The Sea Ranch Lodge Is the Architectural Equivalent of a Cleanse

The Sea Ranch Lodge Is the Architectural Equivalent of a Cleanse

There’s a calm that washes over one after driving up the foggy, somewhat treacherous Sonoma Coast and arriving at The Sea Ranch Lodge. All weathered wood and glass, with staggering views of sea bluffs and breaching whales in the Pacific Ocean below, the hub of the ’60s utopian planned community feels like the architectural equivalent of a cleanse.
It’s no wonder the hotel property, and the private residences on the 54 wild wooded acres surrounding it, are a haven for California tech executives and creatives.

“It feels so secret still, you go to the beach and you’re the only one,” says Anna Chiu, cofounder of San Francisco fashion label Kamperett. “It feels untouched. All the sea life is there, the culture feels progressive…it’s a special place.”

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Sheep graze near The Sea Lodge.

In the mid ’60s, visionary developer Al Boeke of Oceanic Properties identified 10 miles of a former sheep ranch as the ideal place to create a planned community.

With the goal of creating harmony between humans and nature, he assembled a group of architects and design professionals to work on prototype buildings, including Lawrence Halprin and Joseph Esherick, who were guided by the concept of “living lightly on the land.” The team used rough and simple materials to construct the distinctly ’60s modernist barn structures that today are among the area’s most prized dwellings, as well as the Lodge, which opened in 1964.

The Sea Ranch Lodge

The Lodge’s sign is still a beacon with its modernist logo — two seashells, back-to-back connected to a ram’s head, referencing the sheep on the land — designed by San Francisco-based landscape architect Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, the supergraphics pioneer.

In July, the Lodge completed a multiyear revitalization project and unveiled 17 redesigned guest rooms in its North Building conceived by San Francisco design collective NicoleHollis.

The rooms exude a simple, organic luxury, with custom headboards, window benches and desks built by Santa Cruz Woodworks, midcentury Hans Wegner elbow chairs and armadillo loungers by Mut Design. Some have ladders to lofts with an additional bed.

Lodge room

Each room features a woven piece by Berkeley artist Jess Feury, ceramics by San Francisco-based artist Sasinun Kladpetch, a beach bag and walking stick. The views are postcard-idyllic and there are fireplaces for chilly nights.

The room refresh followed the launch of The Sea Ranch Living home rental program for those seeking larger accommodations, and a multiyear revamp of the Lodge’s public spaces, including a new café with fresh roasted Sea Ranch coffee, smoothies and light breakfast and lunch treats on offer, and a fireside lounge used for programming, like jazz and trivia nights.

Architectural design firm Mithun improved the flow and sight lines in the building, removing walls and partitions, and Stauffacher Solomon, now 93, supervised the painting of a new “Land(e)scape” supergraphic in the bar.

Supergraphic in the Bar at The Sea Lodge

“She had a friend of her daughter’s come paint it, it took two weeks on a 12-foot ladder, and Barbara was in the painter’s pocket the entire time on the phone,” says general manager Kristina Jetton.

Featuring a locally sourced menu, the Lodge dining room is the place to be at sunset, when views of the coast are reflected in the glass — making for great photos. The General Store stocks art and architecture books; Sea Ranch sage, cypress and clove candles; logo hoodies; prints from Catherine Opie’s time as the artist-in-residence, and more.

The Sea Lodge North Building

The Lodge is also the end point of the Bluff Trail, which is designer and Sea Rancher Trina Turk’s favorite, stretching the length of The Sea Ranch, past acres of coast, meadows, flora and fauna, and a barn dating back to the 1870s. The resident sheep who graze the area for fire prevention can often be spotted there.

Throughout the buildings are photographs of Sea Ranch by local designer/artist Maynard Lyndon, the brother of one of the original architects, Donald Lyndon. Maynard’s LyndonDesign art gallery just five minutes up the road, exhibits local artists. Also not to be missed is the non-denominational Sea Ranch Chapel, a sculpture in the landscape inspired by the shell of the sea snail, with groovy red wood benches and stained glass windows, and the on-property athletic clubs and swimming pools, which have their own supergraphics. Just a bit farther north, in Gualala, Surf Market has fresh oysters, local provisions, and specialty cheeses, deli sandwiches, wine tastings and much more.

Of course, one could also be forgiven for never leaving the Lodge, with its outdoor nooks and loungers readymade for reading a good book after a long hike.

After all, doing nothing is everything here.

The Sea Ranch Lodge, 60 Sea Ranch Drive, Sea Ranch, California, Rooms start at $500.

Portofino Beyond the Piazzetta: A Tour With La Portofinese

Portofino Beyond the Piazzetta: A Tour With La Portofinese

When Dalida chanted about finding her love in Portofino in 1959, chances were she saw him strolling about the town’s iconic Piazzetta. 
The main square overlooking the harbor of the Italian resort destination is known for being the hot spot’s key gathering point and has been attracting European aristocracy and the international jet-set to the colorfully painted houses, restaurants and luxury stores gravitating around it since the 1950s. Yet there’s life beyond the Piazzetta, and visitors are increasingly discovering it. 

For one, a hike of a few kilometers from it leads both locals and tourists to the hillsides, where La Portofinese rises. Steep and narrow streets don’t allow for cars to reach the destination, which is nestled between rows of vines and olive trees. But “for those who do not like walking, we offer a transfer with a Piaggio porter,” says the agricultural company’s owner Mino Viacava.

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Viacava hails from Portofino, with his family established in town for six generations. Not only is he the heart and soul of this project, which he launched as a give-back initiative to his homeland, but his ancestors’ history is intertwined with that of the Italian Riviera’s hot spot.

“I was born in the Piazzetta of Portofino, I am the son of bricklayers, but with the heart of a farmer,” Viacava says. “My grandfather always talked to me about the countryside, until his memories became my desire: I started by buying small plots of land, a few olive groves, until arriving to the actual three hectares of cultivated fields on the slopes of the mountain of the natural park of Portofino.”

La Portofinese’s Eco-Farm

Courtesy of La Portofinese

Viacava says he launched La Portofinese “as a sign of gratitude and respect for my ancestors, who reluctantly left their sharecroppers’ work to look for jobs in the village.” An environmental mission was what kickstarted the whole project.

“We built many homes and villas here through the years, so around seven years ago we had the idea to explore sustainable practices,” Viacava says. “At the beginning, we shared the project with some of Portofino’s regular guests, like [late Vogue Italia editor in chief] Franca Sozzani, who really supported us…and we started by investigating [what] were the best ways within our means to start producing energy from new sources, as well as recovering existing ones, without ruining the natural landscape.”

In the first two years, Viacava developed projects like the installation of mini wind turbines and photovoltaic solar panels. But bureaucracy slowed their implementation on a community level, so he established a company within the perimeter of which he could continue to experiment with different solutions and invest in renewable energy. The recovery of abandoned land, and resuming ancient agricultural organic practices, followed. 

Inside La Portofinese’s Osteria dei Coppelli.

Stefania Giorgi/Courtesy of La Portofinese

To back the project financially and promote the land’s natural riches to a wider audience, the company banked on experiences, gradually adding a constellation of places extending from the park to the coast to offer visitors different ways to experience Portofino.

These include Eco-Farm, located on Portofino’s mountain and boasting a panoramic view of the gulf and access to nature, among Vermentino grapes, olive trees and an apiary for local honey production. 

At the bottom of the Eco-farm, an ancient drying room has been revamped to house the Osteria of Coppelli — which serves tailor-made lunches and dinners both indoors and outdoors — and a cold pressing olive oil mill, where a small factory was created to process some products of La Portofinese’s brand, such as marmalades.

Cooking class at Osteria dei Coppelli.

Courtesy of La Portofinese

These venues offer experiences that encompass cooking classes with chefs and ingredients picked right from the garden, or the making of Ligurian focaccia prepared in an outdoor wood burning oven; picnics with local delicacies; hikes to be enjoyed solo or with a guide; meditation sessions in nature; bee workshops and tastings of La Portofinese’s Vermentino wine in the vineyard. 

Each experience grants exclusivity — from couples to a group of friends up to a maximum of 20 people — since “we want to our guests to feel special, make them feel part of what we are living and this would be impossible in the presence of other guests,” Viacava stresses.

Not far from the two locations and nestled on the cooler side of the park, the Gassetta Mill hosts a small museum open to all visitors, a bar and restaurant with a terrace and a seasonal vegetables garden, including a hopyard for the production of homemade beer. 

Portofino’s lighthouse.

Courtesy of La Portofinese

The company also manages Il Faro di Portofino — the lounge bar at Portofino’s lighthouse which boasts a stunning position on the promontory’s cliff, with a terrace overlooking the sea — that can be booked for private events. Reachable only by foot, it is open from morning to sunset and best known for its cocktails, including the La Portofinese Spritz made with prosecco, soda and the Limoncino liquor produced by the firm itself. 

For an even more intimate experience, this spring La Portofinese unveiled Il Giardino del Faro, a small private garden on the way to the lighthouse with a few tables arranged in the shade of a lemon grove. 

Ü Caban

Stefania Giorgi/Courtesy of La Portofinese

Also inaugurated at the end of April, Ü Caban is the most central outpost of the business, located a few steps from the Piazzetta and overlooking the yacht dock. Named after the word in the local dialect for a quality of crab, the venue acts both as a wine bar and a shop selling the agricultural company’s products. It stands out for being furnished like a boat, with teak floors and tables as well as armchairs and benches covered with ivory cushions with navy piping. 

With a total of about 15 seats between indoors and the small balcony, the location serves a special aperitif menu of Ligurian delicacies recalling the maritime traditions of the village, such as the “gallette,” typical Genovese crackers, anchovies and dried tomatoes.

Ü Caban

Stefania Giorgi/Courtesy of La Portofinese

To promote the different experiences, Viacava says the company is collaborating with the Belmond Hotel Splendido and all the key luxury hotels scattered across Portofino and the nearby towns of Santa Margherita and Rapallo.

“Of course, tourists are the most interested in these kind of experiences, also because we recovered and tried to revamp these places according to how they looked in the past. So, for example, people visiting the Coppelli cellar are under the impression of stepping into an era that is long gone,” Viacava says.

Among all the locations, the founder says visits to the vineyard are the most requested ones, up to the point that the 2,000 bottles of Vermentino wine La Portofinese usually produces are immediately sold out. Available to purchase remotely by emailing the company, products in the catalogue also include the Coppelli’s olive oil and tomato sauce; liquors such as Limoncino and myrtle; honey, and nonalcoholic drinks like La Splendida lemonade, Gran Gioia orange soda, La Corsara tonic water and L’Eden Gioia iced tea.

Products by La Portofinese displayed at Osteria dei Coppelli.

Stefania Giorgi/Courtesy of La Portofinese

Up next, Viacava aims to boost the production of beer, in sync with an ancient tradition dating back to Benedictine monks in the 18th century.

“I’m simply trying to work the land as it had been done in the past, without the use of pesticides or other chemical,” he says. “Our company is not a commercial project, we don’t deal with big [orders]. This is a project focused on the territory, which we want to improve. Now we would like to install factories to work and make all products locally. We started from the one for honey but we are aiming to add a mini brewery so that we can make everything beer-related there.”


Stefania Giorgi/Courtesy of La Portofinese

Along with continuing to explore environmentally sustainable solutions, Viacava is also committed to continuing to hire young staffers. 

“We started from five and now we’re around 30. They are passionate and have a lot of drive, and that’s our biggest satisfaction,” he concludes.

Aegean Adventure

Aegean Adventure

After spending multiple family summers on Patmos in the eastern Aegean, not far from the Turkish coast, Maria Lemos had had enough.
Lemos, founder of the Rainbowwave showroom and Mouki Mou concept stores, has always loved the fashion lovers’ island, which is dotted with private homes and hyper-styled rentals, but she was also restless and wanted to experience the island in a new, more intimate, way.

So when Pagostas, a guesthouse built in 1597 and owned by the monastery of St. John the Theologian, came up at auction, Lemos and her husband Gregoris Kambouroglou jumped.

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They took a long lease on the property in Chora, the island’s capital, which is dominated by the 11th century monastery. For centuries the monastery has been a Christian and Greek Orthodox pilgrimage site as it was the place where St. John is said to have written his Gospel and the Book of Revelation.

Although Lemos and her husband never set out to become hoteliers, they fell in love with the place and thought, why not?

“We both love hosting people and had already decided to spend more of our lives in Patmos. It’s something we both really wanted — although we didn’t realize at the time how much work it was,” says Lemos, who is Greek by birth and who grew up between Athens and London.

A view from the rooftop terrace at Pagostas.

Their project also had a wider purpose.

“The house belongs to the monastery, and that was the most interesting part for us,” says Lemos. “We’re here doing something that is actually not for financial gain. It’s more a labor of love and a way of giving back to the community.”

Kambouroglou, a retired orthopedic and trauma surgeon, took charge of the restoration. He worked closely with local builders and artisans and has become the de facto doctor on Patmos which, like many Greek islands, only has a small medical center.

The couple tapped Leda Athanasopoulou, an interior designer who has renovated many historic houses on the island, to redesign the space in line with the couple’s vision.

They divided it into three large bedrooms, renovated the bathrooms and created common areas where guests can have breakfast, mingle over cocktails or gaze at the hills and horizon.

There’s even a place to listen to Kambouroglou’s large collection of vinyl records — Greek opera, classical and rock ’n’ roll — which he spins all year round, says Lemos.

A bedroom at Pagostas.

The music may be his, but the refined, bohemian style is all hers. Pagostas is a spare, tranquil refuge straight out of an Homeric poem.  

“Patmos is very traditional, and you are living in a place that belongs to the monastery. We wanted to show a Greek way of life, and find that cusp between tradition and modernity,” says Lemos.

In addition, she asked herself, “’How do we live with less?’ Greece is about simplicity, about the basics — but those basics have to be modern,” she adds.

The bones of the building are original: there are stone walls, vaulted archways, terracotta floor tiles, and steep slate stairs. The bathrooms are modern, and nearly all the homeware was made to order in Greece.

Sheets, linens and napkins were woven by hand exclusively for Pagostas; the pottery was handmade by a trio of female artisans in Athens, and the glass was handblown in Crete. The silver cutlery is a rare exception — it’s from England. 

“Pagostas is not rustic — if you’re doing simplicity, the elements and the components need to be quite elevated,” says Lemos.

The interior designer sourced the furniture from antique markets in Athens, while other bits were made locally.

“And then there are a couple of touches that are mine, like the Bauhaus chandelier and a Swedish tapestry. They kind of like throw you a little bit,” says Lemos. “They fit perfectly, but are unexpected.”

Design is in her DNA.

Lemos began her fashion career working with John Galliano and Clements Ribeiro and later founded London’s Rainbowwave showroom, which has been a launching pad for brands including JW Anderson, Marios Schwab and Carven. Ten years ago she opened Mouki Mou, a concept store in London, and in May she opened a second one in Athens.

Working with the landscape designer Helli Pangalou, Lemos and her husband planted jasmine in the courtyard and filled the walled garden with plumbago, myrtle, and lemon trees.

The original arches, stone fireplace and beamed ceilings have been preserved at Pagostas.

The Naxos Apothecary, one of Greece’s top fragrance and personal care brands, supplies the herbal bath products while Lemos worked with her old friend — and fellow Londoner — Lyn Harris of Perfumer H on a bespoke candle.

The food is local to the island.

Breakfast might be brown bread with schinos (a type of aromatic root) served with eggs, cheese, and yogurt. There are seasonal fruit juices, and jams which are made by Lemos’ mother-in-law from quinces, figs and other fruits. Honey is made with heather from the nearby island of Lipsi.

Despite all the hard work, and the many trips back and forth across the European continent, Lemos is enjoying Pagostas as much as any of the guests.

“Holidays have become different,” says Lemos, who spent New Year’s on Patmos for the first time this year. “I probably had the best holiday of the year in Patmos in January. This whole project has taken me into a completely different context.”

The kitchen at Pagostas.

Lemos has been spending an increasing amount of time in Greece. As she and her husband set about reviving the guesthouse, Lemos took on another project: Opening a branch of Mouki Mou in Athens in May. Although Athens is her native city, she had never done business there, and says it has been an adventure.

Mouki Mou is located in a ’70s building in the historical neighborhood of Plaka and has a view of the Acropolis.

Lemos again worked with interior designer Leda Athanasopoulou. She also created a planted garden on the vast roof terrace, which she plans to use for parties, exhibitions and events.

As with London, the store offers clothing, jewelry and lifestyle, but is different in many ways. Lemos says Mouki Mou is the first fashion concept store to land in Athens; the audience is different from London, and the focus is more on wardrobe building and introducing international designers to the market.

Breakfast on the terrace.

“It’s about exposing the Athenian crowd, and also the international crowd in Athens, to an array of designers and makers that they weren’t exposed to before. In London, we stocked Lemaire but I stopped buying it because now it’s everywhere. But that’s not the case in Athens, so we’re selling Lemaire there,” says Lemos.

She’s also stocking the French clothing label Casey Casey for similar reasons, and wants to introduce the London-based Toogood, which offers clothing, ceramics and furniture designed by the multidisciplinary creative Faye Toogood.

“I’m learning about the Greek clientele. Like London, it’s about building a loyal customer, and we’re beginning to do that in Athens. The surprise was that we have an international following — which I hadn’t expected,” says Lemos.

“They’re all coming through Athens in the summer months — people from Rainbowwave, Mouki Mou and Pagostas. The three are kind of merging, and the lines are getting blurred,” says Lemos.

Her universe of style just keeps getting bigger.

Blue Heaven

Blue Heaven

On the grounds of a historic property in Litchfield County, Connecticut, a simple stone and cement pool filled with crystalline water uneventfully just turned 86 years old. 
Scott Pools of Woodbury, Connecticut, built the timeless summer respite back in 1937 and in the nearly nine decades since, the company has installed several thousand others across the Northeast. Their enduring work has attracted an Oscar-heavy client list through the years, said to include Elia Kazan, Kathryn Bigelow, Daniel Day-Lewis, and the Clintons, along with institutions like the Hotchkiss School and Hay Harbor Club. (The company will neither confirm nor deny names to preserve privacy.) 

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Owner Jim Scott is just six months shy of his own 86th birthday. Only the second steward of what may be the oldest pool company operating on the East Coast, he has spent a lifetime thinking about pools.

In a conversation with WWD Weekend, Scott reflects on current natatorium trends and some of his more unusual requests through the years, including an elaborate Long Island grotto built for literal swims with the fishes.

WWD: How did your family get into the pool business?

Jim Scott: In 1937, the year before I was born, my father sat down with a bag of cement on his lap, read the directions, and built his first stone and concrete swimming pool — a vanishing-edge, natural pool that still operates today, in Woodbury, Connecticut. At that time there were very, very, very few private pools in existence.

WWD: What’s the secret to a lasting pool?

J.S.: Properly train the people who care for them. We do that with all of the maintenance teams who take on the care of our pools.

WWD: What would you say is your biggest contribution to the industry?

J.S.: Let me put it a different way. We have always been involved with the Connecticut Board of Health, helping them raise their safety standards. We were easily the first company on the East Coast to work with gunite [a type of pool created with flexible rebar and sprayed — as opposed to poured — concrete]. We’ve done that since 1950. We’ve built stainless steel pools on high floors of tall buildings. Everything we’ve ever constructed has been engineered to the highest standards.

A classic pavilion and “brimful” pool in Westchester County, New York, by Scott Pools.

Courtesy of Scott Pools

WWD: Did you ever consider going into a different line of work? 

J.S.: When I was discharged from the Navy as a young man, I applied to the University of Colorado architecture and engineering school. My father, who at that time was suffering from poor health, convinced me I could do more with my life by taking over the company business. We were building then, not only swimming pools but also shopping centers and houses. So I had the opportunity to work with a range of architectural styles. I came to the company at the age of 21. My father sold it to me, as the old European families often do.

WWD: How has pool construction changed since your earliest days? 

J.S.: Water purification and filtration have improved immensely. The standards everyone in the pool business must meet have grown more stringent. There are now licensing requirements and continuing education. All of this makes for greater safety and a better product.

WWD: Do you build more saltwater pools or traditional chlorine these days?

J.S.: Saltwater pools still generate chlorine. People don’t always know that. The salt sits in the water and as it breaks down, a gas chlorine enters the pool. Then it converts back to salt. So you’re really in a very lightly salted pool, about the same amount that’s on your lettuce salad. You could hardly taste it.

But the pool must be precisely built to accept the salt. If not, this process will shorten the structure’s lifespan considerably. 

WWD: Is saltwater chlorine any healthier than traditional chlorine?

J.S.: Salt provides a constant level of bactericide whereas standard chlorine is applied intermittently. Both tools are clean and safe, but there is more labor with a standard chlorine pool. Somebody’s got to hand-feed the chlorine and maintain the equipment. With saltwater, it’s an automatic process.  

WWD; Which is better, gunite or poured concrete? 

J.S.: In the Northeast, a cold climate, the strongest pool is one in the ground, properly engineered for its setting. That could be gunite, which handles curves and elevation changes well, or poured concrete, which is stronger at larger sizes. Both are very good options. Municipalities and schools tend to go for poured concrete. Everyone wants gunite for their backyard.

WWD: I heard you built a pool for Daniel Day-Lewis. Is that true?

J.S.: Did I? I don’t recall.

WWD: Well, who are some of your more interesting clients?

J.S.: Oh, they are all interesting to different people. So I would say, it would almost be an insult if I were to name one, because I’m sure I’ll forget to say somebody else who’s just as important.

We also, and this is at the core of what we do, we protect our clients’ privacy. We tend to deal with very private people. 

There are a few things we consider sacred, including security. Most of our employees are veterans of the armed services who have been with us for many, many years. We don’t bring in day laborers. 

Our reputation is important. All of our business comes through word of mouth.

WWD: What’s the furthest you’ll travel to build a pool?

J.S.: We work primarily in the Northeast. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, a little bit of New Jersey, Rhode Island. So that’s five states. And we do a lot of work in the Caribbean. But when the job is that far, we collaborate with local construction crews. 

WWD: You must have visited some pretty idyllic settings.

J.S.: Working on the Hudson River is pretty dynamic. I like going up into the Berkshire Mountains. When you look across the valleys into the next mountain, that’s a nice spot for a vanishing edge.

WWD: What are some of the most outrageous pool requests you’ve ever received?

J.S.: Well, we have built pools into quarries, some of them fed by natural water, some of them artificially filled. We have built pools that are capable of having live fish in them. That particular project was on Long Island. 

An infinity pool in the Virgin Islands.

Courtesy of Scott Pools

WWD: A Long Island homeowner wanted to swim with the fishes?!

J.S.: Yes. We hauled in rocks and made stalactites and stalagmites and caves. Probably the most difficult part of that job was purifying the water without killing the fish. We used ozone purification and did our research by visiting the Mystic Aquarium. 

WWD: Has there ever been a request you couldn’t build?

J.S.: When people ask to build pools attached to existing stone ledges. Rock is porous. So it’s virtually impossible for a pool to hold water in that scenario. You have to start with concrete.

WWD: What are clients asking you for right now?

J.S.: The trend on the East Coast is back to traditional pools. We’re building a lot of English garden-type swimming pools. Those are built for viewing as much as swimming. 

WWD: You mean people build pools just to look at them?

J.S.: Sometimes! 

Our philosophy is, you should be able to walk up to a pool that’s been in the ground for 20 years or more, and it should look like it was just made. And the reverse is also true — the pool should look like it’s been there a lifetime, even on the day it’s built. 

We are seeing a lot of European stonework surrounding our pools. I’m working on a project on the Hudson River right now that has replicated stonework from England, all made by master craftsmen.

A few clients are interested more in the health aspects of swimming so they ask for endless pools where you can swim against a current.

WWD: You’re about to turn 86 and still working.

J.S.: Every day. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. 

WWD: To what do you attribute your longevity? 

J.S.: My joy of doing it.

WWD: Do you like to swim?

J.S.: I’m not an Olympian, if that’s what you’re asking. 

WWD: But did you build yourself a pool in your own backyard? 

J.S.: Yes. I did.

WWD: And do you just look at it or do you use it?

J.S.: If it gets hot enough, I’m in there — along with my family. But I’m not a real swimmer. I’m just a normal country boy. 

You can print that.

‘Toys for Grown-ups’: China’s Design Boom

‘Toys for Grown-ups’: China’s Design Boom

A healthy obsession with Le Corbusier, Jean Prouve and Pierre Jeanneret’s modernist works led Kyle Zhang, a former fashion branding expert, to quit his job and open one of the first design galleries in China, in 2018.
Now Gallery Sohe has become a part of a cohort of galleries, including Gallery All and Objective Gallery, that are driving the flourishing collectible design movement in China.

Much of the popular artists’ works showcase a certain inclination for the fantastical and otherworldly — with extravagant price tags to match. A gold, drippy and tentacled dining chair by the Fenty-approved Haas Brothers went for 300,000 renminbi, or $44,032, at Gallery All; several Vincent Pocsik wooden chairs and lamps that eerily incorporate human limbs are priced around that point too, while at Gallery Sohe, animal-shaped Yilun Zhou chairs range from 30,000 renminbi, or $4,400, to 80,000 renminbi, or $11,730.

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A dining chair by the Haas Brothers.

A carved walnut lamp by Vincent Pocsik.

Yilun Zhou’s “The Drunk.”

“It’s not the most attention-grabbing part of the art world,” Zhang admits. “But it’s certainly a more forward-looking sector.”

“Selling collectible furniture has always been around, but selling [it] in galleries builds up an aura and justifies the artist as a brand,” explains Sonia Xie, China head of editorial and marketing at Artsy.

Xie notes that design collectors are often also art collectors, while Zhang underscores collectors from the celebrity world, such as Edison Chen, and top Asian collectors such as Lu Xun and Tian Jun, as driving the trend. “Younger collectors are looking to fill up their homes with something fun, to embed a sense of playfulness with these toys for grown-ups,” Zhang says.

According to Gallery All’s cofounder Yu Wang, a global boom for collectible design started 20 years ago and China is merely catching up.

“The global collectible design market went through two prominent stages: midcentury modern, then contemporary design. But the Chinese market is skipping over the first step, plunging right into contemporary design,” Wang says. “The thirtysomething clients might not be seasoned collectors, but they certainly are very opinionated.”

Launched in Los Angeles almost a decade ago, Gallery All was one of the first to champion Chinese artists and designers abroad.

Seeing a booming local market, Gallery All launched a second space in Shanghai in 2021, in an up-and-coming neighborhood populated by creative types, skaters and sometimes diehard Raf Simons fans — after a Machine-A outpost opened next door. Recent blockbuster shows include solo exhibitions for James Jean and the Haas Brothers specializing in mystical creatures and fuzzy furniture.

Gallery All

Hass Brothers’ exhibition “Clair de Lune” at Gallery All.

“Buying collectible furniture is a risky and atypical affair, but social media is opening up this world to a wider audience base,” Wang says.

Gallery Sohe’s Zhang also understands the impact of fashion and pop culture. Zhang recently signed on French contemporary artists Leo Orta, who is known for his collaboration with Kiko Kostadinov, and Chinese artist Yilun Zhou, whose work has been displayed in Louis Vuitton’s Chengdu Maison.

Gallery Sohe

Zhang has been an avid champion of Yilun Zhou, one of the few Chinese contemporary artists working on collectible objects. Zhou’s clever use of discarded plastic and paper-based consumer goods, such as Louis Vuitton shopping bags repurposed into totems, offers a witty commentary on consumer culture.

“Like Pierre Jeanneret, Yilun Zhou’s work is hands-on, simple and pure,” he says.

At Sohe Gallery’s recent exhibition “Future-Primitive,” Zhang’s prized collection of French modernist furniture is cleverly placed alongside naturalistic works by Chinese artist Zhou, Mao Guanshuai and Dong Han, who is a recent finalist for the 2023 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize. A zany dining table with bold color and figurines by the Balenciaga-approved artist Nik Kosmas are matched with a set of Pierre Jeanneret dining chairs, showcasing how the classic and the new can go hand in hand.

Sohe Gallery’s recent exhibition” Future-Primitive.”

“Contemporary design occup[ies] a nuanced space between art and industrial design. If you put these works within the context of contemporary art, it’s harder for the general public to understand, but if you put them in the context of contemporary design, it’s more digestible. It also makes people think beyond its functionality,” Zhang explains.

At Objective Gallery, one flight up from Gallery Sohe, one enters an entirely different universe filled with raw, sometimes grotesque collectible pieces. Founded by Chris Shao, an interior designer, Objective Gallery boasts a client list that includes Chinese celebrity Angelababy and Zhuo Tan, high-profile real estate magnet Charles Tong and founder of art fair Art021’s Kylie Ying.

Objective Gallery

Perhaps stemming from its roots in interior design, Objective Gallery is known for transforming its gallery space into immersive living environments that offer a rich and sensual experience from a bygone era.

For “Vintage Brutality,” Objective Gallery transformed the whitespace gallery into a livable domestic space called “Objective Suites,” fully outfitted with decadent wallpaper, plush carpets, designer furniture and two taxidermy peacocks.

“Vintage Brutality” at Objective Gallery.

According to Ansha Jin, aside from high-roller clients, the gallery has seen an increase in walk-ins, with people willing to purchase pieces in the four figures with a quick scan on Alipay. She credits the pandemic for the rising interest in homemaking with a bit of drama.

“People are now willing to invest in their homes. Staycation is here to stay,” Jin says. “Works by Brett Gander and Jay McDonald have gained popularity for their daring naturalistic beauty. People want to bring a piece of nature home.”

Since 2021, Objective Gallery has become the local partner for the influential design fair Design Miami. After a COVID-19-induced one-year hiatus, the second edition of Design Miami/ Podium x Shanghai is slated to launch at Shanghai’s newly opened retail complex, Zhangyuan on March 8.

Shanghai’s newly opened retail complex, Zhangyuan

Staying true to the theme of “Transcendence,” the fair will present various works from artists and designers that create a sense of anachronistic beauty. Zhang Zhoujie’s digital chair with spiderlike legs, and Shao Fan’s expertly deconstructed Ming dynasty furniture will be local heroes highlighted by the fair.

But the star of the show is likely to be Gaetano Pesce, the legendary Italian designer known for his work with Bottega Veneta. Pesce, whose market price has more than doubled in recent years, will bring his bold and whimsical pieces to Zhangyuan under the theme “Diversity is the most important value for a better world.”

Poster for Design Miami/Podium x Shanghai 2023.

Claire Saffitz’s Recipe for Sticky Pumpkin-chestnut Gingerbread

Claire Saffitz’s Recipe for Sticky Pumpkin-chestnut Gingerbread

Just in time for holiday baking, pastry chef and YouTube personality Claire Saffitz has published a follow-up to her bestselling debut cookbook “Dessert Person.” Her newest offering, “What’s For Dessert: Simple Recipes for Dessert People,” features 100 pastry recipes created with efficiency in mind (aka: accessible for amateur chefs). Here’s a recipe excerpt from the cookbook, ideal for the winter season.Sticky Pumpkin-Chestnut Gingerbread

Serves 12 to 15 

Difficulty: 2 (Easy) 

Active time: 40 minutes 

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Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes, plus time to cool 

Special equipment: 13 × 9-inch baking pan (preferably metal), hand mixer


Neutral oil for the pan 

6 ounces (170g) peeled roasted chestnuts (1 generous cup), from a jar or bag, rinsed and patted dry 

¼ cup molasses (3 oz / 85g) 

½ teaspoon baking soda 

1 (15 oz / 425g) can unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) 

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger 

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract 

2½ cups all-purpose flour (11.9 oz / 338g) 

2¼ teaspoons baking powder 

1½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ¾ teaspoon Morton kosher salt 

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon 

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg 

1⁄8 teaspoon ground cloves 

1¼ cups granulated sugar (8.8 oz / 250g) 

4 large eggs (7 oz / 200g), at room temperature 

2⁄3 cup neutral oil (5.3 oz / 150g), such as grapeseed or avocado 

Toffee sauce and serving

10 tablespoons unsalted butter (5 oz / 142g) 

1 cup packed dark brown sugar (7.8 oz / 220g) 

1 cup heavy cream (8.5 oz / 240g), at room temperature 

¾ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ½ teaspoon Morton kosher salt

Preheat the oven and prepare the pan: Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the bottom and sides of a 13 × 9-inch pan, preferably metal, with neutral oil. Line just the bottom of the pan with a rectangle of parchment paper, cut to fit, and smooth to eliminate air bubbles. Brush the parchment with more oil and set the pan aside. 

Cook the chestnuts and molasses:

In a small saucepan, combine the chestnuts, molasses, and ½ cup (4 oz / 113g) water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the chestnuts are soft and easily break apart when pressed against the side of the pan, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover and mash the chestnuts with a fork or a potato masher to break them down into pieces no larger than a pea (don’t mash into a paste, though — you want them to add texture to the cake). 

Mix the wet ingredients: To the saucepan with the chestnut mixture, add the baking soda and stir thoroughly to combine. The mixture will foam, which is normal. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl, then stir in the pumpkin, ginger and vanilla. Set the pumpkin mixture aside and let it cool to room temperature, stirring it occasionally (to cool it down very quickly, you can stir it in an ice bath — see Chilling in an Ice Bath, page 358). 

Mix the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to combine. Make a well in the center and set the bowl aside. 

Beat the eggs and sugar then stream in the oil: In a separate large bowl, with a hand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs on medium-low speed until the eggs are broken up, then increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the mixture is pale, mousse-y, and doubled in volume, about three minutes. Beating constantly, very gradually stream in the oil and continue to beat just until the mixture is smooth, thick and emulsified. 

Make the batter: Add the pumpkin mixture to the bowl with the egg mixture and mix on medium-low just until blended, then scrape that mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix on medium-low, starting in the center and gradually working outward, until you have a smooth, evenly mixed batter with no traces of flour. Switch to a flexible spatula and fold the batter several times to make sure it’s evenly mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake: Bake until the surface of the cake is deeply browned and springy to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Set the cake aside. 

Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar and ¼ cup (2 oz / 57g) water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture is reduced and slightly thickened, about three minutes, then remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly add the cream (take care, it will sputter), stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth. Bring to a boil again over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the toffee sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, about three minutes longer. Stir in the salt and set the saucepan aside. 

Soak the cake: Use a toothpick to poke deep holes all over the hot cake, then slowly pour 1 cup (8.2 oz / 233g) of the warm toffee sauce over the entire surface. Let the cake sit until it has absorbed some of the toffee sauce and is slightly warm. Cover the saucepan to keep the remaining toffee sauce warm. 

Serve: Cut around the sides of the cake with a small offset spatula or paring knife, then use a serrated knife to slice the cake into a 3-by-4 grid to make 12 generous portions, or into a 3-by-5 grid to make 15 slightly smaller portions. Lift the slices out of the pan and transfer to serving plates. The toffee sauce will separate as it sits, so stir to bring it back together. If the butter in the sauce has started to solidify, rewarm it over medium-low heat. Pour the toffee sauce into a small pitcher or serving vessel and serve on the side.

Can I…

Make it ahead? Ideally, no. The cake is best eaten slightly warm while the toffee sauce is glossy (the butter in the sauce will solidify when cool). Any leftover cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to two days. Rewarm it in a 300°F oven until the surface is glossy again, five to seven minutes. Any leftover toffee sauce, stored in a lidded container in the refrigerator, will keep for up to two weeks. Scrape it into a small saucepan and rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it’s glossy and fluid. 

Use a stand mixer instead of a hand mixer? Yes. Combine the sugar and eggs in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and proceed with the recipe as written. After adding the pumpkin mixture, switch to the paddle attachment, reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients to the bowl in two additions.

“What’s For Dessert?” Copyright © 2022 by Claire Saffitz. Photographs copyright © 2022 by JennyHuang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.

For More: The Best Food and Drink Recipes Featured in WWD

Jimmy Choo’s Sandra Choi on Designing a New Type of Christmas Tree for Claridge’s Hotel

Jimmy Choo’s Sandra Choi on Designing a New Type of Christmas Tree for Claridge’s Hotel

LONDON — It’s a Jimmy Choo Christmas.
The luxury accessories brand’s creative director Sandra Choi has unveiled her Christmas tree design for London’s Claridge’s hotel in Mayfair.

The brightest and most animated in the hotel’s history, the tree is a minimal geometric shape lit by white lights with a double-knotted neon pink bow.

“The bow as a symbol of bringing things together and this united ceremony is what I wanted to portray,” Choi told WWD on the morning of the tree’s big unveiling.

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“The tree itself was a symbol to the core of our brand because what does Jimmy Choo mean? Glamour always comes like a boomerang,” she added. Glamour is a running motif in the brand’s winter 2022 campaign shot at the famous hotel, starring Iris Law, Mica Argaňaraz and Stan Taylor, photographed by Angelo Pennetta.

The tree has been given the name of The Diamond.

The tree has been given the name of The Diamond, a nod to the brand’s regalia-like accessories. The designer wanted to translate the allure of Jimmy Choo’s through light in collaboration with set designer Simon Costin who worked on the tree that stands more than five meters tall and took more than 350 hours to construct. 

“We chatted and we dissected what it means to use light as a whole idea into the future. It’s about stepping inside the jaw, which I talk about often. Claridge’s is a place of heritage, it’s iconic and for us at Jimmy Choo, we needed to bring that glamour that Claridge’s has,” Choi said.

Simplicity and upcycling were at the forefront of Choi and Costin’s ideation when they met to plan the project. 

“We produce a lot of stuff and Christmas is one of those times where you’re overloaded with things to bring the festivities alive, but we wanted to minimize the stuff element and have the ability to upcycle certain parts of the tree. We haven’t got there yet, but it’s something we discussed last night. What do we do with the materials and what do they mean to us?” said Choi, who will be hosting a cocktail party at the hotel on Wednesday evening to celebrate the tree commission.

Sandra Choi outside Claridge’s hotel in London.

Courtesy of Jimmy Choo

Christmas for Choi is all about treating others. Her most memorable memory of the holiday is from 2019 when her family took a trip to Lapland in Finland, she said.

“We packed our bags, went to the cold and had a white Christmas. It was incredibly magical because it’s not about stuff, but rather just being together,” said Choi, who will be celebrating Christmas with her sister in Wales this year.

“I have volunteered my sister to treat me,” she said, jokingly.

Choi has already started forward planning for 2023, and hinted at a mentoring program in the works. 

“I’m really into seeing what the new generation is looking at. I’ve got teams of people I work with and I always chat to them about what they see and how they feel. I’ve been in this brand for so long, I’ve seen it all, but to actually see it from another lens is very important,” she said.

Choi hinted at another project set for spring 2023 that she describes as a “nostalgic childhood project that is really artful, creative and feminine at the same time.”

Why Do So Many Bakeries and Pastry Shops Abound?

Why Do So Many Bakeries and Pastry Shops Abound?

What’s with all the bakeries and designer pastries?
While coffee chains and cafés infiltrated New York City streets years ago, the latest wave of post-pandemic pick-me-ups can be found in an abundance of bakeries. Colorful, affordable, communal — the quest for the perfect pastry has become a pursuit in itself. Some tend to stroll past display cases as if they were taking in a museum exhibition; other upscale food halls are featuring pastry shops to sweeten the attraction. Paris-Brest delectables can be found at the recently opened sprawling Tin Building by Jean-George Vongerichten and bombolones, crostatas della nonna and other confections are among the offerings in the “pasticceria” at Harry’s Table.

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”Bakeries have long been a staple of society, especially so in European culture,” says Smor Bakery Sebastian Perez, co-owner with Simon Bangsgaard. “We are both from Denmark and there the number of bakeries is equivalent to the number of Starbucks. They are everywhere. The same in Paris, Stockholm, Madrid, etc. The cultural diversion is really just catching up to the New York City lifestyle.”

Of course, the appeal of baked goods isn’t just for delicate Marie Antoinette-worthy creations. Consider the frenzy for the mustard donut concocted by French’s Mustard and Dough Doughnuts. The one-day giveaway involved eight weeks of tastings, Fitzco and Sunshine Sachs were hired for marketing and public relations, respectively, and donuts were sent via Amtrak to the Baltimore headquarters of McCormick & Co., which owns French’s Mustard.

Dough Doughnuts co-owner Steven Klein, a former sportswear manufacturing executive, says, “We did everything very professionally, similarly to almost any kind of tasting or as in fashion — everyone wants to see the fit. We created different styles and different items. In the end, we picked out a mustard donut that was glazed so that it had a decent taste. And people liked it actually — more than I thought [they would]. They are asking us to even bring it back.”

French’s financial splurge included wrapping Dough’s seven stores, as well as videos, influencers and promotions. ”We had over 1 billion [media] impressions in a couple of days. It was astronomical. They did such a good job; it went viral. We were in 60 publications, on ‘Good Morning America,’ and ‘Fox & Friends’ — everybody took a piece of it because it was so unique,” says Klein, adding that Dough’s site sold 25,000 donuts in two minutes.

”Food is a driving force because it’s a destination and offers satisfaction…if you use social media, it lasts longer. The cronut has been around for six or seven years already, and it’s still popular. Our donuts are very popular because they are brioche — lighter, fluffier. Almost nobody in the country makes brioche. It’s a different process. It’s more of a pastry.”

Klein adds, ”If anybody can come up with a pastry that tastes great, it kind of becomes a fashion icon because people have to try it, they wait on line for it and will pay any price. So you want to call it a designer pastry? Maybe. In a sense, it is because they’re paying a higher price, which of course everybody can’t afford because it becomes more expensive to make it. Inflation has hit the whole market — prices are rising for eggs, butter, flour, oil. Prices of the materials are forcing people to raise their prices.”

Free from pandemic quarantines, millions have embraced a carpe diem mind-set, flying off for vacations and embarking on once-in-a-lifetime experiences. In turn, the let-them-eat-cake attitude adds up and offers its own transportable moment.

Doris Ho-Kane in her new Ban Be bakery in Brooklyn.

Photo by Shirley Cai/ Courtesy

Doris Ho-Kane, who unveiled the Ban Be bakery in Brooklyn last July, sees the trend as a reach for warmth and comfort. “It took something as cataclysmic as the pandemic to usher in this return to the kitchen and to the sweets we cradled and devoured as children,” she says. “Pastries were once an afterthought, but now an entire dinner party can be centered around a beautiful agar jelly layer cake or a mountain of a Vietnamese cassava cake.”

The you-can-try-this-at-home element has heightened interest, too. A few years of  sourdough bread kneading and funfetti cake making have given way to banana bread bake-offs and other TikTok-driven tricks. Another pandemic winner was “The Great British Bake Off,” which attracted 6.9 million viewers for its finale last fall. New Nordic Cuisine pioneer Claus Meyer says, “Bread — at least in the U.S. — for the most part and for far too long, as Henry Miller so poetically described it, has been ‘highly underwhelming.’ Organic grain production is one of the finest ways to free our ground water from pesticides, and a delicious bread is one of the most democratic luxuries on earth, especially if you bake it yourself.”

Asked about the renewed interest in bakeries and pastry shops, the Copenhagen-based Meyer, whose New Nordic Food Hall was a casualty of the shutdown, adds, “We also see this tremendous growth in specialty bakeries because opening up a small bakery is not as complicated and risky an affair as opening a restaurant is. Also, baking is such a wonderful and down-to-earth way to spread love in a community.”

Acknowledging how baking blew up during the shutdown due to TikTok trends, the Food Network’s 2021 “Best Baker in America” Jaclyn Joseph chalks up the influx of bakeries to proprietors’ passion and making that their occupation.

“The more bakeries that we have is great because we all have something special to offer,” she says. “Everyone did notice after the pandemic that [it] is a luxury to go out, and it is almost an event to go out to enjoy something sweet. I think people realized that baking is not so easy and it requires a lot of skills. So there is an appreciation for the technique too.”

The economic impact of baking in the U.S. is significant — nearly $154.3 billion and 764,777 jobs, according to the American Bakers Association, an organization in its 150th year. In total, the impact of baked goods produced and sold in the U.S. is $480.47 billion. A further 1.52 million jobs are supported by the baking industry.

While rising food prices are weighing consumers down, many are willing to invest in the occasional splurge for relatively affordable indulgences. The shop-local movement and social media phenomenons like Dough Donut’s adventurous flavors, Lafayette Bakery’s “Supreme” creme-filled circular croissant, Kam Hung Bakery’s colorful sponge cakes and Sugar Wood’s suggestive baked goods are giving others reason to head for New York City’s pastry shops and bakeries.

Dough’s co-owner Klein says, ”When you go into a downturn, or whatever you want to call it, because nobody defines it, whether it’s a recession or the pressure of making a living, sweets have done very, very well. Any types of sweets — chocolates, pastries or anything of good quality — is what people crave when they have an urge.”

As ”the only donut store open seven days a week during the pandemic,” Dough found patrons were coming from the tri-state area and even from Pennsylvania “just to take a drive and have a donut, which shocked me,” Klein says. ”Whether it’s a pastry, a donut, a scone, a cookie, chocolate — it’s always been available to people when they go through hard times. It’s a sweet treat. It’s as simple as that. If you make a good product, you survive. If you don’t, you go by the wayside like any other business.”

As pastry chef and cronut creator Dominque Ansel could attest due to the cronut craze ignited years ago, demand can be so strong that multiple daily drops are needed. Dough, Lady Wong Pastry & Kuih and Lafayette are among the bakeries on board with that.

A limited edition French’s mustard-infused donut was a massive success for Dough.

Photo Courtesy Dough

The aforementioned circular Supreme at Lafayette “well beyond a tasty, fancy pastry — social media has really driven this thing. People like to post that they had one. They like to post that they are on line. It’s a very visual experience on social media and it becomes very popular on TikTok and Instagram, which we like. It’s fun and it also maybe brings in people, who wouldn’t ordinarily come into the bakery. We’re into it. We’re leaning into it,” says Lafayette’s managing partner Luke Ostrom.

The pain au chocolat “Supreme” is a specialty at Lafayette Bakery.

Photo Courtesy Lafayette Bakery

Food nostalgia set in during COVID-19 and post-pandemic, people are “getting very excited about things that are being baked in interesting ways and they are eager to have desserts again,” he says.

The bakery’s biggest conundrum is that it can’t bake enough Supremes, with 125 dropped at 8 a.m. and 125 more at noon. Sellouts have been so swift that there is a one-per-person limit now, the kitchen is being expanded and more people have been hired. Later this month, a third drop will be introduced in the late afternoon.

Asked if Lafayette is following the fashion and sneaker-driven drop model, Ostrom laughs, “Inevitably, we were sort of pushed to do so. It was not our intention in the beginning.”

Much media ink is being spilled on the wunderkind artistry of Eunice Lee’s pristine French Korean pastry “boutique” Lysee that bowed in late June in the Flatiron district. Her trompe l’oeil creations include a demure cob of corn that consists of corn-infused mousse, layers of caramel and a corn kernel biscuit with a grilled corn cream shell. Such edible artistry requires days in the making. Lee ventured out on her own after serving as the head pastry chef at Jungsik, which garnered two Michelin stars. Other newcomers include Lido in Rockefeller Center and the Asian-inspired Italian bakery Angelina Bakery that has branched out to serve more bombolones and other confections with a few locations including a 4,000-square-foot Times Square outpost.

An assortment of pastries from Lysee including its signature corn confection.

Photo Courtesy Lysee

Downtown is awash with a slew of new bakeries. Late night revelers might be increasingly crossing paths with off-to-work bakers at dawn in the East Village. The neighborhood has a thriving bakery scene, thanks to relative newcomers like Lady Wong Pastry & Kuih, Smor Bakery, La Cabra, Bread Story and La Librae. Like several other newcomers, Lady Wong sprang from the pandemic, when many longed for nostalgic food and in some cases struggled to find it. The husband-and-wife team Seleste Tan and Mogan Anthony have dreamed up moon cakes, candy-coated taro ube tarts, “pandacha” (pandan-matcha) Dutch-Indonesian butter cakes and a Champagne Oolong peach tart. Lady Wong also offers weekly drops that have been drawing lines out-the-door for its colorful concoctions.

Scandinavian loaf lovers are in luck too in the neighborhood. Smor Bakery, an offshoot of the Scandinavian restaurant by the same name next door on East 12th Street. Passersby will waft cardamom buns, cinnamon buns tebirkes, salted chocolate rye cookies, rugbrod and and other specialties.

From left, Smor Bakery’s co-owner Sebastian Perez, head baker Rowan Gill and co-owner Sebastian Bangsgaard.

Photo Courtesy Smor Bakery

Another Nordic outpost — La Cabra — is about 10 blocks south. More austere than hygge, the New York location is the first in the U.S. for the Denmark-based company and was designed by its head of design Mikkel Selmer with features by ceramics partner Kasper Wurtz. The caffeinated lineup includes on occasion classic washed Colombian coffee from Orlando Sanchez and hand-brew is serious business. Its site bills coffee as “an illustration of our dream in motion, one that brings together terroir, varietal and the skilled hand of processing.” Roger that, but what about the pastry? Banana caramel cookies, lemon-infused canneles, barley mousse Chou and the more expected cardamom buns are part of the rotating menu.

Croissants are baked throughout each morning to keep things fresh. Lard lovers will take heart knowing the croissants call for 27 layers of French butter that is first fermented cold for 24 hours.

Over at 35 Cooper Square, Librae Bakery blends “Middle Eastern roots and Danish techniques” and promotes itself as “a third culture bakery.” Translation? Basque cheesecake, lumees Earl Grey blueberry scones, rose pistachio croissants and Marmite-spiked, sesame-encrusted pastries are among other unexpected combinations.

Decades after Sarah Jessica Parker and “Sex In the City” made cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery a must-stop for thousands of out-of-towners, many still flock to its Manhattan outposts and rivals like Billy’s Bakery. Another New York City-grown company, Levain Bakery, has not just definitively supersized the walnut chocolate chip cookie but attracted a flood of customers. So much so that last month Levain started shipping nationwide with DoorDash, so that Hawaiians and others can land eight cookies for $70. Levain has also branched out to other U.S. cities, including Boston.

Eight years after the first Maman café and bakery location opened in SoHo, the 22-unit company will have 28 by the end of the year. Six or seven more are planned for next year. Some of the real estate opportunities were caused by the pandemic, which “unfortunately” forced the closures of many bakeries, says founder and designer Elisa Marshall.

“We were contacted by a lot of landlords, who had had their tenants (including some second-generation bakeries) basically just hand back the keys because they didn’t want the spaces any more.”

Initially designed to be counter to the cold, industrial chic scene that ruled in the beginning of the Aughts, the original ethos was to create multisensory cafés that are “a full experience through the vibe, the smells, the attention to details, great food, great coffee and people that were more reminiscent of home,” Marshall says.

Maman was designed to be counter to the industrial design that was once ubiquitous.

Photo Courtesy Maman

Part of that growth stemmed from a fluke early on — when an Eater editor, who lived nearby, wandered in and later posted about Maman’s nutty chocolate chip cookie rivaling ones sold at Levain. Oprah Winfrey’s team then caught wind of that and placed Maman’s specialty on one of her “Favorite Things” list. A blend of French and American cuisine, the mostly French pastry team cooks up homemade Oreos — a chocolate salted wafer with a white chocolate ganache filling — as well as everything bagel croissants. While “people’s love for sweets is never going to die in the U.S.,” Maman plays up premium ingredients like top-quality dark chocolate, imported sea salt and roasted nuts. Such primo items are increasingly prized among customers and bakers alike.

A former fashion executive, Marshall started her pastry career as a side job, doing trunk shows and baking cookies for the Coterie trade show and other fashion events. “A lot of brands — whether it be fashion or not — are really looking to take on that lifestyle element. It’s amazing how fashion and food have come into play with each other. Food and coffee especially is the heart of New York and that at the end of the day drives so much traffic for many retail stores. We consistently do tons of collaborations — every other day we’re out there with a different retailer and we do backstage catering for many of the top designers,” Marshall says.

Maman’s version of the chocolate chip cookie attracted the attention of Oprah Winfrey’s team.

Photo Courtesy Maman

Just as fashion trends change so do pastry ones, with Lafayette offering a corn berry crunch Supreme in September. Others bakeries like Maman are broadening into plant-based and seasonal options.

”You’ll be seeing a lot more vegan and gluten-free items. We just launched a vegan croissant. With a blind taste test, you can hardly taste the difference,” Marshall says. ”We’re broadening our horizons beyond the sweet side of things and broadening our customer base by getting creative and catering to more people.”

Dough’s Klein notes how in real estate, fashion and other businesses, “you work with more problems than having people tell you that you are great. In the donut business what we’ve found is that everybody’s happy when they eat a pastry. The amount of happiness is very high even if people wait in line for an hour or even two hours….For some reason, people today are looking for anybody who has a good pastry.” That said, Dough plans to launch cookies this week.

Little Cat Lodge Delivers Alpine Vibes in the Hudson Valley

Little Cat Lodge Delivers Alpine Vibes in the Hudson Valley

Little Cat Lodge is open and ready for New York’s colder months ahead. Located near Catamount Mountain in the foothills of the Berkshires, the boutique hotel offers Alpine-style lodging and dining for all seasons.The hotel is the latest project from Noah Bernamoff and Matt Kliegman, whose collective projects in New York City include Black Seed Bagels, The Smile, Celestine and the recently opened Pebble Bar near Rockefeller Center. Both men reside part-time in the Hudson Valley, and while the idea of opening a restaurant or hotel upstate was in the back of their minds, they weren’t actively looking for a project when a friend flagged a lodge that was for sale in Hillsdale, New York.

The property is located between artsy towns Hudson, New York, and Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and the pair hope that the hotel will appeal to weekend guests from both New York City and the Boston metro region. “The idea of being between [the two cities] was really quite appealing,” says Kliegman, adding that the property also resonated with them on a personal level. “Noah’s from Montreal, he grew up skiing; I’m from New York and grew up snowboarding. It’s something that we enjoy and the reality is there’s really not a great après-ski experience at the mountains that are proximate to New York City.”

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The Hudson Valley continues to see an influx of boutique hotel developments in recent years. In Hudson, notable projects include the high-end Maker Hotel. West of the river, the Wylder hotel group refurbished a large property this spring in Tannersville, luxe-retreat Piaule opened in Catskill, and a new Auberge property debuted near New Paltz. Located further east, the Catamount region offered an unsaturated market to introduce a boutique property.
“It was an area where not many people were doing things,” says Kliegman, who with Bernamoff also co-owns Otto’s Market in Germantown, New York. “We don’t mind being a bit of a pioneer.”
The property underwent a significant renovation before reopening, although the team aimed to keep the Alpine-style “spirit” of the property alive despite a full-gut of the interior and “reconceptualization” of the exterior. The team worked with designer Loren Daye of Love Is Enough to reflect the aesthetic heritage of the Alps without leaning too far into interior trends. The idea was to create an environment that would be conducive to dining and relaxation, whether that means comfortably drinking a hot toddy outside in the winter or spritz in the summer.
“Our approach was…let’s not try to modernize the feeling of this entire property. Let’s actually bring the Alpine essence out even further,” says Bernamoff. “I do think that we’ve taken a thoroughly idiosyncratic design path that produced a unique product that does not look, feel, or in many ways compete with any of these other very beautiful properties [in the area].”
The hotel’s restaurant program is Alpine-inspired, but not exclusively Swiss. “We want the food to reflect the full scope of cuisines that are represented throughout the Alps,” says Bernamoff, noting that the menu pulls from elements of French, Northern Italian, Austrian, German and Slovenian cuisine. “It’s going to be a little bit of a melting pot — a fondue pot — of different Alpine cuisines.”

There are two dining concepts onsite, a restaurant and casual tavern that will appeal more broadly to a crowd of local regulars. The tavern menu veers from the Alpine theme with the inclusion of classic American dishes that are seasonally driven and locally sourced from farms in the area. “Having that flexibility to service our broader local community is great,” adds Bernamoff.

Inside a guest room at Little Cat Lodge.


WWD Report Card: Are You Seeing the Fashion Out of Venice?

WWD Report Card: Are You Seeing the Fashion Out of Venice?

Tilda Swinton is seen during the 79th Venice International Film Festival.

Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

Tilda Swinton: 4

Wearing head-to-toe white Chanel to eat a color-coordinated ice cream cone? Of course. When it comes to Tilda Swinton, the level of sophistication is unmatched. Who ever thought eating ice cream could look so chic? 

Jodie Turner-Smith attends the “Bones and All” red carpet.

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Jodie Turner-Smith: 5

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This is giving off Britney Spears at the VMAs, but a couture take. The head-turning denim gown is far from casual and she looks beautiful, sexy and elegant. The blue eye shadow is the ideal accent for this flawless effort. 

Tessa Thompson attends the “Bardo” red carpet.

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Tessa Thompson: 3.5

Carrying your bed sheets on the red carpet is never a good idea, but the construction of this cocoon also gives science fiction vibes, making the whole effort rather fun. The matching tights and heels are very of the now. And in case you don’t see it, there is a handbag there as well. 

Timothee Chalamet attends the “Bones and All” red carpet.

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Timothee Chalamet: 5

Probably the most talked-about outfit of the Venice Film Festival to date, this one-of-a-kind red number is another successful collaboration with friend and designer Haider Ackermann. Chalamet gets extra points for constantly pushing menswear boundaries. 

Maude Apatow attends the “Bones and All” red carpet.

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Maude Apatow: 5

This is the best we’ve ever seen her. The retro movie star hairstyle is flattering on her and the figure-skimming corset together with the floor-sweeping skirt are classic with a touch of seductive danger. 

Cate Blanchett attends the “Tar” red carpet.

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Cate Blanchett: 2

This is basically a goth flower vase come to life. Surrealism is fine, but this is too literal. The real flowers embellished jumpsuit raises a question about the health of the buds — where is their water?

Taylor Russell attends the “Bones and All” red carpet.

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Taylor Russell: 4

She looks gorgeous, but one wonders if she’s uncomfortable — does the front of the skirt need to be carried? Regardless of the logistics, the dress is cool and there’s drama in the glove and the slicked-back glam. 

Chris Pine attends the photocall for “Don’t Worry Darling.”

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Chris Pine: 1

Some old preppy ghost washed up from Cape Cod has taken over his body. A fashion exorcism is needed. And Brad Pitt called: he wants his hair back. 

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