Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Alot of Heat about Light

Why is it that the beautiful things are also always bad for you?  Filament light bulbs have become a hot topic of debate here due to their outrageous energy consumption. Australia has already decided to ban all incandescent bulbs in exchange for fluorescent lights and US Congress passed a bill to phase them out by 2012. But that seems to have added kudos to the once humble light bulb. As the debate powers on in New York, (no pun intended) the gorgeous exposed filament bulbs are mushrooming here.

Some of the hottest - and coolest - places in town have these beautiful vintage looking bulbs spreading an antique glow over the proceedings and recreating an industrial look. Maialino hangs them in an Italian trattoria environment, Public and Craft suspend them with no shades, Five Leaves has them flickering in old round glass shades and the Standard Grill sprinkles them over white mosaic-tiled floors and wooden banquettes.

Apparently they have become so ubiquitous here that there is now a backlash amongst certain restauranteurs. Ken Friedman of Spotted Pig fame said "no exposed bulbs" when he was designing his latest eatery, the Breslin.

 But if you aren't tired of them yet and want to make the most of these beautiful bulbs while you can, here are some options for the home:

Pottery Barn sells this Edison Chandelier

Anthropologie helps out with a more industrial collection.

Restoration Hardware goes minimalist.

And here are some simple ways they have been used that I love.

Images: new york times, flavorwire, hotel lx, test of will, pottery barn, anthropologie, restoration hardware, apartment therapy, atelier 29, apartment therapy

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wave Hill

What do you do when it's 33 degrees with 78% humidity in Manhattan? Run for the hills - or the beach. In my case, I ran for the upper Hudson to visit an amazingly underrated National Trust property called Wave Hill.

Situated in the Bronx, right at the end of the number 1 subway line and then a good walk or cab drive, Wave Hill is perched overlooking the Hudson River. It features 28 acres of spectacular gardens including woodland, age-old trees, flower gardens, herb gardens, a conservatory and stunning vistas across the river to the Palisades.

The actual house at Wave Hill was built as a country home by jurist William Lewis Morris in 1843. It went through a succession of owners and hosted guests such as Mark Twain, Arturo Toscanini and Teddy Roosevelt. In 1960 it was deeded to the City of New York. Today, its mission is to "celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscapes, to preserve its magnificent views and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts."

For the average city dweller, it offers a welcome respite from the melting asphalt and smell of rotting trash. Take a book, your ipod and a blanket, and lie in the shade of a century old oak whilst watching the barges move slowly along the Hudson.

Images: 7: bridge and tunnel club, 1-6, 8-9: mine

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Out of the Frying Pan and into the Hudson

For a city surrounded by water, Manhattan is not good at taking advantage of the water views. Granted the Hudson River is no Sydney Harbor or even Port Philip Bay, but for those of us who desperately need an occasional sense of space and to see the sky once in a while, it dearly offers both.

So imagine my delight when I found out about a bar on a barge - in the Hudson! It took an "out-of-towner" to introduce me to this concept, but now I am a convert. The boat, called "Frying Pan", used to protect the Frying Pan Shoals off Cape Fear in North Carolina. It spent three years under water until it was salvaged, restored and brought to Chelsea, where it now resides at Pier 66 at the end of West 26th St.

You certainly don't come here for the decor or food. But if you want a cold beer and some fries, pull up a plastic chair, rest your legs on the side of the barge and watch the sun set over New Jersey. It doesn't get much better than that in this town.

Images: Brian Dube @ new york daily photo, mine

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Polo in Greenwich

I am very lucky to have a gorgeous aussie friend who has made polo his life. And he is damn good at it - polo that is. This friendship allows me access to a rarefied world of incredibly good looking Argentine men and their Giselle Bundchen-like wives and children, multi million dollar polo ponies and lives, first-hand accounts of what really goes on in the polo world and a chance to see the working side of this often misunderstood sport. The fact that I am a horse fanatic makes this an even more special friendship because I get to nuzzle these magnificent ponies!

Last weekend I spent my Sunday at the Greenwich Polo Club to watch said friend win an important game and go onto the finals this week. Greenwich Connecticut has to be one of the most extraordinarily beautiful, if not too perfect places in the world. Apart from the stunning backdrop of vast green lawns and lush forests, there is an obscene amount of money here which results in monoliths lining the tree-canopied roads, each larger than a small African nation.

Amidst all this decadence sits one of the most incredible properties you will ever have the pleasure of visiting; White Birch Farm. It is owned by Peter Brant, paper manufacturer, publisher of Interview magazine, art collector, husband of Stephanie Seymour (although now going through a famously acrimonious divorce) and of course, polo magnate. Brant started the Greenwich Polo Club - and the Bridgehampton Polo Club but that's for another post - in the eighties, as a way to bring high-goal games to the area. He also has his own polo team named after his farm. One of the world's top players, Mariano Aguerre, is the team leader who also happens to be my friend's business partner in Argentina, where they breed polo ponies. But I digress!

The polo club sits on Brant's property which comprises of not one, but two picture perfect polo fields alongside each other, surrounded by magnificent old trees.

Overlooking the fields is Brant's personal art gallery and non profit study centre, which includes an incredible collection of modern American art. Housed in a 1902 converted barn, it is open to the public by appointment, but that is also for another post!

And so to the game. There is something magical about being a part even for a brief moment, of this special world. Even though it is considered impossible to penetrate, you can still enjoy it from the sidelines - literally. All you need is a picnic rug, a chilled bottle of rose and some summer salads. The magnificent surroundings, horses and players will do the rest.

Images: mine, Sotheby's, luxist, berg properties, mine

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Enemies of the People

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again
- Maya Angelou -

Last night I went to a film that is part of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, currently screening at the Lincoln Centre. This festival is in its 21st year here and focuses on documentaries that highlight the social, economic and political injustices that occur everywhere in the world.

Enemies of the People is a remarkable film by a Cambodian journalist who lost his immediate family in the late 70's under the Khmer Rouge. This film is both a personal and historical journey for Thet Sambath, to try and understand why nearly 2 million people were massacred in the killing fields. Smabath seeks out those involved in the killings, not for justice or retribution, but to leave a legacy of truth for the next generations.

Ordinary farmers and mid ranking soldiers openly and honestly recount their atrocities on the site of their killing fields. And the notorious "Brother Number 2," Nuon Chea, in his eighties now, tries to justify why it happened.

It is a difficult film to watch, but an important one. It raises alot of questions about justice, fear, forgiveness, the fragility of truth and the importance of remembering. It also reminds us that these types of things are still going on now and it is up to all of us to have the courage to speak out against them.

Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/ 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ssshhh, I Can Hear You

There is a very famous corner in Grand Central Station where you only have to whisper to hear the other person some distance away.

Known as the "Whispering Gallery," it is located on the dining concourse. If you don't believe me, stand with a friend - or lover - in opposite corners of the large arched entryway. The low ceramic arches make for brilliant acoustics. A whisper becomes a shout. Many a marriage proposal has purportedly taken place here. And no doubt alot of other less savory proposals or admissions when physical distance is required between the parties!

Image: bowery boys

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stay: East Hampton

So we are hosting an international press event in the Hamptons. We are lucky enough to be holding it in the pool house and garden of this incredibly beautiful home.

And the dinner is going to be at 2 long clothed tables in this beautiful barn, with cocktails on the lawn.

And because I had to do a scouting trip, this week, I got to stay in this heavenly hotel in East Hampton.

It is called c/o The Maidstone and reopened last year completely renovated in scandinavian style. It is full of bright colors and fabulous bold, graphic designs. Each room is named after a famous Scandinavian figure. My room was named after Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking. It was as colorful and fun as the books.

Other rooms include Tove Jansson, author of one of my favorite series as a child, the Finn Family Moomintrolls.

There is also the Karen Blixen room, Hans Christian Anderson, Edvard Munch and Eero Saarinen. Who knew there were so many famous scandinavians!

The hotel sits at the lower end of Main Street and looks over a graveyard (Americans are obsessed with graveyards and they always keep them so immaculate. See my post here).

If this last point puts you off, don't despair. There are plenty of other gorgeous boutique hotels in East Hampton. There is Hedges across the road from the Maidstone, but that unfortunately also looks over part of the same graveyard.

Or there is Baker House if you want a pool and are happy to pay US$700 for the lowest priced room.

Then there is 1770 house which also starts around the same price.

Or if you are happy with a less fancy room but a brilliant position, there is nothing wrong with the Huntting Inn. It sits across the road from the shops and also has a very popular restaurant called the Palm, which is where all the hoi poloi of East Hampton congregate over steaks on the weekend.

The Hamptons have to be one of my favorite places in the world because the area is so achingly beautiful. Stay tuned for more on this area over summer.

images: elle decor, mine, the kitchen designer, mine, amazon, mine, amazon, mine