We took the opportunity to drive down to Key West to witness the remarkable island lifestyle and experience that the Keys offer. The drive in itself is spectacular and the moment you cross over to the first Key from the mainland the landscape changes drastically. Mangroves line the border between island and open water, and the blend between blue sky and turquoise water is breath-taking.
We made a stop to see and feed Tarpons from a dock, drink a cold drink at a kitschy fisher-mans hide-out and after crossing the 7-mile bridge we eventually made it to Key West.
Sunset Key Guest Cottages, a Westin Resort, is located on gorgeous Sunset Key, a secluded 27-acre Florida island. Comprising seven acres of the island, the cottages are designed for the sophisticated traveler who demands the very best. Nestled amid this tropical paradise are luxurious one, two, three and four bedroom cottages, each designed in traditional Key West architecture and offering magnificent ocean or garden views. Every detail of the cottages captures tranquility and charm, from the pastel-colored wood finishes to the authentic Victorian-style tin roofs. Spacious wrap-around verandas, with Adirondack chairs and tables, are the perfect location to sip a glass of champagne or enjoy your complimentary breakfast basket and newspaper delivered each morning.
We got settled in our cottage and headed out to watch the sunset from the arrival dock. The temperature still remains warm despite the sun setting and not even a breeze is enough to cool you down. We headed into the mainland to go for dinner and decided to eat at Mangoes on Duval Street. The fresh seafood was outstanding and didn't disappoint visually or in taste.
The city centre remains buzzing long after dark and people from all over the world casually stroll up and down the street, browsing through shops with varying touristy merchandise.
We returned to our island residence and wrapped up the evening with a leisurely swim in the pool. After a long day full of colourful impressions we called it a day, falling asleep to the sound of waves rolling in over the beach and some distant lightning charges in the clouds.
The Miami Design District is made up primarily of old low-rise warehouses and gallery spaces, that have been reconverted into over 130 retail spaces, art galleries, showrooms, creative services, architecture firms, stores, antiques dealers, restaurants, cafés and bars. The area was not too long ago a lesser desired part of town, but has rapidly developed into a 'to-go-to' place for high-end design products and services.
We had recently come across a feature of a interior store in Elle Decor that showcased pieces custom-made by one of DaDe's craftsmen. Jalan Jalan carry the same custom made line of stainless steel cabinetry that we import from Beijing, and a line that we exclusively represent in Canada. Visiting this showroom was one of our main focuses for the trip. It was inspiring and interesting to see a different show-room, with a different flare, showcasing pieces that we have in our gallery in Calgary.
lunch with Jonathan Adler
We had lunch with Jonathan Adler at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. Okay well not at the same table, but just one table away.
Jonathan Adler is a designer renowned for his "happy chic" approach to home furnishings and interior design, dedicated to bringing style, craft & joy to your home. Adler launched his eponymous line of furniture and accessories in 1993.
Adler is also a sought-after interior designer for luxury residential projects as well as large-scale commercial projects like the celebrity hot spot Parker Palm Springs Hotel.
cocktails by the pool at the MONDRIAN SOUTH BEACH
The Mondrian is located on newly-fashionable West Avenue, Mondrian is a quiet enclave just minutes from the bustling center of South Beach, offering spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami. The visionary style of designer Marcel Wanders is apparent from the moment you pull into the porte-cochere: guests walk through a grand entryway appointed with custom-designed furniture, lighting and accent pieces, evoking Wanders’ design homage of “Sleeping Beauty’s Castle”. Upon entering the soaring lobby, the floor-to-ceiling windows offer stunning views of Biscayne Bay. Immediately the eye is drawn to the masterpiece of the room–an iconic, signature “floating staircase.” Black and gold patterned furnishings and oversized brass bell shaped lights add a touch of whimsy and welcome guests to sit and socialize or enjoy the view.
The outside pool area is tastefully designed and perfect for lounging in the sun with full pool-chair service at your fingertips.
We headed off to the beautiful city of Miami for eight days, to be inspired and research art & design in Miami for DaDe.
dinner on OCEAN DRIVE & cocktails at the SETAI
OCEAN DRIVE is known for its Art Deco hotels, and is the location of the famed Versace mansion, one of the most photographed houses in North America. The street is the center of the Miami Art Deco District, which is home to about 800 preserved buildings, restored and converted into hotels, restaurants and bars.
It was an incredibly vibrant area with beautiful colours and atmosphere. The temperature was above 27 degrees Celsius long after the sun had set and just watching the vast diversity of people strolling by was mesmerizing.
The Setai is an intimate, serene oceanfront resort in the heart of South Beach. Its design vision artfully combines the rich architectural history of the neighborhood and its cultural diversity with the International Art Deco movement, particularly its influence in Asia.
We were brought to The Setai for an evening cocktail by our friend and local guide that had invited us to Miami. The outside courtyard lounge area, with its subtly lit palm trees, dimmed pool lights and fountain was the perfect setting for relaxing after a long day of travels.
The Art Deco landmark building was originally built between 1936 – 1938 as the famed Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel. Next to it is our 40-story glass tower that surpasses all around it in elevation, views and design.
Our first impressions of this incredibly vibrant city were juxtaposed with a barefoot walk down the beach, to dip our toes in the warm water that rolled in over our feet. A perfect welcome to Miami.
After two remarkable & intensive weeks in Beijing we returned inspired.
Beijing is a city where ancient culture and modern living exist side by side. China's second largest city by urban population, Beijing is one of the most populous cities in the world, with over 19.6 million. In this rapidly-changing nation, the pioneering spirit of a new China is manifesting itself in cutting edge design and architecture. Modernist mountain villas to high-rise condominiums, and from artistic retreats in former industrial buildings to refurbished courtyard homes, the array of lifestyle and design options in China is as varied as the country itself. The traditional aesthetic values of elegance, subtlety and proportion are still evident, but modern materials and techniques now form the cornerstones of new design movements.
798 art district
798 is located in the Dashanzi area, to the northeast of central Beijing. It is the site of state-owned factories including Factory 798, which originally produced electronics.
Beginning in 2002, artists and cultural organizations began to divide, rent out, and re-make the factory spaces, gradually developing them into galleries, art centers, artists' studios, design companies, restaurants, and bars.
It became a "Soho-esque" area of international character, replete with "loft living," attracting attention from all around. Bringing together contemporary art, architecture, and culture with a historically interesting location and an urban lifestyle, 798 has evolved into a cultural concept, of interest to experts and normal folk alike.
Ai Weiwei (born 18 May 1957) is a Chinese contemporary artist, active in sculpture, installation, architecture, curating, photography, film, and social, political and cultural criticism. Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. As a political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government's stance on democracy and human rights. He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of so-called "tofu-skin schools" in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing airport on 3 April, he was held for over two months without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of "economic crimes" (tax evasion). In October 2011 ArtReview magazine named Ai number one in their annual Power 100 list. The decision was criticised by the Chinese authorities.
the Great Wall of China
Beijing is endowed with rare cultural heritage by its long history. The Great Wall, one of the world wonders and the only piece of man-made architecture that can be seen from the space, meanders through mountains and valleys for hundreds of kilometers in the region of Beijing
The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. The most comprehensive archaeological survey, has concluded that all the walls measure 8,851.8 km.
National Centre for the Performing Arts
the National Centre for the Performing Arts is described as The Bird's Egg, an opera house in Beijing, People's Republic of China. The Centre, an ellipsoid dome of titanium and glass surrounded by an artificial lake, seats 5,452 people in three halls and is almost 12,000 m² in size. It was designed by French architect Paul Andreu. Construction started in December 2001 and the inaugural concert was held in December 2007.
The exterior of the theater is a titanium accented glass dome that is completely surrounded by a man-made lake. It is said to look like an egg floating on water, or a water drop. It was designed as an iconic feature, something that would be immediately recognizable.
The dome measures 212 meters in east-west direction, 144 meters in north-south direction, and is 46 meters high. The main entrance is at the north side. Guests arrive in the building after walking through a hallway that goes underneath the lake. The titanium shell is broken by a glass curtain in north-south direction that gradually widens from top to bottom.
Green Tea House Living and Bathhouse Residence & Spa
Founded by musician, artist, tea-master and trend-setter JinR, GREEN T. HOUSE “Living” is a must visit when you are in Beijing.
It takes the brand further with a unique and spacious lifestyle destination that includes fine dining, art and a cultural events space as well as The Bath House Residence, a new bath and residence component which takes the GREEN T. HOUSE brand for the first time beyond tea houses and restaurants into the wider arena of spa and hospitality.
Situated on the outskirts of Beijing GREEN T. HOUSE Living occupies a bold, pavilion rising gracefully from expansive, terraced courtyards of white stone set in a vast 15,000 square metre complex in the high-end Wen Yu River quarter . The chic dining destination is famed for “T-cuisine” and embraces cutting-edge music performances, art exhibits, tea presentations and ceremonies, and creative events.
- Greg Fraser