Monday, December 31, 2012

Salesman's furniture sample in 18th & 19th century

Ever wonder how a salesman sell furniture in 18th & 19th century?  Unlike today where furniture shops are dotted everywhere including internet, back in 18th & 19th century, they weren't as prevalent (or in the case of internet, none existent).  People often live far apart.  A small town wouldn't necessarily have a furniture maker and traveling is often a choir since car wasn't available and train wasn't commercialized until 1820s and became popular until 1830s.

Well, furniture salesman back then traveled from town to town to sell furniture.  They not only brought drawings, but sometimes they also bring miniature samples so client can visualize what the piece looks like when it's delivered.  These salesman sample are extremely collectible these days.  Depending on the shape of the furniture, they may be perfect for holding nicknacks on a bedside table or as a sculptural piece on top of a console table.  They can usually be found at various auction houses such as Christie's/ Sotheby's or antique stores.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hanne Kortegaard's Mussel Chair

You would not be wrong to think of this chair was made in the 50s or 60s.  However, you may be surprised that it was actually made in 2010.  It was Hanne's graduation project from the Danish Design School in Copenhagen.  This is what she had to say about it:

"The Mussel is intended for young people but also children and adults. I have tried to visualize the symbiosis that can occur between child and adult in a cozy environment. Transferring the concept and form of the mussel, into a form where I have let myself be inspired by the mussels idiom. Because the mussel for me symbolizes and expresses the symbiosis and dependence of two objects – the shell and the mussel."

I like the multi-functionality of the chair.  Or specifically the ottoman.  It can act as an armrest, head rest (when put on the floor), footrest/ ottoman, or seat booster for a child (when inset into the seat).  A very clever way of designing a multitasking furniture.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mia Schmallenbach's Meeting Knives for Deglon


For those people who cook, nothing is cooler than receiving a great set of kitchenware be it plates, drinking cups, cooking utensils, etc..  One of the best looking knife set that I encountered recently is this Meeting Knife set.  I just think the design is ingenious.  It won first prize in the 5th European Cutlery Design Award (haha.  So not just me thinks this set is awesome!). I love the idea of one single steel block made into several knives.  Why didn't I think of it?  To access each knife, you just press the front blade down (the one you want to use) and the handle will poke up.  I think this set is a must for anyone with modernist interior.  They can be purchased at Amazon or Casa.  Made of stainless steel in France.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Eddie Borgo's Cone Ring

I have to admit that I never heard of Eddie Borgo before the Neiman Marcus + Target collaboration.  But I do have an excuse... I'm not a big jewelry person.  I have few rings here and there but frankly they just sit in my cufflink box; I can use my fingers to count how many times I wear jewelry in this past year.  And truth be told that I wasn't too keen on the Eddie Borgo pieces when I first saw them during the NM+T reveal online.  I thought it was outrageous for someone who is relatively unknown to masses to be included in this collaboration let alone charging $50 for a metal box! Surely no one would pay that kind of money for an upstart!  When I saw the box in person, I became that person who paid $50!  I thought the box was well executed.  The detail was very crisp and it just felt like the box translated quite well from his jewelry collection.  I was intrigued.  When I got home,  I looked him up.

Well, turned out that he is relatively new to the fashion scene: 2008.  Basically he majored in art history but dabbled in clothing design.  In his own words, he wasn't very good at it.  But he was good at the accessories part.  Between 2008-2009, he did a few custom pieces for various runway shows.  It is at this time, Philip Lim asked him to do a collection for his fashion show.  After Philip paid him, he produced a 10 piece collection and sold them at Barney's New York, Joyce in Hong Kong, Collette in Paris and Liberty of London.  Rest is history.  Now he has about 90 retail outlets that carry his jewelry.

I really like his cone ring.  It feels like it is a classic for his design; it embodies streamlined rock and roll aesthetics.  I may have to pick one up soon!   

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Salto Side Table by James Irvine

If you are looking to do a very minimalist interior, then every piece of furniture needs to be curated to the highest standard because if anything is of inferior quality, it can instantly sullied a well designed space.  This particular side table, designed by James Irvine for Marsotto edizioni, is perfect for such an interior.  The proportion is phenomenal.  The material (White Carrara marble, matt polished finish) is fantastic to the touch.  The cut is precise.  What's not to like?  I can totally see this on top of a black pony rug next to a sexy Minotti sofa in a jet liner view house in Hollywood Hills.   

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

B&B Ristorante at Venetian Hotel Las Vegas

I went on a gastronomy trip earlier this year to Las Vegas.  While most people know Las Vegas for slot machines and black jack tables, it actually is also a mini-culinary capital of US.  Odd but true.  Just about who's who in the culinary world has a restaurant or two in Las Vegas.  I was very curious about the food here versus food in SF or NYC.  While some restaurants were utterly disappointing for one thing or another, B&B Ristorante was actually a pleasant surprise.

Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich opened this restaurant hence the name B&B.  The only experience I had eating at a Batali restaurant prior to B&B is Eataly in NYC.  But that's not really a restaurant per se so I was very eager to try B&B.  I had the pasta tasting menu.  I LOVE pasta but I'm very particular about how well it is cooked.  I like al dente.  However, most restaurants I go to, their pasta is usually overcooked.  Well, not at B&B.  Every dish came out perfectly.  I was very happy with consistency of the dishes.  I wasn't a big fan of the black spaghetti but other then that, everything was tasty... even the dessert.  I'm not fond of Italian desserts in general so I was surprised how light and good their honey budino was.  I will definitely return to this place again.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Breakfast at Tiffany's


Who can forget about Audrey Hepburn's iconic role as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's?  Whenever I see the little blue box with white ribbon, I can't help but hear Moon River in my head while imagining Audrey Heptburn looking at Tiffany's display window on Fifth Avenue.  To celebrate its 175 year anniversary, Tiffany opened another store in Manhattan.  This time, the location is in Soho.  While this retail outlet doesn't look nearly as grand as the one on 5th Avenue, it's interior decoration is every bit as exquisite.

My favorite room of this newly opened store is the fashion jewelry salon.  I especially like the floor to ceiling bookcase filled with books about Tiffany's history, fashion, culture, and architecture of New York city.  It also displayed original prototypes of its products as well as sketches, and tools.  While typically an aqua colored sofa is very hard to pull off, in this space, it looks absolutely perfect.  Photograph by Michael Weschier.

Monday, December 24, 2012

John Townsend four-shell bureau table at Christie's Auction House


One of the most iconic antique American furniture is this Chippendale carved mahogany block-and-shell bureau table made by John Townsend.  Rarer still that this desk is signed by none other but the maker himself!  There are less than ten of these bureau table known in existence and they are housed in the Met, Art Institute of Chicago, Winterthur Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, MFA, Houston, and private collections.

John Townsend (1733-1809), regarded by historians/collectors as one of the very best Newport cabinetmaker, was the son of Christopher Townsend (1701-1787).  Brother Job and Christopher Townsend founded the cabinetmaking dynasty in Newport, Connecticut in 18th century.  In 1767, John Townsend married Philadelphia Feke, the daughter of America's first native-born portrait painter, Robert Feke.

As with any custom furniture today, in 18th century, clients can also request variety of models to suit their needs.  This bureau table has all the bells and whistles of this particular model.  The top drawer is embellished with three shells.  The convex shells are carved and applied on while the concave shell is carved directly onto the solid mahogany drawer front.  Furthermore, the recessed center door also has a concave shell to echo the shell on the top drawer whereas a cheaper model would just have an arch instead.

For those lucky American furniture collectors, it is extremely rare to find a signed John Townsend furniture.  And to find it on this newly discovered iconic bureau table is even rarer.  The bidder can find more info at Christie's website.  As with any American antique furniture, the key to desirability of these pieces at auction is always condition (any replaced parts), lineage (can the piece be traced to its original owner), and patina (has the said piece be left alone or cleaned by its owners).  Judging from the low estimate, I'm assuming it's because the table has been cleaned (the middle part is definitely brighter than the feet).  Had the table been left untouched, it probably would command at least 30-40% more at auction (I sound like Keno brothers on Antique Roadshow.  haha).  Kinda crazy really.  Who would have thought dirty things cost more than clean things?  LOL.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Peter Doig's Two Faces and a Guitar Print

I seem to be saying this quite a bit lately; it is often not easy to buy a print by a famous artist cheaply.  Getting one on sale is unheard of; Peter Doig's print of Two Faces and a Guitar is one such opportunity.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Peter Doig:  He was born in Edinburgh in Scotland in 1959.  In 1962, his family moved to Trinidad.  In 1966, he moved to Canada and in 1979, he moved to London.  During mid 1980s. he moved back again to Canada (Montreal).  In 2002, he decided to return to Trinidad again.

Peter is highly influenced by Edvard Munch, Claude Monet, Klimt, and Friedrich.  His works are known to capture moments of tranquility with dream-state element.  Doig's usage of unexpected angles and color combinations contribute to the uniqueness of his art.

As you can see this particular print has some aspects of Munch in it in my opinion.  It has typical Doig-ness in it; from the odd angle of the subjects to dreamlike quality, it makes a casual observer do a double take to try to figure out what's going on here.  This print, in edition of 500, was commissioned by Tate Modern museum and can be purchase on their website.  Peter's auction record is $11.3 million set at Sotheby's in 2007.  His paintings have routinely auctioned for seven figures since.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Too by Blu Dot Sig Lounge Chair for Target

It's not often I see something in Target's furniture section that jumps out at me.  Luckily I was informed by a friend of mine the other day about the Too collection by Blu Dot for Target.  I think this collection is really quite brilliant; perfect for young hip couples living in big cities or suburbs.  The collection is quite witty and the colors are fun.  One of my favorite piece from the collection is the Sig Lounge Chair ($299.99).  It has a great industrial look that I think will look perfect in a loft setting.  It looks quite comfy too.  Unfortunately it is only available online.  In fact, looks like just about the whole collection is only available online.  That's too bad because it's hard to judge a piece of furniture's fabric color and texture as well as the size and proportion solely from the pictures provided by Target.  Let's just say if I order this chair and for some reason I don't like it.  It's a huge hassle to wrap up the chair and send it back.  Personally I think Target should sell the whole collection in store.  Anyway, if you want to take a chance on this fun lounge chair, you can find it here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Zaha Hadid's Niche by Alessi


Fame British architect Zaha Hadid seldom produce affordable objects.  But when she does, make sure you pick them up as I'm sure they will become rare collectibles in the future.  Most of her interior objects are limited edition projects such as VorteXX’, 2005; it is a custom-coloured lacquered fiberglass-reinforced polyester, opaque acrylic, LEDs; this chandelier was sold for over $200,000 in 2008, or Black “Aqua” table; it is made of Polyurethane resin, silicone by Established & Sons, UK (furniture maker in UK that makes very expensive contemporary furnishings) in edition of 12; the table was sold for $217,000 in 2008.  

Luckily for the rest of us who do not have multimillion dollar budget to furnish our homes, Alessi has come up with a table centerpiece called Niche.  This centerpiece/ sculpture is composed of 5 separate pieces that you can rearrange them to your liking.  The form is reminiscent of Zaha Hadid's drawings and architecture.  You can use it to hold pen, erasers, pushpins on your desk or use it to hold nuts and M&Ms on your coffee table.  Personally I think it looks great just by itself as a piece of sculpture.  They can be purchased online at Alessi.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cafe Jacqueline

Close to the red light district, a little cafe hidden among the hills of San Francisco is where one can find Cafe Jacqueline.  Jacqueline Margulis has been at it since Julia Child's heydays.  She specializes in souffle.  Everything is souffle except appetizers.  Because all the souffles are baked after you ordered, they will take some time before you get your food.  Every single souffle is done by Jacqueline so you can be sure that every single souffle you get at this restaurant rise to perfection.  If you are on a time crunch, this place is definitely not for you.  But if you just started to date someone or have an old friend from out of town that you want to catch up with, then this place is perfect.

The onion soup was, perhaps, one of the best one in the city.  The lobster souffle I had was perfectly done.  And the white peach souffle was to die for.  It looked huge but was chowed down by two of us in no time.  After all, it's mostly air... at least that's what I told myself.  Take the earlier reservation if you can (ie. before 7:00, 7:30PM) to ensure you don't have to wait for someone to finish eating their souffle before you get seated.  Sometimes wait can be quite long if are not in the first seating group.  P.S. don't expect Michelin star presentation or service; it's a quaint little cafe and go before Jacqueline retires.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens

If you are going to Athens (now that the euro zone agreed to provide nearly 50 billion euros in long-delayed aid to Athens), there is only one place I would recommend you to stay: Hotel Grande Bretagne.  The hotel is centrally located in the middle of Athens.  It is right on the Syntagma Square  (where you see the daily Greek protestors protesting against their government) next to the infamous Parliament building.  It was built in 1842 as a house!  But since then, it went through several incarnations and now it is part of the Starwood hotels & resort.

The ambiance of the hotel is actually quite interesting.  Once you arrive, you have to walk a few steps up into the hotel.  The odd thing about it is that there are couple homeless dogs (or what appears to be homeless dogs) lounging on the steps too.  Kinda funny and charming actually.  The inside is grand as one can expect.  It's very old school looking like the old Plaza Hotel in NYC or Fairmont Hotel in SF.  The rooms are very nicely appointed; a mixture of Louis XV, XVI, Empire style furnishing.  The bathrooms are quite large and the large shower stall is lined with various colored marbles... very sumptuous I would say.  If you are lucky, you may get one of the room facing the Parliament building and Parthenon.  Well, I guess not exactly lucky.  If you are willing to pay for the view, I'm sure they will be more than happy to accommodate that request!  LOL.

The roof top restaurant is a must.  It's a great way to take in the magnificent view of Athens.  The food is good as well.  I had a fish dish and it was done very nicely.  You can tell it's freshly caught from Aegean Sea.  Overall it's a very nice stay and I would highly recommend foreign visitors to Athens to stay here.   

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Guide to various online SALES!

Well, this is it.  You have a week before we hit Christmas.  If you have not finish your Christmas shopping by now, you better start than wait for Friday/Saturday/Sunday.  It's going to be insane at your local mall.  Don't be fooled by those "Up to 60% off sign or Up to 40% off sign" because 99% of the time, the stuff you want are not on sale at that percentage.   Here's a quick rundown on the deals at various stores as of today:

*Neiman Marcus/ Bergdorf Goodman: About 45% off designer stuff.
*Saks: About 40% off designer stuff.
*Barney's New York: About 50-60% off designer stuff.
*MrPorter: Most of the stuff are 50% off except J Crew which are marked 70% off.
*Net a Porter (sister of MrPorter): Depending on the brand.  The "in" brand such as Lanvin is 30% off.  "Not so in" brand such as Donna Karan is 30%-70% off depending on the piece.
*MatchesFashion: About 30-40% off depending on the piece.
*Ssense: About 30-50% off depending on the piece.
*Farfetch: About 30% off with things from few seasons ago at 50% off depending on the brand.
*Luisaviaroma: About 20-30% off.
*AlohaRag: 40-55% off.

Mr.Porter is all man whereas Net-a-Porter is all woman.  MatchesFashion is in UK so you have to pay import tax as well as expensive shipping.  But currency exchange may work to your favor.  Make sure when you buy, use credit cards that do not charge you exchange rate fee, Farfetch includes all import tax fee as well as LuisaViaRoma so you don't have to worry about paying out extra more than the price listed on the website.  Ssense is in Canada.  I have never been charged import tax when buying from them.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Farmhouse Inn in Russian River Valley

Tucked away in sleepy Russian River Valley is an inn that even the most discriminating traveler would appreciate.  The Farmhouse Inn is a beautiful property that definitely should be on your radar if you are heading toward Russian River for a much deserved R&R.

If you are looking for a rustic looking but luxurious experience home away from home, you have to try out Farmhouse Inn.  The inn keepers (Joe and Catherine) are just lovely.  The current owners bought the inn in the fall of 2000 and renovated the place to perfection with the exception of the pool (I was told would be redone soon) which look a bit dated.  But other than that, the place feels like a very luxurious 5 star hotel.  The check in area was really nice and cozy.  They have free s'more kit for all their guests.  I was told the round pit right outside of the check in office is where all the guests gather at night to roast their s'mores.  Yum.  In addition, they have some free local artisan soaps that I can take back to use in my room.  Hello bathroom, here I come!

I stayed at one of the Barn rooms in the back of the property.  Apparently it was recently built and it looked it; everything was really nice and new.  My room had a lovely fireplace that opens to both indoor and outdoor.  The bathroom was exceptionally nice.  I love the rakes they hung on the wall; give the room a barn-ish vibe.  The shower was a steam shower so it was a perfect place to try out all the lovely soaps I gotten from the front desk.  The tub was huge.  It was definitely a two person tub.  The only complaint I have with my room was that because it was on the first floor with a stair that is right outside my wall which lead to upstairs units, every time someone uses the stair, I can hear cluck, cluck, cluck.  I think the architect dropped the ball here; he/she should have detached the stair away from the wall.  I would advise anyone who gets a barn room requests upstairs rooms or the first floor rooms on the left side (when you are facing the property from the road).  I have read on Travel Advisor that the heritage rooms, which are closer to the roads, can be a bit noisy with road traffic.  Since I didn't stay at those rooms, I could not tell you if that's true or not.

The restaurant onsite is also quite nice.  It had received an one star Michelin and it absolutely deserved it.  My dinner there was quite lovely.  Food was nice and tasty.  The breakfast is really really lovely.  Everything was delicious; scone was moist, pancake was fluffy.  It has to be one of the top ten breakfast I ever had.  You can choose to sit inside or outside on their deck which is surrounded by country flowers and herbs.  I choose to sit outside both days when I stayed at the inn.  It was a beautiful way to start my day for sure.

All in all, I would definitely come back again.  I would have no hesitation recommending this lovely property to my most discriminating well traveled friends.  This inn is as good as it gets for property of this size.  Bravo to Joe and Catherine.      


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Japanese Hibachi

I love taking something that's used for one function and re-purpose it to suit my need.  One thing I found in the past that can be re-purposed is a Japanese hibachi.  Hibachi is a heating devise, usually with an open top circular or rectangular shape, with a lined (fireproof) inset container.  The item used for heating is typically charcoal.  These containers are usually made of ceramic, metal, or in this case, wood with a metal container inset.  I find this particular container beautiful because of its imperfections.... lacquered pieces fell off overtime due to usage and/or crack of the wooden container.  I now use it as a flower pot.  I find this combination can easily go with a traditional interior as well as something super modern.  It has a nice zen quality to it.  These wooden hibachis can be found in your local antique stores or on Ebay.  They can run from low $40s to high three figure.   

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Baumé Restaurant

Tucked away in a quiet strip mall, nothing is more odd than finding this precious gem in such a banal location.  Baumé, a 2 star Michelin restaurant, provides an exceptional gastronomy experience that even the most jaded foodie would give it a nod of approval.

Who would have thought that Palo Alto would be a great place to have a delectable meal?  Well, Baumé is such a place.  I would say the plating reminds me a lot of Japanese design; very clean, precise, and minimal.  The food, while not exceptionally experimental (like Atelier Crenn), it is extremely kind to your palette.

Baumé provides a set menu.   Major ingredients of every single dish are listed in writing and they ask you if you are allergic to anything.  After that, the waiters glide away and your meal commence.  

The bread is, perhaps, the best restaurant bread ever; the texture is airy, moist, and yet silky.  Yes silky!  I don't know how to describe it besides using the word silky.  I know it's an odd description for bread but you just have to taste it and I'm sure you'll agree with me that it's silky in texture.

They have one gimmicky element that are quite fun... the compressed napkins.  It was fun to see them grow!  LOL.

My favorite dish of the night is probably the lobster risotto dish.  Too often lobsters are overcook and become rubbery in texture.  Well, not the ones at Baumé; perfectly seasoned, the lobster I had was sweet and plume.  Another stand out was the pork dish.  Daikon made to look like scallop which balanced with sour spring roll and salty braised pork; a perfect combination of sour, salt, and sweet.   

Service, of course, is exceptional (unlike Mélisse restaurant in Los Angeles which has the worst 2 star Michelin restaurant service I have ever experienced).  There appears to be three waiters in our part of the room that covered 7 tables.  They did an exceptional job orchestrating delivery of food, drinks, etc..  

I would highly recommend anyone going there for dinner.  The experience was exceptional and I am more than happy to go back for another fantastic meal.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sherman.93 Sofa from Minotti

My favorite sofa brand for a modern interior is definitely Minotti.  As far as I'm concern, there are no one out there who makes a sexier, sleeker, and more gorgeous sofa out there for a contemporary interior than Minotti.  Sofa is the center piece for a living room hence it's always advisable to get the best sofa one can afford.  After all, it is the most used piece of furniture in a living room and is most likely the largest piece of furniture in the space.  A great looking sofa can elevate the whole room while a cheap dumpy sofa can definite make a great room look dingy.

I like this particular sofa (Sherman.93) not only it's a great looking with great proportion, it also sits quite comfortably.  I love the legs on this sofa.  The skinny legs lift the sofa up which give an illusion that the sofa itself is light, airy and comfy.  This is very hard to do since most sofas look blocky and heavy.  You can find Minotti sofas at their exclusive showrooms in NYC, Chicago, LA, and SF.  You can also find them through their extensive dealers throughout US.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Arte & Cuoio Woven Basket

Arte & Cuoio, founded in 1969,  is known for their expert craftsmanship with home leather goods.  All the hides they use are procured from Santa Croce sull'Arno and Ponte at Egola between Florence and Pisa in Tuscany.  Their leather products are dyed in Tuscany using traditional methods from 19th century.  The leather is tanned using chestnut bark and mimosa extracts, and is then placed in wooden barrels to soak up animal fat to grease it, after which it is then left to dry naturally before polishing with amber.  The strong Danish thread which is hand sewn onto all their products are decorative as well as functional.   

One of my favorite product from them is their woven basket.  It's large enough to hold all unread magazines, yet elegant enough to be displayed out in the open.  I've also seen them being used as holders for fireplace logs or just as catch-all baskets.  The way their basket is braided reminds me of a little bit of Bottega Veneta's handbags.  This is a beautiful basket that you will enjoy for years to come.  I know I have mine for over a decade and I still use it daily.  It's a worthwhile investment.   The basket can be found at Barney's New York.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Missoni Reversible Padded Gilet/Vest

I always find Missoni's men's clothes not particularly easy to wear.  Maybe it's because I tends to wear monotone clothes in general.  I'm usually not big on wearing multiple pattern on myself with exception of shoes.  Otherwise, I stay with the typical palette of blue, khaki, gray, brown, black, with some occasional pink, yello, and orange.

This particular vest I find hits all the right note for me.  It has the typical zigzag pattern that champion by Missoni yet it's rather subtle and you won't notice it until you look at it closely.  The color palette is also very suitable for most guys.  The vest pattern looks like a typical flannel shirt you would find in a Levis store, etc.  But yet, upon close inspection, the pattern is much more sophisticated not to mention the beautiful yarn that was used as well as the expert workmanship.  Best of all, the vest is reversible which means you can get two looks for the price of one!  You can find the vest at your local Missoni boutique or at Mr Porter.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Raffle Result for Tracy Reese Plates

Three people (Christina Furtado, Kelli Gifford, and Cindy Mi) had emailed me privately telling me they can't leave a comment so I told them I will have that fix soon.  But in the mean time, I entered them into the raffle. 

The result is in and the winner is.....

Christina Furtado!  Please email me your address and your plates will be shipped out promptly.  Congrats and thank you everyone for entering.  Watch for new raffle coming soon next year.  Have a wonderful holiday season!


Tracy Reese plates for Neiman Marcus + Target Raffel Collaboration Raffle

Due to some unforeseen schedule conflict, I will have to end this raffle at 4PM this afternoon (December 11) instead of midnight.  Apologies to those people who are waiting to the last minute to join.  Drawing will be done soon after.  Please check back later today for the result and can the winner please email me his/her address by end of today.  Thank you for playing and look for more raffles next year!  Happy holidays. 

Airspace Tokyo

I normally don't like to pimp work for people I know but I really do like the exterior of this particular building so I'm disclosing that this building was a co-designed by my ex-professor and one of his student.

Airspace is located in Tokyo.  The existing building had a facade system that wrapped the entire building with dense vegetation.  The whole structure was demolished and a brand new building took place.  Thom Faulders, the architect for the new facade, basically took the old exterior and reinvented a new language for what was there before.  The result was a brilliant eye catching new facade.  The new face of the building acts as a sunshade device as well as channeling water away from the building.  Before the building may feel heavy due to dense vegetation, now the building feels light and porous.  Hence the appropriate name: Airspace Tokyo. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Yike Bike

I came across Yike bike the other day online.  I thought it looked really cool and wasn't sure if it was a stationary bike or what?  Well, it turned out to be an electric bike that you can actually take it to work with!!!  Apparently it's only weights 20lbs and you can fold it to minimize the space it takes up.  The bike has signal lights so it allows drivers to see which way you are going or stopping.  I think it's ideal for someone who has everything especially if that someone has a segway.  This will perfectly compliment it.  It's definitely more expensive than a typical bike but about the same price as a high end bike.  To me, this is a perfect bike for someone who lives in a big city and need to commute a short distance to work; you don't need to find parking for your car, dreading getting a ticket, or pay expensive parking fees.  This bike comes in carbon or fusion.  Carbon is lighter of the two but it also cost twice as much.  Yike bike comes in standard red, blue, green, black, white.  There is also a possibility of customizing the color.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Le Jules Verne, Paris


There are many ways to get up to the second deck of the famed Eiffel Tower.  One way is to wait in a long line for the official ticket for the elevator.  The other way, my preferred way, is to eat at Le Jules Verne (the restaurant has its own private elevator to the second deck).

Le Jules Verne restaurant is opened by one of the top French chef, Alan Ducasse.  He is the first chef to ever own three  3-Michelin starred restaurants in three different cities!  Le Jules Verne currently has one Michelin star.

The food here is quite competent.  You are not going to get avant garde food here that you will be boasting about it years from now.  Instead, you will get beautifully plated food that taste great.  The restaurant is divided into two separate rooms.  The one closer to the entrance seem to be where they place all the foreigners/ tourists.  I assume they do that because the staffs in that room speak English whereas the other room, presumably the staffs' English language skills are not as high.  The view there is also excellent.  Being this high up inside of the Eiffel Tower means that you will have unparalleled view of the city.  It's really quite magical to eat here if you are in the mood for romance.  After the excellent dinner, the maitre-d' will ask you if you want to go upstairs to the second deck of the Eiffel Tower.  You just have to walk up a small flight of stairs and voila!  You are there with everyone else.  When you are done, you can go back to the door where you exited and buzz the maitre-d' to let you back in.

If you are in Paris for a short romantic trip, I would highly recommend you to eat here because you get a very good meal plus fantastic view of the city in one shot; a very efficient way to take in the city of light.  Don't you think?  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Extra Large Shagreen Bowl from R&Y Augousti

One of my favorite brand for furnishing an interior is R&Y Augousti.  I just love the different texture that their pieces bring into a space be it shagreen (skin from stingrays), python, mother of pearl, or ostrich, etc..  In the picture above, I put orchids in an extra large shagreen bowl by Augousti.  The bowl sits on a bronze stand also by them.  Both can be purchased at Barney's New York or from their New York showroom in the New York Design Center.     

Ria and Yiouri Augousti are actually a married couple who found their love designing furniture.  Ria is originally from the Philippines whereas Yiouri is from Cyprus.  They cross path in London and rest is history.  In 1990, they did their first trade show in Paris and it was an instant success.  Retail luxury giants like Barney's New York and Neiman Marcus placed orders while the prestigious Hotel Crillon commissioned them to make desk accessories for their suites.

Today, one can find R&Y Augousti furniture at Barney's New York, Neiman Marcus, and their exclusive showrooms in Paris and in New York.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Siesta of the Soul by Chris Ofili

Some of you may have heard of his name before....  well, his name have been featured on CNN, New York Times, etc.  for a controversy involving the ex-mayor of New York: Rudolph Giuliani!!  This happened back in 1999, when Chris Ofili was part of a show, called Sensation,  put on by fame gallery owner Charles Saatchi.  This show traveled to Brooklyn museum in New York City in the fall of 1999.  The said painting/collage by Chris Ofili, depicting a black Madonna with elephant dung, was so offensive to the mayor that he demanded Brooklyn museum to take down the painting or their funding would be cut.  Overnight Chris Ofili became the art world sensation (pun intended.  lol) and one of the star who broke out of the Young British Artists group.  A year before the controversy in NYC, he won the Turner prize which is an annual prize presented to a British visual artists under the age of 50.  This is the most prestigious and well publicized art award in England.  In 2003, he was selected to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale.  This Biennale, takes place once every two years,  is arguably the most prestigious contemporary art exhibition in the world.

This particular print, Siesta of the Soul, is his answer to William Blake's Song of Innocence and of Experience.  You can read more about this William Blake's poem here.  I like the color water effect of the print and the color he used on this print is beautiful.

It's always hard to find a piece of limited edition art that is worth collecting while being affordable (his paintings have fetched close to $3,000,000).  Well, lucky for us that Tate Modern had lowered the price for their exclusive limited edition print by Chris Ofili.  It was priced at £405.00 but now it can be yours for £250.00!  Not a bad price considering normally for famous artists like Ofili, their prints usually starts at a thousand and up.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rani Arabella Cashmere Throw

Well, it's that time of the year again.  It's cold outside with wind blowing and rain/snow falling.  Personally I love to have my fireplace lit and snuggle against a nice cashmere throw while reading on my ipad.  With so many throw choices on the market with varying quality, it's often hard to decide what to buy; one of the brand you should consider is Rani Arabella.

This company was founded in 1999 in New York but it produces its products in Italy.  The result is a combination of a modern loft sensibility with Italian craftsmanship.  A winning combo in my book for sure.  I love the graphic nature of the pillows it produces every year.  They are always whimsical and sophisticated.  While the company produces various combination of fabrics, be it cotton, linen, wool, or my favorite is and always will be cashmere.  They also produce many cashmere throws with fantastic patterns; some of them very traditional like cable knit while others are more graphic like chevrons or stripes.  Either way you lean, I assure you that once you have Rani Arabella cashmere throw on you, it will be very hard for you to snuggle under any other throws in your home.  Rani Arabella throw can be found for sale at Barney's New York.  But for some of us who are more budget conscious, you can also find them at One Kings Lane (between today and Saturday).     

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

André-Charles Boulle marquetry center table

There is no doubt in my mind that no one have ever produced more intricate exquisite technically supreme pieces of furniture than André-Charles Boulle.  No one has come close to it and no one ever will.  The amount of work, talent, and time he put into his pieces can never be matched.

He was born in 1642 and died in 1732.  By age 30, he was appointed as the Ebeniste du Roi (Furniture maker to the king) by Louis XIV.  He is best known for marquetry work.  André was not the first person to combine inlaying brass and tortoise-shell, but he was the one who perfected the technique.  He perfected it so much that now any marquetry work that is done using brass and tortoise-shell is called Boulle work.  Boulle work is done by gluing sheets of tortoise-shell and brass together and then cut out the design.  The combination of première partie (a tortoiseshell ground inlaid with brass) and contre partie (a brass ground inlaid with tortoiseshell) is then formed.  Hence a typical Boulle work will come in pairs. 

Despite being appointed as the Ebeniste du Roi, he wasn't favored much by the King.  Instead, André provided furniture to the Queen, Grand Dauphin, Philipe V of Spain, duc de Bourbon and the Regent, duc d'Orleans.  It was not until 1700 did Boulle supplied his first piece of furniture to the King.

During the French Revolution, many Boulle works were scooped up by the Brits.  And of course in late 19th century, robber barons brought them into US from England.  Today, Boulle work can be seen in many great museums in US such as the Met, the Getty, and the Frick.  They do come up for auction from time to time at Christie's or Sotheby's.  But of course like in 18th century, you will need a very deep pocket to acquire one. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Raffle: Tracy Reese plates from Neiman Marcus and Target Collaboration!

I'm doing a holiday raffle!  I'm giving away a brand new set of NM+T Tracy Reese plates!  Not only are they luxurious (18k gold trim around the edges), they are also practical too (dishwasher safe)!  They are great for the holiday parties or as a holiday gift.  Here are the rules for the raffle (you have to do ALL THREE to be eligible):

1. Become a member for this site.  Click on Join this site button on the right margin (see pic)
and choose to join this site via your gmail account, yahoo, AIM, etc. You MUST choose to follow publicly as I can't see you and put you on the raffle if you choose to follow privately.  Then go to your gmail, yahoo, AIM, etc account and click on the link to confirm that you follow this blog.  That's it.  It's very simple.  You should see your name in a little square under Members.

2. Click like for my website on facebook: Kevin Hsu Studios Inc.

3. In the comment section, leave a comment.

Best of luck and winner will be picked, using list randomizer, and contacted on December 12, 2012.  Please note apologies to my international friends - I wish I could extend these giveaways to you but legal restrictions prevent it. Thanks for understanding. 

More reviews of Neiman Marcus + Target Collaboration: Are you getting a good deal?

Like for any designer collaborations, I want to make sure I'm actually getting a significant price reduction from the said designers not just whole bunch badly made stuff with designers' names on them.  While Neiman Marcus and Target collaboration items are hard to do apple to apple comparison since quite a few designers went out of their way to design something they normally don't design, there are still a few of them who did what they are good at.  Let the comparisons begin!

Thom Browne men's jacket.  TB is know of his flood pants silhouette expose ankles and short sports jacket that doesn't cover the whole backside.  Naturally it's impossible to find the exact same product he did for his main line vs. the NM+T collaboration, but here is a close comparison in terms of the cut of the jacket.

The left one is from Ssense.  It's a beautiful cotton velvet sports jacket in charcoal color made in Japan.  It's also priced accordingly at $1900 (which is a typical Thom Browne jacket price range).  Comparing this jacket to NM+T jacket which is made of wool in Vietnam at $150.  I'm happy to say that Thom Browne didn't skim on interior lining of this NM+T jacket; it looks exactly the same as the ones from his eponymous brand.  While I would definitely agree that the jacket from Ssense looks more luxurious than the one from NM+T, but I would still give this collaboration jacket a thumbs up for the cut, price, and quality of the product.

Marc Jacobs scarf.  Marc Jacobs need no introduction so I'll get right down to business.  I searched high and low and couldn't find anything close to his design for NM+T so I feel it's a bit like comparing apples and oranges; cost of a scarf depends on where it is made, size, and fabric (which I feel is the biggest factor when comparing scarves).  Most of the stuff I found was either made of modal, or combination of cotton and silk.

The right one is from Nordstrom , priced at $178, is Marc by Marc Jacobs NOT Marc Jacobs.   Most of similar size and feel of Marc Jacobs or Marc for Marc Jacobs scarves run around $120-$240 and as you know NM+T one is $70.  While Nordstrom one has a very different design, but the fabric (100% wool vs. 90% wool + 10% cashmere), size, and where they are both made (China) feels like a decent comparison.  I do like the black with some shimmer fabric from NM+T because it's a nice basic scarf that will last you for years and the silver thread do add a touch of glamor.  But Marc Jacobs scarf doesn't feel it is as good of a deal as the Thom Browne jacket in my opinion.  I think if you lack a nice basic black scarf, definitely get it.  If you already have similar color and weight scarf, then I don't think it's great enough of a deal to go out and grab it because chances are you can get something after Christmas on sale from MJ with a slightly higher price point but with pattern of your own choosing.  

Judith Lieber compact.  Judith Lieber is known for her minaudieres (a substitute for an evening bag that is often just big enough to carry a lipstick, makeup compact, keys, money) which is basically crystal clutch in a shape of anything you can think of: cupcake, dog, snake, fan, cat bear, etc. etc.  Pretty much any shape you can think of she probably had made it into a minaudieres.  These fanciful objects also come with fanciful price tags ($5000+).  Luckily for comparison shopping, we have something close to apple to apple.

The left one is from Neiman Marcus.  As you can see besides the pattern of the crystal and the tone of the metal, it is essentially the same thing.  The Neiman Marcus one retails for $225 although now it is on sale for  $150.  The NM+T one is $60.  Let's just say when Neiman Marcus mark the left one to half price which makes it $112.50, the NM+T one is still only cost close to half of that.  I say it is a great deal!  If you are looking for a glamorous compact mirror, you can't go wrong with Judith Lieber and at close to 25% of typical selling price, it's a no brainer.    

Rag & Bone cardigan.  Rag & Bone is known for its denim.  In fact, the company, founded by Wainwright and Neville, started as a denim company.  They produced full men's collection in 2005 and by 2006, women's collection was introduced.  In 2010, they won CFDA Men’s Wear Designer of the Year award. 

The right one is from Barney's New York priced at $450.  No doubt many of you recognize that the left one is from NM+T priced at $70.  A typical price point for R&B sweater is about $250-$350.  The cut is different for sure.  One is more cardigan like and the other one is more of a knit sports coat which is so popular these days.  But I would say the feel of both sweater is quite similar.  The NM+T is made of cotton and wool while Barney's R&B sweater is made of wool and linen.  Both are made in China.  Overall I would say I think we have another winner here for NM+T collaboration!   

Robert Rodriguez lace dress.  In 2003, Robert co-founded his namesake label Robert Rodriguez.  His style, influenced by Dior, is sophisticated, feminine, and sexy.  Starlets who have seen wearing his clothes are who's who of Hollywood: Jolie, Kidman, Longoria, Johansson, etc.

The left one, for $100 is from NM+T and the right one can be found at Saks for $395.  Obviously the silhouette is quite different but the fabric looks very similar if not the same.  Composition of the fabric is quite similar with NM+T 50/50 nylon and cotton while the Saks version is 60/40 nylon and cotton.  NM+T priced theirs for about 25% of the none collaboration dress which is amazing since even with 60% off markdowns that Saks does sometimes, it is still more costly than NM+T's.  I say it's a very good deal.

Lastly, I'm doing a holiday raffle!  I'm giving away a brand new set of NM+T Tracy Reese plates!  Not only are they luxurious (18k gold trim around the edges), they are also practical too (dishwasher safe)!  They are great for the holiday parties or as a holiday gift.  Here are the rules for the raffle:

1. Become a member for this site.  Click on Join this site button on the right margin (see pic)
and choose to join this site via your gmail account, yahoo, AIM, etc. You MUST choose to follow publicly as I can't see you and put you on the raffle if you choose to follow privately.  Then go to your gmail, yahoo, AIM, etc account and click on the link to confirm that you follow this blog.  That's it.  It's very simple.  You should see your name in a little square under Members.

2. Click like for my website on facebook: Kevin Hsu Studios Inc.

3. In the comment section, type in your email so I can contact you when you win.

Best of luck and winner will be picked, using list randomizer, and contacted on December 12, 2012.  Please note apologies to my international friends - I wish I could extend these giveaways to you but legal restrictions prevent it. Thanks for understanding. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Balmain men SS 2013

Well, it's been about year and half since Decarnin was succeeded by Olivier Rousteing.  It must be a difficult balancing act for Olivier to maintain the biker look while trying to put his own stamp on it.  I think 2012 was a year where he more or less did what Decarnin did.  But for his SS 2013 collection for men, you can see he's emerging slowly from the shadow of Decarnin.  For one, boots are gone from almost all the photographs that were disseminated by their PR team!!  Secondly he has embraced the flood pants look.  Just about every single pants/jeans that were shown were folded up to the flood pants length.  While I don't think the length works for biker jeans, but he's definitely putting his stamp on the silhouette.  Lastly, it's not all about military and biker looks anymore.  He has introduced safari vocabulary into his work.  I think it's a good thing that he's changing things up as you can only go so far when the only thing you do is repeating the same theme over and over again.

I love the leather shirt jacket in this picture.  I think it has a good balance between biker and safari influence.  But I do have a problem with the jeans that went with this look.  It felt too busy.  There is already enough things goes on with the top that all is needed is just a plain khaki pants or jeans.  I also don't think the shoes work with this particular look but bravo for changing it up.  I look forward to see his FW 2013 collection!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stomach Rattan Lounge Chair

I associate rattan chairs with Florida.  Comfortable?  Yes.  Hip?  Not really.  Until now that is.  This Stomach Rattan Lounge Chair has a beautiful line that cascades down from the top and falls onto floor.  While I do see the resemblance to a stomach, frankly speaking, I don't think the name does justice to the fluid line of the design.  I can see this chair on a concrete floor in a Soho loft next to a large vertical painting.  The price isn't too bad either.  You can find it at Inmod.   

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Neiman Marcus + Target in person review

Well, since I was able to buy my stuff on last night, I didn't feel like I need to get up early to go to Neiman or Target.  It's raining here in San Francisco so I definitely did not feel like to wait in line in the rain either.  I got to Neiman at Union Square a little past 9AM.  There were absolutely no line no mayhem no nothing.  Just a door man there opening door which they usually don't have.  They put a wrist tag on me and told me I have 15 minutes to shop!  I was like Puleeze, there is no one here.  The collaboration area is on the 4th floor so you have to go up whole bunch escalators before you get there.  They must have told every single employees to smile at you and be friendly because having shopped at Neiman for couple decades, I never have so many employees smiling at me!

The rope off an area is on the fourth floor.  The gripe I have about shopping at NM instead of at Target is that at Target you have a big cart where you can just throw stuff in.  At NM, they give you a large plastic bag and you have to lug it yourself.  Things get heavy quickly and I just didn't want to buy much because I did not want to lug them back to my car in the rain.  To their credit, one of the sales came up to me and told me if I want to buy a lot, they can take my stuff downstairs to the sidewalk while I retrieve my car.  Talk about customer service!  You sure won't get that at Target.  I declined because I feel it was a bit too much considering I'm buying bunch China made stuff that I don't need!  LOL.  But then again, I don't remember the last time I bought something at NM that I need anyway.

After seeing everything in person, my favorites are: Joseph Altuzarra tray.  Heavy and well made.  It feels and look expensive.  I think it's the best thing from the whole collection.  Derek Lam skateboard.  Looks exactly the same as the online pic.  I didn't realize the wheels also says Derek Lam.  It's a nice detail.  Judith Leiber compact mirror.  I didn't think I would like them but they look expensive in person.Tracy Reese plates were nice.  I love the packaging and the quality feels like a typical china made Neiman Marcus gifts... not bad but not great.  The Marchesa Hand-Beaded Dress for girls is by far the most expensive great looking clothes from the whole collection.  If you have a little girl, definitely get this for her.   Eddie Borgo accent box was a surprise for me.  The detail and finishes look very sharp.  I thought it would be cheap looking and why would anyone spend $50 on a metal box that doesn't have much detail.  I was wrong.  I got one for myself.  Lastly the Thom Browne jacket was finished nicer than I expected.  It's fully lined with typical Thom Browne pockets.  I was very impressed.  I wish there is a size between small and medium because small was too small and medium was a tab bit too large.  If I were to take it into my seamstress to tailor it to my liking, it would almost cost the same as the price of the jacket....

There were definitely disappointments for me as well.  Tory Burch stuff just looks like low end China made crap.  Without the Tory Burch logo, it would sell for $5 at best.  Jason Wu's little girl dresses look so bad next to Marchesa's.  Jason's stuff look dull and uninspiring.  I really thought they would look better than they did.  Philip Crangi's picture frame and accent box were both blah.  The finishes didn't look expensive at all.  They should have used Borgo's manufacturer.  These two products definitely do not look like they were expensive.  I feel you can see similar things at a Ross outlet or something.

I guess I won't be writing much about high low collaboration for awhile.  The next one is Prabal Gurung for Target.  Since there is nothing for me, I'm not likely to seek it out.  I do wonder what's the next big collaboration after Prabal? 


An update.  Everything in this collection is NOW 50% off online.  I believe they will also be 50% off in store as well.  Have fun shopping.  Lots of really good deals at this price point!!!

Loro Piana's ultra luxurious Vicuña goods

I remember the first time I heard of the word vicuna is actually from Sunset Boulevard (the musical).  I have no idea what it is.  I thought to myself "Is it some kind of mysterious fabric?"

Well, it is sort of a mysterious fabric.  It's basically a kind of alpacas wool.... very soft and warm (softer and denser than cashmere); higher grade cashmere if you will.  These vicuñas are only found in South America.  During the Inca empire days, only royalties get to wear vicuña wool.

These wool are also treasured because of their rarity.  Each vicuña only produce about 250 grams of hair every two years; compare that to cashmere goat which produces 500-800 grams.  It takes about a fleece of 25-30 vicuña to make one coat.  Currently there are over 123 million goats in China alone that produce cashmere.  In comparison, there are only about 350,000 vicuñas in existence.  Because of the rarity and because you can only shorn a vicuña every two-three years, this particular wool is ultra expensive.

Like everything rare, there are illegal shearing of these animals.  And of course there are the legal ones.  One of such company is Loro Piana.  You know, the one who brings you super luxurious cashmere!  Well, it should be no surprise to anyone that they bring you vicuña fabric as well.  They make a variety of garments using vicuña fabric: throw blankets, scarves, coats, capes, etc.  You can all find it here.  But be warn, price tags are not for the faint of heart.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Raffle result for Trina Turk decorative pillow giveaway

Drum roll please........!

The winner using list randomizer is: Shannon Hill!  Congratulations Shannon, I will contact you and make arrangement for the pillow delivery.  Thanks everyone for playing.  More prizes to come soon.  Please check back.  Have a great holiday season!

Louis Vuitton bag charm carrousel

I got a Louis Vuitton catalog today in mail.  It is always fun to look through LV catalogs but at the same time, depressing because so many great looking goodies but they are also priced accordingly.  I guess you get what you pay for happens more often than not.  The thing that really caught my eyes was the Louis Vuitton bag charm.  I think this charm sums up the essence of Louis Vuitton: meticulous craftsmanship.  Given how small this charm is, to be able to put that much details on it just amazes me.  It is sold out online so the best place to look for it is at your local Louis Vuitton stores or call 866-Vuitton for availability.  Given the price of this useless item (but very pretty), I'm surprised that it's sold out online already.  But then again, I guess I should not be surprised since it's soooo cute.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Diane Von Furstenberg Jungle plate

  Every modern home should have at least one modern plate setting.  Obviously how modern or futuristic type of plates you buy depends on your personality and your furnishings.  There are so many patterns to choose from, sometimes it can be overwhelming.  One of the pattern I do like is from DVF... specifically her jungle pattern plates.  I like this particular plate because the shape is very unexpected; the asymmetrical-ness.  It kinda throws you off and make you take notice which I think is a good thing... adds another thing you can talk about during dinner parties.  I also like the pattern on the plate.  It feels very retro....almost Pucci like, but at the same time, it's also very now.  Kinda like vintage modern interior you find these days in magazines.  Moreover, the colors are great.  There are so many colors on the plate which ensures that whatever color(s) your dining room wall is(are), this plate will most likely fit into the existing color scheme.  Lastly, the plates are inexpensive... especially now Neiman Marcus have them for 50% off.  At $14 a plate, it's terrifically reasonable don't you think?  They are microwave and dishwasher safe too!

Last day to enter for a Free Trina Turk Avenida Maze Pillow!

Dear readers,

Happy holidays.  Today the raffle closes at midnight Pacific Time.  If you have not sign up as a member yet, please do.  The raffle is only available to members of this blog so to be eligible to win, you will need to sign up as a member (click on join this site button on the upper right margin).  Winner will be randomly chosen from the member list that is visible on the site so if after signing up, you can't find yourself in one of those little squares, then you will have to do it again (chances are it's because you choose to follow privately via gmail, you will need to switch to follow publicly to be eligible). 

I'm giving away a Trina Turk Avenida Maze pillow.  Pillow measures 26″W x 14″H.  It includes removable down-filled insert with hidden zipper closure.  This pillow is great for sofa, bed, or your club chair.  It has four different colors so it's easy to mix and match with rest of your decor.  A pillow doesn't get much more hip looking than this! It retails for $130 but it's free to my members.  Apologies to my international friends - I wish I could extend these giveaways to you but legal restrictions prevent it. Thanks for understanding.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Las Vegas

Are you not a fan of going through casino, retail stores, restaurants, etc etc before you reach an elevator to go upstairs to your room when you are in Las Vegas?  Do you want a hotel in a central location while still feel like it's away from the masses?  Are you one of those people who wants topnotch services while staffs are discrete and invisible at the same time?  Well, if all of those are important to you when you go to Las Vegas, then I would highly recommend you to stay at Mandarin Oriental Hotel at the City Center development.

Before Mandarin Oriental Hotel arrived in Las Vegas, the best service in town was Four Seasons Hotel.  But it's soooo remote from everything.  Now you don't have to be so far away from the action anymore.  The best shopping center, arguably, is right next door at the Crystal.  There you will find a multistory Louis Vuitton, multistory Prada, Marni, Lanvin, etc. etc.  The list just goes on and on.  If you want to party hard, you are right next to the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  If you are looking to gamble, you are in a walking distance to Aria Hotel.  You want afternoon tea?  The best one in town is in Mandarin Oriental Hotel!

The check in counter is actually high up in the building so when you walk in, you have to take an elevator that goes directly to the sky lobby at 23rd floor.  This is where you take a different elevator to your hotel room.  It's a brilliant design because this way it keeps out none hotel guests.  There is also an area next to the check in counter where you can have your sumptuous afternoon tea.  In addition, on this floor you will also find their restaurant Twist, opened by Pierre Gagnaire who operates his name sake 3 Michelin stars restaurant in Paris.

The rooms are also quite nicely appointed.  The standard rooms are definitely not the biggest ones on the block but the amenities more than make up for it.  Bathrooms are quite large and there are ample closet space to hang all your belongings.  Outside of each room, there is a butler door where they can leave food inside without coming into the guest room.  I really like it because it gives you a lot of privacy... although if you are ordering four course meal, they will have to wheel a table in.  The only gripe I have of the room is the toilet room door.  It's not completely opaque.  I'm just not a fan of that.... there is nothing sexy about hearing/seeing another person using a toilet.  Luckily you have a sliding door for the bathroom that can act as a second barrier... unless you are in a suite....

All in all, it's a really nice hotel.  Very quiet and feels like an oasis among the madness of Las Vegas.  I would highly recommend people to stay there who wants great discrete services.