Absolut Icebar!!! I've always been curious, i'm still dying to visit the Ice Hotel some day ~ and ironically, this little excursion wasn't even part of the official Absolut event/weekend. Apparently the Icebar changes its design twice a year, and it happened to be closed Oct 26 to Nov 1, so today was the first day it reopened, but, just barely! (Opening party is tomorrow night!) Luckily, i was able to stay an extra day, and they managed to get us in today. So here is a first look at the latest ~ "Factory" designed by Sofi Ruotsalainen and Nille Nilsson. Along with the completely new space, there is also a brand new menu! It's quite amazing, you enter through the little store passageway where you see racks of ponchos with gloves clipped on... then into the airlock... and into the ice bar! Within the ice bar (which is literally wall to wall ice) there are ice sculptures, an ice display (looking like an upright arcade game), the bar and more... the giant red "Don't Push" button - is totally ok to push. As long as you're cool with the light flashing! (So fun!) Also playful are some of the Icebar goods ~ you can buy a replica glass (that won't melt!), a puffy jacket of a laptop sleeve, matches, and other silliness... This is one of three Absolut Icebars ~ the first was in the Ice Hotel, this one is in the Nordic Sea Hotel and is open year round, as is the one in Below Zero London. See all the fun on the next page, as cold as my fingers got, i couldn't help taking a bunch of pics, and they even let me take pics from behind the bar!
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While i seldom do party pics, i'm fascinated by Absolut and the way they brand experiences so nicely... This was their big 30th Anniversary Party for the Art Collection... and the lighting in the giant black cube they constructed for the party next to the Lydmar Hotel was this ominous mysterious structure that popped up while we were staying there, and they wouldn't let us peek in until the event itself... so once in there with such cool lighting and visualizations and bands/djs playing... the pictures of the bar, the bottles and glasses, the scene, and the straws even! I just had to share! The colors came out so beautifully!
Also ~ i ran out tonight (day after the party) but was a bit too late to get black cube pics, however did get some very cool mid-deconstruction pics! If you see the pics on the next page, just imagine that covered in black...
Sometimes you desperately run around the city all evening, desperately hunting for an open restaurant after having two drinks at the ice bar for "breakfast", almost genuinely considering buying 7-11 food, tweet for help, call for suggestions, and almost everything that comes up is closed... then you stumble upon the adorable red cozy outdoor section of Grodan, and peek into a stunningly ornate dining room that smells delicious... and there it is. Froggies! Everywhere! On the menu... embroidered on the napkins, on the door - a simple red silhouette of a frog! (Yes, i now know Groda means Frog in swedish)... but the most intriguing instance of this little red frog i encountered was as i sipped my water... there it was on the bottom of my glass! And it looked so fun with its reflection and prismatic colors projected on the table... I had to share... and i'm so tempted to make mini vinyl stickers to apply to the bottom of my glasses to surprise people when i get home... see more of the pics on the next page!
We could all use some "Mental Togetherness" ~ lovely sculpture by Truls Melin outside of Swedish art space Magasin 3 (A philanthropic activity by Swedish investors, Proventus - also investors of Brio, Artek, o2, Tom Dixon). Whether this sculpture is about chasing the pipe dream or creating that continuous flow between us or visualizing the paths we take... i leave that to your interpretation... all i know is that as tempting as it seems, you can not climb on it... but it is fascinating to wander into... see more pics of it on the next page!
I know. I go rather quiet for a few days as i travel far too much the last few months, still not sure what day or time zone i'm in most of the time, but one thing i'm sure of... it's 5:30 am and i should be sleeping, but i'm staring at such an awesome bathroom here in the Lydmar Hotel, i just had to share it with you before i go sleep. The slate tiles floor to ceiling... the incredible lighting... the way the fixtures all seem to float... the contrast in textures... the hardcore thick grey blinds... I suppose the part that i'm smitten with most is the inset mirror that then doubles as a shelf, as well as a beautifully lit frame (only lit by two strips of light along the sides), and everything on the shelf looks so dramatic! So take a look at more details... including the packaging of their Byredo Parfums Tailor's Cotton line of toiletries...
you also have to see the room key... it looks like a car key... and they all have different keychains!
There's something so magical about being able to wander around the Chateau de Versailles after dark in black tie garb with only a handful of people around... and free flowing Dom Perignon. Actually, there's something so magical about Versailles at any time, but this was particularly surreal... and while there, i think i've discovered a new obsession. Chandeliers. From directly below! Particularly with mesmerizingly mind bending shadows and/or ridiculously opulent and stunning ceilings... and yes, there was a point where i became that girl who handed off her glass of Dom to lay on the floor in the middle of an empty room in my dress, louboutins, and clutching my massive camera to see just how much ceiling my wide angle could ingest from directly below the center of the chandelier. It's a bit dizzying at times shooting straight up and getting lost in the concentric circles ~ but it's such a fun perspective... Ami from Cool Hunting is calling them our 'chandelier mandalas' (and huge thanks for Ami for resisting iphone-pic-ing me while i was laying there on the floor!)... so take a peek at *some* of the chandeliers (and a few bonuses!) from perhaps (but hopefully not!) the most magical night i will ever spend in Versailles...
I was heading to Petaluma from the Broad Summit ~ and just as i was getting out of Sebastapol i did a double take, pulled the car over, made a u-turn, and popped into California Carnivores in hopes it was open (it was late afternoon on a sunday) ~ and it WAS! And it is AMAZING. Apparently it is the "largest carnivorous plant shop in the united states"!!! AND omg. wow. you HAVE to see how stunning (and huge) this place and their plants and their kiddie pools filled with more plants in the process are... Good news is that they are carnivorous plant obsessed, extremely informative, super nice, and you can order online and they will ship anywhere in the US (he was even describing their intense packing process for shipping, and after hearing about it i'm confident to order more soon!) ~ but for now, i couldn't resist and currently have a box of 4 in my car... SO beautiful. They are so incredibly inspiring, take a peek at the pics of many species i have never seen up close before!
On unexpected discoveries, next time you're up in wine country california style ~ California Carnivores is a definite stop not to be missed!
Just a quick peek at last nights festivities ~ i'm currently at the Broad Summit at the Boon Hotel up in the Russian River Valley ~ what is it? "So. You may be wondering what this party is all about. In short, The Broad Summit was an idea hatched over Margaritas at SxSW. Maggie has "organize a retreat" on her life list, Aubrey is a party planner, Laura Mayes is a conference organizer, and Helen Jane supplies wine and cheese for the entire Internet. We talked about how fun it would be to have our blogger friends in one place for the weekend. Tipsily laid plans don't often come to much, but we're an unusually efficient group." Basically its like a blogger/tech ladies summer camp (fall camp?) of sorts, but with wine, massages, bonfires, pajama parties, hot tubs, and fun sponsors! So, yes, i'm totally at a tech conference north of SF... and the bonfire was so pretty, had to share a few quick pics with you! (More random pics keep popping up over on my twitter) ~ so first take a peek at the awesome fire, and the surroundings on the next page!
Firstly, who WOULDN'T want essentially a "mood wall" ~ a thermochromatic wall of sorts ~ sure you'll have to clean it regularly, never know who's been rubbing up against it or licking and kissing and breathing on it... painting with their heat... I know part of me has been dreaming up ideas and places and colors to do something like this since...
But back to the subject at hand! While swinging back through Paris with Veuve Clicquot after adventures with harvesting in Reims, we had a chance to take a look at the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton in the penthouse above the Champs Elysees Louis Vuitton store. It totes stunning views of the city, with a nice wood planked walkway around the perimeter, and a beautiful gallery space. Freshly launched is "La Confusion Des Sens". You arrive in the space after experiencing full sensory deprivation in their completely dark silent elevator ride up (a permanent part of their collection) ~ only to emerge to a large open space looking out over all of Paris... and surrounded by fascinating artworks focused on throwing your instinctual sensory reactions for a loop at every twist and turn... whether it's tactile, auditory, visual, or a combination of senses, it's an incredible show! Take a look at a few of my favorites on the next page...
Freshly back from the party at The DOCK, described as "An emporium of creative talent instigated by Tom Dixon and sponsored by Derwent London." ~ and before i even show you what's inside, coming back to the hotel and browsing the pics, the way the space photographs as the sun set was just so fun! So take a look ~ the lighting was certainly one of my favorite things about tonight!
Ok on aspects of this trip that i shamelessy geeked out on... did you know that's how champagne corks start? Before they get mushroomed? And the machine that mushroomifies them and puts the cage on is really cool? (Cool enough i had to make a video to share with you of course!) Also, there was definitely a warm fuzzy feeling that overcame me as Veuve Clicquot brought us to visit a tiny (relatively speaking!) grand cru champagne maker ~ Gatinois, a family-run business located in Aÿ since 1696, at the foot of the Montagne de Reims. While they have been selling half their crop to neighbor, Bollinger, they are producing more and more of their own label. It was infectious how passionate Pierre Cheval-Gatinois was as he shared his company's story and history and process with us (his son is starting to step in as the 12th generation!)... perhaps the biggest contrast was visiting his cellars compared to les creyeres of Veuve Clicquot... the shift in scale was amazing, and you must check out the exposed wires running the lighting (to fry yourself, just reach up and grab one in each hand)... Oh, and also, the amber blush tone of the champagne is gorgeous and it is extremely delicious... but unfortunately it they don't have a distributor in LA! Anyhow, on the next page you can see lots of pics, and the video of how the corks transform to magically to the mushrooms we associate with champagne!
Veuve Clicquot was generous enough to bring me to Reims again this year to join their intimate harvest festivities (read: honored they let me come do a day of manual labor with their friends/family). I kid you not. I spent half a day in the beautiful hot champagne region sun from the break of dawn fighting jetlag clipping grapes and working my way through the rows while chatting with friends old and new. So there you have it, my excuse for why posts slowed down and got so quiet. Also minimal wifi. But really, it turns out that the best way to slow me down is tire me out! Because i certainly had no problem running around, drinking late, and still posting before bed on the last trip...
So on the next page you can take a look at my experience from sunrise to learning how to pick grapes, to wine breaks (at 9am!), to crating the grapes away, to seeing them pressed... all the missing steps from last year... it's fascinating really to see what happens between the fresh grapes and the bottling to spend time in les crayeres. And we were back at the Verzy country estate which has some of the finest grapes behind it ~ the grapes we picked will be in the 2019 Veuve Clicquot La Grand Dame if we're lucky, so far they are saying it is a phenomenal harvest! And if nothing else, they've at lease guaranteed that i will have to purchase a bottle (or case!) just to see where my grapes went! So see the process first hand on the next page!
I'm sitting at that desk, in that chair, as i write to you... I don't even know where to begin, as you know, i've been a bit quiet the last few days as i was whisked off from LA to Paris and driven to Reims as soon as i touched down to go meet up with Veuve Clicquot for the start of the harvest. Which means, packed to the gills schedules, lots of champagne, a day of manual labor picking grapes, incredible experiences with friends new and old, and so many photographs to share with you! So with hundreds of photos awaiting, running on minimal sleep and having just hopped a train over to London from Paris ~ i find myself trying to catch up in the stunning Hazlitt's in Soho. I'm going to walk you through things a bit haphazardly, but know there are MANY posts in progress to come! So first take a look at where i've landed to spend the day writing/photoshopping/processing my thoughts to share with you!
Huge thanks to Mr and Mrs Smith, they've helped me find a few hotels i may not have found on my own, and as my first stop, i'm blown away. Hazlitt's in Soho. There is something incredible about being surrounded by walls of old books and paintings, georgian period furniture... and nice speedy wifi, bluray players and flat panels hidden behind mirrors... coupled with a huge bath tub and a thrown like wooden toilet... and motorized shades and skylights... its fascinatingly comforting to step in from the midst of Soho and into another time period, but equipped with all the tech-infused modern amenities i couldn't survive without. Firstly, i'm just going to show you what you'll find inside my room (honestly, i'm so tired and have so much to do, i'm hiding out for a little while, so i'll go shoot and share some of the other amazing shared spaces later!) ~ but for a quick background... "Hazlitt's was created in 1986 from three unspoiled 18th century townhouses, built in 1718... the hotel takes its name from William Hazlitt, perhaps the greatest of all English essayists and critics..." He both lived and died here in the 1800s when it was a boarding house, and all of the bedrooms here are named after people who lived in or has some connection with these buildings... my room is named after Mrs. Teresa Cornelys ~ a viennese opera singer and lover of Casanova, with whom she even has a child! So while i get back to catching up, take a peek at the stunning suite ~ and i'm just so inspired and excited by all of the walls of books and clawfooted fixtures around the property!
While in SF, between the madness i simply had to make time to stop by and visit the folks behind the incredible products and packaging of Incase! If you haven't noticed over the years, i'm a bit of an Incase junkie ~ their design aesthetic, product concepts and details, and their understated hyper-functional stunning packaging skills are just irresistible. The user experience of their products from the time you see an image of them, or spot it on the street or in a store... to the time it's in your hands being unboxed and being put to good use ~ is just so well thought out. No wonder their tagline is "A better experience through good design."
Well, i'm honored they let me take a peek into their SF studio space, and it was just as inspiring and minimalist as you'd imagine. Clean black and whites ~ turn tables, couches, and a bathroom waiting for your doodles.... wiped clean weekly, and re/decorated by everyone that visits... check out some of their boxes i had yet to see in person... and the patterns that magically transform into those bags we love... and perhaps most interesting, what inspires THEM! A fantastic mix of goodies discovered while shopping in japan interspersed with their products greet you in their gallery space... on to the pics on the next page!
So now you've seen the creatures of the California Academy of Sciences ~ ready to see what the scene was like for NightLife (their Thurs late night party/events ~ with drinks, food, djs, and more)... basically imagine going to an incredibly awesome museum/science center... but no kids! and the scene is like a 25-55 singles/date night! and as the evening progresses, the drunkeness runs a bit rampant... definitely have to feel for the poor museum folks who had to chase a few inebriated folks through the rather steep planetarium... and those starfish in the tidepools where it's one hand in the tank and the other holding your beer with your arm around your girl... Interesting scene. And BEAUTIFUL space! Definitely worth doing the VIP tour if you've never been, since you get some behind the scenes sneak peeks, checking out the roof in a tiny group of about 15, skipping the rainforest queue, a look in the Vault, reserved passes for the planetarium show (and they let you in first!)... oh, and open bar too. Anyhow, take a peek at the experience!
I have a thing for polycarbonate suitcases... something about that sleek pod of light perfectly packedness that gets scuffed up so nicely... while i have my carry-on silver hideo wakamatsu and a check-in black zero halliburton polycarb... i'm still totally lusting over this Mandarina Duck DROP! (Despite the overly flashy website that i just sat and screenshotted far too much of to share with you and spare you the experience) It still remains to be seen what the interior breakdown and details are like (and packaging?) but the exterior is looking quite sleek... and some of the sayings on their pics are worth a giggle ("design victim"... wouldn't it be nicer to say "design indulgences" or something more positive?)... take a peek at some details and screenshots on the next page!
There are flashlights ~ and there are super bright flashlights ~ and then there are super bright flashlights with legs of their own that will wrap themselves around just about anything and magnetically hold on... The Joby GorillaTorch that is coming out soon is definitely in that last category. I took it on a walk to dinner last night, and firstly, it was hard to have it NOT become a fidget toy. Secondly, the thing is BRIGHT, like stop traffic bright, or accidentally blind yourself a little if you accidentally turn it on aimed at the glossy table bright. But i suppose that should be no surprise at 65 lumens ~ and it runs on a mere 3 AA batteries (so easy to use rechargeables!) It's available for pre-order now, but i've got a few peeks at my hands on with it now! And it's got a tiny ultra=bright CREE LED bulb ~ which basically looks like a tiny dab of clear nailpolish on a circuit board...Check it out on the next page!
i'm loving this one as a backup light for emergencies and travel! (especially camping/safari-ing/etc)
UPDATED!!! To any non-US people who were getting awesome contests to italy earlier from the link ~ i updated the link for you to enter to play in NYC! ENTER HERE
When my friends over at WEJETSET and Mr & Mrs Smith reached out and asked me to share a chance to win some goodies, i couldn't resist when they were giving away so many NOTCOT favorites... You know you're way overdue for some R&R ~ possibly with someone of your choice curled up in the lush bed over at Cooper Square Hotel in East Village, NYC... while rocking out in electric blue headphones and doodling in your field notes and snapping pics of whatever silliness the others in the room are up to... ok, maybe that's just what i wish i were doing right now? But none the less ~ i'm sure you'd enjoy the fantasy too.... and it even comes with $400 of spending cash (or travel cash or whatever you'd like to do with it?)... SO, happy wednesday, and go ENTER HERE!
I know i don't do contests like these often ~ and yes you have to be 21+ ~ but honestly i just love the brands involved! Good extremely passionate folks, with awesome taste, and i'm currently getting lost in the Mr & Mrs Smith Global Shortlist book... the design, layouts, stories, and breathtaking hotel shots are like an instant midday escape from wherever you may be... definitely a good one on the list of gifts that are like the ultimate tease for those with the travel bug...
There's something so fun about the juxtaposition of animation running around the real world ~ adorable campaign by the Swedish Tourism board aimed at brits - Dave Goes To Skåne. When i first saw this over at CPLuv i had to go watch them all! Dave is a cheeky cartoon londoner running around mouthing off in some gorgeous swedish spots ~ and you cant help but laugh, then wish you too were lying on the beach, or climbing about designer goodness in the woods... see the 4 videos on the next page!
Social Media as your new *living* search engine? You read all the rumors, you hear all the rants on how irrelevant + trivial these fleeting status updates are... And honestly, i'm still learning how/why to use these services MY way...
I've found that twitter and facebook have been my new go-to after obsessive internet searches when doing research... and these have spurred some incredible conversations and quick sources of great information! BUT, it's always so 1-to-many (versus 1-1 or many-to-many) and hosted in a way where all participants can't see the results. (i.e. i tweet a question and followers/repliers can't see all the other responses ~ and on facebook i have a status question and only those following it can see the evolving conversation)
End result? A post so i dont lose this fun conversation, and the valuable information that came up with it... So, if you're looking for where to stay in London during Design Week 09? (Sept 19-27) ~ well i was looking into Soho and/or Shoreditch, and here's what i've learned (on the next page!)
A floor literally tiled with thousands of copper pennies... it's pretty surprising to look down and see them when you walk into The Standard Grill in the Standard Hotel New York, below the Highline. The design was selected by the restaurant's designers,
Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of New York-based design firm Roman
and Williams. See some more peeks of it on the next page!
So after doing the beach thing, i realized i really needed to sit down and do some work between all the running around i've been doing in NY! And i guess the Ace Hotel New York really must feel pretty homey, because i ended up calling up and booking a few nights there to nurse my sunburn and curl up with my laptop to catch up. Of course while here, as the soft opening evolves, i noticed even more awesome typographic details (i also didn't have a chance to show you other rooms i poked around in last time as well!). In addition to what you saw of my room last time... here is a focus on the typographic details i'm obsessing on... instead of a smeg fridge i have one of the mini-fridges in a roadie case... and i LOVE the NOW/NOT NOW magnet (yes! the doors are magnetic!)... and this DESK is fabulous. I want one at home, so nice how it overlooks the bed too so i can still look out the window and work here all day long... so go see the pics on the next page already!
I'm not sure how much you've noticed, or how much you follow, but its been a crazy few months ~ a lot of big behind the scenes transitions happened here at NOTCOT, and in a nutshell i'm more on my own than ever running the network at the moment, and i've been traveling a bit and chatting with a lot of fun folks as i try to figure out where to take things next! The group of NOTCOT sites has grown more than i could have ever dreamed over the last few quick years! SO, for those who ARE playing close attention ~ yes the style of content here on NOTCOT.com has been bouncing around a bit as i figure things out, and mostly i'm sticking to writing about what inspires and amuses me, which for the moment while exploring NYC has been a bit more on the luxe/event side of things, and bouncing between hotels and friends, i haven't had the time/space to do those product review/photoshoots as much as usual, but no worries, i hear there are a pile of packages waiting in LA for that, so back to more regularly schedule programming soon? I'll be heading back to LA Weds!
Part of my figuring things out personally means running around and exploring and reminding myself what it is that really drive and inspires me, and re-evaluating what's out there, and what awesomness we should be finding, making, sharing here on the NOTCOT sites! So, on mixing things up ~ i jumped out of the many meetings and super-city feeling running around in NYC and joined an old high school friend at his friend's beach house in Milford, CT this weekend ~ and after so much city, i think private beach relaxing with a bunch of fun new drama/theatre folks was *just* what i needed to get things in perspective. So take a peek, at my weekend reset ~ i'll be in NY a few more days, than back to catch up and design + beach overdosing LA style soon...
THANK YOU so much for supporting me, and the sites the last few years ~ it's been so much fun! And so incredibly inspiring to meet and chat with many of you ~ seeing the incredible things you readers make is really so fun to wake up to every day!
The full moon over the water this weekend was just AMAZING. See the pics next page...
I don't do conferences often, but i do get curious how marketers and advertisers view sites like this ~ and its always fun to hang out with my Federated Media friends! Anyhow, while checking out the FM Conversational Marketing Summit i felt determined to find something visually amusing/inspiring while here ~ and it ended up being in the form of the Golden Xylophone that the Millenium Broadway hotel guys walk through breaks and lunch playing as they tell you that you should basically... go away! Ok, so less go away, more go back to your talks... So i brought the camera to lunch and waited for them to chase us out, and this guy was fast! and zig zagging! But i tracked him down and got some pics of his instrument for you... really i think it should either be the gold one with a guy dressed in gold on rollerskates with wings or something... or they should let a little kid run through playing a colorful one... but none the less, it was bizarre and amusing, and i'm curious... is this a common occurrence? I suppose its far nicer than a loudspeaker... Oh! And it looks like he used a wine cork on a stick, but he moved too much for me to get a good pic of it...
Also the Hudson Theater is gorgeous! Bizarre to have tech talks amidst the lush red velvet curtains and incredibly ornate ceilings! More pics of both on the next page...
It was a gorgeous day in NY to take the VIP ferry out to Governor's Island for my first official polo match/picnic. Granted this was no ordinary day in the park ~ since there was much buzz with Prince Harry playing, Marc Jacobs and Madonna wandering around, and never ending Veuve Clicquot flowing at the second annual Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo Classic. The views were absolutely stunning ~ the manhattan skyline peeking out from behind the game, endless smatterings Pantone 137c between the lush green grass and perfectly clouded blue skies, and amusing people watching with lots of "daring hats" as requested. Take a peek at the experience on the next page...