To Ireland With Love

Whether working in busy urban studios or quiet countryside spaces, there’s no denying that makers and creators remain an integral part of Ireland’s culture and workforce. From painted canvas and chiseled stone to woven tapestries and hand-sewn clothing, the art of the handmade item is alive and well.

In fact, General Paints Group is telling the story of what it means to craft and create in Ireland in the only way it knows how: through color.

The company’s new Curator collection features 144 unique paint colors developed and sourced from artists who focus their creative endeavors in Ireland. The palette presents everything from neutral hues that speak to the quiet woodlands of West Cork to bolder shades that evoke the country’s strength and spunk.

“From the very beginning, we wanted to make a collection that was authentic, special and genuine,” says Rachel O’Connor, expert director for General Paints Group and one of the developers of the Curator brand. “[The artists] all had colors that really meant something to them and inspired their work. And for a lot of their work, their muse was Ireland and our lovely landscape.”

O’Connor, who is also heading up Curator’s U.S. presence, says that develop-ing and sourcing the palette was a nearly five-year journey. After extensive searching, the team worked with 29 Irish designers and artisans to discover the history and heritage behind the colors that inspired them. Although the concept of the palette changed along the way, O’Connor says the goal of capturing “the passion they bring into their work” remained a driving force

 

O’Connor, who is part of the third generation of General Paints Group’s 65-year history, also points to her company’s own entrepreneurial spirit as part of the collection’s inspiration.

“We’ve always had an admiration for artists and craftspeople. Many are solo entrepreneurs who are doing what they love. We worked with a broad range of artists — potters, millers, sculptors — and although they’re all different, they had one thing in common, and that was color,” she says.

 

Ronnie Graham.

O’Connor speaks fondly of the stories within the pigment and describes some of the bolder colors in the palette. There’s Ancient Black, inspired from the creations of sculptor Ronnie Graham. O’Connor describes the lore of this deep, moody color as “haunting and mystical.”

“[Ronnie] works with what’s called buried oak — it’s oak that’s been buried in a bog for thousands and thousands of years. During the preservation process it turns a beautiful charcoal color,” O’Connor says. “Ronnie believes it emits a mystical power — and he tries to capture that in his sculptures. Interestingly, it’s been one of the most popular colors in our market.”

The Curator collection was intentionally designed to easily discover and combine complementary shades. Here, Ancient Black is paired with Kerr’s Pink and Rose Mantel.

Carol Cronin.

O’Connor also suggests the colors can be used seasonally — such as on flower boxes and planters, furniture or even doors; she describes charming Irish neighborhoods with bright pink, turquoise and other colors adorning the front doors of homes. “But we don’t like to be too prescriptive. There’s no such thing as a wrong color combination,” she adds.

Even the palette’s more traditional hues have a story that is anything but. Horseshoe, for example, is a stone-gray shade, aptly named for Horseshoe Mountain in County Sligo, Ireland, that inspires pottery artist John Ryan.

O’Connor’s personal favorite paint is also bright and bold: Running Tides, a bril-liant aquamarine unique to the seascape paintings of Irish artist Carol Cronin, who has captured the Atlantic Ocean on canvas for decades. (“You might think you could get bored of painting waves, but [her works] are stunning,” O’Connor says.) These brighter, livelier shades off er the “pop of color” that O’Connor sees throughout the commercial interior design market. 

“People are starting to be less afraid of taking risks with pops of color. We’re seeing a lot of restaurants, hotels and public spaces take bolder risks. We think it’s a great trend,” she says.

 

The collection boasts shades like Pulled Rhubarb, Tailored Tweed and Dried Kelp (painted on chairs left to right) that ad richness and depth to ordinary spaces.

John Ryan.

“[Ryan] is immersed in the landscape surrounding his workshop, and it inspires these stunning creations,” O’Connor says of the potter’s handmade ceramics. “The color really shines through in his work.”

The collection made its U.S. debut ear-lier this spring in Connecticut and arrives on the West Coast in the fall, including southern California, Portland, Oregon; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Seattle.

 

 

Ultimately, the collection aims to not only honor these artists, but to inspire others to use color to express creativity and passion, says O’Connor. And in a way, that allows the consumer to play curator and tell their own story.

“The collection [is a] showcase of Irish craft and talent, but it goes beyond that,” O’Connor explains. “I think home is deeply personal to people. You want it to reflect your identity and personal style. When you bring a color into your home, you’re looking for more than just paint. In our collection, every color has a meaning and personality. [It’s] allowing the customers to be their own curator.”

The collection is currently sold at Ring’s End as well as McDermott Paint & Wallpaper in Connecticut, and is also available for purchase at curator.com.

All photos and featured photo courtesy of General Paints Group / Curator.

This post originally appeared in the Fall ’19 edition of The High End.

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Flowers & Diamonds

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Sustainable Shoes and More by Nisolo

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Fashion and art lovers will fall in love with these items from textile designer and artist Dianne Erdmanis, who has created wearable art for nature lovers and more.

This artist offers a beautiful perspective that is also fashionable. Erdmanis has captured incredible, dreamy and realistic views of the Earth, as seen from space, on a 100-percent silk scarf. The beauty of the piece lies not just in the way the scarf so perfectly demonstrates a bird’s eye view of the Earth’s unique geography — it’s also hidden in the fact that it’s not a photograph.

Initially sparked by the enormity of uninspiring and mass-produced scarves on the market, Erdmanis wanted to create something unique, sustainable and inspiring. While staring down into the atmosphere of many trips through the clouds on planes, she wondered if there was a way she could capture the true-to-life beauty and geography of the landscape below her.

“I wanted to capture a zoomed-out view of the Earth as seen from a dizzying, almost stratospheric height,” says Erdmanis.

Erdmanis spent countless hours experimenting with paint color, viscosity, flow, and technique. Eventually, she found a truly unique but entirely cohesive method by which to achieve the look of bodies of water “melting” into the land, and vice versa, when viewed from space.

“The altitude had to be just right … so you could see our planet’s oceans, land, and clouds clearly,” she explained.

“The art told me a story,” says Erdmanis. “It made me feel like I was flying, it was beautiful.” The Earth Scarf resembles stunning views of the Earth captured by satellites or space telescopes, watching islands blend into the waters beyond it, depths of the oceans captured by darkening paint, hypnotic swirls of pink, aquamarine, coral and teal, that show how the land bleeds into the water while clouds float overhead.

Her greatest discovery was that her method led to an almost photo-realistic depiction of these aerial shots — except that these could now be printed onto an elegant silk scarf.

Photos courtesy of Pure Huntress

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The color green symbolizes life, renewal, harmony and growth and is set to steal the limelight for the year ahead. With people getting busier and the increase of screen time for work, this calming color is a gentle nudge to unwind and rejuvenate.

Reminiscent of nature and the outdoors, using green in the home also serves as a reminder to be more eco-friendly and sustainable where possible.

Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture Choice Ltd., shares 4 ways to bring this color into the home.

Use green as a feature wall color 

Serene and soothing, green makes for a great feature wall color. From darker shades like emerald green to brighter hues like apple green, the color offers many psychological benefits. These include helping to induce relaxation and serenity, as well as giving off feelings of optimism and growth. 

Because of its benefits, this color and its many shades can be applied to many different rooms.

For example, home offices can benefit from a green feature wall as it helps soothe tired eyes. Similarly, sage green is a relaxing color that’s perfect for a bedroom feature wall, as it creates a calm and airy atmosphere that’s lighthearted and uplifting. 

Some other accessories and textures to consider are jute, leafy plants and candles for relaxation. And where there are windows, choose sheer white curtains to allow sunlight in while maintaining some level of privacy. “The natural light will also cast a lovely glow on the sage green wall and give the color a little pop,” Snowden says.

 

 

Pastels are the perfect lighter alternative

On the pastel front, neo mint is set to be very fashionable in 2020. “It’s young, fresh, energetic – great for pairing with an equally sunny color like coral,” says Snowden. “Brighten up a small space or designate separate functional areas by way of color blocked walls.”

Balance the boldness of neo mint walls with simple, neutral furniture like a white bed. Select furniture with slim legs and clean silhouettes to achieve a clean look. Alternatively, layer on rugs and cushions within the same palette for a maximalist approach.

Statements pieces are key

Make a statement for the new year and invest in larger green pieces, such as an elegant green velvet sofa. The sumptuous material enhances the richness of an emerald green and adds depth to a space. To those anxious to make such a bold choice, Snowden notes that “a green velvet sofa is easier to pull off than you might think. It is incredibly chic and luxurious yet laid back enough to suit most interiors.” 

Style with brass finished planters or side tables for a lavish look, or matching dark wood furniture for something classic and cosy. “Bold yet versatile, a green velvet sofa is easy to dress for the seasons and set to become a talking point of the home,” she says.

Houseplants are a designer’s best friend

Live green plants are the best accessories for decorating the home in shades of green. Some help clean the air and release more oxygen for easier breathing while others bear fruit for eating. Mix and match plants of different green shades for depth and interest in the home. 

“Leafy, trailing plants inject a little wildness for an urban jungle feel while demure little succulents are adorable and easy to manage,” Snowden notes. “Plants are quick additions to the home that make a big impact on our wellbeing – a big focus for 2020.”

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From holiday gift giving to to keeping your home’s style fresh in the dead of winter, finding the perfect inspiration can sometimes seem impossible. What if the perfect source was just across the pond?

These collections showcase a passion for design and creativity, all inspired by a European country or the style of that nation. May these sources of inspiration spark your own!

 

Procook’s Oslo Collection

ProCook’s Oslo range brings Nordic cool to the table this winter, continuing the dining trend for reactive glaze stoneware. Oslo tableware embraces the Scandinavian hygge trend with its organic shapes and cool grey tones with a subtle salt and pepper look. Easily dressed up for more formal dining, the Oslo range is also perfect for everyday use. Oslo includes dinner and side plates which have flat bases and a sharp vertical lip, complemented by gently curved cereal and pasta bowls.

Photo courtesy Procook.

Photo courtesy Reformations.

Reformation 

Living in rural Mid Wales, designer Craig Anthony is surrounded by the shifting patterns and colors of the country’s multiple landscapes, from open moorlands and mountains, to the woods surrounding lakes and rivers. All of this landscape inspires his creativity, which in turn helped him to launch his decorative arts company Reformations, an online gallery of handmade glass clocks and modern glass wall art. 

His pieces that boast functional elements combined with highly decorative and abstract attributes. Additionally, many of his works also feature ambient lighting that creates a dramatic display when seen in darkness.

“My work develops organically, a reciprocal relationship between the materials and my imagination,” Anthony says. “Every piece I create feeds the design of the next. Created using paints with a high pigment content on specially prepared glass, and embracing a sense of natural chaos, my work is guaranteed to make a bold statement in any, contemporary setting.”

Shekåbba

Started in October 2019, Shekåbba consists of a small, visionary team of people who originate from all over the United Kingdom, all who share a love and passion to introduce others to the people-centred happiness of the Danish home. “We believe that thoughtfully crafting a home environment of warmth and beauty, sets the stage for a lifetime shared with those we love most,” according to company founders Dan and Rosanna Chapman.

Inspiration behind the company’s founding starts within the Danish culture, specifically the Danish homes model which focuses on time with family and friends. To introduce others to such a rich, happy culture, Shekåbba helps customers discover more of Denmark’s gifted home decor designers and artists, to bring an authentic and broadening Danish home experience.

Photo courtesy Shekåbba The Danish Home.

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Lady Globetrotters

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Bedding for a Cause

The Good Sheet, a luxury bedding brand based in Tasmania, Australia partnered with non-profit organization, One Tree Planted, is planting five trees in its home state of Tasmania with every bedding set sold.

Declutter Your Space

Start 2020 off right by organizing your space and making room for a decluttered start.

Test Driving the Electric Future

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Green Dreaming

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Little Green Details

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Find Your Euro-spiration

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Celebrate the New Year

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The Michelin Guide began when the tire company — Michelin Tires — wanted to encourage travelers to drive to their destinations, in turn boosting car and tire sales. This helpful guide offered maps, attractions, and briefly mentioned places to stay and eat. The publication began as a travel guide to encourage day trips and now covers a range of prestigious ventures such as the flavor and personality of dishes at restaurants. Today, the coveted Michelin stars are awarded to the very best of the best restaurants. 

According to The International Culinary Center, US-based restaurants only became eligible for Michelin stars in 2005, and the list continues to grow. The ratings range from one to three and rank the most sophisticated and successful restaurants around the world. 

Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts is proud to announce that both the hotel’s signature restaurants, the Italian Il Ristorante — Niko Romito and the Chinese Bao Li Xuan, have been awarded Michelin stars during the Michelin Guide Shanghai 2020 presentation ceremony.

Bao Li Xuan — 1 Michelin Star

 

Located in Bvlgari Hotel Shanghai’s historic Chamber of Commerce Shanghai building, Bao Li Xuan will celebrate its first anniversary in October 2019. An enchanting blend of classic nostalgia and metropolitan modernity framed by its unique heritage setting dating back to 1916, the restaurant serves exquisite Cantonese cuisine prepared by Chef Fu from Hong Kong. 

II Ristorante — Niko Romito — 1 Michelin Star

Il Ristorante — Niko Romito represents a unique collaboration between Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts and the renowned Italian chef-patron of 3 Michelin star restaurant Reale in Abruzzo. Showcasing a new gastronomic concept that the chef specially designed for Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts, Il Ristorante — Niko Romito is currently present in the Bvlgari properties of Dubai, Beijing, Shanghai, and Milan. Niko Romito is one of very few Michelin-awarded chefs in Italy to receive this prestigious acknowledgment by the Michelin Guide both in his home country and internationally.

Other Michelin Rated Restaurants To Try

Michelin Rated Italian 

Giovannelli (Kerry, Ireland) — Italian cuisine crafted from homemade pasta and fresh local herbs.

Crust (Phuket, Thailand) — A cozy setting for Italian classics, such as scallops with truffle risotto and tiramisu. 

Hos Thea (Oslo, Norway) — This small but well-established Italian restaurant only used the freshest ingredients.

Michelin Rated Chinese

Daguan Noodle (Chicago, Illinois) — Chinese cuisine with a twist on comfort, think rice noodles and steaming bowls of broth.

Duck & Rice (London, England) — A converted pub serving delectable Chinese classics with fireplaces and booths for added comfort.

Wei Lou (Seoul, South Korea) — Located on the 34th floor of Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas, the spacious venue, delectable favorites make it ideal for large gatherings.

Photos courtesy of Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts

 

Cuba’s capital, Havana, is celebrating its 500th year anniversary in November this year, a legacy that has led to a delightful cultural atmosphere, one that has drifted into the design sector. The style of Havana decor is a wonderful, bright and fun, as well as easy to replicate with a few simple touches. Here are some key trends that easily bring Cuban decor into your home.

Colors

Cubans love vivid colors, from bright hues faded under the sun to simple pastels. Ocean-inspired blues and greens marry well with terracotta oranges and vibrant yellows. Use these shades on large walls and contrast with different colored trim.

Photo by MindtheGap.

Weathered and Rustic

Cuban homes often feature textured layers of paint and plaster and rustic furnishings. Use a lime wash paint to give the walls a weathered look and, for furnishings, introduce some texture with chunky wood pieces and rustic metal.

Photo by The French Bedroom Co.

Cement Tiles

Colorful, patterned cement tiles are a great way to bring Cuban inspired patterns into your home. On the walls, floors, bathrooms or patio, these tiles add interest and contrast in any room.

Photo by Original Style.

Tropical Plants

Nothing says Cuban style like large leafy, tropical plants. Inside or on the patio, it’s all about volume to create a dramatic lush look.

Photo by Tesalate.

1950s Nostalgia

Cuba’s 1950’s cars are iconic and still grace the streets today. Use vintage adverts, car photos and licence plates to add this fun look to your Cuban styled home.

Photo by The French Bedroom Co.

Art Deco

Havana is full of beautiful Art Deco buildings at every turn. Introduce a few Art Deco antiques or replicas as key pieces to fill spaces and to add interest and charm to a room.

Photo by Sweetpea.

Cuban decor is nostalgic and charming — a trend that is likely here to stay. With a few easy touches, a room can be transformed into a bright and fun haven to enjoy a mojito in as if you were in Havana!

Fashion brands held to the highest style standards are now being called on to create unforgettable designs, responsibly.

The footwear industry poses a few hard-to-answer questions when it comes to sustainability. The amount of waste generated in the production phase is staggering and the options for recycling post-consumption are challenging due to the wide variety of materials used.

For example, rubber and leather are difficult to recycle and the chemicals used, such as glues and dyes, can be detrimental to the environment. Despite the many obstacles, there are companies that are more than up to the challenge.

Photo courtesy of Rothy’s

Model with shoes photo by kerstin jacobsen

ALINASCHUERFELD, named after its founder, is the perfect example of a fashion-forward company offering high-end products without harming the environment along the way. “We are galvanizing the way to a fair and sustainable fashion industry, built upon the powerful human and planetary principles of respect and responsibility,” says the founder and CEO, Alina Schürfeld. “I am using fashion as a tool to create consciousness; the products tell a story about traditional craftsmanship, quality, and appreciation.”

From the beginning, Schürfeld knew she wanted to create well-crafted, distinctive pieces, and sustainability was always the starting point. “The fashion industry has disastrous, often irreparable socio-cultural and ecological effects,” says Schürfeld. This is why her company utilizes salmon leather and chrome-free tanning, which help to reduce chemicals and limit waste.

Leather tanning is the process that transforms animal hides into a durable and long-lasting material that will not quickly decompose. However, the approach involves harsh chemicals that not only contain dangerous carcinogens but can contribute to harmful runoff. To avoid certain hazardous chemicals, ALINASCHUERFELD uses leather that is tanned with chrome-free, vegetable-, or rhubarb-based substances.

Additionally, the eco-conscious company uses bio-certified salmon leather, which would otherwise be disposed of and wasted. “I was inspired by the idea of adding extra value to a former waste product that was discarded from the processing fish industry,” Schürfeld says. Salmon leather provides the same durability as traditional leather and offers a unique texture that contributes to the style of the shoe.

The texture of the salmon leather is clearly preserved and adds to the individual design.

Photos courtesy of Alinaschuerfeld

 

Rothy’s, another unforgettable brand, proposes fashion crafted mainly from the dreaded, post-consumer plastic water bottle.

This sustainable footwear company is growing in popularity, not only because of the big names that are sporting its shoes, like Kristen Bell, Amy Adams and Meghan Markle, but due to the company’s admirable goal to create shoes without leaving behind waste. The Flat, the Point, the Loafer, and the Sneaker are made from recycled PET plastic — a widely-used packaging material — that is transformed into yarn and then 3D knitted, according to Rothy’s. Even the foam and the rubber used for the soles of the shoes are made from recycled materials and designed to reduce waste.

The company emerged in 2015 when co-founders Stephen Hawthornthwaite and Roth Martin realized comfortable and fashionable flats were hard to come by. Once understanding the amount of waste that’s created in the footwear industry, they decided on a sustainable process. Rothy’s 3D knitting process reduces waste significantly compared to other companies. The entire procedure from the plastic bottles to the minimalist shoe box has been streamlined in terms of sustainability.

Already, 25 million water bottles have been saved from a lifetime at the bottom of the ocean and transformed, according to Rothy’s. The sophisticated designs and brilliant colors are professional enough for the office, stylish enough for a night out, and comfortable enough for a day of adventure. Rothy’s also offers a collection of kids shoes that are lasting and easy to care for in a variety of prints such as flames, rainbows, and more.

Photos courtesy of Rothy’s

Responsible footwear continues to be a new kind of luxury that facilitates fast-paced and fashion-forward customers. “VEERAH is inspired by women, made for warriors,” says Stacey Chang, founder of VEERAH. “We are a mission-driven luxury shoe company founded for women to conquer the world in style and make a positive impact.”

The company works with a variety of groundbreaking materials that are cruelty-free and non-harmful for the environment, making the brand stand out among others. With sustainability in mind, VEERAH uses cork, which is durable, soft, and water-resistant, as well as post-consumer PET plastic bottle fabric, vegan calfskin, and even apple peel skin. This revolutionary bio-based vegan leather comes from actual apples harvested in the Italian Alps. The peels are dried, ground into a fine powder, and transformed into a breathable and sturdy material that is perfect for crafting footwear.

“As a socially and environmentally conscious woman, it was essential for me to create a versatile collection that aligned with my own personal values. I knew that sustainability and luxury could harmoniously coexist when you combine smart sourcing and thoughtful design,” according to Chang. Chang decided to start VEERAH when she couldn’t find a shoe that was sustainable and vegan. Every aspect of VEERAH shoes, from the fabric and the soles to the ink used for the packaging, are designed to effectively reduce landfill waste and limit toxic chemicals.

VEERAH’s apple peel skin is a sustainable, vegan alternative to traditional leather.

Photos courtesy of VEERAH

Trends and styles traditionally fade out of the limelight only to resurface a few generations later, usually with a few twists and fresh perspectives. But retro themes and designs remain popular and are now making an appearance in the realm of luxury.

Photo courtesy of DelightFULL

Photo courtesy of Essential Home

Incorporate Brass

Overall, brass contributes to a classical ambiance and can complete the vintage look you’ve been searching for.

A vintage floor lamp will fit perfectly in your mid-century modern living room or vintage retro design hallway. With a structure made in polished Estremoz marble and with multiple lampshades made in brass and aluminum, this floor light is a modern lamp full of grace and charm.

The Monocles Screen is a refined room divider. The folding brass structure holds three walnut panels with brass holes that let you glimpse into the other side. Stylish and functional like no other.

Photo courtesy of The French Bedroom Co

Photo courtesy of Smithers of Stamford

Rattan and Recycled is Retro

This Retro Rattan Console blends craftsmanship and texture with a little bit of artisan vintage into your space. Cane wickerwork and teak framework work perfectly together to reinvent the 70’s furniture trend into a more refined, elegant shape, styled more for modern homes.

Made from solid recycled boat hardwood, the satin hand-painted finish has been added to bring out the beauty of this retro speedway range. It’s retro, unique and a lifetime buy that will never go out of fashion.

Photo courtesy of Yellow Octopus

Photo courtesy of Lights4fun

Props that aren’t Played Out

The GPO 200 classic, British Rotary Telephone is a one-stop communication portal for all your conversation needs. Touch base with friends and family, then buzz, dial and connect with a classic design of modern technology. Bring a piece of iconic phone technology right back into the present.

Retro Cinema Lightbox is the perfect opportunity to customize your decor. Create a fun message that suits your mood and enjoy the classic element that will elevate your space.

Elements of city life are slowly making their way into the rustic aesthetics of countryside homes. The modern farmhouse is no stranger to industrial-inspired pieces, which offer a similar back-to-basics look to their brightly colored, agrarian-inspired counterparts. While maintaining the informality and simplicity of classic farmhouse design, an emphasis on industrial furniture and decor adds an unexpected layer of sophistication to rural interiors.

Urban-inspired pieces do not clash with typical farmhouse decor as some may fear. Both industrial and classic country looks share an affinity for woods as the star for nearly every piece of furniture and neat, yet unpolished metals that complement the natural wood. Bringing industrial pieces into the modern farmhouse blends two seemingly opposite aesthetics into a synergistic, chic design.

Here are three industrial-inspired pieces that fit seamlessly into any farmhouse.

Kohler Farmstead Kitchen Sink

$3,150

This 45-inch long sink can be installed wall-mount with legs or top-mount with custom cabinetry. Made from Kohler Enameled Cast Iron, this durable sink is generously proportioned to accommodate large cooking ware. Included in the list price are seven accessories, including a walnut cutting board, a utility rack with a soaking cup and a towel bar.

Photo courtesy of Kohler.

Industrial Farmhouse Wavy Glass Island Chandelier by Shades of Light

$799

Perfect to hang over a large dining table, this industrial-inspired chandelier borrows themes from classic farmhouse design with a minimalist wood base. Vintage light bulbs accentuate the piece’s timeless simplicity.

Photo courtesy of Shades of Light.

 

Farmhouse Industrial Modern Windmill Style Bookshelf by Woodwaves

$425

This unconventional bookshelf offers ample storage space for a living room or office, and the iron windmill atop the unique structure makes it shine as a statement piece. Serving as both a quirky accent item and a functional piece of furniture, this bookshelf is the perfect eye-catching addition to any farmhouse.

Photo courtesy of Woodwaves.

 

A new offering from one luxury travel company is inspiring clients to change the way they travel by transforming a standard journey into a game full of unexpected scenarios with strangers, intellectual puzzles and physical experiences.

By: Kelly Potts

Philippe Brown, founder of Brown + Hudson, knew that it was time to shake up the way people travel when a client came to his company and mentioned that their kids are more excited to play computer games at home than they are to experience new destinations. Enter The Great Game — a tailored journey that includes challenges, clues, puzzles and chance encounters to help you discover a location in a completely new and engaging way. “We started researching the particular games the kids were playing and the mechanics of how those games become utterly addictive and engaging,” Brown says. “We had to take everything that’s so messed up about these computer games and translate that to the real world, to include varying levels of challenge, prizes and a sense of competition.”

 

For this family, and many others, Brown notes that the issue wasn’t where they should travel, but rather how they should travel. The Great Game can range from physical stimulation to intellectual challenges, but every trip encourages clients to travel in a way they’ve never traveled before. “We turn it into a game and then the client has a better chance of seeing a place with new eyes or childlike wonder,” he says.

 

Where you play the game is totally up to you, though Brown does recommend you allow enough time in a destination that offers much to experience, such as Downtown Buenos Aires or Patagonia, for example. “Places that are more intense offer a richer palette,” he says. “To get the full benefit of the trip, it’s better to have it be longer than four days because then you really get into it.”

 

Before embarking on this unique getaway, there’s a planning process that Brown compares to working with an architect. “We get to know you, get a feeling of what you’re looking for and make sure we ask the right questions so we get the trip right,” he says. “We believe that before getting excited about places, the client is the destination.” The trip planning interview consists of questions that may seem random, but were crafted with the assistance of a therapist to really get to the heart of the person and understand their motivations, fears and goals for the trip. “Unless you ask the questions, there’s no point in talking about places,” he says.

 

Brown + Hudson currently has three Great Game trips in the works and one that occurred in India last year. One trip the company is planning to Costa Rica includes a challenge with zip lining. “When people come to us and say we want the kids to build up confidence, zip lining was the perfect way to build physical confidence,” says Brown. 

 

Of the game that took place in India, Brown says, “This particular story was really interesting because they came to us with their great aunt’s diary. We realized, we can integrate this between what this family does and what the great aunt did to make the story richer and more connected.” One aspect of this trip involved a young boy, a complete stranger to the family, taking their hand and leading them to the entrance of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, Rajasthan after closing hours to enjoy time alone with the director of the fort museum.

 

If a meaningful or insightful journey is on your agenda, Brown + Hudson can certainly incorporate these aspects into the game. “If the family wants to learn about important issues of a particular area, part of the game might be meeting refugees,” he says. There’s also the chance to have a trip full of physical adventures and activities, a vacation that offers intellectual challenges and puzzles or a voyage offering interaction with strangers and family alike. Brown says, “There isn’t one recipe, it changes for each client.”

 

During this journey, clients can choose to have the help of a ‘guardian,’ a local guide who understands the game and the family’s needs, and ensures that the family is enjoying the game and moving through it in a timely manner. They can offer as much or as little assistance as the client wants, while also helping to ensure that everything the family hopes to get out of the trip is accomplished. “We want them to achieve their objective, so we control what happens to a certain extent,” says Brown. “Sometimes the guardian needs to be there to help them see the big picture.”

 

While The Great Game was not inspired by the traditional escape rooms that have been gaining popularity around the world, Brown notes that they have much in common. “The parallels are there — going into an unfamiliar environment, not knowing the rules, having someone guide you.” Just like an escape room, Brown notes that the loss of control is what sparks interest in The Great Game. “People realize that it’s a return to child’s play… how many adults get to play and think ‘it’ll be fun to not worry about anything and let myself be guided through this game’? It’s utterly relaxing,” he says.

 

The Great Game can be enjoyed by families, couples or individuals of all ages and backgrounds — and each client will gain something different from the experience, whether it’s solving a problem they’re facing, learning more about themselves, or just have a unique and unforgettable trip that opened their eyes to a new way of travel.

Of the game that took place in India, Brown says, “This particular story was really interesting because they came to us with their great aunt’s diary. We realized, we can integrate this between what this family does and what the great aunt did to make the story richer and more connected.”

One trip the company is currently planning to Costa Rica includes a challenge with zip lining. “When people come to us and say we want the kids to build up confidence, zip lining was the perfect way to build physical confidence,”
says Brown.

During this journey, clients can choose to have the help of a ‘guardian,’ a local guide who understands the game and the family’s needs, and ensures that the family is enjoying the game and moving through it in a timely manner.

“The Great Game is suitable for anyone who is willing to question how and why they’ve traveled in a specific way,” Brown says. “It’s perfect for someone who wants to get more out of their time abroad and someone who’s got an appetite to devour a place.”

 

While the pricing of The Great Game does vary from trip to trip, figure on a minimum of $25,000 per person (Brown + Hudson recommends a minimum of one week), in addition to a retainer fee of $4,000 for the planning and creation of the game (including the involvement of specialist experience and game designers). Brown does have some advice for those playing the game — “Trust, use your brain, expose yourself and the answer could be in something random.”

 

His hope for The Great Game is that it will awaken clients to realize that they deserve more from their travels. “If you could leave yourself behind and be a completely blank canvas everywhere you went, then your experiences would be much richer, more memorable and actually have therapeutic effects,” he says. “That’s what our approach does.” 

Photos courtesy of BrownandHudson and istockphoto.com

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