restaurant
restaurant

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

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

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

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

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

dinner

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

Read more: La Fiermontina, Palazzo Bozzi Corso, Review

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

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

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

The restaurant has held one Michelin star since 2011

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boathouse
boathouse

LongHouse Reserve in Long Island photographed by Philippe Cheng

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

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

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

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

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

Follow LUX on instagram: luxthemagazine

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

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

Read more: The future of philanthropy, with UBS

facetime

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

facetime

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

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

Carrie Barratt, Director, LongHouse Reserve

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

Pamela Willoughby, independent curator

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

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

Joel Mesler, artist

woman

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

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

Shirin Neshat, artist

facetime

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

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

 

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a man with a pencil between his lips and a hat on his head
a man with a pencil between his lips and a hat on his head

The late Armando Testa founded Studio Armando Testa, one Italy’s largest agencies, in 1956.

Armando Testa is the greatest 20th-century design figure you’ve never heard of. Armando’s creations, straddling design and art, were groundbreaking and epoch-defining, but suffering from snobbery on the part of the high-art world towards what was and still is considered the lowlier and more commercial discipline of design. A new show at the Venice Biennale, conceived by Gemma Testa, Founder of Acacia Foundation, and curated by London’s Design Museum Director Tim Marlow, seeks to redress the balance. Here, Testa and Marlow discuss Armando’s legacy in a conversation moderated by LUX and edited by Isabella Fergusson

LUX: Gemma, why did you collaborate with Tim Marlow in curating the Armando Testa retrospective at the Venice Biennale this year?

Gemma Testa: I wanted to enable the work of Armando to become internationally known. Tim seemed an excellent choice, with his deep knowledge of both contemporary art and design.

a chair made of meat

Meat Chair, by Armando Testa, 1978.

LUX: Tim, what made you interested in the project?

Tim Marlow: This is one of the most important Italian artists in post-war and visual culture whom I didn’t know enough about, and many others like me don’t. The chance to explore and shed light on someone who beautifully straddles the worlds of graphic design and art, advertising and popular culture and supposed fine art was a wonderful opportunity.

Tyres with an elephant trunk; artworks

Advertisement for Pirelli tyres, Armando Testa, 1954

LUX: Could you tell us about Testa’s significance?

TM: Armando was utterly radical from the beginning. He trained, learned painting, visual arts, art history, graphic design and advertising. He was a pop artist before Pop Art had even been invented. He understood the distilled language of Minimalism – look at his work in the 1940s and 50s before Minimalism existed. But he also understood that visual culture was a means of communication. There is this extraordinary creative trajectory that straddles very different worlds. His favourite word is ‘synthesis’.

GT: The main difficulty for Armando, for many years, was the lack of a proper gallery to represent him. Advertising is seen simply as commerce. Galleria Continua asked me to present Armando. This is a great opportunity to let his work gain recognition – he always believed in the great connection between art and advertising. While working on campaigns, he asked me many times, “What do you think about this?” I’d answer, “What is the aim? What are you working for? Who is the client?” and he’d answer, “You have to look at the sign; you have to look at the mark, at the drawing itself.” He has always understood and believed that there is a link between these two disciplines – advertising and art.

chilli on a plinth in a gallery

Tango Caliente, by Armando Testa

LUX: What are your purposes for the Venice exhibition?

TM: It’s the need and opportunity to present Armando’s works to a new audience, art scene and culture. The natural place for Testa – as a designer and as an artist – might be the Architecture Biennale, which is porous, looking at all sorts of disciplines. But it is decisive and important that it opens during the Art Biennale. Though the art world talks of porosity, it can be very territorial, and it can be a little defensive about people who come from disciplines other than the art world itself. Armando genuinely had a symbiotic relationship between the two. Even artists like Michelangelo Pistoletto – who studied at Armando’s design school – felt the importance of Armando as an artist and, as he put it, a “genius ad man”.

pictures in a gallery

“Punt e Mes”, by Armando Testa, 1974

LUX: Gemma, how do you respond to that?

GT: Yes, some friends of mind suggested that I present Armando to the Architecture Biennale, but I felt that this could have limited his position. And there is a generation who know none of his works as an artist: this is who the exhibition is for.

TM: The great ‘Punt e Mes’ campaign is a very condensed example of why Testa is so brilliant – his sphere, half-sphere piece. It is a pun on the name ‘Punt e Mes’ [‘Point and a Half’]. It is a visual pun on a sphere and a half-sphere. He paints it. He makes a sculpture of it as well as a poster of it. He interrogates it in every way and makes it universal. An advertising campaign for Vermouth, using an Italian dialect, ought only to resonate with a specifically Italian audience, but it doesn’t. That is what we want to show.

LUX: How would Armando wish to be remembered following the Biennale? As an artist, a designer, or something else?

GT: Perhaps he would want to be remembered more as a creative, a multidisciplinary artist than an advertiser or a designer; the exhibition represents all the shades of his creative universe.

Exhibition Armando Testa is at the Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna Ca’ Pesaro, Venice, 20 April-15 September 2024

capesaro.visitmuve.it

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A building and lots of people walking around

Photo London is one of the leading photographic fairs

Photo London’s ninth edition aims to integrate photography into the contemporary art world. But can it? Isabella Fergusson finds out

The cobbles of Somerset House aren’t quite bearing the catwalks of heels, neon suits and russet trousers one sees at Frieze or Art Basel. More cameras than Gucci bags slung across shoulders, more prams pushed, more WatchHouse coffee than Ruinart champagne. It seems more democratic – but to its strength or its downfall?

100 exhibitors, 44 cities worldwide: the numbers are good for London’s top photography fair, and returning galleries are strong. But, ever since photography entered the commercial world in the ‘70s, it has been seen as something of a niche by many. Its Director, Kamiar Maleki insists, however, that 2024 has seen yet more progress in cranking the door open to a contemporary art-collector-base.

man looking at picture in an art fair

This year’s Photo London is curated by Dani Matthews and entitled Shifting Horizons; photograph by Isabella Sanai

What’s happening this year that’s made it successful? ‘We’re branching out,’ he says, ‘we’re including more film, more mediums, and the car’ – he points to a navy electric car, a Lunaz, parked in the Somerset House courtyard – ‘which has been invested in by big names such as David Beckham – these have helped gain traction’. Is this because photography is not attractive enough by itself? ‘We have to entice the High Net Worths through other mediums’, he responds diplomatically. Perhaps a hint that photography alone still lacks respect; but perhaps, too, a testament to Maleki’s success in luring people into giving it the attention it deserves.

a woman in front of a daguerrotype image

Rebecca Hicks, Director of Purdy Hicks, in the reflection of a daguerrotype by Japanese photographer Takashi Arai; photographed by Joe Oswald

Photography’s technical gymnastics are exhibited with undeniable flair: see Takashi Arai’s impressive daguerrotypes, Susan Derge’s cameraless photography, laid directly over Dartmoor puddles of frogspawn, and Roope Rainisto’s AI-based works, thrumming with viewers, to a remarkable manipulation of printing mediums across the fair. The number of mediocre works was to be expected, but the number which stood out as sensational from the many Michael Jackson-type portraits was higher than one might imagine.

an exhibition room

Photo London brings together the world’s leading galleries in a major international photography Fair at Somerset House; photograph by Isabella Sanai

Sales? Well, as Rebecca Hicks, Director of Purdy Hicks, comments, the general consensus is that sales ‘remain quiet so far’. Maleki slides past the question with an ‘ask me on Tuesday!’ Fru Tholstrup, London-based art advisor and curator, though, beams with anomalous success of her showcase of Mariano Vivanco’s work from his latest book, ‘Peru’, hopping through folklore and mythology expressing striking figures between humans and animals, which one tends to associate with drawings rather than photography. Mariano remains confident in photography’s ability to leak into fine art, with a winking ‘Respect Photography, or Die!’. And he’s sold with fine art figures, too.

man standing outside a building in a suit

Kamiar Maleki, Director of Photo London; photograph by Joe Oswald

Some dealers insist they are at Photo London for the artistic exposure as much as sales. Gerber & Stauffer Fine Arts has an exhibition featuring Iranian-born Rahi Rezvani, introduced to the commercial world for the first time. Successful in luxury, performing arts and entertainment industries, he has never before sold a single print of his works.

man in front of image in of the sea

French photographer Valérie Belin has been named as the Master of Photography 2024; photograph by Isabella Sanai

But why start now? ‘People think success in photography is selling lots of photographs. I disagree. It’s about choosing carefully and selling well.’ He refuses to sell hundreds of his prints he has laid out, from a portrait of Quentin Tarantino to fiery images of dance, to a triptych covered in a natural substance he associates with sperm. Technologically, these seem extremely impressive, perhaps as or even more than those on the wall. When asked how he took them, he smiles knowingly, holding back. Brimming with confidence, he isn’t particularly interested in selling lots, but few, well-chosen ones.

That’s the way to elevate photography to the fine art world, he and Thomas Stauffer, Director of Gerber & Stauffer Fine Arts agree. Reduce the print number – even to one (in the case of his photograph ‘Willem Dafoe’) – signed with guarantee of no reproduction, and photography can have the value and respect of art. Although, in general, the knowledge that further prints can be made will always linger with all types of photography except polaroid. Even when reducing the number of editions, photography still remains on the precarious edge for established contemporary collectors.

man with red hair and blue background

Willem Dafoe, photographed by Rahi Rezvani, 2012

It’s entirely the other way around for Ana Matos, Director of Salgadeiras Arte Contemporânea. The very fact that, unlike painting, photography editions expands to an average of 5 to 7 means that it gains a democratic value, attracting a new wave of emerging millennial collectors. Such can be seen in the floor for the Nikon Emerging Photographers Award, part of Photo London. The average age decreases, buzz increases and – while sales are still reportedly quiet – the recognition and discussions are engaging a new crowd in collecting. Perhaps it’s not so much about gaining older contemporary art collectors, but shifting the next generation of collectors to photography.

man in front of an image of mountains

Photo London has two major exhibitions as part of the Public Programme, over 120 new and returning international exhibitors; photograph by Joe Oswald

And perhaps, by virtue of its less revered status, Photo London does focus more for new art and expression than collector-base. As photographer Maryam Eisler comments, ‘Photo London is a place of discovery and new talent.’ One can meet the photographs at eye-level, rather than kneel before them, and the fair is focused on the artform itself, and forming a snapshot of its growing identity and credibility. One feels closer to it all, somehow. And – as Eisler also points out – this is aided by its ‘excellent satellite programme of talks and critical thinking.’

reflection of a woman taking a picture in front of a picture

Photo London 2024 features over 400 photographers from around the globe; photograph by Joe Oswald

Photography remains on the sideline of established contemporary art; sales seem quiet. But, stripped of the catwalk-tendency of many art fairs, which can distract from the art itself, the model of a fair where art is accessible and thought about, rather than prized solely for sales, may be commercially more challenging, but is extremely refreshing. And, though established collectors may not dive into buying, photography might just present a more democratic art world – with a long way to go.

Photo London runs at Somerset House from 16-19 May 2024

See More: photolondon.org

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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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gallery
gallery

The current exhibition at Lucca Hue-Williams gallery “Albion Jeune” are paintings from saudi-arbian artist Alia Ahmad

Lucca Hue-Williams, London’s coolest young gallerist, reopens her Albion Jeune gallery with an exhibition by emerging Saudi artist Alia Ahmad which transposes a vibrant colour palette on her homeland’s desert landscapes

“Thought to Image” is intriguing as an ode to Saudi Arabia’s deserts and its rapidly growing metropolises. Ahmad’s work is a tribute not just to modern, rapidly developing Saudi but to an ancient land that is both rediscovered and lost in today’s rapid development.

paintings

Alia Ahmad aims to investigate the balance between natural elements, such as light and plants, by painting them even more explicitly.

It is also a sellout show for one of the world’s most exciting young gallerists, who is developing a reputation for discovering and nurturing talent from around the world. Ahmad herself, gently and wittily subversive, was at the opening herself.

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

art gallery

The Albion jeune art gallery is located at 16 -17 Little Portland Street in London

Her use of colour and texture is just as fascinating, particularly where the trees (or long objects) are rooted. These maximalist shapes and colours certainly give a sense of busyness; just that of a major, populated city. However, these colours are not particularly telling of the buildings’ rather monotonous, gray and urbanised design. In using this style, Ahmad simultaneously captures the modern denseness and the cultural history of Sadu; these colours take from the embroidery from Saudi, an ancient tribal weaving craft by the Bedouin people.

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

woman and man in front of an art gallery

Lucca Hue-Williams, the owner of the Albion Jeune art gallery in London, at the exhibition opening evening

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Car driving in front of a cliff
Car driving in front of a cliff

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

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

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

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

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

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

car inside

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

Follow LUX on instagram: luxthemagazine

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

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

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

Read more: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Review

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

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

Car driving on a cliff

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

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

www.bmw.com

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Man and woman standing next to each other

Chong Huai Seng is one of Singapore’s most respected collectors. He and his daughter Ning Chong, a first mover in art investment advisory, speak with LUX Leaders and Philanthropists Editor Samantha Welsh about the future of art as an investment of passion

When international banker Chong Huai Seng started buying art in the 1980s, he could not have imagined growing a collection that would catalyse a forum for South East Asia’s prominent collectors, artists and experts; nor that in co-founding a gallery The Culture Story with his daughter, Ning Chong, she herself would see a gap for a specialist art investment advisory and would go on to found the Family Office for Art (FOfA). Father and daughter share their approach and insights into dealing with passion assets such as art

When did your collecting journey start?

Mr Huai Seng Chong: My collecting journey started in the mid 80’s when I was a stock broker and I used to travel to London frequently for business trips. I loved traipsing around Mayfair, dipping in and out of galleries. I started buying British sculpture and Russian paintings, very unusual because most people start buying art from their own country. I was merely responding to what I like, my daughter likes to call it “retail therapy” at a time before the internet, and all you had, was to trust your instinct and sensibilities.

Nina Chong: About seven years ago, I introduced some governance to my father’s art collection, cataloguing and art collection management and to assess the strengths of the collection and where we should focus our future acquisitions. With that, we are able to identify themes within the collection, and Dad always enjoys selecting and curating the pieces which we put up in our private gallery The Culture Story. Personally I started my own collection a mere two – three years ago. I realised I had a point of view, which was different from my father’s and there were certain artists and themes which resonated more strongly with me, as a new mother, as an entrepreneur.

Man and woman standing next to each other

Mr Huai Seng Chong and his daughter Ms Ning Chong are two of Singapore’s most respected collectors.

How did you decide a career as an art professional was for you?

CHS: Art collecting started as a hobby for me, almost forty years ago! I never thought this is something I would continue to do, and now this hobby has turned into a business venture between me and my daughter. This is something we did not plan to do, but I’m happy that we are on this adventure together.

NC: When I was young, I was surrounded by works of art and as a family we used to follow my Dad to visit galleries on the weekend. It was only after graduation, when I didn’t want to pursue banking or finance that my father nudged me to consider the art world. I did my own research, including a few internships in London before I decided that I would commit and pursue a career in the arts. It took me a long time to get to where I am, looking back it has been very rewarding to work in different areas such as art fairs, auction house, galleries to government policy work, it has given me a very comprehensive overview of the art ecosystem.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

What was the vision behind The Culture Story?

CHS: We started The Culture Story in June 2017 as a private gallery, like Gertrude Stein salon’s setting in her Paris apartment in the 1920s where artists, poets, writers, thinkers would get together and make merry. For us, we wanted to create a cosy environment where we can share works from our family collection, and encourage other collectors to collaborate with us. By organising exhibitions and hosting talks with artists, collectors and art world professionals, The Culture Story aims to promote greater understanding and discourse around art and foster connoisseurship.

How has the mission and collection evolved?

CHS: We are still very much following the mission we set out for The Culture Story at the beginning. The Singapore art scene has matured significantly and we are at a stage where other art collectors are open to collaborate with us. They are happy to share work(s) from their private collection, especially when they encounter feedback from members of the public, students or other art collectors and professionals.

Images hanging inside an art gallery

“Collecting Bodies: a short story about art and nudity in Asia” with works on loan from 10 art collectors

NC: We try to focus on a few themes amongst our family collection. Recently, we have loaned some of our works to museums for various exhibitions. One in particular is an early Kim Lim sculpture which is currently on view at the Hepworth Wakefield Museum in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Later this year, the entire exhibition will travel to the National Gallery Singapore for her long-await retrospective exhibition.

We also loaned paintings by Futura and Timothy Curtis to Art Science Museum in Singapore for an exhibition called Sneakertopia, which celebrated everything related to the rise of street culture and pop art, and the phenomena of sneaker culture.

Man standing next to a sculpture

Kim Lim at Hepworth: the first major museum exhibition of Lim’s work since 1999, offering unparalleled insight into the artist’s life and work.

Artsworks shown in a room

Futura and Timothy Curtis at the Art Science Museum

Where has your acquisition strategy been particularly effective in nurturing innovative artists?

CHS: I like to support Singapore’s young and emerging artists. There is one artist in particular Hilmi Johandi whom I spotted almost fifteen years ago at the Affordable Art Fair in Singapore in 2011, today he is represented by OTA Fine Art, one of Japan’s leading contemporary art galleries who also represents Yayoi Kusama. I commissioned Hilmi to create a family portrait for us. Since then I support his practice by buying a work from every new series.

Colourful art painting

Hilmi Johandi works primarily with painting and explores interventions with new media that are associated within the domain of framing, fragmentation and compression

What is it about the Asian art market and intergenerational wealth transfer that created demand for the Family Office for Art (FOFA)?

NC: The South East Asian art market is still a young one, over the two decades we have seen significant progress with the emergence of galleries, art fairs, biennales, dealers and private museums etc.

Two years ago, I identified a gap in the industry, and I felt there were many things I could offer and help other collectors, the same way I used my skills and experience to maintain my father’s art collection. Most wealthy families have their financial assets and businesses handled by their private banker or family office, more often than not, the soft assets such as art and collectibles are overlooked or neglected. However these “passion assets” are very much part of the principle’s estate and his/her legacy. I’ve been studying this space for some time and I’ve learnt that with a proper system in place, it is a significant step towards protecting and enhancing the art collection’s commercial and cultural value.

At FOFA, we understand that dealing with passion assets such as art can be emotional and sentimental, and more often than not, it would require some degree of family involvement. These types of discussions and conversations are not unfamiliar to us and may take a long time to materialise, so our approach is to take a long term view and invest in these relationships.

Read more: Yulia Iosilzon’s groundbreaking new show in London

Based in Singapore, we are well-positioned to meet and serve Asian collectors in the region. Over the next decade and even in present times, it has been said that there will be unprecedented levels of wealth transfer in Asia. Given our first mover advantage and as we continue to grow and widen our international network, FOFA is ready to help families look after and manage their passions or alternative assets such as fine art and collectibles.

 

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Reading time: 6 min
Ancient, historical building made out of stone
Ancient, historical building made out of stone

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

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

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

Interesting animal Illustration engraved in a stone wall

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

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

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

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

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

Construction site with stone building on a desert like ground

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

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

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

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

Map of Asia

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

Read more: Hansjörg Wyss and the Wyss Foundation

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

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

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Reading time: 3 min

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

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

The Grosvenor square suite

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

The Grosvenor Square view suite

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

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

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

Grill 88 at the Biltmore

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

Head Chef Luis Campos

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

The Pine Bar at the Biltmore

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

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

Find out more: thebiltmorehotels.com

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Reading time: 3 min
Woman sitting on the ground in front of colourful painting

Woman sitting on the ground in front of colourful painting

London-based Israeli artist Yulia Iosilzon creates a thespian world, somewhere between fairy tale and natural landscape across ceramics and painting. Her signature snails trail around the frames of vibrant, allegorical paintings of calligraphic movement. LUX explores her new solo show at Berntson Bhattarcharjee in London.

Two colourful paintings on a wall with a big snail in the middle.

Several layers of symbolism offer snails as an important motif for the artist from motherhood to tranquillity to restlessness

Snails perch on canvas corners, across five-tiered cakes, some small, some larger. One – nearly human size – sits elegantly in the middle of the gallery floor. Others melt into the paintings themselves, in communion with circus-like figures, swirling around one another in rich colours. These stand at the intersection of her work – between reality and fantasy, between almost unnerving, uncanny and playful.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Little snails climbing on the side of a colourful painting.

Applying paint onto sheer silk, the artist’s technique recalls Helen Frankenthaler’s style from the 1950s and 60s

Born in Moscow, and with frequent relocations, Yulia connects to the snail’s pursuit of comfort and security, in slow calm and restlessness, in spiralling refuge. And to see the gallery adorned with both thespian silk of bright pink and these snails of earthy colours across the gallery gives an intense feeling of familiar-unfamiliarity that good art does. So, too, does the paintings’ figures of meek, innocent faces – and the combination of their sharp triangular figures with the calligraphic swirls.

Yulia quite literally creates a theatrical stage within this exhibition. It’s a scene resembling the interior of a snail’s shell – like something of a film set, cocooned in the Berntson Bhattarcharjee’s basement (a gallery which transforms itself quite remarkably for each exhibition).

Woman that is painting, holding colourful painting up

Yulia Iosilzon cites children’s illustration and theatre as sources of inspiration

Snails were already seen a lot in images of Matisse, Dali and Dutch Renaissance painters. During this historical period, snails symbolised the Virgin Birth, and embodied notions of resurrection, purity and mortality.

Read more: Interview with British-Iranian Artist Kour Pour

Modus Operandi at the Berntson Bhattarcharjee Gallery, Mayfair, London, will run until 11 May 2024.

See More: bbgallery.art

 

 

 

 

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Reading time: 1 min
a room with big window and lights and bar

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Big red brick building with trees and blue sky

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

DS: What were your biggest challenges in its creation?

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

two men in suits sitting on steps

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

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

LG: Curious, creative and kind people.

 

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

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

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Reading time: 5 min
A man sitting on a blue couch with yellow cushions
A man sitting on a blue couch with yellow cushions

Francis Sultana in his apartment in Albany

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

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

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

In Francis Sultana’s palazzo in Valletta

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

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

A blue bench in front of a beige stone exterior entrance

Part of the Chatterley Collection by Francis Sultana

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

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

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

At Poston Court

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

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

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

Hotel La Palma in Capri

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

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

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

Francis Sultana’s drawing room in Albany

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

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

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

Find out more: francissultana.com

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Reading time: 9 min
The window of a gallery with hanging coloured giant skulls in the room surrounded by pictures
The window of a gallery with hanging coloured giant skulls in the room surrounded by pictures

The exterior of Albion Jeune gallery with installations from I Want to Believe by Esben Weile Kjær

Lucca Hue-Williams has opened Fitzrovia’s newest gallery, Albion Jeune. Here, LUX speaks to the founder and the inaugural exhibitng artist, Esben Weile Kjær about the opening of the gallery and the messaging behind the solo show

LUX: What inspired you to found your own gallery?
Lucca Hue-Williams: Ever since I was little, It has been an abstract dream of mine to work with artists and curators in a meaningful way. I think it has been a question of when, and not how. There have been many influential people in my life who have given me the confidence to take the steps to be where I am now, and I am incredibly grateful to them.

LUX: What were the biggest challenges you faced setting up Albion Jeune?
LHW: I wouldn’t start with drawbacks or challenges, of which of course there are some, but I see Albion Jeuene as an opportunity to work with artists and curators who I believe to be influential and important.

A girl standing in front of a large window wearing a grey striped suit

Lucca Hue-Williams, Founder and Director of Albion Jeune

LUX: Why is Esben Weile Kjær the right artist for your gallery’s first exhibition?
LHW: Esben was the perfect artist to inaugurate the gallery due to the particularly electric performative qualities of his work. Esben also speaks to our generation in a way that makes the audience contemplate what their own construction of selfhood might be. We connected over discourse surrounding notions of the iconic image in media, the civil contract of photography, and themes surrounding liquid surveillance.

After the show closes, the space will be redesigned by an exciting architect. However, this won’t be made public until after Esben’s exhibition. We envisioned a raw and more brutal-appearing space in the first instance, and I don’t want to detract from the show. We will disclose the full programme for 2024 when we announce the architect in a few months time.

Stained glass pictures hung on a wall with a a pink skull on the corner

Esben Weile Kjær Installation view, I Want to Believe at Albion Jeune, London, 2023. Image courtesy the artist and Albion Jeune. Photographed by Todd-White

LUX: You’ve spoken about the gallery’s commitment to a ‘truly global art world’. How does Albion Jeune plan to showcase a truly global perspective?
LHW: In my preparations to launching Albion Jeune, I have worked in Beijing, where I was at UCCA and then in Saudi Arabia, where I supported the curatorial team for Diriyah Biennale Foundation. I look forward to working with artists from many parts of the world, who will present work that showcases many different perspectives and themes.

stained glass pictures hung on a wall in yellow, green, red, orange and blue

Albion Jeune opened in October 2023 and I Want to Believe by Esben Weile Kjær is the gallery’s first show

LUX: If you could choose one artist from any point in history to exhibit at Albion Jeune, who would they be?
LHW: Tehching Hsieh. It would be exciting to persuade him to make a new performance work in addition to the five ‘One Year Performances’.

A stained glass picture of a girl with red hair hanging on to a blue and yellow sun shape

Esben Weile Kjær, Under the Rainbow, 2023

LUX: What are you most looking forward to in Esben Weile Kjær’s upcoming exhibition, ‘I Want to Believe’?
LHW: Esben and I have worked together closely on this show for quite some time. As this is both Albion Jeune’s inaugural exhibition as well as Esben’s debut in London, I am looking forward to seeing how the show is received by it’s audience.

A silver skull hanging from the ceiling beside two stained glass pictures

I Want to Believe is the first of a three part series by Esben Weile Kjær bringing together performance and traditional art

LUX: How would you describe the messaging and themes behind your upcoming exhibition at Albion Jeune?
Esben Weile Kjær: I make art because it’s one of the only places where you remain ambivalent. I never come with one message I always try to come up with a reflection. Through my art I try to understand the world around me. The exhibition shows how I work. You have the echo from previous performances showed as posters/propaganda in stained-glass suggesting to be part of potential architecture. Then you have the big alien skull wrecking balls pointing forward to the performance. The performance is the first act in a three act performance project continuing through 2024. The performance is a love story between humans, aliens and the youngsters wanting to identify as aliens to feel free from biology and gravity.

A person sitting on the floor wearing jeans and a black and white striped hoodie sitting next to a butterfly structure

Artist Esben Weile Kjær

LUX: Your show, “I Want to Believe’, focuses on the relationship between art, identity and commercialisation. Do you think nowadays, technology and social media has made it easier or more difficult to show one’s true identity?
EWK: In many ways easier, yes, but also much more complicated because everything gets so commodified on social media. I’m not sure I know what true identity is but it sounds cool though. I hope the performance will look like fashion kids finding liberation in anything else than what’s real.

Esben Weile Kjær’s solo show will be on at Albion Jeune gallery until 19th November.

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Jamiu Agboke

A recent exhibition spotlighted some of the most exciting young artists based in Britain. The twist? It happened in Paris. Artists photographed by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

It is no secret that, post Brexit, Paris has been taking giant canvas-sized bites out of London’s position as capital of the European art world. So we loved Galerie Marguo’s playful contribution to the cultural battle, which took place in May and June of this year. The elegant gallery put on a show of British-based artists at its space in the Marais. Those taking part included Jamiu Agboke, Freya Douglas-Morris, Li Hei Di and James Prapaithong, photographed here, and others including recent RCA graduate Georg Wilson. Curated by Henry Relph, the show was entitled “A New Sensation”, in an arch reference to the iconic 1997 show, “Sensation”, at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, which featured the influential collection of Charles Saatchi, and was a major moment in triggering London’s art boom.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX asks: what does it mean to be a London based artist today?

Jamiu Agboke
“I love London deeply and it’s my home, but it doesn’t mean anything to me personally to be an artist in London. That’s just due to the nature of my work and practice. Also, it’s a financial obstacle course for most artists.”

James Prapithong

James Prapaithong
“To be a London based artist today is to see the opportunities that the city can present, but also to accept the struggle that can go hand in hand, without giving up.”

Freya Douglas-Morris

Freya Douglas-Morris
“I was born in London and for the past 20 years I have lived and worked in Hackney. I am surrounded by people who look, listen, feel, make, share. I can access a multitude of creative sources, then retreat to my studio and work in a quiet setting. I need this contrast, to be surrounded by the inspiration and energy of a big city, and to paint in a room that is its antidote, calm and private. London is vast, giving room to the trials and errors of being an artist, but small enough to feel you belong.”

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

Li Hei Di

Li Hei Di
“I miss the sun. The lack of light makes me search for light in my paintings.”

Find out more: marguo.com

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

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A woman with her arms folded wearing a white and blue dress
A woman with her arms folded wearing a white and blue dress

Sana Rezwan at Barwara Kothi, Jaipur

Sana Rezwan is a thoroughly modern entrepreneur and philanthropist, living and working in London, then New York, before recently moving back to her native India. Now she is upping the ante with ambitious plans to raise the profile of South Asian art around the world. Reaching for the sky is in her blood, she explains to LUX

LUX: Is there a new awareness of South Asian art?
Sana Rezwan: Yes, it is an exciting time. There have been many calls for the art world to be more inclusive in recent years, and there is now an openness to new voices. This wasn’t the case a few years ago. Museums and collectors are finally open to ideas from South Asian artists.

LUX: What is your focus as a collector?
SR: One focus is on South Asian female artists who have been overlooked by the market, or written off by institutions and galleries. Having spent the past year in India, I have met so many female artists whose work I feel needs global recognition. There is a chance now to open the barriers to let such artists come to light.

LUX: Which artists are interesting you today?
SR: I am passionate about the late Zarina. She used printmaking mediums, such as silkscreen and woodblock, and made print series around concepts such as displacement. I love Bharti Kher’s use of found objects to convey her position as an artist between milieus. I admire Rana Begum for her use of repetitive geometric patterns, inspired by minimalism and her memories of daily recitals of the Qur’an.

A group of people standing in a gold room

A private-collection visit for The Cultivist with Krishna Choudhary of Royal Gems and Arts, Jaipur

LUX: Can South Asia be seen as one region?
SR: We use the term broadly to designate a category, but there is a multiplicity of cultures, religions and traditions within South Asian art, which makes the art you encounter so exciting.

LUX: Why did you move back to India?
SR: I believe India is where I can best engage with and promote the work of South Asian artists to the world. In 2022, I set up Public Arts Trust of India (PATI) to commission art in global collaboration with galleries, institutions and museums, to be shown in public spaces in India.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What role can philanthropy play?
SR: It can offer ways to extend the reach of the arts. Through philanthropy, we intend to build discourse around urban spaces and heritage structures as sites for engagement through art to inspire reflection and a sense of community. This extends to sustaining cultural conversations globally through supporting residencies, commissions and trans-disciplinary practices.

paintbrushes, paint and art on a table

Artist Tanya Goel’s New Delhi studio

LUX: Is interest from global collectors rising?
SR: Yes, in India we are seeing a great number of international collectors visiting India each year, and the intent of my project is to keep them coming. We will also host encounters in London, Paris and New York to promote cultural exchange and generate awareness. Through my agency The Art Lab, I put together a programme for 14 members of global arts club The Cultivist for a trip to Jaipur and Delhi. We looked at craft, jewellery, design, we went to art fairs and made visits to studios and private collectors. It was very successful. About 75 per cent of collectors bought and started collecting through the trip. It inspired them to explore art from the region.

LUX: What are the challenges for philanthropists in India?
SR: One is to bridge a gap that is not currently served by the government in supporting art. They also have the challenge of building platforms to ngage the public in art, and of finding solutions for generating income for arts organisations to create meaningful jobs in the art world.

LUX: What have you learnt as a collector?
SR: I finally found my calling by moving back to India. My experiences in London and New York have made me well positioned to work as an ambassador for the Indian scene. My goal is to create appreciation for art, support for the local art market and invest in art education.

A woman wearing a pair of black trousers and a purple top

Yulia Dultsina at the residence of Akanksha and Tarang Arora of Amrapali, Jaipur

LUX: Which two living artists would you invite to dinner, and which two of the past?
SR: Shilpa Gupta and Ishita Chakraborty – to learn about their research and practice. From the past, Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, whose work is spiritual and profound, and Zarina.

LUX: Your advice to unknown female artists?
SR: Keep creating. Plans are under way to generate platforms for your work to be seen and appreciated by the global art community.

Read more: Sam Dalrymple and Durjoy Rahman On Cultural Reconnections Post-Partition

LUX: Will South Asian cultures come to see being an artist as a respectable way of life?
SR: For centuries, South Asia has had a history of nurturing creative talent, craftsmanship and artistic sensibility. It is now our responsibility to show today’s artists’ work to the world and have them be considered seriously.

Find out more:
publicartstrustofindia.org
theartlab.studio

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

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A group of men and women standing together for a photograph
A group of men and women standing together for a photograph

Dia Anitska, Daniela de Jesus Cosio, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, Ali Jassim, Jak Bueno and guest

A glamorous art-fashion crowd gathered in Berkeley Square, London, for a preview of Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s “Age of Energy” solo show. The selling exhibition from the French-Iranian artist was curated by Kamiar Maleki, and supported by German gallerist Samandar Setareh and LUX

A blonde woman in a pink dress standing next to a man a black suit and tie with a white shirt

Natalie and Zafar Rushdie

a man wearing a purple tie dye jumper, blue jeans and orange trainers standing between two men in dark suits

Darius Sanai, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Kamiar Maleki

A man wearing a yellow and black striped coord standing next to a woman wearing a black hat, jacket and jeans with a grey striped top

Nettie Wakefield and Owen McGinnity

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

A woman wearing a floral skirt standing next to a man wearing a purple jumper and orange trainers next a woman and man wearing brown and pink clothes

Cheyenne Westphal, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, Katy Wickremesinghe and Stephen Webster

Two women posing for a photo holding a dog

Sabine Roemer and Bettina Bahlsen

a man wearing a purple tie dye jumper, blue jeans and orange trainers standing next to a man wearing a green hoodie and brown and on the side a man in a black jacket and jeans and white top

Dumi Oburota, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Dias Feld

Two men and women standing together wearing blue and grey outfits

Kobi Prempeh and Pippa Bennett-Warner

A woman wearing a red suit holding a wine glass

Camilla Rutherford

A man and woman wearing black outfits

Leila Maleki and Sadegh Dolatshahi

A man in a black suit standing next to a man wearing a purple tie dye jumper, blue jeans and orange trainers standing next to a man wearing a beaded dress and head cover

Daniel Lismore, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Kamiar Maleki

A man in a brown jacket standing next to a women wearing a silk pink and black dress

Amber Le Bon and Stephen Webster

A woman in a black and white suit standing between a man in an all black suit and another man wearing a purple tie dye jumper, blue jeans and orange trainers

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar with Fatima and Kamiar Maleki

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

SASSAN TO PROVIDE TWO MORE LINES OF INFORMATION ABOUT LAUNCH IN MONACO 29 JUNE HERE

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Part of a VR series that Beeple released for free public use. Courtesy of W1 Curates

Mike Winklemann, AKA Beeple, shot to fame after his digital artwork EVERYDAY: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS became the first ever purely non-fungible-token (NFT) to be sold at Christie’s, and was auctioned off for just shy of 70 million dollars in cryptocurrency. Darius Sanai spoke to the artist at his solo show at W1 Curates in Oxford Street, London

LUX: There is a lot of societal commentary in your digital artwork. Do you set out to do that, or is it something that develops?
Mike Winkelmann (Beeple): I guess I set out to do it. Im trying to predict things that are going to be issues in the future, or trends that I see developing now. This piece is talking about Natanz. Basically, the US didn’t confirm this, but it was speculated that they blew up the Iranian nuclear reactor. This is talking about how, in the future, I think there’s going to be  more warfare like that where they get into a computer system and f*ck some sh*t up.

If this is the first instance of a computer programme being used to physically blow things up, I don’t think it will be the last. I think it will happen more and more. It’s terrorists getting into a computer system to blow up an electrical plant. I think more things like that will happen.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Can you tell me about your ‘Everydays’ piece?
B: These are ‘Everydays’ in motion, where I made a picture each day and then occasionally I’d think it might be interesting if I animated it. I would take maybe 3 or 4 days and animate a little 15-second scene of that picture. This was a picture of when Trump locked himself in the White House. This was when Elon [Musk] had his baby, and named it X Æ A-12.

Some of them are not specifically about something. That one was during coronavirus when people started talking about killer hornets. This is just some weird Michael Jackson meme. And so on.

LUX: When you started back in the 2000s did you consider yourself a graphic designer, an artist, a filmmaker, or something else?
B: I considered what I was making to be art, just regular art, no different from anybody else. I was just using a different medium. But I considered myself a designer, because the way I made money was through solving visual problems for people. People were asking for concert visuals for Lady Gaga, or concert visuals for the Superbowl. So I’d take the brief of XYZ and say “okay, I’ll do that.”

LUX: So, it’s a practical application?
B: I know the tools; I can build you whatever you want. You tell me what to do and I’ll do it. I did it for money and that was it, while I put most of my real energy into work where I could do whatever I wanted.

The more of this work that I put out there for free, the better I got, until clients like Louis Vuitton were contacting me. It was really like I was a designer by day and also carving away a large amount of time to do my own work, that I wasn’t trying to sell, there was no concept of people collecting it. Art is just something you make and put online and people experience it and that’s it, and it was quite a shift when people began to start collecting it. That was just not a part of the way I thought about art.

Panel talk with Beeple (Mike Winkelmann), Nick Knight from Showstudio and Mark Dale from W1Curates. Courtesy of W1 Curates

LUX: What enabled these to become collector pieces?
B: The NFTs. The NFT thing, which took a lot of people coming up to me and saying, I think you should check this out. At first, I wasn’t sure, I thought it was just weird crypto sh*t, not my thing. Then finally it clicked and I thought, wait a second, this could be the same as moments in the past where people have refused to believe something was art. Photography, that’s not art, it’s just people taking photos. Graffiti, that’s not art, it’s vandalism, how could it be art? Then everyone says “oh wait! I guess it’s art.”

I think that’s what is about to happen with digital art. At the moment it’s this thing that everybody knows and everybody sees all the time and is actually completely ubiquitous in the visual language of our society. It’s websites, it’s voices, it’s TV, it’s video games, everything you see is visual. Art has touched it, but it’s not capital A art, because until recently, there wasn’t a meaningful way to collect it. You could print it out, you could give somebody a thumb drive, but that didn’t really resonate with people until the NFT thing. The ability to prove ownership resonated with people.

LUX: Is there a tension between the traditional capital A art world and the world of digital art?
B: 100%, yes. I think people in the digital world think that because we had the sale at Christie, we’re part of the art world now. In reality, there’s a lot of people still calling bullsh*t on us; we’ve got a long way to go to convince everybody that we’re the real deal.

It’s come a long way in 2 years, I will say that, much faster than I thought. A couple of years ago I would have believed it would have taken us 10 years to get to where we are now. It’s a matter of waiting for it to click for people that the stuff they take for granted, because it’s so ubiquitous, is actually made by people. It’s not that different from painting a picture.  You’re sitting down, you’re producing a picture, it’s got a message, it’s got an aesthetic, it’s the exact same thing.

LUX: Yet many people resist calling it art. Why do you think this is?
B: I think it is just very new, it came out of nowhere. I was as dumbfounded as anyone by these developments. But I think when people have an experience that connects with them emotionally, like any other type of medium, any other type of art, then it will click with them. But they see the headlines and they see “monkey JPG selling for crazy amount” which makes it easier to call bullsh*t on the whole thing. There’s a lot of distinction between the different things people are doing in the NFT space, with some people looking towards a more baseball-type, collectible thing rather than the art side of things. Then there are people who are trying to make serious work that, in my opinion, is no different from any other artist working in any other medium.

Beeple’s Everydays, the First 5000 Days. Courtesy of W1 Curates.

LUX: Is there not a lot of bullsh*t in the traditional art world as well.
B: Yes, but everybody’s used to that bullsh*t. Also, there are so many people who think NFTs look like crap. Most traditional art looks like crap, you just can’t see it as easily. You can go online and instantly see hundreds of NFTs, but you can’t immediately see hundreds of pieces of traditional art – if you did, you would see a lot of crap I’d promise you that. Or you would see a lot of stuff which looks fine but isn’t new in any way. It’s just the same regurgitated ideas that are 100 years old. It looks more like what you would expect art to look like, but it’s not good. I could make some abstract art that anybody would agree is art,  but it doesn’t matter, that’s not good. I think I’m trying to make things for 100 years from now. I think a lot of traditional art is trying to make something that looks like art right now, and half the time it looks like it would have been made 100 years ago.

LUX: Do you think in 100 years people will look at this, you and others, and think this is an inflection point where it changed, just like things changed with Duchamp?
B: We will see. I don’t know, but I think this is definitely a different moment. I think it will be seen as an inflection point because you’re going to see a massive shift as digital tools and digital distribution become more a part of art, because those advance rapidly, they will continue to advance rapidly with technology. I don’t know a lot about painting but I’m not sure how much it has changed in the last 100 years through technology.

LUX: Does this fit better in the Metaverse?
B: What do you mean by the metaverse? I don’t even know what that means, it’s just a marketing term.

LUX: The space where you can go buy a computer rendition of a Dior gown and put it on an avatar and pay for it. I mean, that’s just the beginning right?
B: Except none of those worlds exist. How much time do you spend in the metaverse?

LUX: Not me, but other people do.
B: No they don’t. If you look at these platforms, nobody is spending any time in them, because they’re not engaging enough. It’s like VR. How much time do you spend in VR? Zero.

I’ve gone all over the world many times and heard people talking about the metaverse, but then they don’t spend any time there themselves. It’s like VR. Fun for 2 seconds and then you’ve done it and you move on.

I don’t think it will always be like that, but I think the first thing we will all consider the metaverse is AR glasses. That is what I think we will consider the first true metaverse is, when all of us are wearing glasses and we can all see a layer of things that are the same, when we can all see a digital sculpture right here, and we can walk around it and we all can point to it, and you see what I’m seeing. Everybody being jacked into VR in a tube of goo, that’s a waste.

Courtesy of W1 Curates

LUX: A traditional collector would buy a painting and put it on their wall. How is this art best displayed?
B: Almost all of the pieces that I have now come with some sort of physical element. Some of them are titanium back-screens, and others are like paintings or giant prints, or these human size boxes. A lot of the pieces have physical components like that because to me it’s important to have a physical way to experience the work. To me, it makes it much more visceral and much more impactful.

LUX: Are attitudes towards digital art changing?
B: Yes, things are changing a lot. We just had Deji Art Museum in China buy a piece, there are pieces at MoMa right now, you’re seeing a bunch of museums invest. I think when people see work that can withstand criticism and has some actual depth to it, then they’ll change their mind.

But it is taking time. I think people who are truly thoughtful and are approaching it with an open mind, with the attitude that they don’t know everything about art and this could be something new that they want to be a part of, those people are coming around very quickly. But that’s not everybody. People have to change their mind of what this is, and that doesn’t often happen quickly.

LUX: And you mentioned street art and graffiti before. Is there a parallel with what happened there 30 years ago where that wasn’t considered art?
B: 100%, I think it’s the exact same thing. I look at this work as the street art of the internet, because you can post anything you want there’s this free for all thing. All street art is trying to get people’s attention, the street part of it is “permissionless” art where they were going out and thinking, I’m not going to get anybody’s permission to do this, I’m just going to do it. That’s how I’ve always operated. I don’t need anybody’s permission to show this, I made it, I put it on the internet, that’s it.

That’s very different from the traditional art world where you make a piece of art, then you’ve got to wait for a gallery or a museum and somebody’s got to look at it and say yes, I will show that. Nobody has to say yes on the internet.

More from Beeple’s VR Series. Courtesy of W1 Curates.

LUX: How did you engage with art when you were a kid?
B: I went to school for computer science. As a kid, I didn’t do a massive amount of art on the side. I was always doing a lot of stuff on computers. At first I wanted to make video games, but then I got to college and I saw some people who wanted to make video games, and I realised I didn’t want it that badly. I was spending all of my time making weird little abstract clips that had no inherent purpose; they were just little tiny artistic expressions.

I was spending my time making short films too, and so to begin there was no sense of wanting to get people to collect my work or making a living off of it. I actually really liked the fact that I didn’t make a living off of it because it meant I could say whatever I wanted. I never cared about commercial art, I just wanted to make people happy. So I had a good separation there, I could say whatever I wanted without thinking about whether this is something someone’s going to hang on their wall. Because a lot of it is not something you want to hang on your wall, to be quite honest.

LUX: The world is getting weirder and worse. Does that help your work?
B: I don’t think it’s getting worse, but I think it will get weirder. That’s also why I make this sh*t weird; because people think that could never happen. But Donald Trump was just your f*cking president! A man-child with no experience who is paying off porn stars. 20 years ago you wouldn’t have said that could happen.

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

I look at what happened with me and this crazy $70 million sale. That was honestly a weird bi-product of the conversation about art and digital art, and then crypto with nothing to do with art coming into it. As technologies combine like that, in ways we didn<‘t expect, weird things happen. It’s similar to Trump being elected and the role social media played there. Social media comes and everyone thinks it’s great and Mark Zuckerburg is a f*cking hero, liberating all these people. Then time goes on and you think, wait a second, we didn’t see this coming.

That will probably keep happening. There’s gonna be things we didn’t see coming and it can have massively profound effects. The world is so connected now and so digital already; these things can happen so fast. Suddenly millions of people get behind an idea or a movement. I mean, look at the NFTs. Again, we went from zero to being this billion-dollar industry in months. I think weird things are going to happen more and more.

Courtesy of W1 Curates

LUX: Would you like to be recognised by collections who don’t recognise digital art? Is that important to you or do you not care?
B: Yes, I would like to change their mind. I’ve been trying to help educate people in the traditional art world because I think there’s a lot of people in the crypto world who don’t actually care about art. Their allegiance is to crypto, my allegiance is to art.

I just learned about crypto 2 years ago, and I learned about NFTs literally months before that sale. The traditional art world also has a lot of people who, in my opinion, are not in it for the right reasons, they’re just in it for money. But there’s a lot more people who are truly passionate about this, who truly want to see art evolve and are interested in the continuation of art history and contextualising this moment within it.

I’ve been trying to play in both worlds to some extent. There’s a lot more that can be done in terms of NFTs and art being more dynamic. There’s a lot more to come.

Find out more: www.beeple-crap.com

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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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Reading time: 10 min

Vik Muniz, Woman of Algiers, after Pablo Picasso (Surfaces), 2022

Brazilian artist and photographer Vik Muniz’s most recent series Surfaces is currently on display in the FOTOCUBISMO exhibition at Ben Brown Fine Arts in Mayfair, London until 26th May.

Born in Sao Paulo Vik Muniz’s abstract studies of shape and form recall the Cubism of Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger, but he also integrates his own personal style and techniques. Speaking to LUX, he described Cubism as: “…a response by artists to the hegemonic influence of photography on the way we see the world. They saw something in the world that was more complex, more human, and more multifaceted, and to go back after such a long time and use the same medium, the medium of photography, to reinsert this power of questioning to Cubistic images seemed like a challenge but also it just became an extension of what I was doing earlier.”

Vik Muniz, Still Life 2, after Giorgio Morandi (Surfaces), 2022

In this series, Muniz uses a hybrid approach, photographing his own paintings and collages which are often inspired by iconic images from art history, from Otto Freundlich’s works to those of Burle Marx. The resulting photograph is then edited and reassembled to create the final piece, one of many layers and textures, which mixes the mediums of photography and painting and calls the viewer to question the nature of their own perception. In this way, Muniz presents a study on ways of looking and seeing, while also exploring the reality that lies beneath the surface.

Vik Muniz, Dora Maar with Cat (Surfaces), 2022

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

On his Surfaces series, Muniz told LUX: “The idea is that the pictures are filled with layers of meaning that shift the pictorial plane and the objective is to cause a lot of ambiguity. So whatever you see as a piece of paper may just be a picture of a piece of paper. I hope to create a lot of confusion in the gaze of the viewers, and that it becomes not only entertaining but also revealing of what they are hoping to see in a picture.”

Vik Muniz, Guernica, after Pablo Picasso 2 (Surfaces), 2022

Muniz has gained international recognition for his distinctive approach of creating compositions using unconventional materials such as chocolate, sugar, garbage, diamonds, caviar, toys, junk, scrap metal, dry pigment, vintage postcards and even dust. His work often blurs the line between reality and representation, compelling viewers to question what they see. With numerous accolades and exhibitions in prestigious galleries and museums worldwide, Muniz continues to push boundaries, challenging conventional notions of materiality and visual representation. His work is included in major collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and Tate, London.

Vik Muniz, Nude Descending Staircase, after Marcel Duchamp 2 (Surfaces), 2021

Read more: 6 Questions: Valentina Volchkova, Head of Pace Gallery, Geneva 

Vik Muniz: FOTOCUBISMO is the fourth solo exhibition presented at the Ben Brown Fine Arts gallery. The gallery opened in 2004 in the heart of Mayfair and positioned itself on the contemporary art scene, as well as becoming known for its exhibitions of 20th century artists. In 2009, they opened up a second gallery space in Hong Kong, with another in Palm Beach launching in 2021.

Vik Muniz: FOTOCUBISMO is on display until 26th May, 2023

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Reading time: 3 min
A silver piano in a bar with black and gold interiors
A long sitting room with black and gold pillars and couches with tables

The Dorchester London’s iconic Promenade’s revamp

Christopher Cowdray is the Company President of the Dorchester Collection. Here he speaks to Darius Sanai about the iconic London hotel’s latest renovations and maintaining brand identity in the process of modernisation
A man with grey hair wearing a suit with a blue tie

Christopher Cowdray

LUX: Can you tell us about the renovations over the last 18 months at the Dorchester London?
Christopher Cowdray: The Dorchester last had a major re-fit in 1989. It gets to a point where you really need to go behind all the walls and change all the pipes and make sure it’s ready for purpose. That’s what we’ve been doing: we remodelled the ground floors, the bar and the promenade, the Vesper Bar, and all the front entrance, while always ensuring we retain the hotel’s identity. What happens a lot in luxury hotels is that people will come in and rip everything out and modernise it without keeping the essence of what the hotels are.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

We are also redoing all the guest rooms. At the moment, the first and the second floor are about to be finished and will be ready for bookings in the next two or three weeks. They have been designed by Rochon from Paris who has done the ground floor as well. Martin Brudnizki did the Vesper Bar and will continue designing more in the upper part of the hotel. The final renovation will be the rooftop where we are going to create a new restaurant. During the pandemic when we weren’t allowed to entertain inside the outdoor seating area upstairs became so popular and got such great feedback, so we are creating a permanent fixture there and then extending the top floor. We are really restoring the Dorchester back to its rightful place as one of London’s leading, if not leading Hotel.

A silver piano in a bar with black and gold interiors

The Liberace piano in the Promenade

LUX: Are you worried by new competition in the market, for instance, Peninsula and the Rosewood coming soon?
CC: With any competition coming in, it actually ends up bringing more business into the city. It’s the same with Rome; there’s a lot of competition coming into Rome, and what it does is bring a lot more awareness to the city. One has to be aware of competition, of course, and when you are at the top of the market you want to make sure you are doing everything to remain there. A lot of this comes down to service levels. I think what the Dorchester has to its advantage is incredible service, location, and history. It has a significant history in the city, and we have an amazing staff. It takes time to build your staff and your reputation.

LUX: You mentioned you didn’t rip everything out and make it completely different. Is that decision dictated by the nature of the property? For example, would you avoid doing that at the Plaza Athénée, but consider creating super modern interiors in new builds?
CC: Yes, in a new build it’s different, but it has to be authentic to the area that we are in. For example, in Dubai we have a Norman Foster building. It has a lot of glass with light coming in, overlooking a beautiful marine area. It was trying to decide what the right interior for that would be, and Dubai today is a very vibrant progressive modern society. So how do we create a luxury and comfortable interior in this modern building? It’s not minimalistic but it is light, and it has modern undertones to it.

A courtyard with leaves over the windows and red umbrellas

La Cour Jardin at Hotel Plaza Athénée

LUX: If somebody had been a guest of Le Meurice and they walked into The Lana without knowing it was part of the collection, is the intention that they would realise it is a Dorchester Hotel, or is it more subliminal?
CC: It’s subliminal. They will know from a marketing point of view that it is, and they will receive the top quality welcome and service, but the interiors are very much about the building and the relevance to that building.

Skyscrapers in Dubai

The latest hotel in the Dorchester Collection is The Lana which will be unveiled in 2023 in Dubai

LUX: Is there a tension now between the young generation of the very wealthy who have very eclectic tastes, and an older, more conservative generation?
CC: We are finding that the younger generation like more traditional interiors as well as more modern ones. A good example is probably Le Meurice in Paris. It’s a younger generation going there at the moment, with the Belle Etoile nearby. At the Plaza Athénée you’ve got a bit of Art Deco and you’ve also got tradition, so there are people who love Art Deco and people who love tradition, but they still love the Plaza overall. Some people have certain tastes and I think as we go forward it’s about how to make sure that there’s room for everyone to be comfortable and to appeal to a wider audience.

LUX: What does a luxury group like yours need to do now that it didn’t have to do ten or fifteen years ago in terms of its experience and offering?
CC: The experience side of it is important and, I suppose, more relevant to some travellers, but the underlying essence of ultra-luxury comes down to the investment that you put into the property. The sub-furnishings and the whole design must be of high integrity. Then it’s about the service, it’s about the recognition, it’s about the efficiency of the service, it’s about the atmosphere and the friendliness, and so a lot of it revolves around the people.

A large white house with a field of yellow flowers in front of it

Coworth Park in Ascot

In other cases, it’s location. I see hotels being built today, even in cities like London, with the intention that they will become wonderful luxurious hotels and attract the luxury traveller. But that doesn’t end up being the case because your luxury traveller wants to be at the heart of where things are happening. They don’t want to be 5 or 10 minutes away; they want to be able to go down to the shops or the cinema right away.

LUX: You have celebrated restaurants in your hotels with many Michelin stars. Is it all about getting the Alain Ducasse and the 3 stars, or is this changing?
CC: The dining experience is very important. It’s about creating excitement for the hotel. It’s not only about appealing to the international traveller, but also very much about how you appeal to the local community. You want the hotel to be a part of that local community, you want them to come in and experience it and then talk about it, so the food and beverage and the restaurant are very important. We are very fortunate here to have Alain Ducasse – he’s been here since 2005 when we opened and has been very successful. He used to be at the Plaza Athénée, but then we brought in Jean-Philippe Blondet, a young chef.

A restaurant with a tree in the middle and red cushioned chairs

Hotel Eden’s Il Giardino Ristorante in Rome

With food and beverage, we did well with Alain, but there wasn’t always that excitement there. Today, food and beverage and the restaurants are doing exceptionally well because there’s just so much excitement around the energy that Jean has brought to the hotel. There are the people who really love to go to your fine, gourmet, 3-star Michelin restaurants, but there’s also a lot of people who just love food and want to try upcoming chefs and different cuisines. That’s no longer about French cuisine, it’s about the influences of Asia, influences from the Middle East, influences from anywhere. Food is so important today and people just love trying different experiences.

A table with a view of the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel’s Suite signature dinner at Hotel Plaza Athénée

LUX: And what about the more casual F&B type of experience?
CC: Bars are doing very well on the promenade, and we’ve introduced a lighter menu there. Afternoon tea is always going to be incredibly popular for us; it’s not about heavy meals. There is definitely an emergence of clubs, and I’m not too sure where that’s going to go at the moment because there are so many clubs opening up, particularly in London. People are paying for a membership to be part of it, but at the end of the day it’s just another restaurant and you are really paying for a formal degree of recognition.

A gold bar with barstools around it in a semicricle

The Dorchester London’s new Artists Bar

LUX: How do art and artists come into the renovated Dorchester?
CC: At the Dorchester specifically, we’ve got the artists’ bar which is new. The Vesper Bar is completely new and very popular so I think you will start to see more and more happening there.
45 Park Lane has a very strong following from the art community. They have an artist circle there which was started when we opened in 2011. Different artists did different floors: Peter Blake did the penthouse and Damien Hirst did the ground floor, and they always retain their connection. Of course, we have all the exhibitions there, so it’s been very successful, and it continues to be. With the renovation we spent a lot of time selecting the right art to be featured. It’s about what art is relevant.

Art is becoming very important to us. We’ve had some great exhibitions in Los Angeles – the Warhol was phenomenally successful. In Paris, there’s the association with Museums and tours going on, and we are doing a lot of work there at the Plaza Athénée.

A bar with blue and green chairs

The Dorchester London’s Vesper Bar

LUX: The Dorchester collection has not expanded at the pace of some of the Luxury groups. Is that deliberate on your side?
CC: Very much so. Any hotel we add to the company has to be relevant. For a lot of hotel groups, expansion is just about putting their name on something. But we value our reputation, how we can retain our reputation and deliver on our promises. There’s not a need for us to expand at a tremendous rate. We want to expand, but it’s much more about finding the right hotels to complement the existing brand.

For instance, Dubai is at the heart of what is going on in the Middle East. We found a wonderful property there, not on the beach, but on the Marina, and it’s going to very much appeal to our travellers from around the world. In Tokyo we have the Torch Tower, which is under construction at the moment, but is going to sit at the top of the tallest building in Japan. This will be a great compliment to the company because the Japanese market is very important to us, and the American market going there is important.

A modern building on the sea with boats in front of it

Foster and Partners were challenged to create a building for the Lana that would stand out in a city known for it’s skyline

LUX: Are there any cities where you wish you had a property?
CC: We would love to be in Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney and New York. We used to have a property in New York, the New York Palace, but we sold that because it was a 900-room hotel and although it had a wonderful location, we just felt it wasn’t relevant enough to the company. It came into the company by default, and we thought it was too big and in need of phenomenal renovation. We haven’t found what we want in New York yet. It’s a very challenging market, but we’re getting there.

LUX: How has your guest profile changed over the years in terms of age and demographics?
CC: Guests are definitely getting younger. They used to always be in their fifties and sixties, but now we are certainly seeing very young people in their thirties and younger. We see people from the technology world in particular, who are usually young people who can afford to travel and want to experience the finest.

In terms of origin, America is very important to us, as is the Middle East and Europe, so we are not reliant on one market. Asia is only just recovering so the vulnerable pandemic. Asia was a growing market for us, but then completely dried up over the pandemic. Now it’s coming back slowly. I think it will take a little while to recover.

A balcony with red and wooden chairs overlooking London

The Penthouse terrace at 45 Park Lane

LUX: You’ve been here since 2004 at this property as CEO, and have just been appointed Company President. It’s been an evolution rather than a revolution. Have you ever felt like you want to experiment and go wild and create something, do something completely different?
CC: No, I’ve never wanted to do that. We had a very clear vision from the outset, and we knew that we were never going to grow fast, but that we had to stay relevant. It’s been an incredibly busy 15 years, with the hotels going from five to where we are now, because during that period of time we not only added hotels but have also done very significant renovations in all of them. It’s a fascinating and exciting part of my job, but it’s also very time-consuming.

Read more: Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, Review

LUX: There are a number of luxury hotel brands that have become very big on branded residences, which you are doing in Dubai. Is this a main pillar of your plan?
CC: It’s not a main pillar, but it is a positive edition to the brand. Mayfair Park residences, which is attached to 45 Park Lane, has brought a new facility and a new market to the hotel. People who stay there also want to use the facilities and go to the restaurants. Then in Dubai, the Lana residences will open at the end of this year, and we’ve got various other ones coming up. The individuals who are buying these apartments are also becoming guests in the hotel, so it is creating a very strong market for us. The service that they are receiving is of a standard that meets and exceeds their expectations, and therefore they now feel that they are part of the Dorchester “club” – though it’s not a club, as such.

Find out more more: www.dorchestercollection.com

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Reading time: 12 min
A roof terrace with white bed chairs and tables looking over London

LUX visits the largest residence in 9 Millbank’s ‘Heritage Collection’, The Astor, recently unveiled by St Edward. A stone’s throw from The Palace of Westminster, Banqueting House and Westminster Abbey, the residence is named after Nancy Astor, the first female MP

The Astor features over 9,700 sq.ft. of expansive living space along with an astonishing 360-degree roof terrace, with views of London‘s most iconic landmarks and the Thames. St Edward has modernised the apartment’s traditional layout by creating two new mezzanine areas; the first a vintage inspired library and study, the second, an atmospheric private bar and games room.

On the eighth floor, a former Director’s dining hall has been transformed into a sumptuous 6.3-metre height reception room.

All Heritage Collection owners have full access to 9 Millbank’s amenities including a gym, swimming pool with spa and treatment room, cinema screening room, meeting rooms, parking  and 24-hour concierge.

Throughout The Heritage Collection apartments, St Edward commissioned architect Goddard Littlefair and master artisans to meticulously restore and in some cases, delicately replicate, a catalogue of classical features.

Paul Vallone, Executive Chairman of St Edward said “The penthouse is a unique and prestigious home that reflects the very best of British style.”

A lounge with a white carpet and white couches and grey seats and red cushions
A dining room with blue chairs and arched ceilings and a rug beneath the table

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

A white building with a tree in front of it
A bedroom in grey with hints of pink and red
A marble and grey kitchen with an island in the middle
A bar with green bar stools and a cream sofa and red cushions
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Reading time: 4 min
A hotel lounge with leaves hanging from the ceiling and plants on the floor
A hotel lounge with leaves hanging from the ceiling and plants on the floor

The Whiteley Members Club

A man sitting on a chair wearing a navy suit

Neil Jacobs, CEO at Six Senses

Neil Jacobs is CEO of the iconic hotel and residencies group, Six Senses. Here, he speaks to Samantha Welsh about the brand’s wellness model

LUX: How far are your wellness beliefs rooted in your personal values and lived experience?
Neil Jacobs: It started after studying Hotel Management at the University of Westminster, French Civilization at La Sorbonne University and Italian culture and art in Florence, knowing I wanted to travel and use the languages I’d learnt; I figured the hotel business was a great way of incorporating it all.

My personal passion and love for wellness, sustainability, and travel then played a part in my next steps to joining Six Senses and, naturally, my aim has been to elevate the brand in terms of responsible design, green initiatives and wellness programming. By broadening the company’s global footprint, we’ve been able to create these wonderful spaces and opportunities for people to live and create their own experiences with these things, in a plethora of environments.

Having the opportunity to apply my skills and experience to this unique brand, whilst leading a group of dedicated and likeminded professionals on a daily basis, is a personal joy.

An infinity pool with a view of the sea and a terrace with a table and chairs

Six Senses Kaplankaya, Turkey

LUX: What is the approach to embedding sustainable values from ground up through every resort? How do you measure their impact?
NJ: Sustainability is embedded into the very fabric of every resort, something we can only achieve if it is the first thing we think about when we approach a new project.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Our eco-conscious approach to real estate starts with thinking about how we preserve, celebrate and enhance the local and global environment, as well as the local community and cultural heritage of the location. Naturally, this means taking a bespoke approach to each resort. We make smart use of our land topography and use renewable building materials, and use local materials wherever possible to reduce our environmental impact.

A wooden staircase in a minimalist designed hallway

The Forestias in Bangkok

We undertake rigorous analysis to ensure we can successfully and accurately measure the impact of each project and continue to learn for future projects. For example, in 2020, the renewable electricity that was generated across our resorts reached an amount powerful enough to power fifteen world cup football pitches.

To us, sustainability doesn’t just mean our buildings are sustainable, it’s also about encouraging residents and guests to live sustainably long term. Many of our resorts and residences now feature Earth Labs, where otherwise discarded materials are recycled and reused. Guests and residents can join workshops and sessions to learn how to reduce their own consumption and re-use materials, the aim of which is to instil long-lasting sustainable mindsets.

A jacuzzi looking over a forest

The Forestias is made up of 27 residences, set in a purpose-grown forest in Bangna, Bangkok

Over the coming years, as we learn more and more from our existing projects, sustainability will continue to show up more meaningfully through in-resort environmental impact reduction, including passive cooling of the properties, electric transport options for guests and the use of biodegradable cleaning products.

Across our resorts, we are already working hard towards being fully plastic free. Resorts have never used plastic bottles or miniature plastic amenities, and plastic straws were eliminated before 2016. For example, in 2018 alone, more than 5 million plastic items were eliminated, including over 1,200,000 coffee capsules, over 52,000 plastic bags, over 26,400 toothbrushes and over 460,000 bits of packaging.

LUX: How does your vision for the Residences’ portfolio translate into screening macro market opportunities and micro-locations, masterplanning site assembly, partnerships, local collaborations?
NJ: Because the approach to each project is so individual, we make decisions on a case-by-case basis as to whether we incorporate residences into new resorts, as buyer motivations can differ greatly to those that drive people to stay in resorts as guests.

A swimming pool overlooking Dubai city

The Penthouse pool at the Six Senses Residences, The Palm, Dubai

We aren’t afraid of delivering resorts in remote locations, but sometimes this isn’t the right fit for residences, and vice versa in other locations. Thanks to our teams and their knowledge and understanding of the local market and global appetite, we can make fully informed plans and decisions on what we build and where we build it.

It’s key that the project and location is innately right for us, and an important initial step is getting onto the land to make sure it is speaking to us, and we can feel the connection. We like to conduct meditations or rituals, and in the past have bought in a sacred geometer to analyse the energy of the land.

A lounge with blue chairs, a checked black and white floor and a large light chandelier

The Whiteley Six Senses Hotel is opening in London in 2023

Once we’ve made these decisions, we begin conversations with potential development partners. With such strong company values, we’re highly selective with who we choose to work with and always ensure our partners share our vision and values.

For example, we are working alongside Finchatton for the first UK Six Senses Residences at The Whiteley. This was a significant milestone for us; to expand into one of the world’s most iconic gateway cities, and we wanted to wait for the perfect opportunity and partner. Finchatton’s hallmark quality matches our own, and the opportunity to collaborate and transform a significant architectural landmark was too good to miss.

LUX: Where did your idea come from, to bring nature, wellness and healing to the global metropolis?
NJ: If you look at the history of people who come to our resorts, it would typically be for a short getaway – a couple of weeks maximum. They’d immerse themselves in the wellness programming, enjoying the facilities we have on offer, resetting in our beautiful and remote locations but then quickly return to their fast-paced lives back in their home cities.

We wanted to find a way to connect the dots, and create these retreat-like spaces, offering relaxation and reconnection, in a location that is much more accessible for everyone: the awareness that often the global elite, while they have the means, don’t always have the time. This is where the migration into urban locations began for us.

houses on a resort by the sea

Each residence at The Forestias comes with a private pool, rejuvenating onsen and organic gardens where seasonal fruits and vegetables can be grown

When we are considering bringing a residential component to our urban locations, it is almost a no-brainer. Alongside our exotic, rural and alpine locations, we want to be in gateway cities, located in the prime neighbourhoods of the best urban communities in the world. The market for this type of home for the ultra-high-net-worth is very strong, which meant there was also a clear and compelling business decision to grow our portfolio here.

LUX: What is the membership model? How is it differentiated from other hospitality Groups’ super prime residences?
NJ: We offer a unique experience to our residence owners; combining the luxury and sought-after amenities of resort life, but with the privacy and personal touches of owning your own space. Owners benefit from exclusive resident savings, as well as VIP status recognised across all Six Senses hotels and resorts around the world.

At Six Senses, we pride ourselves on offering a best-in-class service, and our level of care and attention to detail is what sets us apart from other luxury developments. This unparalleled level of service is in part thanks to our hospitality roots, extended so that all of our owners can fully enjoy the privileges of a hotel or resort, with every aspect taken care of.

A swimming pool and palm trees

At the core of the Six Senses Residences The Palm, Dubai is Six Senses Place, providing residential owners unique space purely for mental and physical wellness

Owners have the option of placing their home into hotel rental portfolio, which opens up an additional income opportunity via renting their homes when they are not staying there. As properties are wholly managed by Six Senses, it’s a completely hassle-free process.

Read more: Coworth Park, Ascot, Review

Owners who place their home in our rental programme automatically take advantage of our furniture packages as standard – with each home inspired by, and designed in line with, the nature of its environment and local community. Dependant on the resort and stage of construction, there are also sometimes opportunities for owners to personalise design details, such as material choices.

LUX: What is next for U/HNWs who seek multi-based sustainable superluxury living? And do you have your personal capstone?
NJ: The Six Senses brand was born from the desire to help people reconnect with themselves, others and the world around them. One of our core goals, is to continue to create a global footprint and allow people to experience our brand in different environments.

A building with pillars and a dome roof

The exterior of the Whiteley Six Senses

Looking ahead at 2023, we are expecting a continued increase in the philanthropic buyer across the branded residences sector. High-net-worth buyers are increasingly seeking a home that has been created in a socially and environmentally mindful way, rather than just investing in purely bricks and mortar.

We are already well placed to respond to this rising demand, thanks to our responsible approach towards all projects through our thorough and sustainable practices.

In terms of a personal favourite of mine, I couldn’t quite say. That being said, part of the richness of my job is the opportunity to interact with our hosts around the world and the buy-in to the brand that shows up in each location. So, my favourite tends to be the project I’m visiting at the time!

Find out more: sixsenses.com/residences

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Reading time: 8 min
A dining room with a window view of Tower Bridge
A dining room with a window view of Tower Bridge

Views of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge surround the residence

Our hotel of the month has grandeur, a high-energy Japanese-Chinese restaurant, jazz under an Imperial dome and much more, right next to the Tower of London

What drew us there?

Arriving at the Four Seasons, Ten Trinity Square, is a monumental experience. Literally. The building, in the city of London, and directly facing the Tower of London, is the former headquarters of the Port of London Authority. Walking up its entrance steps you feel as if you are due to be summoned inside for a meeting with the First Sea Lord about the Imperial Fleet in the South Pacific.

A bar walkway with a blossom tree

Mei Ume offers traditional Chinese and Japanese dishes with a modern approach to the cuisine

Those days have long gone, but fortunately, the building’s new incarnation as a Four Seasons hotel is rather more user-friendly. After checking, in, waft into the domed lobby area with its bar at the far end, the former rotunda at the heart of the orginal building, and you feel you are in a different world to the busy city outside. This is the only true luxury hotel in the city of London, and given that it is also a souvenir’s throw from the Tower of London, it offers an excellent location for an alternative view of the British capital.

The Experience

Our rooms, or should we call them chambers, with vast and high ceilings, were on the ground floor, with a palatial bedroom, connecting into an equally palatial living room, cupboards the size of small apartments, and a bathroom that looked like it might have been a bank vault in a previous incarnation.

Decor is rich, dark and masculine, and you feel you are secure in the heart of the establishment – in this case, the luxury hotel establishment. The Four Seasons also has a significant pool, running across a large portion of its footprint downstairs, with a bank of wellness pools and an adjoining spa.

A bedroom with beige and grey interiors

The bedroom in the Heritage Suite

We were staying one night, it was hard to decide whether to eat light bites in the Rotunda bar under the dome of the lobby, which featured a live jazz band, or go for a more celebratory dinner in the Mei Ume Chinese and Japanese restaurant beyond.

We went for the latter, a vibey place with groups of slickly dressed people in their 20s and 30s looking highly photogenic for their instagrams. The Negronis were cutting edge, and we loved being able to dip into both cuisines: a signature beef rice bowl (with wagyu sirloin, egg and fried rice) along with some Har Gu and Chiu Mai dim sum, ginger and spring onion chicken buns that were just the right puffiness and bite, unagi and cucumber uramaki…it was not fusion cuisine, rather two distinctive cuisines in one high-energy restaurant. And then, we mellowed out with a digestif glass of champagne and some piano jazz in the bar. Beautiful.

A swimming pool with grey walls and lights

The indoor swimming pool at the Spa

Anything else to know?

For business travellers, the hotel is super convenient for the city, and pretty close to Canary Wharf. For tourists, it is right next to the Tower of London had a short walk along the riverbank promenade to the Tate Modern. However, it is a little further from the traditional sites of the West End.

Rates: From £700 per night (approx. €795/$875)

Book your stay: www.fourseasons.com/tentrinity/

Darius Sanai

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a white plate with a tuna tartar and a leaf on the top
A room with large stained glass windows and red velvet chairs around a table with a white table cloth and wine glasses

Carrara is situated in one of Courchevel’s most iconic luxury hotels, Les Airelles

LUX correspondents are based around the world, and our other staff travel on a regular basis. Here are some of our favourite culinary destinations

Carrara, Les Airelles, Courchevel

At the next table, which wasn’t really a next table because it was a couple of miles away, such is the setup of the Carrara restaurant at Les Airelles, a couple were finishing their meal just as we sat down for ours. He had the look of an heir to an old-money European fortune, bespoke Brioni loafers and a Cifonelli blazer. She, animated, flicking her hair, not much younger than him but dressed for a ball. They left around a third of their bottle of Chateau Latour, and probably another quarter of the bottle was sitting in their glasses as they rose to leave. Depending on the vintage, which we couldn’t quite make out (distance between tables, and all), that could be thousands of euros of wine casually left aside.

A table by a window with red velvet chairs

Carrara offers an immersive transalpine gastronomic experience

That’s the kind of place Carrara is: huge comfort for the hugely well off. Big red velvet chairs are as relaxing as rocking chairs after a day’s skiing (or a day spent dining at La Soucoupe). White tablecloths and the kind of serene yet highly organised service seen only in classical European hotels gives an extra feeling of comfort. We didn’t go for the Latour, but started with an equally impressive Louis Roederer Blanc de Blancs 2010. The cuisine at Carrara is described as a “tour of Italy” and you could indeed choose from an array of Italianate dishes as classical as Michelangelo’s David. Mediterranean tuna with oscietra caviar and seared scallops wth basil vinegar were limpid starters, better in the execution, with very high quality vivid ingredients, than in the description.

The food is not only Italian but a blend of Mediterranean flavours

Sticking with the seafood as it was so good, despite us being 1900m up in the mountains, we moved on to a shared clam orchiette, clams bulbous and feelsome. Sea bream with sautéed vegetables is a summer-in-Porto-Cervo dish that works equally healthily in the Alps; herb-roasted free range chicken breast in a kind of calzone was original and more hearty, accompanied by some volcanic Sicilian red wine. Desserts looked historic but were not feasible; portions are hearty.

a table with pasta, bread and wine on it

Marco Garfagnini is head chef at Carrara

Carrara is an intriguing blend of comfort food and clean, California-style Italian: clearly a place that knows its clientele. Across from us, a well known business leader from London was celebrating a birthday with his family. They were at ease, as were the staff serving them. We didn’t want to leave Carrara; unlike some establishments in Courchevel, you have to check your brashness in at the door, relax, and, as long as you can afford it, chill out. A lovely combination of old and new world Italian, right on the most famous slopes in the world.

Find out more: airelles.com/restaurant-carrara

CUT by Wolfgang Puck, 45 Park Lane, London

Glamour is the number one ingredient in many types of fine dining these days. Sure, there are no tablecloth Scandi caverns of cool where foraging minimalism and sustainability are the key components; but many people spending a small fortune on a meal just want glamour, not grass. The question is, how do you create glamour? Plenty of expensive feeling restaurants are not glamorous, and a few vice versa.

a white plate with a tuna tartar and a leaf on the top

CUT was opened by Wolfgang Puck in 2011

Wolfgang Puck’s CUT on Park Lane in London has it all, the moment you walk in. We attended a kind of soft relaunch of this London icon recently with Puck himself in attendance. It may be a hotel restaurant, but the moment you sweep in past the Damien Hirst‘s and sit down you feel a million dollars. The light wood panels, gold lighting and curtains and elaborate Venetian chandeliers, appearing like sea anemones at intervals along the ceiling, give it a kind of modern-Versailles hauteur.

A dining room with white curtains

CUT is located in 45 Park Lane which is owned by the Dorchester Group

During our visit, owner and restaurateur extraordinaire Puck was there himself, patiently going round all the tables greeting diners. Puck himself is glamour personified in a chef: and he seemed far more enthusiastic talking about art (Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein were early collaborators) than talking about cuts of steak. Artists collaborated with him on his first menus, and he retains an interesting balance of Mitteleuropean grace (he is originally from Austria) and the go-getting, art-culture edge of his adopted homeland in the US.

As does his menu. CUT is primarily all about beef, and where else can you have a tasting of the same cut of three different types of beef, simply presented and gorgeously cooked? Each one of the Tasting of New York Sirloins (USDA Prime Black Angus, Japanese Wagyu, Australian Wagyu) was fascinating, changing in character the longer it rested on the plate, as did our order of preference. Perhaps surprisingly our ultimate favourite was the Australian: delicate yet piercing in flavour.

raw steak with rosemary on a tray

The menu offers the widest selection of Wagyu beef in London

Perhaps strangely, given the nature of the restaurant, the raw and chilled seafood section of the menu had proved just as memorable. Raw seafood is all about preparation and extreme subtlety, and the chefs proved that they can master both with the bigeye tuna tartare, tosa soy, ginger and wasabi aioli; and also the yellowtail sashimi, black ponzu truffle and pickled wasabi.

A bowl of tomato and basil pasta with prawns on top

Elliott Grover is now the executive chef at CUT

The greatest meals are ones which seem to proceed in phases: the warm, elegant entry, thoughtful taking care of the order, a wait of just the right period between courses, lights dimming slightly as the evening progresses, the atmosphere, more intimate yet still lively. CUT had it all. It’s not cheap, but true glamour never is, and even in a city and area (Mayfair) full of some of the worlds greatest restaurants, it stands out. Some high-end restaurants are ultimately not worth the price as they charge. This one certainly is.

Find out more: www.dorchestercollection.com/cut-45-park-lane

Al Nafoorah, Jumeirah Al Qasr, Dubai

In the rambling, animated and increasingly glamorous metropolis that Dubai is becoming, sometimes you need a break. So it was with an increasing sense of relief when we stepped down the stairs of the palatial Al Qasr hotel, near the beach, walked through a calm high ceilinged restaurant swathed in Mediterranean colours, and were seated at a table at the edge of a long terrace overlooking trees, gardens and what at first we thought was a swimming pool and then realised, in the evening light, was a waterway. Beyond, more trees and night time birdsong with spots of lighting illuminating the dark parkland.

A restaurant on a terrace with palm trees around

Al Nafoorah is located in Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah

Al Nafoorah is a Lebanese restaurant, and in a country where nobody is quite what they seem, it was even more refreshing to discover that the manager, both bustling and friendly, is Lebanese himself. We immediately established ourselves as customers to be remembered (hopefully for the right reasons) by asking if they had any Lebanese pickles to go with the assorted cucumbers and carrots they had put on the table as a refreshing meze pre-starter. Another staff member wandered past offering me Shisha (we declined) and after a glass of 2020 Chablis by Domain Laroche (not Lebanese, but very apposite in being a refreshing yet fleshy white Burgundy) we felt 1000 miles, not one mile, from the hubbub of downtown Dubai.

A salad wth nutes and figs

The restaurant is inspired by the Berdawni Riviera, known as the ‘city of wine and poetry’ in Lebanon and is headed by chef Ali Fouad

The menu is a panoply of Lebanese classics and it’s probably best explored with a group to be able to try all the sharing options. For example, it would be ideal to dip into a table of fattoush, moutabal and jergier – all variations of salads and vegetables in various sauces – rather than ordering just one as a starter. As it was, our fattoush salad starter, in a delicate pomegranate dressing, provided further refreshment in the warm evening, and after a little debating about whether we should go for the possibly more typical Lebanese lamb dishes, we opted for a whole seabass main course, plain grilled, with a side of taboulleh and steamed vegetables – not conventional Lebanese food as we know it, but light and healthy and very nicely put together.

chicken on a plate with stuffed mushrooms

The restaurant is both artistic and nostalgic in style, embracing Beirut’s cosmopolitan feel but also Lebanon’s more historic culture

The heat of the evening was finally dissipating as we ordered dessert, in our case single scoops of home-made raspberry sorbet, surprising and delightful for not being too sweet.

We went for a wander along the waterway and in the gardens and then departed to a smiling wave from the manager, feeling ready for the rigours of Dubai again the next day.

Find out more: www.jumeirah.com/dubai/al-qasr-al-nafoorah

Chotto Matte, London

Readers who know Chotto Matte from its other locations described it to us as “Nobu with a vibe”, and while we were not sure that was how the owner of the group, Kurt Zdesar, would have described it, it seemed tempting enough. The latest branch of this international group is in Marylebone, a genteel part of London more known for its affluent young families and private clinics than for its vibe, but Chotto Matte is one of a number of newcomers starting to define the area as a culinary destination. You certainly appreciate the restaurant’s design and concept as soon as you walk in from Paddington Street: it’s a theatre of art and design, and a big feature bar at the back, a horseshoe design so smart that you have to overcome the temptation to perch there all evening and ask the bartender to dream up variations on Martinis.

A bar with coloured green and orange lights

There are two Chotto Matte restuarants in London: the first opened in Soho and the second restaurant has now opened in Marylebone

The menu is also a work of art, contemporary in style and concept. Starters include Redefine Meat Gyoza, El Jardin Maki and BBQ Huacatay Broccoli: in fact all the starter concepts were so tempting we were slightly lost. So, kudos to our server for suggesting she put together a compilation of the best of, although perhaps in future the restaurant can be reminded there can be a tad more customer input. Enthusiasm about star dishes is excellent, but customer choice needs to be balanced (we don’t eat lychees, for example).

sushi, vegetables, salads and edamame on plates and in bowls on a table

The executive Chef at Chotto Matte is Jordan Sclare. Before joining Chotto Matte, Sclare opened Buddha Bar in London

What emerged as starters was delicious, trim, healthy, poignant in flavour; and then it all kept on coming. The spicy tuna with crispy rice? A memorable signature dish, as good for breakfast as dinner. BBQ mushroom salad and pollo piccante were also memorably vivid. Seabass tempura was merely good, in comparison, while the black cod aji miso was an original dish and split opinion: some preferred it to the Nobu version, some did not, but quality was undeniable. In the end, a restaurant can be remembered for one memorable signature and the spicy tuna has it all.

a restaurant with blue and green chairs

Kurt Zdesar is the founder of Chotto Matte which is part of NZR Group

Chotto Matte is proud of its pisco sours, which are offered on arrival as other restaurants might offer water or prosecco. These were pretty good, with a satisfying crema to sip through. But the restaurant’s wine list, probably underexplored due to the cocktail bar vibe throughout, is memorable. A beautifully selected array of specialist champagnes (which would match the clear, bright and clean flavours of much of the food) as well as some world-beating white and red wines. And we didn’t even try the martinis. Credit to Zdesar for enlivening the London restaurant scene with not one but two of these sites – the other, in Soho, has a guaranteed vibe due to its location, but Marylebone is trying hard and so far, succeeding nicely.

Find out more: chotto-matte.com

Sumosan Twiga, London

Glamour is out. Barefoot, or bare table, style is in. Ritzed-up instagrammers clumping together around flaming magnums of champagne on the Cote d’Azur have been replaced by pared-down TikToks of imperfect ceramic plates of foraged plants in Oslo. That’s a conclusion you might be justified in drawing on looking at current social media food trends.

A man in a green suit playing guitar next to a man singing in a purple striped suit

Alessandro Ristori & The Portofinos performing at Sumosan Twiga. Photograph by Dominic Martin

So it is both refreshing and surprising to walk into Sumosan Twiga in Knightsbridge. A DJ plays house tunes in the centre of the floor. Booths of highlighted highlifers dance, eat, drink and video, simultaneously. There’s a serious vibe, even on a Wednesday night. It’s also quite private: you have to get past the receptionist, into a lift, and up two floors and past another receptionist.

sushi rolls with orange sauce on top

Isobe Maki

Some of the vibiest places compromise on food. Sumosan Twiga serves parallel menus of Italian and Japanese, which shouldn’t work, but it really does. The Raw Bar offers nigiri, sashimi and maki rolls. Our buba roll (seabass, cucumber wasabi tobiko, jalapeno) was more than the sum of its vivid, intense ingredients. Spicy scallops and orange tobiko were curiously mesmerising.

A cut up steak sandwich into a square with a bowl of french fries

Wagyu sando sandwich

You have to be careful not to over-order. Off the “Italian” menu (which is not that Italian, but probably all the better for it), we had seabass ceviche, again intense and crisp in flavour, no disguising with heavy sauces, and not too thickly sliced) and Kobe beef sliders which were as wonderfully rich and well formed as our fellow guests.

Those guests were getting livelier all the time, but the restaurant has enough space that nobody’s in your face. You could go on a date and be unfazed by the partying tables.

People dancing in a restaurant

Wednesday live music at Sumosan Twiga. Photograph by Dominic Martin

As for the mains, it’s pretty astonishing to be able to deliver a Wagyu sando sandwich, a kind of uber-glamorous burger, and a comfort-food tagliatelle alla bolognese (we like that they don’t even try to call it “ragu”, the Italian way), each of the best possible quality. This kind of food just doesn’t get better; you’d pay Sumosan Twiga prices to have it delivered to your room, even without the vibe. And the vibe just got vibier as midnight approached.

Sumosan Twiga knows its market very well, and then delivers even more than what they expect. It’s a smart formula. It ain’t a repurposed wooden table at a silent restaurant in Copenhagen, and it doesn’t try to be. The world is, after all, a diverse place, and this is a joy.

Find out more: twigaworld.com/sumosantwigalondon

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luxury hotel bedroom
luxury hotel bedroom

One of the hotel’s garden suites

The Jumeirah Carlton Tower is a London legend, recently lovingly refurbished. In an unmatched retail location in Knightsbridge, can it regain its 1960s glamour? Darius Sanai checks in to our Hotel of the Month

It’s peak pre-Christmas shopping season and the Jumeirah Carlton Tower is a short stroll from Harrods and Harvey Nichols and basically inside the Sloane Street branch of Hermès, preferred by locals to the Bond Street boutique for its more thoughtful buying. It’s also a dash from the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

What’s the lowdown?

Fashion week tribes all have their favourite hotels, and it’s safe to say that until the pandemic, the Jumeirah wasn’t on their radar. It was more old-fashioned luxury where international visitors sipped tea in the lounge while their kids came back from shopping at Hermès next door. All that changed with the biggest refurbishment in the hotel’s 60 year history, which happened during the lockdowns.

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Everything from the bar, to the public areas, to the restaurant, spa and rooms, has been recreated with a contemporary eye. That in turn refocusses attention on the standout points the hotel always had, but which became lost as its original star faded. It’s in Knightsbridge, right on Sloane Street, but overlooks a peaceful garden square and has views across the city from all sides, unlike any of its competitors. It has the biggest and best indoor pool in London, and, did we mention, it’s right next to Hermès?

italian restaurant

Al Mare Restaurant

The new Italian restaurant, Al Mare, takes the superstar corner position on the angle of Sloane Street. It’s a big, light, airy, New York midtown type of space, and it’s been transformed into a casual chic venue with just the right mix of both, like a grown up Soho House. We recommend one of the booths by the window, and picking from the imaginative and light options from the menu, like tuna tartar with oscietra caviar and ponzu – though there is plenty of comfort food also (we enjoyed a rigatoni al tartufo after a long night out).

You don’t need to go out though, as the hotel’s bar has been pole-vaulted into the top tier of London bars courtesy of an all-star bartending team and some very original cocktails, and relaxed, cool decor.

Getting horizontal

Our suite had a view along the length of the garden square, where we could see locals walking their dogs and children, from a great height: and across the rooftops to the whole of London, from the Battersea Power Station to the City. Even more striking were the bespoke touches: a Berluti shoe polish kit, slippers and products all monogrammed for us, as were the pillowcases. Delightful and very relaxing.

Read more: A tasting of Dalla Valle wines with the owners

Even more relaxing were the new poolside cabanas, replete with an excellent selection of magazines (including LUX). Given the conservatory feel of this huge indoor pool, on a sunny day in February you could settle down and pretend you were, well, somewhere sunny.

hotel swimming pool

The spa and swimming pool

Flipside

Staying at the Carlton Tower doesn’t have the bragging rights of nearby hotels like the Berkeley or the Lanesborough, but we feel that is going to change quite fast.

Rates: From £750 per night (approx. €900/$1,000)

Book your stay: jumeirah.com/london/the-carlton-tower

Darius Sanai

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A silver metal bar with glasses in it in front of a red wall
A silver metal bar with glasses in it in front of a red wall

Barrha Bar by Yann Le Coadic. Image courtesy of Pouenat

After two years online, PAD returns to its home in Mayfair, and with it brings its eternal reverence to craft and tradition, as well as new faces to the artistic hub – heritage and innovation await

From the 10-16th October, the 14th edition of PAD London, sister to PAD Paris residing annually in the Jardin des Tuileries, returns with its celebration of 20th century and contemporary design, with “a roster of world-class interior decorators and designers”, as the various disciplines of art and design meet again.

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Grounded by the history of its founder, Patrick Perrin, a fourth generation antique dealer, the art and design fair coalesce modernist tradition and contemporary works, as 67 galleries bring designers from across 27 countries, with visitors able to walk amongst cachet mid century Italian cabinets and historic names such as Portaluppi, Scandinavian textile compositions, works from Poland to Portugal, only to gloss over the worldly exhibits awaiting. The booths will be sites of collaboration, “sparking a conversation between past and present”, as stated by Perrin, with exhibitors placing retro-futuristic and contemporary metal work alongside Brazilian modernist design; natural, sculptural forms rubbing shoulders with American furniture.

white splattered paint on a black board

‘Jackson Pollock’ Screen Room Divider by Dino Gavina & Kazuhide Takahama. Image courtesy of Portuondo London

“With their distinct approach to collecting, PAD London and PAD Paris epitomise how artistic genres across time and periods interact to reveal astonishing combinations and create the most individual and striking interiors.” says Perrin, “Over the past decades, the two PAD fairs have become a byword for connoisseurship, exquisite taste and curatorial flair, showcasing the very best in modern and contemporary design and decorative arts from the world’s leading galleries.”

green cushioned chairs with bronze metal

Chaise Maurice Armchairs by David Nicolas. Image courtesy of Nilufar, Amendolagine and Barracchia

The week will show returning masters such as Joy de Rohan, a reminder of the unique platform PAD London provides French artistry, and 18 first time exhibitors, such as London’s own Francis Sultana and Beirut based Galerie Gabriel and Guillaume.

Read more: The Special Relationship of Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Ali Jassim

The most established and emerging of  new voices across art and design are being exhibited, as age old techniques are adopted by young maestros. Equally a beacon of innovation, the fair promises many designers focusing on sustainable practice, with responsibly sourced materials and repurposed waste, reflecting upon materiality as a result.

A bright yellow marble looking light in front of a blue wall

Aqua Fossil Chandelier by Amarist Studio. Image courtesy of Priveekollektie

The artful world of jewellery will be presented by a triad of female gallerists, as women dominate across other mediums too, as PAD continues to deliver unending variety rooted by a deep care for craftsmanship.

PAD London will be taking place from the 10th to 16th October.

Find out more: www.padesignart.com
For tickets: tickets.padesignart.com

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two men in white clothing

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Ali Jassim

One is an artist and the other a financier, but in coming together to create a charitable foundation, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and patron, Ali Jassim have also found themselves blurring boundaries and creating art together, discovers Mark C. O’Flaherty

The relationship between artist and patron is one that has formed part of the bedrock of creative endeavours for centuries. The links between the Medici and Michelangelo defined Renaissance Italy with a complexity and intimacy far more than any of Brunelleschi’s domed architectural gestures, or the fictitious romance of Romeo and Juliet. Masterpieces simply flowed from the marriage of painter and family. Similarly, Peggy Guggenheim freed up Jackson Pollock to create his grand abstract-expressionist canvases through a $150-a-month contract between 1943 and 1947, from Mural, the piece he created for her Manhattan townhouse, to his first major drip-technique masterpiece, Full Fathom Five. Right now, artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and financial advisor, philanthropist and entrepreneur Ali Jassim are exploring what an artist and patron can achieve in the 21st century. Both men have Iranian heritage (Jassim’s on his mother’s side), with Behnam-Bakhtiar based in France and Jassim in Puerto Rico.

abstract painting with blue green red

‘Garden of the Soul’ At Dusk, 2020

When I speak to Behnam-Bakhtiar, it is via Zoom and he is in bed, functioning at half speed
after contracting Covid from his wife and child. “It’s okay, it’s just boring,” he says, sitting up to talk enthusiastically about what he was working on before the virus landed, and what comes next. Much of that will involve his relationship with his patron and now partner in philanthropy, Jassim, as they establish the Jassim Bakhtiar Foundation in Monaco, to help children in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the region. “We are doing our first fundraiser next year, in the south of France,” says the artist. “We want to have a huge impact. The language of arts and culture can create momentum and bring on the right people together for a cause, but this isn’t just about donating a few thousand dollars, we are looking at tens of millions.”

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The pair met around 10 years ago, at an exhibition in London. “We immediately knew we shared many of the same attributes, purely as human beings,” says Behnam-Bakhtiar. “Of course, we both have an Iranian heritage, but we found that we share core values. He was an art collector, and we talked a lot about my theories and philosophy, and he wanted to know where I wanted to go with my work. Then as he spends some time in Cap Ferrat, near where I am, we started talking more about Iran and the orphans of the conflict, and we decided to look at creating a foundation. But our relationship is about more than that. I believe we share experiences from past lives. We talk for about four hours on the phone every day. He likes to come and get his hands dirty in the studio, too, and the dynamic goes both ways: I’ve also become an advisor to him in his business endeavours.”

abstract painting with black green reds

From the ‘Garden of the Soul’ series, At Midnight, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Jassim is a fascinating character, who has worked extensively with high-profile figures in the business world of the Middle-East and Europe. “When I first met Sassan, I felt an inexplicable connection. Then, over the years, as I found myself growing emotionally and spiritually, I began to understand it was a connection beyond explanation, beyond science and mathematics. It is a feeling that spans many lifetimes,” he says. “I believe the greatest teacher we have in our life is our own soul. Sassan and I both believe this, and we often take time aside to connect and meditate multiple times a week. I would love to live in a world one day where I feel I’ve had a positive impact and where respect is present across the world throughout races and religions, most importantly for Mother Earth. Difference is what we want to portray on the canvas through the art we are creating, but the goal is unity.”

abstract painting with mix of colours

From the ‘Garden of the Soul’ series, Love Always Prevails (detail), 2020, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Behnam-Bakhtiar has spent years exploring meditative practices as part of his work, grounding himself with Kundalini principles and, as he says, “focusing on my chakras and accessing dormant power”. He describes a William Blake-style revelatory moment of seeing bright colours after getting deeply into meditation, which fed through to how he creates his work. Many of his canvases have a romantic Monet-like quality to the florals, but also look like pixelated glitches on a monitor. Behnam- Bakhtiar tells me his peinture raclée technique is linked directly to his meditation: “When you strip layers of yourself away, you go inside yourself. I wanted to shut off external layers so I could feed the frequency of my soul. That promoted health and wellbeing and had a profound impact on me. So that’s what I started to do with my painting. I began to scrape off layers. And that physical process takes about six months, even for a relatively small painting. I play with the paint. The consistency of it is crucial. I need to wait after I’ve applied it so that it dries to a certain degree, at which point I can scrape it off to get the texture I am seeking. It is a technique that was born through meditation.”

man with sunglasses against a painting

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar at the unveiling of ‘The Journey’, 2022, presented by Ali Jassim

As well as exploring meditative practices and laying the groundwork for their foundation (the HQ of which will also house Jassim’s impressive art collection, putting Behnam- Bakhtiar canvases alongside work by Renoir, Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Richard Prince), the pair have been working on a collection of paintings entitled ‘The Journey’. Although the imagery has the same abstract beauty for which Behnam-Bakhtiar is renowned, it is also some of the most political and personal he has done in years, with skulls and crowns manifesting themselves in the mixture of oils, acrylics and crushed stone.

abstract painting with lines in different colours

From the ‘Garden of the Soul’ series, At Sunrise, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Years ago, Behnam-Bakhtiar worked in the medium of photo collage, and the subject matter was overt. Born in Paris in 1984, he grew up in post-revolution Iran against the backdrop of the Iran-Iraq war. One way of dealing with his traumatic experiences, which included imprisonment and life-threatening episodes, was to address the politics of Iran through imagery in works such as the 2016 series ‘This Way’, which features My Favorite Kinda Soldier is This Way and Tehran is This Way – the latter incorporating a collage of a figure with a gas mask and a dress of Iranian carpet pattern. Subsequently, as he practised meditation, it came to feature in his methodology, and his work became more visually romantic.

yellow blue abstract painting

From the ‘Garden of the Soul’ series, At Peace, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

In everything Behnam-Bakhtiar does, there is the resonance of his trauma in Iran. War and its impact on the human psyche are common and essential themes in contemporary art. In 2022, one of the most talked-about installations at the Venice Biennale was Anselm Kiefer’s work that took over the vast walls of the Sala dello Scrutinio in the Doge’s Palace. The series of paintings, entitled ‘Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (‘These writings, when burned, will finally cast a little light’)’ created a devastating immersive tableau incorporating blasted landscapes and remnants of clothing. With war raging in Ukraine, it felt apposite, but almost intolerably graphic and moving. I ask Behnam- Bakhtiar why his reaction to trauma is to create beautiful imagery, rather than aggressive pieces.

abstract painting with fuchsia red and blue colours

Trees of Paradise, 2019, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

“That’s probably the best question anyone’s asked me,” he says. “It’s been a very important value in my work. And I’ve had the privilege of being in group shows with Kiefer. My life has been filled with traumatic experiences. Back in the day, I would sit with some of my idols, who were older Iranian artists and friends of mine, and ask why we always had to paint sad things. And I knew the answer, of course – the art world wants us to show women in a hijab and show the sufferings of our people. The collages I used to do, that was when I had lost the plot. I had an exhibition in London and showed that work; it was about the children who were part of the war. Then I created another series, ‘The Real Me’, which was around the time we were all portrayed as bearded terrorists. I wanted to show that, despite the Islamic revolution, we lived like anyone else. I’d had enough of seeing sad work. Even if I start from a dark piece, it always ends up being beautiful. You can see the hurt, but I also want you to see the transformation in it, to bring hope and strength and love.”

white walls with two pink paintings

‘Extremis’, Setareh Gallery, 2019

When Behnam-Bakhtiar talks about his patron “getting his hands dirty”, he means literally. Jassim has been working with him in the studio and, while he is operating under the artist’s direction, he has been physically making his mark on the canvas. The physical connection to the work is important for both of them. “What we are doing with the foundation together is so important,” says Behnam-Bakhtiar. “And this is a unique dynamic, for an established artist to work with someone who isn’t a painter. But I want him to have visual input. And I will credit those pieces to both of us.”

Read more: Domaine Clarence Dillon: L&#8217;Art de Vivre

With the duo also developing NFTs as part of their output, as well as building the Jassim Bakhtiar Foundation together, the potential for what began as a straightforward patron-and-artist scenario is limitless. The High Renaissance brought us Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, created with as many as 13 assistants and the infinite resources of the Vatican. With every advance in technology, and a will to use art for much more than religious decoration, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Ali Jassim could create unimaginable wonders.

Find out more: sassanbehnambakhtiar.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 8 min
a terrace at night
A bright drawing room with red cushions

The drawing room

One of the grandest residences in London has been created out of the former head offices of a British institution. Samantha Welsh takes a look around and imagines a future inspired by the past

You stroll along your 30 metre long, south facing terrace balcony, lined with Ionic columns. Your view extends from the House of Lords to your left, the River Thames in the middle, M15 and Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, across to the right. Directly below spread the waterside gardens of the Palace of Westminster. You sit back and enjoy a glass of champagne and look forward to the grand reception gala you are going to host ‘at home’ next weekend.

a terrace at night

Views from the terrace at night

Your home is in the heart of Westminster, London, but it is not created from a dusty terraced house with a view just across the street, and nor is it a unit in a shiny new glass building. Your London base is the former headquarters of Imperial Chemical Industries, the largest manufacturer in UK at the time when Britain had an empire, and the Residence comprises its board room, executive offices and more.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Grandeur and power ooze from every centimetre – or should that be every inch – of the 5.5 metre ceilinged, 970 square metre, 4-bedroom 5-bathroom penthouse atop this trophy building, whose colonnaded terrace offers a view of every ship passing down the Thames.

A kitchen

The kitchen

The heritage features of this Grade II listed building have been restored while enhancing volume and light through a palette of contemporary greens and blues. Architect-designers Goddard Littlefair conserved door frames, panelling, plastering, introduced flooring in oak parquet, black and white marble tiling, bespoked light installations, carpeting, rugs, velvet and silk furnishings, and sourced objets.

a bedroom

A bedroom

The double height reception salon, with its grand piano, feels as if it should have David Niven and Cary Grant singing a duet – what a marvellous thought – while Ava Gardner and the young Joan Collins dance tipsily with their coupes de champagne.

Read more: A tasting of Bond, California’s new luxury wine

A secret directors’ bar and games room was discovered under the eaves and reimagined as an inner sanctum, while a subterranean suite of services includes 24/7 golden key-style concierge, gym and fitness, the GL-designed lap pool, spa, cinema, and parking.

a dinning room

The dining room

LUX held a soirée here, celebrating the work of renowned British artist Petroc Sesti, who exhibited at the Royal Academy summer show this year. His work was on display in The Conrad. Our guests didn’t want to leave. And if you don’t want to leave, you don’t have to: the entire site will be delivered in 2023, The Conrad being the only residence that is completed and ready for occupation, fixtures and furnishings optional.

Residences starting from £18 million

Find out more: 9millbank.com

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Reading time: 2 min
A woman with long black hair wearing a blue black and white shirt with her hand up in a karate position
A woman with long black hair wearing a blue black and white shirt with her hand up in a karate position

Portrait photograph by Melanie Dunea

Marina Abramović has been tortured and almost killed, by her own audiences, for the sake of her art. She has also redefined the genre and democratised it. The world’s most celebrated performance artist, whose works span five decades, speaks to Darius Sanai ahead of a major retrospective at London’s Royal Academy

In The Marina Abramović Method, a board game-style card set recently issued by the world’s most celebrated performance artist, you are told to spend an hour writing your first name, without pen leaving paper; walk backwards with a mirror for up to three hours; open and close a door repeatedly for three hours; and explore a space, blindfolded and wearing noise-cancelling headphones, for an hour. Some of the instructions, given on large, Monopoly-style cards, are more onerous: swim in a freezing body of water; move in slow motion for two hours. But none of them come anywhere close to asking users to inflict on themselves the suffering and danger Abramović has put herself under over five decades of pushing the boundaries of art.

As she explains below, the Method was intended to take its users away from their phones, and put people in contact with themselves, inspired by her own journey, over 50 years, to understand her own body and mind. Purchasers of the card set can be grateful that Abramović does not suggest they train to become her. The New York-based artist has been lacerated, tortured, cut, stabbed, asphyxiated, rendered unconscious, and more, in the name of her art. She first came to public consciousness in the 1970s with performances like ‘Rhythm0’, in Naples, when she stood in a studio for six hours, provided the audience with implements including a scalpel, scissors, a whip and a loaded gun, absolved them of responsibility, and told them to do what they wished. She did not flinch as she was assaulted, cut, and manipulated.

A woman falling through the air with a green background wearing a nude coloured dress and heels

Marina Abramović in a scene from her performance ‘7 Deaths of Maria Callas’, in 2019

Other performances in the same era saw her render herself unconscious; in 1997 she spent four days scrubbing bloody, rotten cow bones in a performance of protest against the war in former Yugoslavia. Possibly her most celebrated performance, ‘The Artist is Present’, which remains the most significant performance artwork in the history of New York’s MoMA, she spent a total of 736 hours sitting static in the museum’s atrium while visitors lined up to take it in turns to sit opposite her (among those who did: Lou Reed, Björk and James Franco).

So, what would Marina Abramović the person, rather than the silent artist, be like? Catching up with her ahead of a major exhibition spanning her life’s work at London’s Royal Academy of Arts (dates to be announced), I was prepared to interact with someone as brutal and scarred as she has a right to be, but was surprised to find a pleasant, highly articulate, methodical, thoughtful, quick-witted and humble interlocutor. Her thoughts on cancel culture and the effects of social media on creativity are as sharp as the scalpels she once offered the public to cut her with. Her answers are art in themselves.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: I have been playing around with The Marina Abramović Method: Instruction Cards to Reboot your Life.
Marina Abramović: The Abramović method came from my long search for how to train myself as a performance artist to be able to really understand my body and mind. For that, I went to different cultures, I went to deserts, to Tibet, to shamans – lots of places to work in different retreats and to try different techniques. This is really dedicated not so much to artists or performance artists, but to everybody. Everyone – farmers, soldiers, politicians, factory workers, young children – can do this method. The exercises are very simple, which I think is beneficial, and it puts you in contact with yourself. I also liked the idea of creating cards, so they’re playful. You have that playfulness, like in a game: you close your eyes and pick a card up and do the method. This exercise is my effort to go back to simplicity, away from technology and video games, away from all this presumption that takes you away from your own intuition.

A group of people surrounding a rock being videoed

Marina Abramović cutting crystals whilst exploring Brazil in 1992

LUX: Your performance over the years has involved a lot of danger, personal suffering, and challenges to yourself.
Marina Abramović: In my cards, there is no suffering, no bleeding, none of this stuff. I am not responsible for anyone else, only myself. To me, one of the biggest human fears is the fear of pain. It’s interesting to me that if I stage painful experiences in front of an audience, when I go through this experience to get rid of the fear of pain, and I show that it’s possible, I can be inspirational for anybody else. It doesn’t mean people have to cut themselves or do dangerous stuff, but to understand at the same time that pain does not have to be an obstacle. You have to understand what it is and how to deal with it in your own life. If you look at rituals in different cultures, every initiation conquers the moment of pain, and it really strengthens the body and mind. If you’re afraid of something, don’t sit there and do nothing about it, go through it and have this experience. That is the only way you can be transformed, getting out of your comfort zone.

LUX: Are you trying to change the audience through your performances?
Marina Abramović: The only way that I can get all this attention and understand what I’m doing is to show courage and ability at the same time – that I’m vulnerable, but I also have the guts to do it. Two things. An artist should be inspirational to other people. They have to have a message, to ask questions, not always to have an answer. The pain, the suffering, the fear of dying: these are all elements not just of contemporary and classic art, but the history of humanity.

LUX: Were you always very brave as a child?
Marina Abramović: I was. It was not an easy childhood, to start with. I had a very strict, military upbringing. I was also very sick as a child. I suffered from a condition that caused long durational bleeding, a bit like haemophilia but different, so if I had a tooth taken out, for example, I would have to be in bed for three months sleeping so as not to choke from the blood, because it wouldn’t stop. I had lots of obstacles. Being raised under Communism contributed as well – Communism is all about being a warrior, not caring about your personal life, and sacrificing your life for something. When I came to the West, everybody looked so spoilt to me.

A man with a yellow snake wrapping a brown snake around a woman on a bedazzled top sitting on a chair

Marina Abramović in a scene from her performance ‘7 Deaths of Maria Callas’, in 2019

LUX: Does it affect the depth of what modern Western artists can create if they haven’t suffered or seen difficulty?
Marina Abramović: The young generation has a whole different set of problems than I had. Their problem is a feeling of being kind of lost and melancholy, of apathy and a lack of belief. You can’t generalise, and of course there will always be one Mozart in every generation, someone who starts creating art at the age of seven. But the others have a lethargic way of life. Everything is available to them. They don’t need to fight for anything. Computer, video games, ice cream: whatever they want, they have it. When I was growing up, I was allowed ice cream once a month if I was good, and mostly I was not. All of this is different. So, I always see them as spoilt, but at the same time it doesn’t come from them, but rather their parents. It’s complicated. I think it’s important now, the idea of the Forest School learning model. They have it in England. Kids can come to the forest and make their own fires, to find food, to learn simple survival techniques. I think it’s a way of going back to simplicity. Simplicity is the way to survive.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf’s Inside Guide To The Venice Biennale

LUX: Before, in the 1980s and 1990s, people were either creators and artists or they were audience. Now, everyone is a creator. Does that devalue real art?
Marina Abramović: Some years ago, I was invited to go to Silicon Valley to talk to tech people about art, and to my incredible surprise, I found out that they seriously believed that Instagram is art. That was so surprising to me. Instagram is, to me, a very personal way of seeing the world and sharing it with other people. It’s a tool for communication. It’s so far away from art. Art is so different. Also, now, with NFTs and all this new technology, all anyone is talking about is how much it costs and the amount of money that can be made. It has quickly become a commodity. But I really don’t see content, real profound ideas that can move me and bring me emotions, and I think that’s what art is about. [Digital media] unifies people and breaks the borders between countries and individuals, but this is not art. I’m sorry, but it’s not art.

LUX: Has there been a fundamental change in art since the 1970s or 1980s?
Marina Abramović: It is so different. The needs of society are different. In the 1970s, there was so much experimentation. There was incredible freedom in the art scene. Now, we are facing political correctness and diminished creativity in so many ways. So much art that we were doing in the 1970s would never be possible now, because it would be so scrutinised and criticised that galleries and museums would not show it. This is something that, unfortunately, does not help creativity right now.

A woman outside by a tree with clouds in the sky wearing a black coat

Portrait photograph by Melanie Dunea

LUX: Are people stopping themselves from creating because of political correctness?
Marina Abramović: The true artist does not care about this shit. They don’t care. They will always find a way to do things, if not publicly then it could be underground. Historically, that has always happened. Artists cannot stop creating. It’s an urge, like breathing. You can’t question it. You wake up with ideas and have to realise them. This is your oxygen.

LUX: Do you think the West – what we used to call the ‘free world’ – is going to have a movement of underground artists because they can’t express themselves publicly?
Marina Abramović: I really think so, yes.

LUX: You are taking over the Royal Academy in London. What will we see there?
Marina Abramović: The Royal Academy is, for me, a very big obligation – an honour. I care so much about this show right now, because it’s showing what makes my 50-year career. There will be some really important major artworks from each part of my career of 50 years, but also there will be a big amount of new work, which nobody will have ever seen before. There will be a reperformance element, with young artists reperforming my early works, which I introduced some years ago. Some of my contemporaries say a performance cannot be reperformed – I disagree. And then I am also preparing my new work, which I can’t talk about because I’m superstitious, but I’m definitely doing a personal performance. The show is called ‘Afterlife’. I like this very ironical title, because I’m still alive. I have waited a longtime for this show, because it was supposed to be in 2020 but then Covid came, so it was postponed for three years. You know, at my age, three years is a long time, so I’m really looking forward to the fact that finally it will happen.

A woman standing in a cave

Marina Abramović in a cave whilst exploring Brazil in 1992

LUX: If you had been brought up now, in America, compared to when you were brought up in what was then Yugoslavia, would you still be the same artist?
Marina Abramović: I don’t know. I was very happy where I was brought up. At that time, I read all the books that Americans don’t. Not all of them, of course, but generally Americans don’t read. I was very happy with my education. It was so intense. Full of poetry and art and everything.

LUX: Do you still put yourself in as much danger and physical stress as 20 years ago?
Marina Abramović: I have to say, ‘The Artist is Present’ was a hell of a performance and I was 65, my dear. I could never do this when I was 20, or 30. I didn’t have the willpower, wisdom and determination. There was no way. I needed time in order to have the strength. You get strength when you get older and not younger.

Read more: LUX Art Diary: Exhibitions to see in May

LUX: Do you fear getting older?
Marina Abramović: Not so much now – sometimes, when I wake up on a rainy day with pain in my ankles and shoulders, but not generally.

LUX: Do you fear anything?
Marina Abramović: Of course, I fear. Everyone fears things. I have a childhood fear, that if I go to the deep sea, a shark will come and eat me. Even if I go to the ocean and they tell me there aren’t sharks there, I know that the shark knows I’m there and is going to come for me. But that is an old fear from childhood. Like everybody else, when I go on a plane and there is turbulence, I’m immediately writing my testament. I fear. But I think it’s natural, it’s living, you’re living, you’re alive. You’re not immune to fear. Nobody is.

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 12 min
Satellite image
Satellite image

Attribution science explores the link between climate and extreme weather

Flooding in South Africa, wildfires in California, heatwaves in India: each new extreme weather event seems the inevitable conclusion of ecological breakdown. But how exactly are climate and weather linked? Leading attribution scientist Dr Friederike Otto explains to LUX why we need to nuance our understanding of climate change

Dr Otto is co-lead of World Weather Attribution, an international organisation analysing the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events. Named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in 2021, Otto has identified an information gap in the public’s understanding of climate, which, she argues, is hindering the creation of reliable and resilient systems in the face of extreme weather. She tells LUX why everything depends on the decisions we make in the next decade

LUX: How sophisticated is the public’s understanding of what effect climate change is having on weather?

Friederike Otto: There is still quite a big lack of understanding about how climate change affects weather. There are lots of people who assume that everything bad that is happening now in the world and in the weather is because of climate change. That is a misconception. There is a huge difference between how climate change affects heatwaves versus how it affects extreme rainfall or droughts, and that is something we need to get much better in communicating.

LUX: So, how are climate and weather linked?

FO: Climate change can affect the weather in two ways. One is the thermodynamic effect: we have more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, so the atmosphere gets warmer overall. This means that there is a higher likelihood of heatwaves which are hotter, and a lower likelihood of cold waves, which are warmer than what they would have been. Likewise, because a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour that needs to get out of the atmosphere as rain, you have an increase in heavy rainfall.

If that was the only effect, we wouldn’t need to do attribution studies. The second effect is weather, because we have changed the atmosphere’s composition and temperature differences. This second effect can go in the same direction as the warming effect – but the effects can also counteract each other. If you don’t get any weather systems that bring rain, it won’t rain. So here we need attribution studies.

Protestor

Otto explains the need for reliable and resilient systems in place to respond to extreme weather

LUX: What do you say to those who think ‘what’s the big deal?’ about the atmosphere getting one degree warmer?

FO: One degree in a heatwave is thousands of people dead or alive. People have pointed out that one degree is lower than the global mean temperature change and that is true. But the year-to-year variation in weather and in temperatures is quite small. If you had one degree added to a heatwave in Antarctica, it would indeed be much less of a big deal, because there is a huge variability in temperatures.

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The heatwave in India is, in today’s climate, a one in 100-year event. With this, you can look at the intensity change: how frequent would this event have been in a world without climate change? What is now a one in a hundred year event used to be a one in 3000 year event without climate change. In other words: a one degree change in intensity corresponds to a 30 times increase in the likelihood.

LUX: So the differences, though seemingly marginal to the casual onlooker, can radically change the climate system?

FO: The climate system will be fine, it will just get hotter. But people and ecosystems have adapted over centuries to a certain type of climate. All of our ecosystems and social systems are very much designed for this narrow range of possible weather that we used to get, so, if you push that back even a little bit, it is much harder to deal with.

Clouds

Climate change has increased dramatically over the last two decades

LUX: What has allowed the field of attributional climate science to thrive in recent years?

FO: Firstly, we are now able to run climate models so that you can actually look at extreme events. Before, you would run a climate model maybe once or twice — and this only gives you one possible realisation of climate and weather. It wouldn’t allow you to look at extreme events.

The second thing is that climate change has increased dramatically over the last couple decades. We see the trends and changes even in weather observations, so we can detect changes without having even touched a climate model. People have really started to develop and design methodologies to use new data and tools to answer these questions.

LUX: How do day-to-day meteorologists react to your discipline, which is still emerging?

FO: Grumblingly, I think – at least at first, because there have been huge divides between meteorologists who have dealt with day-to-day weather forecasts and those working on climate change. Attribution ultimately forces the two together.

Read more: Professor Nathalie Seddon On Biodiversity And Climate Resilience

Attribution has led to a huge recognition now that it is necessary to make meteorology more relevant for the world we live in. Meteorologists have, for a long time, been extremely conservative when it comes to climate science.

LUX: With the rise of quantum computing, do you think there is the possibility that meteorology will also revolutionise?

FO: A lot of new science could be unlocked through that in meteorology. We would have a lot more higher resolution models to look at what is still not very well understood, for example, cloud interaction with aerosols (and so on). It will not mean that we suddenly have an uncertainty-free science. It’s something that people still have a hard time to live with — that there will always be uncertainty when you do scientific studies, and that this is actually nothing special in climate science.

Otto emphasises the need for greater collaboration between scientific disciplines

LUX: Do you think that there is the possibility of more joined-up thinking between climate science, sustainability, science, biodiversity science?

FO: You can’t try and solve one in isolation from the other. It’s still not easy to do that, because most of us are still trained in a very disciplinary way and we speak very different languages, but the upcoming generations of scientists and researchers are better trained in more interdisciplinary research and increasingly funding is being allocated to interdisciplinary research. So it’s happening, but slowly.

LUX: Is there a tendency for governments to use climate change as a scapegoat to avoid accountability?

FO: Definitely. That’s why it’s important to nuance our climate change understanding. With heatwaves, what used to be a 100 year event is now really just ordinary summer in many places. But for many other extremes, the changes are relatively small. For droughts, there are many parts of the world where they are not yet changing because of climate change.

Read more: Melissa Garvey On Saving The Oceans

The drought in Madagascar is a good example: that has led to quite a lot of food insecurity for the population. That was a rare event, and the population was vulnerable, helped only by NGOs. But these NGOs have always come in when there’s a crisis and then gone away again. There has never been a reliable or resilient system to respond to extreme weather. That is a big problem. There is also an element of colonialism, so it’s not something that the global north can completely wash their hands of. But even if we were to immediately stop greenhouse gas emissions, that wouldn’t solve the problem that southern Madagascar has with respect to drought.

Umbrella art installation

Attribution science has led to a huge recognition that it is necessary to make meteorology more relevant for the world we live in

LUX: Personally, do you feel worried about where things are going?

FO: I’m not worried per se; I’m more frustrated. I feel immensely privileged for who I am, that I’m able to live in a world now where I am able to do whatever I want and be whoever I want. Climate change is one result of this societal system that only benefits a few, but it’s not the only one.

LUX: Do you think it’s your role to point out what is happening and let others judge what to do?

FO: It’s my role as a scientist to say ‘this’ is happening because of ‘that’. It’s my role as a human being to say that it is affecting people who are least responsible for the causes. To pretend that climate scientists are not humans: it’s just not useful.

LUX: What will the world and the weather look like in a hundred years?

FO: Everything depends very strongly on the decisions we make in the next decade. Weather changes are very fast with emissions. We still absolutely have the power in our hands to shape the future we want to live in.

Dr Friederike Otto is a Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, and Co-Lead of World Weather Attribution (WWA)

Find out more: worldweatherattribution.org

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Reading time: 7 min
A double staircase looking over at a terrace
A double staircase looking over at a terrace

The leafy terrace at Mandarin Oriental Ritz in Madrid

In the first part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring 2022 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Mandarin Oriental Ritz in Madrid

“A little bit more, Sir?” A bartender is holding up a bottle of artisanal gin, having already emptied what seemed like a half-gallon of it into a bowl-shaped glass, filled with ice, slices of limon (a kind of lemon-lime cross) and juniper berries. I look up at the trees, the expanse of the square behind them, the outline of the grand Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum beyond, and the moon above, and think: yes, why not. I have arrived.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

If the arrival is a key part of any hotel experience, the post-arrival at the Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid, was pretty important, too. I had left my bags to be taken to my room as I wanted to catch the last embers of daylight from the bar’s terrace, which sits above the garden restaurant, itself almost contiguous with the trees of Retiro Park. You are in the centre of one of Europe’s most vibrant and dusty metropolises, but surrounded by nature (and, in my case, soon immersed in a very good small-producer gin).

round bedroom with a sky painted on the ceiling

The hotel’s royal suite

Neither of Europe’s other two grand Ritz hotels, in London or Paris (the three were born siblings, created by César Ritz to redefine the grandeur of hotels at the start of the 20th century, but are now owned and operated separately), offer such an outdoor experience, or indeed such a refreshing one. I am not speaking of the gin here, but of the decor: Mandarin Oriental’s magic wand over the previously grandiose but fusty Ritz Madrid has created lavishness with a certain elegance and contemporary class.

It’s a perennial question: what to do with a grande dame hotel – in this case, one of the grande dame hotels – to bring it into line with what a new generation of traveller expects, while not destroying its soul. I have seen hotels with decorative ceilings ripped out, with hip bar designers imposing darkness where there was once light, and with questionable contemporary art replacing dusty but meticulous classics.

A white corner of a building with trees and a garden in front of it

The hotel’s Belle Époque façade

Fortunately the Ritz does not fall into these traps. Our Mandarin suite combined fresh but classic colours – pale walls, pale gold furnishings – with hints of MO style, such as black lacquer detailing. The service was up to date, effortless and effective without being stiff: just the right balance to cater for a wide variety of traveller.

Read more: Chef Ángel León: Ocean Sustainability Supremo

And the food in the Jardin (Garden) restaurant was also spot on: kimchi chicken skewer, Thai sea bass ceviche, grilled sole with artichokes. You can delve into the paella menu, as many others were doing. The hotel may claim it has updated its Belle Époque origins to work in the luxury travel world 110 years after it opened (I don’t know, I didn’t check, but it’s the kind of thing a hotel would say) and in this case, they would be absolutely right.

Find out more: mandarinoriental.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 2 min
Chef in kitchen
Chef in kitchen

Chef Clare Smyth at work in the kitchen of her London restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth

As the first British female chef to acquire three Michelin stars, Clare Smyth is demonstrating to women all round the world that it is indeed possible to be a leading chef in the 21st century. She’s fearless in the kitchen, having worked under the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Alain Ducasse, and is now not only sharing her talent in London, but in Sydney, too.

LUX: You have previously mentioned that if you weren’t a chef, you would have been a showjumper. So, what attracted you to the culinary world over the equestrian one?
Clare Smyth: I started cooking at a young age and loved it. I decided it was more attractive to me because I wanted to travel and see the world, rather than being a showjumper training in one place all the time.

LUX: Gordon Ramsay famously once said that he didn’t think you would last a week in his kitchen. What do you make of this? And what were the biggest challenges you faced early on in your career?
CS: That’s always misconstrued, because most people didn’t last a week in his kitchen! It was tough, but I chose to work at the most difficult places so I could challenge myself. I knew that if I wanted to be the best, I needed to work with the best. It was long, intense hours and a lot of pressure, but I thrived in that environment.

Food

Scottish langoustine, served at Core by Clare Smyth

LUX: Is it true that sexism is still rife in the culinary industry?
CS: There is a lot of work to do everywhere you look, not just in our industry. It’s part of society and awareness of it is what will help change it. Going back 10 or 15 years, I would often be the only woman in the kitchen. Half of my team now, front of house and in the kitchen, is female. I’m hoping that in the next 10 years there’ll be plenty of women at the top level.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: You have noted before that it’s the punishing working hours of the culinary industry that accounts for so few women running the world’s best restaurants. Do you still believe this to be the case?
CS: Yes and no. It’s not that women can’t do it; a lot of women choose not to. The profession is generally not conducive to a work-life balance, especially right at the top level.

Restaurant

A view of the dining room at Core by Clare Smyth

LUX: What’s your take on British cuisine?
CS: British food is hearty and rustic, but I approach it in a very fine dining, skilful way. We are so lucky to have phenomenal produce here – the most incredible shellfish, game and beef. At Core, we take British ingredients and elevate them to a fine level.

LUX: You catered for the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – what’s your favourite memory of this experience?
CS: The stealthiness of the project. It was going on for months and our team managed to keep it all quiet. They were great fun to work with and are brilliant people. They made it fun for all the team.

Food

Potato and roe, served at Core by Clare Smyth

LUX: How do you approach sustainability at Core?

CS: We approach it more than just environmentally. We do it culturally, economically, paying fair prices, working with people who farm in ethical ways and being creative in limiting food waste.

LUX: How do you think the fine dining industry can, as a whole, be more sustainable?
CS: We can help educate people and our staff to be more aware of where the produce comes from and where you are buying it from.

Food

Morel tarts, served at Core by Clare Smyth

LUX: Your new restaurant, Oncore, opened in Sydney in November last year. What led you to open a restaurant on the other side of the world?
CS: I lived in Sydney when I was younger and fell in love with the city. It was a fantastic opportunity to open a flagship restaurant in a new building overlooking one of the most incredible views of the harbour, near the Opera House.

Read more: Chef Ángel León: Ocean Sustainability Supremo

LUX: How did you tackle opening a new restaurant amid a pandemic?
CS: It was incredibly difficult – there were lots of challenges. I have a phenomenal team in Sydney who took, and still take, everything in their stride.

Clare Smyth is the owner and head chef at Core by Clare Smyth in London and Oncore in Sydney. Her debut cookbook, Core by Clare Smyth (Phaidon), is out this summer.

Corebyclaresmyth.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 4 min
A man painting a blue mural on a ceiling

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar painting the mural, The Journey

Iranian-French artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar has launched his latest body of work, The Journey, created in collaboration with philanthropist, entrepreneur and art patron, Ali Jassim. Here, Behnam-Bakhtiar talks us through the inspiration behind the project

The Journey (2022) is a series of ongoing works which are going to be exhibited in renowned galleries in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, London, Monaco, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Paris and Hong Kong, backed by the charitable Jassim Bakhtiar Foundation. The foundation is a platform for funding in which proceeds go to orphans in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and towards building homes and schools for children in need.

A crown painted in yellow and pink

Light Crown, oil and crushed stone from Persepolis

A painted purple crown on a blue background

Detail from The Journey

A painted multicoloured crown

Appearing Crown, oil and crushed stone from Persepolis

The Journey was born of the trauma and emotional experiences endured through my life, and more importantly from watching what the Iranian people go through everyday. I will never forget the countless lives of children, our youth and the Iranian people wasted.

It is our moral obligation to do our part regardless of what everyone else is doing.

two men in white outfits

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Ali Jassim

Bringing in an art patron and philanthropist into the atelier to create works together isn’t a common practice, but everything I have been doing through my artistic career hasn’t been common as well. I am an artist who always goes against the norms.

I felt that I met my brother [Ali Jassim] in a past life. We spoke for hours daily discussing art, life and how we could bring about a meaningful impact in the world via art and culture. Next, all it took was for both of us to get our hands dirty with paint, pick up tools in my atelier for a week and The Journey was born.

multicoloured skulls on a blue background

Detail from The Journey

painted coloured skulls on a blue background

Never Forgotten, oil and crushed stone from Persepolis

“Sassan is a highly passionate person when it comes to his roots and people. Coming from the Bakhtiar family, Sassan holds a vast and solid understanding of the challenges the Iranian people have gone through…For him to have lived in Iran seeing how people suffered in various ways fuelled his passion and drive even more. It is only natural for this kind of powerful energy to finally come out and be seen through various means including art.” – Ali Jassim

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Reading time: 6 min
A corridor with blue walls and arched doors and lights hanging from the ceiling
A lounge with wooden floors and cream chairs and sofas

The OWO Whitehall, Residents’ Lounge. Image courtesy of Grain London

London’s hottest luxury residential area? Westminster, next to the Houses of Parliament and Downing Street. So what took it so long, asks Samantha Welsh

Big Ben, Downing Street, Whitehall, Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square: all names intimately associated with London, and now the administrative and touristic heart of the world’s high net worth capital. The area, broadly known as Westminster, is (pandemic excepted) the epicentre of tourism in Britain.

A bedroom with a green headboard, red cushions and throw on the bed

The OWO Whitehall, principal bedroom. Image courtesy of Grain London

And now you can live in high style down the road from the Prime Minister and the royals, with the creation of one of the most opulent residential developments in the world, inside the heart of the area’s grand buildings.

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The Old War Office (OWO), in Whitehall – opposite Horse Guards Parade and almost directly opposite Downing Street, and so near to the Prime Minister’s residence that you could shout from rooftop to rooftop to see if you could borrow some milk (or champagne for a lockdown party) – has been transformed into 85 apartments.

red velvet chairs on a landing with a curved brown staircase

The OWO residence turret. Image courtesy of Grain London

They are serviced by Raffles, the appropriately peripatetic luxury hotel brand now owned by the French Accor group. A new Raffles hotel, London’s first, is opening next-door and residents will have a full suite of luxury services. The building’s redevelopment has been done with thought: the best of British material and design, along with other high-end touches, like bespoke appliances by the German manufacturer Gaggenau.

Read more: Maryam Eisler On Tim Yip’s ‘Love Infinity’

Residents will have priority access to 11 restaurants and 3,000sqm of leisure facilities, gardens and terraces. The building’s heritage has been conserved in partnership with Historic England, with design overseen by Thierry Despont. As an OWO resident your local chiming clock is Big Ben.

A corridor with blue walls and arched doors and lights hanging from the ceiling

The OWO residence entrance hall. Image courtesy of Grain London

This is the building from which Winston Churchill directed efforts in the Second World War of what was then the British Empire. The apartments now are suitably imperial, but have a contemporary smoothness. On your Sunday morning strolls in St James’ Park (assuming you haven’t decamped to your weekend home in the Cotswolds or Ramatuelle) you will bump into the Prime Minister, and numerous spies – the important ones are there on Sundays. Arguably the best school in the world, Westminster, is along the road. And if you need to lobby the government, you can just lean out of the window, while puffing on your Romeo y Julieta and sipping a glass of Pol Roger, Winston Churchill-style.

Find out more: theowo.london

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 2 min
people gathered for a photo

Left to right: Frédéric Rouzaud, Maria Sukkar, Maryam Eisler, Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah, Carrie Scott, Brandei Estes, Darius Sanai

The Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability was launched in London last week, attracting some stellar names from the two fields to the new Nobu Hotel, for the inaugural awards evening.

The prize was developed by LUX’s sister company Quartet Consulting and Louis Roederer, the acclaimed champagne house behind Cristal, which it makes from 100% organic vineyards. The aim is to raise awareness of the sustainability issues facing the planet, using photography as an artistic medium.

Jasper Goodall and Frédéric Rouzaud

Cheryl Newman

Ina Sandmann Sarikhani, Alexandra Tilling, Richard Billett

Judges’ chair Darius Sanai spoke about the urgency and interconnectedness of the crisis of biodiversity and sustainability, and Frédéric Rouzaud, owner of Louis Roederer, presented the prize of  £5,000 and a magnum of Cristal to the judges’ choice of winner, Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah. Jasper Goodall and Sahab Zaribaf were equal runners up and also received a magnum of Cristal each.

Guests included Sir Guy Weston, Ina Sandmann Sarikhani, Maria Sukkar, and Ola Shobowale. Moving forwards, future editions of the prize will be developed by Quartet Consulting and the Fondation Louis Roederer in Paris.

superannuation by Sahab Zaribaf

a boat in the sea in front of a snowy mountain

Point In Time [Sanata Inés Glacier, Seno Ballena] by Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah

BirchWood (from Twilight Series) by Jasper Goodall

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Emilie Pugh

Booklets created about the Louis Roederer Photography Prize

Darius Sanai

The White Box space at Nobu Hotel London Portman Square

Carrie Scott

The exhibition of the works of Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah, Jasper Goodall and Sahab Zaribaf are on display at the Nobu Hotel London Portman Square until 29th May.

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Reading time: 6 min
A woman in a pink dress standing in front of golden and wooden doors
A woman in a pink dress standing in front of golden and wooden doors

Nazy Vassegh photographed in the Grand Hall at Two Temple Place. Photo by Alex Board

This May sees the second edition of Eye of the Collector kicking off the summer art season in London. Conceived as a new style of art fair, the concept sees Two Temple Place transformed into an imaginary collector’s home for a boutique style fair. Ahead of the opening, the founder, Nazy Vassegh, tells us why she created this unique fair and the key focus this focus this year

The idea for Eye of the Collector came about from a work trip I took to the opening of the 2019 Venice Biennale. As I wandered around extraordinary palazzi full of carefully curated breath-taking art from all eras, I questioned why art fairs were so formulaic – boring white tents and aisle after aisle of white box booths. My collector friends were also starting to complain to me about suffering from ‘fairtigue’. Given that I worked in what was supposed to be a creative industry, I thought it was time to take action.

A white tree with antlers coming out of the top

Image from Eye of the Collector 2021: Susie MacMurray, The Stalker 2021. Courtesy of Pangolin gallery

Returning to the UK, the search for an appropriate home for Eye of the Collector began. My husband was working in the fashion business at the time and had staged a show during London Fashion Week at Two Temple Place. When he showed me the building and I learnt more about the history of the interior it became quickly clear that this was the perfect home for what we wanted to achieve.

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Built in 1895 for William Waldorf Astor, then one of the richest men in the world, the brief to the architect had been to create ‘the finest building irrespective of cost’. The result is a riot of neo-Gothic panelling, stained glass windows and rare marble mosaic floors created by the finest craftsmen of the time. As a sign of true quality, the supporting pillars of the galleried landing were carved from solid ebony and, in the reinforced safe room, William Waldorf kept the title deeds for most of modern Manhattan.

A wooden room with art on the walls

Image from Eye Viewing Room, 2021 showing the Lower Gallery

My intention had always been to present art and design in a setting that collectors could imagine in the context of their own homes and this fitted the bill perfectly. Owned and run by the Bulldog Trust I also liked the idea that we were re-purposing a historic building and in so doing supporting a charity dedicated to good causes.

After a digital-only edition in 2020, Eye of the Collector finally launched in real life in September 2021. Given all the disruption of the previous eighteen months I really didn’t know what to expect. This was going to be the first real art event in a long time and no-one could predict how collectors and the wider art world would react, especially to something as new as Eye of the Collector.

A red couch in a grey and beige room with art on the wall

A range of art is shown at Eye of the Collector from works by emerging artists to the masterpiece classics

Art and design from modern day to antiquity was presented from thirty international galleries, curated as if in an imaginary collector’s home free of the traditional booths and putting the art centre stage to encourage new collecting pathways and creative artistic juxtapositions. Prices ranged from a few thousand pounds for an original work by an up-and-coming young artist to a few million pounds for an early masterpiece by Lucien Freud. This allowed collectors of all types and at all stages of their collecting journey to engage.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf’s Inside Guide To The Venice Biennale

Our next edition will take place from 11-14 May once again at Two Temple Place, WC2. This time around we are placing an emphasis on female artists. A wide variety of works will be offered for sale including contemporary art, some made especially for the fair, mid-century and modern design, ancient art and studio ceramics.

Find out more: eyeofthecollector.com

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Reading time: 3 min
A room with gold walls and cushions and blue couches and chairs
A room with gold walls and cushions and blue couches and chairs

The library at L’oscar

Michel Reybier, owner of La Reserve, has just bought L’oscar, a London luxury boutique hotel. Darius Sanai drops by and looks forward to a new star of the scene

I first met Michel Reybier when I interviewed him for a feature in a Hong Kong luxury magazine I had just launched, LE PAN, about his celebrated wine estate, Chateau Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux. Much of the interview was about the other businesses he ran, how he had made his first fortune in the food industry (selling high-end packaged charcuterie), the medical clinic group he had bought and was expanding, and his little boutique luxury hotel group, La Reserve.

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Having gotten to know him a little more over the years, I noticed that he is not a man who likes to talk about himself. He lets his businesses do the talking; and now his small hotel group, renamed Michel Reybier Hospitality, has become quite a significant one. In the last few years he has bought the Seiler hotel group in his adopted home of Switzerland (which includes some of the country’s best-known traditional hotels, including the Mont Cervin Palace in Zermatt, where my parents went on their honeymoon – very thoughtful of him) and the La Reserve hotels in Geneva, Paris, St Tropez and Zurich have become must-visits for the contemporary-minded high net worth set.

Purple velvet couches in a restuarant

The restaurant at L’oscar. Image by Ben Rice

Any luxury hotel group worth its salt needs a property in London, but great hotels in London are hard to come by: by and large scarce and overpriced. But where there’s a will, and a canny owner, there’s a way, and so last week I dropped by his new acquisition in central London, L’oscar. In Holborn, near Theatreland and surrounded by offices of affluent workers (lawyers, digital, entertainment), L’oscar opened in a blaze of publicity around five years ago, with dramatic, Costes-comes-to-London design, then faded away a bit. In buying it this year, Reybier intends to make it a new star of the London scene. His experienced team are aware of its slightly off-centre location – you don’t have the Mayfair oligarchs and PE titans coming to play here – and will doubtless make a virtue of its local qualities.

A gold and black bedroom

L’oscar’s bright and spacious suites

The hotel will undergo some light refurbishment and what is now the bar, under a dramatic rotunda, will become the restaurant, which will move from its street side location – a logical move.

Read more: LUX Art Diary: Exhibitions to see in April

Reybier naturally owns a champagne house, and I dropped by the bar for a glass or two of Jeeper champagne a couple of days back.

A marble bar with purple seats and a man serving behind the bar

The bar at L’oscar’s restaurant. Image by Gregoire Gardette

The staff seem energised, the room is as glamorous as any in a London hotel – in fact, makes many London luxury hotels look quite ordinary – and as I mentioned to him, it’s a place that could become a hub in an area that needs one. The Jeeper champagne was excellent too, balanced, understated, very nicely put together – rather like its owner. The magic wand wielded by Reybier and his wise CEO, Raouf Finan, turned a fusty old palace, the Eden in Zurich, into the most glam hotel in town, just before lockdown. L’oscar needs much less of a makeover, being pretty glam already, but London will only benefit from the arrival of a Euro star.

www.loscarlondon.com

www.michelreybierhospitality.com

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Reading time: 3 min
models waiting to go on the catwalk
models waiting to go on the catwalk

On Monday London bore witness to a storm of ages; and no, not Franklin, but Ozwald Boateng’s historic return to the fashion week fold after a twelve year hiatus. Fara Bashorun, one of the designer’s models and LUX contributor, shares his backstage report and photographs

One couldn’t think of a more befitting setting for Ozwald Boateng’s London Fashion Week comeback than The Savoy hotel. Upon arrival I was warmly welcomed by doormen who casually ushered me through to the ballroom, our backstage, just as if it were any other studio in Shoreditch. Catering was headed up by Açai Girls, who prepared a palatial assortment of fruit bowls, pastries and avocado toast for breakfast and an equally impressive feast for lunch.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

breakfast

Starting the day with breakfast served by Açaí Girls

model photographs

Putting the finishing touches to styling

clothes rails

A tribute to Jamal Edwards

Rehearsals in the Savoy Theatre

From arrival until rehearsals at around 6pm, the hair and make-up teams did their demos while stylistic genius’ ArtComesFirst put the finishing touches to the looks and figured out the run-order. From my experience, rehearsals can be quite anxiety inducing, but the vibe from the choir’s soundcheck helped put everyone at ease while we practised navigating through the hotel’s cloisters to get from the ballroom to the Savoy Theatre where the show would eventually take place.

Devoid of divas, egos and general industry malarkey, there seemed to be a subconscious agreement that we had all come together to be a part of something truly iconic and greater than self. I’ve genuinely had greater struggles at landing a chair at Bruce’s barbers in Burnt oak than cheekily squeezing myself into the queue for the onsite barber between Pa Salieu and Goldie. A star-studded yet familial essence made up the atmosphere; the juxtaposition a true testament to Ozwald’s ability to cultivate culture.

Read more: Patrick McDowell on why sustainable fashion and social impact go hand in hand

This energy underpinned not only the show but the whole occasion right through to the night’s end. Talent was instructed to walk however we felt comfortable, a touch of class demonstrative of Ozwald’s genius. Usually high fashion can be overwhelming, with the outfits wearing the people as opposed to vice-versa. Ozwald implored us to really own the moment, understanding that you look the best when you feel the best and creating an infectious sense of pride.

My look was a phenomenal velour dinner jacket pair with flared velour trousers, black round-framed sunglasses and grey Chelsea boots. Embodying the Ozwald’s afrofuturist design language, the jacket’s elaborate print drew inspiration from the Dinka tribe of South-Sudan with classically luxurious western silhouette.

Read more: Sol Golden Sato on Art & Identity

The show was an artistic myriad of poets, brass musicians, drummers, singers and other performers, closing with Idris Elba and a choir-led grand finale. The euphoria the crowd witnessed on stage wasn’t rigidly engineering, nor mere coincidence, but artisanally intentional: the result of meticulous design.

The feelings on stage were packaged up, ubered over and reverberated through the Annabel’s hosted after-party which saw generations of creatives, their friends and family shake body to amapiano till the early hours. The DJ set played by Kim Turnbull, Places +Faces founder Ciesay and Jimmy Vivendii was the perfect end to a night that shook the paradigms of London Fashion Week and reminded us of the ingenuity it had missed for so long.

View the collection: ozwaldboateng.co.uk

Backstage during rehearsals

Ozwald Boateng with one of the show’s models

My look featuring a velour jacket and trousers

Getting ready for the final performance

The after-party at Annabel’s

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Reading time: 7 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.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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
man in an orange suit and green patterned scarf and hat standing in front of a patterned wall
A man in a yellow suit standing by a green wall wearing a long colourful scarf

‘My path is full of petals- I have not swept it for others.’ Image courtesy of Sol Golden Sato

Born in Malawi, Sol Golden Sato is a London-based artist who incorporates philosophy into his paintings and sculptures. Here, he speaks to LUX Chief Contributing Editor, Maryam Eisler, about the connections between identity, place, community and art

Maryam Eisler: How would you define your identity Sol?
Sol Golden Sato: I came to London from Malawi on my twentieth birthday. I had a strong Malawi and African identity but I wasn’t really political, even though I had left because the politics had changed so much. I came to London and instantly found myself working as a commercial migrant. That was my first identity crisis. Living in Brixton in rented accommodation… I think I was paying around £25 a week rent, with no heating. I was really enjoying it at such a young age. I stayed there for four or five years and I found myself doing other jobs. I had never really thought of my identity in that sense at that point. I think it was only when I personally started changing, in particular when I started identifying more as a Londoner, that I began thinking ‘how do I or should I actually present myself’ ?

Maryam Eisler: The concept of being a ‘Londoner’ is interesting. Talk to me about that.
Sol Golden Sato: It all lies in the nuances. I want to be known as an international artist or a London artist or better yet, a London-based artist, who tells stories of my life here in London whilst equally referencing my experiences growing up in Malawi. It is no longer a conundrum; rather, it is normal for somebody like me in London, to have moved around a great deal and become malleable with the definition of one’s own culture or cultural identity.

A painting of an African man laughing

‘One message from home is wroth a ton of gold.’ Image courtesy of Sol Golden Sato

Maryam Eisler: Do you think you have had to sacrifice certain parameters in order to fit in? Or has it been a a seamless integration?
Sol Golden Sato: It is never seamless. I spoke to someone who was a diplomat at the time, and he said ‘you have to soften your edges so that you can walk into a room, not be what they want you to be, and yet be able to connect with a variety of people from the perspective of their point of view rather than your own.’ When you are in a diaspora, you soon learn how to be diplomatic.I see so many displaced people here and they all have something important to contribute to the conversation in this forever changing world. You may lose on some points but you definitely gain on others. And sometimes, you may just forget the environment you grew up in altogether. In my case, I have not spoken with anyone from Malawi for all this time, so I have forgotten most of the language, which is quite a painful and sad process. At the same time, I have spoken to psychiatrists and speech therapists and they all say ‘You will remember it as soon as you go back’. How is it possible that your brain can and will switch off bits of you altogether over time?

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Maryam Eisler: I would even push you further by saying that you are not a London artist, but rather a Chelsea artist, given that the Kings Road in particular seems to be home to your studio but also to your public art.
Sol Golden Sato: Yes, it is one of those things, when for years, I didn’t quite realize how much I was presenting within and giving back to the Chelsea community just by being in it. I think the history of the Kings Road and the manner in which I like to dress somehow connect with each other. I think place has both a psychological and a spiritual identity and it is something that I try and seek in other places too. When you invest yourself in a community and find out what that community’s identity is all about and how that relates to you, you can then, and only then, make it. The Kings Road is where I have learnt those principles actually. I have also done projects near the Portobello road, and I instantly found a way of connecting with people through the Grenfel community but also through the Notting Hill Carnival… with a particular interest in trying to understand how different cultures live together amongst themselves, but also side by side with other communities.

A man wearing an orange shirt and yellow shirt staring at a vase

‘You have been in my dreams, old friend- I miss you.’ Image courtesy of Sol Golden Sato

Maryam Eisler: You have an amazing way of tattooing yourself on the walls of these spaces and places because, even though you have a studio you are also very present and visible on the street. You have somehow managed to integrate the outdoor skin of these communities.
Sol Golden Sato: Yes, it is something that did not start with an ideology, just “Oh, there’s a piece of wall, we could do something there”. But now I am starting to see it as a mission: that the artist should always be present, not just where they live but where they are. I have been following a number of people who want to activate communities, especially via the act of making art. I did this in Portobello and I am trying to do these activities in other centres and gardens now too. Sometimes the local people can’t do it on their own, and it takes a cultural activator to come in and say, “I see this, we can do this” and then it is a way of tattooing culture into a place, like a renewal of some sort.

Maryam Eisler: We should open minds at a young age as opposed to allowing brains to be imposed upon by tradition and old world thinking, would you not agree?
Sol Golden Sato: Yes. When we were doing this project in Notting Hill, I had forgotten my brushes so I thought I would just pour paint on canvas and move it around with my feet. The kids said, “You’re dancing ! We want to dance on the canvas too !” Now I am talking to some people in Nine Elms, where the Battersea Power Station is, asking ‘ Why don’t we do a large, forty-metre-long dancing painting where you get all the kids involved together, side by side’. It is another way of activating a community that is continuously and radically changing at a fast pace.

a painting of two children sitting on a ledge with a yellow background

‘Wind, light and time ever revolve; Let us then enjoy life as best we can.’ Image courtesy of Sol Golden Sato

Maryam Eisler: What are the types of topics that interest you when making your art? What are your paintings inspired by?
Sol Golden Sato: My art still goes back to stories coming from people, almost all relate to time and place, and more often than not, to very specific times in history.

Maryam Eisler: Can you talk to me about your interest in the iconic gangsters, the Kray brothers and their trip to Nigeria as depicted in your current work- in-progress painting ? In a way, it is a perfect example of you linking two continents, but more importantly linking a very London story to stories elsewhere.
Sol Golden Sato: Yes, Northern Nigeria 1964; I found a little document in the form of a photograph and I just asked the question: what were the Krays doing there and most importantly, how did that trip affect them or better yet, did it affect them at all? From there, I linked other more universal questions about how different cultures communicate or connect with each other. If I were to say, “let’s look at black African migration in the East End of London,” it would be an equally interesting subject, but if we look at it from the cultural phenomenon of the Kray brothers, that is so much more interesting and potent to me.

A man in a pink shirt and checked beige suit standing infant of a painting

‘It’s all one single grief.’ Image courtesy of Sol Golden Sato

Maryam Eisler: You are always attracted to and explore the same kind of topics but you treat them from different perspectives?
Sol Golden Sato: Yes. Certain subjects I strongly feel should be portrayed through paint and others might be more cinematic in nature, like the story of the Kray brothers. I am also starting to learn that some thoughts can be better communicated through public art installations and others are better suited to a gallery presentation. That’s how you engage different and wider audiences.

man in an orange suit and green patterned scarf and hat standing in front of a patterned wall

‘Could I get mansions covering ten thousand miles, I’d house all the poor.’ Image courtesy of Sol Golden Sato

Maryam Eisler: Today, you have enveloped your own body in these beautiful, lush and colourful fabrics; I am assuming they are of African origin? You are using your own body as artwork and communicator of ideas.
Sol Golden Sato: Yes. It is interesting to see how different people do it. In my case, I have always liked and been inspired by Salvador Dali, mythologising himself and creating something beyond his own immediate persona. The fabrics I am using today are originally Dutch fabrics that were developed and designed for local flavour. As such, It is also interesting to study how trade and culture work together. One of my heroes or idols is Quentin Crisp. He used to get frequently beaten up  for being effeminate, so he decided, to wear make-up so it was easier for people to know who he was.I like that because it is actually quite inclusive, being different and making people come up to you and ask questions.

Read more: Michael Xufu Huang on Arts Philanthropy & Making Art More Accessible

Maryam Eisler: I suppose it is a visual cue that attracts people, the same way you caught my attention whilst crossing the Kings Road?

Sol Golden Sato: Yes, it attracts. Sometimes my rule is to just be the opening and see what happens from there. Sometimes it’s brilliant. I have had some funny moments: a football fan started a chant saying “who brought the pimp.” You can interrupt normality.

Find out more: solgolden.com

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Reading time: 8 min
painting
artwork installation

Installation view of Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, September 29, 2021-February 13, 2022). From left to right: Savarin, 1982; Savarin, 1982; Savarin, 1982; Savarin, 1982; Studio II, 1966. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

In our ongoing online monthly series, LUX’s editors, contributors, and friends pick their must-see exhibitions from around the globe

Sophie Neuendorf, Vice President of artnet & LUX Contributing Editor

This month, Hauser & Wirth presents glimpse, British artist Phyllida Barlow’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, opening on 17 February (until 8 May 2022) to coincide with Frieze LA. The show will include new large-scale works assembled on site and made in response to the gallery’s physical adaptation of the historic Globe Mills, a collection of late 19th and early 20th century buildings. It’s sure to be a knock-out and as an added bonus, the gallery has an excellent on-site restaurant named after one of its founders: Manuela.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

installation artwork

Phyllida Barlow, Undercover 2, 2020. Installation view, ‘Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging – 16 Women Artists from around the World,’ Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2021. © Phyllida Barlow. Courtesy the artist and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo Photo: Furukawa Yuya

While you’re in LA, I also recommend stopping by Esther Kim Varet’s gallery Various Small Fires. The gallery launched in 2012 with the aim of fighting back against the traditional gallery system that allowed for already-big Western names to get even bigger. As a gallerist and dealer, Varet likes to keep it small: she only represents around 20 artists, fostering their growth right from the early-stages of their careers. As such, the shows here are always a great place to discover new talent before they take off. The current group show, for example, includes eleven artists curated by Todd Bockley of Bockley Gallery (on until 20 February 2022).

tapestry artwork

Julie Buffalohead, The Nourished, 2019. Courtesy of the Artist, Various Small Fires, Los Angeles/Dallas/Seoul and Bockley Gallery

Sutapa Biswas, Artist

Three powerful, beautiful and moving exhibitions which are ‘must sees’ over this next month (in addition to my own solo show at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead of course) are Lubaina Himid’s exhibition at Tate Modern in London (on until 3 July 2022), Shigeko Kubota Liquid Realities at MoMA, New York (on until 13 February 2022) and Jennifer Packer’s The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing at The Whitney, New York (on until 17 April 2022). I had the good fortune of seeing Lubaina’s exhibition, and the Serpentine’s iteration of Packer’s show, but I was devastated that the recent outbreak of the omicron Covid variant resulted in my having to cancel a scheduled visit to Kubota’s exhibition – I’m still dreaming of seeing it and hope this exhibition travels!

mirror installation

Shigeko Kubota, Video Haiku–Hanging Piece, 1981. Courtesy Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation. Artwork © 2021 Estate of Shigeko Kubota / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Digital image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Denis Doorly

All three exhibitions bring together something vitally important in terms of our engagement with the subjects of their works in relation to the context, to form (the aesthetic) and to the nuances of meaning. I’m drawn to how each of these artists explore the intersections between art, history, form and our everyday realties and hopes. I love the confidence with which each of these artist’s works speaks through their works and what I learn as a viewer through my experience / encounter with their works. Moreover, I love how these artists’ works are haunting, opening thought in unexpected ways. Though the medium within which each of these artists work are so different, there is a language that connects them which relates to ‘the seeing’ and ‘the being’. Perhaps, for me, this ghosting of sorts is in part articulated through Kubota work titled Video Haiku – Hanging Piece, 1981. Prior to MoMA’s show I had not seen this work previously, but even on encountering it as a reproduction, I did a double-take. As a piece, it resonates deeply both formally and conceptually in terms of my own work as an artist. Such is the power and beauty of these women’s art.

figurative painting

Lubaina Himid
, Ball on Shipboard, 2018. 
Courtesy of Rennie Collection, Vancouver 
© Lubaina Himid

Darius Sanai, LUX Editor-in-Chief

The two shows I want to see most in February are shows I know I am not going to get to. First there is Mind/Mirror, the Whitney’s retrospective of Jasper Johns, in association with the Philadelphia Museum of Art (on until 13 February 2022). It’s the most comprehensive retrospective of Johns’ work ever staged and likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of us. He has long fascinated me for his reflections of the dramatic ructions in American society immediately after WW2, when within a few years, women in the western world gained arguably their biggest single step change in emancipation, segregation was officially abolished, and teenagers were invented. Along with Kurt Schwitters and Roy Lichtenstein, I think he is an artist whose importance will increase dramatically over time. If you’re lucky enough to be on the East Coast – go!

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on Koons, Kitsch & the Evolving Art Market

david bowie photograph

Anton Corbijn, David Bowie, Chicago, 1980. Copyright Anton Corbijn

The other show is at the other end of the scale in terms of size, but not interest. Anton Corbijn first caught my eye when I was a child and my sisters worked for NME, the pre-eminent post punk newspaper. I didn’t have much interest in the bands featured in the paper at that stage, but Corbijn’s photography, artful, moody, powerful, and always monochrome, was memorable. As an outsider, I was also always fascinated by the idea of this Dutch guy being a mover and shaker on the British 1980s music scene. He moved onto photograph movie stars, supermodels and designers, including David Bowie, Naomi Campbell and Virgil Abloh. Now uber-curator and LUX contributor Simon de Pury has curated a show, viewed by appointment at The Hague, Amsterdam (which I’m not going to make) and online at de-pury.com. Speaking to Simon last week, I told him his next move in the pop world should include the works of Pennie Smith, who created the black-and-white imagery in the book The Clash: Before And After, a kind of epic, humorous Canterbury Tales of the punk band’s first US tour. Watch this space.

Read more: Legendary photographer Iran Issa-Khan on ‘The Forces of Nature’

Tarka Russell, Director Timothy Taylor Gallery

When in Los Angeles, I never miss a visit to David Kordansky Gallery. During Frieze LA, he has Jonas Wood showing a collection of new paintings and works on paper (on until 5 March 2022). Another unforgettable trip is the The Getty museum where you are immersed in treasures.

painting of garden

Jonas Wood, Future Zoo, 2021. Photo by Marten Elder, courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery

Loulou Siem, Artist

This month, Pal Project, Pierre and Alexandre Lorquin’s art space in Paris, is showing Paragone by Mateo Revillo (on until 12 March 2022). I had a preview just before the opening and it is electric. Revillo has painted lines in beeswax and pigment on tile shaped plaster boards and hung them like diamonds – lines that run away and towards each other, going somewhere and nowhere and wrapping the space in unseen tape that asks: what happens outside of the edge? Live snails crawl up the walls, creating yellowish, unconfident loops on the once pristine gallery surface. Meanwhile, the wonky lines in the paintings feel fast, like static, and seem to challenge the somnolent snails. Snails that tease the limits of the paintings: awkwardly sexy?

installation of artworks

Installation view of Paragone by Mateo Revillo. Courtesy of Pal Project, Paris

I normally think of tiles as existing in multiples, made up for architecture, but here each is given jewel-like space, and do not need a collective to communicate. In fact, the materials in the show are industrial, not typically decorative. The plaster board is part of the wall itself, the bench that has been burned has doodled soot down the wall at its fall and the relatively small church of wedged coal bricks is solid and uncomplicated. The paintings feel monumental to me in their abstraction. In some moments, paint has flaked off the edges of the plaster, reminiscent of some Mediterranean antiquity, except these tiles were always meant to be perfectly imperfect. If you’re in Paris this month or at any point the future, I highly recommend stopping by: I think there could be a lot of exciting things coming out of this space.

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Reading time: 7 min
a building overlooking a city and lake
a building overlooking a city and lake

Four Seasons Private Residences New Orleans

Four Seasons is not only world renowned for its luxurious hotels but also its private residences. Here, LUX speaks to Paul White, President of Four Seasons Private Residences about the success and growth of the brand

a man in a blue blazer, pink shirt and blue tie wearing glasses

Paul White, President Four Seasons Private Residences

1. For the high net worth individual, what makes a Four Seasons Private Residence singularly attractive over a standalone home?

The goal of our residential strategy is to extend the Four Seasons lifestyle experience, creating the very best homes in the world – in the best locations, of the highest quality, and accompanied by Four Seasons legendary service. We are a “people powered brand” so this service is a fundamental part of our residential offering.

Alongside our renowned service offering, residents can enjoy the best of both worlds with exclusive and private homes that provide hotel-inspired amenities that they have come to love when staying with Four Seasons around the world. These amenities include incredible communal areas, private amenities and spacious lobbies and social areas.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

A major benefit to homeowners is that Four Seasons acts as the property managers of every residential property in our portfolio – we do not outsource to third parties like some other brands. If owners are only spending a portion of their time in-residence, they can trust that Four Seasons is on the ground and will care for and maintain their asset while they are away. This also safeguards their investment for the future.

2. Unlike unbranded residences, Four Seasons have a premium on trust and credibility in the luxury real estate sector. How has this buttressed the growing consumer desire for security and peace of mind amid the instability of the past year?

During the pandemic and as our industry looks forward to recovery, the trust and confidence in the Four Seasons brand, paired with our legendary service, is what residents are looking for and what is most appealing to prospective buyers. Especially in a lockdown scenario, they have all they need within the Four Seasons experience they know and trust.

During the height of the pandemic, more and more of our residents stayed in place in their Four Seasons home, a testament to the comfort, confidence and peace of mind they feel in the asset and in our service. Additionally, with guidance from internationally recognized experts, Four Seasons also developed Lead With Care, our enhanced global health and safety program focused on providing care, confidence and comfort to all guests, employees and residents within the new COVID-19 environment.

The use of technology to offer contactless service has become even more important in light of COVID-19, which is why we extended the award-winning Four Seasons App and Chat platforms to create a digital experience for our residents, accessible through their phones, tablets, or computers. The residential digital experience allows residents to further customise their residential lifestyle experience, including securely managing and maintaining their home, connecting with their designated Four Seasons team members, and requesting services with ease and convenience.

apartment block in Dubai

Four Seasons Private Residences Dubai

3. Owing to the phenomenal success of Four Seasons Private Residences, the brand is expecting to double its portfolio. How do you sustain its reputation for uniqueness and curation while pursuing growth on a global scale?

Our formula is to blend high profile real estate with the concept of lifestyle, to create the ultimate in luxury living for discerning homeowners who are in the market to purchase an amenity-rich and serviced residence or vacation home. Whether you live with us or vacation with us, a Four Seasons residential experience marries the world’s finest real estate and personalised, integrated service.

Our focus with both hotels and residences has always been to offer a world-class product in the best locations. We seek developers who can help us achieve this, and whose goals for offering the highest quality of location, architectural stature, interior design and amenities are aligned with ours. Our partners are equally as committed to excellence, and choose Four Seasons to deliver exceptional personalised service to residence owners.

As a brand, our residential offering is not new, but an important and growing part of our business. We have been a leader in branded residential since 1985, when the company opened its first private residences in Boston. Today, we operate 46 Private Residences globally, designed and built to Four Seasons standards in both global urban centers and gateway cities, as well as resort destinations.

4. Four Seasons branded residences have been around since 1985. Has there been a shift in the type of clientele since then?

Branded residential offerings are well suited to meet the changing needs of today’s buyer, not only by offering spacious, beautifully designed homes, but through the trust and strength of the brand and knowing that you and your home will be cared for.

Four Seasons buyers are not only looking for luxury and prestige – but also security, peace of mind and privacy – and are prepared to pay premium prices for a brand that goes above and beyond to deliver in these areas. A Four Seasons Private Residence make the perfect investment choice for both local and internationally mobile buyers, giving clients the opportunity to buy into a home with a globally recognised, reputable brand with both cache and credibility. As a result of the pandemic, we have also seen the lines blur around first, second, third homes. With the ability to work from anywhere, residents are using their homes differently than they have before.

living room

Four Seasons Private Residences. 20 Grosvenor Square

5. The private residences’ clientele ranges from full- and part-time occupants to those looking solely for an investment property. How do you cater to these various needs while maintaining an overall sense of cohesion and community?

The Four Seasons buyer profile varies from market to market – Four Seasons trends indicate that buyers are local who know the market and brand. There are also many UHNW buyers with an affinity to the Four Seasons, an affinity for a given location, and who are pre-disposed to buying real estate for personal use and enjoyment and/or as an investment.

While we are dedicated to upholding our brand standards, we recognise that the best real estate in the world is a genuine reflection of its locale. Each Four Seasons property is reflective of the unique culture, history and aesthetic of the destination in which it sits. We work closely with our designers and developers to understand the buyer profile in each location and optimise the design and amenities accordingly to meet the unique needs of the luxury consumer in that market and connect them more deeply with the local environment.

Read more: Luxury Travel Views: Four Seasons Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, Côte d’Azur

6. You are in the midst of growing your portfolio of standalone residences, with projects in London, Los Angeles, Marrakech and San Francisco. Tell us more about the process involved in these projects, and what differentiates them from other residences in the brand’s portfolio.

As a brand, Four Seasons is strategic and deliberate with the markets we choose to operate in. These standalone residential projects are unique in that they exist separately from hotels and resorts. They are a distinct yet complementary Four Seasons living experience, and in many global gateway markets we offer both standalone residential projects as well as residences that are connected to a hotel.

As we continue our robust residential expansion, our focus is on offering Four Seasons Private Residences in key destinations where our residents want to live, looking at the latest buying trends and understanding their residents and their needs. Our biggest differentiator is our service and this has always been driven by our people. It is our teams on the ground, led by a dedicated Director of Residences, who bring the Four Seasons experience to life, delivering the genuine, personalised service that defines our brand the world over.

Find out more: fourseasons.com

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Reading time: 6 min
mixed media artwork
mixed media artwork

Rachel Jones, SMIIILLLLEEEE, 2021. Oil pastel, oil stick on canvas. Photo by Eva Herzog. Courtesy Thaddaeus Ropac gallery

In our new online monthly series, LUX’s editors, contributors, and friends pick their must-see exhibitions from around the globe

Sophie Neuendorf, Vice President of artnet

Last year, Saint Laurent started their cultural program, showing a selection of artists at exciting locations, such as at the beach during Art Basel Miami Beach (which you can read more about in my diary from the fair). They also mount exhibitions at their Rive Droite location in Paris, which has been conceived to showcase a selection of products from the Saint Laurent collection alongside works by emerging and established artists. This month, they’re showing Sho Shibuya‘s ethereal solar paintings, following the artist’s debut in Miami.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Another must-see show is The Magritte machine at Thyssen Museum Madrid (closing on 30 January). As Sotheby’s is betting big on Magritte with a $60 Million consignment for their forthcoming London auction, this exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to discover more about the surrealist Belgian artist.

René Magritte Tentative de l’impossible 1928. Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota © René Magritte, VEGAP, Madrid, 2021

Then, at the end of this month, Buckingham Palace will reveal seven portraits of Holocaust survivors, which were commissioned by Prince Charles as a gesture of tribute to the ageing generation. The artists participating in the project include the most expensive living female artist Jenny Saville, BP Portrait award-winner Clara Drummond, original member of the Young British Artists Stuart Pearson Wright, and painters Paul Benney, Peter Kuhfeld, Massimiliano Pironti, and Ishbel Myerscough. The paintings will be displayed in the Queen’s Gallery starting January 27 in an exhibition called Seven Portraits: Surviving the Holocaust.

Idris Khan, Artist

Perhaps rather predictably, my recommended exhibition for this month is my wife, Annie Morris’s show When a Happy Thing Falls at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It’s her first UK solo museum exhibition and includes her sculptures as well as drawings and a tapestry. The show ends on 6 February so it’s your last chance to see it!

Read more: In the studio with Idris Khan

outdoor sculpture

Annie Morris, Stack 9 Ultramarine Blue, 2021. Photo © Jonty Wilde. Courtesy Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Lawrence Van Hagen, Founder of LVH Art Advisory & Curator of the ‘What’s Up’ exhibitions

Rachel Jones’ solo exhibition SMIIILLLLEEEE at Thaddaeus Ropac, London (on until 5 February) has deservedly received a lot of media attention. The 30-year-old Essex-based artist is already a distinctive voice in the art world (she was one of the youngest artists to participate in the Hayward Gallery’s acclaimed exhibition Mixing It Up) and one of the most exciting emerging artists that I have personally come across, and acquired in recent years.

artist portrait

Rachel Jones in her studio. Photo by Adama Jalloh

As the title suggests, the exhibition references the artist’s ongoing obsession with mouths and specifically, teeth. In the works, she combines figuration and abstraction to reflect on teeth as a form of cultural expression in Black communities. The mouth also seems to be a metaphor for the world within us, our emotional landscape and the gate to our soul as we smile, eat, sing, scream, kiss… The clearest example in this show is a work that’s only 30cm high but more than 2-metres wide. It pictures a set of teeth and the canvas is trimmed at the bottom to follow the uneven shape of the molars and incisors. Rachel also has a solo show coming up at Chisenhale Gallery (opening 12 March) – another date for the diary!

Read more: Shiny Surfaces, Lawsuits & Pink Inflatable Rabbits: Jeff Koons

Millie Walton, LUX’s Art & Digital Editor

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Dutch artist Jacqueline de Jong in the context of her solo exhibition at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in Mayfair. We chatted at length about her process (which is completely spontaneous in the sense that she never plans her compositions) and her participation in the anti-authoritarian Situationist International (SI) group. Although the group wasn’t an artistic movement, de Jong was greatly inspired by its revolutionary spirit which can be felt in her vibrant colour palette and fluid forms that seem to writhe on the canvas. She has been making work for over six decades, but it isn’t until now that she’s beginning to finally garner international recognition.

abstract drawing

Jacqueline de Jong, Untitled (Upstairs-Downstairs), 1986

This month, she has two major solo exhibitions including a museum survey entitled The Ultimate Kiss, which was inaugurated by WIELS, Brussels, in 2021 and is currently on show at MOSTYN, Wales (until 6 February) as well as another solo exhibition at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery (21 January to 12 March 2022) which includes a series of drawings related to her Upstairs-Downstairs paintings from the mid 1980s. I’m hoping I’ll get to see both!

mixed media painting

Januario Jano, Untitled (M0010), 2021.

I also recommend stopping by Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery’s Wandsworth space to see Angolan artist Januario Jano’s vibrant, thoughtful show Imbambas: Unsettled Feelings of Object & Self (on until 5 February). Jano takes the Kimbundu term imbambas (which refers to things such as furniture and luggage that have an intrinsic and uncanny relationship to the body and self) as his departing point through which to explore the role of the object in the construction and reinforcement of cultural identity. The exhibition features a wide range of mixed-media works, incorporating textiles, photography and found objects.

 

 

 

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Reading time: 4 min
luxury interiors
luxury interiors

The living space of a three bedroom apartment at 101 on Cleveland, designed by Bergman & Mar. Image by Taran Wilkuhu

woman sitting on sofaLondon-based interior design studio Bergman & Mar has developed a reputation for designing unique, artisanal spaces for London’s sleekest new developments. The studio’s latest project, 101 on Cleveland, combines organic elements with brass detailing to bring organic luxury to Fitzrovia. LUX speaks to the founder, Petra Arko, about craftsmanship, storytelling, and the art of bringing a show apartment to life

1. Bergman & Mar is renowned among London’s leading property developers. How do you bring the show apartments you work on to life?

Our vision for every project is created by staging and storytelling. We immerse ourselves and understand the area, culture, space, and potential homeowners’ needs for each project. We love incorporating organic shapes, daring palettes, and unique textures into our schemes to provide personalised solutions for our clients that have a lasting impact. I still get excited when we walk into a new but very bare apartment: it’s like an empty shell. It’s wonderful to give it a soul and transform the space into a warm, welcoming home.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. Your latest project, 101 on Cleveland, draws clear inspiration from nature with its autumnal interiors. What was the thinking behind the palette?

Colour impacts the human mind and helps create ideas whilst generating certain emotions, so we always try to base our selection on that concept. The palette for the 101 on Cleveland project was carefully thought through to represent the diversity and history of the location. A selection of various finishes were combined to show a subtle mix of elegance that all contribute to the look and feel of the apartment. Brass detailing and organic elements flow throughout the entrance, living, dining and study spaces to create a sophisticated space that reflects the streets of Fitzrovia.

The live edge dining table is one of our favourite pieces. As you walk into the space, your eyes can’t help but be drawn to the walnut slab’s visual textures and organic edge, which gives a unique feel to the area. We discovered Martelo & Mo [who designed it] not too long ago. They’re a British-made studio run by a husband and wife with a passion for designing and creating functional, well-made furniture from sustainably sourced materials. We love their approach to creating handcrafted pieces of furniture made with their minds and hands that respect the integrity of materials while considering how they look and feel.

3. How does sustainability intersect with your design process, aesthetic and otherwise?

Longevity and sustainability in design is nothing new to Bergman & Mar: we are passionate about [these things] and strive to ingrain [them] in all of our projects. The change now is about making sustainable design attractive and stylish. We are moving away from purchasing off the shelf by investing in vintage, upcycled and bespoke furniture, looking to source those unique and iconic designs of the past and working with craftsmen and makers that are consciously sourcing and working with sustainable materials.

bedroom interiors

One of the apartment’s bedrooms. Image by Taran Wilkuhu

4. Bergman & Mar frequently draws together the work of established designers with that of emerging ones. Why is that important to you?

We work not only to support ethical and sustainable furniture, but also strive to recommend genuinely inspirational people with meaningful stories. We aim to source pieces our clients can keep for life and perhaps pass on to the next generation. The design should not be for single-use and should last forever; likewise, we want to uncover the makers that [have longevity], will be the next Jeanerette or Eames. Design that is within reach, and yet beautiful, long-lasting and iconic.

Read more: Legendary Designer Christian Louboutin on Passion & Solidarity

Something very magical happens when you find a beautiful workshop making genuinely unique, quality handmade products. The makers are modest, down-to-earth personalities that live and breathe their designs. We live to work with these individuals, share their stories, their struggles and wins.

5. How has your Slovenian heritage informed your design philosophy?

I grew up in Slovenia during socialism, where our unique geographic position nestled in the Alps (between Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia) meant that we benefited from rich cultural and design influences. In the small alpine town where we lived, the craftsman and makers were part of the community. Perhaps Fitzrovia’s colourful cultural history and home to British craftsmanship resonate with me in this sense. Our vision [when we began the studio] was to create a space that was a combination of cultures coming together: we sourced items from various artisans and local suppliers to provide a curated list of re-editioned and future icons that resulted in a unique apartment space.

6. What’s the story behind the name Bergman & Mar?

Slovenia is nestled between the Adriatic Sea and the Julian Alps, so Bergman (‘mountain man’) and Mar (‘sea’). Mar is also part of my mother’s maternal name. The name Bergman & Mar is also a somewhat sentimental reference to my childhood and the influence my dad had on my creativity. My dad is a film director, and his book about Ingmar Bergman sat on our piano when I was growing up.

Find out more: bergmanandmar.com

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Reading time: 4 min
designer's studio
designer's studio

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

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

Maryam Eisler: How did you two meet and start