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.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Before and After Office Kitchen

Well, so I'm going to toot my own horn today and talk about a kitchen I did for a client!  LOL.  So as many of you who have worked in a typical office before, you know that office kitchen... dingy, depressing, institutional coloring, cabinets that belongs to your super dated doctor's office.  Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.  Guess what, for a little bit of money and some elbow grease, it doesn't have to be that way.  This kitchen make over idea can also apply to your own home kitchen as well.

So the dilemma is this: how to make over a kitchen for as little bit of money as possible while still REVERSIBLE in case the landlord wants the old ugly kitchen back (although I can't see why but hey you never know)!  The picture on the left is left side of the kitchen (before) and the picture on the right is the right side of the kitchen (after).

Here's what I did.  I covered the top cabinet with stainless steel sticky back stickers.  Just remove the cabinet and essentially wrap the cabinet faces with stickers.  These stickers come in a roll, you can just google it.  They are everywhere.  Then for the bottom cabinet, I used a sticky back sticker that looks glossy (the kinda have lacquer effect) and stick it onto the bottom cabinets.  Then for the counter top, I used 1/8" white acrylic panels and just tape them down with double sided tape (just go to your local hardware store and ask for the industrial strength ones).  You have to be somewhat patient with this because it does take awhile to measure all the surfaces.  Just seal all the edges with silicone caulking.  For the floor I laid down carpet tiles I got from Amazon.  Material cost for the whole kitchen was less than $1200.  Now the kitchen looks sleek (and reversible) without breaking your bank.  How cool is that?    

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday Sales

Yeah, I'm posting another blog on sales because I don't want people to miss them!  LOL.  So here we go:

Georg Jensen is having a 10% off jewelry and watch sale and home stuff gets 20% off. Today only.

Mr Porter's sale started last night at midnight Pacific time.  Most of the stuff are 30-50% off.

Both Neiman Marcus and Barney's New York are having presales in store.  What that means is if you go into the store, the sales people will sell you stuff now but you will not be able to take the stuff home until the sale officially starts later this week.  30-40% off depending on the item.  This is NOT available for online buyers.

StyleBop is currently offering 30% off discount even on sale items from last season.  Enter code: cyber2012.

20X200 is a limited edition artist prints website based in NYC.  They had a pretty good sale earlier today.  40% off but now it has dropped to 25% off until midnight ET.  But if you are looking to pick up prints from their more famous artists, then you are out of luck as people like Cecily Brown or Sam Taylor-Wood never go on sale regardless whatever promotion they are having.

Flannels in London is having a 20% off sale for the current season stuff.  Promo code: Gift20 Considering one still have to pay a stiff £35 for shipping to the States, unless you find something amazing, you are better off waiting for further discounts.

Here's further addendum at 10PM Pacific time(haha):

Both Neiman Marcus and Saks have put their sale stuff online.  NM is about 35% off depending on the item (even though they said up to 50% off but those are few and far in between) and Saks while claim up to 40% off, most of the stuff are either 30% or 40% off.  You just have to do your math to make sure.  If you go tonight, make sure you go to Ebate first because you get additional 8% rebate from NM and 9% rebate from Saks.  Have fun shopping!

Peter Norton Family Christmas Project

Well, as Christmas gets closer and closer, it's always daunting to find that perfect gift.  It's even more daunting if your love one has everything he/she wants.  So what to give to this person?

I think one of the best gift one can give another person is art.  I love art.  I think a good art will transform you; it has the quality to change you.  By that I mean it may make you think (Barbara Kruger; your comfort is my silence), it may make you nostalgic (Wayne Thiebaud; gumball machine), it may make you very uncomfortable (Chris Ofili; black madonna), etc.  The bottom line is a good art will evoke a dialogue between you and the piece, you and someone else, or you within yourself.

A good starting point is left over pieces from Peter Norton Family Christmas Project that was donated by the foundation to MOMA to support PS1.  PS1, on Long Island,  is basically an exhibition space devotes its energy and resources to displaying the most experimental art in the world.  It also hosts YAP(Young Architect Program) each summer where emerging architects compete to do an installation in PS1's courtyard.

One of the piece from the project I have already blogged so I won't go into it.  You can read it here.   The piece (that is available for purchase) I like the best is Untitled (Rainbow) by Peter Coffin.  This is what MOMA said in the description of this art piece:

For this project, Coffin presents a seemingly ordinary photo album, which, when opened, expands into a constellation of found photographs linked by the image of a rainbow that spirals through each scene. In the spirit of iconic works by Robert Smithson, Vladimir Tatlin, Bruce Nauman, and Mario Merz, the spiral is a link to an infinity beyond our reach and serves as a symbol of the creative process.

All the available pieces can be found on MOMA's own website. Prices range from $50-$750 for none members and MOMA members get 20% off.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hermes Ashtray without the ash

I don't know too many people smoke these days.  I, for one, have never picked up a cigarette before; just not my thing.  However, I am definitely for anyone acquiring an exquisite Hermes Ashtrays or two!  It's really one of those versatile small "tray" one can have.  Mine actually act as a catch-all; wallets, keychain, cellphone, etc.  It really is the perfect bedside tray.  In addition, they work perfectly in a closet as a earrings dumping or cufflinks tossing holder.  Please be careful if you are not buying these porcelain ashtrays from Hermes boutique as I have seen fake ones before.  I'm not sure if there is a way to authenticate these ashtrays so if you know how, I would love to hear from you!  In the mean time, go get them from Hermes.  That's your safest bet! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A George II parcel-gilt Dumfries Bookcase

This magnificent bookcase, a masterpiece of rococo design and cabinet-making, emanated from the St Martin's Lane workshop of the greatest of British cabinet-makers, Thomas Chippendale. Crafted in the fashionable mid-18th century French or 'Modern' style adopted by Chippendale in his furniture patterns published in his Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director (1754), this cabinet exemplifies Chippendale's mastery of furniture making at its best.

This bookcase is actually multi-purpose.  It is a china cabinet, dressing table, clothes press and chest of drawers all in one.  Talk about efficiency!  It is originally commissioned for the Lady Dumfries' Bedroom.  Yes.  They put this magnificent piece of furniture in the bedroom....  you must be wondering why?  Well, in 18th century, it is actually the custom to receive guests in your bedroom.  Hence you always put the best piece of furniture and art in your bedroom!

In the summer of 2007, Christie's auction house was to auction off all the content of the Dumfries House (designed by famed Scottish neoclassical architect Robert Adam).  This collection, in Ayrshire, Scotland, is particular important in English furniture pantheon because it contains the only fully documented works of art dating from Chippendale’s illustrious Director Period.  Luckily the estate and its entire contents was purchased for £45m in the last minute by a consortium headed by Charles, Prince of Wales.  The intention was to renovate the estate to become self-sufficient, both to preserve it and regenerate the local economy.  The house is now open for tour and parts of the mansion can be rented out for weddings, conferences, banquets, etc..  I would definitely love to have dinner in one of the 18th century dining room anytime!  Someday!  Next time when you are in Scotland, don't forget to go visit this beautiful manor.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Fashion Sales

I normally don't publish two blogs in one day but today is a special day: black Friday!!

I think the economy is getting better and top department stores know it.  That's why if you check on Saks, Neiman, Barney's websites, all the top brands (Balmain, Lanvin, Moncler, etc.) for this fall/winter 2012/13 season had not gone on sale yet.  But fear not because I have browse through various websites and found you places where top designers have already gone on sale (30-50% off).  Do follow me on twitter as I will tweet the website address as goodies go on sale.



This famous Parisian store is having 50% off sale on most of the top brands today ONLY (most likely Paris time).  Even with $30 international shipping cost, you are likely to save more than wait for Neiman Marcus to go on sale (which is typically 33% off for the first call).  Please note you will save money on the VAT but often when the item comes into US, you will be charge import tax which negates any savings you got from VAT.  Although sometimes I found shoes don't get tax.  I'm not sure why.


This Canadian boutique is putting just about everything on sale at 20-30% off.  Free shipping too.  So for those of you looking for a puffy Moncler winter coat, you can get your discount now instead of waiting till the bitter end before places like Barney's New York or Saks FINALLY put them on sale in January.

Aloha Rag

This Hawaiian company (they also have a store in NYC) slashes most of its stuff up to 40% off already.  You are not going to find Ann Demeulemeester or Balmain for the current season at 40% off right now in any US store besides Aloha Rag.

Again, don't forget to follow me on twitter.  I'll tweet the sales from my account from now on as it's much faster to tweet than to blog the info.  :-)

圓明園 Yuan Ming Yuan Zodiac Fountain

Yuan Ming Yuan imperial garden in Beijng was constructed in Qing Dynasty in 1700s.  Much of the design was done by Jesuit missionary Giuseppe Castiglione.  The garden featured a mixture of traditional Chinese and French baroque architecture.  One of the featured section of the garden is the Zodiac fountain.  There are a total of 12 zodiac statues representing Chinese horary cycle.  Each statue is carved of stone with human body and clothes but with bronze animal head.  The animals are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.  This is the exact same sequence for animal representing Chinese years.  Each would spout water for two hours.  Unfortunately during the second opium war, the imperial garden was sacked by Lord Elgin's (the one who "borrow" the Elgin marbles from the Parthenon) troops and the French.  The 865 acre garden was burned to the ground.  Valuables such as the bronze zodiac fountain heads were looted and taken out of China.

The bronze statue heads do come up for auction from time to time at Christie's and Sotheby's.  The last two, rat and rabbit, came up for auction at Christie's few years ago to the dismay of Chinese government.  China feels because these are looted items, they should be returned to China without Chinese government buying them back (although they more of less did so for the other five that they currently have).  A known Chinese dealer bid for the heads at the fame YSL/ Pierre Berge sale at Christie's but refuse to pay afterward as a form of protest.  I would love to have one of these bronze heads as an interior decoration; kinda like when people put carved Greek marble heads on commodes although I do recognize that this particular set of bronze head is quite important to China culturally.  I think the best thing would be either reunite all the bronze heads or at least have them in various museums throughout the world so people can see them.  Surprisingly they are not in any museum collections except the ones in China.     

Here's the status of all 12 bronze heads:

Rat: Collection of Pierre Berge & YSL
Ox: Purchase for/by Chinese government
Tiger: Purchase for/by Chinese government
Rabbit: Collection of Pierre Berge & YSL
Dragon: MIA
Snake: MIA
Horse: Purchase for/by Chinese government
Sheep: MIA
Monkey: Purchase for/by Chinese government
Rooster: MIA
Dog: MIA
Pig: Purchase for/by Chinese government

I was at a movie theater recently and saw the commercial for CZ12 (Chinese Zodiac) by Jackie Chan.  I had no idea he is coming out with a movie on these bronze heads!  I'm sure with this movie, the bronze heads that Pierre Berge & YSL own will get even more famous/infamous.  I would not be surprised that they have already been (or soon will be) bought by some Chinese businessmen and repatriated them back to Chinese government.  Which leaves one to questions where are the other 5 bronze heads?  Probably hidden deep in some European aristocrats' attics waiting to be discovered...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Raffle: Free Trina Turk Avenida Maze Pillow!

 Dear readers,

Happy thanksgiving.  I greatly appreciate you signing up as a member to this newly started blog.  To celebrate this wonderful holiday, I've decided to move up the raffle and change the prize.  Instead of waiting till we reach the 50 members threshold, I will have a draw a week from now.  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). 

The prize gotten better too!  So I'm giving away a Trina Turk Avenida Maze pillow.  Pillow measures 26″W x 14″H (so it's quite large)!  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 21, 2012

Fornasetti Tray

I got my holiday catalog from Barney's New York today and I browsed quickly through everything.  Of course there were tons and tons of stuff that I liked but one thing that definitely caught my eyes was the Fornasetti face and stripe tray.  It's almost kinda Paul Smith meets Fornasetti!  The rainbow color stripes looks super festive during the holidays and of course the signature Fornasetti face (of Lina Cavalieri, who's an Italian operatic soprano) behind the stripes makes you wonder why she's hiding behind the stripes?

Piero Fornasetti was born in 1913 and died in 1988.  He's an interior decorator, engraver, painter, and a sculptor.  He's known for the motif of Lina Cavalieri's face.  He moved to Switzerland during World War II and created tens of thousands of items featuring Lina's face, sun, and time.  He created items from umbrella stands, to chest of drawers.  There is actually a secondary market for vintage Fornasetti.  And of course like everything that is fabulous, there is also forge Fornasetti too so collectors need to be aware and always buy from trust worthy sources.  And one of those trust worthy sources for new genuine Fornasetti is Barney's New York!    

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Yayoi Kusama Mug

For those of you pass by a Louis Vuitton store recently, I'm sure you saw those crazy polka dot things in the display windows be it a purse, a wallet, etc..  If you don't know what it is about, it's another Louis Vuitton collaboration with an accomplished artist.  This time the artist's name is Yayoi Kusama.

Yayoi Kusama is an avant garde artist who worked in several mediums: collage, sculpture, environmental installations, painting, and performance art.  She had exhibited with Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg in the early 1960s.  While Yayoi has been associated with various movements, she's classified as a pop artist like Warhol.  She's mostly known as the polka dot artist who obsessively paints lots of polka dot.  Her work has been exhibited at MOMA, Tate Modern, and Whitney Museum.

This particular mug is typical of her work...  tentacles composed of polka dots!  It's a fantastic gift for an art lover who has everything.  The mug can be purchased at Gagosian gallery.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Snake Wedge Derby by Lanvin

I'm in love.......with Lanvin's SS2013 Snake Wedge Derby!!!  I just love the detailing on this pair of shoes.  The sole definitely add some height to any one so unless you are a basketball player, this is a good news.  I also like the snake wedge that Lanvin snuck in at the heel.  Somehow with that extra wedge, Lucas Ossendrijver made this derby looks like it's on double soles.  Just brilliant!  These pair of derby is available now at Lanvin's own website.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wii U Console from Nintendo

If you are looking for a fantastic gift for your kids, then look no further than Wii U.  It's a brand new video game console from Nintendo debuting today.  It's going to be one of those Christmas gifts that your kids will be begging for so don't forget to stop by Bestbuy, Sears, Gamestop, ToysRus, Target, or Walmart before they are all sold out!  The system comes in two configurations: white and black.  The white one is the basic system.  Black one has one extra game and more memory but also costs $50 more.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Luxury bed linen from Frette

I'm a big fan of sleeping on great looking soft sheets.  One of my favorite brand is Frette.  Truth of the matter is once you slept on a Frette sheet (the real ones not the cheaper hotel version), you'll never go back to your other sheets again (unless it's Pratesi.  But that's another post!  LOL.)  The sheets are just so soft and luxurious!  I can lay in them all day long.

Frette, an Italian textile company that was established in 1860, was founded in Grenoble, France.  This luxury linen company relocated to Concorezzo, Italy in 1865 and then to Monza, Italy.  Today, it not only sell to retail consumers, but it also provide sheets for top hotels such as Hotel George V in Paris, Savoy Hotel in London, Plaza hotel in New York, and the Peninsula in Hong Kong, etc.

One of my favorite classic line from Frette is Bicolore.  It's just a nice and simple design.  Lots of color combinations to choose from. Currently they are on sale at 40% off.  Nothing is better than buying luxury bedsheets at a good discount!


Forgot to add enter promo code GIFTS12 to get additional 15% off! (valid till 12/12/12)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Martin Margiela for H&M in person

Well, I made it to H&M to see the fuss!  LOL.  Most of men's sports jackets were 44s.  A bit too big for me. I did finally find couple size 40s in camel and in navy blue color.  They are nice.  Fit like a "real" Margiela that I tried on few month ago from Mr. Porter.  I would have liked to get the gray ones; they feel a bit thicker....  Oh well.  These sports coats are made in Romania. The white painted jeans were selling like hotcakes.  All that were left were the 29s and 30s which is too small for me.  I didn't check the red ones because I can't see myself wearing that color much.  The reversible coat was interesting.  The suede part of the shearling coat was actually good quality.  But the shearling part just keeps on shedding.  It got all over the other Margiela sports jacket I was trying on.   The coat is fairly hefty.  I tried on the small because they had either large or small and large was too big.  Small fit fine if I wore a t-shirt underneath.  I like the coat but San Francisco is usually not cold enough to warrant such a thick one.  If I get it, it'll ended up sitting in my closet collect dust.  I did turn it inside out and it's fine the other way around if you remove the Margiela tag, resew the buttons to outside, and if you don't mind no exterior pockets.  The high top sneakers were also a hit.  By the time I got in, the red color ones were MIA.  I did get a pair of white ones in my size which I was happy with.  They had tons of fanny pack and guitar bag.  Not sure if those will fly since they are not super cheap and very specific.  I did get a faceless watch bracelet.  I'll probably return it later.  The hangers were quite nice; they were made with real wood.  Because of San Francisco ordinance, they charged me ten cents for every bag I got from H&M including dust jacket for the camel sports coat.  Lame!  Did you get everything you wanted?

Here's a quick update on the H&M Margiela collection.  I went back today.  The place where they held all Margiela stuff have been taken down.  The ladies' stuff were relegated near the escalator and men's stuff were on the right side of the entrance.   I was curious if men's stuff went on sale (as I've read that ladies stuff went on sale last night).  I wasn't disappointed, I spotted the shearling coat for $199.  Apparently SF H&M decided to go half off on the coat before a week is up.  Feel bad for the people who purchased it at full price but lucky me!  Now I have a nice suede shearling coat for a little over $200.  A very good price if you ask me.  Other Margiela stuff for men were not on sale.  One of the sales told me the large fanny pack is on sale.  I didn't bother to look for them since I wasn't a fan of them in the first place.  Later, I read online that some of the shoes also went on sale.  I got my high tops and since they are all sold out everywhere, I doubt those were the men's shoes that went on sale.  There were few more items for the ladies that went on sale.  Black and Blue colorwave horizontal dress went on sale.  They were marked down from $199 to $99.  The suede jacket was marked down to $149 from $299.  The brown upside down leather bag was marked down from $299 to $149.  Apparently the car seat leather dress was marked down from $349 to $49!!!  But I didn't see any in person.  Currently not all stores that carry Margiela for H&M went on sale... only selected few and within those selected few, seems like the exact same item went on sale for the exact same price.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Raffling soon.....Richart's Micromacs

One of the shop I missed the most in San Francisco is Richart.  They used to in the Union Square district, the main shopping district in San Francisco.  I guess maybe they didn't do so well or perhaps landlord increased the rent so much that they decided to close the store down few years ago.  Ever since, one can only get their goods through online.  It's really such a shame because aesthetically speaking, Richart has one of the best presentation for chocolate truffles.  I just love the smallness of the size.  I call each piece a perfect bite.  In terms of taste, this chocolatier gives you seven sophisticated varieties...balsam, roasted, fruity, citrus, floral, spicy, and herbal.

Richart was created in 1925 in Lyon, France, by Maitre Chocolatier Joseph Richart.  The company today is managed by the 3rd generation of the Richart family.  They continue to produce innovative exciting products.  One of the latest offering is micromacs.  It's basically petite macaroons.  The flavors available are: Raspberry / Blackberry, Salted Butter Caramel, Vanilla from Madagascar, Blackcurrant, 82% cocoa from the Dominican Republic, 82% cocoa from Madagascar, Pistachio, Apricot / Almond, Mango / Passion Fruit, Roasted Hazelnut, Roasted Almond, Milk Chocolate, Blood Orange / Lemon, Grapefruit / Rose, and Almond / Arabica Coffee.  They can be purchased here.

Or I will be raffling off a box of Richart's micromacs when the member count for this website reaches 50!  We are almost there!  Please have your friends and family sign up because you know you want to try a box of free micromacs!!!  :-)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lucien Pellat Finet

Sometimes people ask me what are my favorite cashmere sweater brands.  I always tell them Lucien Pellat Finet, Malo, Loro Piana, Clements Ribeiro.  But if I had to pick just one, then LPF it is.  He's the king of cashmere sweaters.  I remember the first time LPF caught my eyes because the sweater I saw was studded!  I thought it was a bit too glitzy.  Nonetheless, it got me intrigued.  I mean one sees studded ladies' sweaters all the time but seldom men's.

Of course these days, LPF no longer sell studded men's sweater.  Instead, he keeps it clean....just pop color cashmere sweaters.  He uses the highest grade cashmere there is.  Yes, there is different grades of cashmere.  You know the one you get from Charter Club at Macy's, it pills up easily... well, it is because the cashmere they use isn't exactly top of the line.  The ones from LPF....what's pilling again?  His cashmere sweaters often can be read in different ways.  For example, this particular one can be read as a skull or it can be read as some kind of family crest.  One thing is for sure, his sweaters are always fun, quirky, and luxurious.  You can find some of his stuff at Aloharag.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Puiforcat's Normandie

This is one of my favorite silverware design.  This particular set was designed specially for the first-class tables of the Normandie cruise ship in 1934 by Jean Puiforcat.  I just love the clean line of these flatware.  Fortunately these are still available for purchase at Bergdorf Goodman and Hermes.

SS Normandie, named after French province Normandie, was an ocean liner built by Compagnie Genereale Transatlantique (CGT) in 1935.  She was the largest and fastest passenger ship at that time.  Because of the speed, lavish interiors, and great design, many considered it as the greatest of ocean liners.  It carried many luminaries such as Marlene Dietrich, Carry Grant, Salvador Dali, Josephine Baker, and Ernest Hemingway to name a few , during its years of service.  During World World II, she was seized by US authorities at New York and converted into a troopship.  Unfortunately during conversion, she caught fire and sank to the bottom of the Hudson River.

The interior of SS Normandie is by far the most lavish interior ever done for an ocean liner.  Almost every single top Art Deco designers had their hands on Normandie; Rene Lalique did the lighting, Jean Puiforcat did the silverware,  églomisé mural panels were by Jean Dupas, and one of a kind veneer baby grand piano designed by Louis Sue (of Sue et Mare).  The list goes on and on.  Luckily before SS Normandie went down in New York harbor, many items were salvaged.  They are very collectible these days; one can buy a poster of SS Normandie on Ebay or bid on one of the églomisé mural panels were by Jean Dupas at Christie's auction house.   


Monday, November 12, 2012

Uniqlo + Theory

No doubt some of you are anticipating going on on November 15 or to the physical Uniqlo store itself to purchase these limited edition puffer jackets/vests for yourself and your love ones.  Uniqlo has only release few looks for the ladies.  What about men, children, and infants?  Well, here it is.  Here's an advanced link to Theory's website for purchasing t-down products.

Men and Boy:


Toddlers (which I think is the most adorable thing in this whole collection!):

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wayne Thiebaud's Down Penn Street

This oil painting, by one of my favorite artist Wayne Thiebaud, was painted in 1978.  Of course Wayne is known for his pop subject such as cakes, lollipops, and gumball machines but I think his San Francisco streetscapes are equally interesting.

I like this particular painting because I find this picture is really more about study of shapes and how they interact and overlap with each other.  It's this juxtaposition of balancing different colors and composition that interests me more than the actual painting of roads, houses, and trees.  His SF streetscape paintings are always a bit disorienting because of the colors, composition, and perspective he uses which I find fascinating.

Thiebaud actually started off as an artist for Disney.  After studying at various universities around SF bay area, he ended up in NYC and befriended with abstract expressionists such as Williem de Kooning and Franz Kline and influenced by Neo-dadaist.  Upon returning to SF Bay area, he continued to paint using pop subjects but now with thick impasto, gestural brushstrokes, and metallic paints.   1962 Sydney Janis Gallery, a blue chip gallery in NYC, officially launched Pop Art, bringing him national recognition and rest is history.  Currently Down Penn Street is being exhibited at Sotheby's and will be auction off on November 14, 2012.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Breuer tea trolley

Everyone have seen a Wassily chair or two, but Marcel Breuer designed a tea trolley?  Yes.  Marcel not only taught at Bauhaus (an art school in Germany that some would call the birthplace of modernism), designed Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC, but he also designed a tea trolley that not many people known about it or seen it.

Marcel Breuer, who's Jewish, was born in Hungary in 1902 and taught at Bauhaus in 1920s.  In 1930s, Marcel fled to London due to rise of Nazi.  After staying in London for a few years, he moved to Boston and taught at Harvard's GSD (graduate school of design).  Philip Johnson and I.M. Pei were some of his more famous students.  Throughout his whole career, he did more than just architecture; Marcel was also a furniture designer who did plenty of innovative furniture designs that are still influential today.

While he was at Bauhaus, he designed the fame Wassily chair in 1925 (same time as the height of Art Deco).  The chair was not designed for Wassily Kandinsky as the name of the chair would suggest.  Wassily saw the prototype and asked Marcel to make him a copy.  When the chair was re-released in 1960s, the manufacturer decided to call the chair Wassily chair upon learning that Kandinsky had one of the prototype.

In about the same, he designed this beautiful streamlined tea trolley.  It's one of those design that can work well in a minimalist environment as well as something more traditional.  It's a perfect alcohol bar in my opinion...great for displaying your collection of rums, gins, and cocktail shakers!    


Friday, November 9, 2012


Not too many people have heard of this brand that makes small leather goods, bags, briefcases & travel pieces.  In fact, the only physical retail outlet in the US for Valextra is Barney's New York so unless you have a BNY in the city you live in, the likelihood of you seeing a Valextra leather goods for sale is slim to none.

I really admire the craftsmanship and understated elegance of Valextra pieces.  There are no big logos, no splashy designs, no celebrity campaigns.  The quality of the pieces speak for themselves.  Every piece of Valextra is handmade to perfection; stamped by its maker and numbered.  The simplicity of the design means hardware, leather, and stitching needs to be spot on.  If you are looking for trendy hand bags, then Valextra is not for you as they produce the same design pretty much year after year with few new ones here and there.

This 75 year old company was founded in Milano on March 21, 1937 by Giovanni Fontana.  He had a very good sense of what was elegant and what sells.  His 24hr travel piece was awarded Compasso d'Oro Prize (the oldest industrial designing award of Europe and one of the greatest honors of industrial designing in the world) in 1954.  He also hired famed A.G. Fronzoni (graphic designer and architect who's work is collected in MOMA's permanent collection) to design several pieces for the company including my favorite Premier attache case.  Not only they sell leather goods, they also can make one of the kind pieces for you.  Maria Callas wanted a hippopotamus leather hat box?  Done!  An order of complete set of fourteen elephant skin cabinet trunks and luggage for Emir of Kuwait?  Completed!          

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jonathan Adler Seahorse Lamp

I have been a fan of Jonathan Adler's pottery since I saw his wares at Barney's New York in early 1990s.  I always thought his stuff are witty and stylish at the same time.  Not sure if he got his break at Barney's because his bf worked at Barney's window dressing department, or if he got into the Chelsea Passage (Barney's home department) on his own merit.  Either way, I'm glad he was discovered because the world of interiors can certainly use a dash of Jonathan Adler.

Some of my favorite pieces by Jonathan Adler are his lamps; specifically his animal lamps.  I remember the first time I saw the giraffe lamp I thought to myself "if I have thought of designing a giraffe lamp, that's exactly how I would execute it."  The head as a finial of a lamp was just brilliant.  Although I would have to say depending on the animal, this particular collection of lamps can verge on children's room theme (which isn't bad... just limited).

One of the more versatile lamp within this collection is the seahorse lamp.  I can see this lamp being prominently displayed at a beach house or a beach house theme home.  The polished nickel base adds a bit of reflective quality and elegance to an interior space.  I can see a pair of these going behind a sofa on a sofa table or on a foyer table near front door.  And best of all is I have a 20% off coupon for you!  Between November 9-11, enter FF2012 when checking out to receive the discount on his website.   

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jin Patisserie

I'm sad to say that Jin Patisserie will be moving in January.  The owner, Kristy, still doesn't know where she's moving to.  Landlord of her current place has jacked up the rent so she had no choice but to move.  So if you are in Venice, CA, do go to her lovely retail outlet and have a cup of tea and dessert in the garden.  It may be awhile before Kristy finds another store front.

Kristy Choo, a former flight attendant, received her culinary education at California Culinary academy in San Francisco.  In 2003, this Singaporean transplant found her home in Southern California and opened her shop on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.  You not only be able to buy chocolates and macaroons at her patisserie, but you can also get sandwiches and teas too.  It's a perfect combination for a place to repose after leisurely shopping on Abbot Kinney.

There are too many favorites to mention but I have to say her chocolate cake is absolutely divine; smokey and smooth.  She also specializes in miniature cakes.  They are to die for.... just amazingly cute!!!  So you have about two more months before she closes.  Hurry and go before this lovely patisserie closes its doors. You can also order her stuff online.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Balenciaga says goodbye to Nicolas Ghesquière

Lots of fashion news these days...  The designer who brought you the famous Balenciaga motorcycle-inspired handbags has parted ways with French conglomerate PPR owned by Mr. François-Henri Pinault.  Nicolas Ghesquière, has been with Balenciaga forever.  He started at Balenciaga doing the licensing and designing for the Asian market.  Pretty soon, after Balenciaga firing of his predecessor, Josephus Thimister, he became its creative director in 1997.  The brand took off and Balenciaga became a critically acclaimed fashion house under Nicolas.  In 2001, he won Womenswear Designer of the Year by the CFDA.  In the same year, The PPR bought Balenciaga.

It was a happy marriage until.. the rumor has it..... Bernard Arnault, owner of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the archrival of PPR, is poaching (or in this case, perhaps poached already) Nicholas. Mr. Ghesquière has been offered a house under his own name.  Now what fashion designer wouldn't want a label of his/her own?  When he designed for Balenciaga, he had to always reference back to the brand's haydays of 1950s.  Now, he can do whatever he wants.  I can't wait to see what he comes up with.  In the mean time, SS 2013 is his last season at Balenciaga.... you might want to stock up if you jive with his designs.

I really like Ghesquière's style.  His clothes are very avant-garde without being unwearable.  This black jacket at first glance looks like a typical clean cut jacket.  However, upon close examination, there is actually no arm seams as a typical jacket would have.  The details are all very subtle.  I think it's a good medium between very commercial brands like Michael Kors and super avant-garde clothes that Lady Gaga would wear to events.


The news now is that Alexander Wang will head the house of Balenciaga.   It's very exciting and I think it could be a good fit.  We actually went to the same school (not the same year though): Harker School.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gyorgy porcelain cut series lamp

This is one of those lamp I said to myself why didn't I think of it!  I like the idea of a lamp with multiple rings that settled on top of each other.  The odd thing about this lamp is that I feel it has a lot of movement to it.  Almost like a slinky in action and before the it can settle, someone captured a quick photograph of it.  At the same time, it feels like it's a night light (ie calming).  Almost like one of those light you turn on to create a romantic mood in your bedroom or you put it on a patio table when you are hanging outside with friends.... like a votive of some sort.

This is what the artist said about her gyorgy lamp:

My aim is to create lights that express the rhythms of life. I search for new forms through deconstructing old ones. That creates a shadow play with positive and negative shapes and different planes that I find very fascinating. The light opens up the inside of the form.
Respecting the nature of clay, I respond to the form by rearranging the spirals and marvel at the collaboration that transpires when the work is consecrated to the fire.
I choose smooth white porcelain and translucent porcelain and a potter’s wheel to make the initial form. The form is cut with a sharp knife and I rearrange its elements, thinking of the pyroplastic qualities of porcelain in the high firing and in the black firing.

Szilvia not only does pottery, but also silver jewelry as well.  All her work seems to have kinetic energy.   Gyorgy lamp can be ordered here.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Marc Newson Voronoi Bookcase

This is probably the weightiest bookcase you will ever seen in your life!  LOL.  This white carrara marble shelf, sold by Gagosian gallery, is designed by famed industrial designer Marc Newson.  But just in case you don't know who Marc Newson is, he's the guy who made the Lockheed Lounge that Madonna sat on in her music video "Rain" in 1993.

This is what Marc Newson had to say about his process of creating this bookcase/ sculpture:

Sometimes I start with the material, sometimes the idea. In this case the materials were the inspiration. I began by identifying materials that I had always been interested in but had never used. Often the context of materials strikes me more than the materials themselves. Context is new, not materials.

Marc Andrew Newson was born in Sydney Australia in 1963.  Having lived in various countries, now he reside permanently in London.  He's a well known industrial designer who have done aircraft design, product design, furniture design, jewellery, and clothing. He is mostly known for biomorphism design.  The most well known of his biomorphism design of his is the Lockheed Lounge which there are 10 in existence plus 4 artist proofs.  One was sold at auction in 2010 for over $2.1M.  Taschen recently published a catalogue/book of all his work (up to 2012).  Again, even the price of the book is not for the fainted heart.   

I really like this piece of functional sculpture; it can stand alone as a piece of sculpture or it can be utilized as a shelf.  I have always like white carrara marble on almost anything so this is right up my alley.  I can totally see this piece dividing up a living room and dining room space in a soho loft.  Using Zoeism: It's ba-na-nas!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saint Laurent Paris

Well, the Yves part got dropped and Paris was added.  That's how Hedi Slimane likes it.  Some people called it heresy, some called it daring, and many wondered what's that about?  However you put it, Hedi is in charge and he intends to made sure everyone in the fashion industry knows about it.

Karl Lagerfeld lost about 90 pounds so he would fit into one of Slimanes esteemed Dior Homme suit.  When someone like Karl, who's taste level is obviously quite high, deemed Hedi's suits are coveted enough for him to slim down that much, you know Slimanes is up to something great.

Spring/Summer 2013 is Slimane's first collection for YSL (minus the Y) since his return to the esteemed house.  He was actually the men's creative director for YSL from 1996-2001 but left to head Dior Homme.  He stayed until 2007 when he decided to leave on his own accord.  He moved to Los Angeles in 2007 and curated art shows and exhibited his own photography (at MOCA).  In 2012, he was lured back to YSL because they promised him total control of the brand which he decided to drop the Y in YSL and move the creative studio from Paris to Los Angeles.

I have been a fan of his Dior Homme clothes forever.  I'm cannot wait to try on SLP pieces!  I'm sooooo excited!!!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sevres Pot-pourri vase

Sevres porcelain was originally called Vincennes porcelain (in Vincennes) which was founded in 1738.  It found patronage by Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour in 1740 and moved to Sevres in 1756 and changed its name to Sevres.  In 1759, Louis XV bought the enterprise outright.

To some people, these pot-pourri vases may seem like a fussy relic of the past.  But if one know how difficult and time consuming it was to make these pot-pourri vases, one probably would not incline to dismiss them so quickly.  A typical 18th century soft paste porcelain of this caliber is very difficult to make because electric kilns were not available.  To judge the temperature inside of a kiln, a kiln master needed to eye ball color of the fire and to decide when to put in pots and when to take them out.  And of course mother nature was not predictable then(and still isn't now).  So when it rained, they needed to add more firewood into the kiln to make the kiln hotter.  Or when weather was hot, maybe not burned so much wood.  In addition to that humidity and wind also effected temperature inside of a kiln.  So for a piece of porcelain to go in and out of a kiln in 18th century and be able to come out whole (not wilted, exploded, or sagged) was often counted as a miracle.  And if you wanted to add color, that added more risk.  If any of you have painted a pottery at your local art shop, you know if you paint a certain red the shade of red will be different from the one you painted after firing.  Well, it was like that in 18th century too.  In addition, each color fired at different temperature.  So anytime you see a piece of 18th century porcelain with various colors on it, that meant it had gone in and out of a kiln multiple times.  And like I said before each time a piece went into a kiln, there was a possibility of breakage due to unpredictability of weather; hence each piece of polychrome porcelain came out of a kiln in 18th century was almost a little small miracle.        

This particular model is the rarest of all Sevres models because the multiple piercings in the body weakened the overall structure.  This means not only they have to take into consideration of weather, but they also tend to collapse in the kiln due to weight.  There were only 12 made out "alive" from the kiln in 18th century and only 10 are known today.  Queen of England has one.  Waddesdon Manor (of Rothchild) has three! Wallace collection in London has one.  Louvre has one.  And rest of the four are in US collections: the Met, the Frick, the Getty, and the Walters Museum.   

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Blossom Mirror from Baker

This mirror, designed by Thomas Pheasant for Baker, is currently one of my favorite mirror.  I really like the pentagons clustered around the convex mirror.  They almost look like little bubbles coming out of the mirror.  And on top of the pentagon clusters, blings are attached.  These blings are like diamonds fracturing light.  They definitely gives this mirror an extra "umph"!

This is the description on Baker's own website:

Loosely inspired by a kimono with cherry blossoms rendered in an Art Deco manner, Thomas Pheasant views the Blossom Mirror as one of those rare but riveting objects that finish a room. The mirror has a textured banding immediately around it. A much larger and more dramatic, but still somewhat organic, Bronze frame requires more than 100 welds to secure a sculpture consisting of five-sided flowers. A total of 18 crystal blossoms, in two sizes, are then positioned for dimensional effect. The resulting play of shadow, light, and prismatic rainbow rustles against the wall. The mirror is convex, and the surrounding rim has an organic texture.

Thomas Pheasant, based in Washington DC, started his interior design practice in 1980 so he definitely know how to design a thing or two.  His interiors are what I would term clean American traditional interior.  You will never get a stuffy grandma interior from him.  His style tends to be light and airy.  In 1997, he won the Andrew Martin International Designer of the year award which is the highest honor an interior designer can receive.  In 2005, he was named as one of the American design dean by Architectural Digest.