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Eclectic Cool


31 July 2011


The Red Hot Chili Peppers tapped artist Damian Hirst on the shoulder for their soon to be released album.   I am surprised it wasn’t a flea, rather than a fly.  It seems the album cover was influenced by  Hirst’s recent work, Let’s Eat Outdoors Today, exhibited at London’s Royal Academy of Arts this summer for their Modern British Sculpture exhibition.   The work comprises a perspex box divided into two.   The first containing trays of maggots developing into flies and this bucolic outdoor scene you see before you.  I did consider giving you a close up of the installation but didn’t want to turn your stomach without warning.   Pity the poor gallery attendants that have to move the work after exhibition.  Do you think they clean it out? Anyway, I do like the album cover.

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Art, fashion

W is for Whistler

29 July 2011

W is for Whistler

A visit to see the A Cult of Beauty exhibition in London at the V&A and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston reminded me how much I love the work of Whistler.

Whistler’s signature epitomises his life- a butterfly with a stinger on its tail.  This symbolized the two aspects of his life: an artist with a sensitivity to beauty and art and a man with a provocative spirit and an hot temper.   One of his many cutting quotes includes a response  to a client’s complaint that his portrait was not a great work of art…‘Perhaps not, but then you can’t call yourself a great work of nature’.

The beauty of his work lies in the attention to colour and composition.   His works were often named after musical compositions, he was interested in the arrangements of colours and tones as much as the subject matter.  His fascination with Asian art, especially Japanese prints, is  evident  in his asymmetric  compositions and the shallow depth of the picture plane.

In 1877, Whistler sued John Ruskin, a leading art critic of the day,  for libel after comments made about his work, Nocturne in Black and Gold- the Falling Rocket.

For Mr. Whistler’s own sake, no less than for the protection of the purchaser, Sir Coutts Lindsay [founder of the Grosvenor Gallery] ought not to have admitted works into the gallery in which the ill-educated conceit of the artist so nearly approached the aspect of willful imposture. I have seen, and heard, much of Cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.

On cross examination, Whistler was questioned about the price.  His reply was as follows:

Holker: “What is the subject of Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket?”

Whistler: “It is a night piece and represents the fireworks at Cremorne Gardens.”

Holker: “Not a view of Cremorne?”

Whistler: “If it were A View of Cremorne it would certainly bring about nothing but disappointment on the part of the beholders. It is an artistic arrangement. That is why I call it a nocturne….”

Holker: “Did it take you much time to paint the Nocturne in Black and Gold? How soon did you knock it off?”

Whistler: “Oh, I ‘knock one off’ possibly in a couple of days – one day to do the work and another to finish it…” [the painting measures 24 3/4 x 18 3/8 inches]

Holker: “The labour of two days is that for which you ask two hundred guineas?”

Whistler: “No, I ask it for the knowledge I have gained in the work of a lifetime.

Despite Ruskin’s damning criticism, Whistler is seen as one of the finest painters of the 19C.   In Christian Louboutin’s latest lookbook, his work influences one of Peter Lippman’s images juxtaposing classic images with Louboutin’s latest designs.   I have to say, Whistler’s mother seems particularly unmoved by that boot in her hand!

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Design, fashion


28 July 2011


Leopard print- check; bright pop of colour- check; denim-check.  Mix it all together, throw in variety of texture and material : patent leather with cashmere and rough cotton….there you have the perfect combination…

(by the way- this doesn’t work just for clothes but for interiors as well)

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Cool Places, Design, Interiors, Resources, Shopping

Cool store…Ondene

27 July 2011

Cool store…Ondene

Completely off the design radar, Ondene is one of Sydney’s hidden design secrets.  Owner Sue Suhr has curated a collection of lifestyle items that are chosen for their design sense, luxurious materials and quiet beauty.

Central to the store is Ondene’s furniture range by  french interior designer, Christophe Delcourt.  Made by french artisans, Delcourt’s designs make much of the intrinsic beauty of the materials used: ceramics coated with a luminous ceramic glaze, smooth and tactile oak, and finely wrought steel.

Ondene also carries linens by Society Limonta.Established in 1853, this company produces linen of the finest quality.  Society’s  approach  to dressing the home  is as you would dress yourself: gorgeous layers in classic colours with the odd seasonal twist.  Suhr’s own range of cashmere in earthy colours compliment the look.

Ondene not only carries products for the home but has a range of handmade jewellery.   French designers such as Serge Thoraval and Catherine Michiels have been chosen not only for their style but their inspirational messages and sensual shapes.


12 Transvaal Avenue

Double Bay NSW 2029



t +61 2 9362 1734



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Design, Objects

books or lack thereof

26 July 2011

books or lack thereof

I don’t know about you, but since the advent of the Kindle followed by the iPad, the number of real books ( i.e. with paper, cover and a spine)  that I buy has greatly diminished.  For me, this is both good and bad.

On the pro side: ebooks are a lot cheaper and very convenient, especially for one who travels and reads a lot.   I noticed that when I moved recently I had a lot less books to move or give away.

On the con side: I love books- the way they look and feel.   When I go to someone’s house, I always check out what is on their shelf- it is such a reflection of who they are (assuming, of course,  they actually read the books they have on their shelf).

Last week, a designer I met told me that they thought the bookshelf, as a design feature and piece of furniture,  was dead.   Certainly, the need for aesthetically unpleasing reference books died a while ago and has been replaced by the gorgeously bound and lavishly illustrated coffee table book- bought not only for what it contains but for looks.

We also have products being developed such as the one illustrated.  Designed by Phillippe Starck for Flos, the standard lamp is also a book stand as well as a charging station for your devices.    Practical as well as attractive it may be, but I can’t help missing the cosy library, a haven of peace and quiet.

And my last regret- my voyeuristic pastime of checking out other people’s bookshelves will also soon be gone.

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Cool Places, Hong Kong, Resources, Shopping

Top outlet shopping in Hong Kong

24 July 2011

Top outlet shopping in Hong Kong


Eclectic Cool welcomes guest blogger, Sadie Macleod, editor of the coolest health magazine around, Hip and Healthy:

Forget Macau, when we are looking some thrills we take the trip to Ap Lei Chau to worship at that temple of designer bargains, Horizon Plaza. An essential stop for any overseas visitor, the sheer size of the place can be rather overwhelming, so we combed 28 floors to find you the best outlets to visit, plus journeyed outside to find one of Hong Kong’s best kept secrets!

1. Ralph Lauren
Everyone loves a bargain, especially when it comes in the form of new season Ralph Lauren. Unlike other discount shops, the Ralph Lauren outlet store (22/F) at Horizon Plaza is organised, stylish and stocks a small selection of the most covetable clothes from the spring/summer 2011 season. The long, serape cardigan that has an element of ‘wild-west meets Mexico’ was a favourite and came at a 50% reduction. Even more tempting was the classic white ruffled skirt that could be yours for a mere 500HKD.

2. Max Mara
Although, not quite as spectacular as the Ralph Lauren store, Max Mara (27/F) still has a small range of clearance items that are worth sifting through. There is a good collection of shoes on offer, although sizes are limited, and a range of last season Max & Co. (their range aimed at younger women) dresses and tops for less than 500HKD. Sadly, the iconic camel coats were nowhere to be seen, having said that I’m not sure you would ever need one in Hong Kong.

3. Joyce
The leading designer importer in Hong Kong is Joyce and their outlet store (21/F) is packed with last season bargains. This is the place to go if you are looking for something really special- an outfit to a wedding or a cocktail dress. Here, you will find last season’s designs at up to 80 % off. Spotted on the racks front of store, designer dresses by Alaia 50000HKD marked down to 15000HKD and Alexander McQueen dresses at around 8000HKD. Other designers include Giambattista Valli, Oscar de la Renta, Balenciaga and Victoria Beckham.

Sizing ranges from European 34 to 40. Each month, the stock is reduced by around 10 %. Towards the rear of the store, you will find separates for both men and women by designers such as Rick Owen, Etro and Dries van Noten. The shoe range was a little disappointing when we visited but there were still some great buys. There was also an interesting collection of designer jewellery pieces.

4. Lane Crawford
One of the largest outlet stores in Horizon Plaza, Lane Crawford (25/F) is one of our favourites. If you are looking for a few designer pieces to give your home some pizzazz, Lane Crawford is worth a visit. Stocking not only clothes and shoes, you can find designer homewares and furniture. We saw linens by Frette, Society and Missoni. Furniture designers include Established and Sons and Herman Knoll. We visit here to pick up designer candles for more than 60 % off.

In addition to the homewares, the shoe and bag section is worth a look. Discounts of up to 70 % can be found here and there is plenty of choice, particularly if you are size 36 to 40. We spotted bags by Marc Jacobs, Christian Louboutin, Marni and Pierre Hardy at more than 50 per cent off.

Lane Crawford stocks both men and womens clothing here. After the sales finish in the main stores, there are great finds here, particularly in the mens section. However, some of the clothing can be up to three years old, so carefully check each piece for damage or staining as they do not accept returns.

5. Pompeii
An outlet store that you can easily overlook and that appears quite expensive is Pompeii on the 22nd floor. However, this outlet buys current season samples and overruns from the top designers. The best buys are the Yves Saint Laurent bags, around 13000HKD, and Tods bags around 7000HKD. Other designers include Gucci, Prada and Roberto Cavalli. The clothing racks are well organized by size and season making it easy to find bargains.

6. Diesel
If you are looking weekend wear stop in at Diesel (27/F). This edgy looking store was jam packed with a mountainous stack of jeans for both men and women at around 1000HKD. In addition, a leather jacket (3500HKD) and t-shirt (approximately 400HKD) along with a scarf (100-200HKD) twirled nonchalantly around your throat will round off your casual chic look.

7. Beyond Horizon Plaza, Prada (formerly known as Space) Outlet Store
Although not far from the other outlet stores, Prada is not situated in the Horizon Plaza. It is more centrally located in Ap Lei Chau making it a little easier to get to by public transport and, boy, is it worth the journey. Clean, elegant and stylish, this may just be one of Hong Kong’s best-kept secrets. Endless rows of two previous seasons worth of Prada clothes line the pristine shelves and racks with discounts that vary depending on the item. The Prada and Miu Miu bags are definitely worth spending some time on and range from 2,950 to 8,000 HKD. The real bargains, though, are to be had on the sale rack at the back of the shop, which offered deductions of up to 80%. Here you can put away a little black dress for the tidy sum of 1500 HKD and skirts and ski pants (yes…ski pants!) can be found for less than 500HKD. This is possibly one of the best ways to do designer on a budget in Hong Kong.

Getting there: For Horizon Plaza, take Bus 90 from Exchange Square Bus Station in Central. This bus runs every 10 to 15 mins to Ap Lei Chau Estate Bus Terminus. From the Terminus take the free Horizon Plaza Shuttle Bus which runs every 5 to 15 minutes.

You can also take a taxi from Central which will take you approximately 30 mins and cost around HKD60. There are plenty of taxis outside for your return trip.

For Prada (Space), South Horizon Plaza take bus 590 from Exchange Square Bus Station in Central. Get off at Marina Square on South Horizons Drive.

You can walk between Prada and Horizon Plaza. It will take around 15 to 20 minutes but you won’t want to because you will have too many bags!

This post was first published online with sassymamahk

Check out Sadie’s new online magazine, Hip and Healthy for the healthy and stylish at www.hipandhealthy.co.uk







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Art, People

Vale Lucian Freud

23 July 2011

Vale Lucian Freud


One of the greatest British painters of the twentieth century died today after an illness.   Lucian Freud’s  work is characterised by a muddy palette and thickly layered paint, creating a complex  and multi-layered study of the subject.   His view of his subject is uncompromising.  Even a pregnant Kate Moss seems more real on canvas than she ever does in real life photos.

His work has increased in value over the years: in 2008, Benefits supervisor sleeping, was sold for GBP17m.

Grandson of Sigmund Freud, he was born in Berlin in December 1922, and came to England with his family in 1933. He studied  briefly at the Central School of Art in London and at Cedric Morris’s East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham.

His first solo exhibition, in 1944 at the Lefevre Gallery, featured the now celebrated The Painter’s Room 1944. In the summer of 1946, he went to Paris before going on to Greece for several months. He has lived and worked his whole life in London.

Freud’s subjects are often the people in his life; friends, family, fellow painters, lovers, children. As he has said ‘The subject matter is autobiographical, it’s all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement really’.

‘I paint people’, Freud has said, ‘not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be’.

Autobiographical information from Tate Britain .

Images via the Guardian.

Top: Lucian Freud

Middle: Kate Moss 2002

Bottom: Benefits Supervisor Sleeping 2008

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Art, Cool Places

Ai Wei Wei

22 July 2011

Ai Wei Wei

My daughter and I have been intrigued to see grafitti and signs dotted around Hong Kong referring to the artist Ai Wei Wei who was recently released from his three month detention in Beijing.   We are not sure what they mean.

His prominence in the news has somewhat overshadowed his artistic works.   Recently, the Asia Society
in New York launched an exhibition of photographs that he took while living in the city between 1983 and 1993.  The 227, selected from around 10000 photos, capture the artist as part of the expatriate Chinese community, his life as an artist on the fringes of East Village and his daily life.

This exhibition is in contrast to his work recently exhibited at the Tate Modern.  This work, entitled ‘Sunflower Seeds‘ appears to be natural seeds emptied into the Turbine Hall, at first glance.  In fact, each of these millions of  seeds were handcrafted in porcelain by a factory in China and are all different.   The individuality of these seeds leads us to question our own role in the world, our insignificance of being one person and the significance of being part of a whole made up of billions of individuals.




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Cool Places, Hong Kong

Old Hong Kong

21 July 2011

Old Hong Kong

This fascinating film from 1938 harks back to the colonial days of Hong Kong,’under wise and tolerant British rule’ who oversaw the  ‘contented Chinese’.  I love the bit about the ‘modern Chinese women wearing form fitting garments.’  A pity also that Hong Kong is still not full of bargains ‘when rambling through the crowded oriental streets’.    Though the attitude is parochial, it is still interesting to watch.  Enjoy!

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