more than a 1.5 million wildebeest, 200,000 Burchell’s zebra and a smattering of trailing Thomson’s gazelle make a 1,900km odyssey between Tanzania’s Serengeti and the Masai Mara in Kenya. Instinct and the smell of rain spurs the herds forward with two things in mind: food and water. They are following the rains in search of fresh grass. Along the way, many migrating animals fall prey to waiting predators including lion, leopard, cheetah, crocodile and hyena.

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One year when I was on safari with Richard Burton, I was getting him a drink at the bar in the mess tent when I heard a roar and a lot of screaming and turned to see two lions bringing down a buffalo in our campfire. I quickly upended the table, sending the crystal and china flying, and gathered the guests behind it as a barricade. What an amazing spectacle it was to watch! The next day Richard Burton wanted to know if we could do it again. He thought I’d set the whole thing up – nature is full of surprises!

During the Migration, sightings of predators taking down prey are common. Visit Tanzania between January and early March to see thousands of wildebeest being born each day. Then from June through September, vast herds are on the move through Kenya.

The Monarch Butterfly Migration, Mexico

The migration of the Monarch butterflies is one of the most astonishing of all natural wonders. Every autumn, tens of millions of Monarchs travel from the eastern USA and Canada to Mexico’s Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains – their winter hibernation grounds. It’s an epic journey for these creatures in distance and – most intriguingly – they do it without ever having been there before. A butterfly that departs from Canada will never return. Nor will its progeny for the next two generations. It is the third generation that sets off once more from Canada for the same twelve mountains… 5,500 kilometres away. An amazing natural mystery.

The March of the Penguins, Antarctica

For those dreaming of genuine adventure, Antarctica is nature’s last frontier. This pristine landscape of mountains and glaciers remains largely untouched by civilization and wildlife abounds.

One of the most inspiring is the Emperor Penguin colony in Atka Bay along the Weddell Sea coast of Antarctica. The penguins breed on the sea-ice in bitterly cold conditions. Once an egg is laid, the female leaves the colony, giving the egg to her partner, who carefully puts it on top of his feet and covers it with a skin fold to keep the egg warm – even when the temperature drops below −35°C.

The mother will return in July when the chick is ready to hatch. They are very small, weighing only about 150–200g (adult penguins weigh 22-30kg at this time of year). They have a thin layer of down and are not yet able to regulate their own body temperature, so it is up to the parents to keep the chicks warm.

Wonder of nature: Penguins marching through Antarctica

The March of the Penguins, Antarctica

By September, the chicks have grown a thick cover of down and are developing quite rapidly. Growing requires a lot of energy so they are always hungry. It now takes both parents to go out and gather food for the youngsters. At night, the little ones left in the colony form huddles to keep warm.

In December – when we visit the colony – the chicks are nearly as big as their parents. Small black patches appear on their flippers. They are beginning to grow real feathers and they start shedding their down.

Warmer temperatures cause the ice to break up, bringing open water closer to the nesting site. The chicks are now old enough to swim and fish, and we watch enthralled as they begin to take to the ocean themselves.

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Reading time: 4 min