man listening to music with headphones
man listening to music with headphones

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

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

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

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

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

design workshop

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

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

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

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

headphones

The APERIO standard version. Image courtesy of Warwick Acoustics.

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

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

gold headphones

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

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

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

sound testing

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

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

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

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As the days get shorter and the light begins to fade, mark the seasonal changes with these warm-toned essentials

Founded by sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, The Row is renowned for understated silhouettes inspired by the minimalist aesthetic of 1980s New York. Following this form, their mustard-yellow Ulmer sweater is knitted in soft cashmere with raw edges at the cuffs and hem

matchesfashion.com

Cartier’s iconic panther motif, dating from 1914, has been reimagined many times to reflect different facets of the animal’s character. Here, the feline appears languid and graceful on a delicate 18k yellow-gold bracelet set with diamonds, tsavorite garnets and onyx.

cartier.com

Known for her avant-garde menswear designs, Grace Wales Bonner’s collections are full of references from cultural research, mixing motifs from black culture with British tailoring techniques. These navy blue trousers with a velvet green stripe are one of our favourites.

walesbonner.net

Crafted from beige canvas with a tan leather trim, this Cassandra shoulder bag by Saint Laurent takes inspiration from classic safari style. The gold-top YSL plaque opens to a tan suede interior with two spacious compartments and additional zip pockets

ysl.com

This playful multicoloured gilet by Gucci is made from a patchwork of gingham, polka dot and tartan fabrics. Embroidered lettering on the back reads “Gucci Band”, referencing the brand’s focus on togetherness. With a relaxed fit, it layers well over a jumper or jacket.

mrporter.com

The Giona dress by Roksanda is inspired by the silhouettes of early 20th-century Gibson Girl images. In an eye-catching scarlet-red crepe, the dress falls in gathered tiers to a romantic floor-sweeping hemline with a high ruffled neck accented by burgundy velvet ties.

matchesfashion.com

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

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Vintage photograph of race track with Tag Heuer branding
Actor Steve McQueen wearing racing gear

Actor Steve McQueen wearing TAG Heuer’s first Monaco timepiece in the 1971 film Le Mans

TAG Heuer is celebrating the anniversary of its Monaco timepiece with a series of limited editions. Chloe Frost-Smith takes a closer look at the collection

Originally debuted as the world’s first water-resistant square cased chronograph in 1969 and made famous by Steve McQueen in the 1971 film Le Mans, the TAG Heuer Monaco celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with a series of five limited editions each alluding to a different decade in the iconic watch’s history as well as two additional timepieces featuring an entirely new in-house movement.

The 1969-1979 edition

Each timepiece is engraved with the brand’s original logo and features the Calibre 11, a modernised version of the first Monaco’s innovative self-winding chronograph movement, alongside a perforated leather strap which creates an automotive look and feel. The seventies edition, however, is the only watch in the collection to feature a brown leather strap, with a textured green Côtes de Genève dial accented with brown and amber touches.

Luxury Tag Heuer timepiece in a box

TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 edition with a brown leather strap

The 1979-1989 edition

The 1980s-inspired timepiece is instantly recognisable for its racing red on the watch face and stitching, strikingly set against black and silver detailing. It’s a classic colour combination for motorsport aficionados.

Luxurious watch with red face and black strap

The 1979-1989 edition with a racing red watch face

The 1989-1999 edition

More traditionally Heuer Monaco in appearance, navy and red dominate the overall design of this timepiece whilst the grained, rhodium-plated silver-grey dial adds a contemporary edge.

Luxurious timepiece with blue strap and square clock face

The 1989-1999 edition follows TAH Heuer’s traditional Monaco colour palette

The 1999-2009 edition

Finished in an understated monochromatic scheme with flashes of red on the hands and markers, the 2000s edition is distinguishable by the white circular index which stands out against the black watch face, complemented by the black strap with white lining.

Luxury timepiece with monochrome detailing

The monochrome 1999-2009 edition

The 2009-2019 edition

The latest watch in the series is simple yet sleek with a minimalistic approach to the most recent decade, incorporating an unconventional sandblasted stainless-steel case and polished pushers. The charcoal-coloured sun-ray dial is adorned with black-gold-plated indexes, in keeping with the black lining and grey stitching on the strap.

Black watch with square clock face

The sleek and contemporary 2009-2019 edition

The 02 edition

Sporting a blue sun-ray brushed dial, silver opaline counters, and a navy blue alligator strap, this edition is set apart from the rest of the series as the first Heuer Monaco timepiece to feature the Swiss brand’s most advanced calibre movement.

Cut out image of blue watch with square face

The 02 edition features an advanced calibre movement

The Calibre 12 Final edition

Completing the collection with a classic palette of black, white, and red, the final edition features a unique brushed ruthenium dial which allows the watch face to change colour in different lights.

Cut out image of a black watch with square face

The Calibre 12 Final edition changes colour according to the light

 

For more information visit: tagheuer.com

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Nighttime view of ski resort village St Moritz
Nighttime view of ski resort village St Moritz

St Moritz at night

St Moritz, in Switzerland’s Engadin, is an Alpine paradise in winter, with some of Europe’s best hotels for your skiing vacation. But it could be yours all year round with exclusive chalets for sale. Emma Love reports on the latest Savills offerings and the virtues of Alpine living

It’s hard to imagine that the celebrated ski resort St Moritz was once better known as a summer destination. That was until Johannes Badrutt, the founder of the legendary Kulm hotel, won a bet. The story goes that in the autumn of 1864, he was enthusing about St Moritz as a winter destination to four sceptical English holiday guests. Badrutt suggested that they return in December and if they didn’t enjoy their stay, he would not charge them. The four ended up staying until Easter, marking the beginning of winter tourism in the Engadin valley.

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Facade of a modern style chalet

Luxury chalet Chesa Lumpaz

Of course, these days St Moritz is globally renowned as the glamorous go-to, year-round Alpine resort where everyone from Claudia Schiffer and Robert de Niro to the Swedish royal family has been spotted. It has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, popularised sports such as ice cricket and snow polo and is home to the Cresta Run, a world-championship bobsled run made of natural ice – not to mention it being home to Michelin-star restaurants, Bond Street-style designer fashion boutiques, and  glitzy bars, clubs and hotels. “Historically and geographically, St Moritz has long attracted a crowd with a heavy Italian influence, but in the past couple of decades there has been a steady flow of international billionaires buying chalets here. They are attracted to the sophistication of the resort,” says Jeremy Rollason, head of Savills Ski, who specialises in the sale of chalets and developments in super-prime Alpine locations.

luxury interiors of a double bedroom with wooden chalet walls

One of the four master bedrooms, all fitted out in contemporary style but with traditional materials

Luxurious open plan living area with alpine views from double windowsWhile many of the top one per cent choose to base themselves in traditional ski-in, ski-out Suvretta (where a car is needed to get into town), the latest Savills property on the market offers something rather different – the rare chance to own (and rent) a seven-bedroom lakeside house right in the heart of St Moritz, next door to the Badrutt’s Palace hotel and just ten minutes’ drive from Samedan, the private-jet airport. “Chalet Chesa Lumpaz is one of those rare propositions; it’s contemporary rather than futuristic, quiet yet close to the main shopping precinct and has extraordinary views,” Rollason says of the property, which is for sale POA. “The designer Nico Rensch has expertly combined modern design with St Moritz flair.”

Read more: Why Blue Palace in Crete is a springtime paradise

Spread over five floors, the 890m2 house has a private wellness area (which includes a gym, hot tub, steam room, sauna and massage room), a ski room (with boot, helmet and clothes heaters) and an open-plan living area designed for socialising. “The house was built to entertain, with the living room at the top because you want to have the view when you’re awake not when you’re asleep,” explains Oli Stastny, whose company PPM Exclusive Services manages fully serviced private villas in St Moritz. “The aim with the design was to fuse local materials such as stone and wood in a modern way while keeping a cosy, Alpine feel. For instance, the bedrooms have wood-clad walls.”

There is not one master bedroom but four, all at the front to take advantage of the views of the lake. They are fitted with sliding walls so the configuration can change depending on the guests staying. Yet Stastny echoes Rollason in stating that it is the uniqueness of the property and its location that makes it truly special. “This is one of the only single standing houses in the centre of town, the rest are apartments. It’s also connected by an escalator that goes down to the lake and up to the shops and Badrutt’s Palace.”

Luxury interiors of a sitting room with a wall of book shelves

Luxury terrace with views over the mountains

The living room (above) and view from the living room on the top floor of the Chesa Lumpaz chalet

This feature could be especially handy for anyone attending the annual New Year’s Eve dinner at the hotel, which is one of the hottest events of the winter social calendar. Other unmissable dates for the diary include the long- established St Moritz Gourmet Festival every January, which is known for attracting star chefs from around the world (this year the line- up included Guillaume Galliot from Caprice at the Four Seasons Hong Kong and Nicolai Nørregaard from Kadeau in Copenhagen). And, in the summer, a jazz festival held in the Dracula Club (Norah Jones, Nigel Kennedy and Curtis Stigers were highlights in 2018); the annual gathering of vintage cars, the British Classic Car Meet; the Engadin Festival featuring ten high-calibre classical concerts and the Tavolata weekend, a celebration of food and music.

All of which proves that while winter sports might be one of the biggest draws to St Moritz – the resort is at 1,850 metres which means an excellent snow record and world-class skiing – there is plenty to entertain visitors in the summer months too. “These summer festivals are a great way of getting property owners back into the resorts as an alternative to the French Riviera which, especially last year, was extremely hot,” says Rollason. “In the summer you can windsurf on the lake and cycle the mountain trails. St Moritz is a genuine dual- season resort.” Exactly as Johannes Badrutt suggested all those years ago.

Find out more: chesalumpaz.com and savills.com/countries/savills-ski

This article was originally published in the Summer 19 Issue

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Grand terrace of a pink mansion house with umbrellas and lots of greenery
Grand terrace of a pink mansion house with umbrellas and lots of greenery

Le Jardin de Russie restaurant at the Hotel de Russie, and the National Museum of 21st-Century Arts (MAXXI)

Rome has a lot to offer the modern traveller beyond classical ruins, and at the heart of this burgeoning contemporary scene is the new Hotel de la Ville. Emma Love sings the city’s praises

When Hotel de la Ville, high above the Spanish Steps in Rome, opens on 23 May 2019, it will be the latest in a wave of cool, contemporary destinations to appear in the capital. Joining Hotel de Russie as part of Rocco Forte Hotels, Hotel de la Ville celebrates the tradition of the European Grand Tour in a thoroughly modern way. Located in an 18th-century palazzo, its decor ranges from Renaissance-inspired busts in the Da Sistina bistro to the decorative patterns of blue-and-white ceramics reinterpreted as a wallpaper print. The spa, courtyard restaurant (with its new take on classic Roman dishes) and the 7th-floor bar with 360-degree views are all set to appeal to a new generation of travellers.

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It’s not only the design of Hotel de la Ville which is inspired by the European Grand Tour: both properties are in the heart of the Eternal City (Hotel de Russie is between Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo), so visitors are ideally placed to discover off-the-beaten-track gems. For instance, alongside Rome’s ancient wonders there are now a number of art galleries that offer alternative attractions. The National Gallery of Modern Art specialises in 19th and 20th-century works by Italian and international artists; the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (MACRO), located in a former warehouse, showcases works created since 1960; and the Zaha Hadid-designed National Museum of 21st-Century Arts (MAXXI) is dedicated to contemporary art and architecture. And there is the Palazzo Rhinoceros, which opened in 2018 as part of Fendi’s non-profit art foundation with its exhibitions, rooftop bar and restaurant.

Luxury hotel suite with contemporary luxe furnishings

A grand junior suite at the Hotel de la Ville (above) and the Spanish Steps

Hotel de Russie, named after the Russian Romantic painters who were guests when visiting the city, also blends classical architecture with modern interiors. It has a noteworthy spa, the Stravinskij bar and Le Jardin de Russie restaurant, where in summer tables spill out into the Secret Garden. Near Hotel de la Ville, architecture fans will discover the bizarre 16th- century Palazzo Zuccari, the façade of which features mascherone or grotesque, mask-like mouths around the front door and windows, and the church of Sant’Isidoro where the side chapel houses two 17th-century marble nude female figures designed by Bernini. Covered up by Irish priests in the 19th century, they were unveiled again only in 2002.

Read more: Why Blue Palace resort in Crete is the perfect Springtime destination

For more contemporary design, there is the Jubilee Church, built in 2003 in the Tor Tre Treste suburb by American architect Richard Meier, and the amphitheatre-like Parco Della Musica by Renzo Piano, where everything from contemporary dance to jazz and film festivals take place. Both hotels can arrange tailor-made experiences for guests, whether they want a behind-the-scenes look at the 19th-century Teatro dell’Opera di Roma or a tour of Monti, the once down-at-heel district now popular for vintage fashion and antiques. All of which demonstrates that this forward-looking city is so much more than its past.

SIX UNMISSABLE ROME EXPERIENCES

1. Behind-the-scenes designer shopping
From a private atelier visit to learning about the craftsmanship that goes into bespoke garments, Hotel de Russie’s ‘Avenue of Style’ experience offers unparalleled access to eleven Italian fashion brands.

2. Private tour of the opera house
Sneak a backstage look at Rome’s most famous classical music venue, the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, which is resplendent in its 19th-century glory.

3. Cycle the city
Go cycling or jogging with Hotel de Russie’s personal trainer and triathlon world champion Danilo Palmucci, taking in the Villa Borghese gardens and architectural landmarks.

4. Discover a hip art gallery
Former London art dealer Lorcan O’Neill’s eponymous gallery is in a renovated stable in the centre of Rome where his roster of artists includes everyone from Rachel Whiteread and Tracey Emin to Richard Long and Francesco Clemente.

5. See optical illusions at the Trinità dei Monti convent
Go straight to the cloister on the upper floor to see the two large and very rare anamorphic wall paintings.

6. An immersive perfumery experience
Hotel de la Ville’s ‘olfactive itinerary’ is a closed-doors visit to a high-end perfumery, set inside a historic building with original frescos.

For more information visit: roccofortehotels.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 19 Issue.

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Andermatt Swiss Alpine village in summertime
Andermatt Swiss Alpine village in summertime

Summer in Andermatt with bike trails, the historic village streets, the Radisson Blu hotel and the new golf course

Andermatt is rapidly becoming one of Switzerland’s best year-round Alpine destinations. Already famed for its winter sports, the resort is now offering activities, accommodation and dining for summer, too, thanks to a major new development. Rob Freeman discovers the joys of the village’s new season

As the winter snows melt on the slopes above Andermatt, the year-round allure of this Swiss village becomes apparent. Thanks to the charm and the beauty of its summer meadows carpeted with white, blue, yellow and pink Alpine flowers, the resort has become a multi- faceted, all-season destination.

As glorious as it is in winter – Andermatt is now a world-class winter-sports centre and part of central Switzerland’s largest linked ski area – the resort, thanks to some remarkable developments that are taking place there, is equally stunning in the summer. In many ways, the contrast between the verdant valleys and the glistening white peaks above in summer makes this landscape even more striking.

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Andermatt’s parish records go back 800 years, with many of its houses being centuries old, so it’s small wonder that there is a palpable sense of history and tradition in its streets. With such a background, it’s intriguing to see the village enter a new phase, underlined by the recent opening of the elegant shopping and dining square, the Piazza Gottardo, which is part of a visionary development by Egyptian investor Samih Sawiris that will see the village double in size. There’s a distinct yet subtle style to this new car-free area, known as Andermatt Reuss, of which the Piazza is the centrepiece. The trick is having every building individually designed by one of more than 30 Swiss and international architects to create an eclectic rather than uniform appearance.

Swiss village street view

Each new building, as architect Christoph Langenberg, the project manager of the developer Andermatt Swiss Alps, explains, pays homage in one respect or another to the traditional styles of the local architecture. The Edelweiss apartment building, for example, has distinctive shutters with chevron patterns in contrast to the broad arches that protect balconies against the sometimes severe weather. But its most extraordinary feature is its exterior colour, which starts from a dark base and gradually lightens as it rises until seeming to fade into the sky. Diamond shapes are scored into the façade, with wavy lines accentuating the lightness. In another building, House Wolf, the design incorporates the careful gauging of the sculptural effect of the roof overhang.

“The buildings are clustered together more closely than is usual in new projects like this,” Langenberg adds. This is deliberate, to reflect the traditional way in which these villages evolved. The buildings have always been close together for warmth and security. We wanted the new developments to be an extension to the old village, rather than something separate.” One to five-bedroom apartments are available, and the whole project, which will include 30 individual chalets, has no purchase restrictions for foreigners.

Two cyclists riding their bikes around an alpine lake in the summer

The square, complete with fountain, is fringed by shops, restaurants and bars. Restaurant Biselli already epitomises Piazza Gottardo’s village spirit and, from 8am to 11pm, is a focal point for holidaymakers and residents. Occupying the ground floor of the six-storey House Alpenrose apartment building, the restaurant is also a bakery, providing rolls and croissants every morning, and a chocolate shop where the chocolatier can often be seen creating little masterpieces. It also has a small section selling holiday necessities such as milk, butter and jam, even toothpaste. The softly lit restaurant, which is romantic and stylish, has a menu embracing dishes such as goose liver mousse with cognac and truffles, and sea bass baked in puff pastry, as well as local specialities such as tarte flambée of onions, bacon, sour cream and mountain cheese, and dumplings with roasted pork belly.

Read more: Maryam Eisler in conversation with Kenny Scharf

The Mammut sports shop opposite is a high-end ski-rental shop in winter and a bike, hiking and climbing emporium in summer. A Victorinox store has a large selection of Swiss Army and kitchen knives, designer luggage and watches. A pharmacy and small supermarket will soon join the line-up.

Exterior of a building designed as a large chalet

Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen

The impressive Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen opened recently, and its Spun restaurant, highlighting Swiss and Italian cuisine, also fronts onto the Piazza. The hotel also has a fitness zone including two saunas, steam bath and 13 treatment rooms and extensive gym, as well as a 25-metre public indoor pool with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the mountains of the Urseren Valley. A new concert hall with state-of-the-art acoustics and seating 700, designed by British studio Seilern Architects, is attached to the hotel. Further accommodation for the village will include a hotel aimed at families, featuring a water-slide through reception!

Summer offerings include walks from gentle strolls to challenging hikes, and climbing for novices as well as experts. Also popular are e-bikes with auxiliary motors to tackle distances and gradients that would otherwise be out of the question. The Four Headwaters Trail links the nearby sources of four rivers, the Rhine, Reuss, Ticino and Rhone. The 85-km family-friendly route can be split into day trips or a five-day tour staying at huts. And days out on the Matterhorn Gotthard Glacier Express are spectacular. There’s no more marvellous way to enjoy these glorious mountains.

Green of a golf course surrounded by mountains

Andermatt’s 18-hole golf course

The new 18-hole, par-72 championship Andermatt Swiss Alps golf course

Designed to complement its spectacular natural setting, Andermatt’s 18-hole golf course is immediately adjacent to the village. Although it only opened as recently as 2016, it has already achieved the highest possible accolades, including being named Switzerland’s Best Golf Course in the World Golf Awards every year since. Designed by renowned German golf-course architect Kurt Rossknecht, it has the feel of a Scottish links course and meets international tournament standards. Importantly for holidaymakers, it is open to the public on a pay-and-play basis.

Find out more: andermatt-swissalps.ch

This article originally appeared in the Summer 19 Issue.

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Grand restaurant interiors with plush leather arm chairs, white table cloths and open kitchen
Exterior shot of Four Seasons Hong Kong tower at night

The Four Seasons Hong Kong towers over the exclusive IFC mall complex in Central, the heart of Hong Kong, and has spectacular views over the water to the Kowloon side of the city

Why should I go now?

Summer is hot and steamy in Hong Kong and traditionally a stopover in this most exciting of Asian cities at this time of year involves spells of freezing inside air-conditioned rooms and baking while strolling the streets of Central in search of dim sum, art, or cocktails. Stroll out to the pool terrace of the Four Seasons, though, and you are greeted by a very refreshing alternative: two huge outdoor pools with an extensive terrace, made of beautifully carved marble, with views across the sea to the mountains of the New Territories. Ferries, speedboats and bigger ships waft through the harbour beneath you, and you are at once in the very heart of Hong Kong, and in a resort hotel on an island in the South China Sea.

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What’s the lowdown?

For further relaxation, turn left just indoors from the pool area and you are in the vast spa zone, where you get your own butler to tend to your every need and show you around (it’s easy to get lost between wet rooms and plunge pools and treatment suites and relaxation rooms). A tip: take your treatment in the evening, when the whole city seems to surround you with a light show reflecting off the waters of the Harbour. We do this just before setting off for the airport for our overnight flight back to London, and it’s the most spectacular way to get a treatment in any city we have seen.

luxury infinity swimming pool with woman practising yoga treepose on centre walkway

The infinity-edge pool is equipped with underwater speakers

We also recommend getting a room with access to the Club Lounge on the 45th floor; this takes the concept of such a lounge to another level, with endless dim sum, afternoon tea, Ruinart Blanc de Blancs champagne on tap and a mesmerising view. You’ll have no reason to visit the hotel’s Blue Bar on the ground floor, which would be a shame as it is surprisingly funky – no old-style Four Seasons wood and leather here – although the view is at ground level.

Grand restaurant interiors with plush leather arm chairs, white table cloths and open kitchen

The hotel’s two Michelin star French restaurant, Caprice

The Four Seasons is located at one end of the prestigious IFC mall and tower complex, meaning it also hosts two of the city’s (and by extension, greater China’s) most significant power venues for lunch and dinner, Lung King Heen and Caprice. We loved dining in the private room (with private chef) at Sushi Saito with some of the butteriest nigiri outside Tsukiji Fish Market.

Getting horizontal

Our bedroom looked out over the Harbour and Kowloon; at night you could stay up for hours looking at the lights, and this was a distraction as the capacious desk was located right by the window. The things we suffer in the name of research. Everything else was Four Seasons-correct, from the vast, bright, marble-clad bathroom to the huge bed and array of amenities.

Read more: Former Cognac warehouse becomes luxury hotel, Hôtel Chais Monnet

Luxury hotel suite with plush double bed, chandelier and soft, cream furnishings

The luxurious bedroom in the presidential suite

Flipside

If there’s a summer storm, the rush for drivers and taxis outside the hotel and IFC complex in general can mean it’s a little congested outside; but you can, in fact, walk almost anywhere within Central Hong Kong from the hotel by strolling through a series of interconnected (and indoor) luxury malls.

Rates: From 4,092 HKD (approx. £400 / €450 / $500)

To book your stay visit: fourseasons.com/hongkong

Darius Sanai

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IMG_0724

Baku Corner was launched by Leyla Aliyeva, vice-president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Founder of IDEA Public Union as a non-profit project designed to support the work of local Azerbaijani artisans and talented craftspeople from across the globe. The online boutique stocks a collection of beautifully curated fair-trade products, and a line of Aliyeva’s own striking designs. We love the bright colours and bold, quirky patterns. Here we select six unique pieces from LUX’s wish-list.

This iPhone cover is one of our favourite designs, featuring a detailed drawing by Leyla Aliyeva of a monochrome panther with bewitching emerald eyes.

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This floral silk scarf illustrated with artwork by Leyla Aliyeva fits with this season’s penchant for bright, clashing colours combined with delicate fabrics.

This structural basket bag is handmade in Colombia from sugar cane and decorated with ‘Molas’, colourful fabric which is sewn with a reverse-appliqué technique to create an intriguing textured effect.

The ‘Eclipse’ hat is also made by Colombian artisans utilising traditional materials and techniques to weave an intricate pattern that’s made all the more pretty with a cut out back.

From Leyla Aliyeva’s home collection, this stunning cushion cover features different illustrations on both sides so that you can flip it over and transform the room.

This loose weave alpaca scarf in cherry red is both cosy and stylish, best worn with statement artisanal jewellery (as above).

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Online shopping may be thriving, but the world is awash with swanky boutiques offering indulgent fantasies of every type to the wellheeled and the dreamer synthroid tablets online. KARYS WEBBER picks some of the best

Chanel, Paris

chanel

For fashion lovers, no one tops Chanel of course, and while a visit to any of the iconic fashion house’s worldwide boutiques is a treat, for the most hedonistic experience it must be the Avenue Montaigne store in Chanel’s home city, Paris. A stone’s throw away from the legendary Coco Chanel’s old living quarters at Rue Cambon, the 600 square metre store, designed by Chanel’s resident architect and interior designer Peter Marino, is in fact partly inspired by Mademoiselle Chanel’s apartment, echoing the timeless modernity and elegance which epitomises the brand. Tweed wall panels, rock crystal chandeliers by Goossens, pearl embroidered curtains and Ingrid Donat coffee tables come together inside the store which centres around a theatrical double height space devoted to the most precious of accessories and exceptional pieces from the Métiers d’Art collections. Adjoining rooms offer up two spaces dedicated to watches, two to accessories, one showcasing shoes and a VIP salon, whilst the first floor houses the ready-to-wear collection. The classic Chanel colour scheme of pearly whites, glossy blacks, beiges and gold is as evident as ever with contemporary works of art from the likes of Idris Khan, Jean-Michael Othoniel and Mark Swanson thrown in for good measure. chanel.com

Harry Winston, Paris

harrywinston

Arguably the most hedonistic item to purchase, diamonds are of course a girl’s best friend and nowhere more so than at Harry Winston’s Shanghai Pavilion. The 80-year-old luxury brand, renowned for being the jeweller to the stars, opened the unique store in the prestigious XinTianDi district in 2012, designed with the aim of creating “an experience that was both intimate and monumental”, according to New York-based architect William Sofield. The freestanding boutique aptly shimmers like a jewel from the outside with much of the façade clad in zigzagging panels of clear and misted gold glass, and features a carved stone gateway (a reinterpretation of Shanghai’s historic Shikumen style). Inside, shoppers are greeted by a soaring two-storey oval atrium with a black and white marble floor that references the brand’s Fifth Avenue store. Chinese architecture and its shape-shifting approach to space is cited as part of the design inspiration and as a result few of the shop’s walls are set at right angles and no room is perfectly square, meaning the store appears to evolve before your eyes. Dedicated areas for the brand’s signature collections (such as Sunflower and Cluster) and the High Jewellery collections are each designed with individual materials and colour palettes to compliment the pieces. The store also features a custom-designed Bridal Bar and, for the first time, a designated Timepiece Salon complete with LED screens which display behind-the-scenes footage of the watch development. harrywinston.com

Gastón y Daniela, Madrid

daniela

Founded in Bilbao in 1876 and still owned by the same family, Gastón y Daniela is a treasure trove of textiles housed in a grand former mansion in Madrid. The store offers over 40,000 fabrics ranging from contemporary designs (like the new Uptown collection inspired by the use of geometric patterns between the 1930s and 1960s) to unique heritage fabrics from their extensive archives. You can peruse luscious silks, intricate brocades and rich damasks at your leisure whilst enjoying a cup of coffee or a glass of sherry (depending on the hour), which the staff will whip up for you. Alongside the swathes of tactile fabrics, the store also impeccably displays their own wallpaper designs, upholstered furniture and Persian carpets, making it a haven for interior design lovers. Plus, with plush sofas sat in front of fireplaces and a beautiful private garden accessible via the sitting room, you’d be hard pushed to find a more pleasurable retail experience. gastonydaniela.com

Fortnum & Mason, London

fortnum

One of London’s most iconic and oldest emporiums (and not to mention grocer to the Queen), Fortnum & Mason has been a foodie favourite since it was established over 300 years ago, when it was famous for offering up exotic delicacies from around the world. The quintessentially English store (it stocks over 200 varieties of tea if you were in any doubt about its British heritage) sells everything from cheeses and preserves to macaroons and fudge in its vast food hall, which spans two floors connected by a grand spiral staircase. Gourmet gift hampers are Fortnum & Mason’s forte with signature hampers including the ‘Mayfair’ and ‘West Country’ although bespoke versions can also be stashed with an array of sweet or savoury treats like champagne truffles and beluga caviar. The store also houses five restaurants across its seven floors including the 1707 Wine Bar (named after the store’s foundation year), designed by David Collins, where you can order any bottle of wine from the extensive collection in the adjacent wine department for just a £10 corkage fee. Alternatively, head to The Parlour on the first floor for a naughty Knickerbocker Glory. fortnumandmason.com

Alfred Dunhill, London

dunhill

Alfred Dunhill’s flagship store (or ‘home’ as the brand likes to call it) is a former Georgian mansion in the heart of swanky Mayfair, which was previously the residence of the Duke of Westminster. The British luxury label has been dressing the most discerning gentlemen with their exquisitely crafted goods for over 100 years and everything from leather brogues to silk pocket squares are available over three spacious floors, alongside a bespoke tailoring room for custom-made garments. Not just an impeccable shopping experience however, the grade II listed building also doubles up as an exclusive members club with other on-site offerings including a marble-clad spa and an intimate, traditional barbers where men can treat themselves to a classic wet shave. The Cellar Bar meanwhile serves up a perfectly spicy Bloody Mary as well as providing the food for the charming courtyard restaurant. Plus, for film buffs bored of the generic multiplex experience, there’s a luxurious subterranean private cinema room, equipped with the finest visual and audio equipment from Meridian, which is available for hire. dunhill.co.uk

Bijan, Beverly Hills

bijan

Unashamedly billed as “the world’s most expensive store”, Bijan is an exclusive appointment-only boutique housed in an extravagant Mediterraneanstyle palazzo on Beverly Hills’ famous Rodeo Drive. Founded by Iranian designer Bijan Pakzad in 1976 (though now run by his business partner Dar Mahboubi since Pakzad’s passing in 2011), Bijan is predominantly a menswear store offering ‘one of one creations’ of the utmost opulence and finest quality (a coat made out of vicuña wool for example, the rarest and most expensive material in the world, for an eye-watering USD 15,000). The store counts the most powerful men of politics and fashion as clients, including Presidents Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin and designers Oscar de la Renta and Tom Ford. Alongside fashion, Bijan is also known for its perfume range (currently consisting of 14 unique scents for both men and women, all contained in elegant Baccarat crystal flaçons) and custom-designed accessories with past requests including bulletproof lined jackets, chinchilla bedspreads and, naturally, bespoke yacht and private jet accessories. The last and most lavish string to Bijan’s bow however is luxury supercars, born out of Pakzad’s personal passion for them, which has culminated in a series of limited edition and highly bespoke Rolls-Royce and Bugatti Veyron cars being designed exclusively for the store. bijan.com

Lane Crawford, Greater China

lanecrawford

Originally a provisions trading post for the navy in 1850, Lane Crawford is today a benchmark for innovation due to its retail concepts and design. Spearheading retail indulgence across the region since the 70s, the retail mogul brings the world’s most luxurious and coolest brands to Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, and soon to Chengdu. With more than 602,000 square feet of prime real estate across five stores in three of the world’s most expensive cities, Lane Crawford doesn’t have branded shopin- shops like many other department stores but instead whisks its Louboutin-clad customers across its meticulously curated displays – much like reading a magazine from cover to cover. Clean-cut, contemporary and sleek, the stores house menswear, women’s wear, beauty, homewear and even a dedicated music bar where patrons can order complimentary coffee while sampling the world’s newest tunes on iPods. Oh, and the next time you’re looking for that perfect gown or clutch, you might want to check in and ask for the collection that won’t be shown on the racks. lanecrawford.com

Roja Dove, Harrods, London

roja

Offering a welcome respite from the never-ending stream of mass-market fragrances, esteemed master perfumer Roja Dove (regarded as the ‘connoisseur’s connoisseur’) creates scents that are full of emotion, sophistication and ‘grounded in memories of love’. At the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie, nestled in a hard-tofind enclave of iconic department store Harrods, scent is regarded as powerfully evocative and incredibly personal. Customers seeking true fragrance fulfillment can embark upon a unique journey to ‘unlock their perfume personality’ in the intimate space which is lavishly decorated with mirrors and black lacquer furniture. If you don’t fancy the completely bespoke service however, elaborate crystal decanters containing pre-made Roja Dove fragrances are still created using the finest and rarest raw materials in the world including Jasmine de Grasse and Rose de Mai (both from the South of France and more expensive than a gold bullion). The store also offers Mr Dove’s own personal edit of the most luxurious fragrances from other renowned perfume houses including Guerlain and Clive Christian (the latter famous for producing the world’s most expensive perfume, the Clive Christian No. 1, the bottle of which was decorated with diamonds and cost a whopping £115,000). rojadove.com

Level Shoe District, Dubai Mall, Dubai

levelshoeDubai doesn’t often do things by halves so it’s no surprise that the cosmopolitan city boasts the world’s largest shoe store, within the world’s largest shopping centre. The Level Shoe District is 96,000 square feet dedicated purely to luxury footwear and is home to over 250 brands, of which, over 100 are exclusive to the region and 40 are stand-alone designer boutiques. To avoid overwhelming shoppers with such a vast shoe metropolis, the store is divided into four more digestible sections: Women’s Designer, Women’s Contemporary, Men’s and Trends, with each quarter designed with its own distinct aesthetic and ambience. Among Women’s Designer – a chic boudoir-esque space with gilt birdcages and a powder pink colour scheme – you’d be hard pushed to find an international designer brand missing with everything from Valentino and Louis Vuitton to Miu Miu and Alexander Wang elegantly displayed. Women’s Contemporary meanwhile features the more cutting edge, up-and-coming luxury designers like British exports Nicholas Kirkwood and Sophia Webster. Men have everything from Berluti to Oliver Sweeney at their fingertips as well as concept store The Cobbler, which is designed like a gentleman’s club and offers traditional shoe repair and a bespoke service workshop. On top of this, visitors who are exhausted after a hard day’s retail therapy can indulge in a treatment at the Sole Lounge by Margaret Dabbs (the renowned celebrity podiatrist’s only foot spa outside the UK) or treat themselves to high tea at the region’s first Vogue Café, which is decorated with iconic photography from the fashion magazine’s archives. levelshoedistrict.com

Hajenius, Amsterdam

hanj

Housed in a historic Art Deco building on Amsterdam’s Rokin boulevard since 1915 (though the company dates back to as early as 1826), the renowned House of Hajenius is widely regarded as one of Europe’s leading cigar houses. With the interior remaining virtually unchanged since Hajenius’ inception, cigar aficionados are greeted with a remarkable backdrop of fine Italian marble, oak panelling and colossal chandeliers that date back to a time when Amsterdam was still lit by gas, before so much as a whiff of a tobacco. Venture further in and the finest selection of cigars are available, from Hajenius’ own brand to an entire room dedicated to Havanas as well as cigars from Sumatra and Brazil, plus smoking accessories ranging from lighters and cigarette holders to handmade clay and ceramic pipes. In addition to the retail aspect, the grand building also houses an exceptional walk in humidor that features a richly decorated vaulted ceiling – the doors are activated by a key fob held by staff members who screen entrants – and regular cigar and whisky tasting evenings are held at the venue. hajenius.com

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Reading time: 10 min
An expert team of make-up artists and beauticians make every request happen

An expert team of make-up artists and beauticians make every request happen

Does make-up all look the same to you? Are you tired of telling your Revlon from your Lancôme? If that’s the case, you might want to pay a visit to a small boutique where every foundation or eye-shadow is bespoke, says Caroline Davies

Near the coffee shops and restaurants of Motcomb Street, in a quiet corner of London’s Knightsbridge, sits Cosmetics à la Carte, small and unobtrusive. Cream carpeted with soft furnishings, make-up displayed plainly on the small table in the centre, it has the reassuring feel of a store that has no need to shout; the people who know about it, know it well.

Cosmetics à La Carte began in 1973, founded by Christina Stewart and Lynne Sanders. The two originally met in the lab, working for Unilever Research and moved together to Yardley where they formulated Marks and Spencer’s first make-up range and various Vidal Sasson hair products. Bored of the mass production line, they left to start their own make-up revolution — tailor-made make-up. Need a lipstick to match your dress, an eye-shadow to suit your floral arrangements or a foundation that, well, matches you? Stewart and Sanders had the know-how to whip one up.

In the company’s laboratory in Battersea, two large white rooms are piled high with carefully marker-penned cardboard boxes, neatly sealed bags of multi-coloured powders and Bunsen burners. I find Sanders, dressed in a white lab coat, bent over the hob. It isn’t a hob of course, but to my untrained eye, this is the closest I can come to describing the black heated pad where she is carefully melting a blood red waxy chunk.

In her 60s, the founder still works in the lab

In her 60s, the founder still works in the lab

Now the sole proprietor since Stewart retired in 2009, Sanders is still in the laboratory although she is in her 60s. Her lab coat flaps around her neat skirt as she swirls across the room and I am surprised to notice only a touch of makeup, a slight line of carefully applied blue eyeliner over her wide eyes. She greets me with a broad smile and a brisk, perfect Received Pronounciation ‘hello’ before energetically enlightening me on the contents of the bottles on her worktop. She is currently melting me a lipstick, a mixture of ‘Santa’ (“we used to call it ‘blood’ but that proved an unpopular name”) and ‘Tulip’, combined together to make the colour of a red hat I brought into the shop a few days before. My eyes wander along the surface to the small glass beakers, filled with varying shades of beige to brown liquid and marked in black pen with household names; foundations in progress for famous faces.

“She requires a thick layer to cover the marks on her skin,” says Sanders, pointing to one such pot. “You would never know though.” She is right, you wouldn’t.

Cosmetics à La Carte did not meet with immediate success. When the revolution proved rather slow to pick up, Stewart and Sanders found themselves without much income and without a team. Undeterred, Sanders found a job in a wine bar to pay for the bills and keep the business afloat.

“Can you imagine?” she says. “Well, it all seemed rather jolly at the time.”

Bizarrely, it does sound it, although perhaps because Sanders’ bright, matter-of-fact manner, not dissimilar to a retired old-school Montessori teacher, means most things sound enjoyable. The grand tour continues into the other laboratory where she pops open tubs of brightly coloured pastes and gels, rubbing them on the back of her hand to show the colour and the consistency before explaining the science. She speaks about polymers with much the same interest and passion as a new parent talks about their child. Jumping from science to backstage anecdotes at fashion week and film sets, Sanders’ enthusiasm for her profession is infectious if occasionally over my head.

Cosmetics à La Carte’s luck started to change and gradually the pair began to gain recognition. Make-up artists hunting for an exact historical shade, ravaged screen sirens looking to replicate the dewy complexion of their youth, trendsetters pushing beyond the palette; the drip feed of visitors to the little shop grew. Sanders still remembers the late afternoon in the 80s when Princess Diana dropped by.

“She wanted a nude lipstick, a very particular colour that would suit her,” she says. “We tried out a few selections, made them up and put it together. We still sell her shade today.”

Picking up on the popularity of bespoke make-up, other companies began to try to mimic Cosmetic à La Carte’s model, but none of the large make-up brands have sustained it. The company’s size has fuelled its success — small, but precise.

While most tailored services rely on remixing pre-existing colours, chopping a little more crimson with peach to roughly suit, Cosmetics à La Carte goes a step further. Arrive in store with the remnants of an old lipstick, blusher, foundation or eye powder and they will remake it, from scratch, to suit. Allergies, sensitive skin, thicker consistency; they can accommodate it. Perhaps this is why they are such a success with pedantic period dramas; I am told the Downton Abbey girls adore it.

As she rummages into another corner, Sanders suddenly stops. A look of horror creeps across her face and with a small gasp, she runs from the room. “Oh no, no, stupid.” Bemused, I follow to find her sighing over the hob.

“Singed. That was not the shade we were going for.”

Apparently, the bloody red wax has now gone past the point of return. She throws it away with an air of sadness. Despite spending over 40 years in the laboratory, Sanders’ attachment to her work and her creations is touching. I watch her carefully dissect the wax again, keeping a suspicious eye on it as it melts into a dark red liquid. She pours it into a mould, cuts it out and fastens it into a gleaming new case, complete with a hand written label.

“I’ll keep this with the others,” Sanders says, slicing away a small section of the remainder of the lipstick still in the mould and sealing it in a bag marked with my name. “For when you come back.”

She opens a drawer under the cabinet and I glimpse a host of names and titles that would rival a royal wedding party guest list, all written in the same handwriting with fresh waxy off-cuts. It seems I’m not the only one expected to return to the little cream shop in Knightsbridge.

alacartelondon.com

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Reading time: 5 min

By Jessica Bowen

For full style marks this summer have the courage to go bold with super-bright colours and clashing prints

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Reading time: 1 min
The century old White Chapel Gallery is still a Mecca of contemporary art

The century old White Chapel Gallery is still a Mecca of contemporary art

 

Mayfair is so 2012. The future of London retail, art, cuisine, and trends, is east, on the grimy streets of Shoreditch, Hoxton and beyond. Kitty Valentina Harris selects her favourite boutiques and also quizzes John Skelton, founder of cult Dalston fashion store Late Night Chameleon Café, on the secrets of his success

 

Nelly Duff

‘Not on your Nelly!’ Even the name, rhyming slang for life, oozes cool and conjures intrigue like the treasure chest that the gallery is. Located in a small pocket of East London, Nelly Duff was brought into the world by Jessie Dyer and Cassius Colman to serve a purpose. Its calling: ‘to exhibit emerging and explosive talent.’ They buy the artwork that evokes an emotional response and pieces ‘that will feather the nest that is their home’. The lino-cut work of Baltimore’s social muralist Gaia and Obama’s favourite Ben Eine are a few gems cloistered in this truly original and precious artistic hub. nellyduff.com

I Boundary, where London and Paris fashions meet

I Boundary, where London and Paris fashions meet

11 Boundary

Born and bred in East London, Debra Winstanley dreamed of owning her own boutique. Spotting a niche in the market for a womenswear store, 11 Boundary is now ‘a chic London boutique with a Parisian edge.’ Filled with diverse and exciting labels, the store is refreshing to wander around in. When she buys she goes for ‘versatile pieces that are wardrobe staples.’ Her perfect customer would be Keira Knightley or Sienna Miller as she already stocks lots of the labels they wear. Labels range from Tom Ford sunnies to American Vintage. 11boundary.com

 

Tatty Devine is all about fun to wear, original design jewellery

Tatty Devine is all about fun to wear, original design jewellery

Tatty Devine

In 1999 after graduating from Chelsea School of Art, Harriet Vine and Rosie Wolfenden came across a bin liner of discarded leather and decided to create their own cuffs to sell on a market. Now their shop in Brick Lane is ‘fun, original and all about jewellery.’ They look for pieces that are different and that excite them and ‘more importantly things they want to own.’ Currently they are focusing on Tatty Devine’s own collection. In celebration they throw a party in traditional Holi Style from which everyone emerges covered head-to-toe in powder paint. tattydevine.com

 

Present, from retro to the latest in men’s fashion

Present, from retro to the latest in men’s fashion

Present

 On entrance Gwilym, the world barista champion, is there to hand-pull you an espresso and while you wait one can flick through an issue of Monocle or take in the fantastical, fanciful smells of their candles such as one titled ‘Mars’. Further into the store the walls are adorned with one off items collated from around the world. The sophisticated and fun shopping arena houses both international and British brands such as Bass Weejuna leather shoes and Hartford clothing. Founders of the new age store, Steve Davies and Eddie Prendergast, balance their stock with both established and niche brands. It captures oldschool retro with new school swarve bringing men’s fashion into the present. present-london.com

 

Start Store is the latest edition to Start’s growing empire

Start Store is the latest edition to Start’s growing empire

Start

Where to begin? One has to choose where they wish to start; in the newest addition to Mrs Brix and Mr Philip Start’s: Mr Start’s store empire, in the Suits Store, in Start for women, or in Start for men across the street. Start cherry picks their buys with items from designers such as Helmut Lang and Rick Owens, and if you are puzzled how to piece them together, don’t panic! All the staff are trained stylists. Coming in July is the Mr Start Woman AW13 range; expect structured slim fit trousers with soft, plush jumpers and elegant overcoats. The bonus of a visit to the shop is meeting the fashion famous Gladys and Pixie. These are Brix’s (who was a guitarist and lead singer respectively in post-punk cult bands The Fall and The Adult Net) precious pugs that were the faces of the Christmas scarf last year. start-london.com

 

A Child of The Jago

Expect the unexpected is generally a good mindset to approach this store with. Founded in 2007 by Joseph Corre and Simon ‘Barnzley’ Armitage (who has now left for Peru) it resides in a former Victorian slum and is described as ‘a child of the street. The destitute and illegitimate progeny of a hopelessly rundown environment.’ ACJ seeks to cause trouble while it interrupts the status quo of menswear with high quality garments ruling over pre-packaged trends. Made in Britain, in nearby Clerkenwell, these pieces are limited and unique as they are dependent upon the length of the different British fabrics they source. achildofthejago.co.uk

The Tunnel at LN-CC

The Tunnel at LN-CC

MEETING THE CHAMELEON

A hybrid of creativity and determination that is rapidly becoming a global discovery icon, Late Night Chameleon Café is an evolutionary anomaly in the retail biosphere. Its arena is the up and very becoming Dalston and its camouflage is a cave like structure in what appears to be a derelict building. The benefit of such a misleading exterior: one is transported to another realm of outspoken luxury. LN-CC’s cofounder John Skelton became Selfridges’ youngest buying team member at age 20 before moving to Harrods two years later. Now as LNCCs Creative Director, Skelton takes a birds eye view and hands-on approach to styling shoots, market perception and brand direction. LN-CC.com

Where does the name Late Night Chameleon Café come from?

John Skelton: LN-CC stands for late night chameleon café. The name comes from a variety of places, and is kind of tongue-in-cheek but at the same time is a true reflection of how we came about and what we are about also. The idea of LNCC was born over many late nights, mostly music related and just coming up with ideas in the early hours and developing them through the very early hours over the course of years I guess. I like the idea that a chameleon is constantly changing and is such an interesting creature and we had always planned to have a library, a club, and a café so it just stuck. It just felt right, and it still does.

Why did you choose Dalston for LN-CC’s home?

J.S: Dalston is a place where most of us were living or have lived over the past 8 years, and when we decided to launch LN-CC it was a very natural choice. Even though there was nothing around here three years ago when we secured our space, we knew the area was ready for something like LNCC. In the last year the area has exploded with new stores, bars, galleries and restaurants opening up weekly. Initially people told us an appointment only space carrying some of the most expensive products in the planet would never work in a run down area like Dalston. We believed in it and it’s been an incredible ride.

Now revamped how would you describe the vibe at the hub that is LN-CC? J.S: I think the beauty of LN-CC is the simplicity of what we are doing. Yeah, sure our store may be seen as a concept store however I don’t believe what we do to be overly conceptual, or conceptual at all for that matter. I’ve spoken about this with Dan (Mitchell) the other half of the creative here at LN-CC and our concept essentially is to put all the things we love whether it be clothing, music, books etc in an environment that is interesting to us. That is quite simply our concept. The good thing about us is that we get bored very easily so were always looking to progress, create, re-create and keep moving the project forward from all angles as to keep ourselves interested. The vision is quite simply that, to excite ourselves, as if we can do that then you will excite and interest others also.

How has your original vision changed over time?

J.S: I don’t think the vision has ever changed, we have just evolved and moved things in the direction that feels right at as we develop. Our main aim is to keep pushing things forward and keeping everything we do on the front foot as to push not just our concept forward but retail in general.

LN-CC’s Light Room

LN-CC’s Light Room

With LN-CC in mind and on a broader scale where do you see the future of retail going?

J.S: Retail is quite simply in the hands of retailers and it can go anywhere they want to push it. At the moment it is very easy to make an impact and do something new and interesting as the mass majority of retailers’ offerings are so safe that there is a lot of room and scope for development in the sector.

Which designers do you see leading the way?

J.S: It’s hard to say really. The future of retail is about carving your own niche, a world for people to come and get inside. The formula for that is to put your own selection of brands together in a way that is personal to you and then to develop the customer base as you grow. This therefore means that you will benefit from doing something different as opposed to just selling the hot brands of the moment.

Which designers do you currently carry and can you tell us a little bit about them?

J.S: In terms of brands that I think are in a good stage of development and will become more relevant for the future, I think Yang Li is currently leading the pack. For a new designer his production and fabric choice is second to none and has a very strong idea of where his brand is going. I also have to say that I think JW Anderson’s womenswear is developing into a really strong brand and will be a force to be reckoned with going forward.

Bottle Apostle, one of the city’s finest independent wine shops

Bottle Apostle, one of the city’s finest independent wine shops

JOHN SKELTON’S SELECTION OF MUST SEES IN DALSTON

Trangallan

This restaurant has been set up by 2 young (very nice) Spanish couples who have a real love of food/wine/culture. The food is delicious, very interesting yet refined Spanish cuisine, and the wine list is great also. It obviously has a great selection of Spanish wines; a lot of them on the front foot but offers the best of the French and Italian staples also. In the basement they have a space that they use for more cultural events and have done all kinds of things from independent film screenings, offbeat music projects, etc, etc. trangallan.com

 Trullo

Restaurant For those who know the area and are into food then they will obviously know about this place, but if you don’t, then you should go. You’ll need to book a few weeks before. The food is (in my opinion) the best Italian food you will eat in east London and as a full package is amazing. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, the atmosphere is relaxed and very comfortable (ask if you can have a table upstairs; downstairs feels a bit like sitting on a dancefloor full of tables as the lighting isn’t quite right) and the wine list is diverse, extremely well considered and not crazy expensive. They do however have a specials wine board which has more expensive and really good staples and experimentals. trullorestaurant.com

 Bottle Apostle

This wine store in Victoria Park is a great little independent. It covers everything from the best of the Italian and French (which it does extremely well) but also has some very interesting Portuguese, Swiss, Hungarian and many more that are very well edited and curated. They also have supper clubs downstairs with guest chefs and wine pairings which are really good also. bottleapostle.com

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Reading time: 10 min
Giorgio Sermonetta

Giorgio Sermonetta

GIORGIO SERMONETA RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WORLD’S MOST DIVINE GLOVES, IN EVERY CONCEIVABLE HUE. Caroline Davies TRAVELS TO ROME FOR AN AUDIENCE WITH THE WORLD’S SUPREME GANTIER

When I arrive in Giorgio Sermoneta’s flagship store in Rome, things get off to a slightly unnerving start. Squeezing into the multi-coloured glove store – floor to ceiling of outstretched elegant hands, greens, yellows, browns and blacks, studs and bows, cut-outs and ruffles – I muscle my way over to what Google images had promised me must be Sermoneta. Bright blue eyes, square figure, neatly cut white hair and a serious mouth. I tap him on the shoulder.

“Mr Sermoneta?”

He looks blank.

“Me? I don’t work here. You’ll have to ask someone over there. I’m just browsing.”

There is an awkward pause as I hurriedly scan the room. The serious mouth twitches then beams and the blue eyes crinkle. “I got you then!”

Before I have time to force a relieved laugh, he says we are heading off for lunch. I follow, past the browsing crowds into the glaring sunshine. Sermoneta’s first glove shop could hardly be in a more perfect location. In the shadow of the Spanish steps, its rainbow colours and glowing reputation attracts passers by and those in the know. While the

tourists marvel at the sheer number of ways you can decorate a hand, connoisseurs march to the front desk for the owner’s advice. Wise decision. Were it not for a helping (well-dressed) hand, you could easily spend hours hypnotically running through the options. Some wide-eyed, open-mouthed wanderers in the corner look like they might have done just that. Carefully crafted, beautifully dyed and exquisitely designed, Sermoneta gloves have graced some of the most influential hands in business, fashion, music, film and politics. Without knowing it, you have watched them seduce and enrapture, part a crowd and denounce dictators. With that sort of power, you had better pick the right pair.

And if you were looking for a guide to gloves, you would be hard pressed to find one more knowledgeable or experienced than Giorgio Sermoneta. He first established his glove business in 1964 after he left the army at the age of 21. Keen to make his own mark away from the family business, he adopted the idea of glove making from his 17-year-old girlfriend’s family, now his wife. With little experience in business or gloves, Sermoneta relied on his wits and wide-eyed creativity to pull him through.

Carefully crafted, beautifully dyed and exquisitely designed

Carefully crafted, beautifully dyed and exquisitely designed

“When I started, I knew nothing about gloves. I was surrounded by monsters in the business,” he says. “Big names. It was like a comedian between mummies. They were old, dedicating their gloves to blue blood; they had only black and brown leather. We wanted to bring something new.”

It isn’t particularly difficult to imagine Sermoneta as the only one refusing to take glovemaking quite so seriously. We take our seats on a busy side street tucked moments from the Piazza di Spagna, but no sooner have we sat down then Sermoneta is up, greeting friends who pass by in streaming Italian, always ending with a husky laugh and a teasing joke as he waves them on.  Unfortunately, to start with, Italy didn’t seem to like his sense of humour.

“At the beginning it was very, very, very, very difficult,” he says, fixing me with a serious stare, emphasising each “very” with a soft bang on the table. “Then I started to find a new way to do business.”

Before I can venture a guess, Semoneta continues.“Tourists!” he says, triumphantly. “They want to buy gifts for their family, maybe five, 10 people to make happy, but they do not have much space in their suitcase. Gloves are very easy, very easy to carry. People started saying to people ‘Go to Sermoneta.”’And this is how I started.”

Trade picked up rapidly.

“I remember the time we didn’t even go to lunch. Starting from 9 o’clock in the morning to 8 o’clock in the evening,” he says of the early days. “No lunch.”

The waiter approaches our table with a hefty maroon coloured menu. Sermoneta waves it away and orders several plates of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil and a mysterious local dish of spaghetti and pancetta, mixed in front of your eyes in a hollowed out bowl of hard parmesan.“

Do you like cheese?” He asks. I nod. He gives me an approving smile.

In his time, Sermoneta has seen many stores come and go. What is the secret to his success?

“Nobody is perfect,” he says. “Something could happen to a Mercedes, a 777 plane, anything, so we give a guarantee. Even from Rome, Japan,  Australia and we still do it. We always put our customer first.”

It probably helps that Sermoneta is an outstanding salesman. Watching him at work is a marvel. As smooth as his leather, he glances at each hand, perhaps gives one a small squeeze then burrows into the rolls of gloves tucked in the shelves behind him, barking ‘what length?’ over his shoulder. Finger gloves to elbow length, embellished or classic; with a no nonsense, experienced tone, he will cut down your options, flicking through the layers of leather hands as though they were pages of a notebook.

“The first pair of gloves you have should be black, because you can do so many things. You can go to a party, an opera, they go with everything, even if you don’t like black,” He says. “Then you can progress.”

And goodness, is there room for progress. The sheer variety is impressive. I ask Sermoneta where his ideas come from.

“Sometimes I wake up in the night, make a little sketch and go back to sleep,” he says. “I came up with the idea of the iPhone touch glove which everyone is copying. This year, I’m doing denim.”

You can see how a love for gloves can become an easy habit to slip into. Some visitors return so regularly that they become friends. When she was U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright once diverted her cavalcade simply so she could pop by to say hello.

“I was in my store in New York,” he says. “There was one lady trying on gloves while her friend smoked a cigar outside the window. I came out and started talking to her. ‘Do you like gloves?’ I asked. ‘I have a pair of gloves my father left me 30 years ago. They are so worn. No one in the world can make these gloves.’ I asked to see them and she pulled out a pair of beautiful chicory yellow gloves, so used and damaged they looked like they should be in a museum. ‘It is easy. I will make them for you, but I don’t want to be paid. Give me your name and address and I will deliver them’ ‘Annie Leibovitz.’ I didn’t realise who she was. She was so happy though.”

The most beautiful gloves you'll own

The most beautiful gloves you’ll own

Despite the variety of celebrated hands that now boast Sermoneta’s gloves, he realises that gloves are not for everyone.

“If they don’t match your personality or your dress, it is better not to wear them at all,” he says. “It is like having chocolate on a pizza. Disgusting. When you see certain people who have matched their gloves correctly you can say ‘There is a gentleman with a capital G.’”

We stroll out onto the afternoon sunset streets of Rome, Sermoneta chatting to tourists – even once bursting into Japanese – waving at shop keepers, punching the arm of a passing leather goods man.

“Now you have had a long day, I think you must have an ice-cream.” He does not, however, have gloves designed specifically for ice-cream consumption. Yet.

sermonetagloves.com

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Reading time: 6 min

RECENT WINNER OF SINGAPORE’S URA ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE AWARDS, SPACE FURNITURE’S NEW HOME JOINS TWO HISTORIC BUILDINGS WITH A MODERN GLASS STRUCTURE TO FORM A 40,000 SQ FT MULTIPLEX THAT IS A TRIUMPH OF DESIGN. LEAD ARCHITECT Chan Ee Mun, SENIOR ASSOCIATE OF WOHA, WALKS US THROUGH THE PROJECT

We’d known about these buildings ever since they received Heritage status and I d admired them from the outside but had never been inside. The space was stifling, dark and closed. The previous owners had it very compartmentalized in order to maximize on rental. It was not at all compatible with SPACE.  From the onset we decided that we wanted to recapture the charm of the original building with as much authenticity as possible. At the same time we needed to create a voluminous interior. We also had to take into account the fact that the neighbouring buildings were at least 12 stories tall so we had to find a way to make the building stand out in its own way and, of course we had to do so within the confines of some very strict zoning laws that mandate how we could use the space.

Whenever you work with an existing structure you have to deal with the constraints of the building as well as with your budget constraints. Demolition is expensive and there are obvious disadvantages. It was our job to enhance rather than rebuild. One of the problems we faced was that there was not enough height between the floors. To make this work for SPACE we needed much higher ceilings, so we had to reconfigure the floors without interrupting the original structure too much.

Even the glass building in the centre of the project is built over the original building. We had to readjust and strip the internal floor plates and relocate them to new floors. It was a complex procedure. It also had to look right since the internal structure would be exposed by the use of glass.

The fact that it’s a sales site means that there are very specific requirements. The main challenge was designing the middle unit because although modern it had to get along with its neighbours, the two older buildings. We wanted to expose the showroom/furniture and we were trying to figure out how to best accomplish that. The law at the time stated that if a building had Conservation status then the exteriors must not be altered. We had to work with the authorities to change that rule to allow us to give it a more modern and urban look.  Inside, we needed to find the best way to design a showroom that would work well with lots of different brands, many of which are in competition with each other. They needed to be separate but at the same time there has to be a connection between them all. SPACE carried 13 major brands and each had a different design philosophy. In the end it was SPACE that determined the location of each brand and how much floor space to allocate to each and it was our job to make that possible.

SPACE was very adamant about creating an experience for their clients. They were very particular about the lighting and for the music they installed a Bang & Olufsen sound system. To complete the picture, they even customized their own scent for The . Every detail was taken into consideration to enhance the shopping experience in a homely setting, so that the customer can understand the pieces and the environment.

spacefurniture.com.sg

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Reading time: 3 min

Chinese jewellery designer Dickson Yewn combines contemporary chic with rich historical references – and is a favourite of Michelle Obama. Karys Webber meets him

jewel-1 “It’s akin to asking if one likes a pretty girl with no soul”, says Hong Kong-based jewellery designer, Dickson Yewn, in response to my asking about the importance of symbolism in his designs. “It wouldn’t be a piece of Chinese jewellery if it doesn’t represent something auspicious, important designs need to have a story and I have plenty of untold stories.” Jewellery that is designed simply to be pretty to look at, this is evidently not. And it’s really rather refreshing. Each of Yewn’s unique and exquisitely designed pieces aim to tell a story, his collections are lessons in Chinese history and culture, told via the medium of jewellery.

jewel-3Born and bred in Hong Kong, Yewn started drawing when he was just nine; “since then I haven’t stopped learning about art nor seeking beautiful things,” he claims. His fascination with all things oriental also took a hold of him in his early years. “I was top of my class in Chinese history and literature,” says Yewn, “What’s more, I was in a Catholic school where only two subjects were taught in Chinese, the rest were in English, so Chinese became something of a rare gem to me.”

Despite this, Yewn went on to study elsewhere, in Vancouver first, then Ottawa, and ended up in Paris at the Sorbonne studying French literature and civilisation. Once his studies were completed, Yewn first channelled his creativity into the world of film and advertising; “I’ve always had a burning desire to express myself in some sort of medium, as a teen, film was my first love.” But after four years, it was his self-confessed “poor verbal communication” that prompted a change in direction. “Film and advertising demanded a lot of communication, so I withdrew to something more personal, some form of expression that didn’t require me to work with others. I picked jewellery design and fine arts.” With that, Yewn went off to study again, this time in New York, at the Fashion Institute of Technology where he completed two courses to master the art of jewellery design. By 2000, Yewn’s conceptual jewellery store, Life of Circle, had opened in Hong Kong’s trendy Tsim Sha Tsui district and swiftly acquired a dedicated and elite clientele.

Yewn gained the ultimate seal of approval from the first lady herself, Michelle Obama


Since then, Yewn has gone on to receive impressive worldwide acclaim – Life of Circle was named one of the top 25 stores in the world by Forbes magazine in 2005 (alongside fashion forces, Hermés, Manolo Blahnik and Ralph Lauren) and a collaboration with Sotheby’s in 2008 saw Yewn’s jadeite, diamond and melo pearl (extremely rare due to its vibrant, apricot orange hue) collection sell for a whopping HKD$5.32 million at auction.

jewel-2

More recently, Yewn gained the ultimate seal of approval from the First Lady herself, Michelle Obama, when she wore his Jadeite Diamond Wish Fulfilling Lattice Ring to a high profile dinner at Buckingham Palace in honour of the British Royal Family. “I didn’t know about it until a month after the event” Yewn declares, “a Danish jeweller congratulated me at a trade show and showed me a gossip magazine of her wearing it. I found out later that she bought it at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.” Despite not being one for celebrity endorsements, Yewn admits that he was thrilled; “to have Michelle Obama wear my creation at such a major event is definitely an important milestone and an influential one, given that she is probably the most powerful woman any woman could aspire to be.”

Still drawing inspiration from the rich culture of the Orient, Yewn’s recent Imperial Cage collection portrays the ancient craftsmanship of bird cage making and China’s long-standing tradition of breeding birds for display, a symbol of wealth, social status and power. Yewn’s homage to this ritual incorporates black and white diamonds to depict a birdcage and traditional Chinese flowers, chrysanthemum and plum blossom. The equally stunning Fragrance Locket collection tells the story of the fragrance pouch, stuffed with aromatic herbs and worn around the neck in ancient China, thought to ward off evil and bring good fortune.

yewn.com

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Reading time: 3 min
A 16th century palazzo in central Genoa is home to Via Garibaldi 12

A 16th century palazzo in central Genoa is home to Via Garibaldi 12

Interior design and homewares are undergoing a boom to parallel the explosion in the art market. Karys Webber seeks out some of Europe’s coolest places to accessorise your living space

Objeto de Deseo. Barcelona

Objeto de Deseo, rather more of a gallery than a shop, stocks an eclectic mix of ornamental vintage and contemporary objects from both big name designers and anonymous artists around the world, most of which are exclusive to the store. Unusual items in glass, ceramic, wood, metal and clay range from the traditional looking to the exotic and often just utterly bizarre; a porcelain beaver skull complete with gold-coated teeth an example of the latter.
objetodedeseo.es

Objeto de Deseo, Barcelona

Objeto de Deseo, Barcelona

Via Garibaldi 12. Genoa

Via Garibaldi 12 is a family run emporium housed in a grand 16th century palazzo in central Genoa. Often mistaken for a museum, customers ascend the marble staircase to explore the eight impressive rooms, two of which have frescoed ceilings depicting scenes from the Punic Wars. Despite the building’s rich history, Via Garibaldi 12 displays an array of modern furniture and home accessories from the store’s own label, B Home Interiors, other established names and up-and-coming designers. The store, which recently celebrated its 10th birthday, has become a must visit for international industry professionals who attend the annual Salone del Mobile in nearby Milan.
viagaribaldi12.com

Via Garibaldi 12 features pieces from its own label B Home Interiors

Via Garibaldi 12 features pieces from its own label B Home Interiors

Via Garibaldi 12

Via Garibaldi 12

Ben Pentreath. London

Architect and interior designer Ben Pentreath opened his modest shop nestled in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury in 2008 and, alongside store manager Bridie Hall, has crammed it with delectable treasures for the home sourced from all over the world. Claiming they only stock products they themselves like, their exquisite taste has ensured a shop full of new and antique items that you won’t find elsewhere. Standout pieces include glass plates by John Derian, linen tablecloths and tea towels by Les Toiles de Soleil and limited edition illustrations by Glynn Boyd-Hart.
benpentreath.com

New and antique pieces at Ben Pentreath

New and antique pieces at Ben Pentreath

Ben Pentreath, Bloomsbury, London

Ben Pentreath, Bloomsbury, London

Normann Copenhagen. Copenhagen

Wander around Norman Copenhagen’s vast flagship store, once home to a theatre, and the most mundane household item seems like a work of art. The 1700 square metre space is filled with quirky products that challenge traditional design; tilted cognac glasses that gently rotate around a point and twisted ‘swing’ vases (each one unique) in which it would be impossible to put flowers in, are just a couple of the unusual items you can pick up from here.
normann-copenhagen.com

Normann Copenhagen’s 1700 sq metres of design

Normann Copenhagen’s 1700 sq metres of design

Normann Copenhagen

Normann Copenhagen

Moooi. Amsterdam

Moooi’s flagship store in Amsterdam is a weird and wonderful space full of innovative furniture, lighting and home accessories arranged in Dali-esque displays. Alongside the store’s own range, designed by co-founder Marcel Wanders, and other established designers such as Jasper Morrison and Ross Lovegrove, Moooi is credited with giving up and coming designers their big break. Relative unknowns Front were catapulted into the limelight when Moooi stocked their somewhat surreal matt black lamp in the form of a life size horse.
moooi.com

Moooi’s flagship store in Amsterdam

Moooi’s flagship store in Amsterdam

Dali-esque displays at Moooi

Dali-esque displays at Moooi

Il Valore Aggiunto. Milan

Set back from the street, the treasure trove that is Il Valore Aggiunto, project of sisters Elena and Patrizia Sterzi, is not easy to find but is well worth the effort. A loft space that opens out into a picturesque courtyard; the duo have amassed a vast selection of decorative furniture, frames, mirrors and chandeliers with elaborate Italian flair plus period pieces ranging from the 1700s to the 1970s.
ilvaloreaggiunto.it

Il Valore Aggiunto, Milan

Il Valore Aggiunto, Milan

Graanmarkt13. Antwerp

This unusual boutique in a residential neighbourhood in Antwerp houses founders Ilse Cornelissens and Tim Van Geloven in the top floor of their stately renovated row house whilst the remaining three floors they have thrown open to the public. The result is an intimate and warm shopping experience filled with a carefullly selected range of home accessories and fashion from cutting edge designers. The location also boasts an exhibition space, restaurant and outdoor terrace café where shoppers can relax with a glass of champagne.
graanmarkt13.be

Graanmarkt13, Antwerp

Graanmarkt13, Antwerp

Graanmarkt13

Graanmarkt13

Mint. London

Mint, based in central London, is an interior designer’s dream. Avant-garde furniture and home accessories are hand picked by owner Lina Kanafani, who champions emerging talent, often commissioning design graduates for one-off and limited edition pieces for the store, which is laid out in the context of a real living space. Hand crafted ‘bark bowls’ carved from reclaimed trees which are dried for a number of months before applying a bright lacquered interior, are just one of Mint’s unique offerings.
mintshop.co.uk

Mint, London

Mint, London

Hay. Copenhagen

For effortless style and the best of contemporary Danish design look no further than Hay on Copenhagen’s bustling Østergade. Clean lines and bold colours make up the desirable furniture from the likes of Louise Campbell and Jakob Wagner plus a fantastic selection of rugs range from the fun, multi-coloured ‘Pinocchio’ rug to some well chosen vintage boucherouites. Chic stationery sets and beautiful children’s toys are also on offer.
hay.dk

Iconic Danish design at Hay, Copenhagen

Iconic Danish design at Hay, Copenhagen

Svenskt Tenn. Stockholm

Established in 1924, Svenskt Tenn has a long history but a recent refurbishment has seen the store almost doubled in size and given a new lease of life. The perfect place to see the newest trends in iconic Scandinivian design, the store has an array of colourful and contemporary pieces plus an extensive fabric and textiles selection. The newly revamped store even has a charming tearoom offering a selection of teas specially customised for the store and served in teacups by Florentine porcelain maker Ginori.
svenskttenn.se

Scandinavian design Mecca, Svenskt Tenn

Scandinavian design Mecca, Svenskt Tenn

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Reading time: 5 min