A 1940’s Mexico City home, (now a B&B) has design influences from Los Angeles & Europe

When I travel I often feel as though I’m a character in a play. A play that’s been going on for decades. It’s a kind of theater. What do I mean by this? When I go into a new city, a new hotel, it’s like entering a story that’s always being told— and now I get to be a character in it. I believe it plays a part in why those of us who love travel become addicted to it. It’s liberating to feel someone else’s life; see the objects and collections others have lived with; even if it’s only fantasy. I want to immerse myself in someone’s history. Living, even for a few days In the houses of others, and to let our own story mesh with one that already exists— and is constantly evolving- is exciting.

The Dean Hotel. Providence gets it’s own (Williamsburg) chic.

A Designer Previews tip: If you want to be where it’s happening, on Thursday night, this week, head to official opening of The Dean Hotel in Providence RI. (tell them I gave you my invitation)!

It felt like the coldest day of the year when, last month, I paid a visit to Providence’s newest hotel.  Located in the “Downcity”  neighborhood that’s really the historic heart of downtown. There you’ll find narrow streets lined with a cohesive ensemble of 18th- and 19th-century neo-Classical-style and Italianate mercantile buildings, made of brick and limestone. I remembered how their stature and elegance is what had always impressed me about Downcity.  In fact I wrote about the area in the New York Times a few years ago: Providence Sees Its Future Around the Corner.

That’s when I first met Ari Heckman. He was raised in Providence, influenced by an architect grandfather, and  now he, along with Jonathan Minkoff, are co-owners of Brooklyn based ASH NYC,  Will Cooper is the creative director.  They too recognize that Downcity is an urban gem; very worth preserving, and investing in. When they found the right property, a 1912 brick building, he knew ASH could create their version of New York chic there. And they really have done it. The look of The Dean is the perfect balance of mid-century meets industrial design, mixed with the patina of chic Belgian antiques, along with luxe comfort–that even  hipsters in Williamsburg crave. And yes, that IS a compliment.

ASH NYC is all about merging the worlds of interior design and property development. They also design furniture and lighting, source antiques from around the world, and bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the hospitality model. Essentially they’re major players in the Zeitgeist.

The five story property where The Dean is located is near Brown and RISD, close to the multitude of cultural organizations associated with such prestigious universities. ASH NYC saw that the building— a former brothel and one time vaudeville theater—was in sad shape, but still had elements to love: Distinctive original details, a mosaic tile floor in the lobby as well as a coffered ceiling, with a stately brick façade. They then imbued it with some extra style (and new structure-it was totally gutted)  that was sorely needed: Gorgeous new windows, (my room had about 8 along one wall!) There are cool new bathrooms, old style doors with thick trim, all painted a rich black — so right against the crisp white of the walls and fabulous sheets and duvet. Heckman speaks to the detail oriented method of ASH; even finding the right bed linens was important, he agrees, (as do I) “the sheets at The Dean are epic.”

Each room is unique, but all feature a fresh take on comfort and simplicity. ASH gave the hotel a timeless design that feels European— that thoughtful mix of ancient and modern that one finds in great hotels in Italy or Greece. Few of the 52 rooms or suites are alike – all include vintage and custom-designed furniture pieces and really interesting industrial style lighting made of  unlacquered brass and cold rolled steel. Their design was inspired  by the manufacturing past of Providence,  at the beginning of the 20th Century. “Updating the look of industrial steel with a more polished material like brass presented a nice juxtaposition, as well as modernizing the lines of industrial lighting, and keeping the silhouettes simple and functional,” explained Will Cooper, who designed them. The fixtures were manufactured  in Vermont by a company that has been working with metal and lighting for the last 50 years.

In fact, “everything was made within 200-miles of the hotel, every sofa, all the desks, lighting,” explains Heckman. And with a nod to the artistic vibe of Providence, there is unexpected artwork;  each room is bestowed with an oil painted portrait.

Of course there’s a great coffee bar in the lobby of The Dean from local roaster Bolt Coffee.  The Boombox is a private karaoke bar; but whatever you do make sure to have a cocktail in The Magdalenae Room.

www.thedeanhotel.com 122 Fountain Street Providence RI 401-455 DEAN

ASIA WEEK NYC: Rare opportunity to see the private collection of artist and designer Robert Kuo

                                                                          

            “I collect everything because I appreciate the craftsmanship, the beauty and also the feeling a piece has.”             Robert Kuo

To witness the private collection of an artist is always a treat, and this week, New Yorkers will be able to see the collection of the Los Angeles based, Chinese artist and designer Robert Kuo. During Asia Week, and until April 3, 2015, Kuo has decide to share, and sell, pieces from his personal collection. On exhibit at his SoHo showroom are pieces he has collected over a period of thirty-five years.

Robert Kuo, who has had a long and notable career, has honed a distinctive artistic vision, one that uniquely merges ancient Chinese tradition with a fresh approach that imbues his work with a singular aesthetic. Kuo is world renowned for revitalizing and incorporating the ancient techniques of repousse* and cloisonné** into modern forms.

*Repoussé is a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief.

**Cloisonné is decorative enamelwork in which metal filaments are fused to the surface of an object to outline a design that is filled in with enamel paste.

                  “I learned how to authenticate because I see so much. Go to the museums and study the history. I also know the techniques/crafts and so I know the mechanics of their capabilities.”     

When Kuo opened his LA showroom 30- years ago he found that many of his clients gravitated towards the raw, copper forms of the earlier stages of his cloisonné pieces. Inspired by this discovery, Kuo began working with other artisans skilled in the repoussé technique and in the process, Kuo created new pieces that were original and distinctive while retaining his core aesthetic. Interior designers are drawn to his work for its alluring tactile qualities, along with the vivid colors, unexpected form and the aforementioned techniques.

While collecting antiques for inspiration, Kuo has revitalized and advanced other traditional techniques, such as lacquer and Peking Glass. 

Born in Beijing and raised in Taiwan, Kuo and his father opened a cloisonné studio in Taipei, in the 1970s. Then, in 1984, Kuo opened his first storefront centrally located in design district of West Hollywood, CA. The store featured Kuo’s unique art in the form of tabletop accessories, which became increasingly popular with prominent interior designers. His first collection of sculpture and furniture design was made in the traditional Chinese cloisonné technique and featured forms, motifs, and patterns associated or identified with his home region.

“I started buying antiques pieces in Hong Kong and Bangkok. Then when I started working with  craftsmen in Beijing on my own work, I would collect every time I went there.”

Shown here: A small preview of the wide ranging eye of Kuo: From the Ming Dynasty, a Russet-Glazed Ovoid Jar,  (1368-1644), China (18”Dia. x 24.5”H.) to a 17th century  Chinese Han Bai Yu (White Marble) Lotus Stone Pot,( 22”Dia.x 7.5”H.). A truly ancient Green-Glazed Pottery San Yuan Deng Oil Lamp, Han Dynasty (206BC-AD220), China (8.75”x8.75x 9.75”H.) and an Ivory-Glazed Jar Inlaid Brown Vegetal Design with Strap Handles and Lotus Petal Collar, 14th-15th Century, Vietnam, 12”Dia. x 15”H.

                                    

              “I think I will always collect. It is a bit of an addiction but a good addiction.” 

 

STRENGTH & INSPIRATION SELECTIONS FROM THE ROBERT KUO COLLECTION

Robert Kuo & Associates  – 303 Spring St, New York, NY –  (212) 229-2020  – http://robertkuo.com/

Exhibition from March 9- April 3, 2015.

PHOTOS: JOSHUA WHITE

 

Miami Beach redux: Italian designer Paola Navone imbues a 1939 hotel with a new design for the Metropolitan By COMO

My first visit to a COMO hotel was in Ubud, Bali. It left a beautiful imprint in my mind. I have memories  filled with exotic images. I haven’t returned to Bali so when I heard about the Metropolitan by COMO Hotel opening on Miami Beach, with a new interior design by Italian designer Paola Navone, I was determined to check in. I now write this from my  hotel room with the doors to my terrace flung open; ocean breezes causing the curtains to billow and whoosh.

The building, a 1939 jewel, in a prized beach front location, was designed by architect Albert Anis, and originally known as the Traymore. The name is still atop the pure white structure, as it has been for 76  years. Anis was an important architect in Miami throughout the 1940s and contributed to the distinctive mix of modernism and Art Deco that exists on Miami Beach even today.

And as it happens, this weekend, while I’m here is the one-year anniversary of Metropolitan by Como Hotel opening!

And, I’m celebrating!

The soothing color palette is dominated by a muted mint hue, and of course white, juxtaposed with stunning terrazzo black and white floors, with an unusually vivid pattern. Upholstered furniture throughout the hotel is done in gray and white. It works. Other smart choices — huge glass enclosed showers with powerful rain-shower heads,  tufted white leather closet doors, perfectly executed lighting, both in guest rooms and public spaces, all make an impact.

The repeated circular motifs used throughout have been inspired by the original building, and much of  what remained was integrated into the new design. This is all the superb vision of Navone. For those who care about their visual environment, along with a great beach experience, the design here is unquestionably among the most chic and sophisticated on Miami Beach.

At Designer Previews we stay in many hotels, and I’ve seen quite a few on this visit to Miami Beach.  In terms of design, none compare to the Metropolitan by COMO. When we leave the hotel,  we feel the difference upon returning. The lighting is enveloping and dramatic. Simple floating globe lights hang from the soaring ceilings, mix elegantly with an astonishing array of Serge Mouille spider arm sconces; a brilliant concept on Navone’s part.

Of course the exterior spaces are as well conceived as the interiors: there are multiple terraces with couches and large beds draped with white fabric to shield from the sun. And others around the pool area. An overscaled  hydrotherapy pool on the roof, with 15 different “stations” of jet-pressure,  is surrounded by large white beds. It’s the ideal spot to chill at sunset; the beach and horizon viewed from above is a show stopper.

Metropolitan by COMO is for people who care about the senses; as all of them are indulged here. I think you get the idea.

 

Metropolitan by Como Hotel
2445 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach

 

“I AM big. it’s the pictures that got small.” Norma Desmond, (played by Gloria Swanson) in Sunset Boulevard.

With the 2015 Oscar’s upon us, it’s the moment to share the photos of fan-mail envelopes from 1951-59  that I got to see last summer. 

It  was a perfect day when I visited, as I do every year, the eternally chic and expertly curated shop, Andrew Spindler Antiques, in Essex Massachusetts.  Long before 1stdibs.com had Andrew on its site, he was on my radar. I would consistently visit his shop, borrowing products for photo shoots. Always wanting to keep every item.

With regular visits to friends in the area I became a huge fan of Andrews and also recognized a great story when I first saw his utterly distinctive house in Gloucester, Ma. I wrote about it in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/garden/03location.html?_r=0

When I arrived at the shop that August day, Andrew pointed out new items as he always does. I swooned as I always do. It’s been an ongoing conversation we’ve had for  years:  “Look at these,” he’d say, showing me a pair of fiberglass chairs from the 1970s. Or educating me about a collection of 18th & 19th century engraved prints of theater interiors. Or quirky animal themed ceramics, including a mid-century modern walrus, that only Andrew can make seem elegant.

And then Andrew said, “I also have this incredible collection of envelopes written to movie stars in Hollywood in the 1950s.” 

There, in a large glass case, ( that once held minerals at the Harvard museum) were the envelopes.

Andrew lifted the lid.

Inside were hundreds of empty envelopes that once contained personal letters written to movie stars: Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Tuesday Weld, Richard Burton, and other giant stars from that era.It was surreal. The handwriting. Sometimes child-like; or obsessively perfect. Sometimes typewritten, other times in pencil. Almost always blue ink. Black ink wasn’t “in” in the 1950s. The addresses of the studios (Universal, MGM, 20th Century Fox) clearly marked (how did people know this before Google?)  The misspelled names. The faded ink. The postmarks from all over the world.

The longing.

As we held the envelopes for a few minutes, Andrew said what I was feeling. “It’s all about longing.”

Two weeks ago on a return flight from LA, I watched the film SUNSET  BOULEVARD on the plane.  If ever there was a movie about fame,  the addiction to it, the loss of it, the loneliness behind it, and the longing for it to fill an empty life, it’s this great Billy Wilder classic.

I remembered the envelopes. I thought about what it must have been like to write to Marilyn Monroe, or Richard Burton. (“I have achieved a kind of diabolical fame. It has nothing to do with my talents as an actor. That counts for little now. I am the diabolically famous Richard Burton.”)

The envelopes are a relic of bygone era of fandom. Putting pen to paper, a physical act, that one hoped would be received by the other person. The pleasure was in the imagining.

“We are all of us stars and we deserve to twinkle,”  Marilyn Monroe.

A Palm Springs Hotel is redesigned by Stamberg Aferiat, using colors inspired by desert flowers

Another week. Continued freezing conditions and massive snowfall. Exactly one month ago I returned home from the dry heat of Palm Springs.

In last week’s post I gave you Greece as a way to think of warmth and sun.  This week I’m thinking about Palm Springs, a city that has more than 350 days of sunshine (on average) each year. And, Modernism Week kicks off today, an 11- day event celebrating mid-century modern design, architecture and culture. Included in the week is the 13th ANNUAL MODERNISM SHOW which features 80 exhibitors from across the U.S., Canada and Europe, presenting decorative and fine arts from all periods of 20th century design including furniture, lighting, sculpture, paintings, jewelry, silver, glass, ceramics, photography, and textiles.

I want to be there.

I want to check right back into The Saguaro Hotel. I’d ask for the same room I had last month, #341 with it’s wide balcony granting me stunning views of the pool and mountains.

Something unexpected happened to me at the Saguaro. Sure I was wowed by the mountains, the dry air,  bright sunshine, the modernist architecture, the desert sky filled with stars at night. And I loved the feeling of freedom writing these blog posts on my laptop, sitting out on the aforementioned balcony. The bonus for me was the lesson I learned about color.

In full disclosure, I don’t like a lot of color. And definitely not bright colors. I tend to opt for very white and creamy in my tonal preferences and have been known to bring white sheets to Jamaica, when I knew the funky place I was staying had floral patterned ones, which I simply could not sleep on. Yet that didn’t stop me from wanting to learn more about the esteemed NYC architecture firm Stamberg Aferiat Associates, known for using very bold color in their work –exactly what they did at The Saguaro.

The Saguaro Palm Springs was originally a Holiday Inn, circa 1977. It was at 15{11513a287d15ac25302e19b868ca1dab5224f4b2746aac7199b6e331917ea443} occupancy when Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat saw it for the first time. It was, as Stamberg recalls, “an olive green blob.”  “It was International Style gone awry,” adds Aferiat.

The owners, The Sydell Group Ltd. hired them to transform the property — that was designed in the ubiquitous motel style of the 1970– prototypical Americana,  into a boutique hotel.  The architects were given a tight budget and an absurdly tight timeline — (that they met,) managing to overhaul the entire 245-room property in a mere four months.

Stamberg and Aferiat knew immediately what to do: Paint.

Then, using one of the most powerful tools in their vocabulary — color — they devised a system of selecting the exactly right hues. It was anything but random. Fourteen colors, each one based on actual desert flowers native to Palm Springs, were selected. By imbuing the property with colors that duplicated –literally– the indigenous flowers that bring color to the surrounding desert landscape, they transformed the Saguaro into a place that felt magical at any time of day. The interplay of sunlight on the building’s colorful architectural components was ever-changing and dramatic.

The team knew that if they took the elements of nature and placed them in a spectrum, and added sunlight, the buildings would glow on their own. And they do.  And it’s what captivated me, but it took me a few days to figure it out. I knew I was surprised by all the color and that it didn’t feel oppressive, as I anticipated it might. Instead it felt, happy, and freeing.

The glowing. The sense of peace. The continual sense of discovery that emerged from all that vibrancy was something I would never have expected.

The exterior lines of the three-story structure are very simple, and lent themselves to the repeat of multiple planes of color on the fin walls between each room, and at the end of each building, where new paths and gardens were woven into the updated landscape design.

Using paint did something else important, explains Aferiat, “It was also an act of ecological responsibility. If there’s some way you can take something that is dross and spin it into gold, and we knew we could  do that with paint and color, we explored that every step of the way.”

They didn’t only do so with the exterior. Inside each guest room the same mode of recycling took place. Painting  every piece of existing furniture, as well as original built-ins, with various color combinations created from the fourteen shade spectrum. Each room has one wall painted a vivid color with the other 3 remaining white. Mine had a vivid mustard colored wall. “Knowing where to start and stop,”  Stamberg reminded me. Every floor has purple carpeting. “Purple is a neutral color,” declares Stamberg, adding “every shadow in the world is purple!”

Pool side umbrellas are all one color: A bright yellow, with shocking pink beach towels. Also on the grounds are several abstract sculptures inspired by the mountains, made of reformatted, corrugated aluminum painted in the same palette as the buildings.

Interestingly,  their first presentation to the local review board was denied because of the color palette on the exterior. For their second presentation, they showed the exact same colors, but showed the flower chart seen here: That won over the board, and the project was approved.

And by the way, the architects make a point to remind me, even with fifty-two color combinations used throughout the property, there really is a lot of white. Benjamin Moore 01.

 

The Saguaro Palm Springs  1800 East Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs, CA 92264 877-808-2439 www.thesaguaro.com

Stamberg Aferiat Associates 212.255.1830

All photos by  Tim Street Porter

Looking for Quirky, Creative, Unexpected Gifts? Something simply Fun…

The work known as ‘needle felting’ seen seen here, as far as we’re concerned, screams CHRISTMAS GIFT!  Meaning, for someone who has everything, what could be better than opening a box containing a cool, eccentric, and totally unexpected object? I say: Look no further. Dive into the sculptural work of Heidi Bleacher.

It’s not only that these items are whimsical, clever and hand-made; although they are, and we love that, it’s also that they are so simple and delightful and evoke a sense of innocence that we all are longing for right now. Right? Right!

Needle Felting you ask?  It’s a relatively new fiber art form that evolved from industrial felt making. Yes it too uses wool fibers that become shaped and compacted by the maker into anything their imagination can envision.

Bleacher, who studied commercial art and graphic design, has spent 30 years working as a florist. She co-owns (with David Huntsinger) George Baker Flowers, a charming high end boutique flower shop in Philadephia. They’ve owned the shop since 1996. Yes there once was a George, he’s alive and well and living in Maine.

Clearly Beacher is gifted when it comes to working with her hands, and when she discovered ‘needle felting’ about eight years ago, she says she fell in love with it immediately. She taught herself the technique which involves working with a special barbed needle and dry wool (or other natural fiber).  All of the figures, food, and animals seen here are done using the needle felting technique.

For those curious to know, needle felting starts out with a blob of loose wool fiber that has been processed (washed, carded, dyed). The barbed needle catches the fibers and matts them together with every jab into the wool. And, says Bleacher, “after a few hundred or thousand you have felt.”

To purchase, head to: Stadler-Kahn, a must-see jewel box-like- gift/antique/gallery  in downtown Philly, just off Rittenhouse Square, which is where I discovered Bleacher’s work on display.

Stadler- Kahn, 1724 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 1910  Phone:(267) 242-7154

Buon Natale Promemoria –looking forward to more beautiful furniture in 2015

This year the Christmas parties have been beautiful, yet one is especially memorable: At the Promemoria showroom, a few days ago, I felt— for a moment— transported to Italy.  I was suddenly in Milan. The crowd was chic, the Proseco was flowing; the pasta abundant. I was actually attending their celebration, “the traveling pasta party,” held by the Milan-based company for the holidays in NYC, and today on, December 18, it will take place in Milan, although (sadly) I won’t be there.

To experience the atmosphere in a Promemoria showroom is to feel enveloped in a timeless sense of luxury. One is surrounded by what can only be called couture-like furnishings. And, it’s a sensory experience. The sofas, fabrics, cabinets, chairs, lighting, tables and objects, aren’t only alluring to see, one feels compelled to caress them.

A finger slipped through a cast bronze sculptural form opens the elegant cabinet doors; like jewelry, it adorns the exotic woods (maccassar, ebony, Tuscan cypress) favored by the creative team who craft such pieces. The sumptuous pleasure of sinking into the silk, cashmere and velvet, that drape the sofas and chairs so elegantly, is seductive and memorable.

The exquisite level of detail, the finest materials, the influences of Art Déco and Far Eastern culture, combined with the best Italian craftsmanship, is the distinctive achievement that belongs to Romeo Sozzi, the founder and creator behind the divine collections of Promemoria.

On the showroom floor in NYC right now, one can find pieces from the 2014 collection, as well as others for 2015, several, I’m told are dressed in Loro Piano cashmere.

And if I could be in Milan tonight, I’d eat pasta, run off with another of the famous Milanese Panetone, (specially made for Christmas) that Promemoria gives guests every year.

I would tell Mr. Sozzi how much I admire his work. I would wish him a Buon Natale, and ask for an invitation to next year’s party!

Promemoria showrooms are found in Milan, Paris, London, Moscow and New York.

PROMEMORIA NEW YORK -The Fine Arts Building – 232 East 59th Street

tel. +1 646 588 4409

www.promemoria.com

info@promemoriausa.com

Pasta photo by Josh Wong

Recalling a visit to a special hotel in Spetses Greece

It’s so cold on the east coast that I’m focusing on being in Greece. I’m remembering driving through miles upon miles of olive groves, the unreal color of the water of the Aegean Sea, where we would swim until 8PM at night. I’m imagining sitting on my balcony on the island of Spetses. Yes, holding onto memories of my  recent travels to Greece is a way to warm my spirit on this chilly night. Having one of the best climates in the world, visiting Greece in late August-early September, as I do, is perfection. So today I’ve decided the way to stay warm is by sharing my visual recollections from my visit to the tiny island of Spetses. I’m remembering its unrivaled beauty and my incredible stay at one of the most magical of all hotels — the legendary Poseidonion Grand hotel.

The Poseidonion embodies old world glamour, it’s timeless. Built in 1914, it’s truly one of the great European style hotels. It appears more to akin to what one might see in Venice,  in its architectural style, than is typically found in Greece. It’s a classic. And it was recently redone. Whoever handled the renovation did so carefully. Keeping the original marble cantilivered staircase and other early features like stucco ceilings, and patterned floor tiles. The character of the hotel intact. And what character it has. From the intimate reception desk where guests check in, after a short walk from the boat, (Spetses has no autos, so one walks, takes a carriage, or rides a bicycle) one enters the hotel and immediately your pulse slows. The aforementioned staircase is straight ahead, sunlight spilling through the windows against the pale walls; it’s instantly  soothing. There are various small sitting rooms, the library bar, restuarants, one chicer than the next. All with different decor. I wanted to live in each of them forever. Furnishings are simple, elegant, but quiet and subtle.

The room I’m dreaming of right now, was done in soothing dove grey tones, faced the sea. With a small balcony, where I sat and drank cappuccino and just gazed into the deep blue color of the water. In Greece there are always distant  purple-pink hazy views of mountains, and that was the scene from my balcony too. The gauzy curtains that draped the French doors blew gently with the breeze. I wanted to remember the moment forever, so tonight, I’m right there in that room.

Spetses, or “The island of perfumes”, as it was named by the Venetians or “Pityousa” (which in ancient Greek means “full of pine-trees”) is very close to Athens, so you can easily get there, and if you do, don’t even consider staying anywhere but the Poseidonion, I promise you, it’s unforgettable. Eat breakfast on the spectacular verandah, sit and soak up the beauty and calm in each of the bars and public spaces, rest by the new pool, or go to the spa. Walk the main road of Spetses, next to the sea. Have a look here, it’s unforgettable.

Expressions Of Thanks From Selected Design World Luminaries

I decided to ask several people in the design/architecture world what they were most thankful for this year, on this most American of holidays. Ironically, most of them weren’t even born in the USA, but all had taken to Thanksgiving. Their responses were personal, thoughtful, and of course, made reference to their work. In each, they gave me something to think about.

Everyday I feel grateful that through Designer Previews I get to to appreciate how they change our lives; one piece of furniture at a time, one word at a time, or one room/gallery/ building/at a time.

DP

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Sarah Harrelson is the founder and editor in chief of CULTURED, a design, art and architecture magazine published by the Whitehaus Media Group, based in Miami. It has become a favorite among the design cogniscenti. Sophisticated, elegant and known for its extraordinary art direction, the magazine looks like something created in Europe. Sarah’s is a recognized voice in the design, art and architecture industry; she’s a tastemaker and innovator, reporting and sharing strong creative content that feels right for this moment; and for what’s coming next.

“I am thankful for the creative spirit that inspires every issue of Cultured. I am particularly thankful for the American artist Will Cotton, who spent countless hours adorning Fabiola Beracasa in gold cupcake wrappers exclusively for our December issue—making it the sweetest one yet.”

SARAH HARRELSON    

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Anyone who’s met Vladimir Kagan has felt his indomitable energy. The 87-year old German born furniture designer first introduced his curvaceous pieces in 1950; he has said he was inspired by the Bauhaus. His has consistently been a style that emphasizes comfort and functionality, epitomized by his most iconic creation – the Serpentine sofa. It is still sought after today, as it was by Kagan’s early clients, who included Marilyn Monroe and Gary Cooper.

“I’m thankful to be alive, of course, to be enjoying the wonderful recognition I am getting for my work. I’m grateful to be working on a second edition of my book, twelve years after the first one. It will be published in the spring and will be called Vladimir Kagan, (Pointed Leaf Press).  I’ve also been busy working on a limited edition collection of new furniture. It will be art furniture sold both at Ralph Pucci in New York, and Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery in Paris and London.”

VLADIMIR KAGAN

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Alastair Gordon, preeminent architecture critic and writer of numerous books on architecture, design and urbanism, (most recently, Wendell Castle: Wandering Forms: Works from 1959-1979, Gregory R. Miller& Co.has written on everything from airports to post-war beach houses.  His next book is about modern ruins. And that’s one I can’t wait to read. He is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Miami Beach Urban Studios, and the Editorial Director of Gordon de Vries Studio, a publishing imprint that he founded a few years ago with partner and wife, Barbara de Vries. He continues to write for several different publications including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.  Although Mr Gordon was born in Scotland, he celebrates Thanksgiving with his family in American, this year in Miami.

“I am most thankful for my four beautiful children, my wife and partner Barbara, my friends, and being able to live year-round on the beach, doing what I love doing,writing, editing, lecturing, making art, and being able to swim in the ocean at the end of each day. That to me is bliss and I feel blessed in every way.”

ALISTAIR GORDON

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Cristina Grajales, was born in Colombia, and initially came to America 36 years ago to attend high school in Maine, where she stayed on for University.  Her eponymous Soho, NY gallery has been open for 14 years and is recognized as one of the most significant of its kind; arguably it’s one of the most personal. Grajales presents work from known twentieth century masters to other discoveries that could only be made by someone possessing her singular vision.

“Thanksgiving is so much a part of the American culture, I didn’t understand it in the beginning but now I couldn’t imagine not celebrating it! As  we approach Thanksgiving, I am most grateful for Isabelle, my wife, and our two puppies, and my family; for my gallery, and the people who work with me. I know  how lucky we are that we love what we do.”

CRISTINA GRAJALES

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Renowned architect Michael Graves was celebrated last weekend at a symposium in his honor, marking his 50th year in practice,  organized by The Architectural League of New York. Today, at 80, Graves is as intrepid as ever:  Currently at work on a school of architecture building in China named for him, and with Kimberly-Clark, on a new collection of products intended to celebrate aging for what it really is: filled with spirit, possibilities, and growth.

Graves says the upcoming collection is rooted in a passion for life and a relentless commitment to challenge design conventions in pursuit of smarter, more beautiful solutions. His work for the past 50 years has encompassed all facets of design.  From architecture to products.  From important civic works of architecture, to private residences, and everything in between.  He is as prolific as ever. 

“I’m grateful for every new day and the design opportunities presented by every new project.  And of course, I’m grateful for health, family and friendship, which is what life is really all about. MICHAEL GRAVES

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When it comes to furniture and beautiful objects of design by some of the most influential creators of the past 100-years,  there is very little that the Shanghai born Joel Chen has not seen, touched, discovered, or shared, since he opened JF Chen Gallery, 36 years ago in Los Angeles. His followers are avid collectors, museums, set decorators, filmmakers, and those seeking with Chen specializes in: curated authenticity.

I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve received from this country. That I was able to immigrate, study, and elaborate my dreams which basically have come true in a full cycle. Working laboriously is a virtue that rewards freedom and achievement. 

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