Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Past, Present and Future of Hermès

The name Hermès conjures images of premium quality leather goods, clothing and home furnishings. It's iconic H and orange-colored boxes are instantly recognizable the world over and the brand is renowned for its heritage, elegance and workmanship.

My experience with the brand is primarily related to the well-made silk ties, scarves, and leather handbags (think Kelly and Birkin) which have featured prominently over the years on various family members of mine. In light of my recent post about the WHY-Yachts Hermès/Wally collaboration I did some digging on the brand and wanted to share some interesting links and articles.

First is a New York Times Magazine profile of Pierre-Alexis Dumas, current creative director at Hermès who is on a path to reorient the brand for the 21st century with ambitious plans to go beyond the basics. Originally founded to produce custom horse saddles, Hermès has carved out a niche for ultra-luxury goods over the years. Dumas' future plans include extension into previously unconquered territories such as aviation, yachting, furniture, custom menswear, etc. The feature online is actually pretty cool and functions like a magazine where you can scroll images across your screen.

Check out the NYTimes Magazine piece HERE.
Vanity Fair did a great profile in 2007 on Hermès found HERE.
WSJ featured an interview with Dumas on "what's next" for the brand HERE.
AOL's luxury content vertical Luxist, has Hermès coverage found HERE.

Monday, July 26, 2010

WHY Yachts - Ultra Luxury

I had heard about this before (in one of the Niche Media magazines like Hamptons, Gotham, or LA Confidential I think...) but I recently saw another short blurb about this in the Four Seasons Magazine. It detailed a joint venture between luxury goods maker Hermès and Wally Yachts (artistic directors and CEOs pictured above).

Essentially a floating, super hotel/yacht this sleekly-designed minimalist vessel embodies everything you would imagine a collaboration between two of the most premium brands in the world would develop. Eco-friendly, expansive, and very elegant the WHY yachts (currently in production; only artist renderings are available) are works of art and engineering mastery.

Check out the WHY-Yachts website HERE.
A brief WSJ post about it HERE and a DesignBoom article HERE.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tel Aviv a.k.a "The Bubble"

Last year, Conde Nast Traveler did a piece in their June issue in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Tel Aviv, Israel. It was a really great account of life in the city and how it sometimes seems a world away from the Israel you see and hear about in the news.

Famous for its Bauhaus architecture, Tel Aviv is known as a beach town and a hot tourist spot given its position on the Mediterranean Sea. It blends multiple cultures well and has a very cosmopolitan, worldly feel. The city is well-known for its nightlife and restaurant scene with 10pm the usual start time for most late-night activities.

Given its isolation from the politics in Jerusalem and other areas, and the "pleasure-seeking" mentality of most if its residents (and visitors), the city has become known as HaBuah, or "the bubble."

Check out the article from CN Traveler HERE.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rediscovering Classic Europe

I recently reread an article from GQ (August 2009) which featured a great travel piece on rediscovering classic Europe and doing it in a similar way many students did at some point in their lives - backpacking on a budget.

Though most people who revisit the area can afford slightly better accomodations than a standard hostel and might even be able to bring along a legit suitcase, the idea of doing things off-the-cuff, relatively inexpensively and truly making the cities your own is still very appealing.

GQ featured 20 rediscovery tips including:
  • rent an apartment, not a hotel room
  • bring a blazer; you get treated better with a jacket on
  • eat straight from the local market
  • visit "second cities" - they're less crowded and often just as interesting (if not more so)

Check out the feature HERE.

New Hotel Life in NYC

New York Magazine recently did a piece on the new wave of "boutique" or "lifestyle" hotels cropping up around the city. The headline for the article is "Checkout Time is 4AM" and profiles some of the great hoteliers developing unique spots around town geared to the young professional looking to hang out and party in style...all night long.

A few of these spots include The Standard, Gansevoort, Gramery Park, Ace, Bowery, etc. - the list goes on. They are spaces that take design and aesthetics into serious consideration and truly reflect (and in some cases create) the downtown vibe. They embody the "hotel-as-nightlife" experience and have been very successful in attracting true New Yorkers, not simply tourists visiting for a weekend.

Three men in particular are at the forefront of these developments: Andre Balazs of the Standard Hotel, Ian Schrager of the Gramercy Park Hotel and Michael Achenbaum of Hotel Gansevoort. Each property is truly distinct and takes advantage of its locale. They've created environments that foster "personal interaction," which in this day and age of digital friendship is really interesting and under-appreciated. These players are fastidious with their designs and leave no minute detail untouched. Andre Balazs in particular is so stylish he was recently featured in a Brioni ad campaign.

Check out the NYMag article HERE.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ever Wonder Where the Dollar Sign Comes From?

$ - It's ubiquitous and instantly recognizable as the symbol for a dollar, usually associated with American currency. In light of India's recent approval of a new symbol for the rupee, Slate posted a short piece on where currency symbols come from. Pretty interesting stuff.

Coolest data points I found:
  • The US dollar likely comes from an abbreviation of Spanish pesos
  • The Israeli New  Shekel symbol crosses the first letter of each word in Hebrew (shekel chadash or )
  • The British pound comes from the Latin for scales, or Libra

Check out the Slate article HERE.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tyler Brule - International Arbiter of Style

I've decided that I really like the new BusinessWeek. They have been consistently featuring interesting content in varying fields of interested (all tied by a business theme) and always bring up topics that I want to explore further.

Case in point from a recent issue was a profile of Tyler Brule. Talk about a lifestyle I want to emulate! He's currently the editor-in-chief of Monocle magazine, a very high-end publication out of Europe on the very subjects I cover in this blog: design, travel, style, culture, etc. He also has a column in the Financial Times called "Fast Lane" in which he discusses trends and brands he encounters throughout his travels.

He's a renowned Canadian journalist who was bred in London and is most famous for launching Wallpaper* magazine in the UK. It was bought by Time Inc. at one point and is currently still being published. He is also responsible for launching a creative/media agency called Winkreative and was instrumental in the rebranding of Swiss International Airlines a few year ago.

Bottom Line: he's a global tastemaker and worth checking out.

See the original BusinessWeek article HERE.
Check out his FT column HERE.

"Under the Radar" Europe

In that same issue on hotel safety, Conde Nast Traveler featured four European cities that are "under the radar" and accessible for relatively low out of pocket. The four cities were Cassis, Porto, Cornwall and Valencia.

Check it out HERE.

Monday, July 12, 2010

On Hotel Safety - Here and Abroad

As you may have guessed from recent posts, I'm a bit back-logged on magazines. I recently re-read a February 2009 issue of Conde Nast Traveler about hotel safety in light of the Mumbai attacks back in 2008. Though the articles a bit old, the main points are still interesting and relevant for any upcoming travel plans.

It was interesting to read about some of the challenges with hotel security like maintaining a sense of openness and relaxation for guests but also making sure to stay vigilant and on top of all activity. There are a few things that are currently being implemented in properties around the world that seem to be steps in the right direction: advanced employee security training and background checks, limited or no access to underground parking, metal detectors and video cameras at all entry points, etc.

The gold standard, btw? Israel.

Find the article HERE.
Also, check out these good safety tips for the next time you travel - HERE.

I Like Fennel...

...and you should too! It's got a great subtle anise (licorice) flavor and can be eaten both cooked and raw. Bon  Appetit featured it as their "at the market" ingredient in the January 2010 issue. Currently out of season, but just wait a bit until the winter season.

Check out the feature HERE plus a bonus on how to cut/prepare it HERE.

Austrian Food Never Looked So Good!

Bon Appetit, back in January of this year did a feature on "new Austrian cuisine." My dad is from Vienna and he has mentioned wanting to have gulash for a really long time now. When I saw it listed among the recipes, I thought perfect! The spaetzle and linzertorte look particularly awesome.

Feature and recipes can be found HERE.

Do Americans Hate Football?

That's the question the New Yorker attempted to answer in a brief "comment" recently. Just to be clear, we're talking here about Euro-style footie, not the NFL. As the World Cup draws to a close (congrats Spain!) I thought I'd wind down my coverage as well. This great piece discusses the linguistic origin of the word "soccer" (it's British btw) and general American attitude toward the sport.

Bottom Line: "Soccer may never be 'America’s game' (though it’s already one of them), but America is game for soccer." Sounds like progress to me.

Check out the full article HERE.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cool Nike Shoebox

Nike Stadiums continue to reinforce Nike’s reputation as a creative supporter of soccer — something that their 2007 Cannes Lion-winning Stadium shoe box represented well. A limited number of shoe boxes were transformed to resemble a stadium with an image of a stadium and an embedded sound chip. When you opened your shoe box, you saw a miniature stadium and heard the crowd cheering, and you could imagine yourself inside a stadium cheering along or, better yet, playing on the field wearing your new Nikes. - Tuija Seipell

Courtsey of the CoolHunter.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

WSJ Interview with Mario Batali

The celebrity chef discusses the business side of things, his grand plans for expansion and new TV shows in the pipeline. Check out the article HERE.