Plus: a hotel in Portugal that highlights regional artisans, objects from an architectural duo and more recommendations from T Magazine.
A Hotel Inspired by Local Life in Porto, Portugal
When the Danish goldsmith Per Enevoldsen, the co-founder of the jewelry brand Pandora, and his friend Steen Bock first visited Porto, Portugal, they knew they’d eventually return to build something there together. The idea crystallized when they returned in 2016 and discovered a pair of 16th-century buildings in the city’s Largo de São Domingos neighborhood — they’d soon be available but needed work. Now, they’re an integral part of the Largo, the pair’s inaugural hospitality project (opening this week) that combines an 18-room hotel spread across five heritage buildings with the first Porto-based restaurant, Cozinha das Flores, and bar, Flôr, from the Lisbon-born, London-based chef Nuno Mendes. Designed by Space Copenhagen with a focus on local materials and the work of regional artisans — including the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Álvaro Siza, who created a tiled mural for the restaurant — each space reinterprets the look and feel of a Portuguese home. Mendes, who will be cooking dishes such as a sweet prawn and steamed egg cake with presunto balchão (ham in a spicy, vinegary sauce), had long fantasized about pursuing a project in his mother’s homeland. “That, combined with the opportunity to create a street-facing restaurant with rooms above, was particularly exciting,” he says. “Hosting people for a night is great, but if you have 24 hours with them, things get a lot more fun.” The Largo opens May 25, thelargo.com.
Men’s Fashion That Highlights Indian Artistry
India, now the world’s most populous country, has long been underrepresented on the international stage for luxury men’s wear, though a trio of designers are seeking to change that. Kartik Kumra was studying economics at the University of Pennsylvania when the pandemic started, forcing him to return to his hometown, Delhi. He’d been fascinated by India’s textile traditions for years and seized the opportunity to found his brand, Karu, whose name is the Sanskrit word for artisan. Small-scale producers supply the brand’s woven silk and voile fabrics, which are made on antique hand looms, giving their camp shirts and patchwork trousers a homespun quality. Harsh Agarwal started working on his brand, Harago, during a gap year from law school that turned out to be permanent. Based in Jaipur, Rajasthan, Agarwal visits the home of each textile artisan he works with, giving him the chance to forge relationships with his suppliers. Sometimes, they’ll even show him their personal treasures, like wedding quilts and embroidered kitchen towels, which might inspire new designs for the brand’s appliquéd jackets and lace-overlay shorts. Rikki Kher ran a fashion sourcing company in New Delhi for many years and started making his own clothes with Indian fabrics, eventually founding his company, Kardo, in 2013. He travels around the country’s varied centers of textile production, incorporating different regions’ specialties — khadi fabrics from Gujarat, Ikat dyeing from Andhra Pradesh — into the brand’s designs, including hand-painted shirting and striped silk drawstring pants, which are all made in-house at Kardo’s workshop.
In a London Exhibition, Alexandre da Cunha Uplifts Everyday Objects
The Brazilian artist Alexandre da Cunha has spent 25 years splitting his time between London and São Paulo, and the influence of both settings can be felt in “Broken,” a solo exhibition currently at Thomas Dane gallery in the British capital. His “Exile” mini-series features five works of gouache on paper that convey a sense of entrapment from a kinetic outside world. But, like the multimedia works that round out the exhibition, his fondness for joyous Latin American colors keeps bleak existentialism away. Da Cunha also returns to his oft-visited world of found objects, with keys and coins encased in glass bottles and set upon small blocks of concrete, a nod to the Brutalist buildings so prevalent in his home country. At Thomas Dane, these works are in conversation with ones made later, from São Paulo, which include a makeshift window composed of shovel handles and vibrantly hued fabrics. The exhibition, it becomes clear, takes its title as a statement of potential. “Broken” is on view through July 15, thomasdanegallery.com.
A British Fabric Collection That Revives 17th-Century Maximalism
The curtain-maker Gemma Moulton set up the soft-furnishings company East London Cloth in 2020 with a simple goal: to support the beleaguered textiles industry, whose rich history in Britain is slowly fading from view. Her latest offering of fabrics, titled the Spitalfields Collection after the area of east London that once sat at the heart of the silk-weaving industry, does just that. Invited to explore and draw from the archives of a centuries-old, family-run Suffolk mill famous for weaving the silk for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation outfit (and which had once been based in Spitalfields, mere yards from East London Cloth’s current studio), Moulton has chosen three designs and revived them for contemporary tastes. The resulting fabrics — a striped silk with a floral motif and a floral trellis pattern, both dating from the 17th century, and a Regency-era cotton stripe, all of which come in pastel colorways — will bring a touch of bygone glamour to an interior. “I’m not about full-scale chintz,” says Moulton. “But I like the idea of a gorgeous silk headboard or bed skirt.” If that sounds too maximalist, you could take a cue from a client of Moulton’s who lives in Spitalfields and simply frame a small piece of fabric to hang on the wall. From about $250 per meter, eastlondoncloth.co.uk.
An Architectural Duo’s Treasured Objects
When the Paris and Marrakesh-based architectural duo of Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty design a house, they often create a fully conceived world full of objects, furniture and surfaces that are made, whenever possible, by hand. As Studio KO, they designed the celebrated Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakesh in 2017, with its patterned facade of handmade terra-cotta bricks, and a concrete bathhouse with bespoke stained-glass windows for Flamingo Estate in Los Angeles in 2019. “It’s often the little things that some people might not notice, those last touches made at the end that are the most important,” says Fournier. Over the years, the duo have collected thousands of objects that they keep in multiple storage spaces, awaiting just the right project. Earlier this month, along with the art director Nathalie Guihaumé, they decided to launch an online store, L’Oeil de KO (the KO Eye), where they could sell these objects as well as collaborations with their favorite artisans. Along with objects like a bear-shaped candle holder from the British ceramist Rosie McLachlan and stoneware chalices from the Paris-based Marie Lautrou, L’Oeil de KO will introduce a ceramic tableware collection, a collaboration with the Belgium-based Atelier Pierre Culot. Fournier discovered the work of Culot when he bought some teacups at auction a few years ago. “We want to support and share the work of artisans we love,” Fournier says. “Work made by hand that confronts the growing uniformity of the world.” oeildeko.com.
The Sensory Joy of a Mahjong Set
Mahjong nights punctuated my early childhood, my memories of the game defined by its sensory aspects: the coolness of the pieces under my fingers, the cascading sound as players shuffle the tiles (the Chinese call it the “twittering of the sparrows”). Mahjong is as much about ambience as it is about gameplay, as T’s recent story about an architectural firm’s mahjong club emphasized. It all starts with the look and feel of the mahjong set and, as I’ve begun playing again recently, I find myself coveting certain ones. There is a lot of joy to be found in using tiles that hold a bit of history, whether it’s passed down from your family or sourced online. Chairish and Etsy offer vintage sets dating from the 1970s, distinguished by their aged patina and traditional illustrations. For those who want a more contemporary twist, the Yellow Mountain Imports’ “Double Happiness” set displays green striping, an artful deviation from the solid emerald that usually colors the backs of the tiles. And for players drawn toward minimal elegance, Aerin’s tiles are made with white melamine and contained in a shagreen box. The act of playing mahjong, as well as the set itself, can be as luxe or as pared back as the player wants it to be.
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