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Three amazing chocolate shops around the world

This year, instead of loading up on cheap, poor quality chocolate, how about choosing less but better? If you need convincing, how about this: more expensive chocolate is typically better for you as it is made from organic, top quality ingredients. To help you choose some artisan products, we’ve gone inside three leading chocolatiers from around the globe. Take your pick!

1.The Margaret River Chocolate Company, Perth

A former bank is the new home of the Margaret River Chocolate Company in Perth, Western Australia. Not only does the store showcase and sell the company’s expansive range of colourfully packaged chocolates handcrafted from Belgian couverture, but the team also provide bottomless tastings. In fact, the company recently crunched the sums and realised it gives away more than $300,000 worth of chocolate to the one million people who visit its three stores each year!

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Images above from here.

2. 100% Chocolate Shop, Tokyo

With Japanese design firm Wonderwall at its helm, the finished design of 100% Chocolate Cafe wasn’t going to be anything but impressive. Running above the communal table is a dark-wood carved ceiling, shaped just like a block of chocolate! Meantime, visitors can watch chocolate being created in the grand, open kitchen, then take their pick from the 56 different varieties in the cabinet, each with their own colour code. A stand out feature of this chocolatier is the view from the street, with the huge floor to ceiling windows just tempting passers-by to step in.

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Images above from here.
 3. Les Marquis de Ladurée
Renowned for its macarons, Laudree delighted fans when it opened its first chocolate boutique in Paris. Expanding on its traditional offering of macarons,“Les Marquis de Ladurée” is a new Laudree sub-brand devoted entirely to chocolate. Positioned near the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, the interior is intricate and old-worldly, with the walls decorated in Acanthus stucco leaves, and the ceiling embellished with a stucco garland and decorated with Murano chandeliers. White Carrara marble fronts the counter and is adorned with ‘marquis’ medallions.

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Images above from here.

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Inside Sarah Jessica Parker’s first ‘SJP Collection’ retail store

In a fitting move, the fashionista of Sex and the City has opened a ‘real life’ fashion store. Sarah Jessica Parker is building on the success of her self named accessories and apparel brand –  SJP Collection – with the launch of her first standalone store.

Made famous through her character Carrie Bradshaw in the hit TV series, Parker says the new store treats colour ‘as a neutral’.

“Colour as a neutral allows a sort of whimsical decadence. It sets us apart in the market. It allows real creativity. We’re not always thinking about practicality.”

The walls are painted a muted pink and the shelves and furniture are made from a transparent lucite, letting the brightly coloured shoes steal the attention. Likewise, the customers of SJP Collection tend to be seeking something unconventional and whimsical, with many even choosing to wear the designs for their wedding day.

The store in Washington D.C.’s National Harbor resort houses SJP Collection dresses, candles, bags, fragrances, and of course, shoes under the one roof. Take a look…

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 Images from SJP Collection and Footwear News and header image from here.
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Inside Etsy’s pioneering new HQ

Dumbo is fast becoming the trendiest, up-and-coming suburb in New York. It recently welcomed Etsy’s new HQ – a 200,000-square-foot hub that took 2 years to complete and is double the size of the company’s previous complex.

Etsy launched in 2005 as an online marketplace for crafters, makers and ‘DIY-ers’. At its core are the values of community, craft and sustainability, and the development of its new headquarters kept these front and centre.

Global architecture firm Gensler was brought on board to design the new office so that it met the Living Building Challenge (LBC) – a green building certification program, that specifies buildings should:

  • Connect occupants to light, air, food, nature, and community.
  • Be self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site.
  • Create a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them.

Etsy is committed to being 100% powered by renewable energy by 2020, which means that solar panels cover 20% of its roof, there is a rainwater irrigation system and occupancy sensors control how much lighting is needed. Plus, no object in the building can contain toxic materials or chemicals; materials must be responsibly sourced and have minimal carbon footprints and the building and everything inside should be sustainable, from the furniture to the internet cables.

Erected in the iconic Watchtower complex, the space has hundreds of furniture pieces and installations that were either created by local artisans or salvaged and reclaimed.

As Etsy described on its blog:

“Whether we’re typing on desks made by Craig Montoro and Bryan Mesenbourg of First Third, sitting at tables made by Jason Hernandez of HENDO or working underneath the light fixtures crafted by Ashira Israel of In.Sek Design, every day we’re fortunate enough to physically engage with our community through their work.”

There are workstations for the 600 employees, but the communal spaces are the ones that really stand out. The Lab is like a workshop with its screen-printing studio, letterpress machine, craft supplies, digital design studio and a 3-D printer. For employees looking for some R&R, the wellness studio offers yoga and beanbags for naps, while the roof deck and terraces provide space to soak up fresh air.

Step inside…
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Images from here.

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Casa Cook: a new lifestyle boutique hotel in Rhodes, Greece

We’re always on the look out for hotels and retreats that set a new standard, so when we heard of Casa Cook on the island of Rhodes, Greece, we were intrigued. Seeing inside this boutique hotel, we realised it was something very special.

Casa Cook is a new hotel brand owned by travel company Thomas Cook, with the Greece location being its debut. With just 90 rooms, the ‘adults only’ hotel is pitched at those looking for a relaxed and indulgent escape. You can choose between rooms with their own veranda and even a private pool.

Guests can try their hand at open air yoga, ‘shop the look’ in an onsite store, swing in one of the many hammocks or simply wine and dine in the on-site restaurant and bar.

Casa Cook was a collaboration between architect Vana Pernariv, interior designer Annabell Kutucu and the design agency Lambs & Lions.

Some of our favourite stand-out features include the bohemian linen and accessories in the bedrooms, the hanging cocoon chairs overlooking the pool and the unique, jungle-like motif tiles that create a feature wall in the restaurant.

Take a look…

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Patricia Urquiola designs Lake Como Hotel Il Sereno

Spanish designer and architect Patricia Urquiola is the mastermind behind Lake Como’s newest hotel. It’s the first to be built on this Italian shoreline in decades and is now one of the only contemporary properties in the area.  Urquiola played a role in nearly every aspect of this hotel’s creation, overseeing its external architecture, internal furnishings and even staff uniforms.

Il Sereno is perched on top of an existing arched stone boathouse. Featuring 30-suites, this hotel is the third created by luxury group Sereno Hotels. Il Sereno has already won the “Most Anticipated New Luxury Hotel Opening in 2016” by Luxury Travel Advisor magazine. It was recognised for its understated elegance that presents a freshness to an area accustomed to Faux Renaissance and Neo Classical designs.

But it’s no surprise that this hotel is already winning awards: Urquiola is highly experienced in delivering incredible brand experiences, having been previously commissioned by brands such as Louis Vuitton, Baccarat and Missoni.

Il Sereno is built from mostly natural materials, including wood, stone and even wool. Its promise to guests is a modern style, comfort, space and panoramic views. Guests can enjoy a private beach, a private dock to board the hotel’s own boats and a 60-foot-long freshwater infinity pool suspended over Lake Como.

Inside, design features include striking copper-plated aluminium tubes that encase the walnut staircase; custom, hanging headboards; and the restaurant’s terrazzo floor incorporating a pattern based on the region’s traditional women’s hair combs.

Take a look…

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Inside four of this year’s fabulous Spring Racing marquees

While all eyes may be on the many celebrities attending this year’s Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne, including Tim Cahill, Jessica Gomes and Usain Bolt, the marquees housing these guests have been meticulously pulled together by some of the nation’s best design and experiential minds.

More than 310,000 people are expected to attend the Melbourne Cup Carnival, and corporate sponsors in ‘The Birdcage’ are once again competing for the unofficial ‘best on ground’ award from punters. Take a look inside four of our favourite marquees of 2016…

Mumm Marquee

Special features: A beach club party theme, a four-metre-long oval pool and a ‘Rosé Soleil’ performance.

We love: The pairing of aerial stunts and synchronised swimming with vocals from Australian singer-songwriter Paris Wells.

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Lavazza Marquee

Special features: A 360 degree recreation of Milan’s mid-century shopping arcade, Galleria, designed by Neale Whitaker.
We love: The traditional terracotta flooring, the Tom Dixon-esque chandelier and the cafe-style seating and pot-plants that complete the mall aesthetic. 39cb2f6100000578-3881120-image-a-40_1477630575774

 Myer Marquee

Special features: A French atelier-theme, a ‘By Appointment’ bar and 5,000 glasses of G.H.Mumm French Champagne.

We love: The very Spring colour palette of copper, tan, mint and blush, complete with multiple floral arrangements and a 7 metre-long copper table known as ‘The Botanist’s Table’, where guests will enjoy freshly shucked oysters, Fresh tuna sashimi, pistachio gelato and more.

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Wolf Blass Marquee

Special features: A partnership with artist David Bromley (of Bromley & Co – who we featured here), saw this marquee turned into a whimsical artist’s studio, with furnishings including ornate Victorian-era pieces and Bromley’s own antiques.

We love: That the collaboration extended as far as three special edition ‘Bromley by Wolf Blass’ wines, which guests will be the first to taste.

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Images from here.

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Inside five unforgettable Paris fashion stores

There’s no denying that Paris is an epicentre of global fashion. It is host to the ‘Paris Fashion Week’; part of the four major global fashion weeks (the others being in London, Milan and New York). In fact, the first recognised Paris Fashion Week was held in 1973 as a fundraiser to restore the Palace of Versailles.

Fast forward to today, and the city sets the agenda for trends and influences we see coming in to not only our wardrobes, but our homes too. We’ve looked inside five of our favourite Paris fashion stores to showcase their incredible interiors.

1. Sonia Rykiel 

Located on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, the Sonia Rykiel store pays homage to the Left Bank’s rich history of authors and publishers. It was recently renovated to bring in 50,000 books, turning the store into a quasi library, with bookshelves running the length of the walls. Whether a book lover or fashion fan, this pop up concept is abound with old world charm.
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Images from here and here

2. Lydia Courteille

Just like the jewellery the brand is famous for, the interior of the Lydia Courteille store on rue Saint-Honoré is like a gem itself. With sapphire-toned upholstery, gem encrusted decorations and cabinet display themes that range from under the sea to Russian royalty, the space makes up for its tiny size with huge amounts of theatrical ambience.
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Images from here and here.

3. Christian Dior

Dior’s Avenue Montaigne flagship store is steeped in history. It was in this former townhouse that Christian Dior created his five-floor fashion boutique in 1946, full of ready-to-wear and haute couture collections. Within seven years of opening the doors, it had expanded to house more than 1,000 staff and 28 workshops. Today, it features room after room of luxury, almost like a mini Paris itself.

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Images from here.

4. Azzedine Alaïa

Running over three levels, the Azzedine Alaïa store is housed in an 18th-century mansion and uniquely has no window displays. With white Carrara marble, an incredible chandelier made up of brushed metal garlands that stretch down the run of the circular, internal staircase, and UFO-like circular light fixtures, the space is a modern oasis in the historic city of Paris.

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Images from here and here.

5. Le Bon Marché

While Gustave Eiffel is most well known as being the engineer behind the Eiffel Tower, he also worked with architect Louis-Charles Boileau to create the 323,000-square-foot mall – Le Bon Marché in 1852. It’s Left Bank’s oldest department store and attracts 15,000 people through its doors each day. Design wise, its roof is almost like a crystal with its glimmering shards of glass, while marble and stone surfaces are the perfect accompaniment to its haute couture stores.

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Images from here.

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Five of the best ever Spring/Summer runway sets

As summery dresses and short sleeved shirts began to enter stores, we know that warmer weather and the fashions that come with it, are almost here. Likewise, in our homes, we strip away the heavy throws and start to use our BBQs and patios much more. So what better place to gather inspiration for a stylish summer than with five of, what we believe are, the most impressive Spring/Summer runway sets of all time. From mega-sized shells to 300,000 delphinium stems, the fashion world never fails to delight as it takes to the stage.

Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2012

In a whimsical, magical and feminine set, Louis Vuitton created a carousel with white horses, touches of pink and fairy lights. It was the perfect colour palette as the backdrop for plenty of pastels and ladylike shapes in the fashion house’s Spring 2012 collection.

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Images above from here, here and here. Header image from here.

Tommy Hilfiger Spring/Summer 2016

What better setting for beach and resort wear than a pop up lagoon? That’s exactly what Tommy Hilfiger delivered for its Summer collection this year. Complete with sand, water, palm trees, a sunset, hammocks and a tiki hut, the models strutted down ankle-deep water in a setting that was hard to believe wasn’t real.

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Images above from here and here.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2012

In 2012, Chanel took us under the sea with coral, shells and sea horses in iridescent whites, soft lighting and the vocals of Florence Welch singing ‘What the Water Gave Me’. The models appeared as delicate sea-creatures in their cream dresses, pearl-studded suits and glimmering sequin dresses.

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Images from here and here.

Dior Spring/Summer 2016

It was impossible to miss the 300,000 delphinium stems that covered a man-made ‘mountain’ erected at the Louvre’s east end. More than 100 people and 15 semi-trucks were needed to create this structure, full of romanticism and modernity. Once inside, the interior was very minimal, with only futuristic lighting cranes added to the gloss-white floors and wall of cornflower blue delphiniums.

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Images from here, here and here.

Coach Spring/Summer 2016

Celebrating 75 years this year by holding its first runway show in New York, Coach built a custom venue on top of an elevated park. It could be reached only by walking over the former railway track of the High Line. Wispy grass and sand on the ground created a desert-like feel, while models descended the runway in paisley patterns and floaty dresses.

Images from here, here and here.

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The wonderful world of Bromley & Co

There really is nothing else quite like Bromley & Co. Spanning three stores along with collaborations with the likes of Kookai, Heston Blumenthal and Wolf Blass, this Australian company fuses art, homewares and fashion with large doses of originality, quirk and je ne sais quoi.

Bromley & Co brings together pieces from artists based across Australia and is run by husband and wife duo, artist David Bromley and fashion designer Yuge.

Despite having a gallery and retail space in Daylesford and Windsor, and now a space in The Block Arcade in Melbourne’s CBD, the pair haven’t stopped their many side projects and collaborations.

The pair worked with Eastland shopping centre in Melbourne to bring to life a creative and cultural vision. The result are murals throughout Eastland that measure up to 21 meters tall, creating a winding “art adventure on a grand scale amongst a retail development built to an international standard”.

Meanwhile, their collaboration with Wolf Blass has seen Bromley & Co create an exquisite interior and exterior of the Birdcage Marquee at the 2015 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival and a portrait of Wolf himself.

David, who describes himself as an avid popular culture observer and consumer, has even painted Kendall and Kylie Jenner, along with Miranda Kerr and Kylie Minogue and Lily Allen.

Whatever it is that David and Yuge dream up, one thing is a given: the result will be a unique expression of creativity.

Take a scroll through the intriguing world of Bromley & Co below…

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Inside the most expensive suite at The One & Only Palmilla Resort

The Baja California Peninsula in northwestern Mexico has long been a popular getaway spot for party seekers. However, the location is becoming home to more and more five star resorts and with that, attracting a different type of holiday maker.

One such resort is the One&Only Palmilla. The One&Only brand is synonymous with refined and relaxed luxury, privacy and exclusivity. This new resort is all that and more, particularly Villa One, the most expensive suite in the vicinity.

Nestled on the peninsula, Villa One has generous views of the Sea of Cortez from almost every room along with access to one of the only swimmable beaches in the region.

Designed by Anderson Miller, the villa boasts 14,000 square feet of living space, which includes a butler’s suite, a private infinity-edge pool, fire pit, movie room, spa treatment room and lush tropical gardens.

Inside, there is a strong link to the villa’s natural surrounds, with wooden furniture crafted from Mexican timber along with an organic neutral colour palette of browns, beige and whites.

Take a look…

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