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.



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.”



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.”



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.”



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.”



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


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. 


Can door hardware be sexy? When it’s designed to evoke jewelry and look like this, yes it can!

When is a doorknob not just a doorknob, but a piece of sculpture?  When it’s been conceived by designers David Scott and Tim Campbell, and impeccably produced by SA Baxter, esteemed maker of architectural hardware. During a recent visit to the SA Baxter showroom at the NYDC New York Design Center, the experience felt more akin to being in a high end jewelry store, or a room of ancient treasures at the Met. Thankfully no fluorescent lighting here; the space has been beautifully lit to feature the artistry on display.

I’ve always thought of door hardware as jewelry for the home; meant to adorn, create subliminal emotional responses and overt tactile pleasures, all while existing as a functional object. So I was especially drawn to the new 2014 Fall Artisan collection by SA Baxter featuring the vision of the aforementioned designers. All pieces in the collection are produced in the company’s eco-friendly Hudson Valley foundry/atelier where they turn out works of cast bronze and cast brass (and other metals) utilizing the ancient process known as lost wax casting.  An art believed to be first practiced in Egypt and Africa where a clay mold, or metal sculpture, is made during the intricate casting process.

KALAHARI, A collaboration with interior designer David Scott:

“I didn’t want to create conventional hardware,” explained David Scott, about being  invited by SA Baxter to create his own line.  He loves the idea of organic forms emerging from the door’s surface, and in his vision the hardware becomes, what he described as, “a decorative extension of the architecture while still remaining functional.”

Scott’s elegant yet dynamic Kalahari Suite is based on what he saw within the majestic landscape and beauty of the African savannah: The sleek line of a tree against the setting sun, a curve in the river, or the simplicity of round forms created by nature, all served as inspiration.  These primal forms and elements became what is now functional hardware, yet like jewelry, each  component has a sleek sensuality that makes one want to reach out and touch it. I actually wanted to wear it! (earrings next, please David?)

 Kalahari Suite. Seen here images 1-5


TROUSDALE, a collaboration with designer Tim Campbell:

“I like ordinary things to be special,” explains Tim Campbell when asked about his Trousdale collection; so named for the eponymous LA neighborhood where Studio Tim Campbell has redone many 1960’s houses. He is especially inspired by those of Rex Lotery, who was a British architect. Though not as well known as Richard Neutra’s houses,  Campbell finds the Lotery houses, sexier, swankier and possessing a bit of swagger that he wanted to translate into the modern, yet transitional style of this hardware.

“A doorknob is a machine. It has a function, it has moving parts,” said Campbell, who personally wants what he touches every day to have real meaning. He reveres the ordinary when it is made extraordinary; and I believe it has been with the Trousdale collection. “Having a solid handmade piece of door hardware feels substantial, it makes a difference in one’s home,” Campbell said.

Together with SA Baxter’s design and engineering team, the Trousdale Suite came alive. Campbell played with different shapes that resulted in a multi-faceted diamond-like shape for door knob which perfectly matches the points on the coordinating rosette, creating a kind of optical illusion as the knob is turned. Light bounces off the surface as it would a fine gemstone. This is a juxtaposition of sophistication and glamour, along with seamless function.

Campbell is deeply committed to doing philanthropic work in Africa, where he visits several times each year. He explained that witnessing craft in a place where making something by hand is part of life, was integral to his thinking when designing Trousdale.  “I’ve seen Massai warriors make beaded jewelry, and I’ve watched hand-made textiles be woven in Botswana; I know the love that goes into it.”

The Trousdale Suite, seen here, images 6-10

 SA Baxter New York City Showroom

New York

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