Fine Dining

Jeff Koons - Banality Series
Like many luxury brands celebrating a landmark anniversary, art collaboration remains an attractive currency that has evolved into somewhat of a default go-to within the walls of luxury PR in recent years. The benefits of art association are win-win for both brand and customer, and let’s not forget the artist whose portfolio as a result is able to span accessibility no matter how many zeros one has in their bank account.

France’s premier porcelain manufacturer Bernardaud marks their 150th Anniversary this year by commissioning an eclectic group of international creatives to design a collection of plates for L’Art de la Table. The roster of French and international artists, filmmakers and photographers include: Jean-Michel Alberola, Marco Brambilla, Sophie Calle, Fassianos, Jeff Koons, Michael Lin, David Lynch, Marlène Mocquet, Nabil Nahas, Prune Nourry & JR and Sarkis.
Fassianos - Alexandre and Bucephale
Art’s exploration into homewares is not entirely unfamiliar with the likes of Damien Hirst’s publishing company and commercial platform, Other Criteria, already producing espresso cups by the artist (Money MakerApril 2012) and other products designed by his contemporaries such as Mat Collishaw, Eduardo Sarabia and Cindy Sherman (Tea With CindyApril 2010). What is hanging on the white cube walls of a gallery is now available to enjoy on the white crisp linen of one’s dinner table. What better after-dinner surprise could there be once guests clean up their haute cuisine to find haute art on their plate and fundamentally, the oh-so haute taste of their host? French artist Sophie Colle admits,
“I enjoy eating out of other people’s plates because I always get the impression that what they have is better.”
 Prune Nourry & JR - I'm Not In My Plate
For the luxury house’s anniversary, Koons delves deep into his archives of kitsch and sources imagery from his controversial Banality series - first released as sculptures made from porcelain in 1988 - to speak of the material’s historic journey; from it’s empirical status through to its democratisation for the masses. Photographer and graffiti artist JR works with emerging artist Prune Nourry on black and white images of hands – "a man's most essential tool" – on the front and reverse of the plate that results in a contemporary illusion ideal for dinner talk. Calle creates a new work titled Le Porc (The Pig) for a six-piece set that depicts a narrative across the collection. Calle explains,
“What I really like about these plates is creating a sort of ritual to make people's life complicated. People have to sit in order, there have to be six at the table and breaking a plate becomes a no-no.”
David Lynch - 12 ...and the boundless sea - holding it all
Lynch continues with the theme of narrative from plate to plate in his story the Boundless Sea. The darkest expression of the commissions, the twelve-piece set is undoubtedly Lynchian, with the filmmaker himself confessing his pleasure in their abstract turn out,
“My drawings are so beautifully captured, it makes me feel there is more room for experimentation.”

In times when it seems everyone documents every morsel of food on a plate before eating, Bernarduaud proves what lies beneath is equally photo worthy.
Sophie Calle - Le Porc
The collections retail from $460.00 for a six-piece set in editions in French and English by Calle to $1180.00 for a twelve-piece set by Lynch. For further details visit Bernardaud’s boutiques in France, New York and Chicago or visit the L’Art de la Table website for specifications and E-Shop.

Images courtesy of Bernardaud


The Great English Explorer

I am back from Italy and as with every return to terra firma,  I am already itching to plan my next escape. So to the perfect timing of VisitEngland's 101 Things to do before you go abroad launched earlier this week. The English tourist board has invited users to contribute to a Top 101 of ultimate sites and sounds across England, with an interactive map scanning county to county listing Food & Drink, History & Heritage, Arts & Culture, Wildlife & Nature, Health & Fitness and a very un-English Because it's Awesome category, which apparently involves cheese in Gloucester - I will leave you to discover that one for yourself. 
From Windsor Castle for historians in the South to the Farne Islands for naturists in the North as well as alternative offerings such as must-see street art by international graffiti artist, Banksy, in Bath, VisitEngland present both a traditional and contemporary itinerary in time for Summer holiday preparations and the ever popular staycation, which national tourism has realised it must promote to compete with Continental allure. Just don't mention the weather...
Windsor Castle in Berkshire - the world's oldest inhabited working castle
Visit The Top 101 across England here and access further information about VisitEngland on web, Facebook and Twitter.


A Presto...

The simple things in life are unfortunately not always as near as one would like them to be. I have been desperate to have the support of Family in recent months, who are few and far between, so to Southern Italy I go for a dose of nucleus and nourishment.
En route I will be spending a few days in Rome and looking forward to returning to old haunts along Via Ripetta and Via Cola di Rienzo; admire the architectural clashes that span Piazza Augusto Imperatore, dive into the Roman carciofi (artichoke) season and indulge my dolce gusto between my favourite childhood ice cream parlour in the city, Giolotti, with new gelato kid on the block Grom
Follow @JMVELARDI for my latest sights and sounds from Italy next week. A presto…  


Spring Clean

I would like to to think there are parts of the Northern Hemisphere where nature's seasonal costume change still runs like clockwork. Someone please confirm such a place exists. It was only a few days ago, in the shadows of Easter, snowflakes were falling in the bitter wind and any new buds in their right mind were rescheduling their annual appearance. Those of us on the British Isles have earned our right to drop our carry on calm and wage weather war like prima donnas. Alternatively we can redirect our Vitamin D-deficient selves and embrace La Primavera with the accoutrements of any obsessive compulsive worth their salt. It may be April, and it may still be cold outside, but there is no reason why we can’t start to get excited about a thorough Spring clean for mind, body and home. Whether I’m number crunching audits or vacuum packing cashmere I cannot deny the satisfaction of cleaning, organising and boxing my chaotic life of Winter’s past.
On my last annual Advent trip to Munich, I discovered an emporium that has enjoyed cult-like status across Germany. Founded in 1988, Manufactum celebrates high quality household goods made with traditional manufacturing methods with a concern for design and the environment. A William Sonoma meets Labour and Wait retail paradise – for my American and British followers respectively - Manufactum’s functional aesthetic for all aspects of the home, garden and wardrobe presents an enticing installation. I confess the two hours that I spent browsing the racks and shelves that were stocked in surplus fashion was not enough time to acquaint myself with classic brands such as Armor Lux, Atoma, Ballistol, Burgol, Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth, Kaweco Sport, and Louis Poulsen to only name a few. As obsessive as Manufactum’s mission is for the handmade and a glorious affirmation that the good things in life still exist, I explored every corner and surface obsessively from brooms, buckets, enamelware and toiletries at one end, to the shiny array of technical pens, pencils, drawing instruments and paper supplies - fit for any event or fix for fellow stationery addicts – that was located on a mezzanine and attended by a leather apron-clad assistant who was knowledgeable of product, provenance and purpose.
This very knowledge is sourced from Manufactum’s weighty catalogue. A four hundred-page publication that fights for coffee table space as it too has gained a following from everyday purists. I was lucky enough to ask for the very last copy in store so I could continue my browsing as this handmade mecca was closing for the evening. All one thousand five hundred products that meet Manufactum’s standards are listed; each with their own description that goes into extensive factual detail, balancing on the line of irony when it comes to describing a toilet brush – of high quality no less. As traditional as the product it describes, the catalogue has even received a German language award from Verein Deutsche Sprache, a language preservation society, in honour of the informative, conventional copy that had me in awe, page after page.
Manufactum is resolutely anti-imitation and this is reflected in its pricing, which may be perceived as expensive. This is justified by the short lifespan of lesser quality products that Manufactum describes as falling into the ‘special offer’ fad. Discount offers may be scarce in this beautifully curated retail space, but special products are in abundance and are built to last - encouraging a ‘special relationship’ that consumers once had with everyday commodity. 
I restrained my purchases to a folding bone, wooden utensils and technical pens. I use restrained because Manufactum does the lifestyle sell like no other – once you enter the front door do not be surprised if you find yourself lusting over a 3200 copper bath. I like showers. At least I thought I did.
With nine locations in Germany that include their food market arm Brot & Butter and a growing online presence serving Austria, Switzerland as well as the UK, seek no further than Manufactum for functional, timeless wares - visit the online catalogue here.

Dienerstrasse 12
80331 Munich