Sebastián Errázuriz


Sebastian Errazuriz was born in Chile and raised in London. His studies of industrial design and sculpture were divided between Santiago, Washington, Edinburgh and New York. After a period of training at Alessandro Mendini’s workshops in Milan he was first included in the “Everyday Wonders” exhibition in Geneva. Included alongside Tadao Ando, Marcel Wanders, The Campana Brothers, Ingo Maurer and Tom Dixon. Exhibited in the “Love why?” exhibition organized by Felissimo and shown in Tokyo, New York, Paris and Barcelona.

Selected as one of the top emerging designers by I.D Magazine, included in Sotheby’s Important 20th Century Designs and later represented by Cristina Grajales. Sebastian Errazuriz has won a Fulbright scholarship, a New York University scholarship, a Chilean Presidential scholarship and a Diego Portales University scholarship. Chosen Chilean Designer of the Year, Leading National Designer and other awards given by design competitions, specialized local magazines and newspapers.

Sebastian is also faculty member and teacher in two universities. And lately he has worked as a design curator in New York. Required for private and commercial interior design projects, he has recently been commissioned to design the new Gana Gallery (ex Yvon Lambert) in Chelsea, NY. Currently based in New York and with workshops in Santiago. Over 150 of his original pieces are currently being selected for a book specially dedicated to his work. [CristinaGrajalesInc.com]

The Cow

The Tree__[designboom.com]

Chile Yesterday, Hot Tomorrow
[I.D. - Sep.07]

Since relocating from Santiago, Sebastian Errazuriz has coped with anonymity for a whole year. It’s beginning to get old.

“I’m a really weird person,” Sebastian Errazuriz says with an elegant British accent. Thin and handsome and wearing a slim-fitting rumpled suit jacket, he sips coffee in a cafe inside one of the labyrinthine gallery buildings of New York’s Chelsea district. A few floors down is the Sebastian + Barquet gallery, for which Errazuriz curated a Nakashima furniture exhibition last spring. He pauses a beat. “You’ll find I’m filled with contradictions.”

The declaration sounds pompous. But it begs for hard questions, and that takes guts. Confidence is not lacking in the 29-year-old Chilean designer, who, with one touch of his laptop, presents a body of work that could sustain a midcareer retrospective. Errazuriz was a star in his native Santiago, achieving—through a series of public-art stunts and a television-hosting gig—the kind of fame that here is reserved for designers like Yves Behar in a Target commercial. True, when he arrived last fall with the intention of earning a master’s degree in studio art at New York University, he sank back into a state of near anonymity. But that will soon change.

Over the past few months, Errazuriz has seen his sleek plywood Mesa table sell for $17,000 at a Sotheby’s auction, he’s been asked to design the interior of the first New York branch of Korea’s Gana Gallery, and he’s received commissions from several private collectors who saw his products exhibited during Art Basel in June. In a reversal of the conventional poles of celebrity, the northern hemisphere is finally catching on to what South America already knew, and Errazuriz is set to experience a second burst of notoriety before he even turns 30.

This time, it’s happening in a city with the whole world watching and in a market where design has become a prized collectible. Errazuriz is primed to seize both advantages. A descendent of an influential Basque clan that included presidents and archbishops, he moved with his family from Santiago to London at the age of five while his father completed a Ph.D. in art theory. “When I was a child,” he says, “I was placed in front of a Turner painting and asked to critique it.” His upbringing turned him into a cerebral aesthete, but it also discouraged him from working at an easel. “Artists were these superior beings that I didn’t think I could ever reach,” he explains. “So when I got out of school, I chose to be a designer.”

Even so, Errazuriz’s work has the wit—and utter market impracticality—of conceptual art. He perverts utilitarian objects and pokes fun at conventions, creating “couture” one-offs like his Glove Dress, for which he hand-stitched hundreds of latex surgical gloves onto a silk pattern to produce a quivering silhouette that alternately reads as feathers and grabbing hands. He’s also designed a 13-foot-long wool tie, a dress made of 120 zippers that spiral around the body from neck to knee, and a coat made from 30 unstuffed teddy bears. (“I was playing with the connotations of fur here,” he says. “If it looks cozy, people will smile at it instead of throwing blood.”)

For Errazuriz, humor is the great leveler. “Everyone can agree on a joke,” he says. Objects turn on themselves in displays of self-parody or assume ludicrous aliases: A lampshade is knitted from the light’s own electrical cord. Golf clubs morph into umbrella handles. A taxidermied duck transforms into the decapitated base of a task lamp. Even air is collected and sold. This last project was for a Japanese design contest with a green theme: “I figured you can’t beat the Japanese at ecological design,” Errazuriz says. “So I packaged nothing.”

But not all of his work hinges on clever distortion. Among his more sophisticated experiments is Repisa, an organic wall shelving unit whose 450 foot-long wood bars can be individually raised and lowered to form a surface of variable length and topography. The Colombian-born design dealer Cristina Grajales, who represents Errazuriz through her New York gallery, hauled the $40,000 shelves to a design adjunct of Art Basel with satisfying results. “I had so many requests, I stopped taking them,” she says.

Still, this kind of attention doesn’t compare with Errazuriz’s celebrity in his previous life. Only last year he was hosting La Hora 25, a popular weekly television show about Chilean culture. For 15 minutes each broadcast, he traipsed around Santiago pointing out design flaws in everything from public restrooms to coffins. It was an ideal gig for someone who aspired to solve a few municipal problems on his own. In 2005, for example, he installed a 25-story construction crane in a lower-middle-class neighborhood of Santiago and covered it with 1,200 light bulbs strung with almost two miles of cable. “It was like one giant protective espanta cucos (fear of cuckoos)—that’s what we call those nightlights for children,” he says. For seven days, the cross-shaped structure illuminated the dangerous neighborhood, fending off monsters that disturb the dreams of adults and children alike. That same year, Errazuriz rescued a 15-year-old cow from a slaughterhouse, driving the animal through the city in a converted white VW bus that looked like the Popemobile—“I did buy the van off of some nuns,” he admits—then hoisting it onto the roof of a 10-story building in Santiago’s financial district, where it grazed for week inside a white fenced corral. (The cow became something of a celebrity itself and was eventually allowed to live out the rest of its days on a nearby farm.)

But it was “The Tree” that secured Errazuriz’s homeland prominence. In June 2006, two weeks before the World Cup soccer games in Germany, he planted a 45-year-old magnolia in the center of Santiago’s National Stadium, a location the late dictator Augusto Pinochet notoriously used to imprison and torture political dissidents. “When we dug the hole, we were afraid we’d find bones,” Errazuriz remembers. It took two years to secure the proper permits, and he nearly went broke in the process. But eventually the stadium, which is currently used for concerts and sporting events, was opened as a public park for a week. On the last day, a match between Chile’s star teams was played around and against the tree trunk. “It was an attempt to reunite everyone,” Errazuriz says. “It’s a place where heroes usually stand. Now everyone was welcome.”

This December, Errazuriz will return to Santiago to assemble a 50-piece orchestra in front of an empty podium at four key locations throughout the city: The National Palace, The National Cathedral, the Central Market, and the National Opera House. Passersby will be encouraged to step up before the musicians and conduct. However inept the directions, the musicians will be obliged to follow them. The idea, Errazuriz says, was born out of a childhood spent watching his father direct imaginary symphonies. “He was so crazy about classical music that I was named Juan Sebastian, Spanish for Johann Sebastian,” Errazuriz says. “I was lucky he wasn’t a fan of Mozart. Wolfgang Amadeus... I would have got my ass beaten up as a kid.”

Next year, the designer plans to take his esoteric hijinks to Manhattan or Madrid. Though it won’t be easy to persuade civic leaders there to endorse projects on such a grand, disruptive scale, Errazuriz says it’ll be a breeze compared with establishing a professional foothold in New York. “At first, it’s like banging your head against the wall,” he says. “The competition level here is so high. You need a ticket to run. I think I’m getting mine.”

Christopher Bollen is editor of V magazine and VMAN.

Dress N3

Made of 120 zippers

Coat N2

Chilean Artist Aims his Provocative Creations at New York
The tall, sharply dressed artist, who is pursuing a master's in studio art at New York University, is hoping to make a mark on the art scene here.

This last weekend, he wrapped up an exhibit called The Assassination of Saddam Hussein and Other Stuff at the Marvelli Gallery in Chelsea.

Using glossy enlargements of the front pages of city newspapers on events such as the Virginia Tech massacre and Paris Hilton's arrest, Errázuriz hoped to comment on the saturation of popular culture in the media.

"More than anything, I aim to point at things," he says. "Just by appropriating these well-known images, enlarging them and adding a shiny transparent layer, I ask people to look at things with new eyes."

Errázuriz considers working in the city a "challenge," beyond the obvious demands of the competitive art scene.

"New York raises your standards of presentation, conceptualization, and the amount of information you have to work with," he says among the sketches of future projects in his small artist studio at NYU.

"But at the same time, it has triggered in me a search to return to simple things, to purity. Here, I have learned to revalue some things associated with being Latino — more naive, more of a dreamer."

As a matter of fact, for Errázuriz the inspiration behind feats like "The Cow" exhibition — which is part of his Urban Art series — lies in a distant and more spiritual place.

"I attended a Jesuit high school, where they would tell you that you entered there to learn, but came out to serve," says the artist, who does not adhere to any faith. "I did things like building houses for the poor and playing soccer with prison inmates. Some of that obviously gets into you."

In a developing country like Chile, where museum-going is still rare, Errázuriz wanted to share the exposure he received from his father, Luis Hernán, an art professor who made him draw and judge paintings from an early age.

"It's like the old saying goes, if Muhammed does not come to the mountain, the mountain comes to Muhammed. So I brought contemporary art to the people." [...]

The grandiose nature of his art also raised concerns about its funding. "The first reaction by many people to my urban art is, ‘Where does he get the money from? Is it the government? Why doesn't it go to help poor people?'"

But Errázuriz has always managed to bypass the government, self-funding his works through parties and events co-organized with friends.

Errázuriz also hopes to show his Urban Art works in New York. He's currently starting the long process of obtaining sponsors and authorizations to develop The Yawn, a loop video of him yawning to be played on one of the giant screens in Times Square.

"Given that yawning is contagious, I am aiming to create an epidemic in the middle of New York — but also to make people yawn in boredom at the enormous market system represented by those giant billboards."

And in the process, he hopes to fill a void.

"What New York City lacks are cultural events that escape normal structures, events that break the paradigms of daily living.

"It's just like flirting: When you are sitting in a place and a beautiful girl looks at you and you look back, there is a magic moment that stays with you for the rest of the day. Those are the type of unexpected gifts I want to create with my public art." [NYDailyNews.com - Mar.08]

The Assasination of Saddam Hussein and Other Stuff
"Creating moments of conscience appears very difficult today. Fiction is at times so realistic that we are finding it hard to believe. On the other hand, reality is so often delivered as a commoditized product through the media that we forget to look beyond what is presented.

In search for a body of work that can break through these anesthetic barriers, tap into a hardened audience and create conscience of these same structures, I try to avoid creating any authorial representation that can add to the pre-existing "environmental noise". Rather, I believe the tools of decontextualization, alteration and appropriation can be utilized today in a sharper and more drastic way.

This translates into creating minimum artistic authorial interventions that nevertheless contain the strength to break through the veil of expectations and allow the audience to revisit social realities and the endless symbolism present in everyday life."

Sebastian Errazuriz at Marvelli. The video in the backroom is worth a visit to Chelsea. It filled me with dread, fear, wonder and made me a little nauseous. It brilliantly plays off the psychology of our voyeursim, our attraction warring with our repulsion and the difficulty of just not looking at things we feel guilty for looking at. See it.

Interview Magazine feature - May 09
Last December’s Design Miami fair was supposed to be all about celebrating surefire international design stars like the Campana Brothers or Ross Lovegrove (safe bets in a shaky market hoping to compete with the slightly less shaky art market). But out of nowhere, perched in Cristina Grajales’s New York gallery booth, a young upstart Chilean designer was hogging all of the spotlight. Suddenly people weren’t talking about the Campana Brothers or RossLovegrove. They were talking about a 31-year-old, born in Santiago and now living in New York, named Sebastián Errázuriz — or, more enigmatically, Sebastián E, as it was written on the gallery wall. The pieces on display included a long glass table with a base made out of an entire overturned Crespon tree, a wall shelf constructed from a fallen tree branch with books stacked along its twisting arms, even a taxidermy duck whose neck and head had been replaced by an adjustable desk lamp. (And let’s not forget his booklet of sketches for a motorboat coffin which suggest in their directional notes that one could sail out into the middle of a lake, drop the motor, and sink for eternity inside the wood box—“You only die once. Why not leave in style?” reads the sales pitch.) Was Errázuriz kidding? Was he trying to establish himself as the court jester of the design world? And if so, why were his pieces so somber and lyrical and rife with a certain eloquent environmental minimalism? The uninitiated were stymied. Cristina Grajales’s gallery experienced a bidding war. [...]
Errázuriz has the kind of self-confidence that ensures he will go the distance. His current plans include planting hundreds of white crosses in Central Park to resemble a military cemetery, the construction of a mountain of shredded dollar bills, more tree-based furniture, and a series of paintings depicting all of his ex-girlfriends. Here he talks with artist and mentor Ross Bleckner, who he met while attending NYU. If the two seem like they are sparring, it’s just a sign of mutual respect. After all, artists and designers are pros at pressing each other’s buttons.

ROSS BLECKNER: So tell me something I don’t know.

SEBASTIÁN ERRÁZURIZ: Uh, I don’t know either. That’s the whole thing—I have no idea what’s going to happen or how anything is going to go . . .

BLECKNER: That’s not a good answer. Tell me then what kind of design work you’re doing.

ERRÁZURIZ: I do limited-edition signed and numbered high-end furniture. Normally it’s for collectors who already own a Jeff Koons or an Andy Warhol or a Ross Bleckner and who want to continue filling their houses with amazing pieces. My furniture is mostly collected by people who know a lot about 20th-century design, but mainly it’s trying to give a twist to normal pieces. I like to twist normal objects.

BLECKNER: What do you mean by “give a twist to”?

ERRÁZURIZ: Well, it’s the idea of trying to make you look again at something basic.

BLECKNER: Do you think people really need to look again at a Jeff Koons or an Andy Warhol?

ERRÁZURIZ: No, I don’t necessarily think they need to. They’ve probably looked enough. But those are the people who my collectors tend to be—collectors of nice stuff. But for my design, I’m trying to make the viewer look again.

BLECKNER: Well, I didn’t ask you about the market. We all know about luxury and the market. I asked you to tell me something I don’t know.

ERRÁZURIZ: I do hundreds and hundreds of sketches until I come up with ideas that somehow break a paradigm.

BLECKNER: What kind of paradigm? A paradigm about your feelings? About the history of design?

ERRÁZURIZ: It can be a bit of both, but in general, it’s getting back to looking. So, for example, we’ve been making tables out of trees for centuries, right? Why not make a table using a whole tree? Why do you really have to cut down the tree if the tree is beautiful in itself. What if you just tipped the tree over, de-rooted it, and placed it horizontally? It could work as the base of the table.

BLECKNER: Two questions: One, aren’t you still cutting the tree down?

ERRÁZURIZ: I am, but I’m doing it in a different way. It’s not an ecologically friendly approach I’m after.

BLECKNER: Two, has no one ever done that before?

ERRÁZURIZ: Apparently no one has. I try to Google every idea I have. Normally I go up to page 40 in Google, and if by then nothing has appeared, I want to think that it just doesn’t exist.

BLECKNER: That it’s fresh . . .

ERRÁZURIZ: Yeah, that it’s fresh. If it’s not fresh, I’d rather not do it. Then there are other design exercises that I take on that are just about plain aesthetics or about answering technical problems . . . like, how do you make a chaise lounge that looks like it should tip over and break but is in complete counter-balance.

BLECKNER: I know a lot of artists whose work—as much as they call it sculpture—could also be used functionally, and vice versa. You might say that they’re designers, too, even though they prefer being called artists.

ERRÁZURIZ: I consider myself an artist first and a designer second. But at the end of the day, the amount of meaning you can throw onto a functional piece can tend to be limited—especially in design.

BLECKNER: Because first and foremost you need it to be useful?

ERRÁZURIZ: Yes, you need it to have a function that’s established. When something turns out to be a piece of art, it has enough layers to overcome its functionality. That’s very tricky to do with a piece that’s simply design. It’s only when the layers overpass the functionality that it falls into the area of art.

BLECKNER: So how can you make the distinction between art and design?

ERRÁZURIZ: I get lost in the crossover sometimes because I enjoy both. Here’s an example: I just made a secretaire in honor of my grandfather. It’s an 1880 French secretaire you could use to put all of your stuff in, but it’s been re-adapted to have a vault in the main compartment. It’s a stainless steel vault, and inside it there’s a real skull embedded in acrylic. Now, this piece, for me, is talking about my grandfather’s rituals—how until his last days he would go through his files in his cabinets, files which none of us knew what they were about. For me, that was a mystery, and it was linked to death, so it was important for me.

BLECKNER: He was getting ready, tidying up after himself.

ERRÁZURIZ: Yeah, probably. So if you open up this piece you can see and remember death. If you leave it closed, it’s just drawers that you can put whatever you want in. I don’t know where the line is here between art and design. For me, it’s working in both areas. And I like being in that kind of murky water.

BLECKNER: Now tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from?

ERRÁZURIZ: I’m from Chile. I’m a weird mix. I come from some sort of aristocratic family, but at the same time my parents decided to be hippies. My father pursued a career in art, so we never really had that much money. What we had was education.

BLECKNER: What does an aristocratic family consist of in Chile? A family with money, power, prestige, education?

ERRÁZURIZ: It’s a bit of all that. My family had three presidents and two archbishops. So it’s a family with a certain tradition, even in a little South American country. The only thing interesting about my life is that it is completely filled with contradictions. I have this aristocratic heritage, but I don’t really have any money, so I’ll always be struggling. I wanted to be an artist all my life, but I didn’t consider myself worthy of being an artist, so I went into design.

BLECKNER: When did you get into design?

ERRÁZURIZ: Some 10 years ago. I studied design in school. Then I moved into film courses, back into design, and jumped over into sculpture.
BLECKNER: Were you making objects this whole time?

ERRÁZURIZ: Yes, and somehow because of this struggle between art and design, my design started getting a lot of attention. That might be because of my whole crisis about wanting to be an artist but not daring to, so I put my efforts into design.

BLECKNER: Give me an example of an early piece.

ERRÁZURIZ: I did a fur coat made completely out of teddy bears. You could say that it was just a clever little exercise. I was making pieces that weren’t necessarily commercial. I mean, there are only so many people who can wear a fur coat made out of teddy bears. I don’t know that I would even dare to walk out into the street in that piece. [laughs] So from the beginning, all of the exercises were about a bit of a humor situation.

BLECKNER: There was humor in all of your works?

ERRÁZURIZ: A lot. Maybe humor was a way out. Maybe it was some sort of democratic leveler.

BLECKNER: But you’ve done a number of projects and performances, too. You put a cow on the top of a building in Santiago. You put a tree in the middle of the stadium there. Do you consider that part of your design work? Or do you not even think about classifying what it is?

ERRÁZURIZ: For me, that’s art. Some pieces are 100 percent design, others 100 percent art. Others, I have no idea. I have tried to separate them, but, if you go through my note pads, all of the pages are tangled up together. You’ll have a little design piece followed by an idea for an art project.

BLECKNER: In your mind do you keep the work separate? It’s not like you’re trying to finance your installation art with your design work, right?

ERRÁZURIZ: Obviously, with installation art you don’t really get that much money, unless you apply for a government grant, and when you do that they normally give you some sort of restrictions—especially in South America. So for me it was a lot easier to fund my own pieces. In a sense, my design work would get nice prices, so I could fund my artwork and have the liberty of working on these public installations the way that I wanted to.

BLECKNER: So it’s a nice circle you’ve established then, huh?

ERRÁZURIZ: The only problem is that the circle closes itself, and I’m always left with no money. All of my money goes back into the art. But it’s nice to have independence and to think you can do more and more of the projects in your sketch pad.

BLECKNER: Do you feel that is happening?

ERRÁZURIZ: I feel it has. For instance, I just showed my Duck Lamp in Miami. I once found this taxidermy duck outside a museum that had its neck broken. I don’t know how I thought that it should have a classic architectural lamp arm to stand in for its neck and head, but I did. I mean, I’m from a very traditional South American family. It’s weird to tell your mom, “I’m putting a lamp on a stuffed duck.” It sounds pretty psycho, but I was compelled to do it. It takes balls to present it and say, “You know what? I like this. I don’t know why, but it fascinates me.”

BLECKNER: When I met you, you had just come to New York and you seemed very self-confident. How has that self-confidence born out now that you’ve been in New York for a few years?

ERRÁZURIZ: I’ve been battered around and punched really hard, but I’m still super-confident.

BLECKNER: Is that just part of the process?

ERRÁZURIZ: I think it is. Back in Chile, at one point, I had my own TV show, my own radio show, my own newspaper column, all sorts of things. I could grab a phone and make things happen. I arrived here and I really wanted to work with certain people and get my projects out, but it’s like coming to the Olympics.

BLECKNER: You mean it’s not like that in Chile? [laughs]

ERRáZURIZ: Chile has its own rules, but it’s different. For example, a few years ago I was at the White Cube gallery in London. I was trying to get the people at the front desk to see my portfolio. I had no idea that you can’t just appear at the front desk as an artist and expect people to look at your work. It has to be someone else who introduces you, someone else to present you . . .


ERRÁZURIZ: So I spent a half hour trying to chat up these girls and be as charming as I could, and it was no use. At some point I figured out I was wasting my time, fucking up, and I went home—alone.

BLECKNER: So you regrouped and came up with a new tactic for getting someone to see your work?

ERRÁZURIZ: That’s the weird thing—you really can’t.
BLECKNER: Well, obviously someone’s seen it by now—you’re doing this interview.

ERRÁZURIZ: Of course I’m grateful for everything that’s happening and all of the confidence people have in me. But that’s one thing I’ve learned: You just can’t go out and seek stuff. They’re supposed to find you, which is pretty fucked up because, how do you stay inside your studio waiting for someone to come over and check your work?

BLECKNER: You don’t.

ERRÁZURIZ: So how do you do it? You’re the artist. You’re the one who’s been here for years.

BLECKNER: I think it works a little of both ways. [pauses] Initially it develops through other artists, ones you admire and respect, who see your work and whose work you see—and that’s probably how it happened with you.

ERRÁZURIZ: I guess you’re right. You were my teacher a couple of years ago, and now I’m getting you to interview me. [laughs]

BLECKNER: Tell me some designers who have influenced you over the years.

ERRÁZURIZ: I normally prefer artists as influences for my work. But Mark Mullin is a great designer. Philippe Starck, Ross Lovegrove. . .they’re amazing. They’re all people who I studied at some point and who today I’m lucky enough to show next to. It’s a huge honor, but my personal view of design takes a different path. I’m more into a Duchampian search with looking . . .

BLECKNER: I don’t know what that means.

ERRÁZURIZ: I mean, there’s only so much that you can do with aesthetics and techniques. At the end of the day, you get to some sort of mathematical juggling act. I can make a beautiful piece, a beautiful design, but beauty’s not enough. It doesn’t do it for me.

BLECKNER: So Duchampian translates as what for you?

ERRÁZURIZ: The tree, for example. It’s just simply more beautiful than anything I could make on my own.

BLECKNER: It’s the found object.

ERRÁZURIZ: A pre-existing object is already charged with so much information and so much beauty. When you’re working with an object that is already so intense, a single flick of the wrist can take it in a completely different direction. Sometimes I think you can achieve things that are beyond what any one individual can do if you establish nature or life as a stronger force than yourself.

BLECKNER: Because of the element of surprise?

ERRÁZURIZ: No, the element of life. I have some pieces that are really beautiful in terms of balance, color, aesthetics, and materials. But they are just nice. The other pieces—like the tree table—are the ones that really have life in them. They have that extra twist I was talking about.

BLECKNER: Which others?

ERRÁZURIZ: I’ve made a new branch shelf. It’s a branch I found in the street. I thought, If I can work with this branch and twist it around, I
can turn it into an amazing piece.

BLECKNER: I was always impressed with the way you come about your ideas and how you develop your projects in your studio out of your notes.


BLECKNER: Well, for one, because you bring a lot of information to a piece, a lot of confusing thoughts, and basically you distill them into a few really beautiful objects—I’m talking about your furniture and your installation work. To me, your work is like a reserved surrealism. It’s not over the top. There’s a kind of restraint. That’s what gives it its mystery. One last question: You come from South America. How does that affect what you do? Is there something particularly Latin about your work?

ERRÁZURIZ: You know, I think there’s still this cheesy, weird niceness. At the end of the day, I still come from this small country, so I’m a very warm, loving person. I’m still used to kissing people, and I have to apologize here because I’m supposed to shake their hands instead.

BLECKNER: Are those the characteristics of Latin-American art: nice, kissy, warm?

ERRÁZURIZ: I think they might be . . . At the end of the day, I’m pretty fucking innocent.
BLECKNER: I think you are well-intentioned, Sebastián, but I wouldn’t call you innocent.

ERRáZURIZ: Well, I’m not dumb. I’m a clever guy.

BLECKNER: [laughs] That’s different.

ERRÁZURIZ: But I still hope for good. I still would want to sacrifice for important things.

BLECKNER: All that’s very general. Are you making paintings these days as well?

ERRÁZURIZ: Yeah, I’m actually doing a couple of paintings with a friend. I’m painting all of my ex-girlfriends with her . . . I work a lot with death and, I guess, in a way they’re all dead. They’re all people who at some point were super-important to me, and I forget them and live on. It’s kind of like taking out that box with their pictures and letters and placing them on the wall and living with them. I’m also painting myself as Saint Sebastian.

BLECKNER: Well, I guess that goes back to the confidence that I noticed.

ERRÁZURIZ: My dad used to place me in front of the Saint Sebastian painting at the National Gallery in London as a kid.

BLECKNER: He had high hopes for you, I suppose.

Ross Bleckner is a New York City-based artist.

Wallpaper Q&A





Tree Table

The Tree Table is the latest creation by Sebastian Errazuriz on display at Cristina Grajales Gallery, New-York where he's exhibiting a beautiful collection of limited edition, signed and numbered furniture/furnishing pieces. The table is priced at $120,000. [cubeme.com]


Modern Princess

Featured: Princess Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis

Born: March 24, 1982, in Regensburg, Germany. Parents: Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis and the late Prince Johannes, whose family invented the postal service in Europe in the 14th century and were postmasters for the Holy Roman Empire. Siblings: Princess Maria Theresia and Prince Albert. Family seat: The 500-room Schloss St. Emmeran in Regensburg. Residence: London. Education: Sevenoaks in Kent, England; B.A. from American University of Paris. Occupation: Writer; editor at Finch’s Quarterly Review. Perk: Mother’s beach house in Watamu, Kenya. Cause: The Order of Malta’s annual pilgrimage to Lourdes for handicapped children. Can be found at: Frieze Art Fair in London. Special project: Collaborating on a book about art collectors with cousin Alexander Flick. Quote: Having an education, having a background, having a family gives you a lot, but life asks more of you in a way.
[vanityfair.com - Jne.09]

Photographed at the Connaught Hotel in London__[vanityfair.com]

Elisabeth (r)__Moscow Art Center__[style.com]

Crushing Boars
Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis on her love of the art of flushing out animals during a shoot and how the beat goes on, even without her

Before I explain why I had to stop beating, I should begin by explaining how I even began this business in the first place. You see, beating is a rather unusual activity for anyone during a shoot, let alone a girl. Beaters tend to be tough men who walk through the woods during a shoot, in our case a wild boar shoot, frightening the animals out of their hideouts and into the open. It involves marching through the rugged terrain of a Bavarian forest, brushing against thorns and twigs, uphill, downhill, over logs and under branches. So it’s not exactly a walk along the Yellow Brick Road.

What attracted me to beating, however, were two things: for one, it is the closest you can get to a safari outside Africa. Anyone who is unfamiliar with the temperament of a wounded boar, take note; they are ferocious. Just like a male buffalo, a wounded boar will charge you and slide its sharp tusks through your leg or anywhere it can get you.

The idea that a boar could be lurking behind the next trunk ready to charge keeps me on my toes and makes for an exciting hike through the woods. When we catch up with the huntsmen for tea at the end of the day I feel positively refreshed. Nothing kicks a hangover more successfully than a bit of adrenaline being pumped through your veins.

For most girls, a day out shooting is made bearable by the prospect of accompanying a boy of her fancy on to the deerstand. There she sits for hours in the freezing cold watching the boy nervously aim at the poor squealing beasts below. Granted, this sounds barbaric but, actually, few things are more tantalising than seeing a man skilfully manoeuvre his rifle. But this is where our problems begin. You see, our upbringing makes us expect Mr Right to make the move and ask us out. Rarely, however, does the right guy actually end up asking. Whilst busy waiting we are dragged along by Mr Wrong. Spending half a day in temperatures below freezing suspended in the air on a few square feet of wood in the middle of the forest is not exactly a party, let alone next to a bore.

This brings me to the second reason why I love beating: no more bores to bear. But for the past two years my excitement about beating has been subdued by devastating news. I am no longer welcome as a beater. Last year one of the beaters overlooked an injured boar and was consequently almost slaughtered. Be it climate change or credit crunch, even the boars seem to have picked up on the acidic energy that surrounds our little planet earth. So what do I do now?

I have retreated into the comfort and isolation of my bed awaiting the dinner party that follows a day of shooting. Call me snobbish or blasé, I’m just not cut out to be a shooting accessory. I can handle a boar but, by God, I cannot handle a bore!

- Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis is Features Editor of Finch’s Quarterly Review
Elisabeth's FQR Archive

The Highlights of the Wedding
3) Princess Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis walked barefoot into the church because one of her shoes broke on the way.

Wellblechhütte__2007__Olaf Quantius

Sour Cloud__Bernhard Martin

Zoo Out There
[V Magazine - Nov.07]
Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis reports from the other London art fest

The venue is so busy it feels just like being at the London Zoo on a Sunday afternoon, which is exactly where the Art Fair was located in recent years, hence the name Zoo Art Fair. A long queue has lined up outside impatiently waiting to be let in. Inside the kids are swarming through the narrow corridors and rooms, like hordes of ants. This year for the first time, the Fair moved to the Royal Academy of Arts. The Victorian building in the heart of London amidst established galleries and institutions, adds a sense of grandeur and creates the perfect backdrop for the works exhibited. An extravagant staircase leading us to the second floor, is flanked by handsome youngsters with retro haircuts and Converse shoes.

Zoo Art Fair seems to be Frieze’s little sister—although entirely independent, it's held at the same time as Frieze for the fourth year in a row. Formerly invitational only, this year marks the beginning of Zoo becoming a platform for galleries, project spaces, artist collectives, curatorial groups, and art publications to show their work. Now introducing an application process open to all galleries, this Fair aims at supporting local U.K. talent but also emerging contemporary art from all over.

Walking through the second floor I am drawn towards a transvestite with a big black mane, gazing at a painting by Olaf Quantius. It’s a striking work showing a seemingly abandonned shack in a restless and dreamy landscape. Another larger-scale painting similar in style, is on display too. They are both from the series Nomades. The gallery Kuttner Siebert is based in Berlin and for me an interesting discovery today. The Quantius works on view are both enticing and also quite affordable.

Another gallery that stands out is Union Gallery based in London. One of their artists on view is the German painter and sculptor Bernhard Martin. His work, although figurative, maintains a sense of abstract elements, such as a box next to a face. There is something very mysterious in Martin's work, they take us on a journey. He often makes references to fairytales such as the stories of the Brothers Grimm, which were told to the boys by an old woman from the artist's neighbouring village. Martin is already an acclaimed artist having had a round of international solo shows. At Zoo, he is only represented by a small painting, as he opens his first solo show with the gallery the same week.

Selling of West 17th
Her Serene Highness Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, known throughout the 1980's as the Punk Princess, has bought a full-floor co-op at 14 West 17th Street for $3.2 million.
Two sources close to the deal said her daughter, Princess Elisabeth, will live there.
"I'm very sad I won't be getting to know her," said Rabbi Joyce Reinitz, the seller. "I hear she's fabulous."
Her Highness, who retains a title of German nobility even though there is no monarchy there anymore, knows a bit about property investments. [...]

Thurn und Taxis - official site
The Name
The history of the family stretches back to the early 12th century. After battling over the command of the city of Milan, the dukes de la Torre took up residence in Cornello near Bergamo. According to family tradition, these Italian dukes are the ancestors of the Taxis.
Emperor Ferdinand III recognized the Taxis as successors of the Torriani, and granted them permission to incorporate the Torre arms, and name, with their own. The tower (torre) became Thurn and the badger (tasso), the name Taxis.

In 1490, Franz von Taxis began to establish the postal network. Do you have the same talents? Can you connect the cities with each other, equip postal stations and build up a Europe-wide network?
Put yourself in Franz von Taxis' shoes! [thurnundtaxis.de]

The most enduring international postal system is celebrating the 500th anniversary of its founding. Known to collectors as Thurn und Taxis, it was founded in 1490 by Franz von Taxis, ruler of a Germanic duchy who traced his roots to northern Italy. The royal house that ran the system survives, but the service ended more than a century ago.

Initially the service was limited to royal and church mail, with the first route covered by horsemen between Innsbruck, Austria, and Brussels. Delivery was guaranteed* within certain periods of time (Innsbruck to Brussels was five days) and at stable rates, which were written on the documents carried. Within 15 years, routes were established south through France to Spain.

By 1597, the family had won a monopoly from Emperor Rudolph II to handle official mail among the Germanic duchies. In 1615 the family was appointed hereditary postmaster for the Holy Roman Empire and the kingdom of the Netherlands. In 1650 a network of mail coaches was established and more commercial mail was accepted. All went well for 150 years.

As the Thurn und Taxis system became more complex, there was a need for reckoning postal charges due to other jurisdictions with which the dominant German system exchanged mail. In the early 1800's, a handstamp reading simply TT was put in use.

Martin J. Stempien Jr., writing in the February issue of Postal History Journal, said this TT accoutancy mark is generally thought to be the first stamped postal marking in Europe, but he notes that France was not far behind with the introduction of handstamps that showed where a letter was posted.

Accounting for mail charges, with each piece carrying a different cost to reflect weight and distance, was particularly complex. As Dr. Stempien notes in his well illustrated article, most mail was sent unpaid. Thus, addressees required an accurate explanation of how much was due and cooperating postal services needed a similar explanation of which would get how much of the total.

The founding of the Rhenish Confederation in Germany in 1806 generated competition for the Thurn und Taxis service. Deterioration of the Holy Roman Empire meant a loss of business.

As the lucrative post office faded in the mid-1800's, the princes of Thurn und Taxis began to make land and banking investments in southeastern Germany. By the time the monopoly was broken up in 1867, the family had many sources of wealth.

The quincentennial is being marked at the family palace in Regensburg, West Germany, with an exhibit of 700 items of postal history, from the early manuscript markings to the few rather plain stamps issued as the monopoly faded. There are also old carriers' uniforms and other equipment. The exhibit, open daily, runs through July 29.
The Postal History Journal, which is scholarly and authoritative, is published three times a year by the Postal History Society, 8207 Duren Court, Pikesville, Md. 21208. Annual dues, including a subscription to the journal, are $20. [nytimes.com - Jun.90]

*The family used a horse relay system in which one horse rode a reasonable distance between Thurn and Taxis stations to pass on the mail to another horse in waiting.
Also, the family employed 20,000 messengers not only to carry mail but to deliver newspapers as well.
The TT post empire attracted a lot of jealousy. It was Napoleon Bonaparte who first attacked the Thurn and Taxis monopoly.
Prince Maximilian Karl (1802-1871) set up the first postal codes.
In 1852 the family issued postage stamps.

Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis claimed the family had the resources and manpower to start the organization (postal line) after a stint as brigands in the Alps. [forbes.com]

Hey! Would love to start a new topic about this glamourous family!
Almost every royal today is descended from the Thurn und Taxis family! Karl I von Wuerttemberg married Princess Maria Augusta von Thurn und Taxis and their offspring married among all dynasties which would include Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia, born Sophia Dorothea von Wuerttemberg (Maria Augusta von Thurn und Taxis was her grandmother), Queen Mary of Great Britain and through them many others.

Regensburg, one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities, featuring one of the oldest bridges crossing the Danube.

Regensburg has changed surprisingly little in nearly five centuries. More than 1,300 medieval buildings pack an Old City barely a half-mile square: the perfect backdrop for Regensburg's Christmas Market.

In Regensburg for 250 Years
The family’s arrival (from Frankfurt) with the entire court household brought economic prosperity to Regensburg. The city’s cultural and social life were enhanced considerably. One priceless contribution was the princely court library, created by Prince Carl Anselm from his private collection of 2,330 volumes. This institution has been open to the public without fee since 1786. The Regensburg theater and the “green belt” around the old town, still unique today, can also be traced back to Prince Carl Anselm. Social life was always conducted according to the elaborate protocol of the Viennese imperial court. In Regensburg, in the old Roman settlement and in the medieval imperial metropolis, a new era dawned with the arrival of the family of Thurn und Taxis, a family oriented toward the great aristocratic houses of Europe, an era that still lives on today… [thurnundtaxis.de]

Convivial Bavarian City On the Danube
"We had an excellent lunch in Regensburg," Mozart wrote to his wife, Constanze, in 1790, "enjoyed divine table music, angelic service, and a splendid Mosel wine." He was on his way to Frankfurt for the coronation of Leopold II, but it's fair to say that even visitors with a less prestigious final destination in mind will find this thriving little city of roughly 140,000 on the Danube to be architecturally fascinating, historically and culturally rich, and most of all, hospitable.

In addition to a well-preserved medieval center filled with lovely shops and cafes, Regensburg also boasts a modern university (opened in 1967) and, as local lore has it and experience seems to prove true, more bars and restaurants per square mile than any other city in Germany. It's possible to spend your days wandering the cobblestone streets lined with pastel-colored buildings and your nights sampling cuisine ranging from traditional Bavarian to Kurdish, drinking at trendy bars and soaking up world-class live entertainment. Jazz and hip-hop are as common as classical fare, and posters on kiosks throughout the city are often the best way to find out what's happening. [...]

The other magnificent structure visitors shouldn't miss is the sprawling Thurn und Taxis palace, on the southern edge of the Old City. On the way there from the Domplatz, you can cut through the Neupfarrplatz (New Parish Square), built on the site of the former Jewish ghetto, which was demolished in 1519 after the town's Jews were blamed for economic hard times. A stonemason buried under the rubble of the synagogue was found virtually unhurt, and in gratitude -- and apparently oblivious to irony -- the city erected a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary as thanks. This small structure eventually grew into the Neu pfarrkirche, a simple, stately church that dominates the square. A quick walk down the Obere Bachgasse will bring you to the Emmeramsplatz and the Thurn und Taxis palace.

That the Thurn und Taxis family was worthy of a palace to begin with can be traced back to their invention of what evolved into the German postal service. Originally from Cornello, Italy, in 1490 the family organized a postal line from Innsbruck to Brussels and soon extended it to Vienna. As a result, Lamoral von Thurn und Taxis was made general postmaster of the empire in 1615, was given the title of count, and was later promoted to prince. The family seat was moved from Frankfurt to Regensburg when, in 1748, Prince Alexander Ferdinand began to serve as the principal commissioner for the Imperial Diet. When the empire was dissolved, the Bavarian kingdom took control of the postal service away from the family and gave them a vacant Benedictine monastery. They moved in in 1812 after some alterations and the addition of stables, state rooms, living quarters and several other buildings. Today, four members of the family -- Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis and her three children -- still live here in a modernized wing.

In the museum section of the buildings, opulence and rococo madness abound. The formal dining room contains a Venetian glass chandelier that weighs, literally, a ton, and once almost broke through to the floor below when it fell from the ceiling. A reception room called the Neo-Rococo Silver room is teeming with little metallic cherubs, and a private chapel takes kitsch to a new level, crammed with gold leaf, red velvet, flocked wallpaper and candelabra. As the tour guide put it with a shrug of her shoulders, "You either like it or you don't." [...]

St.Emmeram palace__Regensburg

Today, St. Emmeram is the residence of the princes of Thurn und Taxis. Until 1810, however, it was a monastery. The basic structure of the old imperial ecclesiastical foundation has been preserved. Impressive ceremonial architecture combines with monastic asceticism in the cloister of this great Benedictine abbey.

The monastery was founded at the turn of the 7th to the 8th century, at the tomb of the Frankish bishop, Emmeram. For centuries it counted as one of the most important cultural institutions in Europe. As in the other large Benedictine monasteries along the Danube, Christian faith as well as art and science were cultivated here for 1200 years. With secularization of the imperial monastery in 1810, this splendid monastic tradition came to an abrupt end

Crypt Chapel
Between 1835 and 1841, Prince Maximilian Karl had a crypt chapel erected in the medieval cloister garden.
It is considered to be the most important Neo-Gothic princely mausoleum in the German-speaking world.
A figure of Christ, sculpted out of white Carrara marble by the southern German sculptor Johann Heinrich Dannecker, stands in the middle of the light-filled choir.

The Princely Treasure Chamber
Since 1998 the north wing of the stable block has housed a branch of the Bavarian National Museum. Great treasures from the princely collection that were transferred to the State of Bavaria in 1993 are exhibited here. Valuable furniture, fine porcelain, snuff boxes, magnificent weapons and exquisite items of gold and silver from the leading craftsmen of Europe captivate the visitor with the world and glamour of one of the most important dynasties of the European aristocracy. [thurnundtaxis.de]

The Tiara of France
In I853 Napoleon III asked Gabriel Lemonnier to design the Perl Diadem for his wife the Emperess Eugenie. In I887 the French Republic sold all the Crown jewels including the famous Tiara. Prince Albert I von Thurn und Taxis bought the Tiara in 1890 as a wedding present for his wife Princess Margaret. Their grandson the late Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis, the IIth Prince T&T, got married May 31 1980 to Countess Gloria von Schönborn Glauchau. Princess Gloria has put on the Tiara only twice: the day of her wedding and for the 60th birthday of Prince Johannes, June 5, 1986.
The Tiara of France has 212 pearls and 1998 diamonds. It can now be viewed at the Louvre Museum as part of the collection of the crown jewels of France. [phonebookoftheworld.com]

Death und Taxis: Widowed Princess Unloads Couches, Chateau Lafite and Harleys
Even before the hammer fell on the first lot - a homely 19th- century sofa that drew three times the anticipated price - there was little doubt that this week's auction of the Princely Collection of von Thurn und Taxis would be more than just a rummage sale.

Partly it was the setting: the 500-room Castle St. Emmeram - larger than Buckingham Palace - overlooking the Danube in northern Bavaria.

Partly it was the booty: 400 tables; 170 clocks; 940 couches, chairs, stools and benches; 75 mirrors; 350 writing desks, chests and cupboards; 2,000 European ceramic pieces; 75,000 bottles of wine, and countless other accouterments of nobility, ranging from suits of armor to servants' livery. [...]

In April 2007 seventeen important carriages from the stables of the Princes von Thurn und Taxis at Regensburg moved to Vienna as permanent loans to the Kunsthistorische Museum’s Wagenburg (Collection of Imperial Carriages). After several weeks of conservation measures they will be on show to the public from September 19th, 2007 as part of the exhibition Pomp and Gloria! Carriages of the Princes von Thurn und Taxis at the Wagenburg.

Prince Albert (1867-1952), 8th Prince of Thurn und Taxis with his grandsons, Prince Johannes (1926-1991) and Prince Anselm (1924-1944)__Photo taken in 1938

In 1952 the family fortune went directly to 26 years old Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis who modernised and internationlised it__Photo taken 1955, Paris

Countess Gloria von Schönburg Glauchau (mother)__married to Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis (father) in 1980

Gloria, Johannes and offspring: Elisabeth, Albert and Maria Theresia

"At a very young age, Gloria found herself married to an extremely overpowering figure. She molded herself for Johannes. She had to be as outrageous as he was, because that was what he liked."

Johannes von Thurn und Taxis, Banker, 64
[nytimes.com - Dec.90]

Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis, a Bavarian banker and industrialist who was one of the wealthiest men in Europe, died yesterday at a heart clinic connected with Munich University Hospital. He was 64 years old and lived in a castle his family had been in since 1790 in Regensburg, Germany.

He died of complications after a second heart transplant in seven weeks, a spokesman for the hospital said, according to Reuters.

Prince Johannes, who had his first heart transplant on Oct. 29, was head of a family bank, the Furst Thurn und Taxis Bank in Regensburg, and had large holdings in breweries, forest land and art collections valued at more than $1.5 billion.

His family was given a monopoly on mail service by the Holy Roman Empire in the 15th century. Emperors, popes and the Prussian kings awarded the family with titles and landed estates, and from then onward his family amassed fortunes.

In World War II, Prince Johannes served in German intelligence. He was imprisoned by the British Army from 1945 to 1947. In the 1950's he began building a diversified business empire and in 1982, at his father's death, inherited the family fortune, including the single largest real estate holding in Germany, 80,000 acres of forest.

He is survived by his wife, Princess Gloria, Countess of Schonburg-Glauchau, whom he married in 1980 when he was 53 and she was 20; and three children, a 7-year-old son and heir, Albert; and two daughters, Maria Theresia and Elizabeth.

Gloria von Thurn und Taxis and her crew__Ibiza__photog: Helmut Newton

The Conversion of Gloria TNT
Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis's wild jet-setting ended in 1990, when her husband died, leaving her deep in debt. Today she's head of a rebuilt family business, a V.I.P. at her friend Benedict XVI's Vatican, and in love with an African paradise.

A quarter-century after she married the man who was said to be Germany's richest aristocrat, her distant cousin Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis, when she was 20 and he was 53, and became notorious for her wild parties and punk hairdos, Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, now a widow of 46, still knows how to turn heads. I first interviewed her for this magazine in 1985, at Schloss St. Emmeram, the Thurn und Taxises' 500-room palace, in Regensburg, Bavaria, and gave her the nickname that stuck: "Princess TNT, the dynamite socialite." She did her best to live up to it: barking like a dog on the David Letterman show; staying out all night with the rock star Prince; getting busted for possession of hashish—which she claimed had been planted—at the Munich airport.

But her antics were tame compared with the behavior of her husband, who in his bachelorhood was unapologetic about his free-swinging bisexuality. He also relished mocking pomposity. Among the victims of his insults and pranks were Britain's Princess Margaret, Newport hostess Eileen Slocum, and Bolivian tin king Anténor Patiño.

At the time of his marriage, Prince Johannes, whose family went back to 12th-century Lombardy and made its fortune by securing the postal monopoly of the Holy Roman Empire, was said to be worth $3 billion. The largest landowner in Germany, His Serene Highness also owned a bank, breweries, metallurgical companies, 10 other palaces and castles, and extensive properties in Brazil, inherited from his mother, an infanta of the Portuguese royal family.

In 1986, I covered the 60th-birthday party Gloria gave Johannes at Regensburg. The over-the-top, million-dollar affair was largely boycotted by the German nobility, but Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall were there, along with a full array of 1980s icons including Malcolm Forbes, Ann and Gordon Getty, Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman and his wife, Judy, the Brazilian plastic surgeon Ivo Pitanguy, and the Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, all in 18th-century getups and powdered wigs for the big costume ball. While many guests still giggle about the birthday cake decorated with 60 marzipan phalluses, for me the most unforgettable moment came when Gloria, dressed as Marie Antoinette, descended on a gilded cloud at the end of a scene from Don Giovanni—performed by the Munich Opera—and sang "Happy birthday, Johnny" in the style of Marlene Dietrich.

Four years later the party was over: Prince Johannes died in December 1990, following two unsuccessful heart transplants, and left debts totaling more than $500 million, mostly from unwise investments in North American commercial real estate. When I caught up with Gloria in the summer of 1992, at Schloss Garatshausen, the family's 40-room retreat in southern Bavaria, she was trying to deal with the mess. Nonetheless, she was in high spirits, playing camp counselor to her three children, Princess Maria Theresia, then 11, Princess Elisabeth, 10, and Inheritor Prince Albert, 9, as well as to the three children of her sister, Maya, and brother-in-law, Mick Flick, the Mercedes-Benz heir.

Gloria had just announced that she was selling off a large portion of the family silver and jewelry. The auction, held by Sotheby's in Geneva, brought in $13.7 million. A second auction staged by Sotheby's at Schloss St. Emmeram in 1993 fetched another $19.3 million. Gloria spent the rest of the decade holed up in Regensburg, raising her children and turning their financial situation around. She sold the metallurgical companies and the bank, trimmed the palace staff, and gave up 24 of her 27 cars. She also studied economics and tax law with private tutors. "I didn't see anybody socially, because I was so tired in the evening," she told me when I interviewed her for this story. "But I got to know all the companies, and I got to know the problems, and I could make decisions." [...]

"I was a spoiled brat," Gloria admits. "My only responsibility was to entertain Johannes and his guests and look after my children. My biggest challenge was to get close to rock stars. But once I met them, the myth collapsed. With the Church, it was exactly the contrary. When I met Pope John Paul, he was even more than I thought he would be."

Countess Marina Cicogna, a longtime friend, thinks that Gloria's true character is finally emerging: "At a very young age, Gloria found herself married to an extremely overpowering figure. She molded herself for Johannes. She had to be as outrageous as he was, because that was what he liked. He wanted to have children—especially a boy—and she did her job. Another young woman would have been crushed, but she wasn't. She's a much more serious, bright, together person than she appeared to be when Johannes was alive." [...]

Twenty years ago the Schloss was entirely private, with every room perfectly maintained, down to the crystal ashtrays on every side table, for the exclusive use of the princely family, who regularly gave seated dinners for 80, with a liveried footman behind each place in the white-and-gold Hall of Mirrors. Now the staterooms are open to the public, with daily tours at 10 euros per person; there are strings across the Hall of Mirrors' red velvet chairs; and smoking is verboten.

Most of the family's oldest china, silver, and objets d'art have been donated to Bavaria's Office of Patrimony, in exchange for a reduction of a reported $80 million estate-tax bill; these treasures are now installed in a state-run museum just outside the palace gate. The carriage museum, which has one of the finest collections of antique coaches, sleighs, and sedan chairs in Europe, has always been open to the public, but now so are the medieval cloisters and family crypt. A large part of the palace's west wing has been converted to offices for a law firm, an architectural-design studio, and a financial-research institute, and the main staterooms can be rented for corporate conferences. Some things have not changed: Gloria still personally covers the cost of feeding 400 poor local residents a hot midday meal in a dining hall adjoining the Schloss.

The princess herself is hardly suffering. In addition to her residence in Rome, in the last few years she has bought a pied-à-terre in Paris and land in Malindi, Kenya, where she has built a beach house on the Indian Ocean. And through all her troubles, she never stopped buying paintings, sculptures, and photographs by 80s and 90s art stars such as Anselm Kiefer, Donald Baechler, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, Andreas Gursky, and Paul McCarthy, which she thought nothing of juxtaposing with the palace's gilded furniture and ancient tapestries. Her sharp eye and adventurous taste paid off last November, when she sold 111 works at the Phillips auction house in New York for $8.4 million. "I will go on collecting," Gloria told me, "but young and up-and-coming artists, such as John Connelly, Paul Morrison, and Lisa Ruyter. I am also collecting medieval sacred art, which I have discovered I really love." [...]

Gloria's children were not at home. Princess Maria Theresia, now 25, is a documentary-film maker, whose first film, about German doctors who treat burn victims in Nepal, premieres this month in Paris. Princess Elisabeth, 24, works at André Schlechtriem Temporary, a German-owned gallery in New York. Prince Albert, 22, is a student at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland. He is surprisingly low-key, given his parents' flamboyance. "Albert was next to us at the funeral of Prince Rainier," says Prince Michael of Greece. "He's charming, intelligent, well brought up—everything you would want your child to be." [...]

The table itself—a three-ton box of elephant bones under glass—was made in Kenya by Anna Trzebinski and reflects Gloria's infatuation with Africa, which goes back to her childhood, when her father, Count Joachim von Schönburg-Glauchau, worked as a foreign correspondent, in Togo and Somalia. Both her father and her mother, a Hungarian aristocrat, had lost everything in the Communist takeover of Eastern Europe. Between the ages of 6 and 10, Gloria, along with her older sister, Maya, attended an Italian missionary school in Mogadishu; her younger brothers, Carl-Alban and Alexander, were born in Africa.

"Somalia used to be beautiful," Gloria recalled. "But we came back to Germany in 1970 because the Somalians got too friendly with the Russians. Today you can't go there. But three years ago, when I was dreaming about a place on the beach, a Bavarian friend told me about Kenya. So we went to Kenya, the whole family. The windsurfing was great, the beach is wonderful, and there is a little town—Malindi—where many of our Italian friends go. Africa was calling me, in a way."

Gloria bought one of the few pieces of oceanfront property still available in Malindi. "I found an Italian builder there and an architect in Rome," she said. "In August 2004 the house was done. I'd created my little paradise."

She is so in love with her African retreat that she is planning to retire there—"as soon as I bring the palace into the black. And then I will turn it over to Albert. Alfred Taubman always used to say, 'Your Schloss is not an asset, it's a liability.' And that made me think, We're never going to be able to sell this property, but maybe we can turn it into something that supports itself. I'm almost there."

It costs $5 to $10 million a year to maintain the Schloss, according to Gloria. In addition to the cash flow generated by tours, office rentals, and corporate events, a Christmas market that Gloria runs there brings in revenue. This summer she will hold her third annual music festival, which she took over from the city of Regensburg and turned into a moneymaking venture by personally promoting it. This year's headliners run the gamut from Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón to the Swedish pop group Abba.

"I must tell you, I learned a lot from Princess Grace and Prince Rainier," she explained. "I would never want to turn Regensburg into another Monte Carlo—in any case, we are not sovereign rulers, we are normal citizens—but we can all learn from the way they promoted their country. At the end of the day, my green and blue and yellow hair made me interesting and made this place interesting. If I have 150,000 visitors a year, it's not only because they want to see the history of the Thurn und Taxises, but also where Gloria lives." [...]

The day before John Paul II died, Gloria and Alessandra (Borghese) were invited to the Benedictine monastery at Subiaco, where Cardinal Ratzinger was receiving a prize for his theological works. Gloria says, "I was sure John Paul II was going to die any minute, and I was totally sure that Cardinal Ratzinger would be Pope. But I didn't want to pray for that, because that was up to the Holy Spirit. I thought, This is not a football game. This is serious stuff. So I prayed for a good decision."

Gloria was among the 60,000 people saying the Rosary in St. Peter's Square at the moment of the Pope's death. Two weeks later, wearing a black mantilla, she was among the first laypeople to be received by the new pope, Benedict XVI.

"For her, this was the ultimate triumph, the ne plus ultra," says a titled insider. "No one would have ever dreamt that this man who came from Regensburg, and who would have lunch at the palace every time he came back to see his brother, would become Pope. In a way, the Vatican is the last old-fashioned court, with an absolute ruler on top and a circle of courtiers around him. It's fascinating for snobs like us to be part of this, and to watch someone like Gloria, who has been everywhere and done everything, crack it."

Sitting in her drawing room in the Schloss, I asked Gloria if she was aware of the gossip about her relationship with Alessandra Borghese. "Yes, but I think it's normal. I am alone, and I don't have a man next to me. But I have a best girlfriend. So people figure, She needs to have a sex life, so she must have the sex life with her girlfriend. If you tell people that you live in chastity, they think you're crazy. I don't really care what people think, because I'm going to be Alessandra's best friend anyway. I would be terribly lonely otherwise. We share in the beliefs and joy of the Church. We love the same sports—golf, skiing, and windsurfing. For me it's the best situation."

From Regensburg we flew to Switzerland for the opening of Art Unlimited, the avant-garde sideshow of the annual Basel Art Fair, where Prince Albert joined us at a buffet dinner hosted by the Union Bank of Switzerland. Tall and broad-shouldered like his father, Albert comes across as a hearty, unpretentious college kid who enjoys hanging out with his madcap mother.

As family friends have pointed out, Albert, not Gloria, inherited Johannes's estate. His mother was merely acting as his trustee until he turned 18. According to Forbes magazine's latest list of international billionaires, Albert is worth about $2 billion. He is considered one of the most eligible bachelors in Europe.

When I asked Gloria about the role of titled people in today's society, she said, "In my opinion, they are part of the entertainment world. Aristocrats don't like to hear that. But I think it's good. The entertainment value of the family helps promote my palace. At the same time, we can use this vehicle to set a good example, to show that tradition, family, religion, work, responsibility, arts patronage—all these things—are good. I tell my kids, 'People are always going to look at you, because you have a great name. You must try to turn that attention to something positive. If you lead a scandalous life, then it's really going to be over. Because then we don't have any role anymore.'"

Princess Gloria is—dare I say it?—holy at last.

On 2nd April 2005 Pope John Paul II died after a prolonged struggle with ill health. Thousands of pilgrims queued for the chance to see him lying for public viewing at Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in Rome, Italy.

Art Unlimited 08 - Basel, Switzerland

Gloria makes waves__1986

Gloria in Extremis
Our Lady of the A-List Gives Horacio Silva an Earful

On a recent night in New York, Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, better known as Princess TNT, the jet-setting German aristocrat who exploded over 1980s nouvelle society like so much nitroglycerin, held court in the seventh-floor restaurant at Bergdorf Goodman.

Among her attendants were members of Manhattan’s bon ton, including Lee Radziwill and Bob Colacello, who had turned out for the introduction of the Gloria von Thurn und Taxis Tea Time Collection of teas, jams, chocolates, cookies and sweetly scented candles. At one point in the night, Princess Gloria, concerned that not all the guests were sampling the fare she was peddling, went behind the bar, arranged some cookies on a tray and passed them around the room herself. "It’s hard to say no to a woman with a tray full of treats," she said, "and that way I also get to meet people in an informal way."

"Gloria talks to everybody," said Colacello, who has known her for over two decades and coined the Princess TNT moniker when he first interviewed her for Vanity Fair in 1985. "And she chats up everyone — waiters, photographers, models on the runway, Marine guards at the American Embassy in Paris — but in a totally natural, warm way. I think that surprises people because they have this idea of a princess, especially a German princess, being very cold and haughty."

Certainly, relaxing in her Chelsea loft a week after the Bergdorf tea party, Princess Gloria couldn’t have seemed more different from the media monster who burst onto the scene in the early ’80s as the wild-child bride of the bisexual billionaire Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis. It was hard to believe that this matronly "empty nester," as she referred to herself, was the same person who hijacked the social pages for almost a decade with her outrageous parties (most notably a profligate three-day blowout in 1986 for her husband’s 60th birthday) and extravagant couture outfits — Rabanne! Montana! Mugler! — that were often accessorized with princely jewels and a towering crazy-colored Mohawk.

"I am surprised I have any hair left," said the self-effacing princess, whose crowning glory is back to its natural brown color and who on this day was dressed in pink corduroy pants, a matching cashmere turtleneck and sensible flats. "If I look at pictures of me at 25, when fashion occupied my life and my hair was all up, I think, Ugh, I wouldn’t want to look like that now. I still love a fashion show every now and then, but it’s not like it consumes my life like it did. Now I am more into contemporary art."

A cursory survey of Princess Gloria’s loft confirms her obsession, with pieces by Cristoph Steinmeyer, Thomas Ruff, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Andy Warhol, Bill Viola and Arnold von Wedemeyer fighting for attention. (She also has a healthy collection of work by art stars like Anselm Kiefer, Paul McCarthy and Jeff Koons at her main residence, Schloss St. Emmeram, the sprawling Thurn und Taxis palace in Regensburg that in her words "makes Buckingham Palace look like a hut.")

But it’s the row of photographs on a living room bookshelf — framed snapshots of Princess Gloria, her three children, her mother and her sister with Pope John Paul II and his successor, her friend Pope Benedict XVI— that reveals her greatest passion, for which she is more than happy to proselytize. Princess Gloria has assumed many roles: fairy tale bride, couture-wearing paparazzi bait, businesswoman, regent for her under-age son after the death of her husband. Yet despite her unrelenting candor, even on the thorniest of topics, her latest incarnation, as an unfiltered messenger of God, may turn out to be the hardest for her to pull off.

"A lot of people refer to my conversion," said Princess Gloria, who spent part of her childhood in Togo and Somalia, where her father was stationed with the German Foreign Office, "but my parents raised us as Catholics. And even when I was partying and going to Studio 54, I was still attending church — maybe just not the early Mass."

She attributes her wholehearted immersion in the Roman Catholic Church to the death of her husband in 1990, which left her with not only three children to raise but also with debts and inheritance taxes estimated at the time to be more than $350 million. To regain her financial footing, she sold off some of the family’s satellite businesses, including a bank, two breweries and — in a move that didn’t sit well with some members of the Thurn und Taxis clan — much of the family jewelry and silver.

"When my husband died, I found myself with many problems but no one to speak to about them for the most part," she recalled, as she served a lunch of soup and spaghetti prepared by her cook, Maria, who travels with her around the world. (In addition to Schloss St. Emmeram and the New York loft, Princess Gloria also owns an apartment in Paris and an oceanfront property in Watamu, Kenya.) "That crisis was when I really went back to praying regularly."

Since then, she has been a major donor to the church, hosted conservative Catholic salons and liturgical concerts in Rome, made numerous trips to Lourdes as a volunteer under the auspices of the Order of Malta and recently released a book of her conversations with Cardinal Joachim Meisner (an outspoken conservative who, when not trying to outlaw abortion in Germany, has branded modern art "degenerate").

It’s hard to reconcile Gloria the Devout with the image of her as a party animal who was once caught in possession of hashish at Munich Airport, though it makes perfect sense in the gospel according to Gloria. "Catholicism is a very sensual religion, which means that flesh and soul are compatible," she said in a husky, Teutonic tone that is fitting for someone with a rosary’s worth of Germanic names. "It’s not a mental religion that denies the body. And so drinking, partying and having fun is part of the religion."

Not all of her urges are so neatly reconciled. Princess Gloria, who once had Keith Haring design one of her birthday parties, has many gay friends. But despite having been a kind of Cyndi Lauper of the Shiny Set, she believes that homosexuality is contra natura — at least according to her disparaging comments about homosexuals in interviews. (She also told a German television host in 2001 that Africa had a high incidence of AIDS because "blacks like to copulate a lot," a statement she tried to amend earlier this year by explaining that the reason for this was the continent’s intense heat.)

With that in mind, I asked Princess Gloria if she had heard the rumors that her friendship with Princess Alessandra Borghese, a fellow conservative Catholic, was of the biblical kind. "Yes," she said. "But I don’t think that it really matters. I think that everyone has the right to decide for him- or herself what they want to do behind bedroom doors, and no one of us would ever judge that. And I don’t think the Catholic Church does that." (This might be news to gay Catholics.)

It’s tempting to see such quotable contortions as shrewd attempts to garner publicity by someone who has lived most of her adult life under the scrutiny of the press. After all, many of her more controversial media appearances have coincided with the debut of one of her business ventures, which include everything from books to the licensing of a Thurn und Taxis board game, in which she sadly does not feature as a character. And she’s also, by her own admission, aware that her reputation as "the crazy woman who used to have the crazy hair" doesn’t hurt her attempts to turn the family palace into a tourist destination. (Plans to convert parts of St. Emmeram into a hotel were scrapped, but she does rent out the quadrangle for a musical festival in July and an outdoor market at Christmastime.)

Those close to Princess Gloria insist that the disconnect between her lifestyle and her belief system is just one of the many contradictions that have always defined her. "The odd thing about Gloria," said her brother Alexander von Schönburg, "is that she is riddled with paradoxes. On the one hand, she is staunchly conservative, even reactionary; on the other, she is a total free spirit who enjoys reading G. K. Chesterton as much as William Burroughs."

The filmmaker Caroline Haertel, who recently finished shooting My Life: Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, a documentary to be released next year, agrees. "Gloria sees the humanity in all people," Haertel said, "so she can embrace contradictions like admiring the pope and having a friendly conversation with a well-known whore in Hamburg. People either love her or hate her, but she always speaks her mind."

Princess Gloria wouldn’t have it any other way. As she explained in reference to Cardinal Meisner: "I think it’s far more interesting to talk to somebody who is less wishy-washy and tells you straight what they think. Everyone is trying to please everyone else nowadays."

At the height of her obloquy, Princess Gloria famously barked like a dog on David Letterman’s television talk show. "I really wish he would invite me on again," she said. "I remember those two visits to his show fondly, and I have changed so much since then." In the event that Letterman extends another invitation, it will be interesting to see if Princess Gloria reprises the Rin Tin Tin act or assumes the more pastoral role of German shepherd.

Gloria's unbearable dress__1989

Gloriana: Thurn und Taxis
ONE of the hottest business stories in Germany this year, offering light relief to the endless economic woes of unification, has been an unlikely contest between a corps of professional managers and Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis. The 31-year-old princess, a jet-setter known for her punk hair-styles and love of fast motorcycles, is turning into a surprisingly fierce opponent for the businessmen who long managed one of Germany's biggest and oldest private fortunes.

Rarely in its 500-year history has the Thurn und Taxis clan been subjected to such a public kerfuffle. Long known for business savvy, the family founded the first European postal service... [...]

Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis - Investor, Germany
[BusinessWeek.com - Jne.02]

No one expected Germany's Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis to become a brilliant financial manager when her husband, Prince Johannes, died suddenly in 1990. The onetime waitress, who used to be known as the "punk princess" because of her wild clothes and hairstyles, was left in charge of managing a $1.4 billion inheritance for her son, Albert, who is now 18.

But Gloria rose to the challenge. She taught herself business and tax law. Then she ditched many of the late prince's financial advisers, sacked a large number of staff at her 500-room palace in Regensburg, in southern Germany, and sold heirlooms to clear $350 million in debts.

That was just the beginning. In recent years, the princess, now 42, has restructured her son's holdings, which included the family-controlled T&T Bank, a handful of Mittelstand companies, and Europe's biggest private forest. She sold off poor-performing assets, including the bank, a brewery, and investments in the financial-services industry. And she successfully floated TTL Information Technology, a family-controlled Internet-services company, on the Neuer Markt, just before the tech bubble burst.

Since then, Gloria has focused the conglomerate on real estate and forestry. She explains her investment decisions in plain terms. Asked why she chose to sell off the family silver rather than a chunk of real estate to pay her son's inheritance taxes, Gloria says: "Albert can buy a new tureen anytime he needs one, but he can hardly go out and buy a forest."

Thanks to that conservative approach, the Thurn und Taxis fortune came through the recent economic slowdown unscathed, which is more than can be said for a lot of German businesses. Analysts estimate that the family conglomerate, which lost money before Gloria took over, is now generating a return of about 10%. Not a few German bankers must be envious.

Marc Jacobs__fall 09__inspired by Gloria's fauxhawks

Gloria w / Kenneth Jay Lane and Vincent Fremont__Interview Magazine party__Oct.08

Pink Panther__1988__Jeff Koons

Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis likes motorcycles and rock stars, lavish parties and jewels. She is known among the international jet set as the "punk princess" who collects contemporary art. But sometimes, she cleans house.

On Monday night she put 50 works by some of today's trendiest artists - including Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman and Paul McCarthy - up for sale at Phillips, de Pury & Company. (Phillips auctioned 85 more works from her collection yesterday.)

Although the princess was not in attendance at Phillips's Chelsea salesroom on Monday night, her two daughters, Elisabeth and Maria Theresia, were there, videotaping the proceedings. Their mother will no doubt be pleased by what she sees.

The sale totaled $6.3 million, or $7.4 million with Phillips's commision. (Prices of record include the commission: 20 percent of the first $200,000 of the hammer price and 12 percent of the rest. Estimates do not reflect commissions.) The high estimate was $7 million.

In 1993 the princess held a nine-day sale of furniture, art and objects from Schloss St. Emmeram, the family castle in Regensburg, Bavaria - everything from a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to 75,000 bottles of vintage wine. That sale, which brought more than $19 million, went to pay inheritance taxes on the estate of her husband, Prince Johannes, who died in 1990. In 1992 she sold much of the family jewels, also at Sotheby's. Simon de Pury, chairman of Phillips, then chairman of Sotheby's in Europe, presided over both events, and he and the princess became friends.

Mr. de Pury recently put her on Phillips's board. And on Monday night she showed her support for him and for the company by weeding out much of her collection. (Art dealers familiar with her collection say she has held on to the best work.) Before the auction, some dealers grumbled that the princess had bought many of the works recently in anticipation of turning them around at this auction to make a profit. Many also said the offerings were mediocre in quality. But that didn't seem to diminish the enthusiasm for contemporary art; even works made just months ago sold for strong prices. Records were set for eight artists.

But compared to the big-ticket postwar and contemporary artworks for sale at Sotheby's and Christie's this week, these offerings seemed cheap. In fact, no single item made $1 million. The most expensive work was Paul McCarthy's "Santa Long Neck," a 2004 painted bronze sculpture of a distorted Santa Claus. It sold to a telephone bidder for $856,000, over its $700,000 high estimate and a record for the artist at auction.

There was less competition for Mr. Koons's "Yorkshire Terriers," a polychromed wood sculpture of two dogs, one wearing a blue bow, the other a pink one. It is from an edition of three plus an artist's proof that Mr. Koons made in 1991. Only one bidder wanted the sculpture, and the hammer fell at $550,000, just under the low estimate of $600,000.

Sometimes there was serious competition. The princess was selling two joke paintings - plain-colored canvases from the 1980's with the text of jokes - by Richard Prince, whose prices have skyrocketed over the last two years. Stellan Holm, a Manhattan dealer, and Hyun Sook Lee, president of the Kukje Gallery, one of the most successful galleries in Seoul, South Korea, fought over "Untitled (A Man Walks into a Doctor's Office)," from 1988. Both wanted the painting badly, and the winner was Mrs. Lee, who paid $475,200, far above its $350,000 high estimate. Mr. Prince's "Why Are You Crying?" (1988) was less popular and less expensive. Todd Levin, the curator for the Manhattan collector Adam Sender, bought it for $296,000, above its low estimate of $250,000.

Photography sold, but not for tremendous prices. Among the best photographs was Andreas Gursky's "Chicago Mercantile Exchange," one of an edition of six from 1997. Three bidders went for the image, which sold to an unidentified buyer for $352,000, after a low estimate of $300,000.

The way even brand new works sold surprised many. Anselm Kiefer's 2005 sculpture "XXI Claudia Quinta," made of lead books stacked precariously and topped with a model ship and human hair, was bought by James Cohan, the Manhattan dealer, for $340,800, far above its high estimate of $300,000.

After the sale, Mr. de Pury said it did not represent the end of the princess's collecting. "It is her intention," he said, "to keep buying art that is right now."
[nytimes.com - Nov.05]

May Day V__2006__Andreas Gursky

99 Cents II, Diptych__Andreas Gursky

It's Boring at the Top
Is Andreas Gursky - the highest-priced photographer alive - running out of ideas?

The German über-photographer Andreas Gursky was the perfect pre-9/11 artist. He excelled at portraying the border-to-border, edgeless hum and busy obliviousness of modern life, what Francis Fukuyama ridiculously declared “the end of history,” George W.S. Trow called “The Context of No Context,” and Rem Koolhaas dubbed “Junkspace.” Not only did Gursky seem to be critical of all this, but his handsome images of trading floors, hotel lobbies, raves, and landscapes were charged with a visual force and intellectual rigor that let you imagine that you were gleaning the grand schemes and invisible rhythms of commerce and consumption. His amazing picture of a convenience store brimming with goods, 99 Cent II, Diptych (2001), which recently became the most expensive photo in history when it was auctioned for over $3.3 million, fizzed like cherry cola but packed the formal power of a Monet. [...]

The Most Expensive Photographs

Gloria attends the 2008 Hugo Boss Prize for Contemporary Art

Princess Maria Theresia von Thurn und Taxis (sister) was born in Regensburg and attended elementary school and “Gymnasium” there. She has lived and worked in London since finishing her studies in media and communication sciences in Paris and Madrid. [thurnundtaxis.de]

Full name: Maria Theresia Ludowika Klothilde Helene Alexandra von Thurn und Taxis

Meanwhile, in Paris, the jet set was more focused on film than theater — naturally, considering the Cannes International Film Festival is going full tilt. Princess Maria Theresia von Thurn und Taxis threw a dinner at Maxim's to benefit the Sushma Koirala Memorial Hospital in Nepal. While graffiti artist André declared that von Thurn und Taxis' own documentary, about the Nepalese hospital, was "too serious," Mama Gloria von Thurn und Taxis got everyone back in the party mood by kicking off a raucous round of karaoke in front of guests Pierre and Andrea Casiraghi, Tatiana Santo Domingo, Princess Olga of Greece, Christian Louboutin and Jacqueline de Ribes. [wwd.com - May 06]

Princesses Grace (Fast Forward)
It's tempting to call them the Parisian Hilton sisters. But that would be unfair to Elisabeth and Maria Theresia von Thurn und Taxis, the two budding bombshell daughters of Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis. Like the Hilton girls, the young Thurn und Taxis princesses, who live in the French capital, are a boon for paparazzi and party boys alike. But that is where the comparison ends. "They're attractive, they have one of the most important family names in Europe, they have a fortune of billions, and they have great style," says a young socialite who moves among the titled set. "What more could you want?"

Decent manners, for one--and the siblings have those as well. [...]

Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis (brother)

The future began with Prince Albert II, the 12th Prince of Thurn und Taxis. He was born in 1983, spent his childhood in Regensburg and received further schooling in Rome. After his military service, Prince Albert studied economics and theology at the University of Edinburgh.

"The Prince has gasoline in his blood,” pronounced a tabloid in connection with his favorite hobby, car racing. Prince Albert is currently driving for Reiter Engineering. On 20 September 2008, at the international automobile race at the “Sachsenring”, the ADAC GT Masters, Prince Albert placed third. He took first place in the Lamborghini challenge of the ADAC Masters. In 2009, he will start in the “Le Mans Series” in many locations including Nardo, Spa and Le Mans, as well as at the Nürburgring and in Silverstone and the "FIA GT 3" European Championship. [thurnundtaxis.de]


The Billionaire Boys - and Girls - Club
The young billionaire brat pack could learn a thing or two from dashing 24-year-old German Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis, who is truly living a near fairy-tale existence. A billionaire since he inherited a fortune at age 18, he lives in a castle, owns 75,000 acres of woodland and spends his spare time driving race cars. Not a bad life at any age, but particularly enviable for someone who hasn't even lived a quarter of a century.

The World's Youngest Billionaires
This year the world's youngest billionaires are a little older - and a lot poorer.

The youngest billionaire in the world is 25-year-old German Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis, who is worth $2.1 billion. Von Thurn und Taxis first appeared on our list of the world's billionaires at age 8, but he officially inherited his family's fortune in 2001 on his 18th birthday.

He attended high school in Rome, and studied economics and theology at Edinburgh University in Scotland. The car racing bachelor's fortune fell nearly 10% after the housing crisis crushed real estate and forestry prices.

The prince regains his title as the world's youngest tycoon thanks to the economic meltdown, which pushed 24-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg off our ranking. While Facebook is gaining millions of users each week, revenues haven't followed just yet. It's hard to imagine the privately held company being worth nearly as much as it was a year ago. [...]

German Prince Disappointed with His New Corvette

Maria Theresia, Gloria, Albert and Elisabeth

Family Ties (Letter from the Editors)
As Tolstoy so famously noted in the opening of Anna Karenina, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" And to think that he never even heard of the Osbournes. Families in the 21st century may look a little different than they did in Tolstoy's day-divorces, remarriages and the like can make family trees feel more like forests--but what remains constant is their overwhelming tendency to consume our thoughts and energies. Still, if you think your own family is dysfunctional, rest assured there is a clan far more screwed up, probably living just down the block.

This month W examines several dynasties--some of which are... [...]

Albert, Elisabeth and Maria Theresia

Gloria and the girls__[papermag.com]

Alexander Flick
Born: March 9, 1986, in Bern, Switzerland. Parents: Countess Maya von Schönburg and Mercedes heir Mick Flick. Aunt: Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis. Residence: London. Education: Harrow. Occupation: Filmmaker; just wrapped The Magnolia Curtain, a documentary about a poor town in South Carolina. (“I had no funding from my parents.”) Can be found at: Johnnie’s Fish Bar in London. Perk: Father owns a major contemporary-art collection currently on loan to the Hamburger Bahnhof museum in Berlin. Quote: “I want people to go to the cinema and say, ‘I want to see a documentary because it’s really entertaining.’ And then with that comes the serious lessons and the real life.” Photographed in London with his cousin Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis. [vanityfair.com - Jne.09]

'Mick' Flick, a Playboy Turned Art Aficionado
[dailytimes.com - Sep.04]

For a long time, “Mick” Flick was known as a man who inherited the fortune of a Nazi arms maker and became an exuberant playboy. That was before he amassed one of the world’s most impressive art collections.

When Mick was born as Friedrich Christian Flick in 1944, his grandfather Friedrich Flick was a member of the Nazi party and one of the most powerful industrialists of the Third Reich.

Apart from supplying the weapons that drove Adolf Hitler’s war machine, the Nuremberg tribunal set up to judge Nazi criminals accused the elder Flick of mistreating at least 40,000 forced labourers in factories in Germany and abroad.

Sentenced to seven years in prison, Friedrich Flick nevertheless continued to build his empire after he was released early from jail in 1950.

Mick, his older brother Gert-Rudolf, known as Muck, his sister Dagmar Ottmann and their uncle inherited Friedrich’s fortune after his death in 1972.

But while they inherited vast sums of money and assets, they also inherited the sins of their grandfather; his Nazi past making it all little more than blood money in the mind of the German public.

It was exacerbated by Friedrich’s conduct after World War II. In the 1960s, he refused demands for damages worth 6.5 million marks, 3.32 million euros (4.03 million dollars) today, for around 1,300 Jewish concentration camp detainees made to work in his factories.

Arguing that he did not want to pay for his grandfather’s faults, Mick refused in his turn in 2001 to contribute to a fund set up by German industry and the government to compensate World War II-era forced labourers.

In a conciliatory gesture, he founded the F.C. Flick Foundation against Xenophobia, Racism and Intolerance, with funds of five million euros.

In 1974, a young Mick sold his share of the family company Dynamit Nobel AG and set up home in the tax haven of Switzerland.

With his brother, he invested in land in the United States including 10,000 hectares (nearly 25,000 acres) in Kansas and dabbled in oil and other diverse interests.

But far from being attracted by the business world, Mick preferred travel and the soirees on offer in the four corners of the world and become a permanent feature at high-society dos.

In 1978, he wed a Spanish fashion model, who he divorced a few years later, before marrying again in 1985 to a countess he met at the marriage of the wealthy German princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis.

The countess gave birth to a son, Alexander who is now 18, before they split up.

His love for art began when he bought a 1967 work by Gerhard Richter entitled “Kleiner Akt”. With the discovery of US artist Bruce Nauman, that love became a passion: “the foundation of my existence,” he would say. Now in his sixties, his fortune is estimated at 500 million euros.

One Hundred Fish Fountain__2005__Bruce Nauman

Bruce Nauman’s installation of three fountain sculptures wraps up today at the Donald Young Gallery in Chicago. The One Hundred Fish Fountain is made up of ninety-seven cast bronze fish spurting water from punctured holes. The water is collected in a large basin below and then pumped back through tubing. But there is nothing peaceful about this water feature. The fish fill noisily with water, then spray it out angrily until the pumps are turned off and the remaining water drips out during the ensuing silence. [mocoloco.com - Oct.05]

by Bruce Nauman__1998

Bruce Nauman to Represent the USA at the 2009 Venice Biennale
In the course of a career that has spanned more than four decades Bruce Nauman has distinguished himself as a major figure in American and world art. His practice - characterized by a multi-media, strongly conceptual approach - extends from early printmaking and performance, to work in sculpture, film and video, audio and installation projects. Much of his work draws its materials and inspiration from everyday life and activities. Mr. Nauman has been the recipient of numerous awards and his work has been the subject of many exhibitions in the United States and around the world.

Exposed to Nauman's Signs of Light, the Foreign Becomes Essential
In an interview in the late 1990s, he said he liked to listen to Lenny Tristano, a blind pianist from the original bebop era. "When playing well, he hit you hard and kept going till he finished. Then he just quit. You didn't get any introduction, you didn't get any tail. You just got full intensity for two minutes or 20 minutes or whatever. From the beginning, I was trying to see if I could make art like that." [...]


Valentino Haute Couture
Spring 08

Spring 09

Spring 09

Fall 07

Spring 09

Ready to Wear
Tri Colour knit dress__Ideen__£500__[brownsfashion.com]

Rigby strapless dress__Alice + Olivia__$355__[net-a-porter.com]

Strapless silk ruffle dress__Notte by Marchesa__$750__[net-a-porter.com]

British-born Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig launched their label, Marchesa, in 2004 fresh out of Art college. A glamorous source of inspiration, the line is named after the eccentric European socialite Marchesa Luisa Casati. The collection was an instant success and the talented pair soon added their stunning second line, Notte by Marchesa. From irresistible mini dresses to elegant signature gowns Notte's beautiful creations have charmed their way onto countless red carpets courtesy of celebrity fans such as Scarlett Johansson, Mischa Barton and Sienna Miller. [net-a-porter.com]

Lilian patent shoes__Christian Louboutin__£515__[brownsfashion.com]

Lucy patent peep toe__Balenciaga__£510__[brownsfashion.com]

Decor satin sling-back__Rupert Sanderson__£420__[brownsfashion.com]

Keith Lissner has been a little well kept secret among many of NYC’s top socialites and celebrities. However, not even his incredibly humble nature can hide the gorgeous dresses he is responsible for from leaping into the limelight. [guestofaguest.com]

SmartFaucet designed by iHouse recognizes the user and automatically turns on the water to the preferred temperature and flow. The touchscreen on the top of the faucet can be used to access email, check your calendar and check the outside temperature, among other things. With the help of face recognition technology, the SmartFaucet triggers the heater, which heats the water quickly to the desired temperature and flow. [cubeme.com]

The multipurpose FAITH by Finnish designer, Lincoln Kayiwa can be used as a candelabra or vase. It's also available in black, red or white porcelain and glass. [cubeme.com]

Spanish designer Vicente Soto has designed the Eboli Collection for Capdell Sillala, a series of chairs, armchairs, barstools, and benches that marries the oval and the rectangle in geometric harmony.
The pieces keep the characteristic features of the 18th century, but also ignore the ornaments of the time, celebrating in this way the beauty of curved and straight lines. [cubeme.com]

The Color Stack neon lamp designed by Roger Borg is made by stacking individual hand bent neon components. [cubeme.com]

Collage by Bernard Pras

Champagne house Veuve Clicquot launched Vertical Limit by Porsche Design Studio, a stainless steel cellar tower of superb design. Measuring over six feet tall, it holds 12 magnums of Clicquot's most prized vintages and only 15 were made worldwide.

Each Vertical Limit is fully handmade and each of the 12 vintages are housed in its own compartment with the temperature set at a constant 12 degrees celsius—ideal for tasting and the same climate as the Veuve Clicquot cellars in Reims, France. Of the 15 produced worldwide only two will make it stateside and they will be showcased at the Porsche Design Stores in New York and Los Angeles during the month of November. Each cellar containing the 12 vintages is approximately $70,000.

Porsche Design Studio designed and fabricated all 15 Vertical Limits. Roland Heiler, Managing Director of Porsche Design, sat down with us to talk about the design of the cellar tower and about the design world in general. A gracious, smart and witty design mastermind, he's seen the past and can predict the future.

Conceptually, how did the thought process begin in designing Vertical Limit? Was it a collaborative effort with Veuve Clicquot?
Veuve Cliquot approached us with the idea of creating a product that would refrigerate select vintage champagne magnums in a stylish and luxurious way. They showed a tremendous amount of trust and faith in us by giving us creative freedom even though it was our first time working together. This is a designer's dream.

We approached this project the same as we approach each and every design project. We aim to fuse form and function and follow our philosophy of trying to create timeless design. Take the Porsche 911 for example, designed by Professor Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, the grandson of the original founder of the Porsche company, it's arguably the most timeless car ever made. We try to mirror this effect with every project. This type of authenticity and quality must always flow into the design of a product for it to be timeless and successful.

What was the primary goal in designing the Vertical Limit for Veuve Clicquot? How did you translate the brand into the product?
We wanted to create a product to match the ultra high-end superiority of the Veuve Clicquot brand, so we tried to emphasize the importance of each bottle. We thought that each bottle should have its own stage essentially. This is why we gave each bottle its own door coupled with the classic Veuve Clicquot yellow as a light. We did this so each bottle received the attention it deserves, rather than opening one door to a collection of bottles. In making a superior looking product we also decided to make the Vertical Limit a tall object. A tall tower seems to command authority and I think it serves to this effect well.

They are all made by hand correct? Every bit? How long does it take?
Yes, every bit is made by hand but it didn't take much longer to design than our other products. It is actually quite a normal design process. It helps that we have stainless steel specialists and we don't have to take manufacturing methods into account. Oftentimes these limited edition pieces, can be easier to make in some respects because of this. Only 15 were made.

Obviously not everyone can afford the Vertical Limit and the fact that only 15 were made makes it something of even more value. Who did you have in mind as the target buyer? Did you picture it in museums, people's homes...?
I have to admit this was more on the Veuve Clicquot side of things as far as their marketing aspect and target criteria. On the other hand we are known for creating luxurious products here so that was an obvious aim for Veuve Clicquot. We take our time in the design process and use high quality materials, so naturally a lot of our products cost a bit more money.

There has been a boom of increased awareness and emphasis on design lately. As a design studio that has decades of experience, what are your thoughts on the state of design today?
I agree, design is definitely more of an important factor in consumer culture these days. I think this is quite natural. We welcome this and we've always wished for it to be more like that. However, these things also bring with them other effects. In my opinion design as a word and phrase has undergone a certain inflation. There are a lot of things called design that I don't necessarily agree to be actual design or well designed for that matter.

When thinking about design. it's necessary to consider all of a products functions and aesthetics. We aren't a styling or engineering firm, it is essential to bring these two together as equal partners. Here at Porsche Design we don't even like the phrase "form follows function," it doesn't. They are equal and on the same level of importance. That's been a very strong element for Porsche design. Typically our products have a certain amount of engineered character and many have kinematics. I think this stems from our heritage as a car company and this is where we benefit.

More and more designers are designing for bigger and more commercial brands today. Why do you think this is? Where/when was the shift?
I don't know, it's an industry of ebb and flow and full of changes. When I graduated from college in the '80s there was a lot of money going into design so everyone seemed like they were having success and design companies were growing so big. Then the entire dot com world collapsed. Shortly after that all the design companies had to cut back since there weren't any resources. Since then everything has recovered and been rediscovered. In some cases designers have helped companies to be succesful against all marketing predictions. In my opinion this was due to the fact that they would break the rules of the market and in turn this spurned a revitalization of design.

For the most part, high end design has been reserved for the wealthy. In your opinion how do luxury and design fit together?
Luxury is a funny thing. It has become more democratic, then the question is, is it still luxury? This is something that has been brought up in many Luxury summits lately. The thing about these products and brands is that they are no longer only in the hands of the wealthy and affluent. Some will buy one such piece to be a part of the club.

I think the best way luxury and design fit together are through some virtues like honesty, use of high end materials, truth to the materials and quality craftsmanship. This authenticity is what we feel to be important and in my opinion this is what ultimately makes something of more meaning. The aim of luxury for me is for something to be a lifelong companion.

In your opnion, Is there a difference between high and low end design? If so, what is the difference?
It's usually not a difference between high or low end design, it's high or low end product that then gets design applied to it. The parameters for both groups is very different. Margins are higher on certain products or development costs, materials are different and so forth. That said, design quality on a low end product can be just as high in terms of creativity and execution. In fact, I have a big admiration for people who design low end products. This is something that is becoming very desirable. Sometimes this sort of design is even more challenging.

Then what, in your opinion, is the main function of design in our world?
Good design serves product in two ways, form and function. To me something pleasing and desirable only works for me if the function is also optimized. Well designed products combines the two, this is our philosophy at Porsche. You may see something and like the looks but it doesn't function correctly and doesn't live up to it's apparent promise and ultimately you are disappointed.

In terms of the Vertical Limit, I see it as something that lives up to the brand and both form and function.

...So do you even like champagne?
Veuve Clicquot is an incredible product. I like champagne, but tend not to drink it often. I reserve it for special occasions, any more than that and my appreciation would diminish.
[coolhunting.com - Nov.07]

Fall of the Damned suspension light__price upon request__[mossonline.com]
Designer: Luc Merx Design year: 2007 Manufacturer: .MGX by Materialise, Belgium Materials: Nylon (built through Selective Laser Sintering)
Notes: This extraordinary object is composed of an algorithmically-derived mass of writhing nudes that recalls the classic motif of The Fall of the Damned. The lampshade appears as a hovering mass of ornaments, opulent and bombastic. When looked at from closer point of view it dissolves into single bodies, which are twisted in fear and seem to be frozen in falling. Their rhythmic order becomes slightly perplexing and finally renders the bodies an ornament. Softly, like the fleshy parts of the bodies, legs and stomachs relfect the light. Because of the shadows the bodies cast on themselves, only parts of them appear in the foreground. Only fragments of the lit inner part of the lamp are distinguishable. The aspects of the lit core change whenever the observer changes his position. These movements of the observer transform the stiff bodies into dynamic objects. The association with The Fall of the Damned, a metaphor for guilt and punishment gives the lamp a certain amount of ambivalence: is it a moralistic message, an act of formalism, or both?

The Fall of the Damned is one of the works in which Merx reactivates historic imagery as a reference for his designs. The design of this lamp undermines several taboos imposed on design in the 20th century: it is figurative, ornamental, and narrative.

This work was born of Merx's "Rococo Relevance", a historical and experimental research project through which he examines the parallels between tendencies in contemporary architectural design and those of the 18th century.

Produced in a limited edition of 40 pieces.

Luceplan is launching Hope this week at Milan Design Week. Designed by Francisco Gomez Paz and Paolo Rizzatto, Hope is a pendant light that could be defined as an innovative interpretation of traditional chandeliers.

For the designers the biggest challenge was to transform the heavy and fragile crystals of old style chandeliers into something that would capture and refract the light in the same way. The answer came after a long creative and technical research into the shaping of extra slim polycarbonate sheet and applying the principle of Fresnel lenses to reproduce the same optical qualities of glass.

The polycarbonate lenses have a high gloss external surface, while the internal surface presents a series of concentric micro-prisms that reduce the size of the light source and eliminates the glare effect.

The lenses are then easily attached in pairs to a transparent stem and then arranged around a laser cut and bent steel structure inspired by the shape of diatoms. No tools are needed to assemble the pieces together, it takes a very simple gesture and few minutes to mount the surprisingly light chandelier.

Gomez Paz and Rizzatto have defined every single detail of the product, including the packaging and the experience of mounting it; Hope can be as big as 105 cms in diameter but it is packed in a very small and light box together with a fancy pair of white cotton gloves to wear when assembling the lamp. [mocoloco.com]

Panama House__Marcio Kogan
Sculpture by Sergio Camargo on the terrace

Main entrance

Side facade with sofa by Piet Hein Eek for Rosanna Orlandi gallery in Milan

View of the patio and closed 'brise soleil'

Sculpture by Amilcar de Castro in the hallway
Panama House

Osler House__Marcio Kogan
View of the private garden and swimming pool with overhanging living room

C16H14O3 House__Marcio Kogan
View of the front facade from the street

Back facade

Night view of the livingroom

Corten House__Marcio Kogan
Night view of the city from the rooftop deck

Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan plays with space in a way that makes you think that if he ever gets bored, a second career as a movie set designer awaits.

Based in São Paulo, Kogan’s 20-strong firm continues to be busy with projects in every corner of Brazil. Of his four most recent offerings, three (the Corten House, Panama House and C16H14O3 House) are located in São Paulo while the fourth (the Osler House) is in Brasilia.

Through all four projects, the box form – Kogan’s favourite motif – occurs time and again but in carefully nuanced combinations: precisely planed concrete boxes within boxes (a function of security concerns in São Paulo); stoned lined boxes on top of boxes; and timber slatted boxes that open outwards towards a slim-lined lap pool with no doors to mark inside or outside.

But there is nothing hemmed in about these houses. Instead, the elegant economy to Kogan’s use of volumes translates to a very real sense of freedom. The result is airy, light-washed spaces that seem barely tethered to the ground, an apt escapist image perhaps for São Paulo’s congested megapolis.

We caught up with Kogan recently for a quick chat about life and architecture in his favourite city.

What is your guiding design principle?
We always seek to use a simple design with a mix of materials that are typically Brazilian. And we like to contrast materials.

Who are two of your heroes?
In the Osler House, we incorporated a ceramic panel that was specially designed by Athos Bucão. It was his last project. He did all of the classic Brasilia panels for Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa. The incredible João Filgueiras Lima, or Lelé as he’s better known – he was a genius of sustainability long before the idea became commonplace.

Why are you so fascinated with the box form?
I enjoy its ludic aspect. To me, it seems to be the most natural form to use throughout the architectural process.

So much of your work is based in São Paulo. Architecturally, what emotions does the city stir in you?
I am addicted to São Paulo. It’s one of the most interesting cities in the world. It is absolutely chaotic, ugly, polluted and any other unpleasant adjectives one might imagine, but with energy that is absolutely fantastic and unparalleled. The mixture of everything creates a unique and impassioned personality.

What’s in store for the city?
Even greater chaos. Its infrastructure develops at a slower pace than its growth.

Which of your buildings is your favourite?
Mi Casa Vol. B in São Paulo. But when we finish the island house in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, that will be my favourite.

Which building do you wish you had designed?
The Barcelona pavilion by Mies Van Der Rohe.

What's a well designed building?
I have always admired Brazilian modernism that began in the 1930s. Incredible work was done by dozens of starchitects like Lucio Costa, Lina Bo Bardi, Oscar Niemeyer, Rino Levi and Affonso Reidy. It’s always surprising to me that in the early and mid-20th century, Brazil produced the projects that it did – so simple and elegant. A lesson for our superfluous world in crisis.

And so what’s a badly designed building?
It is not a question of beautiful or ugly. What bothers me is the exaggeration in architecture today: it’s almost baroque and very costly. Recently, I participated in an exhibit of international architecture in Barcelona and – amid all the sophisticated and expensive designs and starchitects – the project I liked most was actually not a building but one related to renewable resources. The Community Cooker is, simply, a very low-tech process by the Kenyan company Planning Systems Services where garbage is turned into fuel. By our standards, it would be considered ugly, but it provides sustenance for thousands of people. So, which matters more? As Oscar Niemeyer would say, “Life is more important than architecture”.

What will Marcio Kogan be doing 10 years from now?
I hope to be alive.
[Wallpaper.com - Nov.08]

Interview with Marcio Kogan - Part 1
Before getting into architecture, you studied cinema. How was that experience and the transition into architecture?
I lost my father when I was 8 years old and from that moment on, my life became a black and white film. At 17, I went and saw The Silence by Ingmar Bergman, and I found myself moved as I realized all my feelings were magically projected onto that white screen. For the first time I realized what “art” meant. I left the movie theater seeing the world in color again. I start being obsessed by cinema. During my architecture years, I was also producing short movies and doing both careers at the same time. In 1998, I finished the feature film Fire & Passion and realized my life would be in architecture, especially due to the incredible difficulty of doing cinema in Brazil.

Is there a specific type of project you prefer to take on? (Example: private houses vs. commercial spaces.)
I don’t have a preference. I’d rather design a little crib for someone that I love than a big building in Park Avenue for someone I have no connection with. Maybe that’s why my studio is small, but I like that.

Interview with Marcio Kogan - Part 2
Coming from a graphic design point of view, what I find especially interesting about the activity of architecture is how people are so immersed, “living”, within your project. It seems so intimate to design someone’s house. How do you balance your clients’ lifestyle, needs and requests with your aesthetic and point of view as an architect?
Obviously, the moment the construction of a house is finished, its life begins. While there are people living in the house it will always be under construction. The internal space of the house is a great influence in people’s lives, but it is these lives that really make the house a special place. I am in favor of minimalist architecture, but I am against a minimalist home. The residents must always place their story in the house. The architect Lina Bo Bardi said that architecture should always allow for an old crystal cabinet inherited from a grandmother.

Concern with sustainability is not new. We’ve been seeing a creative response to this challenge in many areas, architecture being one of them, with the growing trend of sustainable building projects. In your practice and in Brazil in general, what has been the response to this “green” concern?
This has become a must in the profession of architecture. We have realized various projects that respect the principles of sustainability. The modernist Brazilian architecture from its inception has always considered these factors. One of its greatest names, João Figueiras Lima, aka Lelé, was an absolute genius in finding sustainable solutions long before this word was ever understood. Another tip for the fans of architecture.

Besides sustainability, what other challenges do architects face today?
Simplicity. Architects have lost this notion. Everything has become a fireworks show. [...]

Openhouse__Xten Architecture

The Openhouse by Xten Architecure is embedded into a narrow and sharply sloping property in the Hollywood Hills, a challenging site that led to the creation of a house that is both integrated into the landscape and open to the city below.

Retaining walls are configured to extend the first floor living level into the hillside and to create gardens on two levels. The front, side and rear elevations of the house slide open to erase all boundaries between indoors and out, connecting the spaces to gardens on both levels.

Glass, in various renditions, is the primary wall enclosure material. There are fortyfour sliding glass panels, each seven feet wide by ten feet high and configured to disappear into hidden pockets or to slide beyond the building perimeter. Deep overhangs serve as solar protection for the double pane glazing and become progressively larger as the main elevation of the building follows the hillside contours from Eastern to Southwestern exposure. This creates a micro climate which surrounds the building, creating inhabitable outdoor spaces while reducing cooling loads within. Every elevation of the house opens to capture the prevailing breezes to passively ventilate and cool the house. A vestibule at the lowest point of the house can be opened in conjunction with glass panels on the second floor to create a thermal chimney, distributing cool air throughout while extracting hot air. [cubeme.com]
Openhouse - details

Dinner in the Sky

Some new business ideas are admittedly over the top. Here's one we couldn't resist – Dinner in the Sky.

Belgian Dinner in the Sky offers event organizers a new way to make their event highly memorable: a table, with 22 seated guests, is suspended from a crane. The specially built table is surrounded by chairs of the type usually found on roller coasters, with four-point seat belts. Hoisted 50 meters (164 feet) above ground, safety is a reasonable concern.

Safely buckled up and floating mid-air, guests can enjoy a meal or meeting, with three chefs, waiters, presenters and/or entertainers standing in an open area in the centre of the table. One of the company's first events was a dinner for 22 chefs, hosted by San Pellegrino.

Table, crane, logistic and security staff are available for EUR 7,900 for an eight hour session, which can be organized anywhere a large crane can be placed.

Selling a thrilling edge and aerial view, this could be the next big thing for Sweet Sixteen parties and corporate brainstorming sessions. One for the events industry to look into! Just don't look down... [springwise.com - Jul.06]

N.B. - Seatings are no more than two hours at a time.

Snail Caviar__De Jaeger

Caviar and snails – two of France’s most loved delicacies come together with the release of the first-of-its-kind snail caviar by De Jaeger, a snail farm specializing in this exotic delicacy.

After three years of research De Jaeger has perfected its own method of farming snail caviar and is now offering customers the chance to indulge in the cream-colored, pearl-shaped delicacy. Each snail lays its eggs once a year, producing around 100 eggs on average. With this tiny, but precious amount, the people at De Jaeger hand pick the eggs every year and sort through them, retaining the best ones for their tins of caviar.

The snail caviar is prepared in a brine of fleur de sel de Guérande, and is available to buy in tins of 50, 125, 250, 500 and 1000 grams. So what does it taste like? Well, according to those in the know, its reminiscent of ‘a walk in the forest after the rain, with the aroma of mushrooms and the undergrowth, tasting of hints of oak leaves and moss’.
Being a food hipster ain’t cheap: 50 gram (1.8 oz) of snail caviar retails for $115. [cubeme.com]

French Couple Produce Snail Caviar
"It's said to act as an aphrodisiac."

Sevva restaurant and club__Hong Kong


Ms B's Sweets

The rooftop Terrace of the 13,000-square-foot restaurant/club, Sevva, on the 25th-floor penthouse of the Prince’s Building, commands prime views of the Hong Kong harbor.

Inside, deliciously subtle dashes of color tone down the grandiosity of the vast establishment, giving its several restaurants and bars a relaxed elegance. For drinks, live music and tapas, Sevva has the Taste Bar. For the ultimate power lunch, there is the Bank Side restaurant adorned with images of magnificent banks.

The best place for a relaxed drink is the long and narrow Lounge with its live garden wall. Casually elegant meals can be enjoyed under the vaulted ceiling of the Harbor Side restaurant. And for irresistible cakes and sweets, there is Ms B’s Sweets, a cake shop under the huge 1950s chandelier designed originally for the British embassy in Rome.

Ms. B is owner Bonnie Gokson whose reputation in the world of branding and fashion has helped Sevva gain lots of attention. Gokson is Chanel Asia Pacific’s former communications director and the sister of Asia’s legendary fashion icon, Joyce Ma, credited for bringing the world of brand-name fashion to Asia.

Gokson’s own achievements are widely respected in the hospitality, food, entertainment and retail worlds, and she is constantly working on developing new products and ideas.

Gokson loves art and drama, so it is no wonder she chose Tsao & McKown Architects to transform the 1960s mixed-use Prince's Building space into the dramatic Sevva environment.

Tsao’s background includes studies of theatre from acting to directing, sets and costumes, but his architecture degree is from Harvard where he also met his future partner, Zack McKown.

Their New York-based firm handles architecture and design of both residential and commercial projects, as well as set and exhibit design, product and furniture design. [thecoolhunter.net - Mar.09]

"Fresh flowers, greenery, great music and good, honest food" is how Bonnie Gokson would like everyone to know Sevva. Holding this mantra close to her heart, Gokson has single-handedly integrated all her years of experiencing the best around the world, and has brought this all back to Sevva: interiors, food, design and presentation alike. "Sevva reflects a lifestyle one can easily associate with. Its atmosphere has the warmth of a home, yet it's surrounded by the city's most iconic architecture and a breathtaking skyline." She admits it is hard to choose a favourite dish from the menu, but she recommends anyone who wants something simple to try their "signature fish congee with all its condiments, served on weekend supper nights" [discoverhongkong.com]

Sevva Has Great View, Great Legs, So-So Food
IF Sex and the City were a Hong Kong restaurant, it would be Sevva.

The city's latest "It" place exudes the same chic, urbane vibe that makes the television series-turned-movie franchise so popular. On the penthouse floor of a tony business-district mall, Sevva's outdoor, wraparound terrace has postcard views of Hong Kong: thin spaces between neon-lit buildings and furious highways fanning out toward the harbor.

The view on the deck wasn't bad either. To the left, two well-groomed, taut-bodied women in weapons-grade stilettos strutted by, drinks in hand, ignoring amorous attempts to catch their eye. To the right, four coltish men in suits and undone neckties hung around a bar table chatting and laughing between swigs of beer. Enamored couples stood in dark corners, sharing anatomy lessons.

There's little food in sight, but no one seemed bothered. Sevva is a place to be seen, not seen eating.

As if to burnish its uber-cool image and maybe tap the popularity of the "Sex and the City" movie that opened in Hong Kong this month, Sevva hired beverage specialist Joseph Boroski, who made cameo appearances in "Sex" TV episodes, to design cocktails for the restaurant. Drink names hint at what to expect here: "Sexy Pink Sangria," "T-Rated," and "I Know I'm Beautiful.''

Sevva is owned by Hong Kong socialite and former Chanel Inc executive Bonnie Gokson, whose sister Joyce Ma owns a designer boutique chain in the city. The family used to own Joyce Cafe, a mid-priced eatery respected for its honest, flavorsome Chinese cuisine.

Bossa nova
With its high ceilings, oak-and-camel tones, and piped bossa nova in the background, Sevva offers ambience that's sophisticated without being overbearing.

A wall of aromatic maiden-hair ferns from Belgium and bar stools with faux rhinoceros horns for legs add a whimsical touch to an airy, well-decorated area. [...]

Located on the 25th floor of Prince's Building, the building once known for having the most expensive office spaces in Hong Kong, Sevva occupies one of the most desirable spots in Central. Its magnificent location creates high expectations and Sevva does not disappoint: since its opening in 2008, the restaurant has become a must on the fine dining and lounge circuit, and has drawn an elite group of regulars, bankers, tai-tais, artists and musicians. The view from the wraparound balcony is unrivalled: a profusion of futuristic towers surrounds the old Hong Kong landmarks of the Legislative Council building and the City Hall. Over the harbour is Kowloon with its new skyscrapers that strech northward, forming a metropolis of its own.

Sevva's popularity is in no small part due to founder Bonnie Gokson, who is known as one of the city's most respected style icons. Gokson's previous culinary ventures include the famed Joyce Cafe, which is credited with sparking Hong Kong's penchant for international cuisine in relaxed yet stylish settings.

While Sevva has already won over legions of diners, there is one especially vocal fan: Australian-born hair guru Kim Robinson. "Bonnie never lets me get bored. Coming here is always so exciting, and I always feel special!" he says, standing on the veranda and looking out at a stunning cityscape.

"This week, I have been here three times already. I search for refined, beautiful things. I am ordinary and I like to spend time in places that elevate and add value to my life," he gushes. Sevva, with its thoroughly considered details, satisfies Robinson's hunger for elegance. "I am envious of the garden wall. I wanted it in my salon but it was hard to make. It smells fabulous and gives another dimension to the restaurant."

His hunger for fine food is satisfied by the Sevva salad. "The salad, like life, is a medley of different textures," he notes sagely. The dish is made with an assortment of greens, mixed in with pomegranates, warm tea-smoked quail eggs, beetroot, artichoke hearts, tofu and avocado; it is an ode to health and its presentation is appealing. "Most of the food here is organic and fresh. When I eat this salad I feel extremely healthy. It's full of proteins, vitamins and everything healthy!" Kim enthuses. "The food at Sevva is not tricky, not fancy. It's just simple, good food."

Another one of Kim's favourite dishes is the baked crabmeat in shell. The generous helping of crabmeat, which is prepared by two dedicated crabmeat chefs, is seasoned with a herb and a dash of curry powder. The daily bento and the coral garoupa braised with whole-roasted garlic mushrooms and roast pork belly are "absolutely sexy", while the Marie Antoinette cake and the famous crunch cake (a light chiffon cake given a gloriously sweet counterpoint of honeycomb) are "not to be missed".

In addition to good food, Sevva has good service and good ambience. Kim jokes with the waiter about his haircut and the Sevva staff member playfully replies that he had his hair cut in Robinson's salon the day before.

"I love it how they are genuine. They treat me like a friend and I feel at home here. I like the visual aspect of the restaurant. The staff are beautiful, the ambience is beautiful, the glass is beautiful, the people are beautiful, the food is beautiful. Everything is just beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!"

[hkfashiongeek.com - Apr.09]
I never bought into the hype that was Sevva. Sure it’s a great place for drinks with a wonderful view but I never thought the food there as particularly great. There was such a big hoopla over Bonnie Gokson’s food yet I felt the food was overpriced and overrated. But then again, I think I have somehow evolved into a food snob because of all the fine dining I’ve had the opportunity to try out that very few culinary experiences wow me anymore.

With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to realise that I was tempted to try out Sevva’s new promotion: tapas with an Asian twist. The variations on the tapas theme includes vegetarian sushi rolls, Vietnamese rolls with crispy sole, golden fried prawn with salad & spicy mayo, a selection of bruschettas, either with escargots in garlic butter, Caprese-Mozzarella with tri-coloured tomatoes and basil, chicken a la king, ribs marinated in shrimp paste, classic Valencia garlic prawns and flame-grilled baby lamb chops. Maybe it’s because it’s almost lunch time, but I’m salivating just typing out what they have to offer. Maybe, just maybe, my opinion of the restaurant will be transformed.
Prices range between HK$160 to HK$220.

[tripadvisor.com / May.08 - Apr.09 ]
It has a nice terrace for views but service and food were definitely not worth it for what they are charging. If you want to see similar view, you can try the China Club. If you want to spend similar amount of money (quite a lot)...try Caprice. I spent the same amount of money for dinner at both places but the quality of food and service at Caprice was several times better

Great location. OK, that's the good side.
On the food side, out of 5 courses, one (the duck breast) actually quite good, others bland and/or overcooked. Dessert a mess.
Service diabolical. Seems staff training is way down on the list of "things to do".
With so many good places to eat in HK, really no reason to ever go back. Unless of course you just want to be seen.

Over rated food, over rated service, over rated ambience! Sevva tries too hard and it shows. Caviar should NEVER be presented as pub style nachos. The whole mess arrived at our table looking like vomit. Minced chicken and bird's nest soup is supposed to be a clear broth not a bowl of milky dish water, if you use the word "crispy" to describe a dish then it should not arrive at the table as sodden, tasteless (although well arranged) fare. The amount that was spent on this meal we should have gone back to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon across the street - they do it right in EVERY category.

Decent lychee martinis. Enjoyed the beef rib burger (although it didn't taste entirely Korean) and lamb. Recommend the choc cake. Great view.

Celebrity Australian chef Jared Ingersoll checks into Sevva restaurant in Hong Kong this December as Bonnie Gokson’s first guest chef.

Hailed as one of Australia’s brightest culinary stars, Ingersoll has his own culinary television programme Ready Steady Cook, a new cookbook, not forgetting his own restaurant, Danks Street Depot in Sydney.

Ingersoll is most notable for being a pioneer of the global slow food trend, and an international ambassador for sustainable farming and cooking – a practice he maintains at Danks Street Depot.

At Sevva, Ingersoll will create an extensive selection of dishes for dinner from 1–12December, along with his signature tapas menu. As with all his gastronomic creations, guests can expect the ingredients to be seasonal and locally sourced – the way Ingersoll always does.

Bonnie Gokson says “I have great pleasure in introducing Jared to Sevva, and to Hong Kong. Jared is highly respected in his field, he mirrors my beliefs on good living and cooking with the freshest produce, and as my first guest chef, I know he will delight!” [luxury-insider.com / Nov.08]

Hotel AC Palacio del Retiro__Madrid
Of its many qualities, Palacio del Retiro wins the most points for its calming charm and perfect location. The small boutique hotel rests on the edge of Madrid's magnificent central Parque del Gran Retiro. Retiro, both the most coveted residential neighborhood and in walking distance to Chueca and Gran Via, the hopping neighborhoods known for their shopping and outrageous nightlife. (Basically, imagine Central Park West, if it started at the top of SoHo and ended somewhere in the Lower East Side.)

Though the building itself has some decorative elements of classical Madrid such as wrought-iron balconies and sweeping staircases, its style overall is understated and contemporary. The spacious bathroom's design is bright and completely modern, which is a nice balance to the dark wood floors in the bedroom. The bedrooms are comfortable and low-key with all the usual amenities, though it should be noted that WiFi is only free in the lobby.

Although there is not much of a scene in the hotel itself, Palacio del Retiro is the ideal jumping-off point for people looking to explore Madrid. [coolhunting.com - May 09]

This unique little palace was built in 1908 by Mr. José Luis Oriol y Uriguen for his own private use. It was later the headquarters of the Talgo Company. Influenced by the Edwardian style, the building was constructed in concrete with forged horizontal iron beams, crafted wood, marble columns, floors and chimneys, oak parquet and spectacular design on the ceilings.

It is a protected building, and in it you can still admire a fountain covered by nineteenth century Talavera ceramics, frescos by the painter from Cordoba, Julio Romero de Torres, an elegant library lined with mahogany, and a magnificent triangular forged-iron lift.

The building has four floors and two marvelous staircases. The steps of the main staircase are embellished by a fine, old carpet made to measure by the Royal Tapestry Factory. The hotel has been totally restored and has its own special style thanks to the perfect equilibrium between the old, the modern and the vanguard.

The Hotel AC Palacio del Retiro is in one of the best locations in Madrid, the Paseo Alfonso XII, corner with calle Montalbán. It is in front of the Parque del Retiro, in the triangular zone formed by the El Prado, Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemiza museums.

The hotel has 50 exclusive rooms spread out over four floors. The Índice restaurant is perhaps one of the parts of the building with most personality. It is daringly modern and breaks with the building’s classic style.

Treat yourself as a king in this perfect hotel!

Double room

Luxury suite

Mr. & Mrs. Smith Review
At first, it doesn’t sound super-savvy, travelling to Madrid at the height of summer to stay in the boutique hotel of Palacio del Retiro. Señor Smith and I had been warned that all civilised Madrilenõs flee the heat of the city for the whole of August, leaving behind a veritable ghost town. By the time we’ve been herded through Madrid’s vast new airport, we’re expecting to find the city deserted, Iberian tumbleweed twitching in the dust.

A taxi ride to the centre of town tells a different story: our first impressions, as we glide along handsome boulevards, leafy with plane trees and punctuated by sparkling fountains, are of an elegant city in repose. With no workaday traffic to hold us up, we’re swiftly deposited at a discreet doorway to start our midsummer adventure in Spain’s serene-season capital. And our luxury hotel is revealed to be a turn-of-the-century art deco building beside one of Madrid’s most beautiful parks, set in one if its wealthiest districts. Things are looking up.

AC Hotels could be described as Malmaison’s sleek European cousin, with contemporary-styled stays all over Spain and a handful in Italy and Portugal. Its very top hotels are cherry-picked historic buildings, given the AC treatment. The gracious Palacio del Retiro is the second and newer of these in Madrid, and less well-known than the Santo Mauro, where David and Victoria Beckham famously stayed while looking for a pad. Even our taxi driver isn’t sure where it is hidden, making it ideal for our secret stay away.

As entrances go, this one demonstrates a decorative interplay of now and then that is typical of the hotel’s zhuzhed-up charm. Cornices and curlicues remaining from Palacio del Retiro’s historic past have been given a bright white lick of paint; wrought-iron balconies and balustrades sweep across the front of the hotel like a lace mantilla; dark woods, low, square sofas and accents of coloured neon lighting zing the spaces up to date. Though there is art, pop prevails.

When we arrive there is a hush about the place, and the black-clad staff are as composed as the surroundings. Maybe it’s an August thing, maybe it’s the area, but this place is seriously understated. We’re eager to check in and head off to find Madrid’s beating heart. But first, a nosey round the room…

Blissfully spacious, our room has a view of the park and is endowed with plenty of what estate agents proudly refer to as original features, all painted white. To offset the grey and brown fabrics and the tailored bed with the AC standard of four pillows, there is a bowl of painted balls, and some colourful tabletop papier-mâché mannequins – all done in the best possible taste. As we are both famished though, we decide to leave the leave the admiration of the room till later. First things first; we head straight out to dinner. [...]

As for our location, we wouldn’t change a thing. For contemporary calm, and an undisguised appreciation of a grander past, it looks as though AC Hotels have got the formula right. We’re willing to bet that the Palacio del Retiro keeps its cool even when Madrid is in full swing.


Professional Travel Guide Review
In 2004, the AC chain transformed this property into what may be Madrid's best small hotel. Like at the Santo Mauro, AC has successfully combined the best of the old with high technology and modern design. The Palacio del Retiro has even surpassed the Santo Mauro with its unbelievable location. Just two blocks away from the Prado, but away from the hordes of tourists who gather around the Ritz, it looks over the Retiro, Madrid's central park.

The entrance, originally designed for carriages rather than pedestrians, is wide and comfortable. Immediately, guests notice the perfect blend of old and new. To the right, the original entrance, with its original sweeping spiral staircase and stained-glass window, is perfectly balanced with colored lighting that underlines the beauty of the original building. Beside this entrance, the smiling, helpful staff welcomes guests at the sleek black reception desk. [...]

Overall, this is a top hotel, one that will satisfy even the fussiest of guests. Undoubtedly, some of the Ritz's guests will choose to come to this quieter, more personal hotel and enjoy the views of Retiro park instead of the lines of tourists in front of the Prado.

TripAdvisor Reviews
Facilities include a spa, and a relatively poor excuse for a gym (a treadmill, an exercise cycle with a broken pedal! and a weights machine crammed into a small room). Complimentary bottles of water crammed into the adjacent refrigerator is a plus though!...Staff seem friendly enough although ill organised eg. a blocked sink in the room remained so, for the 3 days of the stay despite numerous reminders to reception!
Conclusions , if one is prepared to overlook everything else and pay top whack for a centrally located hotel, then this would seem an obvious choice, although on the whole this represents relatively less value for money.

My only complaint is that we budgeted much too little time there (two nights) because of other travel arrangements. I look forward to a return trip and would enthusiastically recommend this hotel to my friends and family.

Some of the issues I had were that upon arrival (and this happened twice), there is no porter to take your bags and help you from the taxi inside.
Several times when calling the front desk there was no answer.
Once we had to actually go downstairs to communicate with them after having tried many times to reach them by phone.
When ordering room service the wait times exceeded 45 minutes, mind you this was for coffee and cereal.
They are helpful at the front desk and very friendly but they need to work out the kinks. No porters around and having problems calling front desk are NOT good business.

Send a Postcard

Oculus__Schöpfer Yachts

Schöpfer Yachts has designed a hell of a yacht. The Oculus is a 250-foot vessel designed by E. Kevin Schöpfer, founder and owner of the company.

The Oculus can seat up to 12 guests comfortably and features a “low rider profile”. This slightly lowered surface allows for new side recreational areas, alternate dockage access and light cruising openness. Lateral retractable side panels close this area when heavier wave action is indicated.

The interior includes a 12 foot high ceiling in the main salon, and the second level is the dedicated Owner’s suite. Living areas and bedchambers are divided by a series of four freestanding tubes, which house bath and storage necessities.

The third level (yes, there is a third-level) contains a separate captain’s quarters. The generous open decks with separate water features are located forward and aft for convenient guest use. Specifications and plans are in the final stages of completion and will be posted at a later time. [iwantsexythings.com - Dec.08]

[Schöpfer Yachts.com]
Schöpfer Yachts was founded in 2008 as a US based company dedicated to the pursuit of advanced yacht aesthetics and technology.

Schöpfer Yachts is among a new breed of yacht companies, which will secure strategic alliances with the world’s finest naval architects and shipyards.

This strategy will allow the flexibility to explore a wide range of design venues while insuring these designs meet and exceed the highest level of maritime standards.

To that end, we are pleased to announce that Sparkman and Stephens (New York, Ft. Lauderdale and Newport) will be the naval architect for our first venture, the Oculus.

As we enter the next generation of yachting design, we offer our design collection to the global yachting community and to prospective owners who share our vision of innovation and excellence.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster
Aston Martin's V8 Vantage – originally launched to widespread critical acclaim at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005 – is to receive significant technical enhancements, reaffirming the car's position as one of the world's most desirable and exhilarating sports cars.

Mercedes Benz S65 AMG__2008__$194,800__[usautochoice.com]

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Wins Best Luxury Car
January 23, 2009: The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been honoured as Best Luxury Car for the third consecutive year at the What Car? Car of the Year 2009 awards.

Steve Fowler, Group Editor of What Car? magazine commented that “The Mercedes S-Class diesel remains the epitome of affordable luxury motoring, but does so without cutting corners…the finest materials, scrupulous attention to detail and total focus on what buyers of the finest saloon cars expect.”