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.” 



Robert Kuo & Associates  – 303 Spring St, New York, NY –  (212) 229-2020  –

Exhibition from March 9- April 3, 2015.



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