This year the annual Salone del Mobile is being held from April 14th to 19th at the Rho exhibition center in Milan, Italy. There will be every type of furnishing imaginable on display from classical to modern design with an emphasis placed on high-end quality products. Last year over 300,000 people attended, and while the event is aimed at industry professionals, the show is open to the public on Sunday the 18th of April.
Bottega Veneta has chosen this venue to unveil some of their new design initiatives during the week long show. The Italian company known world wide for exquisite leather goods, particularly their woven bags, has chosen to celebrate Japanese culture and craft with a student design competition and various other collaborations with Japanese artisans. The lucky students from the University of Tokyo whose winning designs are chosen will be able to see them available for purchase in the company's Ginza store after the conclusion of Salone del Mobile. The collaboration seems to be a natural one, as Bottega Veneta has always shown an affinity for supporting the craftsman of luxury items, even opening a school in 2006 to train and support future generations of leather craftsmen. It makes sense that the company would be prone to exploring a relationship with another country's artisans.
Centered in the middle of most all Easter baskets for children is the ubiquitous stuffed bunny rabbit. Often they can be found in unappealing pastels and made out of questionable fabrics. For those who want their littlest Easter holiday participants to have a super soft, squeezable bunny and do not want to sacrifice quality for cuteness D. Porthault has several options.
In Paris at the turn of the 20th century D. Porthault opened his first lingerie store. His wife later pressured him into expanding into selling fine linens. They were one of the first stores to carry printed sheets. The patterns were inspired by a love of Impressionist art and the gardens at Giverny. By the 1940' the company was printing the world's first printed terry towels and would soon expand their line to include sheets made of cotton percale and voile in addition to flax. The company moved into custom bedding and "Les Coeurs", still one of their most coveted designs, was inspired by the sketches of Duchess of Windsor.
Spring is here and often is a time for entertaining. Invitations to weddings, bridal showers, birthdays and other occasions seem to increase with the onset of the new season. For those who find themselves hosting a celebration, Small Masterpiece is a very specialized event company that focuses on the tableware for intimate parties of every size.
Small Masterpiece has a unique antique collection of items that are an elegant and stylish substitution for the pedestrian choices commonly offered by rental companies. The extensive collection is available to augment an owner's personal tableware selection or to completely replace it by working with the client to create a new intimate design. Clients include both private citizens and event planners who understand that guests spend most of their time at the table and attention should be paid to every detail. If you are someone who wants something different, unique, timeless and has a real sensitivity to their party environment Small Masterpiece will be able to help you fulfill your needs.
The items in the rental collection are 100 to 150 years old and include:
- Haviland Limoges china in various patterns
- Early American pressed flint and glass goblets
- Antique monogrammed sterling silver flatware and napkin rings
- Slat folding lodge chairs
- Primitive folding sewing tables
- Reclaimed old bottles from Battle Creek, Michigan
- Early American pressed glass celery vases and water pitchers
- Heirloom damask table napkins from the U.S., Paris, and England
As one can see from the list above this is a carefully curated collection of antiques and vintage tableware that has completely redefined the notion of rental company and what they can provide. Currently owner Jason Murakawa is working with a prestigious event company in New York for a Florida based function as well as New York based fashion house style direction who is getting married in Los Angeles.
Gallery: Small Masterpiece
As always the company is concerned with not only the design of their books but the atmosphere and space where their clients can explore their merchandise. The South Beach store is no exception to this rule. The store is one of only thirteen high-end storefronts located in a brand new building designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Maeuron. Customers can turn the pages of their favorite art books in a space created by Philippe Stark, the legendary Frenchman who has designed all the Taschen stores worldwide. The company commissioned British artist Toby Ziegler to design interior murals and a hand-poured terrazzo floor. In a nod to the location the floors of the space are composed of stones native to the area of South Florida.
The inventory at this store will include the publisher's art, photography, design, architecture, sex, travel , cinema and pop culture as well as a good selection of Portuguese and Spanish language titles. Like all things South Beach the store is planning to be open late until 10pm Sundays through Thursdays and 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. If you'd like to celebrate the opening please join the store's celebration at 1111 Lincoln Road on Saturday March 20th from 4-6pm . The event will include drinks and music from DJ Faux Real and of course lots of books.
We've been reporting for a while now that the number of millionaires in the United states has been dropping. This is no surprise given the economic downturn the country has experienced. On Tuesday the Spectrem Group released a report stating that after a huge drop in the number of millionaires that the number of affluent households is starting to show signs of improvement.
According to their market research, after a sharp decline in wealth in 2008, the number of United States millionaires grew 16% to 7.8 million in 2009. The group reported that in 2007 a total of 9.2 households claimed millionaire status, the highest number in a ten year period that began in 1997. The Ultra High Net Worth households, considered to be those with a net worth of 5 million or more, also demonstrated a rebound of 17% to 980,00 in 2009. The market findings are based on the Spectrem Group's "Affluent Market Insights 2010" which is a survey that they claim has an error margin of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
The President of Spectrem Group George H. Walper, is quoted in the press release as saying it is" welcome news for an economy still working to recover." They conclude that while things are looking up due to the improvement of some asset classes the real estate market and general economy is still keeping the total number of millionaires well below its previous 1997 high. In an interesting related analysis, the company also researches a monthly Millionaire Investor Confidence Index which was down a point. It was also at the same level as the Affluent Investor Confidence Index (affluent being described as those with a $500,000 or over net worth) which is an unusual finding as the millionaires tend to be generally more optimistic than the affluent.
The World Wildlife Fund is holding the annual "Earth Hour" climate change initiative on March 27, 2010. The organization urges people to express their concern about climate change with one simple act, turning off their lights at 8:30pm local time. Last year nearly one billion people participated in the event in 4,100 cities world wide.
The Fairmont Hotel Group has been supporting the endeavor since its inception three years ago. The hotel group has come up with some creative ways to make "Earth Hour" an enjoyable experience for their clients who are at their properties spending money on a luxury vacation. Hotel guests at several properties can enjoy amenities such as; complimentary s'mores roasted at an ocean-side fire pit under the stars (The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii), candlelight dinners at various hotel restaurants (Hotel Vier Jahresseiten, Mara Safari Club, Fairmont Turnberry Isle, Fairmont Chateau Laurier) and even themed "Happy Hours" (Fairmont Dallas). Other offerings include the opportunity for guests to learn more about the environment with lectures by naturalists and even an astronomer who will use the opportunity of less ambient lighting to show off the night sky. The corporate side of the Fairmont group will also be dimming their lights and have recently moved into new LEED certified offices in Toronto.
American Ballet Theater is still planning to come to New York area but not until December and this time to Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Academy of Music has committed to a five year contract of ABT's new production of "The Nutcracker" choreographed by Alexi Ratmansky. Traditionally "The Nutcracker" is a big money maker for regional dance companies around the country and ABT is looking to cash in on that more predictable revenue source. David Koch, the Vice Chairman of ABT's board has already donated $2.5 million dollars towards funding the production.
New York City already has one "Nutcracker" performed annually since 1954 by the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center. It is considered by many to be the traditional holiday dance performance to which on should take children, both who live locally and those who are visitng family, during the holiday season. It will be interesting to see how the competing versions of "The Nutcracker" fare against each other given the already limited interest that exists in classical dance.
For some time it has been possible to personalize a Louis Vuitton bag at a number of flagship stores around the world. Now the service is truly global as it is available to all on their web-site.
There are three classic LV bags available for the online service: the Keepall, the Pegase and the Speedy. After choosing the bag and its size there are 17 different colors available for the diagonal or vertical stripes that will adorn your bag. You also have the option to put up to three initials on the bag with or without a "point" between the letters. There are cute features that let you reverse the colors, rotate your bag to view the monogram from all sides, and save your creation to finalize your selection later. If you decide that you must have an entire monogrammed set just push a button and your chosen monogram will be applied to other bags. If you'd like something more complicated, like your family crest, painted on your luggage you'll have to go to a Louis Vuitton store and discuss it with a sales associate in person.
The good news is that you receive free shipping with your online purchase, but be forewarned, the return policy is not the same for the monogrammed items and it can take up to 8 weeks for delivery. It is a bit funny that the web-site touts that there are over 200 million different combinations possible, so even though you are a carrying an LV bag it will be completely unique. However, it does beat tying a piece of colored string to the handle to differentiate your Louis Vuitton from all the others coming off the baggage claim rack at the airport.
For some the first Saturday in May is all about the horses, and for others, the Kentucky Derby is all about the hats. There are very few occasions left in today's society where woman can wear incredible millinery creations that really bring back another era. For those who love both the hats and the horses, or are just in a philanthropic mood, it is not too late to support retired racehorses and be a recipient of a fantastic custom made hat to wear to the big day.
Maggie Mae Designs™ has teamed up with Old Friends to create a series of one-of-a-kind Derby hats inspired by specific retired racehorses. Old Friends is an equine farm that specializes in the rescue and retirement of pensioned Thoroughbreds. Many in the horse world were devastated by the death of Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand in a Japanese slaughterhouse in 2002. In an effort to ensure that this never happens again the organization focuses on bringing at-risk racehorses, whose active careers are over to experience the dignified retirement they deserve. The only retirement farm to accept stallions, Old Friends is committed to providing a great retirement for these amazing athletes. The farm is open to the public and hosts tours daily.
Gallery: Derby Hats
A big question is: Does the public care what it does? It seems that the products designed by the robot industry are caught somewhere between being a very expensive toy and useless. Ever since Rosie was introduced on the Jetsons in the 1960s there has been a collective fantasy that a real housekeeper robot will miraculously emerge on the scene to help busy people manage their lives. Who wouldn't be interested in a helping hand who could cook, walk the dog and in general help out around the house? The Roomba vacuum, which can help with cleaning up some extra pet hair, doesn't count! Video chatting has become a simple reality; where is our "Rosie"?
At the moment The Japan Pulse reports that the newest robot to hit the market is the Palro Robot by Fujisoft. Showcased recently in Japan this cute humanoid stands a little over a foot tall and performs a variety of tasks. Included in this robot's repertoire is the ability to interact with household appliances such as televisions and cameras, act on voice commands, read out weather and news reports and of course the ever useful ability to dance. For those of you technology geeks who want to know the specifics here they are: Palro comes with a 1.6GHz CPU Intel Atom CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB of flash memory, a 3 MP camera, Wi-Fi, 802.11 b/g/n, 3 megapixel webcam and a lithium ion battery.
The company plans to sell the robots starting on March 15, 2010 with the main market being research institutions but plans to sell it to the rest of soon after for a hefty price tag of 298,000 Yen which is over $3,000 US dollars for each humanoid pal! For those of you with some cash to burn Palro seems like an excellent luxury toy but I'm waiting for my "Rosie"!
Check out video of Palro in action after the jump.