The most fabulous example of a hotel combining drama, surprise, luxury and comfort is hiding in the heart of the historical, artistic and night-club haven of Montmartre in Paris. Opened in June 2007, the restored aristocratic mansion The Hotel Particulier de Montmartre has definitely decided to grow up. The two masterminds behind the project are Morgane Rousseau and Frederic Comtet who with the help of Mathieu Paillard have managed to mix art and comfort brilliantly in their unusual hotel.
The owners commissioned well known artists, designers, sculptors and architects to create an intimate five-room enclave of exceptional atmosphere and charm.
One of the distinctive rooms is the 'vegetable room' designed by New York-born, Paris-based contemporary artist Martine Aballca. With her interpretation, she wishes to evoke hanging gardens, trees and the play of sunlight and shadow. The other artists involved in creating one of the compact private suites are photo artist Natacha Lesueur (room theme: Curtain of hair), painter Philippe Mayaux (Window), fashion and textile curator Olivier Saillard (Poems and hats) and illustrator and creative director Pierre Fichefeux (Tree with ears).
Finland-born Mats Haglund of Chanel, Colette and Paul & Joe boutique fame, created the private living room. He used the personality of the proprietors as his starting point and furnished the salon with originals of classics by Arne Jacobsen, Mies van der Rohe and Alvar Aalto.
From every window, residents can view the luscious and intimate garden created by Louis Banech, one of the landscape designers responsible for revitalizing the world-renown Tuileries Gardens.
With that much artistic and design cache, The Hotel Particulier de Montmartre will not have difficulty attracting a clientele. But to get there, you must leave the nightclubs of Montmartre, start thinking like former Montmartre residents Salvador Dali, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh, and locate the secret alleyway between l'avenue Junot and la rue Lepic. Continue to the Sorcerer's Stone and pray that the iron gates will open for you. By Tuija Seipell
Underwater scooters? Sounds a bit like James Bond-meets-Finding Nemo. But despite its name, this Scuba Doo is no cartoon. The brainchild of Aussie scuba-diving specialists ScubaDoo International, the funky ScubaDoo will revolutionise scuba diving as it slips coolly beneath the waves from a launching pad, allowing the rider to cruise the reef at a speed of 2.5 knots without tanks, weights or mask, and with head and shoulders dry and safe in a clear, fitted dome. The secret to the ScubaDoo's easy mobility is an external compressor, attached to the scooter by a cable which floats above the scooter on the ocean surface. At A$22,700 (US$17,000 approx) it' not a cheap thrill, but expect diving centres and hire operators to charge approx. $130 for a 15-minute scoot through the depths. - Lisa Evans
While it may look like an optical illusion from the outside, this housing block in Izola on the Slovenian coast offers bona fide affordable options for many young families. The team of Ofis Arhitekti won a national design competition for their design of two apartment buildings each containing 30 units of varying size ranging from studios to three-bedrooms.
Internal spaces may be small, however the unique trapezoidal-shaped balconies accentuate external perspectives and views directly to the sea. Structural elements are located externally as well thereby allowing more spacious living areas while taking advantage of the limited area of each unit and helping to keep the square metre cost low.
Ofis wrapped sunshades in the form of colourful canvas awnings around the blocks balconies. These defining features provide ample external space for each unit, while innovative side paneling allows for both privacy and ventilation. From within, the canvas panels create unique environments in individual apartments. Each coastal-facing apartment is thereby effortlessly adapted to Slovenia' Mediterranean climate. By Andrew Wiener
Do & Co Hotel is located in Vienna's District 1, on the pedestrian-only Stephansplatz, right in the middle of the most historic part of this mindbogglingly historic city. The hotel of 41 luxurious rooms and two suites opened in May on the sixth floor of the famous, glass-walled Haas Haus building, but it is the view that really takes your breath away. What you see from the Haus is a straight-on, full-size, real-life panorama of St. Stephen's Cathedral -- Stephansdom -- that has defined Vienna since 1147 AD. It is the sound of this Cathedral's massive Pummerin (big bell) that announces the official arrival of the New Year in Austria.
The original Haas Haus building was a furniture and interior decor store, Philipp Haas & Sons. Several reconstructions later, the grand-daddy of modern Austrian architecture, Pritzker prize winner Hans Hollein, designed the current glass-steel-concrete structure. It opened in 1990 with notable disapproval by traditionalists. Hollein was also behind the latest upgrade that included the Do & Co hotel.
Do & Co, the hotel's holding company, is known worldwide for its first-class airline and event catering business and its Do & Co Restaurants and Cafes. In the Haas Haus, it operates also Vienna's hot spot, the ONYX Bar (pictured above) on the 6th floor, and Do & Co Restaurant (7th floor), plus luxurious event space on the 8th and 9th floors with amazing views over Vienna.
The heritage of the company's Istanbul-born founder and majority shareholder, Attila Dogudan, is reflected in the colorful touches interspersed in the Do & Co hotel interior by Amsterdam-based FG Stijl. The firm's partners, British Colin Finnegan and Dutch Gerard Glintmeijer, have managed to unite Dogudan's Turkish heritage and Vienna's prissy past with understated modern luxury. Your room will come equipped with Kilim bedspreads, chocolates from Viennese confectionary institution Demel (also owned by Do & Co), and a Bang & Olufsen flat screen TV. By Tuija Seipell
Matthew Williamson was called 'the king of bling' by the Sydney Morning Herald for a reason.
Since his London debut in 1996, one thing has remained constant: Williamson's models will sparkle. His 2003 spring collection saw gold-sequined blouses and brocade jackets, while the fall of 2005 line had shiny velvets and satins and the fall of 2006 featured shimmering gold and silver jumpers, to name a few.
The trend continued most recently during February's New York Fashion Week. Williamson paraded his traditional flashy jewel-hued mini minis and doll-sized dresses - but this year there was also a noticeable smattering of fashions to file under - the bigger the better. Models processed down the runway in gaping shorts and trousers that were paper-bag-synched at the waist, as well as tent-sized sparkly muumuus and necklaces boasting fist-sized shell pendants. The most innovative of these enormous fashions could be credited to the pioneering of jewellery designer Scott Wilson.
Wilson and Williamson are both decorated alumni from the UK's finest art institutions. Wilson studied jewellery design at Middlesex Polytechnic and millinery at the Royal College of Art while Williamson began his career at star-spangled Central St. Martins. Both designers earned coveted fashion positions early in their careers. Immediately after graduation Williamson began working for Marni, while Wilson earned employment with Karl Lagerfeld as an undergrad. Williamson eventually went on to launch his own successful eponymous line. On the other hand, Wilson has garnered much of his renown through his collaborative efforts with showstoppers Burberry, Rifat Ozbek and Hussein Chalayan in particular ï¿½ though he continues to maintain his own jewellery line. As Wilson explained to the International Herald Tribune, 'One-off pieces are the ultimate expression of my work, but they can be very time-consuming.'
In their collaboration, Wilson clearly embraced Williamson's predilection for shine with his jewelled bracelets, which are evocative of bedazzled bocce balls. The enormous bangles were seen on the lanky limbs of Hilary Rochas and Maryna Linchuk during Matthew Williamson's parade of jewel-colored frocks at New York Fashion Week in February. According to Fashion Wire Daily, Wilson's 'sequined bracelets [were] a deft accessory addition to a collection that underlined how British designers stint showing in America has helped him mature into a producer of highly wearable, yet always hip, clothes.'
The funky though undeniably glamorous bracelets have most recently been spotted cuffing the delicate wrists of Mischa Barton on the cover of UK Elle. The bracelets are custom-made, and available to the most audacious of luxury collectors for a mere $900 each. Contact the creator himself at (TK Scott Wilson's email address). By L. Harper
Retro video game iconic heroes have been making a come back for some time now. From T-shirts through to shoes, we have seen the likes of Mario, Donkey Kong and dare we say their rival, Sega's Sonic The Hedgehog plastering their pixelated faces all over some funky wears.
Hot on the heels of this fad, gaming giant Nintendo have promoted their latest baby Wii in Italy with this interesting wall display created by a series of posted notes. Behind each not lies a message inviting the recipient to relive the 80's through some classic games available on Wii. The post it notes make a nice 3D representation of a 2D pixel. Cute. By Andy G
If decidedly unfashionable cuckoo clocks, Tyrolean kitsch and yodeling form your memories of Austria, update your impressions next time you are in Innsbruck. It is hard to not look up in Innsbruck, the provincial capital of Tyrol, with the Nordkette Mountains hulking all around. But focus a bit lower and zero in on the new Town Hall. The Dominique Perrault-designed building is on the Old Town’s (Altstadt) main artery, the 17th century Maria-Theresien Strasse.
Go up to the rooftop Lichtblick Cafe (also by Perrault) and marvel at the magnificent 360-degree views. The place is fashionable, sleek and definitely void of Alpen-kitsch. The walls are floor-to-ceiling glass and the roof is a translucent membrane allowing daylight through. At night, the entire cafe looks like a large glowing lighting fixture in the sky.
The 54-year-old Perrault is highly regarded for his ability to allow landscapes to be transformed but not interfered by his buildings. His notable upcoming projects include the EWHA Women’s University in Seoul, Korea (2008), the new Mariinski Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia (2009), and the Olympic Tennis Centre in Madrid, Spain (2009). By Tuija Seipell.