#theWanderlist: Intersecting Art and Design at West Chelsea’s Hotel Americano

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After my six day stay in Williamsburg, I packed up my bags and moved to the opposite end of the map, to Manhattan’s West side, where I spent my last two nights at the Enrique Norten-designed, Hotel Americano. Enrique Norten’s firm, TEN Arquitectos, is originally from Mexico, however projects like Grupo Habita’s 56 room boutique- Hotel Americano, opening in 2011, helped Norten establish a permanent presence in New York.

Compared to Williamsburg, the West Chelsea/High Line art district, is too a bit off the grid from Manhattan’s usual buzzy and traffic-crazed neighborhoods. So technically, staying at Hotel Americano, with its chain-mail clad facade veiling the hotel like a soft protective blanket, gives the building a character of introvertedness re-establishing a getaway experience right in the middle of the city.

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The rooms have this minimalist Japanese x Scandinavian ambiance, with all the beds low on a timber-finish staging area. I stayed at the “Downtown King” room, where the soft glow of the window provides, a subtle Rothko-esque backdrop… and lifting this curtain allows for a more dramatic urban backdrop through the picture window. 

Materials are minimal… mirrored stainless steel working desks, fair-faced concrete flooring cool the touch, white marble tiles within the bathroom’s interiors, a glass and steel partition with a fritted pattern separating the shower from the bedroom area… all very modern reflecting contemporary architecture palate without losing the comfort sensibilities of “home”.

There are aspects of the room which is considered luxury… the iPad with an amazing selection of music and muzak which I had playing in the background the whole time, a great selection of self-labeled snacks (like the rich sea salt chocolate bar which everyone needs to try), and (the one item I loved the most), a bathrobe in soft denim. It’s fantastic.Unfortunately some items, ie. room speakers were not working (they are supposed to easily connect to the iPad), no complimentary drinking water in the room, and no coffee machine. But those are minor gripes for a hotel with just the right amount of comfort and generally amazing low key and personal Manhattan service.

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Public areas are cozy yet not cramped. The design is very streamlined and completely Manhattan-modern-minimalist done right. Ok, at the very least it reflects the general ambiance of this area of Chelsea, with the neighborhood’s rustic factory facades and cool gallery interiors of every ground floor space. I loved the negative/positives of President Obama in cool Instagram-ish glory in the lobby’s sitting area. We think we’re cool? He’s definitely been there and done that.

Speaking of “gallery interiors”, it was so cool to meet up with Hong Kong-turned-Manhattan graphic designer, Danielle Huthart, and art critic / consultant of everything, Shana Beth Mason, together for an art + hotel jazz brunch on my last sunny Saturday in the city before jetting back to Hong Kong.  According to the latest M art map, I counted roughly 200 gallery spaces in West Chelsea around Hotel Americano. Like Shana says, the West Chelsea art scene is largely commercial, and the real experimental stuff worth seeing is in the Lower East Side (understandably). However, we’re already here for brunch, so we might as well see what’s around right?

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Some cool shows we saw, digital prints on canvas by Linda Meiko Allen, titled Figmenta, closing July 31st, 2014 at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery.

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Physical large scale collage works on display by Gabi Trinkaus at Claire Oliver which ends this month.

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PACE Prints Chelsea has the latest neon works by Ryan McGinness on display.

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Our two favourite shows… this sexy one, titled Goldenboy by Jeff Bark, which has since ended at the Hasted Kraeutler, consisting of prints and a sculptural tableaux.

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And we also loved these very formal, yet hyper-real paintings by Pierre Dorion at the Jack Shainman Gallery.

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Every year, Paul Kasmin’s gallery exhibits a free curated not-for-sale-show. I was so lucky to have been there when the space across the street from Hotel Americano was curating a superb show by Russian-Jewish painter Chaim Soutine, noted for his amazingly thick and messy brush strokes in muted colours, depicting animals and items he finds at the market. Not since a 1950 MoMA retrospective of his work has all his works made it for a non-sell exhibition under one roof.

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A complimentary show by Walton Ford at Paul Kasmin’s other space on the corner of 10ave and Hotel Americano’s 27th street, feature vibrant watercolors of animal creatures from various fables depicted in a very illustrative moments.

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Architecture lovers will love walking around the the neighborhood to revel in buildings that seemingly never age…

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And the new sky-high mansions that take their place. This one below attempts at the quirk factor.

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There are some more cool buildings, as one gets further south around W. 14th Street, like this Samsung shop with a twisted tower. If you know the designer’s name, please let me know!

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There’s a wonderful building on 66 Ninth Avenue, called the Porter House, by SHoP Architects (with the black facade and vertical LED stripes.) You can’t miss it. It’s almost a landmark. It’a warehouse turned residential building.

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Speaking of twisted, watch out for Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum to open next year.

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And along the High Line park (a newly opened public green park ON TOP of the old High Line railroad tracks) designed by Diller + Scofidio, there’s an architectural view of  the big everything else; the “white sails” building by Frank Gehry dubbed the IAC, on the West Side Highway, and adjacent to it Jean Nouvel’s 100 11th Avenue. 

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Speaking of the High Line, the second phase of the tracks just opened up, and it’s wonderful to be there. Views are framed… literally.

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As for the first phase, the area closest to the Meatpacking District… the park’s architecture and its fixtures, are aging quite elegantly.

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Across the street there’s a cool concept store called, STORY… claiming to have a “point of view of a magazine, changing like a gallery, and selling things like a store.” So basically the shop’s VM changes four times a year to a theme. And when I was there, the theme was “COOL”… which is appropriate for the summer. The “COOL” idea is reflected in the lightweight structure of straws, and held together by snowflake fixings at its intersection.

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For restaurants, you can check out fusion-dim sum at the new, Buddakan NYC, a “modern-Asian” dining destination in a converted cookie factory designed by Christian Liaigre and founded by Stephen Starr also of Chelsea’s Morimoto. I enjoyed my drinks and food here and wish I had more than just bar snacks. The staff were very friendly, and the innovative selections, like their classic, “Edamame Dumplings”, is something definitely to look forward to, again on my next visit. It’s adjacent to the Chelsea Market… you won’t miss it.

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I will miss this neighborhood. It’s in the middle of Manhattan, yet generally less rushed and more relaxed.

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Thanks Smith Hotels and Hotel Americano for a great stay!

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FYI. The red “summer wool” jacket i’m in the wearing in the #selfie above was tailored by Moustache in Hong Kong. I strongly recommend them and their work if one has time in Hong Kong to get anything tailored. 

STAY Hotel Americano . 518 W 27th St. New York NY 10001 / BOOK Mr and Mrs Smith Hotels / VISIT Art Galleries in West Chelsea / SHOP Story . 144 10th Avenue at 19th Street, NY NY 10011 / EAT Buddakan NYC . 75 9th Avenue, NY NY 10011 / VISIT The High Line, New York NY 10011 

JJ.

#theWanderlist: A Williamsburg Guide

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This month was the first time I really ever experienced Williamsburg. Before this visit i’ve only heard about the district or passed through it in Brooklyn… but have never been to hang out. On my last New York trip, I wanted to give Williamsburg a go for the sake of the blog. I ended up staying there for a solid six days!

Most would call Williamsburg a quintessentially “cool” neighborhood. It’s hard to believe that so much happens here, and its only about a size of 10 city blocks… a mere fraction of the total size of all of Brooklyn

Me below in my Williamsburg Airbnb Loft.

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Additionally, Williamsburg style is now a kind of global style… at least within the last five years. What’s going on in this little corner of the world in terms of its “Old is New Again” lifestyle, i’ve seen exported replicated in many new destination hospitality and dining establishment everywhere else, including Hong Kong. 

Basically I was back in New York City to attend a friend’s wedding and to get some work done for the firm. In the free time that I did have, I was able to check out aspects of what actually is cool to see and do in the Williamsburg ‘hood, and why it’s earned a reputation as a global trendsetter. Check out our findings below!

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+ THE LOWDOWN

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Overall, from a purely urban observation… I categorize Williamsburg as a calm sibling of Manhattan. The kind of frenzy that one would find in the main city, you just do not get in Brooklyn. Brooklyn’s generally low building heights and lush tree lined streets guarantee an oasis, reflecting its role as a historical suburb. With the on-going gentrification as of late, especially in Williamsburg, you get a careful mix of old buildings, juxtaposed with newer architectures. Some buildings attempt at quirkiness, in a subtle and usually non-offensive way. A good example of this is perhaps the new EMS station clad in glass I photographed above on the intersection of Roebling and Metropolitan Avenue by Michielli + Wyetzner Architects 

Of course there are worse offenders. On the way to the Domino Sugar Refinery to visit some public art, I saw new buildings lined up on the Kent Avenue waterfront reflecting that general middle-america aesthetic, the kind of mixed-use development and architecture design solutions which mirror urban redevelopment in anytown inner city. The rent here is indeed expensive (i’ve asked), but apparently going for only half the price per square foot still of a comparable property in Manhattan.

+ ART

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Speaking of public art, we ventured to see the summer’s “IT” show, new commissioned work from African-American female artist, Kara Walker, via urban art programmer, Creative Time. The piece, titled, A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plan, is located at the soon-to-be-demolished-but-urbanistically-iconic Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg. The exhibition is free, and when it closes in July, the refinery will be torn down to make room for more of the gentrified development expected of Williamsburg’s waterfront. 

Walker, whose work is defined by her interest in race, gender, sexuality, violence, and identity, sculpts a female sphinx 80-feet long and 40-feet high in 80 ton blocks of white sugar. Life-sized child figurines, (perhaps children of the sphinx???), were cast in boiled sugar, reflecting the color of the sugar before undergoing refinement. The art was free, urban in scale, and open to the public, and got everyone from different boroughs into Williamsburg for the weekend. The work asks the public to contemplate the disappearance of the historical refinery for a more gentrified waterfront, and perhaps mull over the community of people who populated the neighborhood before gentrification took hold. 

Besides the Kara Walker exhibition, there is hardly an art scene in Williamsburg. Artists DO live and work here, but showing is all in the Lower East Side, West Village, or Chelsea High Line (we’ll get to this in later posts.)

 + HOTEL LIFE

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There are not too many new destination hotels in Brooklyn at the moment due to the city’s organic and slow approach to development. However, there are two prominent low-scale urban boutique hotels in Williamsburg adjacent to each other and along McCarren Park worth checking out. A destination for locals and seasoned travelers alike, one hotel is the Wythe Hotel, located in a converted factory, and the other, where I stayed via booking through Mr and Mrs Smith Hotels, is the McCarren Hotel & Pool, a destination for Brooklyners in search for weekend sun at the pool or stars on its scenic rooftop bar.

I can’t really say much for the Wythe Hotel, since I didn’t have enough time to visit (I’ll check it out next time), but I was pretty content with my stay at McCarren Hotel. It’s got this quirky and minimalist Scandinavian-chic interior design in a completely new-build block development. Compared to most luxury urban stays i’m used to, McCarren is generally straightforward urban hotel when it comes to offerings, but the rooms are fully stocked with all the drinks and snacks you need, plus good wifi and a great espresso machine. The hotels’ bars and pool area is a local destination, and not intimate by any means because it’s such a nightlife and weekend destination for brooklynites.

With it’s central Williamsburg location, a mere 5 minutes walk to all the best “IT” cafes, restaurants, and tourist must-sees… this tastefully designed hotel is a great option for urban travellers and at the right price. My only gripe is I wish they had breakfast options in the weekend (which they don’t because the restaurant which caters for the hotel only opens for Brunch on Weekends). But besides this minor gripe, the staff was generally friendly and helpful with everything and anything I needed.

+ COFFEE HOUSE CULTURE

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I really enjoyed having breakfast and chilling out at Toby’s Estate Coffee. Toby’s has two locations, the original roaster in Williamsburg on N. 6th Street and another one in the Flatiron District in the new Club Monaco Flagship store  (will get to this in a later post.) But Toby’s prides itself in roasting all its coffee in Brooklyn, and sourcing beans direct from source in Congo, Bolivia, Rwanda, Brazil, Colombia, and Ethiopia without in-betweens.  

For me the best part was the selection of food available on the menu. I can still taste the amazing “Espresso Glazed Bacon” with scrambled egg breakfast sandwich (please let me know if I got this wrong, but I couldn’t find the menu anywhere online). I also loved grabbing iced coffee and sitting outside to watch dreadfully “trendy” people pass. North 6th Street is such a scene! (The game I liked to play is count the tattoos… you figure it out.)

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Another place to check out for coffee is Urban Rustic Market & Cafe, a few blocks down from McCarren Hotel on McCarren Park. Urban Rustic is a fantastic small grocers and full deli, seemingly offering all the kinds of sandwiches you can think of made to order, utilising “ethically sourced” ingredients. What this means? All meats are “cage free”, all eggs are organic and from local farms, and meats are roasted in house.

I again had a bacon, cheese, and egg sandwich here on onion bagel, with a great cup of simple all American black coffee. (There’s nothing like the bacon on offer in the states… it’s just more hearty.) Also check out Urban Rustic for sunset beers. They carry an amazing assortment of beer from all the local breweries in the New York State… this plus the comfy bench seating outside next to the park, you’ve got an amazing way to end the day right there.

+ WHAT THE HIP EAT AND DRINK

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Williamsburg has a pretty amazing amount of destination cafes, bars, restaurants and eateries for such a mid-sized burrough. I don’t have any more room on this blog post to post all on offer, but I can pretty much zero in on a few of my favorites.  

For breakfast it’s all about Pies ‘N Thighs adjacent to the Williamsburg Bridge for some unforgettable signature “Chicken and Waffles”. I don’t know how Americans can have a plate of three chicken plus waffle plus fixins, when I barely finished one plate sharing with a friend. I didn’t get to taste the donuts and pies here but I heard they were legendary.

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For general gastro-pub fare plus some good people watching, there’s always the highly-rated restaurant, Five Leaves. I came here at the suggestion of my friend who’s friends with the owner. There’s plenty of inventive and playful food serving “New American” dishes at this bistro. The place is run by Ozzies and is a brunch favorite for locals. I was hooked on their truffle fries and deep fried oysters.

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To keep it “real”, we grabbed dinner at Marlow & Sons, also on lower Williamsburg (near Pies N’ Thighs) adjacent to the Williamsburg Bridge. Marlow & Sons, was one of the first handful of restaurants which placed Williamsburg on the culinary map many years ago before anything in Williamsburg was considered hip. To this day, Marlow & Sons still serve innovative (also New American) fare, fully flavoured. Although their fish mains are the best here, the real highlight is their broad selection of oysters. The wine selection to pair the meal with is just as fantastic.

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For those who like Mojitos and Margaritas (I Don’t), the cool hang out at Nights and Weekends, a-see-and-be-scene kind of bar with that almost “block party” kind of atmosphere. Drinks are are rum-centric and bar snacks, like fried shishito peppers, have a Caribbean bent. Everything is casual.

+ SHOP STYLE

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What Williamsburg lacks in art galleries, makes up for it with the amount of retail places where you can spend their hard earned cash. The neighborhood is just inundated with design shops, bookstores, boutiques, gift stores.. you name it. I was close to buying a few things at GANT, but the staff was less than hospitable so I left… and I walked in (and quickly walked out) of the new Urban Outfitters there. For some reason I was always at Duane Reade… anyway, there’s a couple of shops I want to highlight, however. 

Check out the new “style meets street” Menswear shop, Gentry, next to Toby’s Estate on North 6th Street, and has great frontage. Gentry is the brainchild of menswear connoisseur, Justin Dean (photographed above), and features a curated selection of the world’s top niche menswear labels including, knitwear from S.N.S. Herning, blazers from Ovadia & Sons, colorful printed buttoned down shirts from Gitman Vintage, and delicious dress shoes from Carmina. Justin is generally on hand to help customers find and style, a serious-yet-casual bespoke look that’s right for them.

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On the opposite end of “curation”, there’s the all-in-one junks shop, Brooklyn Junk, located on Driggs Avenue. Brooklyn Junk is every junk shopper’s dream come reality. Plenty of eighties prom dresses here for aspiring Bushwick drag queens, lots of ceramic ware, mod lighting, and antique furniture here for the new home, and lots of memorabilia, knick knack, and old photographs that people just love to collect. I found my sister a beautiful leather purse for 10 US Dollars.

+ LIVING LOCAL VIA AIRBNB

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It was my first time ever booking and staying with Airbnb, and I have to say… I absolutely loved it. Thanks to Airbnb, I was able to spend four nights at this loft in a converted factory all by myself. The cool owner of the loft, an artist named Daphne, was actually a friend of a friend (the website/app shows mutual friends), and lives next door in her own studio space. I only saw her when checking in, and was occasionally in touch via sms.

Overall, for those who can’t be bothered to stay in a Hotel, and would rather have a travel experience, as close as possible to a local way of life, Airbnb, has plenty of properties right within any destinations’ “it” neighborhoods. My loft was on the second floor of a multi-level artist factory farm, also in the center of Williamsburg. The sheets and towels were clean (maid service was offered), and the design and decor was truly my style, reflected by a masculine and old world aesthetic which I loved. The wifi was fast and efficient (great for working), and there was plenty of cable (great for being lazy.) The kitchen had all the utensils and things I needed to make simple meals (which I did not do), and the space was big enough for 2-4 people, just in case you were keen on inviting friend/s over. 

My first impression? This was a great first time experience with booking and staying in an Airbnb property, and I would definitely do it again.

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Overall I found my Williamsburg / Brooklyn experience really lovely and a nice respite from Manhattan’s busy streets. I’d like to thank some really cool friends… my friend Veronica for spending time with me and showing me Marlow & Sons, which I think is now one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan. 

Also I’d like to thank my best pal, Andy Chow, founder and curator of Doppelstandard (ex-Standard Vintage), for taking the time to hang out with me and show me around Brooklyn (and basically other cool parts of Manhattan.)

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I’d also like to thank this gorgeous lady for allowing me to take a photo of her at the Kara Walker exhibit. She’s just gorgeous. That’s the face of New York chic, right there. Elegant, relaxed, urban, and sophisticated.

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Others things to try… try walking across the Williamsburg Bridge from Williamsburg to the Lower East Side. It’s free, and a great way to experience the city… from both sides!

STAY Airbnb / STAY McCarren Hotel & Pool . 160 N 12th Street, Brooklyn NY 11249 / EAT Pies N’ Thighs . 166 S 4th Street, Brooklyn NY 11211 / EAT Five Leaves . 18 Bedford Ave, Greenpoint, Brooklyn NY 11222 / EAT Marlow & Sons . 81 Broadway, Brooklyn NY 11249 / DRINK Nights and Weekends . 1 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn NY 11222 / DRINK Toby’s Estate Williamsburg . 125 N 6th ST, Brooklyn NY 11249 / EAT Urban Rustic Market . 236 N 12th St, Brooklyn NY 11211 / SHOP Gentry . 127 N. 6th St, Brooklyn NY 11249 / SHOP Brooklyn Junk . 567 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn NY / VISIT Kara Walker via Creative Time . Domino Sugar Refinery, S 1st ST at Kent Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

JJ.

#JJStyle: Urban Tropico. Tangram for Goods of Desire x Glenn Eugen Ellingsen, Photographer

A second collection unveiled two weeks ago for Hong Kong based, niche fashion label, Tangram in collaboration with the iconic G.O.D. Goods of Desire boutique. Tangram’s Colombian designer, Paola Sinisterra, is again on form here for the Tangram for Goods of Desire collection, using her signature hand picked materials, and some with unique prints. The line is quintessentially light and comfortable, and defined by modern shapes and cuts derived from traditional Chinese pattern making. 

Photographer, Glenn Eugen Ellingsen for Parasol Studios took the collection’s aesthetic cues and narrative to formulate a fictional character; a female half urbanite and half jungle dweller, taken in a forested area only steps away from Hong Kong’s busy industrial district. 

Via Paola Sinisterra

"We took cues from the lively urban landscape of Hong Kong and its close entwinement with nature. The flavor of this collection is summery and jungle-like, urban and green, wild and fun, hot and humid and full of unexpected adventures - an exploration of Hong Kong’s more tropical side."

WEAR Tangram for Goods of Desire . G.O.D. Hollywood Road, 48 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong T: +852-28051876 . G.O.D. PMQ, Corner of Aberdeen Street and Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong / DESIGNER Tangram / PHOTOGRAPHER Glenn Eugen Ellingsen

DESIGN NOTES: The Judd Foundation, Intimate Artist’s Studio on Spring Street
I thought I would just drop a quick note about my amazing New York trip so far. It’s now Day 3 of a 10 Day long trip to the Big Apple, and i’ve been re-discovering and #wanderlisting the city’s streets non stop. Definitely as stated on my Instagram, the biggest highlight of Day 2 was being able to have a chance to visit the newly opened Judd Foundation on 101 Spring Street, home to the late great artist, Donald Judd’s private residence and east coast workshop (the other one being in Marfa, Texas). The five storey plus basement building was owned entirely by Judd, and purchased in 1968 for about 68,000 USD, which I guess was a lot of money at the time, though it doesn’t seem much by today’s standards.
The building was built to house garment factories in the late 1800’s, and according to one of my Instagram followers, is actually the oldest cast iron structure in New York City. Groups of 8 ppl maximum are led throughout the house by two art guides who give a sneak peek into the intimate lives of Judd’s family and private work spaces. Works by Judd’s friends, including his closest artist pal, Dan Flavin with furniture by Judd and Aalto, are dispersed throughout the house. It’s definitely a must see, but book early… theres a 2-3 month wait!
jjthewanderlister:

Today’s #nyc Highlight, visiting the home and work studio of the late great artist, #DonaldJudd. Now open to the public by online request only. We loved our private tour of 101 Spring Street. Works by his best pal, #DanFlavin everywhere. #style #travel #destination #wanderlust #newyork #soho #interiordesign #architecture #art (at Judd Foundation)

VISIT Judd Foundation on 101 Spring Street, New York City / T: (212) 219 2747

JJ.

DESIGN NOTES: The Judd Foundation, Intimate Artist’s Studio on Spring Street

I thought I would just drop a quick note about my amazing New York trip so far. It’s now Day 3 of a 10 Day long trip to the Big Apple, and i’ve been re-discovering and #wanderlisting the city’s streets non stop. Definitely as stated on my Instagram, the biggest highlight of Day 2 was being able to have a chance to visit the newly opened Judd Foundation on 101 Spring Street, home to the late great artist, Donald Judd’s private residence and east coast workshop (the other one being in Marfa, Texas). The five storey plus basement building was owned entirely by Judd, and purchased in 1968 for about 68,000 USD, which I guess was a lot of money at the time, though it doesn’t seem much by today’s standards.

The building was built to house garment factories in the late 1800’s, and according to one of my Instagram followers, is actually the oldest cast iron structure in New York City. Groups of 8 ppl maximum are led throughout the house by two art guides who give a sneak peek into the intimate lives of Judd’s family and private work spaces. Works by Judd’s friends, including his closest artist pal, Dan Flavin with furniture by Judd and Aalto, are dispersed throughout the house. It’s definitely a must see, but book early… theres a 2-3 month wait!

jjthewanderlister:

Today’s #nyc Highlight, visiting the home and work studio of the late great artist, #DonaldJudd. Now open to the public by online request only. We loved our private tour of 101 Spring Street. Works by his best pal, #DanFlavin everywhere. #style #travel #destination #wanderlust #newyork #soho #interiordesign #architecture #art (at Judd Foundation)

VISIT Judd Foundation on 101 Spring Street, New York City / T: (212) 219 2747

JJ.

jjthewanderlister:

T Minus 2 Days. Hotels via @smithhotels and @airbnb are booked! Places to #wanderlist are set and ready to go! A little work, a little play… NYC you are mine! More to come in the next few days! #JJTravel #travel #destination #style #newyork #design #hotelamericano #smithotels #airbnb #mccarrenhotelandpool #brooklyn #manhattan #williamsburg

#JJTravels: New York City in less than 2 Days!
I’m hitting the Big Apple in two days for a little work and a little play. I’d like to thank Smith Hotels in APAC for getting me connected with stays at two cool hotels while I’m there, and Airbnb for letting me experience four nights in Williamsburg at my first Airbnb adventure. Also thanks to my pal, Bite Me editor, Katrina Tran, for amazing tips on places to go and things to do. I can’t wait to share these with you when I end up #Wanderlisting them!
Any more tips on what’s cool to eat, shop, see, and do in NYC, now? Let me know. Send me an email at info@wanderlister.com or info.wanderlister@gmail.com and I’ll see if I’ve got time to check it out!
JJ.

jjthewanderlister:

T Minus 2 Days. Hotels via @smithhotels and @airbnb are booked! Places to #wanderlist are set and ready to go! A little work, a little play… NYC you are mine! More to come in the next few days! #JJTravel #travel #destination #style #newyork #design #hotelamericano #smithotels #airbnb #mccarrenhotelandpool #brooklyn #manhattan #williamsburg

#JJTravels: New York City in less than 2 Days!

I’m hitting the Big Apple in two days for a little work and a little play. I’d like to thank Smith Hotels in APAC for getting me connected with stays at two cool hotels while I’m there, and Airbnb for letting me experience four nights in Williamsburg at my first Airbnb adventure. Also thanks to my pal, Bite Me editor, Katrina Tran, for amazing tips on places to go and things to do. I can’t wait to share these with you when I end up #Wanderlisting them!

Any more tips on what’s cool to eat, shop, see, and do in NYC, now? Let me know. Send me an email at info@wanderlister.com or info.wanderlister@gmail.com and I’ll see if I’ve got time to check it out!

JJ.

#ArtBaselHK14: Christopher Doyle Is Allergic To Art Basel

Now this is interesting… sort of, kind of… maybe. Award winning Hong Kong based cinematographer, Christopher Doyle (famous for his work with Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood For Love 2004 and Ashes of Time 1994), just took it to another level, releasing an iPhone friendly 2min 49sec movie with collaborator, Director Jenny Suen, titled Allergic To Art. In the short film, we see Suen wander around the latest Art Basel sneezing all over the place.

"I was hungover when Chris sent me a message saying that he was at the Convention Center and sneezing from the air-conditioning. So we decided to make a film about the ‘side-effects’ that we suffered during Art Basel." says Suen, "I love the fanfare that the whole event brings to Hong Kong… but after all those white walls and black suits, there’s only so much you can take before you reach for a box of tissues, and sneeze." 

Doyle, who shoots the movie here in a quick black and white… the opposite of his usually bold and colorful compositions, is happy to play it down and play around with the the subject matter of Art. “I have always hesitated to call what I do ‘art.’ To me, most so-called ‘video art’ is what I do every minute of every day on a film set… only it is slowed down a lot, and more self indulgent. The only difference is packaging. That’s when the metaphor became apparent; the point is we are all just tissues and art marketing is a tissue box.”

Enjoy! And try not to sneeze!

FOLLOW Christopher Doyle / FOLLOW Jenny Suen

JJ.

#ArtBaselHK14: Photobook

The second official Art Basel in Hong Kong ended well, with some higher profile galleries selling off their entire fairs inventory even before the highly anticipated Vernissage event. Gallery Edouard Malingue had to fend off disappointed buyers, while White Cube had no problem earning several millions from sales. In addition, some smaller scale Asian galleries, like the Tina Keng Gallery, sold over 50 percent of works displayed in their booths on the first day. Concurrently, Simon Lee Gallery hosted an off-Basel show on Pedder Street with solo works of oil on aluminium by Toby Ziegler, which also sold out 100% that week. 

With over 65,000 visitors this year in attendance, the obvious success of the fair over last year’s showing is evident in the sharpness of what’s on exhibit in each booth. This time each gallery has come into Hong Kong with a more focused exhibit approach that’s strongly curatorial, unlike the hodge podge of Pop-contemporary leftovers which filled gallery floors last year. 

From Top to bottom some of my more favorite works from this year’s fair includes; Tobias Rehberger’s “Change of Mind 9 (Yes/No) 2014” via Pilar Corrias, Discoveries Sector winner, Nadia Kaabi-Linke's award winning “Modular 2014”, which I heard was snatched up by M+, Wang Nindge’s Visible Light Filter Series, the strong and forceful paint work of Jhu Zinshi via Pearl Lam, a black and white panda by Rob Pruitt, the intense photomontage work of artificial landscapes by Yang Yongliang, Anastasia Klose’s “One Stop Knock-Off Shop” shirts, Yu Cheng Ta’s hilarious “The Letters”, Heman Chong’s 2D works, and lastly the subversive work of Lee Wen.

I wanted to highlight a special work by Sun Xun in the Encounters Sector, the only work in the sector which really took advantage of its public positioning by imagining a country on the back of a whale, which art fans are allowed to purchase a visa application for 100 USD or a Citizenship for about 13,000 USD.

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I really enjoyed this painting by Toby Ziegler, an homage to English Pastoral Art via Simon Lee.

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Last year I went to the fair 1.5 times because I was pretty much bored, this year I was floored, literally I kept going up and down two floors for about 3 days. While the works that I appreciated from the fair is pretty much all over the place in medium and subject matter, I need to point out that this year the trend was on 2D works (easy to sell) of paintings and photography, but done in a very new and innovative way which everyone appreciated.

Off basel there were several spots of interest… the unveiling of English duo, Frederikson Stallard’s “Prologue” at the PMQ, in collaboration with Swarovski…

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Marc and Chantal’s room of mirrors for the Swire Lounge…

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The Super cool light show (I don’t know by whom) at the Audemars Piguet event…

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The prolific works by Peter Yuill at the Converse Open Studio

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Photographs of Havana by Quentin Shih, hosted by Christian Louboutin…

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The amazing light show by Carsten Nicolai on the ICC…

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And The Frog King appearance at Chai Wan Mei…

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Overall the parties didn’t really “kill” it this year, but they were fun. Loved the atmosphere at the Nadim Abbas’ Absolut Art Bar that Vernissage night, and the lovely set up in the Fringe Club for the Quentin Shih opening with Louboutin.

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And we had so much fun at Dee Poon’s party at FlyHK for artist, Ran Huang, with Domus Collection.

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… Where we also met the cool architect, David Adjaye (an idol of mine), who just happened to be hanging out with my friend, Mina.

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Some tips for future Art Basel visitors…

Tip 1) Wear comfortable shoes that keep you up, especially if you ever feel like you’ve just #hadit. So I thank Jimmy Choo Men’s for outfitting my Art Basel week with this amazing pair of pastel and electric blue high tops…

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Tip 2) Consolidate and Carry all your invites, just so you don’t forget what’s happening at what day. Sometimes emails get lost and forgotten on weeks like these…

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Tip 3) Make sure to bring along some beautiful art loving friends to help walk with you through the fair. Of course it helps if they color coordinate…

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Tip 4) Always take advantage of talks, workshops, and shopping opportunities on and off fair. Although not specifically “art”, I loved the design based events at Chai Wan Mei this year!

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…where I discovered Hk Brand, Tangram’s, Menswear collection for the first time.

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Overall, this year’s fair left me with a great impression and a good hope for other fairs to come in the consecutive years. Too bad about a few of these other pieces that leave a lot to be desired…

The work where we had to step on it to help an artist make a statement…

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And this… I cant even…

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Anyway great to bump into Alex Seno and Louise around town.

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And a very happy gallerist from Edouard Malingue, Jennifer Ellis at Dee Poon’s party.

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Good to see Mark Goss and Peter Yuill again at the Converse Open Studio.

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And Simon Birch at the PMQ, who was really happy with his showing at the fair. Read his interview with us here.

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I can’t wait to post up pages from my Art Basel #SeenandScene for Conde Nast’s BAKU Magazine, later in the summer… so watch out for that. Also on Instagram, we collaborated with @artbasel by hashtagging #myArtBasel on my IG Photos. Check out all the hashtagged photographs here!

The next Art Basel in Hong Kong will be less than a year away since it’s been bumped up to March.

Fini.

VISIT Art Basel in Hong Kong

JJ.

Bite Me Butt

Last month, Hong Kong based Bite Me magazine launched at Kapok on Sun Street (where else), one the city’s long time cultural anchors, to great fanfare. In attendance of course is the founders, editorial team, Katrina Tran, the Chief Editor, and Jason Schlabach, the Art Director, to host friends, guests, and fans at a pre-Art Basel soiree.

Bite Me magazine, is an “independently published art magazine”, with a “not-so-serious, cheeky perspective of Cultural Phenomena”, according to their website. The Bi-Annual magazine, filled with content from various accomplished contributors from different creatives fields such as graphic design, photography, art, illustration, and literature; have already made its big jump beyond the city into the global arena with stockists located in New York City’s MoMA PS1 Store and Printed Matter, LA’s Creatures of Comfort, London’s Serpentine Gallery, Tate Modern, and White Cube, Paris’ Colette, and Sydney’s Incu… just to name a few. 

The opening, which quickly turned into a block party, drew a huge crowd of over 300 guests, including fashion editor, Grace Lam, graphic designer, Danielle Huthart and RONWAN, branding expert, Marc Brulhart, photographer, Jason Capobianco, accessories designer, Michelle Lai, illustrator / jeweller, Kate Barnett, and Kapok’s founder, Arnault Castel, of course. 

We chat briefly with the Bite Me team about the concept for Bite Me and what they plan to do with this ultimately successful project from here on out.

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theWanderlister+: Tell me where did the idea for Bite Me Magazine come from?

BITE ME: After years of coming up with magazine ideas, the reason that this one finally made it to the printer and into a finished product is that it was the perfect combination of a cheeky idea and a serious dedication to quality. What started as an offhand joke about removing the identity and ego from modelling in fashion magazines by only showing butts, turned into a months long creative journey to make a cultural magazine with the very best of high- and low-brow contributions. While the first issue is all about butts (every page of it), we wanted to create an attitude that can be applied to other themes as we work on the second issue.

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theW+: Speaking of Cheeky. The first issue, as you said, is definitely all about “butts”. What’s the best butt in the history of visual culture, and whose butt is trending now?

BM: Well, it has definitely opened our eyes to all the butts that paved the way for a Kim Kardashian or Jen Selter rear selfie to get hundreds of thousands of ‘likes’. One of the first big impacts in mainstream culture was Sarah Baartman in early 19th century London, covered in an essay on objectification and embracing real butts written by Christian McQueen for the magazine. Best butt has to go to Michelangelo’s David, inspiring butt envy for 500 years!

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theW+: I totally agree with you guys on David, it made your cover after all! You guys have only been on newsstands several weeks and already you’ve received quite a positive reception! Why do you think this is? And what have you heard in terms of feedback? Is it something the world needs right now?

BM: The reception has been really encouraging, first with the contributors who were so generous with their talents and then with the readers. I think a big reason has to do with the theme of the first issue. People are responding to the obvious fun we had making the magazine and a much-needed sense of humour in our cultural observations.

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theW+: Tell us about your the two-person team that makes up the editorial staff of the magazine… What’s the process like? And how many of these can we expect a year?

BM: The big creative decisions are all joint, from the contributors list to the flow of the content. But when it comes to producing the magazine, our roles don’t overlap much which is one of the key to us working well together. We review the work constantly, but when it comes to sitting down and making it happen, we do so separately and that keeps our two perspectives from merging too much. We want to maintain our distinct points of view as we work together. We’re aiming to publish BITE ME bi-annually.

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theW: Lastly, what are the magazines from Hong Kong that you guys absolutely love, and what are your thoughts on the publishing offerings here in the city? And how could you see contributing to the bigger picture within the city or the world?

BM: We’re proud to have made this in Hong Kong. Our contributors, such as Kate Barnett, Ron Wan, Ada Hung, Hakan Celebi and others, and printing partner, Asia One, have made it a great experience. There is a lot of creativity emerging in the city and the cultural potential is enormous.

We love independent publishing, such as Ha Wan Pao. That being said, we strive for a global perspective and don’t consider BITE ME to be a Hong Kong focused magazine. We didn’t see anything with this blend of content and attitude in Hong Kong and that further inspired us to make the magazine. If our contribution to the scene would simply be to make people think more broadly about what is possible in this city, we’d be really proud of that.

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Congratulations guys! You’ve done well! I can’t wait to read the next issue! :)

READ Bite Me Magazine ONLINE / READ Bite Me Magazine

JJ.

Design Notes: Layers of Time Peeled and Revealed at Mott 32

New to open in Hong Kong, a fantastic dining experience designed by one of the city’s “IT” designers, Joyce Wang, for a new modern Cantonese restaurant in the city, Mott 32. Wang who has since made a name with her previous work, AMMO, at the Asia Society, is back at it with her signature detail-oriented and intricate design moves. Since its launch Mott 32 received generally positive reviews, however the interiors here really take centre stage, demanding attention from its clientele.

The site of the restaurant, located in the basement  of the Standard Chartered Bank Building on Des Voeux Road, receives no natural daylight or views… so to counter this, Wang initiated a centrally focused and inward directed design zoning plan with all various dining areas centered around a grand custom-built architectural skylight within the main dining zone, giving impression of actual daylight. The skylight itself is inspired by the Bank’s architectural characteristics, mirroring the octagonal columns found within the original building.

From the central dining space there are 5 private rooms and a bar area which radiate beyond the central core of the plan, each decorated according to theme. For example, one room has a “Sun Yat Sen-inspired mural”, another a collection of antique chandeliers, and another decorated with a chandelier that looks like an abacus. My two favorite rooms are the 10 Downing Street Room, a “surreal street scene”, clad with Shanghainese-style brick work in an undulating pattern, and the Tangerine Room, decorated with Chinese paintbrushes of various sizes mounted on two wall surfaces giving a grand symmetric tableau.

Via Joyce Wang:

The restaurant tells the story of the basement of an important bank building in Hong Kong and how it has evolved through time. We imagined its former life as a storage facility for family heirlooms forgotten by wealthy Chinese immigrants, and later as staff quarters for bank employees and guards. We imagined pieces of history left behind organically. The process of design was to unearth these clues layer by layer to expose an authentic narrative, so the final tableau tells a compelling  story  that’s  not  overly  styled.  The  objects  are  clues  to  the  larger political and social history of Hong Kong. 

Make sure to watch out for graffiti and propaganda scripts on columns, hinting a passage of time, and a large feature wall of flowers and butterflies made of metallic thread embroidery on a hand-painted silk backdrop. Other details, I’ll let you discover for yourself.

EAT Mott 32 . Standard Chartered Building, 4 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong . T: +852 28858688 / DESIGN Joyce Wang

JJ.

#ArtBaselHK14: Notes on Vernissage and the Absolut Art Bar

Art Basel’s 2nd annual showing in Hong Kong was on fire last week and started off explosively at Wednesday’s Vernissage. In comparison to the previous year most of the guesswork is now out of the way, in regards to what to sell to this Asian market within this context. I will expand on this in later posts, but for the most part, everyone was aligned with selling “fair friendly” 2D work… and they were very “new” concept as well. But first, I just wanted to quickly post some of my favorite photographs from this year’s first evening Vernissage preview and the concurrent after-party hosted by Hong Kong’s foremost tailors, Alex Daye and Ellis Kreuger of Moustache, at the Absolut Art Bar designed by darling artist, Nadim Abbas.

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Starting from the top, some of the works which stood out that first night is the gimmicky piece by artist, Ciprian Muresan via Galeria Plan B, a chipboard to-scale model of a complete city which you can step on and destroy within the Discoveries Sector. As an architect who has had to build chip-board models like these from scratch and by hand, let me tell you, it was all very frightening. By the fourth day of seeing the progress of the work, one has to wonder what’s transcendental about the piece beyond what it is. 

Architect and artist, Laurent Gutierrez, one-half of the team that makes up MAP Office, which exhibited heavily care of the Shanghai Gallery of Art, introduced the duo’s latest works… a set of mini-islands built of shells encased in glass boxes. Their works deal with perceived and choreographed territories, with studies in various media from sculpture, to photography, to painting, of which at Art Basel, it was all represented.

We also got to meet performance artist, Tolarno Galleries’ Anastasia Klose, from Melbourne, who was selling shirts via her work, One Stop Knock-Off Shop, at 400HKD a pop. The best shirt of the bunch 'Art Blase' was sold out even before the Vernissage opened for business. Apparently someone bought them all for the staff and friends of Art Basel. Her gallery allowed her to set up a stand where she worked everyday to push her “art”. Her reasoning for selling these cheeky shirts… she’s “got to make money” somehow. Art for the masses yo! I got art a shirt at the last day marked down to 300hkd!

We spotted ParaSite Art Space’s Executive Curator and Director, Cosmin Costinas, giving a special tour to a group of collectors in front of the fabulous Sun Xun exhibition at Encounters Hall 1.

The biggest highlight post-Basel Vernissage of course would have to be the after party, set in Nadim Abbas’ work, Apocalypse Postponed, the name for this year’s Absolut Art Bar. That evening we were all treated to the smooth and powerful rock and roll sounds of The Belfies, a new band featuring the vocals of local style icon, Diana D’Arenberg Paramand, and the guitar stylings of Sean Fitzpatrick. There was a completely awesome yet whacked out performance artwork of one Ming Wong, who dressed up as some kind of robotic Harajuku doll… and danced like one as well.  All the drinks were co-prepared using Nadim Abbas’ “apocalyptic concept” and combined with Absolut vodka as the key ingredient.

A gallerist from Moscow.

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An “impactful” piece by Patricia Piccinini, titled The Comforter 2010 via Tolarno Galleries.

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"Into the Blue" with jeweller Sasha and Mina.

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A couple of wallflowers.

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Friends… Roger, Jo, and Norbyah.

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More to notes to come.

VISIT Art Basel 

JJ.