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Archive for August, 2010

The Story of a Scarf

Once a sweat cloth, now a fashion statement, the scarf has become one of the must-have accessories for every woman to spice up her look. But to Hermès it became not only that, but part of the legendary brand’s identity as well. In the light of that, they came up with the idea of Le Carré Hermès, a book all about the famous Hermès square scarves. This book features 150 scarves each of which tells a story through its colors, designs, and patterns. The book is by the art and architecture writer Nadine Coleno.

Inspired by Burberry‘s “Art of The Trench” which was a big hit, Hermès launched at the beginning of this month “J’aime Mon Carré“. A web site dedicated to the “Carré” and all the ways girls around the world are wearing it. It even teaches you how you can wear it or tie it in the same way. The possibilities of wearing the scarf are endless. Most Luxury brands have among their collections beautifully designed scarves and pashminas. Below you will find images from those brands namely Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo,Missoni, & Emilio Pucci. The first batch is from the book “Le Carré Hermès”, the remaining are selections from each brand’s Fall/ Winter 2010/11 collection.

Hope you like them.

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The Siesta and its essentials

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything about it.”           M. Scott Peck

What do Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einsten, Thomas Edison, Margaret Thatcher, & Bill Clinton have in common aside from being well known, powerful, and smart people? They are famous nappers. The nap in itself is a habit many people master  naturally, some thrive to have the priviledge, and others just believe its a waste of time.

The famous nappers I mentioned earlier all had little time to sleep at night but believed in several short naps during the day to rejuvenate their brain and creativity. This has been proven over and over in numerous recent researches. The recent addiction to technology and social media is a faster way to reveal our lifestyle flaws yet we never do anything about it. I speak from personal experience, as I am getting more and more attached to the current popular devices my shut eye time is diminishing, I am sure I will soon start seeing the consequences if I don’t start taking “me” time.

A short afternoon catnap of 20 minutes  enhances alertness and concentration, elevates mood, and sharpens motor skills. To boost alertness on waking, you can drink a cup of coffee before you nap. Caffeine requires 20 or 30 minutes to take effect, so it will kick in just as you’re waking. Limit your nap time to 45 minutes maximum.

The art of napping takes practice. You have to learn to switch off from concerns, demands, and stresses of daily life for a short period.

There are many aids for napping such as herbs, mainly Lavender , chamomile, geranium, jasmine, & ylang ylang which have calming effects among others. You can apply their use  through aromatherapy oils. You can find oil burners at shops such as The Body Shop and get these soothing oils. Using these oils is part of my daily ritual, I realized when I was living in Lebanon, that friends who came over kept complimenting me for the relaxing atmosphere in my house. In addition to my hospitality *blushing* I knew the oils were a big part of that reputation.

The colors used in the room where you nap are very important. You can’t have a red bedroom and expect to wake up in a relaxed condition. Over time you will realize something is wrong. Chromotherapy is an ancient science as well. The colors to use while napping are: Rose for tranquility, Blue for relaxation, Green for renewal, Lilac for equilibrium.

Sleep Box

Researchers are realizing the importance of the “siesta”, hence the new concept most of received in our emails. The sleep box is an office workstation and resting pod designed for public places like train stations, airports and bus terminals. These small pods are rental units that provide travelers peace and quite as well as a place to work.Currently, there is construction of these units in the Dubai airport with hopefully more places to follow.

Buenos Aires 20 min Siesta Company - Preparations for a Nap

In Buenos Aires, city residents are fighting work-related stress with a 20-minute nap at the center. Employees at Siestario tailor to each client the music, aroma and colors that would be most conducive to sleep. (Photo taken from Reuters)

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For The Love of Chocolate…| Restaurant Design

"Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies." – John Q. Tullius

As much as I am enjoying this post, it is actually painful at the same time. I admit, I am a chocoholic and don’t plan on recovering anytime soon.

But truth is, the love for Chocolate concept has become a hit over the past few years.  We are used to the old fashioned chocolate boutiques where we go in, buy a box, and just leave. Usually as gift for occasions or people we love, sometimes just because we don’t have other ideas. However the "Chocolate Cafe" theme is becoming very popular. Reputable chocolate brands such as Godiva, Lindt, Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar, Max Brenner, and Jeff de Bruges all have opened fully fledged chocolate bars/cafes all over the world. They are focusing on chocolate themed interiors that are inviting and warm, with the main colors derived from the 3 chocolate flavors.

The "Chocolate Bar" concept has invaded the Arab countries as well. Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar opened branches in Dubai and Qatar, Kuwait have their own "Chocolate Bar" and have several branches. They have not expanded beyond Kuwait yet though. Their theme colors are brown and Fuchsia, an interesting combination of contrasts. I noticed in the Gulf region most people are not comfortable with dark and earthy colors, the Fuchsia in this case livens it up yet blends in the concept.

In Lebanon, a year ago "The Chocolate Lounge" opened in the Sodeco area and has a very interesting location and menu. Their main entrees have chocolate as part of their ingredients as well. That in addition to a large selection of desserts. Their Interior is very interesting, where they relied on square chocolate shapes and very soothing colors, design is very coherent as is the overall furniture layout.Also In Lebanon, "Chocolat Milano" opened in Downtown Beirut specializing Italian Ice cream and chocolates.

 

I still have a question though, why Nutella haven’t opened a cafe yet?

Since this post is about chocolate it is only natural that I add one of my favorite Chocolate Fondant Recipes. This recipe was given to me by the owner of one of Lebanon’s top food service companies.

Hot Fondants with Chocolate and Orange Glaze

serves 6-8

Fondant

6 eggs

5 oz caster sugar

11oz good quality dark chocolate

11 1/2 oz butter

3 oz plain flour

2-3 tbsp brandy (optional for those who don’t mind the alcohol)

Melt the butter and chocolate together in microwave or pan with simmering water (bain marie) In a bowl beat together the eggs, sugar, brandy. Add the hot melted chocolate and butter. Mix well. Whisk in sifted flour Line the moulds and bake for 15 min at 350 deg F Glaze 17 1/2 oz good quality dark chocolate chopped 4 fl oz water 4 oz caster sugar 1 1/2 fl oz liquid glucose 9 fl oz whipping cream juice of an orange zest of half an orange Put the cream, water, sugar & glucose to a pan. bring to boil. pour on to the chopped chocolate, orange juice and zest. mix thoroughly. To serve, turn out the puddings and pour over the chocolate and orange glaze, Decorate with orange peel.

Enjoy!!


Interiors Daily features: The “Wanders” of Design

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The "Wanders" of Design | Famous Designers

"Luxury starts where functionality ends and where the true value is personal and so has no price or reason."

Marcel Wanders, Designer

Marcel Wanders tops the list of  my favorite designers of all time. From the Netherlands and born in 1963, he started his career in 1988 and became popular because of an iconic chair he designed for Droog Design in 1996. Now his name is linked to designs for such big companies such as B&B Italia, Bisazza, Poliform, Moroso, Flos, Boffi, Cappellini, Droog Design, and Mooi of which he is also art director and co-owner.


"I think Humor is a beautiful way to get connected to people and to get their attention for the things I really like"


You can recognize alot of his work through "the nose" impression he displays in most of his accessories which is his humorous approach in communicating his designs and thoughts.  He is also known for his very intricate and unique design style manifested through use of lace patterns and variety in scales and proportions.

 

 

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Table Manners and Settings | Etiquette

 

 

We have all seen Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" and most of us remember the scene where she was in a fancy restaurant and didn’t know the first thing about using the utensils, or any table manners for that matter. Table etiquette has always been associated with  snobbish people who just "know-it-all". However, people now are going out more often, hospitality has become a large part of our daily lives, no one cooks for anyone anymore.

However it is always interesting to know Table rules and try to apply them, it kind of gives a sense of power infront of those who are etiquette-challenged.

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UPDKS : Post featured on “The Twitter Interiors Daily”

The Blog is barely one week old and making the pages. Thank you  @MarkJohnsonFAIA.

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The 10 Best of… Cigars

” A good cigar is as great a comfort to a man as a good cry to a woman”

Edward G. Bulwer- Lytton

When mentioning life indulgences, cigars make it in the top 10 to most connoisseurs. Personally I am totally against smoking ,  a small bowl of chocolate chips and a large mug of peach falvored black tea would make me feel in heaven anytime. However the history and the details pertaining to cigars and their making never seizes to amaze me, its why I will be kicking off my ” 10 Best of…” section with the top 10 cigars.

Authors of ” The Cigar Connoisseur” have come up with a top ten list  starting with the worldwide most popular, Cohiba.

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1- Cohiba

Origin: Cuba

Cohiba cigars were introduced in 1968 and became the symbol of Cuban cigars. It was marketed heavily in 1982. The initial sizes were the Lancero, the Corona Especiale, the Panetela, and in 1989 they added the Esplendido, Robusto, and Exquisito.

Cohíba was originally a private brand supplied exclusively to Fidel Castro and high-level officials in the Communist Party of Cuba and Cuban Government.

2- Trinidad

Origin: Cuba

Trinidad was not marketed until 1998, but was already well known  to connoisseurs everywhere because of a variation of it available in 1969. Trinidad had been produced for Fidel Castro himself.

3- Arturo Fuente Opus X series

Origin:  Dominican Republic

The Fuente family has been making these cigars for 3 generations, the Opus X is conseidered one of their best among others.

4- Montecristo

Origin: Cuba

Montecristo started in 1935 named after the famous novel ” The Count of Montecristo”. It is known for the tangy taste, and superb aroma.

5- Sancho Panza

Origin: Cuba

This is a very poplar cigar in Spain thus the reason behind its name which is after the character in the famous Spanish novel Don Quixote. These are usually recommended to beginners or daytime cigar smokers.

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Fashion takes over Interiors | Armani & Missoni

In the past decade the rise of interest in designer fashion brands has had its dramatic impact on the furniture and interior design world.  Fashion houses are no longer exclusive to "certain" clients, but have stretched out through numerous marketing strategies and social media methods to a large niche of people ranging from those who can just afford to "stare" to  those who consider designer brands as their daily bread.

 

 

Giorgio Armani has been one of the pioneers, entering the furniture world almost 10 years ago with his Armani Casa line.  His minimalist style in fashion is reflected in the clean lines of his furniture and simple fabric patterns. He relies on the use of high quality and luxurious materials such as Ebony wood, mother of pearl, silk fabrics and the likes. His Armani Hotel in Burj Khalifa of Dubai has caused an international stir. The hotel has 160 guestrooms and suites, 8 restaurants, retail and Spa areas spread out on 6 floors. This step is the paving way for a number of future hotels and resorts scheduled to open in Marrakesh and  Egypt, with future plans for New York, London, & Paris. Armani designed private homes as well in Saint Tropez, Moscow, Singapore, and London. The next Armani hotel will open in Milan in 2011. The price per night for a classic studio is 2000 AED and for signature suite 8000 AED.

 

 

To compliment his furniture line, Giorgio Armani created a kitchen line produced by Molteni’s Dada SpA under license and a home fabric line by Rubelli SpA which already does the fabric for his furniture.

Personally I can not mention Armani Casa and just overlook the Armani Dolci collection, well known and very well appreciated in Kuwait for their amazing chocolate, jams, and tea, a perfect gift for any occasion (wink , wink). Moreover their Armani Fiori collection is nothing but great taste in a simple presentation of floral arrangements and vases.

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Ground Zero Mosque to be the First LEED certified Mosque in the U.S.

 

The “Ground Zero Mosque” and community center has been one of the hottest topics lately to the extent of taking over the devastating news of the floods in Pakistan. This is a clear indication of the rise of hate and fear that has conquered over many Americans in particular after the propaganda against Islamists in the past few years. Putting this topic out of political context , the latest news is that the project developers are planning to go green and achieve LEED certification. This is remarkable news in many ways. For those not familiar with the term LEED, it is "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design", according to Wikipedia it is " an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts."

A report on the dailybeast.com by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin author of Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet, indicates that the developers of Park51 , the Islamic cultural and community center, are serious about going green and achieving the LEED certification. An architectural bureau has not been assigned for the mission yet, but if they abide by what they promise, this will be the first LEED certified mosque in the U.S.