#theWanderlist: Happiness Is Just A NoLIta Morning

New York’s NoLIta district is a little area between Little Italy and Soho, which is defined by Houston Street on the north, Bowery on the east, Broome Street on the South, and Lafayette Street on the west. I discovered Nolita the other day at the strong advice of my friend, Katrina (someone who really needs a #Wanderlister blog of her own.)

Nolita was dubbed by the real estate community as such in the mid 90’s to reflect the neighborhood’s yuppy gentrification. The real Italians moved out, and instead moving in is a great selection of independent fashion boutiques, keeping NoLIta free of hideous Italian restaurant tourist traps, and Old Navy.

SOHO has turned into a mall (a long long time ago), while neighborhoods like the West Village or Madison Avenue may be a bit too label oriented… so people come to Nolita for an indie rare-finds shopping Saturday. On my itinerary the other day, I went to visit an amazing curated shop by Katrina’s friend, ate brunch at an I-cant-believe-its-a-vegan-joint called, The Butcher’s Daughter, and checked out some art at the New Museum on the Bowery. But first… best to start with the right foot with a much caffeine fix at the Nolita Gimme! Coffee.

+ DRINK // Gimme! Coffee

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Gimme! Coffee was a specialty coffee shop I treated myself to when a reward was in order during in college at upstate New York. Slightly more expensive than on-campus cups o’ joes, Gimme! Coffee’s highly rated roasts are just that much better than most everything in the market for low-key on-the-go coffee. Gimme! Coffee also makes their money supplying coffees to different restaurants and businesses, and sources their beans straight from a farm in Colombia, paying a competitive price, so the farmer can cut out abusive middle men. 

In 2006, Gimme! Coffee was awarded the best espresso bar in Manhattan by the New York Times, and Roast Magazine picked Gimme! Coffee to win last year’s Roaster of the Year. To me, it’s just damn great coffee that can give you the fuel for those long day urban adventures… which begins with…

+ SHOP // Creatures of Comfort

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Via an introduction from Katrina, I was able to get a great sneak into Creatures of Comfort, a quirky and niche shopping destination in the city for women who aim to dress for everyday simplicity with a statement. The store’s manager, Cath Martin, gladly showed me around, introducing the LA-based shop’s curation of the stylishly messy, easy, lazy, and elegant… (basically anything that resembles Isabel Marant.) Oh, there’s an area for bored boyfriends as well… at the guy’s section towards the front, also very well curated, as expected.

Designers at CoC include Norse Projects, J.W Anderson, Christophe Lemaire, Rachel Comey, Kara Walker, Common Projects, Cosmic Wonder, Band of Outsiders, Robert Clergerie, and many others, including the prominently displayed in-house lightweight womenswear collection, also called, Creatures of Comfort.

Founder, Jade Lai, wasn’t there the day I went to shop, but she’s from Hong Kong herself, educated at at Otis College, and learned what she could of the rag trade from her Dad, Jimmy Lai, founder of Giordano. (The parallels end there.) Check it out, it’s a neat place to shop, and if you live in New York, CoC always hosts different events and popups in collaboration with artists, creatives, and the brands they carry.

+ EAT // The Butcher’s Daughter

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The Butcher’s Daughter is great go-to brunch place any day of the week. Regular customers rate it very well, better than traditional media, but for what you get ie. healthy, vegetarian, vegan that doesn’t scream it, to me it’s impressive. I chose to sit in a stool at the corner of the shop so I can face the window and view outside to do a bit of NoLIta people watching. However, there are plenty of big communal tables here indoor and out if you choose to bring a big party of friends.

For lunch I ordered, “Spicy Kale Ceasar Salad”, at 14USD it’s a big hefty meal, which consisted of a bowl of local kale, a generous portion of avocado, delicious bits of almond parmesan, toasted almonds, shallots, croutons, and heaping side of tempeh (which basically made it taste like I was having some kind of grilled chicken on top.) I usually hate green grass juice that hippies drink, but I loved the “Green Simple Juice” they recommended, which was basically cucumber, Kale, and green apple…hmmm. Can still taste it now!

+ VISIT // New Museum

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The New Museum, a building designed by Japan’s SANAA, is generally a mixed bag of programming, but whenever i’m there, I always luck out with good shows. Lucky me I guess. When all is said, done, and purchased in NoLIta, on the Bowery a few blocks down from the shops is the said museum at just the right boutique size that you can pretty much spend the last few pre-dinner hours getting your culture fill.

I really enjoyed the exhibition by Icelandic artist, Ragnar Kjartansson, who for his exhibit, displayed a looping video scene with a live guitar orchestral performance, titled Take Me Here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage 2011/2014. For the whole day, and the duration of the exhibition, 10 musicians play a lose and live harmonic performance to accompany a video where a character (played by the artist’s mother) gets swept off her feet by a plumber (played by the artist’s father), when eventually they do the nasty. The musicians add the dialogue via music.

Also on display, a show by Camille Henrot, titled The Restless Earth. I’m a big fan of this Parisian artist’s body of research in regards to visual representation, digital archiving, and the documentation of artifacts of cultures and items found within the “natural world” and how it gets transformed physically and conceptually via modern desires, modern use, and modern science. I fit all of what she does in one sentence… so I guess I really am a fan.

Shows at New Museum rotate each month, so there’s always something to return to here, worth supporting. Even if you only have a hour.

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Before I forget, if you go to Creatures of Comfort, make sure to check out my friends, Katrina and Jason’s copy of BITE ME Magazine. It’s in New York (including all other cities in the world), and there’s just no excuse not to own one delicious bite of this amazing publication.

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DRINK Gimme! Coffee NoLIta . 228 Mott Street, New York City, NY . T: +12122264011 / SHOP Creatures of Comfort . 205 Mulberry St, New York City, NY . T: +12129251005 / EAT The Butchers Daughter . 19 Kenmare Street, New York City, NY . T: +12122193434 / VISIT New Museum . 235 Bowery, New York NY . T: +12122191222

JJ.

SG_WOMEN_615x100 New Season 

Seen&Scene: Kara Walker’s Not-So-Subtle Gesture

This past weekend marked the final days for Kara Walker’s cultural hinge project, A Subtlety, located in the soon to be demolished, Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.The exhibition, one of Walker’s largest works to date, is a supposed tribute to the African-American women who helped underpin American sugar trade in the 1800s (amongst other issues), and drew an attendance of an approximate 130,000 visitors during it’s free 2 month, weekend only run.

I briefly touched on the show on a post about Williamsburg last month, but I thought I’d share a few more photographs of the exhibit, because there’s so much more that was there than what I’ve previously posted.

New York City based, Walker, has had a few solo exhibitions, including one at the Met, the Walker Art Museum (Minneapolis), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Her past work touches on similar themes to what was displayed at Domino, mainly slavery, racial exploitation, and gender roles. This latest work, a large statue of a female sphinx and her children workers… made of 35 tons of sugar… is an “urban installation” from a site and scale perspective… Also because the work is open to the public and sited in an abandoned factory of historical value.

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After a 10-25 minute wait outside the factory grounds, groups would slowly meander into the factory’s cavernous space and be greeted by life size statues of children made of molasses, carrying baskets. By the time I saw the show last month, the statues were in various forms of decay (and smell).

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The baskets’ contents were not that appetizing either.

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Generally the show was well received by most art critics. The public offered visual and textual feedback via the #KaraWalkerDomino hashtag on twitter and Instagram. A predictable few have made it a point to feedback in kind with offensive poses (as expected with a work where female body parts are exposed.) And by any merit, Walker’s “Sugar Momma” Sphinx sculpture has successfully achieved via art a divisive dialogue regarding history, slavery, and the state of its role in the everyday social-political psyche specific to the American context.

In any rate I was impressed… By the show, it’s scale, and it’s positioning in an extremely gentrified whitewashed Williamsburg. More importantly, Kara Walker’s position as a female artist of a minority group achieving work of Eliasson proportions is a great direction for women in art. If only Hong Kong’s urban art, posited important issues about what really affect us today; eg. rising property prices, displacement, consumption, etc, in a grand scale… and not just a duck on the harbour or pandas in a plaza… but something more integrative. 

We shall see. Glad I was there when this was on show. More please.

ARTIST Kara Walker

JJ.

SG_WOMEN_615x100 New Season

#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.

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.

#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.

#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.

#ArtBaselHK14: Spring Blooms at Wong Chuk Hang Art Night

Wong Chuk Hang Art District’s anchor art space, Spring Workshop welcomes artists, Christodoulos Panayiotou and Philip Wiegard, for a two-month residency.  In the two months, Panayiotou embarked on a project in China’s Guangdong province, researching the world’s largest concentration of artificial flower factories. Artist Philip Wiegard collaborated, directing production of a handcrafted wallpaper titled Festoons inspired by a German design from the 1770s, a patter using an artisanal technique which benefits from the dexterity of children’s small fingers.

The wallpaper was produced during an eleven-day workshop attended by 32 children recruited from across Hong Kong. Topics such as artisanship and mass production, pre-industrial and globalized production, representation, economy and the history of child labor are central to the exhibition.

Free and open to the public, tonight you can check out The Permeability of Certain Matters featuring the work of Panayiotou and Wiegard during Wong Chuk Hang Art Night from 5pm to 11pm, with shuttles from the Hong Kong Convention Centre at 7pm and Pier 4 Central at 9:15pm. In total 12 Galleries will be participating in tonight’s big gallery walk at Wong Chuk Hang. For a full list of participating galleries, and more details about the Spring Workshop show, click here.

You can also click here for a handy map of all galleries and eateries in the Wong Chuk Hang Art District.

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All Images Above via c/o Spring Workshop Facebook Page

VISIT Spring Workshop at Wong Chuk Hang Art Night . 3/F Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong . T: +852 2110 4370

JJ.

#ArtBaselHK14: This Year’s Absolut Art Bar… Apocalypse

Absolut presents Apocalypse Postponed, a collaboration with Hong Kong artist Nadim Abbas. Set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic bunker environment, Apocalypse Postponed is an immersive site-specific art bar and installation conceived by the artist, featuring a nightly changing programme of performances, bands and DJs, and serving a series of unique cocktails, designed by the artist exclusively for the installation. 

For example, Abbas developed all aspects of the immersive installation, working with notable collaborators including animator Wong Ping and composer Steve Hui on the concept and design, to a series of innovative Absolut cocktails which incorporate technology developed to provide nutritional supplements during space travel and wartime rationing. 

Drawing inspiration from sources including Science Fiction films, 20th century military architecture and defensive plans such as The Atlantic Wall and the Swiss National Redoubt, Abbas has created a bunker-like environment, constructed from sand bags, with blacked-out windows, to construct an insulated safe haven where visitors to Art Basel in Hong Kong can take refuge. 

The installation features a changing nightly program of live music, DJ sets, screenings and choreographed performances, including the legendary psychedelic electronic group Silver Apples, post-punk rockers Re-TROS, avant-noise improvisation by guitarist Li Jianhong, and local talents such as Atomic Bubbles, Meta Fog, Stoic Strangers and Pando’s People, curated by Xue Tan

Tailors, Alex Daye and Ellis Kreuger of Moustache also collaborated with Abbas to create costumes for the week  long “performance”, and will be hosting their iconic Bearded Lady party, post Vernissage on the 14th.

This installation follows critically acclaimed installations by Adrian Wong at last year’s Art Basel in Hong Kong, Mickalene Thomas (2013) and Jeremy Shaw (2012) at Art Basel and Ry Rocklen (2013) and Los Carpinteros (2012) at Art Basel in Miami Beach.

Apocalypse Postponed, which launched yesterday, will be open daily from 5pm to 2am until Saturday, 17 May.  

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All Images Above provided by Absolut.

DRINK Apocalypse Postponed, Nadim Abbas: An Absolut Art Bar . Soundwill Plaza II, 17th Floor, 1 Tang Lung street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong / ARTIST Nadim Abbas

JJ.