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A New Kyoto Hotel, Complete With Its Own Forest
The Aman hotel group has long upheld the Japanese architectural principle that buildings should be in harmony with their natural environments, but that thinking is especially evident at its latest location — a secluded eight-acre garden-within-a-forest at the base of Kyoto’s Mount Hidari Daimonji. “It’s all about the grounds,” said the designer, Justin Hill, which are accessed via an ancient copper gate and include a large main lawn, naturally occurring streams and moss-covered stone walkways surrounded by dense plots of Japanese maple and cedar trees. They encompass 11 slatted stained-cedar pavilions housing 24 rooms and two two-bedroom suites between them. Inside, the structures allude to a classic ryokan, with tatami mats, orb-shaped lanterns, hinoki tubs and tokonoma, or wall niches, here used to display local pottery. The hotel restaurant serves kaiseki, seasonal multicourse meals, and guests can experience other local customs by soaking in the open-air onsen or venturing past the garden’s edge for meditative hikes known as shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. aman.com
Shoes to Get You Through Holiday-Party Season
In my experience, the key to juggling end-of-year obligations — from office parties to gatherings with friends — is wearing something you’ll be comfortable in as you rush from one thing to the next. And you won’t have to compromise on style if you find a good evening slipper, be it a flat mule or a pair of furlanes. The Row makes a beautiful soft suede version accented with mismatched gems, while the London-based label Le Monde Beryl — a line of Venetian gondolier-inspired slippers founded in 2015 — offers an array of different colors and styles; my favorite is the velvet ankle-strap shoe, which comes in black, blush pink and brick red. For a lower-priced option, check out Drogheria Crivellini, an Italian heritage label that was founded in the 1950s (I’m a fan of the Mary Jane style) or the California-based brand Birdies, whose jewel-toned slip-ons would dress up any black-heavy winter wardrobe.
Vadim Otto Ursus, the 27-year-old chef behind the newly opened restaurant Otto in Berlin, has an impressive resume that includes a stint at the Michelin-starred Maaemo in Oslo and Noma Mexico in Tulum. But what I find the most compelling about his background is that he grew up in an artists’ squat, surrounded by creatives and activists (the building still exists on the German capital’s now stylish Auguststrasse). Cooking was an adventure and about community, which explains why eating at Otto, his first restaurant — an intimate space with 16 seats and a tiny bar situated in the buzzy neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg — feels like being at the best kind of Berlin house party. Otto already has a growing crowd of regulars, including Ursus’s mother, the conceptual artist Meggie Schneider, who often brings over jars of pickles and bouquets of wildflowers from the German countryside. The à la carte menu is concise and exceptional, especially the hand-caught barbecued smoky trout, served with a salad of foraged greens and herbs, and the dessert, raw-milk ice cream served with pickled elderberries and an oil made from the pits of plums. otto-berlin.net.
Home Goods That Double as Art
For me, decorating a space means oscillating between my desired aesthetic and the bitter reality of its cost — something I’m learning over and over again as I attempt to furnish my new Brooklyn apartment with special yet functional pieces that come without the astronomical prices set by most design galleries. Enter Psultan: a new online home-goods store created by the Paris-based architect Jean-Philippe Sanfourche that offers affordably produced, one-of-a-kind objects finished with an artistic edge. Out now, the debut collection consists of psychedelic ceramic stools handmade by craftsmen on the Italian Amalfi Coast; the terra-cotta seats (originally developed for the fall 2015 Celine runway show) were molded on a traditional pottery wheel in five distinct shapes and then painted with an experimental combination of glazes and oxides in colors including acid green, vibrant amber and marbled cerulean. “Our challenge is to create beautiful and soulful objects using serial production,” Sanfourche told me. “We didn’t want to make something too precious.” From about $1,079, psultan.world.
I recently met Hiroshi Imamura, one of the co-founders of the Japanese beauty brand UZ, at its New York flagship on Howard Street. Imamura (whom some might know as the co-founder of Flowfushi, which created a best-selling mascara in Japan in 2011) likes to break the beauty industry’s rules, making products that didn’t otherwise exist, or not in the way you expect, blending traditional Japanese craftsmanship with the latest technology. Just last month, UZ launched six super-moisturizing lip glosses packed with prebiotics and Endmineral, an ingredient meant to enhance blood flow to your lips. My favorite products, though, are UZ’s eyeliners — sold with brushes handmade in the Kumano and Nara regions (both centers of the traditional Japanese craft of brush-making) — which come in an array of shocking colors, but also in seven different shades of black. They’re all subtly different, with hints of red, blue or green. I love to layer UZ’s Pitch Black under the slightly shimmery Platinum Black to create the perfect wingtip. From $16, uz.team.
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