“I didn’t know of a single job that could fulfill both my creative and entrepreneurial pursuits,” says Christina Antonio, founder of her namesake, New York-based leather artisan firm specializing in arcahitectural applications for interior design projects. “So, the next obvious step was to create my own company,” she continues. Founded in 2005, Christina Z. Antonio Design, located in Manhattan’s Chelsea district, represents the perfect culmination of her artistic heritage (her grandfather was a bespoke shoemaker from Cyprus, and her father was also a leather artisan, specializing in handbag manufacturing) and medium (leather).
With a professional background in fashion and accessories design following her graduation from the University of the Arts London, Antonio found herself in New York working in the Costume Design department of acclaimed television series Sex and the City, assisting award-winning stylists Patricia Field and Rebecca Weinberg. Afterwards, Antonio went on to curate interior arrangements, and subsequently began her own business, which now serves a whole host of commercial and residential design properties and clients, including Rosewood London, The Standard Hotel, Tom Ford, Gramercy Park Hotel, and Tzelan.
“My ideas would often hit me like a lightening bolt so I would get to work making samples and prototypes,” Antonio tells us. “I discovered that my skills in leather were innate… it just flowed through my hands. My business is always evolving and learning to be an entrepreneur is something that happened along the way.” Here, we catch up with Antonio to discuss her first experience with leather, working with Tzelan to create a unique leather-worked wrap for our polished bronze shaker coat pegs, and just what makes leather so special.
I’m an artist first, and also a master craftsman, so there’s always the spirit of art and craftsmanship balancing each other out. I put my heart into the details. Every curve, stitch, and seam is a meaningful decision. I’m truly committed to impeccable craftsmanship. Each piece I create is with that principle in mind. Then comes the joy of its function, whether it’s a cabinet handle or a credenza or a wall installation.
There has been so much thought and practice behind the scenes. Most of the work we do is by hand, not machinery, which is unusual these days, but I like to create in an organic environment, and I encourage my team to tap into the gift of their hands.
The beginning of a project is so exciting, whether it’s sitting down at the table with my clients, or reviewing their drawings and concepts or color palettes. Often, I am given an area of a room that calls for “something special,” and then the magic happens. Their work is what inspires me to create pieces that will live in their spaces. It’s quite an honor. Then, I present my sketches and material boards, and we make final choices together.
Alison and I were first introduced through tonychi. I have a long and wonderful relationship with the firm, and I really admire their work. I also love that Tzelan has shown a genuine interest in the artisan process and I wanted to share that with them.
It was with my father. He was a true Renaissance man. He was passionate about so many crafts, and I watched him excel in everything he did: winemaking, model making, even flying small aircraft! I remember going to the workshop during weekends when I was a little girl, there was always the scent of leather. I would soak in all the projects that were in the works, mostly handbags. I wanted to know how things were engineered. I would tinker around with scraps of leather. I distinctly remember making leather circles with the punch tools and arranging them as little pieces of art. I always wanted to make things as far back as I can remember.
I briefly worked for a company in the UK that was selected to outfit the Mulberry retail stores in Knightsbridge, London. The concept of the store was to create the experience of walking into a luxury leather handbag. I was so romanticized by that idea. The fixtures, tables, and handrails were all leather-crafted. That first project is what sparked the idea for my business. I wanted to expose the American market to these European sensibilities. I had little to no contacts in the interior design world, so I began reaching out to the top high-end firms in New York.
Leather is a material that entices the senses, the warm, buttery, tactile nature of it. It’s sleek, seductive, and sophisticated. The scent can conjure all manner of nostalgia, and it takes me back to my childhood, being in my father’s workshop. Besides the fact that leather is in my DNA, I have my own contemporary approach to leather work, outside of traditional uses, like the application of leather to furniture, for example, and the geometry. I’m fascinated by the all the possibilities of manipulating the surface of the leather. I paint on it, carve it, and weave with it too.
I love working with exotic skins such as shagreen, which comes from the stingray fish sourced from Indonesia, or vachetta leather from Italy, which has great structure for architectural use, and is often used for shoes and saddlery. I also love goat-skin parchment from France. It’s in a league of its own; it requires much patience and experience to work with parchment.
Balanced, consistent temperature and humidity in an environment is key. This is absolutely crucial for maintaining the life of leather furniture. Similar to wood and other natural materials, leather can expand or contract. Also, leather needs its oils restored with a good conditioner every three to six months.
The French masters, Paul Dupré-Lafon, Jean-Michel Frank, and Jacques Adnet.
I’m also inspired by the late David Bowie, for his tenacity and ambiguity. Some of my work is kind of rock and roll inspired. Hermès is a company that I’m also very inspired by. I was invited to their workshops in Paris, and learned so much about their heritage. I like to draw infinite inspiration from nature too, so it’s important I take time outside of the city.
My Jacques Adnet leather lamp, my suede and shagreen boots by Helmut Lang, and my very own CZA shagreen-wrap bracelet.
Tzelan’s award-winning Ongo tabletop lamp sees its latest iteration, the Ongo Connect, with new features and finishes while retaining its iconic, cep-like silhouette. Pared back in bright, primary colors (Chinese Red, Electric Blue, Sichuan Yellow, Matte Black and Pure White), the Ongo Connect is made with a spun, powder-coated metal for a lighter, more minimal look and feel, and plugs in for uninterrupted charge. For order inquiries, please email email@example.com.
“He adored New York City,” a bumbling male speaks in voice-over. The everyday expanse of New York, with images of skyscrapers, pre-war buildings, parking garages, diners and bridges—like monuments frozen in time, save for the subtle strum and movement of the occasional car or passerby—accompanies it in black-and-white frames; the staggering, symphonic sound of the 1924 American musical composition Rhapsody in Blue, plays in the background.
“He idolized it all out of proportion,” the voice continues, unsure of itself. “No, make that: he – he romanticized it all out of proportion. Yeah. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin.’”
The voice, belonging to the Bronx-born filmmaker Woody Allen, sets the opening monologue for his 1979 cult classic Manhattan, as scenes from Bloomingdale’s to Brooklyn, pay filmic homage to the City that Never Sleeps.
Allen’s Manhattan, immortalized, is as he describes it. She never ceases to be a city of sharp contrasts and dramatic proportions, where different people and cultures clash, collide, and converge with such violence and frenzy, toughness and severity, and cynicism or neurosis, that outsiders looking in may mistake our straightforward nature or plain-spokenness as aggressive or rude, overlooking the profundity of our compassion and tolerance that belie our hard-guarded exteriors. But the truth is that we’re all just mush on the inside, deeply romantic and sentimental, but never in a way that may compromise our reality, or, more importantly, our communities. (If it’s one thing New Yorkers know, it’s that we are intrinsically at one with the people, places and things around us; as American author Tom Wolfe wrote, “one belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years,” and one can only assume he was speaking to its milieu and spirit the same.)
Our pride as New Yorkers transcends nationalism. We prefer the full embrace of humanism. New York was the first capital of the United States, inaugurating George Washington as president in 1789. It was at the forefront of the anti-slavery movement and the Underground Railroad. She is the Statue of Liberty, welcoming millions of immigrants through Ellis Island to modern day, her towering skyline a beacon of global commerce and trade. She has countless cultural and artistic institutions, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, and the Frick— she is even home to the permanent headquarters of the United Nations. New York, for all her glory, has also given us Broadway, Balanchine, the Harlem Renaissance, Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, the World Trade Center and Central Park, to name a few more milestone markers.
So for the holiday season, we decided to stay home, here in larger-than-life Manhattan, indulging in some of our favorite winter rituals, visiting institutions both old and new, high and low, uptown and downtown, the city’s alluring charm filling our every footstep along the way.
For all of us at Tzelan, this past year marked a number of memorable moments: like visiting our manufacturing partners around the world from the Czech Republic to China, launching our new tabletop lamp Turning Leaves at renowned global furniture fair Salone del Mobile in Milan, and continuing collaborations with some of our dearest friends, including New York-based lifestyle brand Voutsa and Argentine perfume laboratory Fueguia. We pilgrimaged to France to embrace its countryside culture, hosting a midsummer’s night dinner among friends and florals, and sojourned to Buenos Aires to host a multi-cultural Thanksgiving fête, catching summer in the Southern hemisphere and the start of its polo season. We had the good fortune to speak to industry-wide luminaries like chef Daniel Boulud, Hakkasan Group’s Dianna Balabon, interior designer Juan Montoya and landscape artist Fernando Caruncho, for our TFQ’s, and saw hospitality and retail orders on the rapid rise. Here, we take a look back at some of our favorite moments that helped define our 2016.
Nothing surprises me,” says Stacy Fischer-Rosenthal, President of Fischer Travel Enterprises, of her clients’ myriad requests. “As long as it’s legal, I’ll make it happen.” A hospitality industry veteran with over thirty years of experience, Fischer-Rosenthal and her father, Bill Fischer, who founded Fischer Travels a generation ago, work with their team of thirty, based in midtown Manhattan, to satiate the wanderlust of the world’s ultra-wealthy elite. Together, they are constantly pushing the boundaries of what defines luxury, and luxury travel, forward, making what most perceive as impossible and out of reach, a tangible reality.
“We have clients who have started with us fifty years ago,” she explains of her loyal clients, all of whom pay hefty dues of approximately US$100,000 per annum to join her roster of high-profile jet setters. “They have traveled with us, their children have traveled with us, and what we’re finding now, which is a beautiful thing, is that their children are becoming clients because they’re so accustomed to working with the people at Fischer. We watched them grow up, we know what they like, we know what ticks the box when it comes to delight and really exceptional offerings, and as they’re now entering their lives, whether they’re in their mid-twenties, going on honeymoons, or later, having their own families, it’s all building into a new age.”
She cites those who are at the top of their respective fields in finance, law, real estate, and entertainment, as her primary clientele, also tapping into the Silicon Valley start-up world. Their service is so exclusive, that they’ve managed to keep their presence offline— they need only rely through word of mouth. “We’re very adaptable and incredibly resourceful,” she explains of her company’s ability to cover the gamut of needs, and to anticipate them even before they’re requested. “What’s so nice for our clientele is that they have flexibility when traveling and can be impulsive—their itineraries are always fluid—without having to deal with what it takes to make it all happen, because we’re available to them 24/7, no matter where they are in the world,” she says.
Recently, Fischer-Rosenthal’s clients have been heading to hotspots like Antarctica, the Maldives, Iceland, St. Barths, Courchevel, Gstaad, and, in anticipation of the 2020 Olympics, Japan. Their requests can include anything from chartering a Boeing 737 for a surprise birthday party in California’s wine country and hiring chef Thomas Keller and his team to cook an intimate dinner; to securing seats at the most coveted eateries in the world, like Jiro in Tokyo; planning for a summer-long sojourn to Europe for a family; or preparing for a last-minute surf safari in Panama. “I always believe in my heart that there is a room and a table somewhere being held by somebody,” she explains, “and it’s just about how do we make this happen to make it ours?”
She finds that her clients’ primary motivation for traveling is to find respite from their high-intensity work environments. “[They] value time to reconnect with themselves and their families. Often, they want to detach by surfing, hiking, biking, exercising, and practicing meditation and yoga,” she adds. “They’re really, really looking at experiential travel too. What we do is to listen to the clients and what their travel goal is, and through guidance and relationships with people that we know on the ground, to create those lifelong memories. Maybe we have them get a little outside of their comfort zone.”
Over the years, with increased technology and ready access to information available to all travelers, could the same service be replicated online? Not a chance. “It’s almost information overload,” she argues. “What I’m finding is that people are so limited with time, they don’t want to spend it trying to research something and trying to figure out if this is going to be the right quality or experience. When people think about going to the best in their trade or industry, they want to go to the person who has that experience, but also people on the ground. It’s not like we’re just booking a hotel… there are so many different dimensions and levels in which we service the client. They want to go in to a restaurant, but do they want to go to a private table in the kitchen? Maybe we create one if it doesn’t exist. We’re always trying to just up our game.”
“When it comes time to putting money down, and making sure that your time is going to be best spent per dollar, and not making a mistake, people are going to look to me to send them the experience, the options,” she explains. No detail is overlooked in the process of crafting multiple travel proposals per client, some of which, can be 60-100 pages in length, and include everything from security details to floor plans. “We give them all the tools… and the vendors that you find online are not going to be the same vendors that are vetted through our company. We spend an enormous amount of time traveling around the world to make sure that these people are an extension of who we are and that they’re going to really handle them with care.”
Another point Fischer-Rosenthal makes about the Fischer Travel experience, is just how collaborative and optimal it is, beginning with her staff. “The goal here is that we work as a team. We are very, very passionate about what we do. Most travel companies are independent contractors who have their own set of clients,” she says. “All of our clients are actually Fischer Travel clients, so we all pull on our strengths and understand each other weaknesses, and the assistance, the people who are coming in, a travel consultant or two, who are understanding the hotel that we book and reconfirming and triple conforming, they understand the culture here.”
Fischer-Rosenthal and her team also travel a few times a year as a group to put theory into actual practice. “We go to a destination where we tour the hotel, we talk about the pluses, the minuses, the benefits, and who we could see selling this to. We also take little trips. We fly privately, so [the team] gets to see the whole experience of leaving from Teterboro. We take them through the motions, so that when they’re on the phone, they can articulate from an experience rather than reading from a brochure. Nothing is like doing it yourself.”
Helping those who have it all and have seen it all, to feel delight in something new, seems an impossible task, but Fischer-Rosenthal constantly delivers. Her key is to remain humble and full of gratitude. “We’re always asking for feedback and information, and trying to make things unique and individualized, adding in those thoughtful gestures which go a long way, and I think that when you receive an email from somebody who has everything in the world and has everything at their fingertips and can work with anybody they choose, that says, “Thanks,” or “Oh my gosh, incredible,” it all becomes worth it.”
Acclaimed New York-based interior designer Juan Montoya is celebrated the world over for his clean, sumptuous, and sophisticated designs, where grand works of art and antique treasures feature among thoughtful shadows, scales, and spatial layers. Originally born in Bogotá, having spent his formative years as a youth at his family hacienda in the Colombian jungle, Montoya, is no stranger to nature’s abundant wealth. He even constructed an ethereal woodland retreat in Upstate New York called La Formentera, inspired, in no small part, to the mystical Balearic Island off the coast of Spain. Moreover, his training in New York (at Parsons School of Design), coupled with time spent working in global capitals, including Paris and Milan, makes the designer a global denizen whose language of design transcends both time and culture. Here, he takes a break from the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris to tell us about his own approach to design, the people and places that inspire him most, and his decorating advice to those who are starting anew.
On his design process
I don’t normally sit down with a pencil and paper to sketch. I go to sleep sometimes and dream of it. I build and destroy, build and destroy. That is the process that goes through my mind over days. Sometimes, I’ll go jogging, and during that jog, I’ll build and create because I’m visual. I can see the walls, the windows, the ceiling, the texture, the color. I go through it and start eliminating and cutting through. I start making it like a beautiful pattern that will have all the details that are necessary.
Surrounded by nature, yesterday and today
My father was growing spice and he had a farm very far away from any communication. So we were basically growing with nature and what nature had to give us. That allowed us to not only enjoy every morning when we woke up, but it was the source of how we fed ourselves. It was instrumental in looking at nature very early on. I was able to be in contact with it, to live with it. And how that translates to [La Formentera], a very sophisticated environment one hour and a half from New York, it’s completely different—you are completely transported because there’s stone and granite. There are huge trees too. The terrain is quite hilly, whereas the land where I grew up was mostly flat, almost as if you were in Africa, and the sensation of it felt like very, very long distances. Huge groups of birds would congregate in the expanses where rice grew. You would see them at different times in the day and the light was magnificent…so all of that has to do with what I do today and what I’ve done before.
Everything inspires me. Even looking at a woman dressed a certain way inspires me. But besides that, I think some of the great inspirations I’ve been able to have was from being able to travel. I think that traveling is a great source of inspiration. And in terms of the house in the country, I think it is also a wonderful inspiration because it is nature. Nature in itself is art. So by looking at a leaf, by looking at a flower, by looking at a configuration of elements that are all together that don’t seem to make too much sense, but when you look at them individually, they are really very beautiful. They can serve as inspiration for a chair, the inspiration for a sofa, the inspiration for a lamp.
On the notion of home
Home is what I make of it. I don’t think it’s necessarily where I grew up. I left Columbia many years ago when I was in my twenties. Now, when I go back, I feel at home because I make it home. And when I’m in Paris, I feel at home because I it reminds me of the steps I took when I experienced Paris at 21, the steps I took when I was 27. All of these become part of my life. When I was invited by architect Kenzo Tange to experience Japan, I spent about a month and a half really understanding and connecting to the culture. When I worked on the house in Garrison, New York, which is Japanese in design, I had never been to Japan, and yet, when I got there, I went to Kyoto and stayed in one of the inns and felt, “Oh my God, I’m at home!” I didn’t know! I was able to find something that I became very attached to and comfortable with.
Architects to admire
Louis Kahn would be one of my favorite architects. I was able to study with a pupil of Louis Kahn who was teaching at Parsons when I was there. He was very influential because he knew him, he felt him, he sensed him, he loved him. All of this translated to how I enjoy the geometry of architecture. Then, when I was connected to the architecture in Sweden, Asplund was a great working part of my education in terms of what he did for public buildings that are very famous in Sweden.
Favorite travel destinations
Far, far away Patagonia in Argentina is very illuminating. I would also say parts of Chile are beautiful. I have traveled through Brazil. I wouldn’t say it’s the place to be, but I would like to, so that’s in my agenda. I think that one of the most magical places that I have ever been is Colombia, where I was born, among small towns, small places, and small cities that are not necessarily written in tourist books. There are many places and things to discover, I couldn’t even begin to tell you!
Design tips for the uninitiated
My advice, whether your space is big or small, has high ceilings or low ceilings, a view or no view, is to just live in it for a while. Don’t go out and buy anything, just feel it. Enjoy it for a little while, then the place will tell you what it really wants. The place will talk to you and say, “This is what I want.” And in that dialogue you have with yourself and your space, you discover how to create. It allows you to build and design. When you discover it, you refine it. It’s not like all these stores in your metropolitan area or suburbia who sell packages, where, if you get the nice bed, you get the nice tables; if you get the nice tables, you get the nice dresser; if you get the nice dresser, you get the armoire. That’s the wrong approach. When you get the package, you skip design, you skip the beauty. People don’t understand beauty and that is what I think is lacking. Beauty is all about peace. Beauty is all about looking, so you have to be careful about too much integration of the Internet and the systems that we have today to purchase. We purchase food on the Internet. We purchase fashion through the Internet.
What’s missing in the
design industry today
I want to see more quality, not things that just appear and invade your eyes. There’s a lack of quality, and quality is so important in everything. We are living in a world that is so fast that we forget about quality, we forget about that element that makes a difference. It is better to have the most beautiful chair that is perfectly proportioned than to have twenty chairs from Ikea. I think one element sometimes is more important than many. Now, I’m not putting down Ikea—they have some great things, but you just have to look. When you look through it, you have to see, and then you have to look twice. All that surrounds design today is how much something costs instead of how much quality it has.
“I think all of us are like kaleidoscopes,” observes Fernando Caruncho, the globally renowned landscape architect based in Madrid. “Our personalities [are] constructed by different mirrors, which reflect what we are and what we have experienced.” For the Spanish-born, horticultural savant, whose experience spans cultures and continents, an elegant, austere simplicity and a minimal, philosophical approach to cultivating gardens is inherent nature. But it doesn’t matter the semantics of his job title. “Essentially, I see myself as a gardener, which is, from my point of view, a landscape architect,” he tells us. “These words define a profession that is polyhedral and has to be enriched by poetry, art, architecture, music, and most of all, an immense and deep admiration for nature.” Known for fusing harmony and geometry into creating contemplative outdoor spaces that withstand the test of time, Caruncho’s fascination with both gardening and philosophy dates back to his studies at Madrid’s Autónoma University in 1975. With over 30 years of experience, Caruncho continues to deepen his understanding in both fields, further shaping his vision of life and the world as a translator of ideas. Here, he reveals his favorite gardens and gardeners, from past, present, and future, and gives us poignant advice on how to live our day-to-day in cities, with green at the center.
So much of your philosophy is about returning to the fundamentals, a Natural World Order, so to speak. Could you expand on this?
To be original, I think it’s essential to return to the origins, whereby a personal and collective renaissance is possible. The history of the aesthetics and the history of art have proven this many times already. In this search of beauty through the garden, from my point of view, you reach the essence and values of humanism—these values are crucial for our vision of the world and are vital to be regained, now more than ever.
How has your upbringing in Spain influenced your relationship to nature? How has that translated over time as you’ve traveled around the world for your work?
It’s true that I started quite early and am highly influenced by my own experience of the gardens where I grew up in [Spain]. That must have influenced me a lot.
In my youth, when I was around 19 to 20 years old, by chance, my memories of these childhood gardens were linked with the intellectual discovery of the garden as a space of knowledge to access and reconnect with nature. This was definitely important in the lead up to now, where this specific search has broadened in circular motions and my experiences of gardens have expanded. These circles are still growing with the years and the experience I gain with every garden I create, in so many different places and cultures, and as I encounter people who have such differing yet complementary points of views.
You have such a spiritual approach to design, creating centers for intangible knowledge, wisdom and contemplation. How does philosophy inform your design?
The garden has, in relation with nature, the same feeling one has when they’re united and part of the world, the world being the cosmos. Sharing these emotions with a companion is a common spiritual experience, similar to that found in religion. The experience of the garden is very similar in that sense, since we feel connected to the universal values of the Garden. Also, a Garden is free of dogma, and for that, it will always give you the opportunity, no matter which culture you’re from, to connect to the world through it. Strangely, anybody in the world is happy in a garden and everyone feels transformed. But any space with a few trees and bushes isn’t necessarily a garden. In order for it to become a garden, a space has to have the reason to search for beauty and a higher order. The Garden is an open space to experience intuition or meditation through the elements of nature. This has incredible value…[it] makes you conscious of the magnificence of the world.
What city inspires you the most and why?
I have had two cities that have left a very strong impression on me during my youth. Florence, where curiously all the values of humanism and the Renaissance were developed, and the other city that has left its mark on me is New York. New York has an extraordinary vitality that moves all the energy and strength of mankind, and this is incredible—it’s palpable.
What garden inspires you the most and why?
If inspiration is an accumulation of memories and knowledge one gains through life, without any doubt, for me, La Alhambra in Granada, Spain inspires me the most. I believe this is the place where the Western and Eastern worlds met and connected. It represents the ancient gardens and, at the same time, the starting points of the contemporary gardens of today.
What flora or fauna do you have particular fondness for?
I don’t have a special fondness, as everything depends on place and climate. Every single place has its beauty and offers you marvelous things. It’s for this reason that designing gardens in different places is a great adventure that teaches you a lot. I love all the autochthonous plants that belong to the vegetal memory of the place.
Which gardeners throughout history, whether past or present, do you admire?
Most of the gardeners who constructed the Alhambra were anonymous, as well as many other wonderful gardeners whose names got lost in history. Among those whose names we know, there is the famous Babur, the Mughal emperor, who was certainly extraordinary, as well as King Solomon described in his Song of Songs, or Pirro Ligorio in the Florence of the Medicis, or why not, the wonderful character of Le Nôtre, full of humanity and his warm look of the world, as well as Capability Brown and all the wonderful group of English landscape gardeners from 18th century. Then, in the 20th century, there was Russell Page, Dan Kiley, René Pechère, all of them extraordinary people of unique value.
In an urbanized city like New York, our homebase, that’s low on green, how do you recommend we infuse nature into our everyday?
One of the things that shocked me about New York is that in some areas, the streets are poorly vegetated. There are parts of the city with great landscape quality and others that have a deficit of gardens, what can be easily solved with a little square with trees and benches. I think there are simple ways that cities can go greener again and nature can take more place in them. The intervention on the High Line is a wonderful example, but many concepts can be applied to the city to make it more humane and habitable. I’m wishing that a promoter will develop a great vegetal building in the city. It would be like an emblem or icon. From here I propose that challenge, not only for New York, but for any city where skyscrapers are protagonist. There is much to do in this direction.
How can we facilitate and nurture greater relationships with nature and keep it at the center of our lives?
For this to happen, people need an interior change, and for meditation, contemplation and reflections to have presence in their lives. From this point on, it’s you who controls the situation and not the other way around. Then you start having a global vision, and it’s there where the change and transformation starts.
This state of mind closely connects you to nature, and to the nature of things. From that point on, you want it to be part of your existence. This change is already taking place. This new attitude with nature will be the contraposition to digital life, and between both we have to find balance.
How do you envision gardens of the future to look like?
This is a question that has a deep undertone, as it will be over this background of the memory of men where the gardens of the future will be developed. Like the poet would say, “To go forward, you need to go for the sheer clarity of the past,” as history shows us, just so you can be reborn. Regarding how the gardens of the future will be, I can’t predict it, but I know a certain thing: that in the garden, there’s always an antagonistic fight that is complementary and necessary; the organic world of nature and the world of the geometric, poetic vision of man, always engaging the space and environment. Further than this aesthetic aspect, what it will be in the near future will be up to a global envisioning of our planet: a garden-paradise in the endlessness and mystery of the universe. Our responsibility will be to reach the garden-paradise that we have once been given and to restore its splendor and joy.
“Hospitality is art,” Dianna Balabon, SIXTY Hotels’ SVP of Sales and Marketing, tell us over breakfast at Sessanta, the ground floor restaurant in the newly revamped SIXTY Soho Hotel in New York.“It’s not science.”
And if anyone were to be well versed on the subject of hospitality, it’s Balabon, the native Midwesterner who cut her teeth catering at Boston’s Le Méridien, later moving up the rungs among the best purveyors of hospitality in the business including, The Leading Hotels of the World, The Peninsula New York, André Balazs Properties and more recently, at Rosewood Hotels and Resorts.
But rest assured, having traveled the world over (her first flight was on Concord traveling to London), Balabon keeps it refreshingly real. She has built a career demonstrating how innovation, personality and high-touch hospitality can conquer the ubiquity and groupthink of big box brands. She has a timeless sensibility that continues to reinvent itself with vigor, owing much of her success to respecting key virtues: authenticity, delight and the power of storytelling.
Here, we glean her insights into hospitality, past, present and future, from human desire to Millenial marketing and gain hope that the very best, is yet to come.
Thinking outside the box
I’ve never been in a big box brand. I’ve avoided it. It was a very conscious decision. Everything is already decided for you because it has to follow a formula, and I don’t like formulas because I think they don’t work anymore. Everybody’s taste changes rapidly and quickly, and formulas negate story telling. There’s no spontaneity.
On hospitality’s misstep
Back in the day hospitality was more of a passion play. These were family-run places where owners wanted to accept and greet their friends. That formula changed with Barry Sternlick, who created Starwood and bought the St. Regis in 1999. That’s when boards of directors became the decision makers and when there was a proliferation of brands. Everything had to scale and suddenly, you had to have a hotel in every single city because it was publicly traded and catered to shareholders with short-term investment needs. It changed the formula of hospitality to one that’s delivering returns to an anonymous face.
The benefits of being nimble
When you’re small you can be very, very high touch. You don’t have to prescribe to formulas that normally get driven down by corporate, who are judging you on them. ‘How are your guests profiles, are they 90% filled out?’ That, in turn, also becomes a formula and everything gets missed…it puts math against service, which I don’t think exists. It shouldn’t. You don’t judge your friends that way.
What lifestyle really means
Everybody’s trying to get into the lifestyle space because I think there’s a clear, corporate misunderstanding of what a Millenial wants. I think there’s an age gap and a fear associated with a generation that grew up connected from start to finish, so they feel like they have to connect on every level…they’re launching a lifestyle brand, a sub-lifestyle brand, a three-star lifestyle brand…and then you go in and they’re outfitting bathrooms with sliding barn doors and it’s like, ‘Wow, that’s your lifestyle value proposition?’ Lifestyle came out of a name out of a couple of people like an Ian Schrager or an André Balazs who said, ‘The Mercer is my living room and these are my friends.’ So when you’ve got so many cheap facsimiles of an original concept, it’s hard to stand apart.
On the SIXTY Hotels approach
It’s slow and steady, with the right people, the right word of mouth. There’s a lot of interest across our five properties, from Miami to Beverly Hills, especially for the WeWorks and NeueHouses, those who offer the living-working dynamic. It’s about being part of a neighborhood, a community. What is the value of the hotel guest room anymore? Is size the most important thing in that concept? Or is it the public space, the fireplace, the ping-pong table, a bowling alley in the basement?
On standing out
I’m a true believer that people’s desires have not changed. When innate humanity changes, that’s when everything will change. We’ve changed the way we distribute information, so there’s this cacophony of noise. So how can you not be propelled and become a participant in that noise? How do you stay focused, dedicated, understanding what your voice is, what our point of view is and not get tugged into many different directions? You have to have a lot of security and comfort. The challenge today is that company’s want to be everything to everyone. It puts pressure on their team…that’s why I look for entrepreneurial companies with a voice.
Inspired by mid-century Venetian doorknobs, Tzelan’s Trumpet Collection boasts soft, sophisticated curves in five versatile sizes for myriad functions. Hook and pull finishes are available in brushed satin white bronze, oil-rubbed white bronze, nickel-plated white bronze, solid walnut and oil-rubbed brass. Patina will develop over time.
This season, Tzelan partnered with New York-based wallpaper and lifestyle brand Voutsa, created by George Venson, to develop a dynamic duo of upholstered furniture pieces: the Vanity Pouf, in Voutsa’s gestural Diaghilev print, and the foldable Edith purse rack, in Ballets Russes. Inspired by the innovation of 20th century dance doyen Sergei Diaghilev, who set Paris ablaze with his dance company, the Ballets Russes. The Vanity Pouf and Edith are handmade in New York with solid walnut or painted wood frames and natural, checkered horsehair trim. Other Voutsa upholstered fabrics available for custom orders with a two-week lead time.
So few titans of industry rise to the very top, mastering their vocation many times over and remain humble and authentically true to their core selves. Daniel Boulud, the New York-based, French chef and restaurateur, is certainly one of them.
Having grown up on his family farm in Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu in France, Boulud cared early on about eating and preparing one’s own food. At tender 14, he left home to become a chef in Lyon, later landing in Washington D.C. to become “the most sought-after table on Embassy Row,” cooking for the French ambassador of the European Commission. Later, he continued to build his tremendous reputation after moving to New York City in 1982, starting first at the Polo Lounge, Le Regence at Hotel Plaza Athénée and then as executive chef of Le Cirque.
In 1993, he created his superlative flagship restaurant Daniel, and a subsequent empire of casual and fine dining restaurants, including Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, Café Boulud, DBGB Kitchen and Bar, db Brasserie and Maison Boulud, that spans from Palm Beach to Singapore.
His accolades—as James Beard’s Outstanding Restaurateur or Outstanding Chef of the Year; or as the Culinary Institute of America’s Chef of the Year; or receiving the French government’s Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur—are still no match for his abundant generosity, commitment to consistency and excellence and his firm belief in mentoring the up-and-coming generation.
Here, Tzelan’s Alison Chi speaks with the culinary maestro on motivation, taste, the importance of tabletop décor and chef’s most precious possessions.
I’m really happy we could do this. To start, I’d love to know how you’re able to take something so high concept like fine dining and redefine it for a broader community and audience.
First, for me, fine dining is my restaurant Daniel, and over the past twenty five years I have made sure that we are relevant to the time and yet, of course, there is always the reference to classicism: classic service and classic food. But there’s also this approach to service and food that keeps reinventing itself. It’s very much like a fashion house, like a design house, where you have to keep reinventing…to really find ways to give it back to our consumer through service and cuisine while also creating different restaurants for different days, time and purpose, but with the same commitment to excellence.
With such varying restaurant concepts for different days, time or purpose—like DBGB or Daniel––how do you make it so it’s understood, so the consumer can separate each restaurant in their mind?
I never really tried to target a particular clientele. We have a global clientele in New York. Of course we have a local clientele too, so it depends on where the restaurant is built, but even our loyal customers will go from place to place. At the same time, there’s also this national and global attraction in New York and interestingly enough, I have faithful customers from South America, Europe and Asia who are coming back to New York to see me every year or two. So it’s very reassuring how people remember the moments we gave them. They carry and cherish that moment until they come back. We try to never be trendy but we are much aware of what trends offer and where trends go.
It’s really inspiring that you’re committed to building yourself as a brand with social media, marketing and PR, but also to the actual, final experience that you’re delivering to your consumers. Is this something you feel like you made a decision early on to practice or was it just part of your personality?
I think it has a lot to do with my personality. When I started in New York as a chef, I had no PR. I had no HR. I had no corporate management. I built myself a reputation, so I feel blessed…and PR of course it plays a role, but we are not aggressive. We do a lot of responsive PR and we sometimes approach certain magazines or journalists and give them good stories.
I find that right now, across the industry, people are having trouble keeping teams together, motivating talent or building culture. But you succeed in this, how?
We are really proud of our retention and feel that the one who sticks with us, trusts us, and trusts that we are going to do something great together. That’s important. I invest in my team and everyone who works for me, especially the youth, because our business is made of people and we try to extract everyone’s talent. I think that’s what’s the most exciting because we have the responsibility of mentorship, teaching and making sure we make them the next generation of great chefs. But we also offer them something very current that will make them compatible with anything they choose to be challenged by.
That’s very encouraging. In your memoirs “Letters to a Young Chef,” you write about how one acquires taste, how it’s a combination between the personal and cultural. I find this particularly relatable in our design industry—we’re constantly surrounded with young designers straight from school or artists from different fields who want to join us…it’s always a conversation that takes place. When you’re recruiting, how do you address taste—is it something learned or do some people just have it?
Everybody has the quality. You can see the weakness and the strength in certain people, so we really try to teach consistency. One must know consistency to really understand taste. In cooking, we enjoy teaching with reference…not to any classic rule, cuisine or application, but to serve as a little bit of a compass, a guideline, referring to a certain culture or a certain country. It’s what keeps us on track. When we do a dish with very Asian influence by application or technique, we observe that culture, that cuisine and try to really capture the balance of taste.
So I wonder then, as a chef, how you successfully deliver each dish in a way that you control, and in doing so, how important you find things like table top or décor, what we at Tzelan strongly focus on. Does it help to elevate what you’re trying to achieve, which is essentially, a transformative dining experience?
Tabletop is part of the fantasy! And to tell you the truth, I am thinking very deeply right now about how to change tabletop…next year I am planning to make some serious change. A restaurant is also a business where it’s not a gallery, it’s not a museum, it’s not an exhibition. So with every consideration for something, it is very important to find products with a little bit of longevity, with a little bit of durability, with a little bit of resistance.
When Tzelan was created, it was to service the hospitality industry in a different way. Right now, there are so many sources that say, “We sell to the trade!” And they do exactly that. Maybe it’s durable; it certainly is cheap enough. But the designs, their sense of taste and their holistic understanding of the industry is very poor. So it was important for us at Tzelan to say, “Listen. We have the same sort of manufacturing power, but we have an artful approach to how to design things, how to use certain finishes that are beautiful. And this makes all the difference.
Absolutely. I think it’s not an argument either. I think it’s an opportunity. Being French, I always keep a little bit of the art of the table French style, and there has been an incredible influence, I mean a very positive and very interesting influence over from Asia, especially from Japan and China. I love that…the power of the influence of kaiseki menus and multi-course in an Asian feast where there are 25 dishes on the table and every one of them had a purpose, had a contrast together. The French is sometimes a bit more conservative because it’s mostly white china—it’s important to have the food contrasting in a very pure way. I enjoy that too. And so through the forms, through shape and through color, I enjoy sometimes having, for example, texture that has the same white on white but the porcelain has a matte finish or some glazed finish. I don’t get carried away too far, but we still invite ideas to combine things that are interesting to us and seek a program of food.
I completely agree. I think between France and Japan, two regions where you have that culture and formality of the tabletop, from fine dining all the way to peoples’ countryside homes. It’s so meaningful and unique.
And I think it’s timeless as well, which is very reassuring to see. And you know, it’s inspiring you today, it inspired others before, and it will inspire people after without changing itself!
Oh, I love that.
I think that is a little bit of my character. I keep inspiring while I’m trying to remain, not in a still position, but with a certain approach to classicism that helps
me to stay grounded.
On the subject of objects, what is your most prized one, whether at home or in the kitchen…something that you love to collect?
Well for me, I think it’s at work. You know if I could afford it, I’ll buy all the ones I love! [Laughs] But at least I try to do well. I love Chuck Close and to me, it sends me waves of strength and power. At home, I have a big Chuck. I have a piece of art with Jim Harris…with very wavy, powerful and peaceful sort of strokes. So I have a big Jim Harris. I have a portrait of myself with Vik Muniz. And he made it in chocolate, so it’s very rare! It’s just Thomas Keller and I who have our portraits in chocolate because I had commissioned Vik to do the portrait of Thomas for his 60th birthday. And then I also have a big knife collection. Many are French, Japanese and German…oh, and cookbooks! I always collect cookbooks, for many years and some odd things. Odd things in the passage of your life, but I’m not so much of an obsessed collector of one thing.
Lastly, tell us what inspires you most in other people?
Their passion and intelligence…someone’s passion for their craft, and it doesn’t matter which craft that is. You can be a wood maker, chef, architect, designer…anything that has to do with expression. That is what inspires me the most. People, who, through their mind, show an expression of their style and are able to keep reinventing themselves with it. Also youth and energy—I cannot be around people who are lacking motivation or people who are too tired with life. Youth can be at any age, it is just a question of wanting to keep giving…anyone who wants to keep giving inspires me too.
Designed with a gem-like silhouette, Tzelan’s Octave dish features two playful sides for multi-faceted use. Made of durable optic-cut glass from Europe, the Octave was developed for Tzelan with collaborative partners, industrial designer Jessica Corr and 19th century silversmith manufacturer Sonja Quandt. Tzelan’s Octave dish is available for $48 USD online at www.tzelan.com.
Inspired by the beach during wintertime, the smell of crisp sandalwood burning, layers of wool knit sweaters worn to fend off the ocean breeze, Tzelan collaborates with Argentine perfumer Casa Fueguia to create its custom signature scent with native notes from the abundant terrain of Patagonia, the Alps of South America. Vetiver, juniper berries, fir balsam and cedars are paired with pink pepper, lavender and eucalyptus for a light, airy effect.
Dear friends and family,
I come to you in bittersweet celebration of the life and love of Bubble the Jack Russell. Saturday, February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day on which we celebrate the love that enriches our lives, our beloved Bubble passed away. So much more than a dog, Bubble was and remains a cherished member of our family after 18 and a half years. With us she shared her blissful spirit, a zest for life and affectionate heart to be treasured. Whether exploring Central Park or visiting her friends at tonychi, Bubble brought delight to all fortunate enough to know her. Such a rarity is a soul like Bubble’s.
Bubble was here for a purpose, a purpose she fulfilled. I find it most fitting that Tammy was the one who found Bubble for they were so similar in their personalities: generous, considerate, patient and intelligent. Tammy and Bubble shared much that I admire. Bubble was our baby, a member of the family, both tonychi and Tzelan. She was with us during our era of significant growth. Bubble waited and watched with her intelligent eyes and loving spirit as all fell into place. A beacon of patience and composure, Bubble united the studios. Her patience knew no bounds.
With her gift of loyal patience, Bubble remained to see her job complete. Upon her final visit to the tonychi studio, Bubble exhibited the loving patience for which she was fondly known. Despite her dwindling strength, Bubble walked throughout the entire studio on her own. Amidst gentle pats and kind greetings from her friends, Bubble had an air of tranquility about her, as if saying, “My job here is finished.” Bubble waited and gave all her strength in order to say goodbye to everyone whose lives she had touched. The quintessential Bubble, patient in all aspects of her being, shared a love much bigger than her petite body, considerate to the very end.
In patience we discover that for which we are most willing to wait. What truly matters is worth our precious time. For Bubble, she who embodied the value of waiting, it was a walk in the park, a good night kiss, or the anticipation of seeing her family. Bubble had a gift for waiting, choosing her moments and actions with the delicacy of a life lived with passion.
Bubble’s was a life of reciprocated love, a life that every living creature deserves. Millions of animals on our planet lack love and protection. In honoring the life of Bubble, let us all consider the animals that are not fortunate enough to live lives of mutual love such as Bubble’s. Let us all educate ourselves and show compassion that we may actively love and protect these innocent creatures.
The heartfelt sentiments and condolences of our friends have brought us much solace and joy. Your kindness and encouragement lift our spirits and for that we are immensely grateful.
Bubble lives on, in the warming sun and soft grass of Central Park, in the blissful joy of a reunion with loved ones, in the calming love we feel in our hearts. Bubble’s memory also lives on through a visual tribute to her life on instagram at bubblethejackrussel – http://instagram.com/bubblethejackrussell #bubblethejackrussell
Through the life and love of Bubble, we celebrate our blessings and reflect upon what is worth waiting for. Thank you, Bubble. May your beautiful soul find peace and rest.
Chengdu, in China’s southwest, is the 2,300-year-old-capital of Sichuan Province known for its panda reserves, lush green bamboo forests and fiery hot cuisine. Once home to China’s famed Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu, the city boasts a bustling urban center today, with its own brand of pared back cool. This winter, we visited our proud partner, the Grand Hyatt Chengdu designed by tonychi, in the ancient Brocade City (Chengdu was also the production hub for Chinese silks enjoyed by China’s royal elite) and paid homage to the one unifying dining ritual that has been exported the world over: Sichuanese hot pot, a spicy broth stew where diners cook a variety of raw foods, and pair with a subtle dipping sauce.
“I’m Chinese but I’m very lucky to have had the opportunity to learn and grow up in both cultures [East and West],”
reveals Sonia Cheng, the millenial CEO behind Asia’s staggering Rosewood Hotel Group, which owns iconic properties across the world, including The Carlyle in New York City, Hôtel de Crillon in Paris and Rosewood London. “I can think and see from both perspectives, which is invaluable when operating in a global arena.”
“This is one of the most exciting times in history to be a business leader in Asia,” Cheng adds with fervor. To not acknowledge the region’s reemergence as a global superpower would be remiss. “We are not in ‘catch up’ mode in this part of the world any longer, we are leading the way with energy, dynamism and a sense of possibility.”
Since Cheng’s family purchased Rosewood Hotel Group under their Hong Kong-based conglomerate New World Development in 2011, Cheng has been in charge of transforming a billion-dollar business with her distinctive approach, using what she calls “relationship hospitality” as guide. “We strive to create, nurture and treasure long-term relationships with those who stay with us and those who work with us,” she explains.
Her team also turns their attention towards the next wave of travelers who are shaping the ultra-luxury hospitality industry. “We call them ‘affluential explorers,’” she explains. “They want personal connections, authenticity and travel that is experiential, not superficial. All the trappings of luxury are expected along the way, but they’re looking for something deeper and more meaningful. At Rosewood we are catering to this evolved mindset.”
Personally, Cheng cites “[being] in the moment” as her philosophy to live by, although ambition, family and her kids have also played large, motivational roles. “I think I’ve always been driven…the example of my family and what they’ve achieved has been an inspiration and was ingrained in me from an early age. It’s an indefinable force, but I’m consumed by bringing my visions to life,” she says. “I also always try to enjoy every moment when I’m with my kids…some things you just don’t want to miss.”
How does she stay balanced in our increasingly fast-paced and interconnected world? “Technology is surely unavoidable these days but it is only one way of communicating. It is key for me to ensure there is personal and meaningful interaction between me and my team, my friends and my family,” she imparts. “It is also important for us, in the hotel business, to keep the human touch in mind because this is at the heart of a guest’s experience.”
Following, Cheng opens up to Tzelan about everything from what she’s reading to her home away from home…
Currently, children psychology books.
Rosewood Beijing! It’s our first Rosewood hotel in Asia (five years in the making) and really brought my future vision for the brand to life. It will always have a very special place in my heart.
Honestly, Rosewood London. I travel to the British capital a lot, and I love its dynamism. The Rosewood hotel is not only stunning, but it gives me such a sense of ease and comfort and style and charm in the midst of my frantic running around!
I love properties that have character, are intimate and really reflect the hospitality of the location. I’ve found some outstanding examples in the British and Italian countryside, and even at a secluded resort in Cambodia. But I don’t have one favorite because my opinion changes all the time.
Humor, ambition, kindness.
Intelligence and independence.
Loyalty and honesty.
Trying to do too much and being very hard on myself.
Being cut off from all forms of communication – no phone, no mobile device, no conversation.
Hong Kong, of course!
All jewel tones. Just not pink or baby blue – I’m not a pastel kind of girl!
My father and grandfather. They’re very smart, humble and down-to-earth.
Pulled in different directions! There’s so much happening in our business, and my family will be expanding come December, so there’s a lot on my plate… but I love it.
Though the Japanese bento’s use as a box lunch is hardly novel—it also arose independently as the Taiwanese biandang, the Indian tiffin or the Korean dosirak—it suffuses artful elegance to an everyday ritual. For fall, Tzelan developed the Memento Bento concept for the Grand Hyatt Gurgaon Residences, a new tower development by IREO (designed by tonychi, architecture by Sir Norman Foster) in the outskirts of New Delhi, India.
Custom-designed for globally minded residents, the high-quality lacquer with a screen-print silver lattice pattern integrates beautiful interior space with a tabletop surface and easily dismantles into multi-purpose serving or storage trays: one with a gold plated surface and a three-storage and four-storage divider. For further inquiries and custom specifications, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Having begun his small business—which he likens to a Duchampian machine, a living sculpture whose gears he can twist, turn and experiment with—in early 2013, Venson’s Voutsa has quickly become lauded by New York Magazine, American Vogue, World of Interiors and Architectural Digest as a rising star, gently transforming the otherwise outmoded practice of covering walls. Here, Venson explains himself, his product and his recent rise with humility and candor from the comfort of his Chelsea atelier.
Who am I? I am skeptical of identifying myself as an artist because I don’t like the way our contemporary culture and the contemporary art world have defined what it is to be an artist. As a response to that, I started a brand in which the responsibilities and the daily tasks I do resonate for me more with what it means to be an artist than what I see a lot of people doing who we define as artists.
To me, to be an artist is freedom and operating in an unknown area, trying to make things. And that’s not to say I don’t think somebody who makes paintings or sculptures is not an artist, but the space I’m occupying as a ‘designer’ or a ‘founder of this little company’ feels almost like a living sculpture. So the things that I do all feel like little aspects of this sculpture, which is an anonymous brand, Voutsa. It’s like a Duchampian machine. It has different gears that I get to spin and turn and see how they intersect and intertwine and I like that. Making the wallpaper was the beginning and it was just out of necessity that I did everything myself because I didn’t have money or people to do things for me. So I painted and made all the patterns, I make everything. My relationship to Voutsa is what I like to think of as pleasantly complicated and it gets simplified often. I think I’m going to be doing more things with the theater or commercial stores. I’m trying to keep Voutsa as open as I can and I’m trying to get away from being pinned as a painter…
I am a painter by training, but I’m an artist that essentially runs a company, which is a very strong contradiction. But I think art often requires the most polarized contradictions. That’s where you get an artwork. You don’t get it by pairing two magically beautiful things next to each other. You get it by sharp contrast.
I don’t know. I just focus on these patterns. I try very hard to make them as good as they can be. I try to give them their own life. It’s not that I feel my signature is on them because I’m so good. I treat them like they are really important and they’re going to be around for a long time. I try to make them strong and I think the design world has recognized that effort.
You know, here’s this person that has decided to make wallpaper. They’re all the same size. There’s not a whole lot of variation. But, the patterns resonate enough where a small portion of the world embraces them.
I think there’s definitely something missing. What’s missing are artists who run companies. You have artists trying really hard to get into Art Basel and MoMA, but you don’t have artists trying to get into Bergdorf Goodman or the Decoration & Design building.
I think I’m just inspired by challenges. People who do challenging things. I really like early Fornasetti—I like brands that I think are similar. I like artists who did things that were similar, so someone like William Kentridge. , I like the patterns of Fortuny, the creative directors of Hermès, those were all high craft. People who’ve done things for operas, theaters or plays.
I think that my solution is to plead no contest to what people want to call wallpaper. It certainly can be treated as a really expensive, desirable thing. Similarly, so could art. It could also be treated as a throwaway thing, just like art.
My new collection is going to be an attempt to reinvent a global Chinoiserie relative to the history of Chinoiserie wallpapers. Some of them are going to be more representational; some of them are going to be more abstract. I think I’ll call it Global Chinoiserie: The Seven Wonders.
Clockwise from top left: (a, b, f) collected curios and porcelainware at Tessaidou; (c, d) among the Miki family’s bamboo grove; (e) in the home of the Nagamatsu family; (g) a scenic daybreak in Kyoto.
No matter where we found ourselves in the world this season, we were constantly reminded of our genetic makeup—a unique hybrid of Eastern zen and Western formality—during our ongoing pursuit for newness. Our influences were resoundingly clear as we explored the designs at trade show Maison & Objet Paris, as we sat at a table amongst friends at old school bistro Le Gavroche, or visited our partners in Singapore and Shanghai.
Here, we capture that alluring spirit and assemble the various inspirations—some obvious, others surprisingly disparate—that move us this fall, whether the vivid coloring of a romantic François Boucher painting, the filmic still of director Ang Lee’s epic Lust, Caution or the elegant bamboo curve of the Campana brothers’ Wave chair.
tzelan’s edwardian flair chair sits at the unique meeting point where elegant gestures and classical design elements from the old world are reinterpreted for the new with transformative effect. Here, the physical boundaries between East and West diminish, giving way to a global sensibility that suffuses iconic hospitality projects like the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. Made of radio-net cane wrapped in a rift-cut oak wood, the Edwardian Flair chair boasts a 100% graphic houndstooth upholstered seat and polished nickel studs. Made to order in Italy. For inquiries, email email@example.com.
Nestled in the Midi-Pyrénées region in southwest France is a tiny commune in Gers called Sérempuy. Blink, and you just might miss the 1.26 square miles of French countryside known for its decadent duck products and Armagnac brandy. It’s population? 38.
Each summer, Tzelan’s Alison Chi sojourns to the bucolic setting amidst rolling hills and endless plains of sunflowers “that turn to face the sun in the peak of summer season.” Chateau Sérempuy formerly belonged to Joseph Marquis de Mauleon, the Lord of Sérempuy during the late 18th century and was restored 25 years ago by Tzelan’s friend and proponent of artful living, Patrick Dayen.
The six-bedroom home, was uniquely designed to accommodate his family, complete with a billiards and game room, office den filled with art geared toward Dayen’s passion for cars and Armagnac, a family-style kitchen and a natural, outdoor pool filled to be a nostalgic shade of green.
Daily Sérempuy rituals include folding the French-style shutter windows open and close, the click-clack sounds that became associated with sunrise and sunset. Time was also spent foraging the surrounding terrain for food—chickens from the coop across the street, vegetables from the garden, garlic that hung to dry in the old stable.
Additional sustenance was also procured from the neighboring village of Mauvezin, or even further, in Fleurance. Jams and sauces were prepared a season in advance. Arranging fresh-cut flowers from the garden and setting the table precluded mealtimes. Sundowners were enjoyed with Pimm’s Cup, rosé wine, homemade saucisson, local foie gras and crisps.
Other hours were filled with conversation, sunbathing, reading, napping and idling. Sleep in the chateau’s canopy-style bed frames, traditionally used by lords and noblemen in medieval Europe, provided a comforting sense of warmth and privacy.
Life in this quaint village serves as a sharp contrast to the urban bustle of New York City. Sérempuy, we look forward to returning soon.
Summer sees the launch of Tzelan’s collection of lacquer boxes, laden with intricate arabesque motifs, delicate chevrons and sophisticated stripes inspired by pendant flags and textiles of yore. Dark blue hues and ebony base tones are complemented by soft gray and gold accents for a timeless effect. Produced in sold wood frames with a glossy lacquer finish in Guangzhou, China, this series of boxes stack neatly in tiers for bookshelf or tabletop display.
“Ernest Hemingway writes in the bedroom of his house in the Havana suburb of San Francisco de Paula. He has a special workroom prepared for him in a square tower at the southwest corner of the house, but prefers to work in his bedroom, climbing the tower room only when ‘characters’ drive him up there,” writes George Plimpton in his article for The Paris Review‘s Spring 1958 issue, whereby he interviews and writes about the literary icon in exacting detail.
It’s revealed that Hemingway always wrote standing; that he wore down number two pencils on typewriter paper when beginning projects; that he kept rigorous track of his daily word count (which varied in the 400’s, 500’s or 1000’s depending on the day); that his surroundings were particularly littered with trinkets and ephemera that the writer amassed throughout the years: stacks of books, wood carvings of animals, stuffed caribou heads, shotgun shells, letters and buffalo horns. (He was a hoarder.)
Finca Vigía, which is Spanish for Lookout Farm, was built in 1886 and purchased by Hemingway in 1940 (he began living there in 1939). It was there where he produced some of his most salient works and where legendary actress Ava Gardner famously swam naked in the estate’s pool (he also swam half a mile daily as a break from writing around noon). Following his abrupt death in 1961, the home and its contents were bequeathed to the people of Cuba, whom he had tremendous affection for.
On approach to the house, past the gates, where baseball is still played today in the street outside, his home is kept in perfect form. “Crystallized in time,” describes Valerie Hemingway, the novelist’s last personal secretary in Smithsonian Magazine in August 2007 of the home’s overall look and feel. “Looking at the chintz-covered chair in the living room,” she recounts, “I saw Hemingway’s ample figure as he sat holding a glass of scotch in one hand, his head slightly nodding to a George Gershwin tune coming from the record player. In the dining room, I saw not the heavy oblong wooden table with its sampling of china place settings, but a spread of food and wine and a meal in progress, with conversation and laughter and Ernest and [wife] Mary occasionally calling each other ‘kitten’ and ‘lamb.’ In the pantry, where the seven servants ate and relaxed, I recalled watching Friday-night boxing broadcasts from Madison Square Garden.”
But despite the chatter and noise, Hemingway preferred to write in the mornings, irrespective of whether he was in Paris, Idaho, Key West or Cuba. It was then that the writer did his best work. “I write every morning as soon after first light as possible,” he tells Plimpton. “There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again…When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.”
Artful moments exist in the evanescent everyday, giving deeper meaning to life lived in the here and now, however fleeting. To mark the elusive transition into the new spring season, Tzelan visited the late George Nakashima’s iconic wood workshop and live-in estate in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
For George Nakashima, the American-born Japanese architect turned artist, woodworker and furniture maker from Spokane, Washington, live wood was his medium of choice. “To be intimate with nature in its multifaceted moods,” Nakashima said, “is one of the greatest experiences of life.” It is within that experience, and through a formed, inwardly approach with direct experience, that he created exceptional works of art.
Largely considered the father of the American craft movement and one of the most respected innovators of 20th century furniture design, Nakashima looked towards naturally inspired elements, like the moss garden and teahouse at Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple Saiho-ji in Kyoto, or the stone and glass of Chartres, France. But ultimately, it was the nobility of the tree that appealed to him most. “George was very much a purist,” describes his daughter Mira Nakashima. “He wanted, when you touch the furniture, to also touch the wood.”
Nakashima paid the utmost respect to nature, and specifically, tress, giving a renewed sense of purpose and new life to a tree and “its eternal patience, its suffering caused by man…its witness to thousands of years of earth’s history, its creations of fabulous beauty. It does nothing but good, with its prodigious ability to serve.”
While the tree lives on in noble forms, through collected lumber fashioned into “useful objects to fulfill man’s life,” so too does his personal legacy through Mira—the keeper of the George Nakashima Studio—her son Ru Amagasu and his son Toshi, who all live on the family estate and continue Nakashima’s important work, alongside the craftsmen who were trained by her father before his departure in 1990.
Mira, who holds two degrees in architecture, inherited the Nakashima legacy and has continued to expand upon his oeuvre with newly evolved design solutions like the studio’s Keisho Collection, which represents a continuity of practice, tradition and technique dedicated to her mother, Marion Nakashima.
Ultimately, it is Mira’s greatest wish to fulfill her father’s dream in providing “Altars of Peace” for each of the seven continents on earth. The first “Altar of Peace,” constructed from a magnificent pair of matched black walnut, was installed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City in 1986. The second has found it way within the newly renovated Russian Academy of Art in Moscow to help inspire peace in the new millennium.
It was in this peaceful, serene presence of Mira and the Nakashima family, their studio, their woodwork and the greatness of their surrounding woods—with cherry blossoms in short, full bloom—that inspired us to embrace nature’s intimacy and gave us hope in our own pursuit of meaningful everyday living, in highlighting the importance of craft, our creative future, and for now, spring.
To Celebrate the Sprit of Spring we asked our fiends from around the world to reveal with that season means to them…
|—Monica Cuellar, Tory Birch||—Jessica Corr, Designer||—Nicole Rochette, gl-ow|
|—Olivier Weppe, gl-ow||—Stefano Ronchetti||—William Lau Jr.|
musings with Tony Chi, designer and founder of tonychi and associates
Today, looking back, there’s only one way to summarize the journey,” says Tony Chi, founder of New York-based design practice tonychi and associates. Peering through his signature round-framed glasses, typically red or cobalt blue (depending on his mood), Chi has a layered, almost meditative look in his eyes. The lyrical melody of xiao flute and piano plays in the background, its simple instrumental sound a light overture to the rich, theatrical tale that is about to unfold.
“The story begins from a small island to a big island,” he continues, half present, half consumed with his never-ending list of to-dos, whether for a project in London, Mendoza, Chengdu or Hong Kong. His hands idle away at colored pencils strewn across his studio desk in Soho, New York. “It was from an island full of memories, or Taiwan, that I traveled to start a new life here on Manhattan, a lonely island.”
For Chi, who has called New York City home for over 40 years despite spending considerable time abroad (he recently penned a guest column as a “frequent flier” for The New York Times offering savvy travel tips), his first encounter with the City and coming to America as a young adolescent was a jarring experience.
For starters, it was characterized by the absence of light. “I remember crossing the [Williamsburg] Bridge from JFK airport,” Chi recalls, “It was after midnight and the city was dark. Delancey Street was dark, the right turn onto Avenue B…god, was it dark and lonely.” That peculiar feeling of isolation, of living in an impenetrable, concrete jungle as opposed to an open one with glittering skyscrapers and hopeful dreams, would set the tone for much of his early youth.
He learned to speak English and to assimilate into American culture—his first New York memories include fishing and crabbing at Coney Island and buying a t-shirt of football legend Joe Namath. Even his name “Tony” originated in haphazard fashion. While enroute to New York, the Chi family had to transfer flights during a stopover in San Francisco International Airport. Tony was told by his mother to return to “Gate T to NY” in case he got lost––“to NY” became “Tony” when asked to write his English name later on in middle school. (Those were the only combination of letters that left a strong impression.)
He found solace in communicating through art at the High School of Art & Design. In the classroom, if he wasn’t cutting class (“It was the 70’s!”), he constantly doodled or painted with watercolors. Outside of the classroom, Chi was inspired by music, another universally understood, sensory experience, and traveled around the U.S. to catch acts like Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Deep Purple, The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band. High school, he cites, was one of the happiest times of his life.
Afterwards, Chi studied architecture for a year before transferring to The Fashion Institute of Technology to pursue a degree in interior design. It was during this time that he learned to cultivate his eye and develop a deep appreciation for style, through the flamboyant design world inhabited by already established friends like Juan Montoya and Vicente Wolf. “West Broadway yesterday,” Chi recalls, “was Soho today.” Downtown had this cool, creative camaraderie––from Chinese hangout Oh Ho So to the old Castelli Gallery up the street.
The architecture and design industry then, however, placed heavy emphasis on schooling, specifically by championing Ivy League graduates of Columbia, Harvard and Yale. For those, like Chi, who went against the conventional grain––or couldn’t afford the hefty tuition fees of private universities––they sought to define their own niche. Chi, already a part of the inspired downtown scene, set up his own design studio on 611 Broadway in the iconic beaux art Cable Building in 1984.
“I basically did my thing, I didn’t care about anything else. [They] would never imagine that you would be good enough for them, socially, economically, creatively, financially, intelligently, et cetera,” Chi explains. “But when you start creating outrageous designs, people start to look at you differently. When New York Magazine cited me as one of their upcoming top ten designers, people started to ask ‘Who the hell is this guy?’”
Chi’s big break came with the Café Society on 21st and Broadway, a sleek restaurant that led to more projects within Manhattan before the market crashed in 1987, forcing him to look elsewhere for opportunity. He set his sight toward the small island of his past: Taiwan. Immediately following, he began to explore other parts of Asia, including Indonesia, Japan and Hong Kong. With the right combination of luck in partnership (with restaurateur Paul Hsu, real-estate developer Allan Zeman and Hyatt Group’s Frank Ansel), timing and persistence, Chi built a successful practice in ten years.
“From a professional point of view, I think I bridge old masters from the past,” he says of sustaining his now thirty-one-year-old practice. “I practice like an old scholar. I don’t look at business.” His signature aesthetic, “invisible design” which is “what touches you rather than what you see,” is a resulting culmination of his past, present and future defined by his respective experiences in Asia and the West. Though he is always reconciling the two sides, he veers towards his Eastern roots when explaining his outlook in life.
“In Chinese culture, we were brought up to believe one thing. It was called the collection of life. You collect things over a lifetime and you treasure them. When you die, you take all your collection and you somehow disperse them to give to your loved ones or you bury them with you,” Chi explains. That “over a lifetime” mentality is also applied to his design process. “Most people don’t seem to see things that have aging beauty in them. People like new things, but I always gravitate towards things that have been around for a while…things that have patina.”
Is there one project in his collection of life that has been the total embodiment of his creative vision? “Every job to me is a draft of some sort,” he replies, citing the impossibility of executing one project from its pure point of origin after passing through the hands of the builder, developer and operator. “I draft them like a sketch because if it’s a sketch, it’s not so hard to part with…the one thing I learned is to never fall in love. If you fall in love with something, you cannot let it go. None of [my projects] are full-fledged paintings.
“The only thing that will stay pure and true for me,” he adds, “is if I ever build my house. I will put myself in it.” Having recently purchased land overlooking the Hudson River in Garrison, New York, Chi is well on his way to creating his pièce de résistance. Currently in his fifth iteration of its design, Chi’s Garrison house will be free of perceptions, which he believes are rooted in the past, what has already happened. “I’m trying to create something new,” he says firmly.
Formality, he advises, is also crucial to understanding one’s relationship to a home. “I want the formality [of Garrison] to say, ‘I am confident in this house.’ When you feel very confident in this house, many things can happen. You wake up confidently and you’re going to live that day confidently…I think the end result will be incredible.”
So incredible, in fact, that Tony Chi—the design world doyen who created everything from nothing, the grandmaster with the impenetrable force, much like the spirit of the dark and lonely island he once perceived Manhattan to be––may finally fall in love? “Oh,” he says, amused by the idea. “Just maybe.”
Coincidentally, the Italian capital of the historic Lombardy region also serves as host for another international event this year—the Universal Exhibition (or Expo Milano 2015), where over 140 countries will introduce new technology aimed at solving global problems of sustainability.
For Tzelan, traveling to the industrial city rife with creative energy was a given. We took part in our own series of springtime misadventures: debuting our humble yet luxurious Ongo lamp at Salone, celebrating la dolce vita with our friends, near (like Stefano Ronchetti of Milan’s Marzorati Ronchetti) and far (like the Lau family of Hong Kong’s B.S.C. Group and ColourLiving), over Aperol spritzes in the artistic Brera district; supplanting our gluten-free New York diets with pasta-rich Milanese ones; and exploring the high-low terrain of luxury shopping row Via Monte Napoleone to the up-and-coming cool of Zona Tortona.
Artfully arranged leather case goods from Tzelan—made in collaboration with master craftsman Oscar Maschera—make their debut this spring. With a savoir faire rooted in a thousand-year-old village in Italy’s Marche region, Oscar Maschera’s handmade process takes two hand-cut, vegetable-tanned skins and pieces them together with elegant pleats and hand stitching for unique effect. Tzelan by Oscar Maschera is available for purchase in four modern, multi-purpose silhouettes and a navy and ochre color combination.
Clockwise from top left corner:
SKU#ACC-14009 Amenities Tray 840mm L x 450mm W x 85mm H
SKU#ACC-14007 Laundry Hamper, Linen Liner Optional 300mm L x 300mm W x 300mm H
Center right image, product located at bottom of cluster:
SKU#ACC-14008 Guest Pillow Basket, Linen Liner Optional 840mm L x 550mm W x 150mm H
For contract business and large quantity orders, please contact Claudia Serafini
“I had to come up with my own way of seeing things in order for them to make sense to me,” says painter, printmaker, sculptor, architect and alchemist Kia Pederson on finding her own visual identity. Based between New York City and Coecles Harbor on Shelter Island, Kia’s greatest artistic influence has been the inspired, delicate dance of wind on the water, which she translates into gestural pieces of art that combine experimental materials and texture with sharp, dramatic relief.
Having sailed since she was eight years old with her father William Pederson, the iconic architect and founding design partner of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (or KPF), Kia cites (in addition to dad), the dancer Martha Graham, painters Georgia O’Keefe and Jackson Pollock and the composers Chopin and Saint-Saens among her favorite creatives. With a varied background studying printmaking and sculpture at Carleton College and architecture at Yale, Kia also oversaw global store construction for brands like Polo Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
Ultimately, it was her desire to create works of art that resonated most. Ever since, she has adhered to her motto, to “keep it real,” a mantra as simple as her love for popcorn and beer. This spring, Kia and Tzelan begin an ongoing creative collaboration, transferring her unique art into products for everyday living, beginning with heritage porcelain plates.
Here, we decipher the multifaceted world of the inimitable artist:
—tar on copper portraits
Breaking the rules
“Abstraction is something that has always been held up high on a platform in my household. But for me, it’s not so much abstraction as it is coming up with a process that’s uniquely my own. I chose printmaking because there are a lot of rules in printmaking and I get to break the rules, and then they become mine. I enjoy things that are mine.”
A Creative Calling
“I really like working with my hands, so when I was in architecture, I used to love building models. But then, about fifteen years ago, I started noticing that computers were taking over. I was working for ‘Polo Ralph Lauren’ and then ‘Calvin Klein’…everything was digitized. We had to take photographs and link them on the computer and it just wasn’t satisfying to me anymore. I learned that I didn’t like managing projects as much as I did making things.”
Reading the wind patterns
“In the beginning, I really looked to my father to be my main critic since my family has been incredibly supportive. Any artist needs to have a benefactor and my parents have been those benefactors. But then I needed to take a big jump and start doing my own things, so it’s recently that I’ve been working more with galleries for input. They’re into colors that he’s not into (he likes black and white), whereas I’ve been very much into blues.”
Artist and Benefactor
“Whenever I think about my work, it’s really influenced by reading wind on the water. I’ve been sailing since I was eight, and my dad was the person that taught me. For the last six years, I’ve been racing, so I’ve sort of taken it to another level. I race three days a week in the summer time.”
Light in the East End
“Jackson Pollock’s house is out on the East end [of Long Island] near where i live. He’s on the mainland in Springs and I’m on Shelter island…but he is still [very much alive] there because his house has been kept as a museum and you can go in and put on these little booties and walk over the floor that he painted on, which is much like an abstract painting on the floor. So I feel very much his kindred spirit in terms of the quality of light in the East end. Joseph Giovannini was nice enough to say to me that I was the next generation of Jackson Pollock, which was one of the best compliments I’ve had.”
Collaborating with Tzelan
“It’s been very exciting to work with tzelan because I love home products, and we designed charger plates for a bowl to sit on top of so there’s still a visual, viewing component. Also, in my family, when you come home with a beautiful bowl, it’s an exciting event. It’s very organic. When my dad would come home from trips to Japan or Korea, he would bring an object, and it always came in a beautiful box and it was always something he picked out lovingly.”
The Lightness of Touch
“The more you want to touch it, the more I like making it. It’s a sensual quality and for me, when I see something I really like, I want to touch it. It’s also a reaction to being in museums where everything is cordoned off and says ‘Don’t Touch.’ Since the architecture in my family is so pristine, you feel like you can’t touch anything. Now, in my parents’ apartment, it’s filled with my art. So there’s this very formal architecture with very gestural paintings…I manage to bring an organic quality into my father’s architecture.”
Minimal Everyday Living
“I’m a minimalist. I have very few things and I love materials, like my floor in the city, which is teak with wide boards. Then I have one of my carpets from the University of Michigan that I had made. My whole apartment was intended to be a showcase for my work, so it’s really meant as a gallery space.”
The Chinese character “居” or ju, as it’s phonetically pronounced and transcribed in Pinyin, represents a myriad of meanings, the most significant of which is “home.” Specifically, it’s used in colloquial terms to represent a dwelling or residence (noun) or to stop, remain and stay awhile (verb). It’s this particular word––or eight character strokes––that we’ve chosen to base the inaugural issue of The Fifth Quarterly on: house and home.
Whether it’s the family home of Tzelan founder Tammy Chou’s Central Park South residencein New York City, a room at Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow, InterContinental Geneva or Rosewood London (among other properties where Tzelan products live), one overarching thread is warmth. “Regardless of the definition, whether it be a home or hotel, it’s about who you’re with and how comfortable you are,” Chou says. One thing she can’t leave home without? “Bubble,” she replies, referring to the family’s beloved 17-year-old Jack Russell Terrier.
Home is a place of solace and escape. A place where memories and objects collide forming a collage of life. No matter what country, city, building or canvas—home is the collection of the physical memoirs gathered throughout life. Memories of countries visited, people met, exciting little shops, or family occasions- home is where these come together to form the diagram of an individual’s journey through life. A place of happiness, sadness and all imaginable emotions- home is a place of contentment and comfort. — My home moves countries a lot!
Home is love, fun, family, friends, inspiration, parties, a place to relax and be yourself. Home is where you don’t need to get dressed, look well, be polite and sound nice. Home is my art, my paintings, my antiques, my books, my colors, my feelings, my laughter and my dearest Ariel, Tigre and Leon.
Home should be a sanctuary for the people living there. My feeling is that minimalistic surroundings are calming, soothing and conductive to private family functions and gatherings with family — both adults and children residing there. The surroundings serene, the people important.
Home means… a lot of laughing with my children and my friends over great, long, dinners. I enjoy cooking at home and setting beautiful tables. Home, for me, is also about the stories of your life layered, collected and shared with those you love.
Is Home defined where I was born or where I currently reside? Or perhaps the many places that I am fortunate enough to visit around the world that my travels take me to—from the caves in Cappadocia to a tent in the Serengeti or a simple neighborhood jaunt in New York City. For me, I have come to realize that Home is a feeling. A deep emotion. A special experience that allows me to connect with the community that I find myself in. Lucky for me, I am blessed to be able to call so many places around the world my Home.
“‘Standards’ would be the word that laid the foundation for what would become an unintentional homogenization of Hotels abroad a wide spectrum of development in countries worldwide,” Robert Louey, the brand ambassador of Tzelan and founder of Robert Louey design, tells us of an earlier, global shift in the hospitality industry towards an almost uniform, monotonous feel. “Standards offered a growing population of both business and leisure travelers the consistency of quality they were seeking,” he says, which was not without its consequence. “The downsides were a loss of the sense of place, a loss of the unique cultural enrichments that make travel so inspiring.”
As one of the industry’s most celebrated branding gurus whose portfolio includes the creation of numerous identities for Rosewood, Park Hyatt, and Andaz hotels among other award-winning properties, Louey has been privy to the overarching movements that have shaped the global hospitality scene to date. “Following two decades of rampant expansion and development of major Hotel brands up until the pre-2008 financial crisis, skylines across continents became hauntingly similar,” he explains, “driven by the commonality of consistent standards, rooms across the globe became what we now call ‘cookie cutter’.”
Its saving grace, as Louey sees it, was the growth of a diverging, counter cultural trend among independent boutique hotels that was later adopted by larger hotel chains. “The world began to question the values and definitions of comfort and luxury,” he reveals, “guests began looking for the greater value of authenticity and experience which was not driven exclusively by expense.”
Here, we speak with Louey on this continued upturn, whereby hotels around the world are seeking to adopt newly defined standards of design and living, in which the notion of hospitality as home (also Tzelan’s raison d’être) is at its very center.
As is said, home is not a place. It is an emotion. It is the hearth and the heart, where our lives originate from, where one always returns for warmth and comfort. The feeling of home is a history of the humanity, of people, of family, of the ones we love and who love us back…comfort, and the feeling that somehow in this crazy, unpredictable world, coming home, is the infinite constant, where everything will be, just as you left it. Home is part of you, intangible, effortless and always imperceptibly present. Home is where one always returns to. The beginning and end of one’s every day and long journeys. The feeling of home is driven by powerful emotions and memories. Home needs no translation. It is an infinitely human emotion. It transcends time, language, country, culture and custom. The things we surround ourselves with, objects personal, collected through life, are ciphers, emotional bookmarks along our journey. Romance, inspiration, discovery, wonderment and beauty represent meaning and extraordinary moments of curating a life.
To create the feeling of home, in a described commercial environment, requires unimaginable talent, sensitivity and a bit of magic making. It is a distinctive passion, an ability to collect and curate every single item which best defines the unique and authentic emotion of the experience. Innumerable hours are spent in the choosing of what would be collected items found in one’s own home. Creating unforgettable emotions of comfort and well being in a well planned, warm and residential experience which feels authentic, enriching and culturally relevant for the country it resides in. All the while avoiding crossing the fine line of a staged set and a themed space. This is the goal of many and the mastery of only a handful in the design and development industry today. A richness of experience. A wealth of inspiration. Emotions which make lasting memories and those intangible, yet definable moments of the feeling of home.
Anyone who is human and alive. It is all of us. The 21st century will be the century of the global citizen. We are now all connected, continent to continent, by technology. Life, however, is not about emails, it is about relationships and relationships will be pursued more than ever with a plane ride, a hotel and a gathering of people. While people travel further and more often from home it will be more important than ever to create residential, home-like environments and experiences throughout both the travel and the hospitality industry.
It is said that ‘good design is good business’. I can not see who in the business of hospitality development would be resistant to the concept, as even simple service sectors in hotel development are creating ‘home like’ operations and ‘home like’ design and décor and experiences. A cold un-hospitable environment garners little revenue. In the age of the consumer, it is not a demand I feel, which will go away anytime soon, or ever. The market goes where the consumer wishes and the true innovators will deliver levels of these experiences which the consumer has not yet even thought or dreamed of. Innovation will redefine the very definition of hotel, home and hospitality. Creative, intelligent, sustainable development in the future has an unimaginable brilliance of remarkable possibilities.
Certainly one of the first more residential hotel design concepts was the Park Hyatt Tokyo, followed by the Park Hyatt Shanghai whose concept was distinctly the ‘Chinese Scholar’s Mountain Home’. Most recently, the Rosewood London, Virtuoso’s Hotel of the Year, expresses the ideal of the home-hotel with an exquisite and exceptional attention to detail.
As a native New Yorker, residing in both Santa Monica and New York City, who is on the road more than 200 plus days a year, I find, amongst our friends and colleagues, over the past decade, that we have become the norm rather than the exception. I travel with a number of small and special personal items, which I set up in every room to give myself a sense of familiarity and consistency of place. I like, whenever possible, having the same room in each city and I find for me, I feel at most at home in the cities where I have friends and loved ones. Hospitality and the craft of being hospitable is a large part of feeling at home…how song goes…‘where everybody knows your name’. For me, it is the relationships that drive the emotion of home. Eating at our most familiar places with those we came to visit and work with, homey, authentic and simple rituals which gives one a constant and consistent, comfort of, well, being… home.
While winter began to rear its head in New York, we chased the warmth of the southern hemisphere for our annual sojourn to Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the “Paris of the South,” as it is often referred to, we never fail to find solace in the sun. Attempting to speak our best lunfardo, or local dialect, we aimlessly walked the streets that inspired greatness, whether the stories of Jorge Luis Borges or the lyrical steps of tango.
To capture the impressions of our adopted, South American home, we wandered the city’s famed flea market in San Telmo on a quest for tabletop treasures. What we found—1930’s German art deco espresso sets, vintage Argentine tea caddies and glass or French ceramics among other bric-a-brac––spoke to the multicultural mix of Buenos Aires’ past. Brought back to Tzelan House in New York, we know these collected curios will maintain their luster and add an alluring and colorful charm to our curated assemblages.
“The unconscious mind,” as New York Times columnist David Brooks said, “hungers for those moments of transcendence, when the skull line disappears and we are lost in a challenge or a task––when a craftsman feels lost in his craft, when a naturalist feels at one with nature.” He was describing limerence, a certain psychological state that we liken to creative brilliance. Our in-house studio takes on the challenge of emulating beauty in product design, applying effort, love and uniqueness. “Studio Collection” is Tzelan’s ongoing collection of furniture, accessories, lighting, linens and tabletop items that result from our rigorous design process. Our Winter debut furniture within the collection was a collaborative effort lead by design collaborator Jessica Corr. The line draws from the inspirational work of Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, the iconic French Art Deco furniture and interiors designer and couples masculine rigidity with subtle, feminine features for a decidedly modern feel. Here, we chose to feature three pieces in illustrated vignettes, imagined scenarios around the world where our work can exist and function, irrespective of time and place.
Let there be plates. Our lattice-worked tableware represents the collaborative spirit of Tzelan. Marrying French heritage—Legle’s porcelain from the storied region of Limoges––the Ruyi forms of acclaimed British-Chinese ceramics designer Peter Ting, we introduced a layer of linear symmetry in metallic hues to evoke the cultivating spirit of a garden trellis. For further inquires, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.