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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

Author: 

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

Author: 

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, Londonview.photoshelter.com, photography by Pawel Libera
9. The Tate Modern and the Millennium bridge, Londonview.photoshelter.com, photography by Pawel Libera
10. MarsScientific.com 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)

Author: 

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

Author: 

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 tunliweb.no
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

Author: 

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

Author: 

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 tunliweb.no
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

Author: 

Corinne Cécilia

Italy has produced talented designers, artistic decor and high-quality innovations for centuries.

In this tradition of aesthetic beauty and inventiveness, Milan holds a unique position, championing decorative arts whether applied to residential or commercial spaces and ruling as the world's design destination ever since the Salone Internationale del Mobile was launched in 1961.

Italy's style capital also inspires many a Quebec designer. Among them Igloo Design's Anna Abbruzzo and Alain Courchesne definitely exude Italian flare. Known for their affinity for Fornasetti's taste and genius, the witty duet creates fantastic interiors where different time periods, colours and motifs blend into a skillful mix of humour and cohesion.

Anna and Alain shared their favourite hangouts in Milan with us!

Corinne Cécilia: Where do you like to stay?
Anna Abbruzzo & Alain Courchesne: Usually, we enjoy staying at the Bulgari. Milan is considered a modern city and this hotel is a perfect mix of past and present. The attention paid to the details is impeccable.

CC: What's your favourite restaurant?
AA & AC: We love to have dinner at Café Trussardi. The location is ideal and the ambience is both of the moment and timeless. We truly enjoy the Baglioni hotel's opulence at night. The traditional decor is a pinnacle of elegance. A perfect spot to see characters that have both substance and incomparable style.

CC: Where do you to go out for a drink?
AA & AC: 10 Corso Como, it's the ultimate Milanese experience: a glass of Prosecco and shopping par excellence. Their Pasticceria Bastianello is our favourite cappuccino.

CC: I'm sure anyone can guess, but I'll ask anyways: where do you love to shop?
AA & AC:
At the Fornasetti store, of course! We always go there when we visit Milan.

Alain also loves to visit the Piombo shop on Via Montenapoleone [Milan's trendy shopping street]: it's a definite stop for contemporary men. As for me, I love to visit the Antonio Marras store; in my opinion, it's the best kept secret of Italian fashion.

CC: Where do you like to go when you want to relax?
AA & AC: We just love to go for long walks, without a specific destination in mind. It's our thing: strolling in the city for hours, discovering things that you can only find if you get lost!

CC: Do you have a favourite hang out?
AA & AC:
Si! The Nilufar Gallery: Nina Nashar and her sister Nilu have an eye for art and design like nobody else. We discovered Michael Anastassiades for the first time in that gallery. We also love the Villa Necchi Campiglio museum.

CC: Your favourite airline?
AA & AC: Lufthansa: simply wonderful!

Igloo Design's best addresses for interior design in Italy:

Corinne's reading pick: Fornasetti, Designer of Dreams, Patrick Mauriès with an Essay by Ettore Sottsass.

Read more travel blog posts here.

Photo credits:
1. Duomo di Milano, Vito Arcomano - Fototeca ENIT
2. The Last Supper, Leonardo de Vinci, Agostini Picture Library - Fototeca ENIT
3. Café Trussardi, Courtesy of Café Trussardi
4. & 5. Corso Como, Courtesy of Corso Como
6. Fornasetti Store, Courtesy Fornasetti

7. Joseph Walsh Studio Enignum VI Canopy Bed, Nilufar
8. Villa Necchi / Campiglio, Giorgio Majno

Author: 

Corinne Cécilia

Known for his high-contrast interiors, Quebec designer Jean Stéphane Beauchamp regularly brings back inspiration — and treasures for his clients — from regular jaunts to Paris. It's not only one of his favourite destinations, the City of Lights is home to a number of splendid antique masterpieces. In France, treasures from each period stretching back to antiquity are especially well preserved. We asked Jean Stéphane to share some of his fave Parisian hangouts.

Corinne Cécilia: Where do you like to stay?
Jean Stéphane Beauchamp: I prefer to rent an apartment in the 3rd arondissement on the Right Bank in Paris. From there I can go anywhere by foot or on the subway, and I can get my own breakfast.

CC: It must be hard to choose in this city, but what are some of your favourite restaurants?
JSB:
It depends on the budget. When splurging, I like to dine at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon; otherwise, it's Des gars dans la cuisine in the 3rd arondissement, the Train Bleu (shown below) at Gare de Lyon train station because it's gorgeous, and I like breakfast at Bon Marché.

CC: What are your favourite museums?
JSB:
The Carnavalet Museum, Rodin Museum and Orsay Museum (shown below).

CC: Where is the best spot for a drink?
JSB: On the patio of Centre Pompidou (photos below), or have a tea on the terrace of Galeries Lafayette: the view is exceptional.

CC: Where do you like to shop?
JSB: On the Left Bank, at the Galeries Lafayette Maison (the wine library is shown below), and the whole 3rd arondissement. Les mille feuilles, Blanc d'Ivoire, and Entrée des fournisseurs, for fabrics and ribbons. And no trip to Paris is complete without a pilgrimage to Deyrolle on Rue du Bac.

Hungry for more historical design? Pick up a copy of Mario Praz's gorgeous book, An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration: From Pompeii to Art Nouveau.

Read more travel blog posts here.

Photo credits:
1-2. Atout France/Style City
3. Atout France/Catherine Bibollet
4
. Atout France/Fabian Charaffi

5. Atout France/Benoit Roland
6. Atout France/Cédric Helsly
7. An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration: From Pompeii to Art Nouveau, (2008 Thames & Hudson)

Author: 

Corinne Cécilia

Every year around this time, I suddenly notice that gosh, it’s dark out. The bare trees and dropping temperatures don’t bother me, but when the sun disappears at 4:30, it hits me that we’re in for a long, dark winter. So, with the solstice still over a month away, I’ve been looking to the real estate listings for my sunlight fix. This condo in Miami caught my eye for its mix of clean, tropical light-filled spaces and restrained hits of big-city glitz. And at only $1.5 million, it’s in the realm of “unlikely” dreams but not “utterly impossible in this lifetime” fantasies. Let’s take a look.

The 3-bedroom, 3-bath unit is on the 19th floor and has a gorgeous view of the water and a nearby park. The highway connecting the city to Miami Beach isn’t quite so scenic in this photo, but I’d imagine that the causeway and skyline beyond are actually quite pretty when lit up at night.

Judging by this floor plan, you enter the "new" kitchen through two foyers off your private elevator (considering the building was finished in early 2013, everything is pretty much spanking new). Glossy white cupboards and stainless steel appliances are sleek and restrained, making the room’s one indulgence — that beautifully veined waterfall Calacatta marble island — all the more gorgeous.

White walls, millwork and floors and Lucite chairs let the sunlight bounce around the kitchen and dining area. The living room lies to the left, with a floor-to-ceiling window at the end and the terrace beyond. Lots of shiny white can feel cold, but here, an industrial-chic table and metallic vases keep the vibe warm and inviting.

Each of the three bedrooms has its own bath and ample closet space, and two of the three have exits to two separate balconies. The third bedroom is currently outfitted as an office in the same calm, monochromatic palette. I’d move that desk to face the window, even if the view is inland on this side of the building.

The principal bedroom, with its wooden bed, gold accent table, and wiry chandelier, sticks to the white-with-warmth idea. Here, the ensuite bath really is en suite — that sparkly wall to the right is the glass-enclosed shower, and the double vanity is visible at the back of the room. I like the idea of watching the sun rise over the ocean from the shower; less appealing is the idea of lounging in bed and listening to tooth-brushing just a few feet away.

What do you think? Does this apartment satisfy your cravings for sunshine?

Photo credits:
1–5. Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Author: 

Kristen Koch

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