A Very Place of My Own
We asked 13 individuals whose lives are intertwined with the world of creativity, design and the businesses that support them to share with us their very own special places, where they find happiness, inspiration and peace.
A few hours south of Lisbon is the idyllic coastline of the Alentejo region. This stretch remains almost untouched by development, exudes natural charm, and is bathed in beautiful light and gentle warmth.
Sitting on a hill above the village of Melides, (which itself is the perfect European village with a master butcher selling the best Secreto Iberico, a wonderful vegetable market and two fish stalls – what more could you want!) is Les Terrasses de Comporta which overlooks rice fields and is nestled with the cork oaks, resting majestically within beautifully landscaped lawns. The buildings, designed by Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus, are perched around the landscape and even though they are created from cast concrete, they sit at ease due to their unique reference to the shape and proportion that relates to the traditional huts in this part of Portugal.
The space feels calm, open yet cosy, refreshing and changes magically throughout the day and night as the light changes. The silhouettes formed are truly wonderful and the place offers wondrous vistas which change regularly. The use of angles on both horizontal and vertical surfaces create rooms which have been layered with furniture, based on comfort, livability, conversation and socialising.
I have chosen this series of buildings as vacationing here gave me an insight into this style of living, with a very unique style of architecture. The beauty instantly sends you into a state of relaxation. The location, landscape, and culture are charming and engaging, and when I visit here I leave with new thoughts, new ideas, fresh inspiration and ultimately re-charged.
Simon Rawlings is the Creative Director of David Collins Studio in London since 2007 and is ultimately responsible for the overall creative output of the studio.
As a designer your own home is the place to create what has always been in your thoughts. My travels and inspirations from France were essential in establishing a European sensibility. So I created an exterior room and carriage house that reflects this concept.
It begins with the view from the kitchen, looking through the steel casement windows, reminiscent of those you may find in a chic French farmhouse. They lead your eye directly out to the covered loggia, designed around the fireplace, so one can linger out there for hours. The dining table and antique chairs were placed on the pea gravel so when you are in the space it reminds you of being in Paris. Hawthorne trees lead you to the carriage house with painted French doors, a stone floor and a separate guest quarters on the second floor. I never imagined how treasured a space it would become.
We’ve hosted countless friends, family, designers, architects, writers…people from all aspects of my life. The special connections and depth of the relationships that have come from sharing this guest space continues to surprise me. There is something very intimate and enjoyable about staying in one’s guest room. Hosting someone at your home, whether for dinner on the terrace or a stay in the guest room, creates lasting friendships and memories, and that is why this exterior room and carriage house have become the favorite part of our home.
Atlanta-based Suzanne Kasler brings her knowledge of architecture, decorative arts and antiques to her design work. Her classic interiors have been featured in Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, House Beautiful and Veranda.
They say that travel is the great educator – a statement on which I could not agree more.
There is something so enriching about experiencing various cultures first hand, of meeting its people, eating the local cuisine, and viewing its art and architecture in its contextual landscapes, that simply cannot be replicated in a photographic image.
Whilst, collectively, so many of the varied places that I have been fortunate to explore around the world have combined to influence, perhaps subconsciously, my own design language, one place that I find continuously inspiring is the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. For me it is one of the most beautiful galleries anywhere in the world.
Located on a vast lawned landscape that falls gently towards the waters edge along the Danish coastline in the town of Humlebæk, the museum is reached either by car or by train from the centre of Copenhagen. Arriving at a very Scandinavian classical residential building that was once the core of the museum, the gallery buildings themselves, a display of discrete Danish modern architecture, hug and sink into the landscape, gradually cascading themselves down to the edge of the coast. A mixture of natural face brick, timber and glass, the warm modernist structures designed initially in the late 1950’s by Jorgen Bo and Vilhelm Wohlert are built outwards on either side of the original villa. Staged extensions to the buildings since that era, and ongoing renovations, are done with the original design integrity in mind and a sensitivity that is one of the cornerstones of great Danish design.
On a clear day the views across the water towards the Swedish coast are nothing but beautiful. Modernist sculptures by Calder, Moore and Cucchi are dotted around the gardens, inspiring gallery visitors to constantly cross the boundaries of inside and out. Clear glass walled spaces between galleries allow orchestrated views out to the garden, lake and sea.
In between viewing exhibitions (either their permanent collection of pivotal modern art, or one of their stellar temporary shows) there is nothing better than escaping to the café set on the waters edge. Walls of glass open up in summer whilst in winter fires burn and candles are lit throughout the various spaces that make up the restaurant.
My wish is always to return here, regularly.
Italian/Australian architect and designer, Albano Daminato has called Asia home for the last 20 years. With clients from Europe, Asia and beyond, each one (the Aman resorts included) is individually tailored through his meticulous eye for detail and a sensitivity to the geographic location.
My favorite place is on board my sailboat Sounder. She is a Hinckley SW 42 built in Maine in 1991 and cared for and loved by me for the past 9 years.
To understand the significance of Sounder, you have to know that my favorite book growing up was The Boy Who Sailed Around the World Alone by Robin Lee Graham. That book inspired me to learn to sail, enabled me to convince my parents to buy a boat, and allowed me to dream of one day owning my own special sailboat.
When I am on Sounder, I truly marvel at the combination of sailing performance, intense detail and craftsmanship, and overall beauty. Everything works and everything looks amazing. I love her lines as we approach from the launch and the polish of her varnished teak on the topsides and throughout the entire interior. She is great on a day sail off her mooring in Connecticut, but what I really look forward to are cruises where my wife and I get to experience her as our perfect little home, stripped of all the fuss of a big house and offering just what we need.
Peter Sallick serves as the Creative Director and CEO of Waterworks. Through his strong design sensibility and passion for quality materials, he has established Waterworks to be the luxury brand of bath furniture and fixtures.
When I was 9 years old my elementary school took my class on their first field trip to The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. I remember waiting in the large rotunda of the gallery for the arrival of our tour guide. As I gazed up at this massive dome and the large marble columns that circled the room, I was overwhelmed with a strange sense of connection. I remember thinking, “I could live here!” and telling my parents about this amazing building as soon as I got home.
Over the many years since, each time I return to this gallery, I reconnect to this beautiful example of classical architecture. As a child I did not realize what this connection meant, nor was I aware that these early moments had begun to build a foundation that would propel me into a life focused on the evolution of classical style.
Thomas Pheasant is internationally recognized for his 30 years of creating interiors. His diverse accomplishments have been widely published in the most prestigious architectural and interior design magazines around the world. In 2005, he was honored by Architectural Digest US with the distinction “Dean of American Design”.
Cherry Cove is a harbor toward the west end of Santa Catalina Island, one of California’s Channel Islands. Cherry Cove is a world away, but only 38 kilometers away from my home southwest of Los Angeles.
Cherry Cove is part of the “Two Harbors,” a ‘town’ with dirt roads and one store that sells camping food and serves big double ice cream cones. Every morning we hike the hilly trails and I always want to go to the next highest peak and the next. That’s all the entertainment there is – Oh! except in the evening we drink Buffalo Milks at Doug’s Harbor Reef outdoor bar.
Swimming is great. The water is sparkling blue and clear and you can see the orange Garibaldi fish. We snorkel around Ship Rock, and I’ve seen eels, octopus, rays, and occasionally a shark. As we head home we’ll see dolphins, sea lions, and even whales. There is no question, I’m happiest in Cherry Cove.
Gregg Buchbinder is the CEO of Emeco, the manufacturer of the iconic Navy Chair and has brought famous designers like Philippe Starck, Nendo and Jasper Morrisson to create collections for Emeco.
The house from my childhood is a mix and match between the past and the present. The contemporary cohabit with our ancestor’s furniture. The books and the photos make us dream.
It seems that even in the moments of solitude, we can still hear the laughter and we revisit our happy memories.
A family house is a source of life. The birds sing while stealing our figs. The smell of the scrub embalms our space. A little slice of paradise. An interlude where everything is always fine and one comes here to recharge. A perfect source of inspiration for the collections to come.
The creative mind behind the chic eponymous brand, Paris-based Federic Perigot has made Perigot luxury hardware a household name. His products are currently distributed in special shops and department stores worldwide.
My favourite place is Chin Mee Chin Confectionery, an old bakery in the neighborhood that both my husband and I grew up in. The repertoire of pastries has not changed much for as long as I can remember. They were among the first Western-style bakeries which served cupcakes, cream cones, custard pies, sausage rolls and still make these delectable delights with the same recipes. Wedding couples marrying in the Catholic church next door would cater their sugee cakes at the reception and in April, you can pre-order hotcross buns for Easter.
It is not a fancy place at all, in fact it does not even have air-conditioning and you eat off chipped melamine plates and mismatched crockery. The ladies who work there are a little hard of hearing now and you have to shout your order to them. It does not keep up with any current trends, you certainly will not find cronuts here! But that is precisely why I like it. It is authentic, it does not pretend to be what is it is not. In fact it is so unfashionable, it has now become trendy with the hipsters.
It has become a tradition to visit the bakery on my birthday and take a photo of me with their old style calendar in the background. In fact, we took some of our wedding portraits in the bakery. Needless to say the aunties were thrilled.
In a fast paced society like Singapore, where some form of redevelopment is always going on, a place like Chin Mee Chin Confectionery is very comforting.
Stephanie Fong is the owner of FOST Gallery in Singapore. She has steadily built-up a reputation as one of Singapore’s premier contemporary art gallerists, representing some of the country’s heavy weight artists. FOST Gallery has been listed in Blouin Artinfo’s list of “500 Best Galleries Worldwide”.
One of the moment which definitely changed my eye and so my work was the discovery of Venice. My work is a response to the resonances of the Venetian spirit.
In this city, built on and from mud, I pursue this imperceptible battle against time. I capture its stigmata on the mineral material of the facades. The technique of applying colored coatings to walls has been used in the area around the Mediterranean basin for 4,000 years. But how can one grasp light and a wall texture that vibrate beneath a ray of sunlight. I seek out the coarseness, the irregularity, the mark, the rust and the mould, everything that testifies to alterations of material and color.
In a perpetual dialogue between inspiration and creation, I invent my own chromatic palette inspired by the observation of this kind of landscape – natural or architectural – and of its transformations, to create a score with pigments, minerals and other elements, which superimposed, mixed, drawn and exalted, will be transformed into a unique and original work.
Dubbed as ‘the French Alchemist of Colors’, Pierre Bonnefille has created polychromatic composition wall murals and unique pieces of handmade furniture for noted interior projects with renowned architects and designers like Christian Liaigre, Kengo Kuma and David Collins Studio.
In the Norwegian mountains, 3 hours away from Lillehammer by ski, is a simple cottage without neither internet, A/C, electricity nor proper water system, but with something much more precious – silence and peace.
The view from the cottage is beautiful – hundreds of kilometres of trees, mountains and clouds. During the night, the stars and the moon are the only lights – they give so much light that you don’t need any artificial lighting – especially when the snow is reflecting the light. The air is crispy and clear – during summer you smell the herbs and wild flowers – it’s very refreshing.
During winter, everything is dominated by snow. Everything is white. All colors are present in white – and when getting used to it you’ll discover amazing colors all around you changing during the day – all found in white.
The silence up there can be loud. I have been there on my own a few times when it was so silent that I could hear my heart beats. You become so small and suddenly you understand how tiny your footprint is in history, in nature, in the universe.
Find things to burn, maintain the fire and melt the snow for water… there is no time for stupid imaginary problems – in the mountains, everything becomes essential.
The cottage was built by my great-grandmother when she was young. She was a very strong and special woman with an opinion about everything and was never afraid of sharing, no matter how controversial it might have been. I could write an entire book about her but that’s another story…
Now I’m just thankful that she gave me the opportunity to fall in love with all the snow and silence.
Danish designer Øivind Slaatto graduated from the Danish Design School and studied music at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. His collaborations include designing products for Bang & Olufsen, Louis Poulsen and Le Klint.
In 1988, my husband and I purchased a small house on the Hudson River just north of New York City. The property had good bones but needed a total makeover. Renovating this house became our passion project, hobby and personal treasure hunt.
Trips to Paris were spent photographing brass hardware and noting the proportions of lintels and mullion details in doors and windows. In Italy I visited local marble quarries looking for specific color hues and textures. We sourced Tasmanian oak for the floor. Plasterers from Ireland cast walls with curved corners and baseboards. The sum total of all these small details made a big difference. Curved plaster walls sound different. Brushed nickel feels different. Sunlight that falls into a room through antique glass looks different. The feeling within a truly hand-crafted space, whether that’s French-Urban-Southwest-Shaker cottage or the Sagrada Familla, it cannot be expressed in words but only experienced.
Leslie Smolan, a Founding Partner of Carbone Smolan Agency in New York, is a strategist and designer known for her relentless pursuit of timeless beauty.
Dunhuang, a desert town in China’s Gansu province, occupies a special place in my inspirations – magical because of its network of 492 Buddhist caves that recorded in murals a continuous history of kingdoms and beliefs in that region for more than 1,500 years. A famous monk Xuanzang passed through Dunhuang, bringing Buddhist scriptures from India to China. Multi-language sutras, paintings, and written histories were stored in a hidden library there, only to be discovered in 1907 and removed by British archaeologist Aurel Stein. Thus began a story of dispersal of Dunhuang treasures among many countries whose museums house them in national collections.
Dunhuang desert has vast, beautiful sand dunes, ever-changing by sweeping winds. With some vegetation and rivers, it is an oasis where ancient trading caravans and pilgrims would stop to rest and worship. I felt peaceful there, where I heard the sound of silence – a call for meditation and deep contemplations.
Owner of Serindia Gallery and Hardcover: The Art Book Shop in Bangkok, Shane Suvikapa- kornkul has built multiple ventures in publishing, art and design. He also consults on branding and publishing services.
One of my favorite places in the world is the Dia Beacon Art Foundation in New York. The space, located just over an hour and a half or so outside of Manhattan, contains some of the most epic artworks in a private collection and was founded by collectors Philippa de Menil, Heiner Friedrich, and Helen Winkle in 1974.
To me, this space served as a great reminder of how important it is for private art collections to be made accessible to the public and how amazing projects can come of collaborations and shared passions. The scale of the Richard Serra works for example, engulfs visitors and encourages a level of contemplation that smaller scale works are not able to achieve. Having an architectural background definitely makes me more biased towards three-dimensional works!
The Dia Beacon was brought to life with a mission to “help artists achieve visionary projects that might not otherwise be realized because of scale or scope…Today, Dia is a constellation of sites, from the iconic permanent, site-specific artworks and installations in New York, the American West and Germany; to an exhibition program that has commissioned dozens of breakthrough projects; to the vast galleries of Dia:Beacon; and finally the programs of education and public engagement.”
A must-see for anyone ever interested in art, history and architecture!
Talenia Phua Gajardo
Based in Singapore, Talenia Phua Gajardo is the founder and director of The Artling – an online art gallery and consultancy featuring top talents in Asian Contemporary Art. She also developed Luxglove, an online marketplace for new and pre-owned luxury goods.