[...]

04.23.2018

Southern France is almost inevitably a synonym for the Côte D’Azur and its crowded beaches and millionaire hangouts in Cannes, Nice, and Saint-Tropez. Yet the western part of the Southern French coast has a lot to offer, too, and without all the crowds. Beloved by the group of French painters known as Les Fauves, who drew inspiration from its red rocks and warm Mediterranean light at the beginning of the 20th century, the Côte Vermeille sits between the Pyrénées and the Mediterranean sea from Argelès-sur-Mer to Cap Cèrbere, on the Spanish border. Neither France nor Spain, this Catalunian French corner has a rocky coastline broken by sandy beaches, hills covered in vineyards sloping towards the sea and dotted with the ruins of ancient castles, a delicious cuisine and some truly magnificent landscapes. In other words, the perfect mix for those who love enjoy a quiet, relaxed vacation surrounded by beauty and local culture. Argelès-sur-MerA long sandy beach. Restaurants, cafes and beach clubs overlooking a turquoise sea. Stores selling bathing suits and buckets & spades. Argèles is as close to a classic family seaside resort as you can get on the Côte Vermeille. But there is more to it: castles, natural preserves, and a beautiful cathedral housing and ancient churches. Collioure Simply France’s most painted fishing village, which inspired Matisse and the Fauves with its cosy harbour, the unmistakable bell tower/lighthouse with the pink top, the castle, and the colorful houses with ochre roofs. In Colllioure you can still stay at the Hôtel-Restaurant les Templiers, a favourite of artists of the likes of Picasso, Matisse, and Chagall, now also housing a museum. To plunge into the town’s artistic past, we recommend that you walk along the Chemin du Fauvisme, a walking path that runs through the village’s most depicted views and landscapes, marked by the reproduction of the paintings they inspired. Port VendresIf you’re into water sports, be it surfing, snorkeling or scuba diving, this pretty and historic harbor city has everything you need. Also, do not miss the Saturday morning market, packed with colorful and fragrant Catalan spices and other local delicacies. Banyuls-sur-Mer The Côte Vermeille is also a very renowned wine region, with beautiful hills covered in vineyards and sloping towards the sea. Banyuls is surrounded by vineyards and dotted with wineries where you can taste and buy some pretty unique sweet natural local wines - Banyuls, Banyuls Grand Cru, and Collioure – paired with foie gras and blue cheese. Cerbère The last stop before the Spanish border, this colorful and picturesque postcard-perfect village is the ideal trekking destination. Trekking routes depart from the town centre and head to secluded, hidden beaches through beautiful landscapes. The solar lighthouse in Cap Cerbère towers over a high and steep cliff with its red top. 

[...]

04.20.2018

Blooming flowers are the most unmistakable sign of winter’s ending, and it’s no surprise that this natural wonder is so eagerly awaited everywhere in the world. Wherever it happens, nature’s rebirth can be truly refreshing, so why not celebrate it by following this colorful wave all around the planet? Here are a few destinations that you should not miss out. Okinawa to Washington Hanami is the name for the contemplation of blossoming cherry trees that envelop Japan in pink from Okinawa, down south, in January to the northern island of Hokkaido in June. Every year, millions of Japanese and international tourists travel out of love for this natural spectacle. Yet hanami can also be experienced in the US: the Tidal Basin in Washington DC is surrpunded by beautiful cherry trees planted in 1912 by the then mayor of Tokyo Ozaki. Piana di Castelluccio (Italy)Castelluccio di Norcia is a village in the heart of the Sibillini Mountains National Park in central Italy, overlooking a huge plateau where red lentil flowers bloom between the end of May and the beginning of July, blending with tulips and narcissuses, thus giving birth to the so-called fiorita. Arles to Verdun (France)Blossoming almond trees in February, irises in May, lavender from June to August: from Provence to Auvergne, southern France is the ideal flower tourist destination.  Van Gogh and the Impressionists freezed in time this ever-rebirthing beauty, and the master perfumers of Grasse turned it into iconic fragrances. Uttarakhand (India)West of the Himalaya, at over 12,000 feet of altitude, on the banks of the Pushpawati river sits the Valley of Flowers National Park which welcomes tourists looking for colorful, pristine nature since 1982. From June to October, trek tours through the valley allow them to quietly enjoy the amazing spectacle of the blooming flowers, and maybe to spot the occasional snow leopard. Kaukenhof (The Netherlands)The largest flower park in the world is just 35 km from Amsterdam and it boasts over 32 hectares of pure color thanks to the thousands of tulips that bloom every year. The park is open during the blooming season, from March to May, and it is deemed a must-see among flower tourism enthusiasts. Herfordshire, Norfolk e Devonshire (UK)Bluebells are wild flowers whose color varies from light blue to indigo from a 19-inch tall perennial herb which blooms in May. Every year in May, they paint the English woods deep blue, making for the perfect excuse to discover England beyond London. Val D’Orcia (Italy)Between the provinces of Siena and Grosseto there is an extraordinary concentration of medieval villages including Pienza, Bagno Vignoni, Montalcino, and Monticchiello. From April to May, these meadows and hills sloping towards the sea are dressed in red because of the thousands of blooming poppiesHitachi Seaside Park (Japan)East of Tokyo, in the Ibaraki Prefecture, there is a 860-acre flower park overlooking the Pacific Ocean that is open all year round thanks to the exceptional variety of flowers that alternate from season to season, changing the color of the landscape. The 170 varieties of tulips and the million daffodils are only two of them, along with the classic “baby blue eyes”, the tiny blue flowers that dot the meadows between April and May. El Kelaa M’Gouna (Morocco)50 miles northeast of Ouarzazate, on the Moroccan Atlas Mountains, lies the Valley of the Roses, where thousands of wild roses bloom every year in May, hosting the local Rose Festival that attracts enthusiasts and professionals from all over the world. The most widespread variety, the Damask rose, is picked at dawn, when the scent is more intense, and dried to be used for essential oils and fragrances. The roses blooming at dawn on the orange mountains make for an unforgettable view. Greenwich Park, LondonA Royal Park ever since 1433, Greenwich Park is home to long rows of cherry trees that dress its paths in pink and white every year between April and May. An unexpected cherry blossoming that is yet another excellent reason for visiting this beautiful park, mostly known for the Observatory and the Greenwich meridian. 

[...]

Hotels and inns are always charming and ideal for unwinding. However, if you truly want to experience nature to the full, camping is what you are looking for. After treading the mountains and woods all day, you will just love crashing in your highly functional khaki and red, Japanese-made Snow Peak tent. Founder Yukio Yamai started out as a hardware wholesaler. An accomplished mountaineer, he soon became dissatisfied with the existing mountain gear on the market and decided to set up his own company, Snow Peak, which was to become a synonym with functionality and originality. Headquartered in Sanjō, Niigata Prefecture, Snow Peak was relocated to Tsubame-Sanjō from the city area, where it continues to develop uniquely-designed camping gear, without losing sight of the consumers’ expectations. Snow Peak provides a wide array of tents, to meet the expectations of all campers, from the beginners to the more experienced, making them feel as comfortable as in a bedroom. The tents come in three main categories: entry level, standard level and pro level. And then of course, you can choose the size, material and style of your tent. If you are considering car camping, an all-in-one tent is the most suitable solution, with all the living area integrated and no tarpaulin needed, which makes it quicker to put up and take down. If you are looking for tranquillity, the all-in-one shelter will make you forget you are on a campsite, providing you with a large space where you can have a relaxing time with your family or by yourself. 

[...]

04.16.2018

Hong Kong truly shines at night. When the sunset sets in and the lights of the skyscrapers turn on (at 8 p.m. sharp), the city acquires the unique and unmistakable charm that has turned it into an icon. Suspended between the British colonial era heritage and a strong Chinese imprint, this crowded city of 7 million souls (including 68 billionaires) is an urban jungle that rises up to the sky for obvious space limitations, and although at times it can get pretty busy and packed you will hardly feel uncomfortable or in danger. Scattered with starred restaurant offering cuisine from all over the world, amazing clubs and rooftop bars with breathtaking views, Hong Kong certainly isn’t short of things to do at night – actually, there are so many options that it’s probably best to narrow them down a bit. So, here’s everything you need to know to spend an unforgettable night in town. Moving Across TownHK is divided into four main areas: Honk Kong island, Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, and Lantau island. Depending on where you have to go, you will need to call or hail a different kind of taxi (red and silver for HK island and Kowloon, green and white for New Territories, and blue for Lantau).Taxis in Hong Kong abound and are incredibly inexpensive, so this is truly a great option – just remember that they do not accept card and drivers prefer smaller bills or coins.The subway is also great value for the money: just buy an Octopus Card (which also  serves as a prepaid credit card) and it will take you anywhere in the city.Also very affordable is the historic green & white Star Ferry (dating back to the 19th century) travelling from HK island (Central Pier) to Kowloon (Star Ferry Pier) and back every 10-12 minutes across the Victoria harbor: besides offering the opportunity to admire the city’s skyline, this is really a quintessential HK experience that you should not miss. A Taste of Pure HK-style NightlifeIf you’re willing to plunge into the heart of the city’s vibrant life (and nightlife), we definitely recommend a walk along Hollywood Road, the winding street that stretches all the way from Hollywood Road Park through SoHo and to the heart of Central, Hong Kong island’s busiest district. You will be swept away by the incredible amount of restaurants, street food stalls, bars and shops – especially antiques and art stores. The Perfect SunsetSo, the night is coming and the sun is about to set. Time to head to Victoria’s Peak, Hong Kong’s highest peak (at over 1,800 feet), which offers one of the best views on Victoria Harbor and the whole HK island. Take the Peak Tram (from the Central Pier Star Ferry), enjoy the ride and reach the nearby Peak Tower of the Lion Kiosk to watch the sunset over the city and see the lights turn on. The Night MarketNight markets are yet another HK classic. This old tradition 19th century tradition used to include hunting for bargains in the cool evening temperatures, live shows and late night street food snacking – one of the most famous night market, which was later replaced by the Macau Ferry Terminal, was significantly named the Poor Man’s Nightclub.Of all the night markets, the Temple Street Night Market is the only authentic one that is left: you can buy everything from clothes to traditional art, electronics, and accessories, and most things come at very affordable prices. And of course, the street food abounds. DINING & DRINKINGThe food and drink scene in Hong Kong is truly incredible, almost overwhelming. In a city at the crossroads of East and West where you can find basically every kind of cuisine the world has to offer, it can sometimes be hard to discern and pick the right place among the endless variety of bars and restaurants. So, here’s a selection of some of our favourite spots. RestaurantsHoo Lee ForkFunky chinese cuisine inspired by old school Hong Kong cha chaan tengs (affordable restaurants) and the spirit of late-night Chinatown hangouts in 1960s New York. The ChairmanSimply put, the city’s best Cantonese restaurant, where you can find the best fresh ingredients with an eco-friendly take on traditional recipes. Mott 32A beautifully designed modern Chinese restaurants in the heart of Central that seamlessly blends New York industrial style with Chinese imperial elements in a homage to Hong Kong culture and cuisine. Duddel’sA classy and sophisticated Michelin-starred restaurant with beautiful art on the walls and stylishly designed interiors, offering everything from dim sum to top-notch international cuisine. Tate diningA superb fine dining destination serving an eclectic mix of French and Asian Cuisine and a set of “Edible Stories” taking diners on a gustatory adventure. BarsFoxgloveA speakeasy disguised as a British-style umbrella shop and accessed via a secret doorway towards the back of the boutique. The glamorous interiors are absolutely cinematic and inspired by 1930s first-class airplanes and vintage cars. Definitely a one-of-a-kind place. QuinaryA hip Hollywood Road cocktail bar that has become an institution thanks to its unique molecular cocktails, created by renowned bartender Antonio Lai. Please Don’t TellThe intimate cocktail bar of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel -  a branch of the New York bar of the same name – is a sleek, international venue offering creative cocktails developed by renowned mixologists Jim Meehan and Jeff Bell. Ping Pong GintonerìaNestling in happening Sai Ying Pun, with its spacious, urban chic interior, and hidden hangout vibe, Ping Pong Gintonería is the hipspot for stylish sipsmiths and cocktail casualistas alike. Murray LaneThe bar housed inside the lofty and light-filled lobby of the luxurious Murray Hotel is a hit on the vibrant Hong Kong bar scene, offering everything from artisanal spirits to wines and craft beers, along with refined small plates of bar favourites. The hotel will soon be opening a much-anticipated new rooftop bar, so… stay tuned!  Thanks to Claudia Gaudiello for the recommendations.

[...]

04.13.2018

Open mics, slams, readings, theatrical performances: poetry is alive and kicking, and it feeds on new rituals and unexpected places. Encouraged by a spirit of cultural revenge bordering on the world of hip hop and rap music, it is bringing its moderately subversive vibe beyond traditional spaces, finding freedom in improvisation and in the vagueness of the rhymes. Although most places devoted to poetry are below the radar, there are a few institutions that still aim at making a clear statement – “this is where poetry is made”. Poetry Café, LondonIn 1909, the Poetry Society was born here with the aim of promoting and spreading the art of poetry. Today, the charity organization has over 4,000 members worldwide, a prestigious annual publication (The Poetry Review) and a rich program of readings, poetry performances, visual arts exhibitions, and concerts: a hybrid space in Covent Garden where the passion for poetry becomes an excuse for promoting all artistic languages. Walden, MilanoInspired by Henry David Thoreau’s famous novel of the same name, this new space aims at being a cultural hub, a literary café, and a space for poetry, with plenty of events, bookshelves loaded with books from independent publishers, and a vegetarian bistrot. Nuyorican, New YorkAllen Ginsberg once defined this space in the East Village "the most integrated place on the planet". It was the year 1973 and the atmosphere, despite the time and location changes, has not changed: poetry still remains the voice of minorities, the most accessible and free form of language, exclusively resulting from talent and exercise. Jazz and hip hop music concerts, which share the same vocation, share the stage with poetry slams, open mic, open mics, and readingsCafé Poesie de Belleville, ParigiIn 2016, Rodrigo Ramis, a poet and a contemporary stage actor, founded this place with the desire to create an actual meeting place for humans, a unique and protected space in one of the districts that epitomize multiculturalism in the French capital. The program includes stage-less theatrical improvisation performances and poetry readings open to anyone willing to experiment and listen. Bluecoat Poetry Café, LiverpoolBluecoat is a center for contemporary arts in the heart of Liverpool, housed in an ancient UNESCO World Heritage building. In this place that has made the history of contemporary performing arts – it even hosted Yoko Ono’s first paid performance in 1967 - the Poetry Café is a space devoted to poetry and music performances and creative experimentation. 

[...]

Achille Castiglioni was born in Milan on February 16, 1918. Son of the sculptor Giannino Castiglioni and brother of Livio and Pier Giacomo, he was the pivot of one of the families that marked the aesthetics of the 20th century, picturing new shapes for everyday objects such as lamps, armchairs and tables, and turning them into functional works of art. The Achille Castiglioni Foundation celebrates the centennial of Achille’s birth with a series of exhibitions and events spreading from Milan to the world, as did the work of this amazing designer whose objects are on display at the MoMa in New York and have been exhibited in all the major design institutions of the world over the course of his long career. Until April 30, the Milanese headquarters of the Foundation will host the 100x100 exhibition, gathering 100 objects selected by as many designers from all over the world, each accompanied by a birthday wishes card: a little thought to celebrate Castiglioni's commitment to making the ordinary extraordinary, a sort of museum of the anonymous object whose design intelligence is only perceived by a careful eye. From May 25 to December 21, the M.A.X. Museum di Chiasso will host an exhibition devoted to Castiglioni, and the celebrations will terminate at the Triennale Museum in Milan with a retrospective curated by Patricia Urquiola and Silvana Annicchiarico. A designer and a professor of Industrial Design in Milan and Turin, with his work and his vision Achille Castiglioni contributed to redefining design: choosing an object, studying its shape until it is emptied and grasping its essence, using imagination and ingenuity to transfigure its image without losing its function or sacrificing its industrial reproducibility. The Sanluca Armchair, designed in 1960 for Dino Gavina, visionary owner of Gavina SpA, is a clear example of this process: starting from an eighteenth-century round and soft armchair, Castiglioni turned it into a thin line that follows the back of a person and cleaves the air, a minimalistic version of the original and yet just as convenient and functional. Toio, the famous lamp designed for Flos, is yet another example. The parts that make the object functional are all there: light, stem, supporting base. However, these functions are replaced one by one by other elements: the light is a car headlight, the wire a fishing line, the base a transformer. Castiglioni also designed the famous Arco by Flos (1962), the first overhead lamp without a ceiling suspension, a nodal point in the development of design applied to interior lighting. Over the years, Castiglioni worked with the most important international design firms, including Cassina, Knoll, Kartell and Zanotta, just to name a few. Among the founders of ADI (the Industrial Design Association), he won 9 Compasso d'Oro awards, promoting quality in the field of industrial made-in-Italy designs. In addition to designing an extraordinary sequence of iconic objects, Achille Castiglioni has left us a whole concept of design based on research, curiosity, and a touch of irony, which prompts designers to always start from scratch, preventing their experience from finding shortcuts. 

[...]

04.09.2018

Why go out to go to the movies when Netflix & Co. bring the same stars, contents, and directors directly into our homes? Because the movie theatre is not just a frame, it is part of the image, of the experience, a place that has a history of its own. Operating a small cinema in 2018 is a political act, a practical form of resistance to the rapid changes that film production and consumption have been undergoing over the last few years. The good news is, someone is really doing it: here are five tiny movie theatres around the world that you should definitely know. Uplink (Shibuya, Tokyo)A temple of entertainment in the heart of Tokyo’s nightlife district, Uplink was founded in 1987 and includes three theatres including the smallest one in Japan, with only 40 seats, screening local and international independent films along with with documentaries and (a  few) box office hits. Nitehawk (Williamsburg, New York City)Founded in 2011, this unique place has set an absolute record, overcoming the last traces of Prohibitionism, i.e. the law that forbid the consumption of alcohol in cinemas. Inside its three theatres (respectively featuring 30, 62, and 90 seats) the audience can enjoy drinks and gourmet food while watching art films, documentaries, and international hitsSun Pictures (Broome, Australia)The oldest open-air cinema in the world, Sun Pictures was born in 1903 as a theatre founded by the Yamasaki family and later turned into a movie theatre. With the sea for a backdrop and the beach for a floor (before the sea barriers were built, at high tide you could watch a movie with your feet in the water), this one-of-a-kind place has really been a witness to the history of film and of Australia - a living documentary on cinemaIl Cinemino (Milan)This newborn, crowdfunded movie theatre aims at reviving the single-screen neighborhood cinema concept. Yet it’s not just about nostalgia: with 75 seats and a beautiful retro-style bar, il Cinemino constantly hosts popular and emerging directors, actors and screenwriters from around the world to talk about their work, screening films of all genres and for all ages from the early afternoon on. Le Brady (Paris)Choosing a movie theatre in Paris is no easy task: after all, this is the city where it all began back in 1895. Le Brady is one of the few movie theatres in the Strasbourg-St.Denis district, and it boasts none other than François Truffaut among its past frequent patrons. Which should not surprise us, since Le Brady has always been screening niche films along with international hits. Its smallest salle has only 39 seats where you can enjoy art films in a quiet and charming atmosphere. 

[...]

04.06.2018

Chatting all night about soccer with Paolo Nutini in a Dublin bar while drinking whiskey and Guinness is not something that happens every day, but it's actually pretty usual for Mattia Zoppellaro, a young Venetian photographer who has had the honor of portraying some of the most legendary names in the international rock scene, including Lou Reed U2,  Paul Weller, and David Gilmour. In this exclusive interview, he tells us about his encounter with these music icons and how he managed to turn their souls into beautifully authentic and eloquent pictures.Among the most remarkable episodes, check out the story of his encounter with Patti Smith and Depeche Mode and the one about chasing Amy Winehouse. 

[...]

04.06.2018

The Shizuoka prefecture is very easy to access from Tokyo, and so is the Tōkaidō Hiroshige Museum of Art. All you have to do is take the Tōkaidō Railway Line from Shizuoka Station, ride for about 20 minutes and get off at Yui Station. In the nearby Yui-Honjin park sits the museum, which was opened in 1994 and named after Hiroshige Utagawa, one of the most representative and respected artists in the domain of ukiyo-e (literally “pictures of the floating world”), a genre of Japanese art that consists of woodcut prints and paintings, and one of Japan’s symbols. Hiroshige was one of the most brilliant pupils of another illustrious Japanese painter, Hokusai, who achieved the zenith of his career pretty late in life, when he was seventy, with the series of prints Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.  Born in 1797, Hiroshige first became an apprentice of Toyohiro Utagawa and by the age of sixteen he was allowed to sign his works, which he did under his mononym “Hiroshige”. The Utagawa school throve on portraits of female beauties and kabuki performers, but Hiroshige expanded and gave a personal touch to life portraiture. His Ten Famous Places in the Eastern Capital, which were perhaps too heavily influenced by Hokusai’s Thirty-six Views, were not so well received. Nonetheless, 35-year-old Hiroshige’s depictions of Mount Fuji represent a departure from 72-year-old Hokusai’s point of view. Hiroshige focused on new places, new landmarks and new perspectives and in a couple of years he spawned the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō - depicting the stations along the Tōkaidō, one of the five major roads of Japan in the Edo period - which were released to great acclaim, thanks to the sacred status of Mount Fuji and the development of tourism in the places represented in the series. In addition to this famous series, the museum’s permanent collection includes approximately 1,400 pieces, including one of Hiroshige’s late works, the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo series. he Tōkaidō Hiroshige Museum of Art endeavours to provide visitors with fresh viewpoints on ukiyo-e by rotating the collection every month, holding conferences and art talks, and allowing visitors to experiment with printing.  

[...]

04.04.2018

The county fair is the most ‘American’ of American traditions. For over 170 years, it has been the bedrock of American communities across the country, showcasing the power and meaning of some of the most unifying and nostalgic ideals of the American culture and society. Generally held in the late summer or early fall on the outskirts of town, the fair was originally a meeting place for farmers to promote local agriculture. In the 20th century, as America shifted from an agrarian to an urban society, it expanded dramatically to include a wealth of family focused fun and entertainment, from carnival amusement rides, games, and side shows to car racing, concession stands, and musical concerts. During the summer of 2015, American photographer Pamela Littky travelled across the U.S. to capture the sites of these important seasonal markers in America’s heartland. She drove thousands of miles to experience and document fairs all over the country, teeming with the people who call the surrounding area home. “I have spent most of my adult life in Los Angeles, (where) the one thing that seems lacking is a true sense of ‘community’ — a feeling of connection among its diverse and unique populations”, Pamela said. What she discovered is that the essence of the American fair has not changed very much over the past century. While the social and cultural fabric of the United States has evolved considerably, the fairs continue to draw millions of people yearly from different backgrounds and upbringings who seek a place near their homes where community is celebrated in all its diversity. The results of Littky’s road trips are published for the first time in American Fair, a breathtaking collection of photographs where wistful reflections on the past meet the challenging realities of American life in the 21st century. Idyllic portraits of farmers and rope-and-ride spectators are shown alongside tableaux that evoke undertones of apprehension and uncertainty. Elderly faces that have seen many seasons of the fair are interspersed with images of youth who project determination or innocence underneath adolescent postures. An amazing work that, in our humble opinion, belongs in the same league as some of the great masters of photography who documented real America, such as Robert Frank and Dorothea Lange. 

[...]

04.03.2018

What will happen to illustration in an age in which everything, from reality to works of art, is digitally reproducible? What will become of this vast world halfway between art and craftsmanship? Which worlds can an illustrator explore beyond the boundaries of a paper sheet? Driven by the uniqueness of its nature and of its own limits, illustration continues to evolve. For us enthusiasts, it is not easy to understand in which directions it will go, but talking to an insider can certainly help us get a clearer picture. These and other considerations emerged from our conversation with Ale Giorgini, an Italian illustrator whose works have reached Tokyo, New York, Zurich, Vienna, Paris, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Melbourne and many other cities in the world. Giorgini won the Good Design Award from the Chicago Museum of Design and was selected by the New York Society of Illustrators. He is the president and artistic director of Illustri Festival and an illustration teacher. SJ: What are the inspirations behind your work and your creativity?AG: What I draw comes from my childhood: Carosello (Italian old-style TV advertising), Hanna & Barbera’s cartoons, the illustrated books by Miroslav Sasek, and I Quindici, a famous children’s encyclopaedia.How I draw, on the other hand, comes from the path I had to undertake: I earned my diploma as a surveyor and worked for 15 years as a graphic designer. At one point, the lysergic charm of the of the 1960s and 1970s aesthetics met the rigour of geometry and vector graphics, and this encounter gave life to what I do today. SJ: How do you see the relationship between colours and strokes? Which role do they play in your work?AG: It might seem bizarre, but I've always loved filling contours. As a kid, I used to puncture the paper with all the energy that I put into tracing over the lines of my drawings until I thought they were perfect. For this reason, I am madly in love with Illustrator: it allows me to have total control of every element, of every single line. My illustrations have extremely marked traits. And honestly, I never asked myself why: I am a self-taught illustrator and probably everything is a consequence of my lack of technical preparation. Colours came later, to harmonize those otherwise incomprehensible signs. Colours are almost inevitably necessary to untangle the shapes contained in my drawings and make them visible. There are times when my black and white drawings look like puzzles that only become clear with the addition of colours. For this reason, colours and strokes are often essential. SJ: What makes the hand of a talented illustrator unique?AG: I don’t think I have talent - and I don’t say this out of false modesty or to earn your readers’ sympathy. I often say - with absolute conviction - that I cannot draw. My gift, if I were to find one, would be that of turning my own limits into resources. Not having any artistic preparation, I have found a recognizable language that totally leverages my limits as a designer. For this reason, I appreciate the personality and the character of an image much more than its technical execution. I often find myself faced with images that are extraordinarily beautiful and yet absolutely empty. The vision behind an image is what needs be unique, the illustrator’s hand may even be imperfect. But of course, if you have both a vision and a good hand, then you have it all. SJ: What about the trends of contemporary illustration: what’s beyond paper?AG: Today, paper is to illustration what pizza is to restaurants: it's an evergreen, everybody likes it, but you cannot eat pizza every day of your life (although I could seriously consider that option). The world out there is much bigger than an A4 paper sheet and there are plenty of opportunities on the new fronts of communication. The market is giving extremely positive signals and there is a strong rediscovery of illustration even in previously unexplored areas. Recently I saw this happen everywhere from fashion and furniture design to live news reporting and the personalization of cruise ships and other objects. Think of the Milan subway station that became an art gallery with images designed by Emiliano Ponzi, or of the cruise ship entirely customized by Riccardo Guasco. Purists might turn up their noses in front of these "daring" uses of illustration, but personally I believe their attitude makes no sense at all. Today, that of the illustrator is one of the most crucial roles in the creative industry, because illustration is a language that manages to touch people’s hearts and raise emotions in a way that other languages can hardly do. SJ: Even the subjects have changed a lot.AG: Actually, I believe that illustration is still doing what it has always done: telling something about reality. This can happen in the form of a comment in a newspaper or a magazine, but also through different media. Besides drawing for a newspaper article or an illustrated book, illustrators often find themselves designing a skateboard, a wine bottle, an animated gif, a T-shirts, or even a room. The subjects have changed because the world has changed. 

[...]

03.30.2018

Have you ever thought about how many beautiful cities you have been missing so far simply because you’ve never even considered visiting them? Hiding in the shade of the big world capitals and sheltered by their being off the radar, these ‘minor’ destinations may not be top-of-mind but they are often full of surprises. From Europe to the United States and Japan, here are a few detours worth taking from your next travels. Nantes, FranceThe Capital of Western Loire, Nantes turned from a port and an industrial city into a cultural hub which attracts tourists and talents from all over the world, just like the l’Île de Nantes, a long island on the Loire that went from being an industrial district to becoming a civic and art space. The Bouffay district, around the castle, is yet another example: a maze of medieval streets full of small shops and bistros often welcoming creative intrusions from contemporary artists. Between July and August, Le Voyage festival helps visitors discover the city and its highlights, from the cathedral of Saint Paul et Pierre to the Museum of Fine Arts, featuring works by Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky, and Monet. Lübeck, GermanyThe "Venice of the Baltic" is a city of water along the Trave river and 20 kilometers away from the sea. Accessing from Holstenstor, the ancient medieval gate that marks the entrance to the city, you will cross a maze of winding streets that open onto small squares surrounded by sloped roof houses. Lübeck's belonging to the Hanseatic League, the group of Baltic cities that dominated the trades in Northern Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries, has left marks everywhere. With its typical red brick architecture, the Buddenbrook Haus in memory of Thomas Mann and the delicious marzipan sweets, Lübeck is the ideal city for a slow weekend. Portland, USAThis vibrant Oregon city is mostly known as the home of hipsters and indie-folk music. Yet Portland is also a comaratively quiet and pedestrian-friendly town that you can explore by taking long walks, crossing the movable bridges over the Willamette River under a constant drizzle, listening to dozens of different languages ​​and trying food from all over the world sold by the food trucks that dot the center. A multicultural college town, Portland offers tons of craft breweries, bicycles everywhere, a lively Chinatown and former industrial buldings converted into art galleries, creative hubs, and smart economy startups. Sapporo, JapanHokkaido is the northernmost island of Japan and its landscape, by nature and climate, is close to that of the European Alps or the Sierra Nevada. Sapporo is one of its largest and most vibrant cities, featuring a vast urban park and the popular Snow Festival in February, which fills the city with ice and snow sculptures. As for food and drinks, the local beer of the same name is the perfect complement to some exceptional ramen from the Susukino neighborhood or seafood from the fish market. Tavira, PortugalAlgarve, the most renowned destination in Portugal, has recently become the target of thousands of tourists, especially from Northern Europe. Yet there is a small town that has managed to retain its century-old charm: Tavira. A few kilometers from Faro, it has a typically Moorish plant, with a narrow streets and small squares, and it offers the unspoilt nature of its beaches sheltered by the Ria Formosa Natural Park, as well as the ancient beauty of the 37 churches that dot it. Vicenza, ItalyAmong widely recognized gems such as Venice, Verona and Padua there is a Venetian city that is distinguished by a sober and composed beauty: Vicenza, the town that was (re)designed by architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) with consistent magnificency, from the aristocratic palaces to the villas on the Riviera dei Colli Berici onthe southern border of the city. Among its gems are the beautiful Basilica, a Unesco heritage, and the Loggia del Capitaniato, home of the local legislative and judicial power at the time of Venetian rule. The Olympic Theater is the ultimate example of the architectural matrix of the city: designed by Palladio, it has an incredible trompe-l’oeil onstage scenery - the oldest surviving stage set still in existence - designed in 1585 by Vincenzo Scamozzi and replicating long streets receding to a distant horizon. Ghent, BelgiumGhent is one of the most vibrant cities of the East Flanders. A city of water at the confluence of rivers Lys and Schelda, for centuries it has been a major trading port, and this heritage is still visible in its ancient architecture. The pleasant contrast between the thousands of students from all over the world who come here to study at the local university and the old-time grandeur of its noble palaces and Gothic cathedrals gives the impression of a place suspended in time and yet dynamic. Segovia, SpainThe symbol of Segovia is the Roman aqueduct built in the first century AD that, with its 30 meters of height and 800 of length, for centuries has been carrying water into the city from the heights of the Sierra that surrounds it. The marks left by the Romans are enriched with Medieval walls, Romanesque churches, Gothic cathedrals and the much more recent mines, making this city an example of a melting pot in the heart of the Castilla Y Leon region, north-west of Madrid, along the course of river Eresma and the route of the Camino de Santiago. 

[...]

03.28.2018

East and West, Japan and Europe, Japan and the United States: ever since the year 1853, when the American military fleet of Commodore Perry reached the Yokohama Bay and ordered the Japanese authorities to open their ports and businesses, Japan and the Western world have been observing, studying, and exploring each other with the intensity of someone who sees the other as an unintelligible mystery but cannot help investigating it. Here are five books that tell a story about this reciprocal exploration. Sōseki Natsume, Grass Pillow (1906)Recognized as the most important author of modern Japan, Natsume (1867-1916) tells the story of a wayfarer wandering around the Japanese mountain villages, as a metaphor for the journey of life. The protagonist collects stories and encounters and turns them into reflections, outlining a profile of Japan in the beginning of the 20th century and the new role of the artist. Fosco Maraini, Japanese Hours (1957)Maraini compares 1950s Japan with the Japan he has known during the Second World War, when, after September 8, 1943, he was imprisoned for 11 months for his refusal to swear loyalty to the Republic of Salò. A naturalist and an anthropologist, Maraini describes the fascinating and mysterious complexity of the Japanese rules of social behaviour, the extraordinary design skills of a population emerging from post-war destruction and the architecture of the daily rituals that are a crucial part of the individual identity. Shūsaku Endō, Silence (1966)This book tells about the struggle between the Japanese feudal Lords of the 17th century (Togukawa period) and the first Japanese Christian communities born around European Jesuit missionaries. The theme of sacrifice in the name of a Lord, earthly or divine, is the fundamental point of contact, confrontation and clash among the historical events that highlight the violence with which this principle, in its various meanings, was defended to the extreme. James Clavell, Shogun (1975)British navigator John Blackthorne fortuitously approaches the Japanese coast in the 17th century, towards the end of the feudal lords' struggles. One of these Lords, Yoshi Toranaga, welcomes Blackthorne to his court and initiates him into the customs, rituals and rules of local daily life in the shadow of which Toranaga will become a Shogun through power strategies. Alex Kerr, Lost Japan (1994)An American graduate with a degree in Japanese at Yale and in Chinese at Oxford, Kerr has been the first non-Japanese author to win the Shincho Gakugei literary prize. Kerr tells the story of contemporary Japan and explores the growing gap between rampant hyper-technology and tradition - the latter being the backbone of national identity which survives in ever-smaller spaces such as the small Shinto temples in the shadow of the skyscrapers. 

[...]

03.27.2018

Katsu-sando is the undisputed king of Japanese sandwiches, in all its variations: from medium-cooked beef to succulent pork, with soft bread or crispy slices of toast. You may have it at the shop or take it out and eat it at a park, in the office, or even at home. Regarded as a classic, the cutlet sandwich was created in 1935 in a tonkatsu shop in Ueno named Isen and frequented by geisha. It was in fact expressly devised for the geisha who needed something small to eat without smearing their lipstick. The katsu-sando was the perfect response to their need and the popularity of those tiny chunks of pork cutlet enclosed in soft bread spread to the rest of the city and of the country in no time at all. In Kantō, the region of Tokyo, katsu-sando consists mostly in pork cutlet sandwiches, whereas in Kansai, the region of Osaka, it is mainly beef. And of course, in Tokyo you can find both types of meat in a wide array of flavours. Shinsekai Grill Bon (Ginza)With its headquarters in a long-established shop in Osaka, Ginza’s Shinsekai Grill Bon is a sandwich outlet specialised in gyūhere katsu-sando – beef filet. Either you have it at the counter or takeaway, you will love the irresistible fragrance of the toasted bread combining with the juiciness of the medium-rare beef filet and a slight mustard finish. Tokyo Kenkyō (Shibuya)Located in Shinsen, between Shibuya and Daikan’yama, this café offers sandwich menus with a soft drink and a salad. The most popular one is undoubtedly the made-to-order extra-thick pork filet sandwich menu. The meat is thick, tender and juicy, with a sweet and sour sauce to provide the perfect balance. The bread comes from a renowned bakery in the city. All the sodas are prepared with freshly-pressed yuzu citron and apples. Central Bakery (Ginza)A subsidiary of Shibuya’s baguette shop Viron, Central Bakery sells the most sought-after sandwiches, made with carefully selected ingredients, from the slightly toasted bread to the deep-fried pork cutlet, with very little extra condiment. It is a winning combination for which people are ready to stand in a one-hour queue. Udagawa (Mitsukoshi-mae, Chūō)Decorated like an elegant gourmet restaurant, Udagawa is an institution for its katsu-sando. If you take a seat at the counter, you will be able to hear the distinctive sound of pork cutlets frying, and to smell their mouthwatering fragrance. The meat comes in chunks so thick that the bread looks thin by comparison. The perfect balance between the juiciness of the meat, the crispy texture of the cabbage, and the slightly sweet tang of the sauce can be enjoyed even when cold. Izakaya Mamezo (Torigoe, Taitō)Featured in the television series based on the eponymous manga Kodoku no Gourmet (“The Solitary Gourmet”), Mamezo is an izakaya, a Japanese pub, located in an alley next to Torigoe. The quality of the food is so high, you will not believe it is an izakaya. The fish comes from Tsukiji Market, directly shipped from Uozu Port in the Toyama Prefecture. The house katsu-sando consists in a thick chunk of pork sirloin cutlet, served in two slices of bread toasted on the inner side and garnished with the Mamezo special sauce. Due to the popularity of Kodoku no Gourmet and the subsequent popularity of the shop itself, reservation is highly recommended. 

[...]

03.26.2018

There are musicals revolving around music and others where songs and dance choreographies are just a way to tell a story of love, life, death and more. For those who love them, it is absolutely impossible to make a ranked list - there are just too many gems that would risk being left out. But if you are not a fan or a follower of the musical cult, maybe these ten little masterpieces might help you familiarize with the genre. Singin' in the Rain (USA, 1953)Gene Kelly and Debby Reynolds star in a meta-film that happily celebrates music and the human voice. Set in 1920s Hollywood and revolving around the transition from silent to sound film, it tells of the love affair between an actor and the girl dubbing his capricious co-star, whom everyone has mistakenly taken for his life partner. For those who love happy endings and, at least once in their life, have danced in the rain Gene Kelly-style, fiddling with an umbrella. West Side Story (USA, 1961)Romeo and Juliet takes Manhattan, becomes a box office hit for dozens of weeks, wins 10 Oscars and, in 1997, finally enters the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Because thwarted love is the most universal plot ever, because Leonard Bernstein's soundtrack is unforgettable, and because Nathalie Wood is the perfect Upper West Side JulietMy Fair Lady (USA, 1964)Can grace and a beautiful voice become a tool for social ascent? Flower seller Eliza Dolittle learns good manners (and elocution) from glottologist Professor Higgins, and she teaches him about love in return. As "the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain", The Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, on which the George Cukor film is based, brings Prince Charming into the competitive modern worldMary Poppins (USA, 1964)Walt Disney is the home of musicals and Mary Poppins is one of its best musical films ever. Thanks to a glowing Julie Andrews and a perfect screenplay, Robert Stevenson's cinematic version of Pamela Lyndon Travers' books has gained five Oscars and a special place in the imagination of many generations of children.Cabaret (USA, 1972)The energy of the music and Liza Minnelli's unique voice stand out on the conflicting background of Weimar Republic Berlin, serving as the setting for this tale of love and history that wraps its characters in a whirlwind of events from rampant hedonism to Hitlerian rhetoric. The choreography, the costumes, and the hairstyles are simply incredible.Grease (USA, 1978)Welcome to a world where music is a way of talking (even from a distance), getting to know each other, and size each other up: friends or enemies? Welcome to Rydell High, where Sandy Olsson and Denny Zuko, although they are meant to be together, will have to adjust to each other for the whole school year, before finally becoming a couple. Song after song, through unforgettable choreographies and tunes you jest can't help singing along toFlashdance (USA, 1983)Just like in the equally famous Alan Parker film Fame, in the world of Flashdance music is life, and dance is the only way to an otherwise unattainable redemption. The American Dream turned musical, with sacrifice and talent leading to love and success. Cliché? Maybe, but that doesn't mean you won't be watching it again and again, trying to learn the steps of the final dance scene. Dirty Dancing (USA, 1987)The producers had no idea that this low-budget movie with no famous stars in it would end up turning into one of the most resounding hit films in the history of cinema - and a classic among musical film lovers, although technically not a musical. Thwarted love, a beautiful, Oscar-awarded soundtrack, and scattered references to the change of mentality that paved the way to the 1960s are its successful ingredients, along with memorable lines such as, well: nobody puts Baby in a corner. Moulin Rouge (USA+Australia, 2001)Who, other than Baz Luhrmann could have revived the musical at the beginning of the third millennium by setting the plot of Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata in 1899 Pigalle? Who else could have made the songs of Elton John, David Bowie, Nirvana and T-Rex resonate on the roofs of 19th century Paris, going so far as to mix fictional lovers Christian and Satine with historical figures of the bohemian movement such as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec? Freedom, beauty, truth, and love for everyone!La La Land (USA, 2016)Hollywood pays homage to its own world with a highly acclaimed and award-winning musical where the two young individuals, Mia and Sebastian, choose to make their dreams come true by devoting their whole life to art, giving up on love. If talent and sacrifice equal success, then the musical applauds itself as a genre with one of its most beautiful productions ever, dense with good music, beautiful images, and sophisticated references. Directed by the great Damien Chazelle, and starring the talented Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. 

[...]

03.23.2018

Can the majestic and supernatural beauty of the Sistine Chapel become an even more engaging spectacle? Can contemporary technology add something more to an immortal masterpiece like Michelangelo's Last Judgment? Giudizio Universale. Michelangelo and the Secrets of the Sistine Chapel, which debuted on March 15 at Rome's Auditorium Conciliazione, may be the answer to these and more questions. The Sistine Chapel is the focus of a unique show that stems from the blending of art, theatrical performance, special effects and technology, surrounding the viewer thanks to the immersiveness of 270 degree laser projections on a huge surface positioned over 12 meters above the audience. Performed both in Italian and in English, this complex one-hour-long show revolves around the creation of Michelangelo's masterpiece, from the commission of the vault's frescoes by Pope Julius II up to the painting of The Last Judgment. Behind it is the creative mind of artistic director Marco Balich, who produced the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics in Turin (2006) and Rio (2016). "We wanted to create a completely unique show, telling the genesis of a universal art masterpiece by mixing everything that the world of live entertainment has to offer", he said, "and at the same time absolutely respectful of Michelangelo's work". Boasting the Vatican Museums' scientific advice, the show involved globally renowned artists such as Sting, who composed and performed the original score's main theme song, and the Italian actor Pierfrancesco Favino, who lended his voice to Michelangelo. Dancing bodies, lights and videos blend together and immerse the viewer into a continuous transformation of the theatrical language, thanks to the supervision of director and playwright Gabriele Vacis, who defined the show as "a little breath adding up to those of the many people who contributed to building the Sistine Chapel over the centuries". John Metcalfe's music, Luke Halls' sets inspired by 15th perspectives, and the choreographies by Fotis Nikolaou are just some of the eminent contributions to this innovative and choral show that aims at helping the audience discover and rediscover one of the greatest masterpieces in the history of art.  "We like to think," commented Balich, "that our viewers, especially the younger ones, will realize that there is nothing more exciting than the beauty of a work of art". 

[...]

03.22.2018

It is such a treat and a privilege to enjoy the beauty of Paris from above, sitting on your own private terrace with a view on the rooftops, the Tour Eiffel or the Grand Palais. Yet this is something you can definitely get at Le Pavillon des Lettres, a 26-room boutique hotel sitting just a stone's throw away from the Champs Elysées in the heart of the city. The name is easily explained: le Pavillon is literary-inspired, with each room and suite dedicated to a different letter of the alphabet – and in turn a great writer from European literary history. From A for Andersen (Hans Christian) through to Z for Zola (Emile) – via B for Baudelaire, H for Hugo, S for Shakespeare and more – each room holds its writer integral to the design, with lines from poetry, prose and novels inscribed on the walls. Recently, the hotel even introduced a "literary room service menu", allowing guests to choose among a a selection of volumes ranging from classic novels by some of the writers who lend their names to the bedroom doors of the hotel to photographic books on art and architecture, style guides, and tomes about French fashion icons. Yet Le Pavillon is not all about literature: its refinement extends to the decor and the cosy atmosphere, dominated by dusky nuances ranging from black to light brown and chocolate and plush velvet sofas and chairs in brighter colors. But the height of luxury at Le Pavillon is epitomised by the picture-perfect views over the rooftops of Paris to the Eiffel Tower that you can enjoy from its two top-floor suites - definitely as Parisian chic as it gets. 

[...]

03.21.2018

There is a little green oasis tucked away beside the River Thames in the heart of Chelsea, London, where plants have been growing since 1673 and you can find the largest outdoor fruiting olive tree in Britain and the world’s most northerly outdoor grapefruit tree. Despite sitting in the middle of the vibrant neighborbood's contemporary hustle and bustle, this remarkable piece of the city's history has managed to preserve its original charm, dating back to when the Apothecaries first established it to grow useful and medicinal plants that have changed the world. The Chelsea Physic Garden is London’s oldest botanic garden, and it has seen numerous, notable figures over the years, including Sir Hans Sloane (to whom nearby Sloane Square owes its name), a famous physician, naturalist, collector and the founder of the British Museum, who purchased the Manor of Chelsea from Charles Cheyne, and leased the Garden to the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London for just £5 a year in perpetuity. The garden still pays this sum to Sir Hans' descendants today. Among other notable curators is Thomas Moore, who made the Garden the foremost collection of medicinal plants in Britain during the Victorian era. Chelsea Physic Garden is home to a unique living collection of around 5,000 different edible, useful, medicinal and historical plants contained within its sheltering walls. The Garden’s warm micro-climate also allows many tender plants to flourish here, including a number of rare and endangered species, and the Glasshouses hold a collection of tropical and sub-tropical species, complemented by a Victorian Cool Fernery. There is always something going in the garden, from family activities in the weekend, ranging from exploring the world of mini-beasts to learning how to make your own herbal remedies and chocolate blends, to gardening courses and workshops. Yet you certainly need no excuse to come and enjoy the beauty of this quintessentially British corner of beauty and peace. 

[...]

03.19.2018

Founded in 1994 by George and Ilone Kremer, the Kremer Collection is a privately owned group of around 74 works of 17th century Dutch and Flemish art including masterpieces by, amongst others, Rembrandt, Abraham Bloemaert, Hendrick ter Brugghen, Gerrit Dou, Frans Hals, Meindert Hobbema, Gerrit van Honthorst, Pieter de Hooch, Jan Lievens, Paulus Moreelse, Michael Sweerts, Jan Baptist Weenix, and Emanuel de Witte. Over the past 20 years, many of the works from the Collection have been on display in a variety of exhibitions and on long-term loans with international museums, but the latest enterprise launched by its founders is an innovative new concept that combines these world-class masterpieces with cutting-edge technology: The Kremer Museum, a virtual museum designed by architect Johan van Lierop of Architales design studio. Accessible exclusively through Virtual Reality (VR) technology, the museum allows visitors to examine the artworks’ surface and colors up-close and enjoy a deeply immersive experience with the paintings, which have been individually photographed between 2,500 and 3,500 times using the ‘photogrammetry’ technique to build one ultra high resolution visual model for each of them.  “Our journey as collectors has always been about finding the highest quality artworks and simultaneously finding ways to share them with as many people as possible", George Kremer, Founder of the Kremer Collection, told the press. "My wife Ilone and I believe we can make a greater contribution to the art world by investing in technology rather than in bricks and mortar for our collection”. Perfect lighting, the possibility to look at the back of the paintings, and a perfectly designed space are the main assets of this virtual museum, which besides offering visitors a unique experience also gave its architect a rare opportunity. “To design a museum without gravity, plumbing or code regulations", van Lierop himself said, "is a dream for every architect".  As well as hosting a number of exclusive pop-up events with a full VR set-up, the Kremer Collection also launched the TKC Mighty Masters program, providing selected schools around the world with VR tools to fully access the museum. To select its first schools, the program partnered with India’s Delivering Change Foundation to host a drawing contest among over one million children in India.  

[...]

Arsenic Green is a strong green pigment used in the wallpaper industry since the 1770’s, with the drawback of becoming toxic in damp conditions. Chinese Walppaper is simply wallpaper produced in China for the export market that reached a peak in popularity in the second half of the eighteenth century. Anaglypta is the name of a type of embossed wallpaper made by feeding paper through a pair of profiled male and female rollers giving a relatively deep ‘hollow’ back, often designed to be painted over once hung. These are just a few of the fascinating things you can learn about by browsing the online glossary of the Wallpaper History Society, the not-for-profit English institution established in 1986 to preserve, enhance and spread knowledge on the cultural and historical role of this form of decoration, which has been popular in Europe ever since the 13th century and has its roots in the ancient art of paper. And those are very deep roots indeed, reaching as far as 2nd century BC China, where the art of decorating with paper became an undisputed form of art. In Europe, the first official public document on paper was produced in Sicily in 1190, and the famous paper factory of Fabriano, which can still be visited today, was founded in the 13th century.Besides being inextricably linked with the invention of paper, the history of wallpaper also merges with that of its designs and drawings, which have been representing a sign of the time through the different eras, reflecting the aesthetics and of the social and economic context in which wallpaper was born. The Wallpaper History Society promotes studies on the conservation of older wallpapers and the creativity of contemporary designers, scholarships, events, publications, newsletters and events. The goal is to provide scholars and enthusiasts with a meeting place, promoting knowledge and raising awareness on the need to preserve the treasures of the past. Maintenance is one of the key issues because, with the increasing popularity of this decorative form since the mid-nineteenth century, the quality of the materials gradually became poorer, exposing the paper to quick deterioration. In perfect balance between the romantic nostalgia of a not-too-distant past and a contemporary taste for mixing patterns, prints, and decorations from all times and places, the Wallpaper History Society is here to remind us that every old roll of wallpaper tells a story, and that it deserves to be preserved with the utmost care. 

[...]

03.16.2018

The Naoshima archipelago consists of 27 small and large islands floating in the Seto Inland Sea, about 3km south of Tamano, in the Okayama Prefecture, of which only five are inhabited. Due to the presence of copper refineries, islands like Naoshima and Inujima used to be heavily polluted by the fumes. After the war, however, afforestation was introduced and has been in force ever since. In particular, the greenery of Kōjin-shima has been revived, and the southern side of Naoshima has been designated part of the Setonaikai National Park. Benesse Art Site Naoshima is a collective name for the art activities conducted on the islands of Naoshima, Teshima, and Inujima. Furthermore, the Setouchi Art Festival is held once every three years in the archipelago, with hordes gathering from all over the country. The origin of the Art SiteBenesse Art Site Naoshima was born from the Naoshima International Campsite in 1989, designed by world famous architect Tadao Andō, where people could experience the beauty of the Setouchi area by staying overnight in Mongolian yurts. Then came the opening of Benesse House and the installation of Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkin, which soon became one of the symbols of Naoshima. Highlights of NaoshimaThe Oval is one of the lodging facilities of Benesse House, designed by Tadao Andō and opened in 1995, with a great number of guests every year. In the meantime, the old houses are being transformed into works of art. Tadao Andō also developed the Chichū Art Museum, using a century-old private residence. The museum opened in 2004, with photographs, sketches and miniatures documenting Andō’s activity on Naoshima, as well as the history of the island. Highlights of TeshimaOn the island, in a corner of a 9-hectare hilly area terraced with 270 rice paddies overlooking the Seto Inland Sea, stands the Teshima Art Museum, which combines art and the beautiful natural scenery. Since the island is quite small, it is very easy to tour by bicycle or moped which you can rent. The Teshima Yokoo House showcases the works of one of the most representative contemporary artists, the famed graphic designer Tadanori Yokoo, with life and death as a recurring theme. The most distinctive feature of the building is the red glass of the windows that filters and modulates the light and colour of the interiors, allowing the artworks to acquire a shifting range of appearances and giving visitors the illusion of walking through a three-dimensional collage. There is no better way to end the tour than with a bite or a drink at the gourmet snack bar in the elegant set-up of a renovated private house. Highlights of InujimaRegardless of its small extension (0.54m²), Inujima is full of natural charm and cultural facilities. The Inujima Seirensho Art Museum is located on the site of a former copper refinery, where you can enjoy the atmosphere of ancient ruins. In 2007, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry designated the Inujima refinery as one of Japan’s Industrial Modernisation Heritage sites, in recognition for the pivotal role it played in the industrial development of Japan. When you are finished with culture, you can enjoy the nature strolling leisurely or relaxing on the sandy beach of the Inujima Seaside Resort. 

[...]

03.14.2018

In January 2018, Talent Garden, a network of spaces dedicated to digital, technology and creativity professionals, outlined the five trends that are shaping the world of smart working: increased demand, the search for wellbeing, large companies looking for coworking spaces, the popularity of the most unexpected places, and a growing need fo state-of-the-art technology. Milan is the Italian city with the highest concentration of coworking and smart working spaces. Here's a list of the ones you should visit to see for yourself how the coworking world is changing. For contemporary dreamers: YoRoom, in the Isola district, has included among its missions that of becoming a socially responsible community, collaborating with NGOs and supporting start-ups with a social impact on the local community. For hipsters: in Milan's vibrant Chinatown, Otto  is a cozy, spacious, and colorful space perfect for those looking for a place to work and at the same time for the opportunity to unplug and relax as soon as the aperitif hour strikes. For mums and dads: QF  stands for Family Quotient and it is a smart working space with an adjoining kindergarten designed for those who need to juggle work and family, with a calendar of evening events dedicated to relaxation, wellness, and sociability. For musicians: Santeria Paladini is an authentic social club where you work, listen to music, stay up late, meet professionals with the same passions, and keep up with the trends of the moment. Its garden is a metropolitan oasis. For engineers: Cow-o is located in San Giuliano Milanese and it provides secure parking. Housed in the former premises of Ariston, it is the brainchild of a group of entrepreneurs working in telecommunications, energy, and human resources. For designers: Archiproducts, one of the largest digital communities dedicated to the world of design, has created a space in the Tortona Design District devoted to interconnections, exhibitions, events, and networking. For startuppers: Talent Garden is a European network of hubs for digital and creative professionals, a place devoted to scouting and exchange between large companies and small growing businesses, and a training center for growing talents. It has two locations in Milan: via Merano and via Arcivescovo Calabiana. For urban cyclists: HugMilano, house inside a former chocolate factory, defines itself as an "urban regeneration hub". It is a space for smart working, a bistro and a hostel with a range of services for those who love cycling, including a bike shop. For trendsetters: BASE  is a residence and a project house where new ideas come to life, a meeting place literally located at the crossroads of the worlds that mostly epitomise Milan: fashion, design, and theater. Expect an international atmosphere and an easy and determined spirit. For those who want to feel at home: Coffice offers working spaces at an hourly rate including sweet and savory snacks, as well as the informal and laid-back atmosphere of a cosy environment. It has two locations in town: viale Caldara and via Olona. 

[...]

03.12.2018

Milan, Ripa di Porta Ticinese. Along the banks of the Naviglio, in the heart of one of the city's most vibrant nightlife districts, there is a tiny and mysterious wooden door, always closed and surprisingly plain as compared to its surroundings. To walk past it, you have to follow a very defined instruction list: first call a telephone number, then book and finally gain access to the key that opens the door to Back Door 43, possibly the world's tiniest bar. Of course, the reservation is valid for the whole bar, whose beautiful 4 square meters include a counter, four stools, plenty of bottles on the floor-to-ceiling shelves, and above all a barman wearing a Guy Fawkes mask (does V for Vendetta ring a bell?) at your complete disposal, ready to mix some of the city's best cocktails (with five house specials changing every month) and to let you taste an impressive whiskey selection. The experience is undoubtedly unique and rewarding: by reserving, you will have the room all to yourself  and a maximum of three friends for two hours (there are four shifts starting from 7.30 pm), to drink, taste whiskey and chat with your bartender (who will probably have removed the mask at this point). Alternatively, you may want to drop by and order a take-away drink from the small window overlooking the street, as plenty of customers do, especially on warm spring nights. One last thing: if you are not used to drinking on an empty stomach, bring something to nibble on, or give them a ring in advance and you will find whatever you prefer.  

[...]

Once upon a time there was a mobile app called Great Little Place, designed to help you find the quirkiest bars and restaurants and hidden spots in cities all over the world, with tips and recommendations from locals and insiders. The concept was that of sharing all the best of one's city or area, and it truly gave birth to an amazing community of people offering up their favourite places to go for others to discover. Great Little Prints was born off the back of that project, based on the idea that, if you love your city or somewhere you’ve travelled, you might want something to remember it by, a memento to be proud of. Which is why these maps are truly the opposite of tourist tats: created by talented illustrators from around the planet and printed on special paper selected to make the colors and the strokes stand out, the subjects include differet designs ranging from typographical maps inspired by word clouds to multi-coloured iconic buildings and building details epitomizing the world's big cities. By mixing graphic design and content, these maps use accurately chosen words to compose shapes and drawings, unveiling at the same time the spirit of a city and of its districts through their meanings with unique effectiveness. Turning the beauty of a place into unique and colorful  works of graphic design, Great Little Prints aims at decorating your walls with a city souvenir you won’t forget in a hurry, making a house a home  

[...]

03.07.2018

Wherever you find yourself wandering around in the beautiful Italian region known as Emilia Romagna, there is one thing that you won't be able to help noticing: whether it's mountains, hills or wide landscapes bordering the Po river, there will always be a house in sight, but you will never bump into a big city. And perhas this is exactly where the secret of the local cuisine lies: families used to have just enough space around their home to raise chickens, build a small barn and farm rabbits, cows or pigs - and yet they were always close enough to the road to become a possible stop or refreshment point on the way for the wayfareres that traveled through this huge plain. This vocation for hospitality and the richness of its ingredients such as eggs, meats, wines, and wheat make Emilia Romagna a land that celebrates taste in its very own way. Awarded by Forbes in 2013 as the region with the best food in the world, in January 2018 Emilia Romagna was included by the New York Times in the list of the 52 unmissable destinations in the world. Every household along the region's city and country roads has a pasta-making tradition. The recipes vary from city to city, from family to family, and the same goes for the many different stuffings that enrich delicacies such as cappelletti, cappellacci, tortelli and tortellini - but be advised: confusing denominations and flavors is deemed inappropriate, because every pasta shape and name is a piece of local history and idiom. Meat is of course the other staple food, exalted in roasts, boiled and seasoned  to become a true delicacy such as in Prosciutto di Parma, Culatello di Zibello and Mortadella, also know as Bologna, from the city of he same name. Emilia Romagna is home to many authentic old-style trattorias and restaurants. It is not hard to recognize them: upon crossing their threshold, you will instantly get that frozen-in-time vibe, the feeling that someone has been waiting for you to come, and that everything is now ready to reward you with food, rest and joy. Casa Zanni is one of such places, sitting since 1919 in Verucchio, along one of the many roads that lead from the Adriatic cast to the hilly inland. Here you will find egg pasta freshly rolled out by hand, meat sauce cooked for hours on low heat, and of course handmade piadina, the simplest and yet most delicious type of local flat bread. Da Bertino, in Bologna's old town, is the right address for tortellini in brodo, boiled meats, and roasts. Ever since the year 1957, this historic restaurant has been serving "Sunday lunch", a true Italian tradition which is all about family, abundance, and sharing.   Among the hills once owned by Matilda od Tuscany, between Reggio Emilia and Parma, is Pietranera, an osteria with a beautiful terrace overlooking the valley where you can enjoy a variety of tortelli with different stuffings, from meats to butternut squash or herbs. Whichever one of these amazing restaurants you decide to try, you will see (and taste) for yourself how this daily quest for happiness at the dinner table is the key to the authenticity of a region that really managed to stay true to itself over time. 

[...]

03.07.2018

The first kaiten-zushi restaurant appeared in the 1940s, when Yoshiaki Shiraishi, who run a standing sushi shop in Osaka, borrowed the idea from beer bottles on conveyor belts at a brewery and devised a system to efficiently handle a large number of orders. Shiraishi opened the first conveyor belt sushi Mawaru Genroku Sushi at Fuse Kintetsu Station in Higashi-Osaka in 1948. Although sushi shops used to be regarded as high-end establishments in the past, kaiten-zushi helped popularise sushi, making it more affordable. Nowadays, there is a wide array of revolving sushi shops, with gourmet ingredients and a generous dessert menu, worth the long queue. Some of them are provided with touch panels that allow the customer to select the ingredients by their place of origin. Kaiten-zushi restaurants have come a long way. If you are in Tokyo, here are a few recommendations. Numazuko (Ginza)At this chic restaurant you can taste the freshest sakura shrimps and whitebaits from Suruga Bay, and fish and shells from all over the country, paired with sake and wine from Kōshū, Yamanashi Prefecture without spending a fortune. Kitte Nemuro Hanamaru (Marunouchi)This restaurant is supplied daily with seasonal fish and seafood from Nemuro, a fishing village in Hokkaidō: squid, octopus, red-fleshed fish and shellfish. It is an inexpensive shop, with a laid-back Sapporo ambience. Miura Misaki (Shibuya Hikarie)Highly regarded by the Japanese for its quality ingredients, especially for the tuna delivered directly from Miura Misaki Harbour in Kanagawa, this restaurant has a clientele of business people and celebrities. It is also popular for the salmon, conger and cheese sushi. Kanazawa Maimon Sushi (Ueno)Like its main shop located in Kanazawa, Ueno’s Maimon Sushi serves the best of what the Sea of Japan has to offer. People come not only for the crab, the akamutsu rosy sea bass, and the shrimp, but also for the rare veined rapa whelk from Nanao (nicknamed “the ruby of Hokuriku”), and shiraebi (known as “Japanese glass shrimp” or “Jewel of the Sea of Japan”). Mawashi-zushi Katsu (Meguro)Another popular kaiten-zushi restaurant is Mawashi-zushi Katsu Midori, operated by the long-standing Setagaya main store, located in Umegaoka. On the menu you will find anything in season. Spring is the time of firefly squid gunkan rolls and other five special types of maki, only available for a limited time. 

[...]

03.05.2018

Ranked among the 52 places in the world to go to in 2016 by the New York Times - the only Italian city on the list - and awarded the title of European Innovation Capital, Turin is a special city in many ways. Rich in art and culture, cosmopolitan, incredibly charming - even magical, suspended as it is between a glorious past and a future that you can already feel in the air. From the old town with Piazza Castello, the Royal Palace, the arcades of Via Po and the huge Piazza Vittorio Veneto, from the historic cafés to the renewed Egyptian Museum and the imposing Mole Antonelliana, home to the Museum of Cinema, Turin is a perpetual invitation to discovery. But it is perhaps only getting off the beaten track that you will discover its inner soul, immersing yourself in nightlife that animates the area between the former industrial suburb of San Salvario, south of downtown, dotted with small restaurants, wine bars and "piole" (the local taverns), and the Quadrilatero Romano, a central maze of cobbled streets between Santa Teresa, via della Consolata, Corso Regina and via XX Settembre. Or even further on to Vanchiglia, a former industrial neighborhood between the Dora Riparia and the Po river where plenty of innovative shops and bars have recently opened. Here’s a small guide to our favorite places in town. VisitParco DoraAn innovative post-industrial park designed by German landscape architect Peter Latz on the site of a bunch of former large industrial plants (including Michelin and Valdocco) along the river Dora, north of downtown. Museo del CinemaA unique example in Italy, the Museum of Cinema in Turin is housed in the impressive Mole Antonelliana, and it has been beautifully designed by Swiss architect François Confino. Do not miss the elevator ride to the top of Turin’s most iconic building. Villaggio Leumann, CollegnoAt the gates of the city, this Art Nouveau-style workers’ village is the brainchild of the enlightened Swiss entrepreneur Napoleone Leumann, who had it built around his cotton mill. A fascinating journey into nineteenth-century Turin. EatCoco'sVia Galliari, 28A very popular bar and restaurant in the San Salvario district oozing with an authentic 1960s atmosphere where you can try genuine local home cooking surrounded by old photos and memorabilia. Soul KitchenIn Vanchiglia, a very cool place for experiencing vegan and raw vegan cuisine in a creative and beautifully presented version. Dora in poiA restaurant on the banks of Lungo Dora Firenze serving Italian-style dim sum - in other words, fusion cuisine that mixes the national gastronomy with exotic (but locally grown) ingredients and influences from around the world. EDIT​In the suburban district of Barriera di Milano and inside a post-industrial bulding, Edit (Eat, Drink, Innovate Together) is a new food hub housing restaurants, cocktail bars, cafés and spaces devoted to cooking classes and events, boasting the collaboration of some huge Italian chefs. Mara dei BoschiSimply one of the most delicious artisan gelatos in Turin, made with local, seasonal ingredients, alpine milk and eggs from non-intensive farms. ShopMercato di Porta PalazzoThe largest open-air market in Turin (and in Europe), this is a true institution in the city. Located in the octagonal Piazza della Repubblica, in the historic district of Borgo Dora and a few steps from the center, it includes a food market and a clothes & shoe market. On Saturdays, it hosts the Balon,Turin's most renowned flea and antiques market. Tom DesignA design studio in the lively Vanchiglia district that is also a design store featuring an amazing selection of objects and furniture from established and rising brands and designers. Its beautiful, colorful window is an irresistible call to plunge into a world of beauty carefully created by architect Laura Marchesi and landscape designer Giorgio Osella. The Slowear StoreVia Giuseppe Luigi Lagrange, 35In the heart of the city, The Slowear Store is not just a menswear store but a warm, cozy, and welcoming space where you can browse through the collections while listening to old vinyls, having an espresso, and leafing through a book. Guido Gobino A weekend in Turin would not be complete without a little taste of its renowned chocolate-making tradition. We recommend dropping by this artisan chocolate shop which is particularly known for the quality of its Giandujotto, the famous local hazelnut chocolate, and of its delicous Gianduja spread. The original salt and extra-virgin olive oil cremino is also a must-try.   

[...]

02.27.2018

Like it or not, over the past decade Amsterdam has changed profoundly. The city of canals and bicycles has been constantly attracting large companies, digital start-ups, masses of tourists, working-class immigrants and new wealthy inhabitants, and it is not immune to all these infuences. If on the one hand it has managed to retain its original charm, on the other hand it has necessarily changed and adapted to this new situation, and the results are not always convincing. On the up side, for those visiting the city the offer in terms of upscale and boutique hotels, museums, cafes and restaurants has definitely improved with plenty of amazing options either in the center or in the emerging neighborhoods such as the Amsterdam Noord area, a creative district crowded with cool hangouts. Here’s a small selction of places that might help you get an idea - and a taste - of the new Amsterdam. B. AmsterdamSimply the largest start-up incubator in Europe, an ecosystem that brings together creative professionals, start-ups and large companies in 28,000 square meters and two buildings, acting as a bridge among them and offering a multitude of services. Amenities include a nice rooftop restaurant with panoramic city views. Coffee ConceptsWork, food, art and lots of coffee. These are the ingredients of Coffee Concepts, a unique space around the corner from the Van Gogh Museum which houses a communication and PR agency, a gallery and a sandwich shop all at the same time. Expect young professionals sipping coffee as they work on their laptop, or enjoying lunch on the sofas. Hutspot A concept store selling clothes, accessories, furniture and household items from emerging designers and brands with a bent for sustainability, but also a nice cafe on the top floor where you can rest after shopping. All this is Hutspot, whose main location is in the multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan De Pijp district. Noordelicht CafeIn the heart of Noord, the former industrial area behind the railway station (and only reachable by ferry) where many large companies and start-ups recently set up their headquarters, this cafe hidden among old and reclaimed warehouses has a really laid-back and vibrant feel. Organic ingredients, plenty of vegetarian options and live music add further charm to the venue. De Vergulden EenhoornThe golden unicorn, a creature as rare as a country restaurant in Amsterdam, is just the right name for this truly special place set in a seventeenth century Oost farmhouse overlooking a canal. Quite like the atmosphere, the food is country-inspired, with wholegrain bread sandwiches filled with fresh vegetables, fish or meat. Perfect for a summer day-trip just outside the city. 

[...]

02.27.2018

Despite being extremely traditional, kimonos are becoming all the rage. In Japan, a kimono is the most suitable attire for all kinds of formal gatherings. Their beauty also resides in their versatility: with a different sash and different accessories, you can create a multitude of looks out of the same kimono. Every man can be seen wearing stylish, tailor-made kimonos. Men’s kimonos are made from various types of fabrics, but they can be divided into two main categories: casual kimonos and ceremonial kimonos, which differ by materials, colour and the presence or the absence of a family crest, a haori jacket and hakama trousers. Casual kimonos can be fastened with a stole or a belt, instead of the traditional obi sash, use a shirt or another type of western undergarment, instead of the nagajuban under-kimono, and be worn with a pair of boots or trainers, instead of zōri sandals. By contrast, men’s ceremonial kimonos consist in black haori and hakama, bearing the family crest. Weddings and other dignified occasions require men to wear a black haori, bearing the family crest and fastened with an obi, a hakama and tabi or zōri sandals. Lately, casual kimonos, known as yukata, have become increasingly popular, usually sold or rented out in a set complete with sandals and the other accessories. Kabuki, bunraku, rakugo and noh theatre, sumo wrestling and other traditional venues Recently, kabuki and rakugo have been refashioned for contemporary relevance, with classic stories transposed into today’s Japanese, to broaden their appeal. In such venues, it is very common to see an increasing number of members of the audience enrobed in a casual, yet stylish, kimonoNew Year’s Celebrations, Hatsumode and SetsubunDue to the solemnity of the occasion, it is very important to keep a good posture, and the kimono helps achieve that, by restraining the movements and forcing the wearer to straighten their spine. If you have no particular event on calendar, you can wear your usual clothes. However, visiting a shrine in a kimono will make the experience more special and memorableA Friend’s Wedding or A PartyEvery time a dinner jacket is mandatory, you can wear a kimono. Of course, kimonos too have their own rules for materials and the use of obi sash. Visiting Kyoto, Nara, Kamakura and KanazawaIt is highly recommended to wear a kimono when sightseeing the historic cities. A kimono will make you feel part of the scenery and grant you more worldly benefits, such as discounts at some shops, as well as reduced fee and priority tickets at shrines and temples. It is not necessary to own a kimono. You can always rent it from one of the many shops in Kyoto. Hanami in Spring, Festivals in Summer, Momiji-gari in Autumn, Christmas in Winter and Other Seasonal EventsQuite a few people choose to attend summer festivals and firework shows in the laid-back attire of a yukata. One may think that the excuse is the hot weather because a yukata is a fresh type of clothing. However, people also love to wear multi-layered kimonos on other occasions, such as cherry blossom viewing in spring (hanami) and leaf viewing in autumn (momiji-gari). Men’s kimonos have different designs for each season, which you may coordinate with the pattern and colours of the sandals, obi and collar. 

[...]

02.25.2018

The knowledge of apple cultivation was inherited by the French from both the Celtic Gauls and the Romans who ruled the region for approximately 500 years. We can trace the earliest mentions of cider to the Greek geographer Strabo who speaks of the abundance of apple trees in Gaul and describes a drink very similar to what we know today as cider. Put simply, there are different types of cider like categorised by technique – traditional, farm style, boutique, and pasteurized - each of them with their own, unique flavour. They also come in various hues from colourless or light in color with yellow hues, to dark orange. Some ciders are cloudy with sediment while others are completely clear. Some have a strong taste of apples while others have only a hint. The range of sweetness also has something for every pallet right dry to sweet. The making of this drink is very interesting. Whole apples are ground by the process of crushing the fruit between stone which is the traditional method. The crushed apple pomace is collected in jute/hessian frames and stacked in a cider press. The apple juice is then squeezed out, collected and fermented by use of wild yeast at a temperature of 4–16 °C, commonly in wooden barrels. Like in the case of wines, a second fermentation can also take place, converting the malic acid into a softer tasting lactic acid. A cider may be aged for six months before bottling. The Charmat method is conducted to produce sparkling cider. It is a process of fermenting the apple juice in a sealed tank so as to allow the carbon dioxide that is produced from the fermentation to stay in the cider. To experience first-hand the process of an apple turning into Breton cider, we suggest making a trip to a cider farm. The Cidrerie de la Baie is made up of 7,000 apple trees. The team passionately share the secrets of producing their signature unrivalled organic cider. The lovely tour of the farm ends with a delicious tasting session. If you are interested in buying excellent cider from Brittany, head to the Cornouille region, where most cidreries are located. Here's a list of recommended by IDAC, the Interprofession des Appellations Cidricoles: Cidrerie Manoir du Kinkiz Cidrerie MelenigCidrerie Séhédic Le Brun Dominique