Tag Archives: London

Robert De Niro To Open London Hotel

Robert De Niro is best known for being an award-winning actor of course but he is also a film festival organizer, restaurateur and hotel owner. On the back of the success of the Greenwich Hotel in New York, that last one is set to move to a whole new level soon. Should all plans and approvals be a success, the Raging Bull star will be part of a project that will build a new luxury boutique hotel in London.

With 83 rooms, the Wellington Hotel project will be situated at Covent Garden and will feature a spa and two restaurants. “London is one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan cities in the world,” the 72-year-old star said in a statement released May 14.

This is far from his first jaunt away from the silver screen, as mentioned earlier. For those unfamiliar with his ventures outside cinema, he is one of the co-founders of Nobu, a high-end restaurant chain that can be found all over the world.

The London project has not yet been given planning approval by local officials but construction is expected to start next year, with a projected completion date of 2019.

 

Focus: Interior Designer Shalini Misra

The unmistakable source of Shalini Misra’s inspiration for this residence is industrial design—one that celebrates rather than conceals the underpinning and ballast of construction. From the exposed shutter concrete and bricks to the reclaimed wood planks and colorful concrete floor tiles, the authentic feel of building and construction is harmonized and refined to create a homely feel.

This property, a detached family house spaced over four floors, is situated in London’s upscale Hampstead area. The project included a complete redesign of the internal layout of the lower ground floor to create a large open space for the entrance hall and family area, as well as a complete new kitchen extension. On the upper ground floor, period features are kept in the existing formal dining room and reception room, and the look is completed with the addition of timber Herringbone flooring.

SOUTH HAMPSTEAD HOUSE BY SHALINI MISRA (2)

Complementing the client’s collections of art and oriental style antique furniture, Shalini Misra has incorporated new furniture and lighting elements in a more contemporary style.

Misra, who obtained her masters in architecture at UCL Bartlett in London, is no stranger to full-blown redesign. Among her earliest commissions after graduating was the design of the interiors of a four-bedroom flat in London for a client who lived overseas. Being a pure-play architect, designing a personal pied-a-terre was a true challenge which commenced her beautiful journey into the world of interiors.

Shalini Misra_form magazineSOUTH HAMPSTEAD HOUSE BY SHALINI MISRA (4)

This first interior design project kick-started an ever evolving style, with a deep-rooted understanding of volumes of spaces. Twenty years later, and with the trained eye of an architect, Misra has designed several homes internationally. Her love of travel and ability to absorb different cultural designs have helped her to create exclusive and eye-catching high end interiors.

Shalini Misra_form magazine_SOUTH HAMPSTEAD HOUSE BY SHALINI MISRA (6)

In this project, Misra positioned the master suite, consisting of a bedroom and sitting area, a bathroom and dressing room, on the first floor. Warm tones were used throughout in the bedroom as well as new and vintage timber furniture. The master bathroom boasts unique handmade Moroccan tiles on the counter top with sleek chrome fittings. Two further ensuite bedrooms on the second floor are designed to be comfortable and practical spaces for the client’s children. Fulfilling the brief, Shalini Misra has created a home that is unique, stylish and perfect for the whole family to enjoy.

Shalini Misra_form magazine_SOUTH HAMPSTEAD HOUSE BY SHALINI MISRA (13)

Shalini believes in eco-friendly design whenever possible and often re-uses or updates existing fittings, sourcing one off vintage items and recycling pieces of furniture. Shalini loves to create drama, energy and a freedom which can flow seamlessly through a space. Her guiding principle is to introduce the element of surprise and not to make any of her interior designs feel predictable.

SOUTH HAMPSTEAD HOUSE BY SHALINI MISRA (64)

Understanding the need of the client and proposing the right mood to suit their lifestyle is the key essence of her work and she considers a disappointed client to be her biggest failure. Happily, many of Shalini’s clients return time and time again, seeking her fusion of classical and contemporary design and signature “always lived there” feeling.

You can find out more about Shalini Misra here.

This story first appeared in FORM Magazine.

Michael Kors New Flagship Store in London

Fashion label Michael Kors has opened the doors to its largest flagship store in Europe. Located in London’s Regent Street, the firm’s new store calls a historic building with an elegant façade its home. The interior boasts a sophisticated and modern design concept, blending the past with the future. “London is one of the world’s great fashion cities and an endless source of inspiration for me personally,” says Michael Kors on the store opening. “I’m thrilled to be opening a beautiful new flagship on Regent Street that represents everything we do and offers our customers the full world of Michael Kors.” Regent_Street_Ground_Floor

The flagship store’s entrance starts off with pale and weathered limestone that also acts as a runway of sorts through the rest of the store. Dark Macassar wood floors, brushed stainless steel shelves, Venetian wallpaper and Calcutta marble fixtures showcase the subtle changes in Michael Kors signature store aesthetic. The mix of soft neutrals against warm wood, textural finishes and luxurious materials, gives customers a glamorous and sophisticated place to shop.London_Regent_Street_Menswear_034

Spread out across three levels, the 16,275 square foot flagship will carry every category of the designer’s products with areas dedicated to accessories, shoes, menswear and another just for women. “London is one of the world’s great fashion cities and an endless source of inspiration for me personally,” says Michael Kors on the store opening. “Our Regent Street flagship illustrates the evolution of the Michael Kors brand and the scope of our commitment to the business in Europe,” says John D. Idol, Chairman and CEO of Michael Kors. “This new European flagship enables us to present the full range of our luxury offering, including our exciting and fast-growing menswear line.”London_Regent_Street_1st_Floor_075

 

Viking Ocean Cruises Launches New Ship in London

Viking Ocean Cruises, the first entirely new cruise line in a decade, has officially welcomed its second ship, Viking Sea. Italian shipbuilders Fincantieri built the new ship.

Viking Sea made its debut at the grand party, pictured above, on the Thames River in Greenwich, London, May 5. This follows the launch of the cruise company’s first ship Viking Star, less than a year ago and signals the growth of Viking Ocean Cruises, cementing the reputation of cruise industry’s most recent arrival.

Able to accommodate up to 930 guests and weighing 47,800-tons, the Viking Sea is officially the largest ship ever launched in London, but only the second of six ocean cruise ships currently planned for the fleet. The third and fourth ships, Viking Sky and Viking Sun are under construction and will be delivered in early 2017 and late 2017, respectively. The two remaining yet-to-be-named ships will be delivered in 2018 and 2020.

Commenting on the launch, Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises said the company looks forward to bringing more guests to London this spring and in future years, via the launches of both ships.

“Our ships are built for exploration; they are vessels that help our guests spend more time immersed in and surrounded by their destination. With the arrival of our second ship – and with four more sister ships on the way – we are focused on introducing travelers to the Viking way of destination-centered cruising, a unique style that was inspired by our success on the rivers.”

Kelly Hoppen Reshapes London Home

This stunning listed property spans across four floors comprising four bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms along with three cloakrooms, a gym and a roof terrace. (Unfortunately, aside from being in London, we cannot reveal any other information about it – Ed).

This remarkable project was a collaboration between client and designer. Having worked together for many years Kelly Hoppen was truly able to capture the client’s desires.

The brief for this property was to create a twist of Kelly’s signature style of neutral luxury and construct an eclectic mix of new and old with splashes of color.

Mel Yates_Kelly_The London Property (52)

As you enter into each room of the property you are captivated by its elegance, softness and quirky twists with pops of color blended into the furniture; hidden like treasure in the interior of cupboard doors or subtly expressed through upholstery, artwork and decorative cushions.

Each room is as inviting and intriguing as the next with the iron staircase adorned with waterfall feature lights guiding your pathway through the space. The use of natural materials throughout the bathrooms is in keeping with Kelly’s famously sought-after style; elements that add to the soft and luxurious feel of the property.

Mel Yates_Kelly_The London Property (16)

Photos courtesy of www.kellyhoppen.com.

This story was first published in FORM. 

Interview: Designer Tim Bowder-Ridger

Conran + Partners has become one of the most well known and respected design studios in the world. Founded in 1989 by Sir Terrance Conran, they design everything from hand crafted furniture to large-scale mixed use developments. At its helm is Mr Tim Bowder-Ridger. An 18-year-old veteran at the company. He joined Conran in 1997 and today leads teams across the globe as it’s Managing Director. Our friends at Palace magazine sit down with him to get an insight into what it takes to oversee a company at the forefront of international design.

How did you come about joining Conran + Partners and what’s been your favorite project over the years?

I joined Conran and Partners 18 years ago, at a time when the London restaurant scene felt truly explosive. Conran were instrumental in this change in consumer attitude to eating out and I was attracted to this exciting cultural shift. Consequently for a few years following my arrival, I led on all Conran Restaurant projects, overseeing the design and implementation of what have today become classics. This part of our work continues today with the completion of our 100th restaurant and bar just before Christmas.

But my passion for residential and hotel design is at the core of what we do as a practice. Inevitably my favorite project is the one I am in the middle of working on at any one point. Currently that is Centre Point in central London.

In this project we are reinventing an icon of 1960s brutalist commercial architecture into a spectacular apartment building, whilst repairing the city fabric at the East end of Oxford Street.

How has your design philosophy and style changed throughout the past almost 19 years you’ve been with Conran + Partners?

I began with a relatively conventional professional approach of white modernist architecture that imposed a language onto whatever the context was.

Our approach at Conran and Partners has a greater flexibility in the ways of answering the user’s needs. It is always contextual, engaging with the physical and cultural reference points of its location to create a narrative that is explicit in the design solution. Always trying to create a specific sense of place in a world that is in danger of becoming ever more generic.

What do you believe has made Conran + Partners so successful?

The success of Conran and Partners rests upon the core value that has been with the company from its founding which is to make aspirational design accessible to as many people as possible.

We work across all sectors and scales around the world, but our underlying thread is always to bring about quality design that is articulate and tangible to the people who are going to use the buildings whether as occupants or simply as members of the community within which the building exists. The world population has become much more design savvy. People travel more, read more, eat out more, shop more.

There is a greater level of expectancy when it comes to design and creating a memorable experience. An indication of success to us is when people not involved in our project can describe the point of design without being told it… hopefully in positive language!

We focus on mainly luxury residential property at Palace. Can you tell me a bit about any upcoming residential projects you will be working on? Centrepoint? Any others?

Culture, for me, is the new luxury. Centre Point, which I mentioned earlier, is in my opinion, one of the most beautiful listed buildings in London. It is a prime development where we are converting what was office space into 82 extraordinary apartments which marry the spirit of the 1960’s with the vibrant hot bed of creativity London exuberates today. The building is located in the very heart of London’s cultural district within a few minutes’ walk of the British Museum, Theatre Land and the national galleries.

Once the project has finished in 2017, it will be one of the most exciting addresses in the heart of one of the most exciting cities in the world.

Blake Tower, Richard John Seymour

Blake Tower

Our Blake Tower project is another exercise in reinventing a 1960s piece of Brutalist architecture located within London’s Barbican Estate; a cultural oasis within itself. The apartments have been strategically planned to engage with the building’s original architectural anatomy of pickhammered concrete structure, with a contemporary palette to provide extremely stylish homes.

Both developments are outside of London’s traditional luxury neighbourhoods but are incredibly sought after in the fact they are rare opportunities to buy into a creative way of life and to own a unique piece of London’s art and design scene.

We work all over the world, with live projects currently in Copenhagen, Tokyo, Istanbul, Jakarta and Auckland. With all these projects, the overarching story stems from the culture of the area and the building, to create unique experiences of their location.

They will appeal to a generation that is fundamentally very cultured, though of course that is not a pre-requisite.

How is Conran + Partners expanding across Asia?

Our love affair for working in Asia began in the late 90’s with a new urban quarter in the heart of Tokyo.

Appointed as part of an international design team, we were involved in the architecture, interior design, landscape design, product design and graphics for the Roppongi Hills Development. The scheme, which occupies an 11-hectare site, is as significant to Tokyo as Canary Wharf is to London, and is well known for the mix of luxury apartments, restaurants, bars and private members clubs which we created at the time.

We subsequently continued with large scale architecture across the city, completing Japan’s largest single mixed-use development last year with Futako Tamagawa. I fly out to Tokyo next week to develop another residential project and will be visiting every six weeks or so. It’s a fantastic city and I love the Japanese approach to design, culture and, of course, food.

Our other thrust in Asia, however, is led by our hotel work, having designed a plethora of private members clubs, hotels and restaurants throughout Hong Kong, India and South Korea. We are currently in the midst of designing a new luxury 5 star hotel in Jakarta. It will include over 200 rooms, a luxury spa, multiple bars and restaurants, and another (whilst not strictly in Asia) in Auckland.

What trends are you currently seeing in Modern Architecture and Design?

A strong recognition of the quality of 20th Century Modernism, which represented a clarity of thought and an honesty of implementation. Many of our briefs are currently about reinterpreting that into the 21st Century, taking on-board the technical and lifestyle changes that have happened in the interim. A credible representation of our time.

Horseferry Road

Horseferry Road

What would you say is the most exciting city for Modern Architecture?

London for its combination of enormous energy and a value attached to quality design.

On the other hand, Tokyo, for me personally, whilst a difficult market to get into for foreign designers, is fascinating to work in, not least because of the synergy between the Japanese design values and our company perspective, such as clarity of approach, the importance of narrative, attention to detail, clean lines and a simple palette of materials. Possibly the least ostentatious culture in the world.

Walk me through your daily routine.

I tend to arrive to the studio early. An hour or so before everyone else to answer emails, read the news, gather my thoughts and focus on designing uninterrupted. The day quickly becomes a mix of back-to back management meetings and project reviews, of which I am either the lead designer or is being directed by another member of the senior team. On average I have three business lunches a week, sometimes along the River Thames but quite often around Soho or Mayfair. It’s a chance to properly catch-up, throw some ideas around and work through a design. Either way, always armed with an A5 sketchbook and 2B pencil. I’ll then head back to the studio, touch base with my design team, before finding a quiet corner to work through some ideas. I finish the day either by going out to dinner with clients or friends, or visit our local independent cinema with my family. Otherwise, subject to how big my lunch was, I will drive down to the country to exercise my horses.

When you travel, what do you like to bring with you? Smartphone, tablet laptop etc…

I take all of the above plus a pile of magazines. Air travel in particular is a chance to escape from my phone and find time to think. My constant companion is my luggage. Rimowa, a classic German brand made of solid aluminum looks beautiful new but over the years patinates fantastically.

Favorite restaurant to take clients?

Quo Vadis in London is a great location to take clients. The atmosphere is glamorous enough to be interesting but not pretentious. In Tokyo I would recommend a table at Plate. It’s a small independent establishment with exceptional dishes made of quality ingredients. The owner is very eccentric and offers a Japanese take on Italian cuisine.

Liked or respected?

Hopefully a bit of both, achieved through keeping a sense of humor; no matter how challenging a task at hand is.

Leadership style?

To give everyone I work with ownership of their task and therefore ownership of the overall strategy.

Tim Bowder-Ridger Portrait edited colour 2

Story Credits

Text by Robbie Wilson

This article was originally published in PALACE Magazine

Degustation: 3 Chefs Talk Creativity, Cuisine

Imagine sitting in a restaurant and savouring five to 10 exquisitely prepared dishes over a period of three or more hours. You get to taste the food on your palate, relish the visual spectacle on the plate, and indulge in the freshness of the produce and surprising combinations of flavour. These, combined with immaculate table service, are all part of the degustation experience. But what is degustation, really? Originating from the French word “dégustation”, the culinary term refers to a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods that focus on the gustatory (taste) system, the senses, high culinary art, and, of course, good company.

A degustation often involves the sampling of small portions of a chef’s signature dishes in one sitting. It usually begins with the lightest dishes that segue into heavier ones. In between, slightly acidic dishes such as sorbet act as palate cleansers. Cocktails and wines are also an important component of a degustation menu and are suggested as accompaniments to certain dishes.

This is a form of art and science that requires a chef to have an innate sense of gastronomical aesthetics and a knowledge of sophisticated culinary techniques, reflecting the chef’s creativity and innovation, and his or her propensity to induce a sense of curiosity and surprise in the diner.

Yoshiyuki Kashiwabara, Kaiseki YoshiyukiYoshiyuki Kashiwabara

Japan has its own version of degustation in the form of kaiseki. One of the highest degrees of culinary art in Japan, this traditional Japanese multi-course haute cuisine was derived from 16th century tea ceremony rituals in Kyoto. And no one knows it better than award-winning chef Yoshiyuki Kashiwabara, who spent seven years as the personal chef to Japanese ambassadors based in San Francisco and Singapore. According to Yoshiyuki – whose résumé includes a stint at the esteemed Kyoryori Hosoi in Tokyo, where he joined as a trainee and eventually headed the kitchen – the essence of kaiseki is an emphasis on natural flavours, a balance of taste and texture, and delicate presentation. 

What inspires your kaiseki menu?

Japan’s four seasons and the finest ingredients each season has to offer. For example, I will only use the chestnut in autumn – when it is at its freshest – and not in spring. When it comes to presentation, I will plate the dish with flowers and birds symbolic of a particular season.

Kaiseki Yoshiyuki Interior

Kaiseki Yoshiyuki Interior

What does your kaiseki menu include?

We have a seven-, eight- or nine-course kaiseki menu. For the latter, I create it on the day itself with the freshest and most refined ingredients available that day. It is done in the style of Omakase, which refers to a meal consisting of dishes that are selected by the chef – so it’s up to me. For the other menus, I start with Hassun which features the best vegetables of that season in the form of small appetisers. This is followed by Suimono, a soup with light broth. After this comes Tsukuri, which features sashimi such as akami (tuna) – also known as maguro – and chutoro, a fattier version of akami. Chutoro, or tuna belly, is a premium part of the tuna. When it’s fresh, its taste is unbeatable. I usually served it as small, sliced cubes so that it is not too rich for the palate.

How do you get your fresh produce?

Every morning at 1am, I call the suppliers from Tsukiji market, the largest fish market in Japan, to check what’s available that day. Sometimes, I fly to Japan to select the freshest ingredients in season and deal with suppliers directly, and have the ingredients flown in to the restaurant at least twice a week. If there’s an unforeseen circumstance (such as when a typhoon in Japan affects the produce), I will have to improvise and think of something different for the menu.

Hassun (seasonal vegetables appetiser) that features Japan’s spring

Taste, texture and presentation – how important are
these factors?

Creating subtle, fresh tastes, light textures and intricate food presentation is key. Whether it’s the thought process, the act of cooking or the presentation, it is of utmost importance to pay great attention to detail. Also, all the flavours have to be balanced and reflect the seasonal theme of the dish.

To what extent is kaiseki a form of art and showcase of technique?

Kaiseki cuisine requires a lot of patience, cooking and skilful knife techniques, especially when it comes to carving birds and flowers out of real food and plating them. I have a personal set of knives – they are my tools. A knife is very important to a chef, just like a brush is to a painter. In fact, the way you slice a fish can change its taste and texture.

Daikon (mild flavored winter radish) with crab

In three words, describe your brand of kaiseki.

Poetic, beautiful and pure.

What kind of kaiseki experience do you want diners to have at your restaurant?

I want them to feel good and healthy while tasting the freshest seasonal ingredients, all of which have high nutritional value.  And I want to bring them on a journey of Japan’s four seasons through the ingredients and the beauty of the dishes; I want to transport them from Singapore to Kyoto.

Ryan Clift, Tippling ClubRyan-Clift

Over the course of his 23-year career, Wiltshire-born Ryan Clift has worked with some of the world’s finest chefs, including Marco-Pierre White, Peter Gordon, Emmanuel Renaut, Shannon Bennett and Raymond Capaldi. In 1999, Clift was ran the show in the kitchen at Vue de Monde, one of Australia’s most acclaimed restaurants. 

What is your concept of degustation?

I believe that customers need a level of trust in the chef in order to select the degustation option for a meal. For me, it allows us to be truly creative – with the flexibility to select the freshest produce that may only be available on a particular day, or to create something special for a customer.

Snow Crab

Snow Crab

How important are taste, texture and presentation?

For me, taste and texture take precedence over presentation. Taste is always the most crucial factor, while textures make the dish that much more exciting and memorable for the diner. Presentation, for us, is based on coming up with the best way to showcase the ingredients and it’s quite fluid – we’re not sticklers for that.

What inspires your degustation menu?

Our latest menu reflects the kitchen team’s travels around the world, particularly Tokyo. The ingredients that we discover on our trips abroad constantly inspire us and we want to share that with our customers and introduce them to unique flavour profiles.

Mangalica Pork Collar

Mangalica Pork Collar

What are some of the highlights of this new menu?

We’ve got a number of really interesting dishes such as the Mangalica Pork Collar, where we brine the meat, then slow cook it for 19 hours at 72 degrees for fork-tender texture. It’s served with cinnamon-infused dashi broth, vegetables pickled in nuka (Japanese rice bran) and nori crackers – all made in-house.

The lobster menu is a really delicate dish of lobster from Brittany served with horseradish, chive gel and, for contrast, a puree of sea buckthorn for some acidity. We then pair it with the Daruma-Mazuma cocktail, which contains lime and lemon that reflect the acidity of the dish.

Our Snow Crab features a refreshing delicate crab salad made from Western Australian crab topped with sliced Kyoho grapes from the Yamanashi prefecture in Japan. It’s all about showcasing the best produce we can find and create matches that really excite the customers’ taste buds.

What kind of experience do you want guests to have with your degustation menu?

I believe everyone has his or her own unique experience. For me, I do not want my guests to feel like they’re in a stiff, formal restaurant, but rather, in a place that’s fun – with damn good food!

Kirk Westaway, Jaan

Kirk Westaway

Kirk Westaway

Growing up in Devon, England surrounded by farm-fresh produce, Westaway’s passion for only the most excellent ingredients is evident in his gastronomic creations. Recently promoted to Chef de Cuisine of Jaan, the 29-year-old spent a term at two-Michelin-starred The Greenhouse in London’s Mayfair. Last February, he was crowned the South East Asian regional winner in the semi-finals of the inaugural S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 competition.   

What inspires your degustation menu?

Ingredients are what inspire me, they change all the time depending on what produce is at peak. We have five to seven courses that are set and printed daily, depending on the availability I get that day from each fish, meat and vegetable.

The 10-course, being the inspirational menu, is not printed – I create the dishes on the spot before they come in and as they go along during the dining experience, depending on availability. For example, I might have live lobster from Scotland, but that could change to a different fish or meat according to how many dishes are served that night.

I am open to ideas. I talk to diners and listen to their feedback. I value their opinions; sometimes, they inspire me.Jaan at Swissotel The Stamford

What is your most intricate dish?

The Tomato Collection – it’s fresh, clean, sweet and savoury, and has a smooth texture. It is a tomato within a tomato. Firstly, we hollow out the centre of the vine-ripened tomato, semi-dry the part that is taken out overnight, chop it up and add some fresh shallots, parmesan, capers, smoked olive oil and other good ingredients, and stuff them back inside the vine tomatoes. It takes 16 hours for them to dry. We also make some tomato water, add basil sorbet and croutons for crunch. People think they are just looking at a tomato, but when they slice it open, they see all work that goes into it. 

In what sequence are the dishes presented?

Step by step, from warm to dense and complex. The menu usually starts off with a Langoustine Cannelloni dish served ice cold. The next dish is served at room temperature – one example is the Tomato Collection. This is followed by an egg that’s served at 55 degrees, then fish with a hot sauce right off the stove. I always finish off with meat and then a palate cleanser before dessert.

Langoustine Cannelloni

Langoustine Cannelloni

How much emphasis do you place on presentation?

My main focus is on taste but I try to make every plate pretty as well; my style of presenting is clean, tidy and elegant. I like to put interesting items on each plate. Colour is important – I generally finish plating dishes with fresh and unique green herbs, and flowers, such as fennel blossom, garlic flowers or carrot flowers – all of which you might not see locally.

How do you come up with all the combinations of flavours and textures in your degustation menu?

We have many ingredients, all of which become different components in each dish. Each flavour serves a purpose, and complements another. For example, when I cook a meat with a sauce, and it works, I’ll leave it. But if I think it needs something interesting, a bit of richness, a bit of crunch, a bit of acidity or sweetness, then I’ll add ingredients accordingly. But if I taste the dish and I feel that one of the elements is not needed, I’ll take it out straight away.

Tomato Collection

Tomato Collection

What sort of experience do you want diners to have?

I want to create memories and evoke emotions. The menu might look simple, but when the food comes, diners are impressed by how intricate the dishes are. They get to taste fresh organic vegetables, fine cheese and flavoursome quality products from around the world. It’s not just a meal to fill your stomach, but also a multi-sensory experience put together by the culinary team.

Story Credits

Text by Abigail Chia

This story was first published in L’Officiel Singapore. 

Letter Detailing Queen Elizabeth Romance Sold

On Saturday, one private collector walked away from an auction at Chippenham Auction Rooms in southwest England with a rare handwritten letter from Queen Elizabeth. The letter, written nearly seven decades before by the, then—Princess Elizabeth, recounted the early years of her meetings and romance with the man who was born a prince of Greece and Denmark.

The love story that now sees the couple in their nineties, with great-grandchildren, has weathered many a storm. While the letter does not feature detailed accounts such as the time she threw her shoe at the Duke of Edinburgh in a fit of rage, it does give us a first hand account of how the relationship first began. Sold for £14,400 ($20,750, 18,475 euros), the letter was written to author Betty Shew for her book Royal Wedding as a wedding gift.

“The first time I remember meeting Philip was at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in July 1939, just before the war. (We may have met before at the coronation or the Duchess of Kent’s wedding, but I don’t remember),” the future monarch wrote.

“I was 13 years of age and he was 18 and a cadet just due to leave. He joined the Navy at the outbreak of war, and I only saw him very occasionally when he was on leave — I suppose about twice in three years.

“Then when his uncle and aunt, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, were away he spent various weekends away with us at Windsor. Then he went to the Pacific and Far East for two years as everyone there will know.”

She said the wedding ring was to be made of Welsh gold and her fiance designed it himself.

“I don’t know the history of the stone, except that it is a very fine old cutting. It was given to me not long before the engagement was announced.”

She told of how Prince Philip danced with her at two London nightclubs and spent six weeks with the royals at Balmoral, their Scottish private retreat.

“We both love dancing — we have danced at Ciro’s and Quaglino’s as well at parties,” she wrote.

“We first started seeing more of each other when Philip went for a two-year job to the R.N Petty Officers School at Corsham — before that we hardly knew each other.”

 

Report: Damien Hirst Art Leaks Deadly Gas

British artist Damien Hirst is extremely provocative and divisive but apparently some of his work might also be deadly or at least sickening. The notorious works of art (basically dead and variously sliced up animals preserved in giant tanks) in question at London’s Tate Modern gallery have evidently been quietly reeking…literally. Scientists testing a new sensor for the remote detection of formaldehyde gas (a known carcinogen) in the 2012 exhibition found levels well above those legally permitted, it emerged last week.

According to an AFP report, the findings were published in the monthly journal Analytical Methods. The scientists insisted they did not believe their findings showed there was a risk to the public at one of Britain’s most popular attractions, visited by 5.8 million people in 2014.

“It has been found that the tanks are surrounded by formaldehyde fumes, constantly exuded in the atmosphere (likely via the sealant), reaching levels of five ppm (parts per million), one order of magnitude higher than the 0.5 ppm limit set up by legislation,” the journal abstract states.

One work that emitted high levels was “Away from the Flock”, a 1994 exhibit showing a lamb preserved in formaldehyde solution in a glass and steel box.

Gas was also detected around “Mother and Child (Divided)”, a 1993 work which comprises four boxes containing a calf and cow, each bisected, although the exact level was not written in the journal article.

Unrelated to Hirst’s preserved bloody works, the scientists found similar results in the Summer Palace in Beijing, particularly around some artworks. No levels were given in this case and the study’s authors suggest the results could be blamed on new lacquer painted on old works. This illustrates that formaldehyde is found all around us, particularly in applications of lacquer and the like in furniture. Typically, only prolonged exposure is harmful.

“Tate always puts the safety of its staff and visitors first, and we take all necessary precautions when installing and displaying our exhibitions,” a spokesman for the Tate Modern said.

“These works contained a very dilute formaldehyde solution that was contained within sealed tanks.”

Later in the week, Hirst responded on his website to the study, which was led by Pier Giorgio Righetti at the Politecnico di Milano in Italy.

“We do regular testing and our experts tell us that at the levels reported by this journal, your eyes would be streaming and you would be in serious physical discomfort. No such complaints were made to us during the show —or at any other shows or sites featuring the formaldehyde works. We don’t believe any risk was posed to the public.”

In a statement, Righetti said the research “was intended to test the uses of a new sensor for measuring formaldehyde fumes and we do not believe that our findings suggest any risk to visitors at Tate Modern”.

Naomi Campbell Launches New Book

We last saw her in the hit TV series Empire, learning the hard way that power never comes with happiness. She is stepping back into the spotlight to promote her new coffee table book Naomi that acts as a catalogue of her meteoric success and will be released on May 1.

Her career that spans more than 30 years (has it really been that long?!) takes up two volumes and rightfully so. Volume One, will be a pictorial portfolio while Volume Two will feature autobiographical text. While the latter will be more personal, with Campbell’s own anecdotes, personal notes, photographs of friends and collaborators that have been taken from her own archive, the former will be slightly more fashion centric.

Volume One will showcase the work of famous photographers such as Patrick Demarchelier, Jean-Paul Goude, Peter Lindbergh and Mario Testino amongst others. The casing of the book, published by Taschen, even features the contoured artwork of Allen Jones, as if the list isn’t impressive enough as is.

Attending a launch for the book at Burberry’s London cafe Thomas’s this week, Campbell, who has a long history of working with the British heritage brand, said: “To be able to celebrate with my family and friends like Christopher Bailey and Benedikt Taschen, and so many people from my industry that have surrounded me for over 30 years was a great honor.”

Only 1,000 copies of the book, which can be pre-ordered from taschen.com for $1,750 until May 1, when it will retail for $2,500, have been printed, and according to the publisher they are selling fast. Taschen is also releasing 200 art edition copies, currently available for pre-order for $3,500 until May 1, when the price will rise to $5,000.

Campbell isn’t the first fashion icon to mark her impressive career with a coffee table book — Gisele Bundchen also teamed up with Taschen at the end of last year to honor her 20 years in the industry with a similar photo book venture. The 1,000 copy run of the $700 publication sold out before hitting the shelves, thanks to the pre-order system. Fellow supermodel Kate Moss arguably started the trend back in 2012 when she released “Kate: The Kate Moss Book”, a retrospective of her 25-year career.

 

This story was written in-house, with an AFP wire story as the primary source.

L’Eternal Printemps by Rodin Set for Auction

Created by the French artist in 1884, the “L’Eternal Printemps” (French for “Eternal Springtime”) will appear at auction for the first time May 9 at Sotheby’s in New York with an estimated opening bid of $8 to $12 million.

Carved from single block of marble, this graceful two-figure work was modeled during Ronin’s intense period of activity for The Gates of Hell, evoking the inappropriate euphoria of two young lovers despite the tragedy being played out on The Gates. Its appearance in May will be the first time in two decades that a Rodin marble sculpture will appear on the market. It is thought to be one of 10 such sculptures, all on the same subject.

In February 2016, Rodin’s cast of “Iris, Messagère des dieux” broke auction records when it sold for $16.7 million at Sotheby’s in London.

Dine Naked at The Bunyadi, London

If it has always been a fantasy to eat in the buff with complete strangers, get ready to strip at The Bunyadi, a pop-up naked restaurant where customers are more than welcome to remove all clothes and get comfy.

Opening this summer in central London at an as yet undisclosed address, the naked restaurant already boasts a 4,000-person waiting list. Meal-goers are invited to remove all articles of clothing (yes, that includes your underwear) and change into a gown; punters can then choose whether to keep or remove the gown at their table. Privacy is maintained by bamboo partitions on the restaurant floor, closing off diners in intimate space and keeping prying eyes at bay. Members of staff are also expected to be minimally clothed.

Named after a Hindi term for ‘base’ or ‘natural’, The Bunyadi’s concept goes beyond food. The idea to free diners from the “trappings of modern life” and focus on the bare essentials means that dishes are cooked over wood fire and served in handmade clay crockery – over candlelight no less. The cutlery will also be edible and vegan and non-vegan options will be available.

Diners intrigued by the concept but not quite brave enough to go the whole hog can be rest assured that keeping your clothes on are also an option at the non-naked section. Join the waiting list today at thebunyadi.com.

 

This story was written in-house, with an AFP wire report as the source. There are as yet no images of what the restaurant actually looks like.

 

 

 

Spring/Summer 2016: 4 Celebrity Collaborations

It’s always fun to learn of celebrity collaborations with notable brands. Here, we take a look at some of the most anticipated lineups for Spring 2016 you’d want to include on your shopping list.

Rihanna for Manolo BlahnikManolo-Blahnik-Rihanna

Rihanna isn’t showing signs of slowing down when it comes to collaborations. This spring, she adds yet another exciting project to her busy fashion plate with famed luxury shoe designer Manolo Blahnik for a capsule footwear collection entitled “Denim Desserts”. The collection includes six models: ankle boots, stilettos and thigh-high boots. The embroidery and beading featured in the designs, are inspired by the award-winning singer’s many tattoos.This very limited-edition collection goes on sale from May 5 in Manolo Blahnik stores in London, New York and Hong Kong.

Sonia Rykiel & Robert ClegerieSonia-Rykiel-Robert-Clergerie

One of Robert Clergerie’s most iconic designs makes a come-back from the 1980s with the help of Sonia Rykiel. The closed-toe wedge sandals with an ankle strap that sealed the brand’s success got a breath of fresh air with bejweled, striped and sequined designs. Fans looking to embrace the iconic style of the ‘80s can do so in June when the updated designs head to both brands’ stores.

Liberty London for Uniqloliberty-london-Uniqulo

Uniqlo has quietly edged into the top spot for designer collaborations after working with some of the industry’s best – think Pharrell Williams, UNDERCOVER and Jil Sander. This season, in celebration of Liberty London’s 140th anniversary, the Japanese chain brings a selection of charming floral prints by the English label to bloom on 20 Uniqlo designs, including T-shirts, dresses, pants and lightweight down jackets for women, men, children and babies. The range is out now in stores and online.

Kendall & Kylie Jenner for Neiman MarcusKendall-Kylie-Jenner-Neiman-Marcus

Kendall and Kylie Jenner have taken over the world one Instagram post at a time, and now they’re about to take over our wardrobes too. The capsule collection of chic, high-end pieces designed for Neiman Marcus as part of the label’s “#OnlyatNM” program sees moto jackets, shorts and maxi dresses designed by the powerhouse sisters, and is available in the luxury label’s stores or online at neimanmarcus.com.

 

Focus: Art Collective TeamLab

TeamLab is an artist collaborative that brings together creative professionals from disparate disciplines to realise visionary art projects. Founded in 2001 by Toshiyuki Inoko, the team has grown to more than 400 people, including architects, artists, composers, computer graphics animators, editors, engineers, graphic designers, mathematicians and programers.

A multi-tasking outfit, TeamLab operates out of its Tokyo-based office. It offers creative solutions and innovative ideas through products such as interactive software and mobile applications, and of course, its artworks. Calling themselves ultra-technologists, the members contribute their unique expertise to create signature cross-disciplinary artworks that blur and push the boundaries between art and technology.

TeamLab had its first exhibition in 2011 at Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Taipei. Since then, interest in its artworks has grown steadily. TeamLab has exhibited in other parts of the world, such as at the Singapore Biennale 2013, at Pace Gallery in New York in 2014, and in Europe at events such as Expo Milan 2015 and Art Paris Art Fair 2015. Earlier his year, TeamLab was also shortlisted for the ‘Best Emerging Artist Using Digital and Video’ award at the Prudential Eye Awards, and exhibited new works at START Art Fair 2015, presented by Prudential and held at Saatchi Gallery in London.

Interactive Digital Art

Installation view of Harmony and Diversity for the Japan Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

Installation view of Harmony and Diversity for the Japan Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

TeamLab creates digital art. This is different from video art, which runs from beginning to end in a finite pre-choreographed sequence, and when exhibited, is played in loop that remains the same each time it is presented. Video art is also independent of the audience’s actions. In contrast, the digital art that TeamLab creates is neither pre-taped nor replayed. Rather, it is a computer program that is able to run endlessly, and what is seen is dependent on the audience’s interactions with the artwork.

In making its digital artworks, TeamLab is deeply influenced by what has come before in Japanese art. It has coined a special term, “ultrasubjective space”, which refers to “the logical structure of the spatial awareness of ancient Japanese”. Although Japanese paintings are often considered flat in contrast to Western paintings, TeamLab sees it as an equally logical perspective to view the world. This is an underlying principle in the making of its digital artworks.

Play! TeamLab Future Park at Miraikan

Play! TeamLab Future Park at Miraikan

 

Japanese Culture and Way of Life

In August 2014, Pace Gallery New York presented TeamLab’s first exhibition in America, aptly named ‘Ultra Subjective Space’. On display were six artworks including five large-scale digital monitor pieces, as well as the immersive digital installation ‘Crows are Chased and the Chasing crows are Destined to be Chased as Well, Division in Perspective – Light in Dark’. This was spread out across seven staggered screens, showing Yatagarasu, a three-legged crow in Japanese mythology, flying through the screens, leaving in its wake what TeamLab called “spatial calligraphy”, a digital trail of the crow’s movements.

Another work in the exhibition, ‘Cold Life’, was equally inspired by Japanese culture. Based on the Japanese and Chinese character 生, pronounced sheng, meaning life, the strokes that made up the character morphed into a tree – a fitting commentary on the magical power of nature. It was also a technological marvel in its Ultra High Definition (Ultra HD) display – four times the resolution of Full High Definition (FHD) – to show off the technical intricacies that made the work possible.

Dance!@ Art Exhibition at Miraikan

Dance!@ Art Exhibition at Miraikan

There is inherent pride in Japanese culture that comes through in all of TeamLab’s works. For the Singapore Biennale in 2013, the work ‘Peace can be Realized Even without Order’, drew from the traditional Awa Dance Festival. The artwork, exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum, featured a group of male dancers in holograms wearing printed kimonos playing instruments. When a visitor came into proximity with a dancer, he would stop moving and making music, which in turn made his neighbouring dancers do the same. Soon however, the dancing and music resumed. Peace, represented by the convivial atmosphere of merry-making, would be restored.

It is not only from cultural forms that TeamLab takes inspiration for its works, but also the Japanese way of life. For the Japan Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015, which opened in May this year and will close at the end of October, two works are shown: ‘Harmony’ and ‘Diversity’. In ‘Harmony’, screens are placed horizontally at knee and waist levels for visitors to walk past, transporting them to the rice fields of Japan. This simulation allows the visitor to experience the change of seasons throughout the year. The artwork effectively communicates the delicate and harmonious relationship shared between people and nature.

Complementing the focus on Japanese food, in ‘Diversity’, images of food items from Japan are placed against a computer-generated waterfall. Visitors are able to transfer these enticing pictures, together with details about the delicacies onto their smartphones, taking away the experience of the artwork with them. It is an innovative way to share information about a distinctive part of the Japanese way of life.

Play! TeamLab Future Park at Miraikan

Play! TeamLab Future Park at Miraikan

Nature in Japanese Art

The imageries that TeamLab uses are for the most part derived from nature, including water, birds, flowers, insects and trees. TeamLab is particularly taken by the depiction of water in traditional Japanese paintings, which it remains faithful to in their digital artworks. Speaking to Art Republik, Takashi Kudo from TeamLab noted that the way water is traditionally depicted in Western art and Japanese art are vastly different. For example, while the former may hint at rain through the subjects’ use of umbrellas or the glistening of a wet rock, the latter uses curvilinear lines to represent rain itself.

In an exploration of the Japanese way of portraying water, TeamLab created ‘Universe of Water Particles’, a waterfall made of digitally created water particles and lines. It has been exhibited at different locations, including the Dojima River Biennale 2013 and Art Stage Singapore 2014. In March this year, the work was projected on the façade of the Grand Palais by invitation from Bogéna Galerie, as part of Art Paris Art Fair 2015 in March.

Installation view of What a Loving and Beautiful World at Shake Art Exhibition

Installation view of What a Loving and Beautiful World at Shake Art Exhibition

Flowers often take centre stage in TeamLab’s artworks. ‘Floating Flower Garden – Flowers and I are of the Same Root, the Garden and I are One’ is a work by TeamLab that is made up of an explosion of flowers. The colourful work features over 2300 flowers, each with an accompanying insect. As each visitor enters the space, flowers that are “disturbed” by the intrusion float up and hover in a dream-like flower halo. As the visitor moves away, the flowers float back down to occupy the space that he or she has left. If there are many visitors in the interactive kinetic installation at a time, then the flowers move to form one big dome that surrounds all of them. This will be shown at the 20th anniversary instalment of the Maison&Objet Paris fair in September.

Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, interactive digital installation for START Projects at Saatchi Gallery, 2015

Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, interactive digital installation for START Projects at Saatchi Gallery, 2015

TeamLab often makes variations of a work. For instance, there is ‘Flowers and People – Dark’ and ‘Flowers and People – Gold’, which show shifting fields of flowers in two colour schemes. As one walks through each installation, the flowers goes through their life cycles, budding, blooming and finally withering away. Similarly, the works ‘Ever Blossoming Life II – Dark’ and ‘Ever Blossoming Life II – Gold’ present the predictable life cycle of flowers, one with a dark background and the other with a gold background. Surrounded by responsive screens of animation, the viewer experiences a simulated Zen garden that responds to his or her movements.

Besides recreating nature in controlled environments, TeamLab has worked directly in the great outdoors where the digital worlds it creates co-exist with the natural world. In an upcoming project for 2016, ‘Resonating Trees – Forest of Tadasu at Shimogamo Shrine’, a light show will be installed among the trees that line the way to the World Heritage site of Shimogamo Shrine. With the approach of people or animals, the light that each tree is bathed in will change its colour, bringing attention to the presence of other living beings in a serene and poetic commentary on the ecosystem we all live in.

Sights and Sounds

To facilitate its immersive environment, TeamLab adds sounds to its visually captivating artworks, giving the audience a multi-sensory experience. In ‘Resonating Spheres and Night Fish’, currently on show until December at the Enoshima Aquarium in Kanagawa, Japan, spheres of light on the walls and ceilings change their colours upon touch, accompanied by a change in sound, which is unique to each colour. As this happens, the other spheres also react to the shifts, and momentarily emit the same colours and sounds as part of a chain reaction.

Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, interactive digital installation for START Projects at Saatchi Gallery, 2015

Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, interactive digital installation for START Projects at Saatchi Gallery, 2015

TeamLab has a long-time music collaborator, Hideaki Takahashi, who has produced soundtracks for many of its works, including ‘Resonating Spheres and Night Fish’, as well as ‘Floating Instrument’ back in 2010, ‘Flowers and People – Gold and Dark’ in 2014, and most recently ‘Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – Dark’, ‘Floating Flower Garden – Flowers and I are of the same root, the Garden and I are one’ in 2015, among others. The music serves to envelop the visitors and helps them to transition from real world to the alternate realities that TeamLab creates.

Inspiring the Next Generation

As innovators, TeamLab is far seeing not only in the works it realises, but also in the potential for their works to connect and inspire people. In particular, the artist collaborative has its sights set on grooming the younger generation through introducing them to new ways of learning, playing and eventually, in the future, working. A key idea is the importance of working in collaboration with others rather than in isolation.

Back in Japan, TeamLab’s first major solo exhibition at home opened at Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, also known as Miraikan, in November 2014. The exhibition had two sections that displayed 18 artworks from the artist collective’s oeuvre: ‘Dance! Art Exhibition’ and ‘Learn and Play! TeamLab Future Park’. The latter featured children-friendly artworks. The exhibition was a huge success, with nearly half a million visitors coming through the museum’s doors. ‘Learn and Play! TeamLab Future Park’ was a first step in the artist collaborative’s forward efforts to provide a platform for children to see the fun in being creative, an indispensable quality that TeamLab believes is not encouraged, let alone groomed in an education system they believe places emphasis on rote learning.

Nirvana at Shake Art Exhibition

Nirvana at Shake Art Exhibition

One artwork, ‘Sketch Town’, was a three-dimensional town built on the two-dimensional drawings of cars, buildings and the like from children, allowing them to see “in reality” the fruits of their imagination. Furthermore, the children’s drawings were also made into paper-craft patterns that they could then take home to turn into three-dimensional models. Another interactive installation, ‘Sketch Aquarium’, worked on the same idea, and to make it more interactive, the children could touch the sea creatures they drew to feed them or make them swim away.

Coming Up

The momentum that TeamLab has gained over the past few years shows no signs of slowing down. At START art fair from 10 to 13 September, TeamLab showcased as part of START Projects. This marked the first time the artist collaborative exhibited in London, and a book documenting its oeuvre launched at the same time.

Altogether, TeamLab showcased three works: ‘Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – A Whole Year’, ‘Dark, Ever Blossoming Life II – Dark’ and ‘Flutter of Butterflies beyond Borders’. As with other TeamLab works, the visitors’ movements have an impact on what happens on screen.

Flower and Corpse Glitch at Shake Art Exhibition

Flower and Corpse Glitch at Shake Art Exhibition

In addition, the artworks will interact with each other as well. The butterflies are free to flit through the other two works that are on display, creating a single immersive experience. The butterflies’ flight paths are altered by the visitor’s direct interaction with it. Kudo explains that if one touches a butterfly, for examples, it dies, as it might in real life, where human interaction with nature has the potential to nurture and equally to harm. The butterflies’ movements are also influenced by what happens with the other movement-sensitive artworks in the same space.

TeamLab is daring and ahead of its time in the execution of their artworks through ground-breaking vision and advanced methods. While TeamLab’s artworks seem avant-garde, they are also accessible. Combining the traditional with the contemporary – and at times the futuristic – TeamLab has pioneered a new model of art-making that pays homage to and preserves its country’s artistic heritage by presenting it in a way that is entertaining and exciting. More importantly, it is encouraging a new way of thinking and working for the next generation – a legacy that any artist can be proud of.

Peace can be Realized Even Without Order at Singapore Biennale 2013

Peace can be Realized Even Without Order at Singapore Biennale 2013

Story Credits

Text by Nadya Wang

This story first appeared in Art Republik.

Interview: Sang Woo Kim

A sense of purpose plays a crucial role in helping an outsider settle into a foreign environment. Think of a youngster, a second generation South Korean living in London, modeling for British luxury house Burberry. It was obviously designed, at least in part, to be scorned by your average fashion devotee. Yves Saint Laurent who once quantified that “a good model can advance fashion by ten years.”  That same sort of dynamic applies in the case of Sang Woo Kim, where fashion works like a frivolous panacea for the well-being of creative types.

The observant are likewise mindful that Diesel’s recent Spring/Summer campaign doesn’t just feature a pursed-lips Joe Jonas and model Trevor Signorino. It also stars the South Korea-born Sang, who has become an unconventional poster boy for forward-thinking labels, thanks to his unique Asian features.

02-Sang-Woon-Kim-MF

Gucci cotton jacket, cotton shirt, cotton pants, leather belt; stylist’s own tie

A better question: why are labels like Kenzo, DKNY, Vivienne Westwood and Dolce & Gabbana giving shine to an outlier like Sang? The hip factor of how progenies of the Asian diaspora have integrated themselves has clearly leveled the playing field.

Growing up in London after his parents emigrated when he was still a toddler, Sang’s career began on the front-lines: he joined Prada as a public relations intern in South Korea. Working in this position quickly dispelled any idealized notion of glitz and glamour.  He realized that to make it in the industry involved lots of hard work, and a commitment to professionalism on a daily basis.

03-Sang-Woon-Kim-MF

Louis Vuitton wool knitted top, silk pants, silk scarf

It also got him noticed. Evidently, the 22-year-old doesn’t look like the typical runway model, even by Asian standards. Yes, he’s tall and lanky. And his lack of muscle definition renders him the perfect muse to self-classified avant garde designers. But his resting expression is that of a perpetual annoyance that looks like the physical manifestation of a fisheye app replete with caricature-like single-eyelids and impossibly defined cheekbones.

Here is a pensive young man with slicked back hair who spends balmy days studying at Central Saint Martins (CSM). He excelled at painting and still considers himself, first and foremost, an artist by refusing to be pigeon-holed as a human mannequin. The Goldsmith Fine Art student channels his inner-being onto canvas using colors, giving expression to his personality. It took a while to rediscover his schoolboy skills but Sang enjoys every moment, taking advantage of his new lifestyle and contacts to showcase his other portfolio. And part of the reason he acts the way he does – the attitude, the nose ring – is to exasperate the haters. If no one is going to give you a hard time, then why bother.

04-Sang-Woon-Kim-MF

Louis Vuitton wool jacket, silk shirt, wool pants, silk scarf

“Although I’ve always been seen as ‘different’, I never felt different,” he says, gesturing emotively like he usually does, while his words are ironically laced with self-depreciating Brit charm. It is equal parts nature-versus-nurture, and equal parts millennial self-assuredness. Indeed, he has a distinctive face, to say the least, and it was an X Factor that got him one a foot into the door of London’s Select Model Management. “I have to thank my parents for the way I look,” he jokes, mentioning that his father returned to South Korea when Sang was a teenager due to work commitments.

There are some who are unconvinced, and he shrugs off the occasional racism on what is now his home turf of Hampton as something that comes with the territory. And he feels it’s kind of the point. “The best thing about being at university was that students would mingle freely and converse without any preconceived prejudice,” he explains. “We had absolute freedom to express ourselves creatively.”

05-Sang-Woon-Kim-MF

Louis Vuitton, leather jacket, silk shorts

When he travels, you can add cross-culture cacophony, considerable jet-lag, and advanced dehydration to the formula. As he moves from one “adventure” (a word that he uses often) to another, he gets caught up in the flow of meeting new people and new experiences.

Evidently, where others would quail with apprehension or throw up their hands in despair when segregated as a minority, Sang sees the challenges as good opportunities to learn and grow, and to emerge a self-actualized individual who isn’t about to be blatantly demographed and rejected as a matter of principle.

What prompted your start in modelling?

I studied at Central Saint Martins (CSM) and many of the fashion students were friends who asked if I could be a model for their projects and assignments. Normally, they’ll buy me coffee or lunch as ‘repayment’, which I gleefully accepted! This became a regular occurrence and a friend of mine, who was a photographer, urged me to walk into a modeling agency. Everything else happened quite naturally right after.

06-Sang-Woon-Kim-MF

Louis Vuitton silk shirt, silk scarf

You have very unique facial features? Do you think they will affect your career in fashion in the long run?

I’ve lived in London since I was six months old when my parents migrated to London from South Korea. Naturally, I was an ethnic minority and looked different to most of my friends and peers, but college was a creative hub where people strived to be different. I do not know what the future holds, but there were never any expectations of what I needed to achieve at such a young age. Hence, my only concern is living in the present. This is the very same mindset when I got my start and it has served me well.

Growing up in London, did it help with being connected to the scene?

Being able to converse and maintain relationships with right people has been important. It wasn’t done intentionally because the individuals that I’ve maintained relationships with are my genuinely friends, regardless of whether they are in the fashion industry or not. The only advice for any aspiring model is just to be true to yourself. Also, treat people with respect and do not take anything for granted. Every opportunity is a blessing in disguise. It’s the experience and journey that matters.

How did your love of painting come about?

To be honest, I’ve loved painting ever since I can remember. It’s always been a part of my life so I cannot imagine living without it. Modeling is hardly my lifelong goal as I’ve always wanted to be an artist who thrives in difference disciplines such as drawing and photography. I’m just luckily that fashion modeling came about without me having to think about it. The fact that it blew up into something bigger than I can ever imagine is a plus. The challenge in the future is to achieve similar success as an artist, which will be challenging and exciting in equal measures.

07-Sang-Woon-Kim-MF

Dolce & Gabbana cotton T-shirt, cotton pants, woven belt

Art and fashion seems to influence one another, if you have the option work on a project combining the both, what would it be?

I would love to work and collaborate with my university mates. It is so refreshing and exciting to see them branching into the industry and working in the same field in different capacities. I would love to create an ecosystem for all of us to be able to work and collaborate constantly on different projects.

You are one of the most recognizable faces in the fashion world. Was it hard getting to where you are? Is there pressure to keep evolving?

I like to believe that I don’t view myself as how the ‘fashion world’ sees me. For sure, I am very fortunate and appreciate of the blessings and opportunities that came my way. Have I actually accomplished anything? It’s debatable. There are clearly more important things in life than what I’m doing. It gets difficult when people see you differently. I guess that has always been the struggle because when your physical identity is constantly on display, yet the voyeurs don’t actually know you, there will be preconceptions of what you’re like as a person. I don’t feel any unhappiness as a result of this, simply because they have no right to judge me. I don’t need to conform to what society tells me to do. I’ll be perfectly contented if it all ends tomorrow as I’ll be on the lookout for my next adventure.

08-Sang-Woon-Kim-MF

Gucci silk jacket, cotton shirt, silk pants, leather sandals

The shelf life for a model is relatively short, have you considered what you want to do after? 

I feel that there will not be an ‘after’. The modeling happened incidentally while I was living life the only way I knew how. As I said, it’s about what happens now and not dwelling on the past or overthinking about the future. The present is literally a gift. It’s the only time when I know that I’m alive in this world, and that’s important to me.

What does your family think of your prissier vocation?

They are happy that I am living the life that I wanted. I don’t really know (or want to know) what they actually think of my job per se. As long as they are happy and they know that I’m happy, that’s all that counts. I would say they are ‘proud’ of the fact that I’m earning my keep in this manner, because I look just like them [laughs].

Story Credits
Text by Jason Kwong
Photography by Nil Hoppenot/Silver Lake Photography
Styling by Steven Doan/Wilhelmina One
Fashion Direction by Titien Wang

This article was originally published in Men’s Folio

Insight: 4 Urban Estates to Discover

As prime real estate becomes scarce and a reverse influx of people are moving from the suburbs back into the city centre. Many cities around the world are redeveloping their abandoned industrial sites into highly sought after developments. These up and coming neighbourhoods are now some of the go to places for art, culture, food, shopping and residential real estate.

Through massive redevelopment projects, London and Sydney are leading the way. However, there are a few smaller cities hosting incredibly designed projects. With their own rich and diverse history, Portland, Oregon and Tallinn, Estonia, should not be missed.

Many of these locations were once very important areas in the city, that had, until recently, seen better days. With lower prices in these central locations, young entrepreneurs have started to move in and renew the area with help from their local government. From tech start ups in London to coffee houses in Portland. This wave of regeneration shares similarities across the globe. As more and more money pours into these areas, the quality of the property and the expectations of it’s inhabitants improves.

London

London has gone through its fair share of regeneration over the past several decades. From Notting Hill in the west, to the Tate Modern changing the entire South Bank, to the upcoming Battersea Power Station, bringing new life to South West London. Arguably though, the biggest and most drastic change has been to East London. Stretching around the City, to Canary Wharf and the Docklands, large scale residential and commercial projects have drastically morphed this dying industrial centre into one of London’s most sought after postcodes. Low costs and central locations have meant that once derelict warehouse, breweries and factories have been revamped and renovated into luxury flats and homes. While luxury skyscrapers have risen from foggy swamp lands.

Within walking distance to the City and located in the Borough of Hackney, Shoreditch and Hoxton remain the most popular and successful examples of gentrification within East London. Small Victorian lanes play home to boutique shops, trendy cafes, chic eateries and international hotels. A bustling tech and art scene has seen a return of the creative types from around the world and inspired some of the finest examples of modern design in urban living, Europe has to offer.  A return that has been hundreds of years in the making, establishing East London as one of the most attractive places to invest in property in the city.

According to Knight Frank, the London property agency, Shoreditch in particular has seen prices increase 46% over the past 3 years. Investors looking for the most luxurious of urban living, should look no further than what Shoreditch does best. Converting listed properties into stylish residences, paying homage to their former selves.

Property: Ravey Street, London
Guide price $8,675,700 (£6m)

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Refurbished in 2001, this three-story designer penthouse has been extended twice, including adding two upper floors, combining contemporary architecture with warehouse elements. This includes a glass box on the sixth floor, with the added benefits of a second kitchen and entertaining area.

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A sixty-foot raw concrete staircase, one of two, rises up to the glass box. With 360 degree views of London that can be enjoyed indoors, while sliding glass doors lead out to a south facing terrace featuring a Jacuzzi, pond and barbeque. In sticking with the industrial feel of the building and materials such as glass, steel and raw cement were used. Uniquely offset by oak, limestone and walnut to create visually unique and impacting penthouse.

Portland

With an abundance of impeccable coffee shops, art galleries, posh food carts and farmer’s markets galore, Portland, Oregon has undergone a vast renewal. First starting in the mid 1980’s and then with the viaduct removed in the 1990’s, Downtown Portland was opened up for commercial and residential use. Now it’s slowly starting to embrace its industrial past, in a new light. The most sought after area in downtown Portland is the Pearl District. It’s namesake, said to come from Chinese seafarers that hid pearls beneath cobble-stoned Twelfth Street is a designers dream. Incredible warehouses converted into luxury townhouses and high-rise condominiums now line the once barren streets. A true urban tale of regeneration, where brick mingles with its modern glass counterpart.

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One of the most liveable cities in America, Portland has outperformed most of the U.S. in the real estate market. Nearing 8% year-on-year growth, Portland offers incredible value with excellent high end properties to be acquired.

Property: 633 and 637 NW 11th Avenue
Guide Price $2,650,000

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Built in 1908 and spanning 3,888 sq. ft., this historic building now showcases one of the most luxurious town homes in Portland. Originally a warehouse for the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway and located in the heart of the Pearl District, minutes from NW 23 Ave. This evolving property was created by famed designer Jeff Lamb and features three bedrooms, two baths, two half baths, three fireplaces and four private parking spaces. With floating glass stairs, crimped metal ceilings, exposed brick and exotic woods, it’s the epitome of modern, urban design.

Tallinn

Nestled along the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland lies the capital of Estonia, Tallinn. With it’s mixture of medieval, Soviet and modern architecture, Tallinn is a feast for the eyes for design enthusiasts. Dating back to 1154, Tallinn was extremely important as a trade city, connecting Western and Northern Europe with Russia. Today the city is enjoying a renaissance. After claiming independence in the early 90’s, the country and Tallinn most importantly has become a tech and business powerhouse in Northern Europe. Companies such as Skype, TransferWise and Playtech originate from the capital.

In the centre of the city, a stones throw away from the Old Town UNESCO world heritage site, sits The Rotermannn Quarter. Developed during the 19th Century by Christian Barthold Rotermann as an industrial site with multiple factories, mills and plants, the quarter today has gone through a major regeneration. Branded as Rotermann City, the area now hosts a number of converted historic buildings and new construction following a contemporary design.

With property prices increasing above the 8% mark, Tallinn has seen an incredible recovery from it’s previous lows during the recession.

Property: Rotermann City R18
Guide Price $693,026 (639,500 Euros)

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The newly designed R18 development at Rotermann City features 48 apartments ranging between 506 sq. ft. and 1,615 sq.ft. Apartments on the upper floors feature 12 ft. high ceilings with rooftop terraces overlooking the Old Town and Baltic Sea. It was designed by famed architects Hanno Grossschmidt and Tomomi Hayashi. There’s underground parking, exclusive shops and restaurants within one of the most sought after areas in the city.

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Currently Apartment 22 features four bedrooms spread over 1,367 sq. ft., a sauna and a 1,087 sq. ft. terrace. The apartment embodies aspects of old world charm and modern Estonia.

Sydney

Travelling south, just 4km from Sydney’s Central Business District, you reach Alexandria. A mainly light industrial use area, the neighbourhood is full of old factories and warehouses. At it’s peak in the 1940’s, there were 550 factories manufacturing everything from bricks to aircraft. Due to it’s central location, Alexandria is going through a renewal process that is blending the old with the new. Named after the British military victory at Alexandria in 1801 during the French Revolutionary Wars. Today the inner city suburb is full of creative types, carving out their own niche part of Sydney. The most famous destinations being the artsy café’s and markets such as The Grounds. Started by Caroline Choker, the interior designer and co-owner who turned the pie factory into something straight off the streets of Brooklyn.

Much like the commercial side of the neighbourhood, the residential properties have changed drastically over the past decade and it shows. Alexandria’s 10-year growth was 141.1% ‘til summer 2015 according to Domain Group senior economist Dr. Andrew Wilson. High-rise apartments sit side by side Victorian and Art Deco style homes, while once busy warehouses are now loft conversions.

Cheap prices a decade ago brought in investors who couldn’t afford the city’s more expensive neighbourhoods, but still wanted the proximity to the city. Initially commercial space was the first to go. Businesses started relocating there and then restaurants, shops and houses started being renovated. Not only is Alexandria near to the CBD it is also well connected to the airport and a short walk to Sydney Park.

A similar story pertains to Newtown. Located 4km south-west of the CBD and near the University of Sydney, Newtown has seen its streets rejuvenated and its property prices grow substantially because of it. Originally set forth as a farming and residential area when founded in the 19th century. Row houses or terrace houses were built to accommodate residents. Many of whom would later be immigrants from a war torn Europe. Today a melting pot of different nationalities, students and professionals, Newtown has seen it’s once run down buildings renovated into beautiful and historically significant homes. From Newton Station, to King Street and surrounding areas, you’ll find the largest concentration of theatres, art spaces and live music in Sydney. According to Property Value, median home prices grew 26.50% in Newtown in the past 12 months.

Urban renewal projects have a lot of similarities no matter where they are in the world. They are chosen for their central locations and cost. The architecture is a blend of industrial and contemporary, while their residents come from backgrounds just as diverse. The popularity of living in urban renewal projects has grown exponentially over the past several years. With that popularity has come, not only an increase in quality, but also an increase in price. Today, as more and more areas are regenerated, these are by far the best places in any city to see the greatest returns on your investment, while also being an exciting place to live.

Property: 21 Trade Street, Newton
Guide Price $1,154,670 – $1,224,676 (AU$1,650,000 – AU$1,1750,000)

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Built in the 1880’s, this two-story Victorian terrace home stands on a 2,260 sq. ft. block and consists of three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The property features aspects of the original architecture with modern amenities. Paved alfresco dining embodies the rear of the property with a Jacuzzi, while the front has an iron laced façade on a tree lined street. Inside you’ll find wooden floors, open fireplaces and wide French doors leading to large bedrooms and spacious balconies.

Story Credits
Text by Robbie Wilson

This article was originally published in PALACE 15

QE2 Birthday Bash: 4 Best London Hotel Suites

Now holding the title as the longest reigning monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth II is set to celebrate yet another milestone in her life. Starting from April all the way through to June, Britain will be partying it up in the most regal way possible for the Queen’s 90th birthday. The celebrations will be located in the Queen’s home base of London and is set to attract tourists from around the world. From May 12 to the 15, Home Park in Windsor Castle will host a pageant dubbed The Celebration that pays tribute to the reigning monarch. Each night will see a 90-minute performance by more than 900 horses and 1,500 horses and performers just for her.

If you were one of the 30,000 people who managed to snag a ticket of two for the event, then you would certainly need to find some accommodation in London. It being her Majesty’s birthday and all, we thought it would only be appropriate for you to live it up like the royals do and nothing less than the best will do. From the perfect bathroom to the finest views, we scoured through the luxury hotels of London to bring you the perfect suites to cater to your every need. We bring you our four picks of luxury hotels and their finest suites fit for a queen.

The Goring HotelThe-Goirng_The-Royal-Suite---Drawing-Room

From the Apsley House to the Victoria Albert Theatre, Westminster Abbey and even Buckingham Palace, The Goring is a stone’s throw away from every major attraction near the Palace. The most luxurious room at The Goring? Well, it happens to be The Royal Suite. This two bedroom, two-reception room suite that offers you some impressive views of London. Glamour is mixed with history in here as every room is decked out with interesting elements from all around Britain. With the help of The Gainsborough Silk Company from Suffolk, the suite is decked out in silks that were commissioned by designer Russell Sage, including one that was originally woven for the Dining Room of the Titanic. Guests can feel cosy in an opulent yet comforting environment.ROYAL-SUITE-MASTER-BEDROOM

With large French doors in every room, guests can enjoy a view of the sunset and the rooftops of London, all from the balcony that runs the entire length of the top floor. My personal favorite aspect of the hotel is the Pintrest-worthy shower that is said to be able to fit six people, which has a near life size portrait of Queen Victoria to keep you company — Royal audience, anyone?The-Goring-Hotel-Royal-Suite-Bathroom

The antique four-poster bed from one of the great houses of Britain is another piece of British history that awaits in the Master bedroom. Proving that the little details go a long way, other antiques such as a Georgian decanter, wooden tea caddies and Nailsea Glass paperweights are also on display.

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The Royal Penthouse, that sits on the roof terrace, is one of the many penthouses that The Corinthia. With a panoramic view of London, its no wonder that this is an editorial selection to which we return regularly. Featuring two floors that are connected via a private internal lift, the accommodation seems more like a home than a hotel. From the expansive entrance hall, to the living space, study and oval dining room that can seat 10, the penthouse seems to be made for luxury, with its palatial theme.Royal-Penthouse-Master-Bedroom-(crop)-Corinthia-Hotel-London

Make your way up the grand staircase and you will be greeted by two bedrooms that house king-size beds, with continuing doors that allow you to open-up to two further bedrooms. Apart from the honey onyx and Skros marble of the bathrooms, there are many other features, fixtures and amenities in the penthouse that would make it perfectly suited for a royal encounter. Forget walking down to the spa when you have a private spa suite of your own. It even has a walk-in wine cellar, meaning that you would be able to select only the finest that The Corinthia has to offer right there in your suite.Royal-Penthouse-Main-Bathroom-(landscape)-Corinthia-Hotel-London

The Connaught

From London’s Mayfair district, we bring you The Apartment. This suite spells opulence from the moment you walk through those grand hand-carved doors. The dominant theme that runs through the space is the use of shades associated with royalty. From a personal butler who will be on hand for your every need, to a welcome bottle of Krug champagne, suitably chilled, upon your arrival, guests can expect to be pampered during their stay.

Should the suite be too small for your stay, then simply occupy the whole sixth floor as an exclusive nine-bedroom suite. Timing is never an issue here, with your personal barman, daily breakfast and personal trainer available at any time you choose. In fact, forget about time at all. Even the check out is without a time limit. If that doesn’t impress you, then watch the tour of the suite below, and you’ll be convinced — we know we were.

The LanghamThe-Sterling-Suite-Media-Room

The Sterling Suite at The Langham is another that boasts a private lift. Located at Portland Place, the private lift entrance is one of the two entrances to the secluded Lobby of the suite — which is perfect if you happen to have an Idris Elba, Chris Evans or Angelina Jolie stay at the hotel. Apart from the two main bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, standalone bathtubs and dressing areas, the suite also features a luxurious drawing room, a dining area as well as a Home Theatre lounge for guests.The-Sterling-Suite-Master-Bedroom

The Drawing Room, which sits at the heart of the suite, features a unique dual-tone piano, bespoke fireplace and Butler’s bar. The Master Bedroom, which is described as the pièce de resistance, is made up of a Master Salon living area, Master Bathroom and spacious Dressing Room. Attention to detail is an important part of the suite with hand-painted chinoiserie on silver leaf panels, verre eglomise glass with gilded age details and gold and silver leaf hand-painted finishes as well as marble and antique mirror work. Joining the hand-blown Murano glass fixtures is a 24-hour butler service that will cater to your every need.The-Sterling-Suite-Master-Bathroom

Victoria Beckham Opens First Store in Asia

Hong Kong is now the second location of Victoria Beckham’s brick and mortar store outside of her native home. Amidst the luxury brands, swanky five-star hotels, the store in the heart of the Central district is seen as a way for the designer to tap on the Asian market.

As fans waited eagerly outside Friday morning, Beckham was seen doing the final checks on the store in the Landmark building. Designed by London-based architect, Farshid Moussavi, the store is a collaboration with Asian fashion retail brand Joyce that already carries her collections.

On why she chose Hong Kong as the follow up to her first shop in London’s Mayfair district, the designer said, “I know Asian women really understand luxury, good quality and appreciate when garments are made well — and my clothes are”.

While some are doubtful over the success and future of her store in Hong Kong due to the worst retail sales decline the city has seen in 13 years, others are more optimistic. “I think she’s going to be very popular here,” said hedge fund manager Sally Zhang, 30, after browsing in the store Friday.

“Compared to other shops, which are too fancy, not fit for the office, this one is quite different,” said Echo Xu, also a hedge fund manager. Along with opening her store, Beckham will also be attending the amfAR AIDS research fundraiser in the city along with Uma Thurman on Saturday.

Focus: Television Centre, London

London residential developer, Stanhope Plc is redeveloping the headquarters of BBC Television which was initially constructed in 1960. Parts of the building’s iconic design and façade have been Grade II listed—considered by the Secretary of State (for Culture, Media and Sports) to be of special interest warranting every effort to preserve it—and will be retained by the new development.

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Television Centre is located on a 14-acre site in White City, and forms an integral part of the massive White City Opportunity area, with a total investment of nearly £8 billion (US$12.5 billion). The regeneration of White City is a strong partnership between Imperial College London (the world’s 9th highest rated university), Westfield London, The BBC, Stanhope and Berkeley St James.

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Upon completion of the Television Centre which is estimated between the end of 2017 and 2018, the development will boast up to 950 new homes—432 of which are being delivered in the next three years—from studios to family homes with a range of new architectural designs and contemporary conversions. Residents will also benefit from a range of luxury amenities including 24-hour concierge, residents’ lounge, screening room, meeting rooms and 28,000sf gym and pool.

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Apartments in the inner ring are arranged around the famous Helios statue, and include the listed façade. Internally, the building has some exposed radial structural beams in the ceilings to provide a loft-like feel to the apartments. Apartments to the outer of this building comprise part existing and part new build homes to create apartments overlooking the private residents’ courtyard garden. Prices will range from £650,000 (over US$1 million) for a one-bedroom apartment to in excess of £6 million (US$9.36 million) for a penthouse.

The iconic structure will also incorporate a new Soho House—the globally famous members-only club with a roof terrace and swimming pool—and a boutique hotel with 47 bedrooms.

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There will be 500,000sf of new office space aimed at occupiers’ in the creative sector, and will see up to 5,000 people working from this new media business hub. BBC Worldwide opened their new headquarters in April 2015 with 1,200 people already working on site. The world famous television studios are set to continue the BBC’s legacy with programme making and live recordings resuming in 2017.

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Buyer Information

Property: Television Centre
Location: London, England
Developer: Stanhope Plc
Highlights: Grade II listed building, 950 new homes from studios to family homes, New architectural designs and contemporary conversions, Luxury amenities including 24-hour concierge, residents’ lounge, screening room and meeting rooms, Helios statue, Exposed radial structural beams in the ceilings to provide loft-like feel in apartments, Private residents’ courtyard garden
Price: Prices range from £650,000 (over US$1 million) for a one-bedroom apartment to in excess of £6 million (US$9.36 million) for a penthouse
Contact: www.stanhopeplc.com

Staff Credits
Text by Domenica Tan

This article originally appeared in PALACE Magazine.

British Library Celebrates William Shakespeare

To mark the anniversary of the bard’s death, the British Library announced it would be displaying the only surviving Shakespeare script that includes his own handwriting. Come April, visitors to the British Library and The British Library website will be able to catch a glimpse of the very human fingerprint of the world-famous playwright. Collectors will no doubt have an eye on acquiring this item but there is no word on its availability for sale.

The 164-line scene comes from the controversial play, “The Book of Sir Thomas More”. No this is not actually one of Shakepeare’s plays; you did not miss out on the discovery of a lost play!

Shakespeare is believed to be one of six hands who contributed to the relatively little-known play that revolves around how More (himself a prominent author and the Chancellor of England under Henry VIII) stopped a 1517 anti-foreigner uprising in London. Originally written by Anthony Munday between 1596 and 1601, Shakespeare’s contribution to the revised script was identified by his handwriting and vocabulary amongst other factors.

Though there is no evidence that the script was ever performed or published, the passionate speech about xenophobia shows that this is no modern phenomenon. Astute readers will recall that Thomas More is also the central character in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt.

The manuscript will be available here and will also be on display at the British Library in London from April 15.