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As we celebrate 400 years of French presence in Canada, the influence of settlers who came from Normandy can be seen in [La Belle Province's] architecture and lifestyle. Norman heritage is also very apparent in Quebec City, where historical buildings mirror century-old originals found in La Manche [], a seafaring region dear to my heart.

Known for its fine arts and craftsmanship (think copperware and lace-making workshops in Villedieu-les-Poêles, or illuminated manuscripts [] in Lisieux), this region [] is home to a jewel listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Mont Saint-Michel and its Bay []. With a stunning abbey typical of medieval architecture, shops specialized in handmade products, museums and fine restaurants, the "Rock" attracts millions of tourists each year — including nature lovers who come to admire picturesque views of the great tides.

The ever-changing appearance of the Bay never ceased to amaze me ever since we used to vacation there as a family. I remember fondly walking on the beach, wrapped in the comfort of an authentic seaman's sweater by Saint James []. I love the romantic-yet-robust feel of this iconic, high-quality apparel brand; it personifies relaxed nautical fashion, French clothing know-how, and the beauty of Mont Saint-Michel's Bay. Let's explore this must-see travel destination via Jacqueline Petipas, director of collection at Saint James [].

Corinne Cécilia: What does the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel represent for you?
Jacqueline Petipas: Calm and serenity; I'm immersed in it daily. Recently, the great tides were a most remarkable scene! We are fortunate enough to witness shades of red and pink when the sun rises. Spring has arrived, and the lush green colour of wheat-sprouts fields intersects with pale green meadows, while a steel-blues palette creates a vivid backdrop. And because I'm originally from here, this area is closely linked to my fondest childhood memories.

CC: Where do you like to eat out in the region?
JP: Hard to give you a specific place, there are a lot of great restaurants in our region. A specific cultural trait stands out, though: we love to entertain at home. I often have people over, and because the Bay lies between the mainland and the ocean, I buy directly from local producers for seafood (oysters, mussels, scallops, lobsters from Chausey etc.) and fish, as well as for fresh vegetables and farm products.

CC: Where do you like to drink?
JP: Well, here is another local tradition I invite you to try out: at low tide, go for a walk with a group of friends, stop at one of the islands or historical forts along the Bay to indulge your picnic with some wine, and wait for the sunset; then come back at night, at high tide, on a boat.

CC: Where do you like to shop, for interior decorating in particular?
JP: At seasonal antique fairs that take place on the shore, from Granville to Saint-Malo. I also enjoy strolling on beach and bringing back things washed up by the sea. Like Robinson Crusoe.

CC: Where do you go to relax?
JP: Along the Couesnon River, which flows into the Bay, with the Mont Saint-Michel in the background and always accompanying me like a benevolent presence. It's a sandy, grey land, with fields that run along the shore, dotted with flocks of sheep — I feel good when I am there.

CC: What are some of your favourite places?
JP: I like taking walks around the Mont Saint-Michel in winter, and indulging in the stunning mix of Gothic and Roman styles. You can never get enough of it: the abbey, the garden, the cloister, the esplanade — they all create powerful emotions. By the way, it's best to visit the Rock during the week.

CC: What aspects of the Bay inspire you most in terms of style and fashion?
JP: The Bay has a rich palette of colours that inspires me in any season and any time of the day. Incredibly beautiful blues, emerald and other greens, steel-greys and deeper greys, pink hues at dawn in the east, etc. People from here inspire me, too. Our collections are "elements of the Bay" that contribute to the cycle of fashion.

Corinne's travel tip: Each season has its own charm in the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel, but it's less crowded during the spring and fall. If you have a chance, visit the eco-museum [] where the whole family can have fun learning about the flora, fauna and local artisan traditions in the Bay.
I dedicate this article to Raymond Clouet, who was an accomplished athlete, entrepreneur and respected community leader in the city of Avranches (Manche).

Photo credits:

1. Photo Atout France/Pierre Torset

2a. Musées de Villedieu-les-Poeles

2b. Artwork by Benoit Cazelles

2c. Musées de Villedieu-les-Poeles

2d. Marcel Laurent, cabinetmaker/artist, photo courtesy of Saint-James tourism board

3, 7b, 8a, 8c. Saint James

4, 8b, 8d, 9. Alexandre Lamoureux

5a. Maison de la baie

5b. Photo Atout France/CDT Calvados

5c. Alexandre Lamoureux

5d. Protected label of origin 'Mont-Saint-Michel salt-meadows'

6. Leon Folia

7a. Saint Jean le Thomas tourism board

7c. Photo Saint-James tourism board


Corinne Cécilia

The Kingdom of Thailand is often a great source of inspiration when it comes to creating exotic interiors that are both serene and luxurious. Discerning fashion and interior designers hunt for local treasures like traditional Thai silk, which has exceptional texture, motives and colours. Each piece of cloth is hand-woven, making it truly unique and non-replicable. And its remarkable sheen combines two colours, one for the warp and one for the weft, making the final result more like artwork than fabric.

It isn't surprising, then, that contemporary artist Pierre Bellemare was enchanted by this ancient tradition. So much so that he now imprints some of his colourful paintings on silk scarves. And we love his artworks that energize minimalist spaces and invite us to explore other worlds.

Along with music, travel is essential to Pierre who enjoys immersing himself in different cultures to renew his creative juices. While he travels for pleasure, Bellemare also exhibits and sells his artwork in several countries. He loves Bangkok so much that we were curious to discover his personal vision of Asia's Venice — a megapole that is deeply attached to its heritage while firmly embracing the future.

Corinne Cécilia: You seem to have a personal interest in Bangkok...
Pierre Bellemare: In my view, the more you know it, the more you learn to appreciate and observe the beauty of this city. We are used to Bangkok as an international transit place for travellers, but it is truly splendid underneath its treasures — the colours, the smells and smiles of all the local people. These hues have greatly influenced my recent paintings. Bangkok is colourful in so many ways!

CC: Where do you like to stay?
PB: At the Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel. Nothing but refinement and beautiful design, and the breakfast is as sublime. The location is very central, near the SkyTrain, which is perfect for travelling through the city.

CC: Where do you like to have dinner?
PB: Bangkok is known for its quality and quantity of food, accessible everywhere. For lunch, I recommend Or Tor Kor Market. The food is authentic and top-quality. Furthermore, it's one of the 4 best food markets in the world. As for dinner, I would treat myself with a Kiew Wan Gai Phad Hang, a green curry chicken, at the Nara Erawan.

CC: Where do you like browsing?
PB: Bangkok is close to paradise when it comes to shopping for clothes or home goods. The Jim Thompson House & Museum is a place you mustn't miss. Jim Thompson was enrolled in the American military, returned to Bangkok after the war and decided to make silk his own passion. Located in the heart of the city, Jim Thompson's house has tours of the living space and garden and tutorials of silk production, from breeding and raising worms to weaving the most beautiful fabrics.

CC: Where do you go to relax?
PB: Bangkok is full of little parks and temples. Seeing the Wat Saket temple at sunset, on the top of a small hill, really touched me. To smell the incense, to see the monks, to hear the prayers and the bells, really makes it the perfect spot for a calming retreat. And nothing beats an evening stroll on the Chao Phraya river. You can enjoy the temples and the city without being in the bustle of the downtown core.

CC: What are some of your favourite places?
PB: Art is accessible everywhere in Bangkok but not always in its usual way. The ultimate experience is certainly the Grand Palace. So much delicate creative work in one single space is definitely breathtaking. Another absolute must-see would be the Wat Arun Buddhist temple: going up its 318 steps will take you to the top, where you can enjoy a unique panoramic view of the city.

CC: What would be your recommendation for local transport?
PB: The Bangkok SkyTrain, undoubtedly: it is easily accessible and has air conditioning, which gives you a welcome break from the heat of the city. You can also enjoy a nice view of the city from the top. I recommend taking the long tail boats and, as incredible as it may sound, a bike ride with Follow Me Bangkok Bicycle Tours. A must do!! Finally, take a tuk-tuk: you can find them everywhere in Bangkok and they are really efficient. Great fun!

Corinne's travel tip: Visiting Bangkok during the dry season, from November to April, will spare you the heavy rains and moist heat of the monsoon season. Take a tour of some trade shows, such as the Thailand International Fashion Fair (from March 11-15, 2015 at the IMPACT Exhibition Centre of Bangkok). Closer to home, join the Thai community in your neighbourhood as they celebrate Songkran, the Buddhist New Year and Water festival from April 13 to 15, 2015.

For more on Thai style, read Gwen Matsell's blog post.

Photo credits:
1, 8, 11. Photography by Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom
2-7, 9-10. Photography by Pierre Bellemare


Corinne Cécilia

If you like all things European, consider a trip to Basque Country, a fascinating region for lifestyle and design. Spread across the French-Spanish border and carved by nature, it is a scenic region where rich arts traditions flow into modern inventiveness. Fashion designers Paco Rabanne and Cristóbal Balenciaga are among contemporary Basque celebrities.

Drawing on ancient know-how, local artisans personify the Basque creative genius. Just take a look at Cazaux ceramics and pottery, Amestoy jewels, Alki Furniture or Blunt Concepts — that kind of craftsmanship alone makes it worth a trip to Biarritz. The coastal city, cherished by European royalty and tastemakers since the 19th century, is also famous for its gorgeous, eclectic architecture.

Stunning historic buildings make Basque Country very attractive to style-conscious travellers. Banking on that rich heritage, sportswear designer Serge Blanco renovated a charming castle into a paragon of hospitality: the Château de Brindos. Located near the long beaches of Anglet, this quiet estate's enchanting surroundings will seduce you right away, as will the elegant rooms. Suites with a vast terrace are particularly romantic, while narrow spiral staircases leading to secret passages take you back in time, straight to France's chivalrous past! Take a room with a view on the private huge lake and stroll in the forest, or enjoy the luxurious hotel's spa, gym and outdoor pool. A serene and magical atmosphere, enhanced by the friendly staff's warm welcome, makes Brindos one of Relais & Châteaux's gems.

Gastronomy is the other reason you must visit the southwest coast of France. Among the very well rated local restaurants, Christophe Grosjean's kitchen offers an exquisite menu that can be enjoyed within the confine of a classy decor or outside, on a sun-drenched terrace. The award-winning chef elevates the taste of home-grown products in a way that will make you want to go back. After a successful career in California, Chef Grosjean came back to share his creative passion at Château de Brindos, and each dish is truly an intense pleasure for the palate and the eye. Your evening will be heightened as Sommelier Sylvain Desheulles takes you on a discovery to another world — where wine pairing is not just a science but an art form, too — while the staff helps make the experience unforgettable.

When visiting Basque Country, one can't help but notice the impeccable condition of houses, even old ones. Remote farms, castles and townhouses are extremely well preserved and decorated — both inside and out. The Basque people take pride in maintaining their homes, I learned. "They like to present well and be neat," says master glass artist Françoise Saliou, the owner of La Pierre de Lune — a store/workshop on avenue Dulut in Montreal. A native Basque, Françoise uses her precious craft to restore ancient stained glass windows, thus helping preserve historic buildings. Her expertise earned her a Special Heritage Award in 2004, as artisan of the year. We spoke with Françoise about her home country.

Corinne Cécilia: When in Basque Country, where do you like to stay?
Françoise Saliou: If I didn't have a home there, I would stay at the Grand Palais in Biarritz, facing the shore, or somewhere in the backcountry, in-between the mountains and the sea, in Ainhoa. I love the mental space and physical energy the ocean provides.

CC: Where do you like to go out for a drink?
FS: I enjoy having a drink anywhere by the sea (in Biarritz, Bidart, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Bayonne) — everywhere in Basque Country because it's a very fun region, with many fairs and local events.

CC: What are some of your favourite places?
FS: I love local exhibitions and must-see sites such the Cathedral in Bayonne and the Abbadia castle in Hendaye. I also enjoy visiting artisans' shows and food fairs in villages, where you can enjoy authentic Basque cake and cheese, shop for makilas (shepherd's walking sticks), espadrilles (traditional sneakers) and typical Basque fabric.

Corinne's travel tips: Honour your New Year's resolution and treat yourself to a revitalizing stay in one of France's most famous thalassotherapy institutes, at the heart of Biarritz. Launched in 1979 by former cycling champion Louison Bobet, who had discovered the huge benefits of seawater to treat bad injuries, Le Sofitel Biarritz Le Miramar Thalassa Sea & Spa is a benchmark in the field of marine cures, and a beautifully designed space. Unwind in their relaxation lagoon, as you lay back in the dark and float in a basin filled with saline water, slowly surrendering any bodily tensions. Take a swim in a warm seawater pool, and finish the day off with a well-being treatment — a re-energizing wrap or a draining massage. Take advantage of expert medical staff and a healthy dietary menu offered at Le Miramar. Staying there for a week is ideal to enjoy a holistic rejuvenation and improve your health, vitality, nutrition and looks. In addition to a mental and physical boost, the high quality treatments and services will leave you with blissful memories.

Photo credits:
1a. Photography by Le Doaré, via City of Biarritz
1b. Photography by Sea Museum Aquarium Biarritz, courtesy of Aquitaine Regional Tourist Board
1c. Photo courtesy of Château de Brindos
2. Photo courtesy of Lucky Studio, via Cazaux
3-4. Photos courtesy of Château de Brindos
5. Photography by Kelly Chomat
6. Photography by Jean-Jacques Brochard, courtesy of Aquitaine Regional Tourist Board
7. Photography by B. Bloch, courtesy of Aquitaine Regional Tourist Board
8. Photography by Laurent Reiz, courtesy of Aquitaine Regional Tourist Board
9a. Le Sofitel Biarritz Le Miramar Thalassa Sea & Spa, photography by Fabrice Rambert
9b. Le Sofitel Biarritz Le Miramar Thalassa Sea & Spa, photography by Photomobile
9c. Le Sofitel Biarritz Le Miramar Thalassa Sea & Spa, photography by Fabrice Rambert


Corinne Cécilia

Germany is known for functional, leading-edge designs rooted in a manufacturing know-how that we associate with durability and reliability. As early as 1907, artists and industrialists joined forces in the Deutscher Werkbund, a professional association meant to position the "Made in Germany" label as a benchmark for quality, by integrating the nation's rich craftsmanship traditions into the mass-production of consumer goods. This quest for an industrial aesthetics influenced decorative arts, design and architecture in the 1920s, notably within the Bauhaus movement, which continues to be a source of inspiration for today's creators.

Berlin played a key role in this multidisciplinary approach. Although the city that had become rich as Europe's biggest industrial town in the 19th century was hit hard by the Great Depression, her bubbling culture made her a force rivalling Paris in those days. After much of it was destroyed during WWII, Berlin arose from its ashes serving as the Cold War's military/political nerve centre. Many leaders either side of the Iron Curtain debated whether art should serve an ideology — pro-Red for some, pro-West for others — until an unstoppable demand for freedom took Eastern Europe by storm, leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.

Since then, the city once called "Athens on the Spree" has become a hub for national and international arts. Design is booming; interior design trade shows, festivals, universities, businesses, museums and magazines abound. And in November 2005, Berlin was appointed a UNESCO City of Design for its extraordinary accomplishments. At the heart of downtown, the Kaufhaus des Westens is a symbol of Berlin's resilience both as the country's capital and a cosmopolitan metropolis. The KDW store actually carries Canadian brands such as Want Les Essentiels de la Vie, whose co-founder Byron Peart often visits Germany with partner Stefan Weisgerber, director of retail at Mark Edwards Group.

When I first saw Byron and Stefan's Montreal home, I was amazed by the successful mix between Habitat 67's universal style and German influences in their interior design.

Corinne Cécilia: When in Berlin, where do you like to stay?
Stefan and Byron: We love Das Stue. It's a great hotel with an amazing spa.

CC: Where do you like to dine, or go for a drink?
S&B: There are two places we like to go to for dinner: Borchard is a rather casual restaurant, whereas Vau is more formal and has an amazing interior. We like the Soho House for drinks.

CC: Where do you like to shop?
S&B: There are so many different areas in Berlin. The best luxury store is The Corner. It's fun to head to Kreuzberg and just stroll around and find new things.

CC: What are some of your favourite places?
S&B: We always go to the Bauhaus-Archiv; it's a small museum with so many original Bauhaus pieces.

Corinne's travel tips: Immerse yourself in German design at the Bauhaus-Archiv. Until January 2015, the museum honours László Moholy-Nagy, a famous Bauhaus teacher and pioneer of multimedia and conceptual art, with the exhibition Sensing the Future: László Moholy-Nagy, the Media and the Arts.

Closer to home: In addition to offering language courses that lead to the most reputable 'German as a foreign language' diploma, the Goethe-Institute organizes a variety of cultural events every month in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. In November, programs will be largely focusing on the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

I dedicate this blog to our fellow Canadian, Prof. Dr. Heather Cameron, founder of Boxgirls Berlin e.V. and Boxgirls International.

Photo credits:
1. Photography by Svein-Magne Tunli
2. Photography by Sonny Bengtsson
3. Photography by Kaufhaus des Westens
4a. Blouson Mape en cuir, photo courtesy of Acne Studios
4b. Fourre-tout pliable Peretola en Mocha, photo courtesy of WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie
4c. Eau de parfum Gypsy Water, photo courtesy of Byredo
4d. Devanture de Want Apothecary, photo courtesy of WANT Apothecary Inc.
5. Photography by Das Stue Hotel
6. Photography by Soho House
7. Photography by Svein-Magne Tunli
8. Photography by Markus Hawlik, VG-Bild Kunst
9a. Floris Neusüss and Renate Heyne, colour photogram with László Moholy-Nagys "Light Prop for an
Electric Stage", 2013 (László Moholy-Nagy) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014
9b. László Moholy-Nagy, Kinetic-constructive system, structure with movement tracks for play and conveyance, 1928, Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung, Universität zu Köln, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014
9c. László Moholy-Nagy, Construction Z VII, 1926, photography by National Gallery Washington, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014
9d. László Moholy-Nagy, Construction Z I, 1922-1923, Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, photography by Hartwig Klappert, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014


Corinne Cécilia

In 2014, Denmark is celebrating the birth centennial of two great master designers: Hans J. Wegner, whose chair designs are exhibited at the Designmuseum Denmark in Copenhagen, and Børge Mogensen, whose designs have been presented at a major exhibition at Trapholt museum of modern art and design since January.

Danish design is undoubtedly popular in Canada, and it was praised again recently, when a Danish business delegation travelled to Toronto on the occasion of a visit by the Danish Crown Prince Couple. Distinctively chic and amiable, their Royal Highnesses the Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark headed a delegation of 80 Danish companies and organizations exploring a potential for growth in cooperation with Canadian businesses. They represented various industries like green building and construction, food, and style.

Perfect timing for us to reconnect with Isabelle Paille, the founder of Fleurs & Confettis, a Quebec-based wedding styling company. Isabelle is passionate about Scandinavian design and knows Denmark particularly well. Let's join her on a tour to this little kingdom that is not only a leading design nation, but also considered one of the happiest people in the world.

Corinne Cécilia: When in Denmark, where do you like to stay?
Isabelle Paille: I really love the Ibsens and Front hotels, near the harbour. For my upcoming trip, I made a reservation at the Wakeup Copenhagen, a little gem that opened its doors in May.

CC: Where do you like to dine?
IP: I dream about the Noma! But meanwhile, I book a table at the Relæ, the Madsvinet or at the Meyers Deli for healthy takeout. Throughout Scandinavia, you can eat sandwiches called Smørrebrød, filled with fish and caviar, and served with a divine sauce!

CC: Where do you like to shop?
IP: Normann Copenhagen is definitely a must-see. They have furniture and design items for all tastes and prices, displayed in a department store setting. Stilleben carries small items that are both unique and 100% Danish design. Dansk Møbel Kunst has authentic Danish furniture. Illums Bolighus is my favourite store. Cmyk Kld Gallery & Butik features local art that isn't too expensive.

CC: Where do you go to relax?
IP: To the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, always. But I really enjoy strolling in the streets. Stroget is one of the longest and busiest stretches in the city. It's teeming with pleasant surprises in the realm of fashion and jewelry. You can rent a bike in Copenhagen and take a ride, pretending you live there! I also go to the Royal Library, another haven of peace; and then I have a bite at the Søren K.

CC: What are some of your favourite places?
IP: My first stop is the Designmuseum. The House of Finn Juhl is also a wonderful place: the architect's home still has some original furniture. I also love the Arken Museum of Modern Art and the Louisiana Museum. Museums are like a retreat for me; they provide me with both inspiration and a sense of calm — a rare combination!

CC: Your best sources for interior decorating and design?
IP: In fact, I keep discovering new places each time I visit. And since I am a fan of antique stores and bazaars, here are two places out of my golden address book: the Gammel Strand Flea Market, in the summer, is particularly great for household items and porcelain; and Loppemarked Israels Plads, further out of the city and more modest, is the oldest flea market. There you can find design items and furniture.

Corinne's travel tip: To mix business with pleasure, visit Denmark when international design professionals and the general public mingle to explore new style trends: the Copenhagen Fashion Week takes place twice a year, in February and August. Closer to home, don't miss the 16th Biennale in Montreal (November 17-22, 2014), a cultural event featuring Nordic artists, including a dance show by Danish choreographer Palle Granhøj.

Read more travel blog posts here.

Photo credits:
1. Trapholt, Photo Syddansk Turisme, through Visit Denmark
2a. Photography by Birgitta Wolfgang for By Nord
2b. The Crown Prince Couple in Toronto, photography by Robert McGee
2c. Selected Femme
3a. Randers + Radius
3b. Muuto
3c. Savannah Wild
4. Photography by Kim Wyon, through Visit Denmark
5. Noma, photography by Ditte Isager, through Visit Denmark
6a. Normann, photography by Ditte Isager, through Visit Denmark
6b. TrueStuff
7. The Black Diamond, Royal Library, photography by Jørgen, through Visit Denmark
8a. Design Museum Denmark, photography by Kim Wyon, through Visit Denmark
8b. Design Museum Denmark, photography by Kim Wyon, through Visit Denmark
8c. Design Museum Denmark, photography by Kim Wyon, through Visit Denmark
9. Flea market at Gammel Strand, photography by Cees van Roeden, through Visit Denmark
10a. Savannah Wild
10b. Whiite
10c. Carré Jewellery
10d. Minimum


Corinne Cécilia

London is arguably the world's most eccentric fashion metropolis. And judging by the rising success of the London Design Festival, it has become the new hub for interior decorating, too. Launched in 2003, the event attracts professionals from all over the world, while revealing the talent of young British creators.

London was always home to a vibrant artistic community; thanks to prosperous dynasties, the arts and literature were able to flourish for centuries. The place of birth of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the Swinging City remains for many the capital of Anglophone culture worldwide. From fashion runways to music, from theatre to cinema, London style is incomparable.

London also holds a special place in my heart. This is where I took my first trip abroad — visiting relatives, going on exchange programs... I was just a kid when I discovered the unique mix of antique decor and whimsical fashion — walking from charming Sloane Square, where my dear Aunt Esther lived, all the way to the punk stores on Kings Road, the then-centre of counterculture.

Many creative people embark on a London adventure. Artistic director and designer Mikaël Mourgue studied visual design and communications there. Based in Montreal since 2006, the son of famous French designer Olivier Mourgue has been very successful with Toytoy, a collection of cardboard furniture for kids that's playful, eco-friendly and affordable. Let's take a walk down memory lane with Mikaël, and rediscover London.

Corinne Cécilia: What motivated you to study at Ravensbourne College, in London?
Mikaël Mourgue: In the 1990s, London was already in multidisciplinary mode and at the forefront of digital technologies. Ravensbourne College is an incredible university, born out of the Bauhaus movement developed in 1930s Germany. That translates into an extraordinary architecture and campus. We had access to the most advanced professional equipment and training! Our professors were passionate, and very active in the business world and the creative scene; they were international trendsetters (Neville Brody, David Carson...)

CC: Looking back at your London experience, what does it represent for you?
MM: The best years of my life! Creativity, freedom, encounters, discoveries, passions... My first year, I was staying au pair with an artist family, with free board and lodging. Their workshop was near Aldgate East, on Brick Lane, an amazing neighbourhood! Indian culture, flea markets, the Whitechapel Gallery...

CC: When in London, where do you go to relax?
MM: Along the Thames, near Embankment, and to the Hampstead Heath Park.

CC: Where do you like to shop?
MM: At the Camden Market, the Brick Lane's flea market on Sundays, and Greenwich Market. Portobello is also amazing with its spring festival.

CC: Some of your favourite places?
MM: The Tate Gallery is an incredible place dedicated to modern art. Previously a power plant, the building has been entirely restored by Herzog & de Meuron architects. It's on Bankside, Southwark, on the right bank of the Thames.

CC: Do you have a favourite airline?
MM: Sir Richard Branson's new company, Virgin Galactic! Seriously now, British Airways is a great company with great in-flight services. And I always prefer to travel with an airline from the country that I'm visiting.

Corinne's travel tip: Thanks to Digital Theatre, you can now enjoy the finest of British theatre from the comfort of your Canadian home. Based in London, this truly unique organization records and distributes acclaimed shows produced in Great Britain, giving worldwide audiences direct access to talented British playwrights and actors. Tune in on September 18th for the launch of Ghosts, Richard Eyre's triple Olivier Award-winning adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's captivating family drama. Co-founder and creative director Robert Delamere is known for his multidisciplinary projects, such as Shotgun, a theatre workshop/gym/rehearsal he runs with Tom Hardy (the actor/producer has created a poignant documentary about poaching in southern Africa available online, Poaching Wars with Tom Hardy.)

Design in film: Rediscover the international impact of Olivier Mourgue thanks to the popular exhibit Stanley Kubrick to be held at Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox from October 31st, 2014 to January 25th, 2015. Known for his futuristic concepts — such as the Djinn chair that became famous through 2001 Space Odyssey — the French designer explored several art forms and reached worldwide audiences. Thanks to the exhibit, cinema and design lovers will discover how Kubrick used interior design in a movie to strengthen the narrative: he constantly used colour, design and space to reflect the moods of the characters. Enjoy!

Read more travel blog posts here.

Photo credits:
1. S.M. Tunli
2. Tom Hardy, included in Guinness World Records Ltd.
3, 6, 7. Visit Britain
4. Toytoy
5. Conran at the Design Museum, photography by Mark Hughes
8a. Clothing stall, Portobello Road Market, Visit Britain
8b. Greenwich Market London
8c. Camden market,, photography by Pawel Libera
9. The Tate Modern and the Millennium bridge,, photography by Pawel Libera
10. and Clay Center Observatory
11. Digital Theatre, photography by Hugo Glendinning
12. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1965–68; GB/United States)


Corinne Cécilia

While Japanese design has often been associated with the country’s post-war intense industrialization, decorative arts have been around for much longer. Back in prehistoric times, Jōmon hunters and gatherers were among the first nations in the world to create pottery. The first elaborate ceramic decoration can be traced back to 8,000 B.C.

Through the ages, and in spite of foreign influences, the Land of the Rising Sun has been able to preserve incomparable aesthetics anchored in traditional culture, while opening up to modernity. And even though high-tech products made in Japan became a huge export success since the 1960s, it is ancient know-how that attracts creative minds nowadays, whether they search for meaning or authenticity.

Woodworking artist Loïc Bard seems to have a natural affinity for Nippon style: pure lines, simple concepts, sensorial material or an overall sense of harmony. He designs lamps, furniture and other items inspired by “organic forms,” which he discovered while visiting Japan. When we featured Loïc’s portrait for the October 2013 issue of M&D magazine, I was moved by the poetry of his creations and inspired to learn more about Japan.

Loïc takes us on a tour of his Tokyo…

Corinne Cécilia: Where do you normally stay?
Loïc Bard: In a youth hostel or with locals: Japanese people are very welcoming. And I spend at least one night in one of the rooms furnished by Japanese designers at the Claska hotel.

CC: Where do you like to dine?
LB: There is a wide array of restaurants to choose from in Tokyo. It’s good to get acquainted with a Tokyoite who can then help you discover one of the hidden gems tucked behind a building, such as the Shirubei restaurant in the Shibuya district.

CC: Where do you go for drinks?
LB: The bar in Claska hotel is a good place for a break when touring the best interior design shops in the Meguro-ku district. The hotel also has a showroom with Japanese design objects.

CC: Where do you like to shop?
LB: At Tokyu Hand. It’s a large store selling materials and tools for artisans (pretty much a heaven for woodworkers because Japanese tools are truly the best), as well as furniture, design objects and more. You could easily spend the whole day there. On Sundays, you can find incredible objects in little flea markets in certain neighbourhoods.

CC: Where do you go to relax?
LB: I like strolling in the gardens — the Kiyosumi garden especially — and the Shibuya district because of the shopping.

CC: What are some of your favourite places?
LB: My three favourite museums and galleries are located in Roppongi, the entertainment district: the National Art Center, Tokyo, the Mori Art Museum and the 21_21 Design Sight gallery space, with its stunning architecture.

CC: Do you have a favourite airline?
LB: Japan Airlines.

Loïc Bard's best address for interior design in Tokyo: In the Meguro-ku district, Meguro-dori Avenue hosts a great many Japanese furniture stores.

Corinne's travel tip: Creative industries typically have a fascination for Japanese designers, and special exhibitions are often dedicated to them. If you live in Europe, immerse yourself in the world of Takumi Nariyoshi, one of the nominees for the Rado Star Prize, an award celebrating 80 emerging designers from all over the world. Takumi’s projects will be showcased at now! le Off, at the Docks — Cité de la Mode et du Design, during the Paris Design Week, from September 6 to 13, 2014. 

Plafonnier Shensi, by Takumi Nariyoshi 

Closer to home, don’t miss the exhibition L’objet japonaisPanorama du design contemporain au Japon, which will be presented at Centre de design de l'UQAM from November 20, 2014 to January 18, 2015.

Read more travel blog posts here.

Photo credits:

1-2. Tokyo National Museum collection, via Pointe-à-Callière

3. Alexandre Gergely

4. Andy Long Hoang
5, 7.  Claska
6. Shibuya Daikanyama, via JNTO
8. Meguro – Nakameguro 3, via JNTO
9. Kiyosumi Garden via Japan National Tourism Organization (Canada)

10-11.  National Art Center, Tokyo, via Japan National Tourism Organization (Canada)

12. Mori Art Museum
13. 21_21 Design Sight, via Masaya Yoshimura/Nacása & Partners Inc.

14. Meguro – Nakameguro 4, via JNTO
15-16. Ceiling lamp Shensi, by Takumi Nariyoshi © Takumi Nariyoshi


Corinne Cécilia

Travelling for business and pleasure is a great source of inspiration for designer Richard Ouellette and architect Maxime Vandal, of the Montreal-based firm Les Ensembliers. (Tour their stunning country home in Quebec's Eastern Townships.) The creative pair’s frequent trips to the United States add a certain American chic to their look.

While interior decorating in the USA was shaped by European influences — with steady waves of immigrants bringing old world decorative traditions along ever since the early 1600s — contemporary designers have been increasingly under the influence of globalization and American pop culture, a reflection of a forward-looking nation driven by the dream of a better life.

In a way, this evolution meets with the work of Les Ensembliers, known for their modern interpretation of traditional styles. Richard and Maxime often visit the Big Apple, where they acquire some of the ideas and unique finds that you may have seen in our pages.

We asked Maxime and Richard to share their favourite hangouts in the city that never sleeps.

CC: Where do you normally stay?
Richard Ouellette & Maxime Vandal:
At the Surrey, because of its great location at the heart of the Upper East Side, where most of the city’s design stores and showrooms are located, not to mention its proximity to all the best museums.

CC: Where do you like to dine?
RO & MV:
We have breakfast at the Whitney Museum of American Art to enjoy its relaxed atmosphere and modern space. We have lunch at Balthazar, for their oysters and the vibrant bistro vibe. For dinner, we like the Caravaggio restaurant, just steps away from the Surrey hotel. We then take our evening walk, like residents of the Upper East Side do, daydreaming about the townhouse we could buy and renovate.

CC: Where do you go for drinks?
RO & MV: We don’t go out that much at night…. Our days can be quite long, and dinners stretch out.

CC: Where do you like to shop?
RO & MV:
With its 18 floors of showrooms, the Decoration & Design Building is the spot to start the day. We then cross the street over to Holly Hunt and John Rosselli Antiques. Treillage is a must-see place along the way.

We then stop at ABC Carpet & Home on Broadway. We finish the day in Soho, and the Green Street neighbourhood, which is full of trendy design stores. Do visit Ralph Pucci if you can (by appointment only): it is the ultimate showroom experience!

CC: Where do you go to relax?
RO & MV:
Outside of the peak season, we run off to the Hamptons for a day. An hour or two by car and you’re in Southampton. We love the seaside, beautiful houses and lobster rolls. The museum dedicated to Jackson Pollock is a must-see (by appointment only). Very inspiring!

CC: What are some of your favourite places?
RO & MV:
Central Park, of course – during the cherry blossoms, the last week in April! The rooftop of the Dia Art Foundation in Chelsea is also a fantastic spot.

CC: Do you have a favourite airline?
RO & MV:
No, we prefer to get there by car. It gives us a certain freedom.

Corinne's reading pick: American Design, by Russell Flinchum. Published by The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Browse a gallery of interiors by Les Ensembliers.

Read more travel blog posts here.

Photo credits:
1. André Rider for Maison & Demeure May 2014
2. Svein-Magne Tunli via
3. Jimmie Martin
4, 5, 10 and 11. Les Ensembliers
6. Decoration and Design Building
7. Holly Hunt — HHNY Showroom
8. ABC Carpet & Home
9. Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center


Corinne Cécilia

We feature Sarah Bancroft's cool, modernist Palm Springs house in our August 2014 issue. The B.C.-based founder of Vitamin Daily — an online lifestyle magazine — recently renovated this winter escape with her husband. Sarah reflects on how the local hotels she stayed in during the reno ended up influencing her design decisions.

We've been going to Palm Springs for 9 years — first as tourists, then as house hunters, and most recently as home renovators, all of which required hotel stays. Even now we drop by these glam spots for drinks, spa visits, or just to walk the gardens.

The Parker Hotel
The very first time we walked in we ran into Will Ferrell at the front desk and French Marie Claire shooting in the pool. These days it's Leonardo DiCaprio (who just bought a house in Palm Springs) who you'll see on the patio during Coachella. The gardens are designed by Givenchy, the spa (Palm Springs Yacht Club) is amazing and the decor is designed by Jonathan Adler. Pretty much a Palm Springs masterpiece.

Takeaway: We would have done it anyway, but we have a pétanque court at our house too.

The Horizon

Definitely our favourite. Small and intimate with amazing modernist architecture, it was recently purchased by Tom Ford's interior designer who is going to revert to its original name, L'Horizon. We fully approve.

Takeaway: Our home's architect, William Krisel, stays here when he attends Palm Springs Modernism Week so it makes sense we would love it too. It also convinced us to keep our vintage pool ladder, just as they had.

The Sparrows
The owners are an entrepreneur and former Calvin Klein model who have done several hotel and home projects in Palm Springs. We clicked with both their attitude and early modernist aesthetic, and drop by their bar for a glass of Lillet when we're in town.

Takeaway: It's hard to stop at just one (home reno that is.)

The Viceroy
We go by their restaurant Citron for a chopped salad and glass of Rosé near the end of our trip and eavesdrop on the poolside conversations.

Takeaway: We were inspired by designer Kelly Wearstler's decorative mirrors when we designed our shield-shaped bathroom ones.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club
We've never actually stayed here (too much of a party scene for us) but we go for the steak salad (to take on the plane) and the first time we went we sat beside the late Ace Hotel founder Alex Calderwood. Their Monday Sissy Bingo night is a must-do Palm Springs experience: trust us.

Takeaway: Our home's army green sunshade umbrella was an extra one from the Ace's renovation.

The Movie Colony Hotel
Our very first trip to Palm Springs we stayed here (I was 5 months pregnant, so an adults-only, cheap and cheerful environment was a babymoon must).

Takeaway: This trip was when we started photographing houses we loved and fantasizing about someday owning one.

Photo sources:

1. The Parker Hotel
2. The Horizon
3. The Sparrows
4. The Viceroy
5. via CN Traveller
6. The Movie Colony Hotel


Sarah Bancroft

From seafaring people to a naval power, from the golden age of Dutch masters to the modern era of design, from world trade leader to global financial hub — the Netherlands has never stopped exploring, innovating and reinventing themselves.

This outward-bound energy, along with a near Calvinist work ethics — tempered with a great sense of humour, mind you — fascinated me when I lived there. For despite a limited territory made of mainly coastal lowland and reclaimed land, this little kingdom withstood the turmoil of history to become one of the most prosperous nations on earth.

Amsterdam was always at the heart of this expansion drive, reaching a peak in the 17th century as the world's wealthiest city, and Europe's nerve centre for science and the arts. Fuelled by a context of freedom and riches, culture flourished in the self-proclaimed "valiant, steadfast, compassionate" port city.

The Venice of the North has also been the home of many famous Dutch artists and, naturally, has inspired designers for centuries. In fact, it's one of Quebec designer Anne Cahsens's favourite destinations in Europe. Her brand of home accessories, Anita, reminds me of Dutch design: inventive, minimalist, witty and cheery.

Come along as Anne takes us on a guided tour of Amsterdam!

Corinne Cécilia: Where do you like to stay?
Anne Cahsens: I like to stay in a local apartment. It really makes you feel like you're living like an Amsterdammer. This gave me a reason to go to the farmers' market on Saturday and buy local Edam and Gouda cheese and flowers. I used the services of the Short Stay Apartment. Next time I would like to try living on a houseboat. This is an experience that is unique to the area. But you need to plan that ahead of time, they book up quickly.

CC: What's your favourite restaurant?
AC: I ate really well in Amsterdam. The Kinnaree Thai restaurant served amazing Thai food. It's a discreet place but it was filled with locals and the price is so reasonable. For a special night out, I chose the Buffet von Odette on the Prisengracht. This is not at all a "buffet" as we know it; it's a French style bistro with great wine and great food. The ambience is a perfect mix of warm and cosy with airy and spacious.

CC: Where do you go out for a drink?
AC: I like hanging out upstairs at the Droog Gallery/Hotel. I could hang around upstairs all afternoon. On the main floor is a gallery boutique and the upper level is a casual restaurant/bar. The food was a modern version of typical Dutch food and they had the most delicious beer there. It's a different ambience to be upstairs in this kind of loft space. The interior is a really interesting open concept with a mix of white furniture and great artwork. It's mysterious how this place feels so warm and cosy but the ceiling is high and most of the furniture is white.

CC: Where do you love to shop?
AC: You can walk the entire afternoon on the Nieuwendijk, which is a pedestrian and tram street. This is a shopping area mostly for clothes and shoes. For more local boutiques, I found many interesting shops in the Jordaan neighbourhood. You can find original places like Shirdak, which sells beautiful textiles from Central Asia.

CC: Where do you like to go when you want to relax?
AC: It's romantic and so picturesque to roam around the canal streets of Amsterdam but it's wonderful to stroll or even better, bike, through the grand Vondelpark. There is a huge maze of paths with hidden duck ponds here and there. It's the perfect place for a picnic.

CC: Do you have a favourite hang out?
AC: One of my favourite galleries in Amsterdam is the Smelik & Stokking. I fell in love with the work of so many local artists in this gallery. They carry a mix of work from sculpture to originals and prints that seems to reflect the feeling and style of the Netherlands.

CC: Your favourite airline?
AC: No real preference.

Anne Cahsens's best address for interior design in Amsterdam: In Amsterdam a good start is the gallery of the Hotel Droog. They carry works from local, industrial and furniture designers. It's quite a large lofty kind of space with an interesting gallery-style way of presenting objects. If you're interested in design, check out dates for design events in the fall.

Corinne's travel tip: Like to mix business & pleasure? Visit the Netherlands when professionals met up to discover tomorrow's design: the 13th annual Dutch Design Week will take place from October 18 to the 16, 2014 in Eindhoven.

Corinne's reading pick: Vincent's Trees: Paintings and Drawings by Van Gogh by Ralph Skea. (2013, Thames & Hudson).

See a gallery of prominent Dutch designer Marcel Wanders' work.

Read more travel blog posts here.

Photo credits:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7,12. NBTC Holland Marketing
6. Amsterdam Marketing
8. S.M. Tunli via
9. Moon Jansen via Buffet van Odette
10, 13, 14. Thijs Wolzak via Hôtel Droog
11. Marianne Tuerlings via Shirdak
15. Chloë van Diepen via Dutch Design Week


Corinne Cécilia

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