I had the great opportunity to dine at the herb farm – just outside of seattle this past fall while I attended the Contract Design Forum. The theme of our dinner was mushrooms, ‘A Mycologist’s Dream’ – 9 courses with matched wines served in what feels like a french family’s farmhouse. Truly one of the best meals I have ever had – they also have an exceptional wine cellar and knowledge of wines. The highlight is an organic garden on site with 2 large pigs named Basil and Borage.
From their website
“…Each 9-course dinner, served with 5 or 6 matched wines, draws its inspiration from the rhythms of the season. For much of the year The Herbfarm kitchen gardens and farm supply the restaurant with an ever-changing harvest of common and unusual produce. Small growers and producers provide wild mushrooms, heritage fruits, handmade cheeses, and rare treasures such as water grown wasabi root and artisanal caviars. Each day’s menu is finalized only hours before the meal to best track the symphony of life on the land and sea. Week in and week out. The Herbfarm’s 9-course menu brings new delights.”
14590 NE 145th Street
Woodinville, WA 98072 U.S.A.
On my last day in Seoul – I walked through the Hyundai Department Store food court – sort of a Harrods of Korea by the looks of the offering. Most of the photos were stealthily taken as there was a ratio of at least one staff for every guest…
my first visit to korea really began upon entering my room at the park hyatt overlooking the coex mall down below. like a scene in bladerunner – the entire facade is clear and holds automated blinds and thin black out curtains. I particularly loved the bathtub with an open view to the city beyond – it did not dissapoint
Park Hyatt Seoul
606, Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu
Tel: +82 2 2016 1234
I was driving from Chur down to Milan last week and came upon this rest station nestled in the Swiss Alps. The contextual architectural roof against the backdrop of the white and green mountains creates a striking presence as you pull off the highway to park. The interior is clad with natural and raw wood timbers and continues the notion of undulating hills inside of the space. In addition to a shop with local artisan meats and cheeses – there is a cafe and dining area and a convenience store.
I just saw that Günther Domenig had passed away last week at 77. I had the opportunity to work with him for a few years starting in 1994. I had seen a show of his drawings at the Storefront for Art & Architecture in SOHO when I was a student at RISD and the work captivated me and was reminiscent of Egon Schiele – another favorite artist of mine. I called his office about a potential job and eventually sent a fax from Florence, where I was studying. Luckily his assistant spoke English well and I was invited to Graz to meet with Mr. Domenig. This was one of those college experiences that most of us have had or everyone should have at the very least – I took a train with my last 400 dollars to Graz. Basically if I did not get a job – I was screwed and it was the largest gamble in my life - at that time.
The morning I arrived, we sat down with his assistant and worked out that I knew Friedrich St. Florian and Raimund Abraham – two of his former classmates from Graz and I was betting everything on getting this job. I was hired and started that day on a competition model and had my first job in an architectural office. During my time with Domenig – I met just about everyone in architecture – since they all had a habit of coming through this small town to teach or meet with Domenig – Zaha Hadid, Lebbeus Woods, Gaetano Pesce, Massimiliano Fuksas, Rem Koolhaas and others. One week I was asked to drive around Brian Eno – who was in town for an architectural jury. We had some memorable conversations that week and all of these collected experiences helped define the designer I am today. I met some incredible people in that office when I would return each summer – and will always have a connection to Graz and to Austria. I always felt that Domenig went out of his way to include me in meeting some of the great architects of the world and made sure I had a holistic and impactful design experience in his studio.
Years later I read about how his family was involved in the SS as his father was a Nazi judge during the war. His polemic work was the information center that cuts through Albert Speer’s Nuremberg Hall - in interviews, Domenig spoke about how this freed up his past from who he was as an artist and architect. Domenig was well aware I was Jewish when I worked with him – as were my colleagues in Graz aware – but it was many years later when I read the NYT piece about this past that I realized that as the sole American student in his office for those years – my role was also part of a healing process that he was working out constantly in his own life. The Nuremberg project was the manifestation of facing his past in a built work. Much of who I am as a designer was defined by my years in Domenig’s office – his generosity, intensity, creativity and sheer talent is something I always ask about myself when I am working with students or my peers. I also know that someone cannot be judged for what their parents or family did in another time – I think Domenig transcended this past and through his teaching as a Professor and leading an architectural practice – he left plenty that he can be judged on and measured by.
it’s hard to believe I hadn’t been to Las Vegas in about 5 years…of course so much has changed. I walked through most of CityCenter and the Crystals and found some elegant details and spaces and you can afford to do in Asia and in places like Las Vegas. The central space of the Cosmopolitan is a wondrous immersive chandelier gone wild – that wraps in and over the escalators and public spaces. I loved the simple things too like the All Saints facade – which are always engaging in their detail and directness – also the wine store with bottle ends that beated out the LED rhythm of D-R-I-N-K…
the Crystals at City Center
3720 South Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, Nevada 89156
I finally visited the virgin clubhouse on my flight out of London last week. It was spot on to their brand and you felt the virgin vibe in everything around you. Loved the variety of spaces – the formal dining, breakout areas, hair and nail salon and the upper rooms too. having a dean & deluca style deli area gave the dining a bit of an attitude that only virgin can offer…
I always make a point to visit the V&A in London whenever I am in town. They have one of the best collections of contemporary architectural models by architects that I have seen second only to the MAK in Vienna. I like to see these types of models up close as they are so much more about process than a final presentation model that the typical museum or gallery has on display…
the past few years on visits to zurich – we stayed in the city mostly experienced the streets, riverfront and lake area. on a whim – we made our way up to the top of the rigiblick funicular and found this hotel and restaurant high above the city. the hotel has a handful of simple, contemporary and affordable rooms – there is no reception area and no apparent hotel in the structure. it was a perfect stay for our family and the hotel is complemented by wooded paths up to the zoo and a small local theater. additionally, there are two restaurants under the hotel rooms with a lighter cafe type of fare and a more formal dining menu. all the produce, meat and fish are local and subject to availability based on the season. I highly recommend a meal at their restaurant if you are in zurich anytime soon…
Sorell Hotel Rigiblick
+41 43 255 15 70
Restaurant Spice + Quadrino
I headed to SFMOMA to see the richard serra show of drawings this weekend, which was a bit disappointing. Unlike someone like max beckman – who used heavy tones and moods in his painting and his sculpture – the thick dark oversized drawings were devoid of the emotion that his sculpture provoke. I suppose it would be like his work being in blackened steel vs. the warm colors of corten.
the real treat at the museum was the dieter rams show: less and more. Like a lot of designers – rams is the quintessential designer’s designer of simplicity, clarity, precision and innovation. he has long been heralded as the inspiration for apple’s jonathan ive - who readily admits this connection. I had previously only seen glimpses of rams’ product designs on a few web postings and of course in retro shops in the us and europe. well worth a visit if you are in san francisco anytime soon..
Dieter Rams: Less and More, The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams
SFMOMA – through February 22, 2012
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103