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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year! From Bermuda with Love

Finishing off my 2013 trips, I've come to Bermuda for a bit of winter sun.

The architecture here is typically colonial Georgian, but using local materials and techniques and adapted to the subtropical climate. The vernacular has changed very little over the years.  

A very tiny island, I made a trek up to the top of Gibb's Hill Lighthouse where  you can see the whole island at once.  It really puts into perspective all the magnificent cities I've seen this year.

Happy New Year! 

Rat Tar Art Bar, Shanghai

A bit more avant-guard than most of the chic interiors in Shanghai, the Rat Tar Art Bar designed by New York Artist Kris Ruhs was a great place to grab a cup of joe.  You can find it in Jing'an's Reel Mall.

Yu Gardens, Shanghai

I had a bit of a treat when I had a look around Yu Garden.  I think it is actually the oldest building in the city, and it was very beautiful.  I hadn't been to a traditional Chinese garden before, so it was quite an experience! 

Shanghai Design

Two of the design highlights during my brief visit in Shanghai were the IAPM mall and the Puli hotel.   Another great mall by Benoy (sister mall Elements in Kowloon, Hong Kong was also stunning) the shopping centre is beautifully finished.  The shops are pretty similar to those in Hong Kong, but I've never seen a mall which has Prada as an anchor tenant!

The Puli is a great example of traditional Chinese elements being integrated into modern hotel.  I wish I had met the designer, as there were so many questions I would have liked to have asked!  The finishes were layered and there were beautiful Chinese paintings on the walls, and sculptures throughout the lobby and restaurants.  I'll definitely be heading back for more inspiration.

The IAPM Mall's Anchor Tenant, Prada!

Puli Hotel, Shanghai

Monday, 30 December 2013

Shanghai, China

Shanghai is my first foray into mainland China! I am well aware that it was a "soft" introduction, but I still found it fascinatingly different to anywhere I had been before.  Less lux than Hong Kong, still quite dense and extremely busy and from what I saw, there were more parks and they of course have the Bund which a beautiful promenade where you can admire old European colonial buildings to the West, and the trappings of China's economic boom to the East. 

Amongst meetings and visiting some of the city's newest interiors, I sampled some amazing dim sum, explored the old French Concession, and also visited the Urban Planning Museum in the People's Park.  They had a great show on, which was exhibiting the work of an elderly gentleman.  Mr. He Yu Zhi had made a beautiful set of line drawings detailing life in old Shanghai. The drawings were so atmospheric, that when I had a look around the city, I could tell that even though there were towers where there used to be villas, the essence of the city remained. 

Mix of new and old buildings in all areas of the city

Model of sprawling Shanghai at the Urban Planning Museum

Beautiful Exhibition by Mr. He Yu Zhi

Atmospheric sketches by Mr. He Yu Zhi

Beautiful Streets in the former French Concessions

Alley between Houses in the former French Concession

Dim Sum at an official's residence in the former French Concession

Garden Dragon in camouflage 

View from the Fairmont terrace

Macau - Another Galaxy

Macau... words can't describe it!  Having never even been to Las Vegas before, I was totally blown away. Though saying that, from what I have learnt, I would have been blown away regardless!  Passport at the ready, I caught the ferry from Hong Kong to Macau,  went to the Cotai strip (along the Grand Prix race course) and visited 3 casinos.  The City of Dreams, The Venetian and The Galaxy.  Something like one casino here pulls in 3 TIMES the amount of annual takings of the ENTIRE Las Vegas.

There are 3  elements to any casino, a hotel, shops and the Casino itself.  And here, they are all super sized. Pictures can't really explain this, to be honest!

I had the privilege to have an "all access tour" of what I really thought was the best casino in terms of design, the Galaxy.   Even though opulent, the decor was tasteful.  The shopping area was kitted out with all the premium shops any high-roller could ask for, and the hotels, spas and restaurants were so beautiful.  We peeked inside the Bayan Tree Spa.... I should have left some time for a treatment! Also the boutique restaurants were exquisite, the Japanese had echoes of a Superpotato design, and even a personal dome to have sake in.

What is unique about the Galaxy, is that they are aiming to cater to families and to create a resort experience.  The hotel has beautiful pools, and even private villas if you fancy splashing out.  Phase 2 is on site, and it seems that China's love affair with gambling is going from strength to strength. 

City of Dreams

Shops and Gondolas at the Venetian

Super-Lux Asian-Centric Casino, the Galaxy

Sake drinking "bubble" at the Galaxy's Japanese Restaurant

Hong Kong - Overview

I really enjoyed visiting Hong Kong.  It's density creates a layering of humanity which I loved.  It's tight and packed, but people get on with it! Although I didn't visit many of the parks or beaches, I'm told they are gorgeous. I did make a trip out to the island of Lama, for a great seafood meal.  Getting out there, we went past quite a lot of Hong Kong, so I got to understand just how big it and the new territories really are.  Looking forward to going back to see more.

A clear day at The Peak

Foster's HSBC, apparently the building with the best Feng Shui in the city

Looking towards Kowloon from Hong Kong

Mid-levels and the escalators

Serviced Apartments - Hong Kong

Serviced Apartments are a big thing in Hong Kong, and I was lucky enough to get in and have a look at two of them. 99 Bonham, designed by Italian Design Giant Antonio Citterio, and The Jervois by the French Master, Cristian Liagre.

The high density in Hong Kong of course means that space is extremely valuable. It was so lovely to see all the exquisite detailing which really made each room a gem.  Many towers in Hong Kong have quite a small footprint compared to what I have been used to in New York and London.  Here you often only get two small apartments per floor. 

Below you can see a bit of the Citterio Designed studios.  A lot of lux and detail in a small space!

Domani - Hong Kong

Domani is an Italian restaurant in Admiralty designed by Thomas Heatherwick.  It seems he is Mr. Popular in China and Hong Kong! It was rumoured that tickets for his Lecture in Shanghai a few months ago were going at 700RMB (£70) each!

Anyhow, this Hong Kong restaurant was perfect to have a little stop off and admire the steel ceiling.  I am not versed in why this design came into fruition, but to me it looks like Angel's Hair. So I shall refer to it as such!

I love how Heatherwick has chosen one big element and really explored it and gone to town on the proportion as to which it occupies the space and the overall design. 

The "strands" continue outside of the restaurant on the roof.