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A Higher Standard
Following his success with the Standard in West Hollywood, André Balazs has staged a sequel in L.A.'s long-overlooked downtown. The hotelier bought the Superior Oil headquarters, a 12-story Modernist landmark, and opened it this summer as the Downtown L.A. Standard. The 207 guest rooms are spare yet spacious, with oversized platform beds and, in some bathrooms, an inexplicable giant rubber foot. But it's the rooftop pool bar that has been luring half the city--a mojito-mad crowd assembles to gawk at the skyscrapers and lounge on vibrating water beds. Those pin-striped oil-company execs must be turning in their graves. downtown l.a. standard, 550 S. Flower St., Los Angeles; 213/892-8080; www.standardhotel.com; doubles from $95.
--Peter Jon Lindberg
Travel Diary: Hogan's Hero
Who: Emanuele Della Valle, the creative force behind Hogan, which makes shoes and bags with travel in mind. "I'm on the road more than Jimi Hendrix ever was." Favorite destinations: "Road trips to places such as Dodge City, Kansas. I also love wilderness and escape like Loch Lomond in Scotland." Current obsessions: Motorcycles and surfing. "I want our next shoe to be like an aquasock, sculpted around the foot." Latest creation: The Script Bag, an ideal carry-on, originally designed for Robert De Niro, who complained that nothing could accommodate all his junk. The look: Two bags in one--a slim laptop container fits inside a giant canvas-and-leather holdall with special slots for a cell phone, keys, and pens. $1,400; 888/604-6426.
On the Map: Norwegian Hood
A 10-minute walk from Oslo's center, Grünerlökka is a formerly working-class neighborhood on the Akerselva River that was once home to Edvard Munch--who wouldn't recognize the place today. The current standouts:
Where to Eat and Drink
Coma 16 Helgensens Gate; 47-22/353-222; dinner for two $104. Once you finish ogling the wood-and-glass interiors, try chef Erik Schonsee's signature duck, kvakk-kvakk.
Tea Lounge 33B Thorvald Meyers Gate; 47-22/370-705. The mosaic columns suggest exploding pixels, yet you'll feel nothing but calm when you sample a Marrakesh de Cuba (rum-infused mint tea).
Where to Shop
3 electronic meltdown of modern Norwegian jazz.
Brudd Kunsthåndverkere 42 Markveien; 47-22/382-398. A cooperative of 17 innovative local artists (glassmakers, jewelry designers, potters) and one crafty Swede.
Far & Sønn Brukt Og Antikkmarked 3 Sanner Gate; 47-22/350-536. Scandinavian antiques: a leather-bound edition of Ibsen, or an Eero Saarinen living room set. Ove Harder Finseth 3 Markveien; 47-22/377-620. Exuberantly quirky gowns and suits with a modern-Viking look.
Inn of the Month: Canadian Beauty
Much of the appeal of Hastings House on British Columbia's Salt Spring Island lies in its remote location. The 25-acre retreat can be reached via seaplane from Seattle (11/2 hours) or Vancouver (20 minutes), or, better yet, by private yacht. The inn's seven buildings include the new Churchill Cottage, with harbor views, and the Manor House, a replica of an 11th-century English estate. In the dining room, chef Marcel Kauer prepares five-course dinners--halibut ceviche, ahi tuna brochette on ginger risotto--with herbs from the garden. A recently added spa tempts guests with Declor facials, but leave time for mountain biking, bird-watching, or a moonlit kayak expedition. Hastings House, 160 Upper Ganges Rd., Salt Spring Island; 800/661-9255 or 250/537-2362; http://www.hastingshouse.com; doubles from $280, including breakfast.
--Susan G. Hauser
Shopping: Head of the Class
Dansk flatware and the PalmPilot stylus are examples of "the possible outcomes of a RISD education," says Matthew Bird, director of a new store that sells products by Rhode Island School of Design alumni and faculty. Bird shows works by unknown and established artists, and supplies a bio with each purchase, whether it's a bracelet by Leanne Herreid or a Nicole Miller travel umbrella. RISD Works, 10 Westminster St., Providence, R.I.; 401/277-4949; www.risdworks.com.
Food News: Check, Mates
In a deliciously postmodern reversal of fortune, London has turned into a colonial outpost for Australian restaurateurs. The gifted chef David Thompson--formerly of Sydney's Darley Street Thai--has moved his wok, smoke, and barrels of fish sauce to Nahm (Halkin Hotel, 5-6 Halkin St.; 44-207/333-1234; dinner for two $140), where his blazingly authentic curries and his signature salmon, watermelon, and betel leaf packages have earned him a Michelin star (the first ever for a Thai restaurant in Europe). Tetsuya Wakuda is ferrying between his Sydney temple Tetsuya and MjU (Millennium Knightsbridge, 17 Sloane St.; 44-207/201-6330; dinner for two $126) to put his delicate Franco-Japanese touches on dishes like lobster mousse with wasabi and wakame (seaweed) jelly. Meanwhile, Will Ricker, the extravagant Melburnian behind several East London hot spots, including Cicada and Great Eastern Dining Rooms, has turned E&O (14 Blenheim Crescent; 44-207/229-5454; dinner for two $78) into the new Ivy. Expect to see Kate Moss, Richard Branson, and (of course) fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman nibbling on the succulent pumpkin and lychee curry.
--Anya von Bremzen
At Home in Bangkok
Baan restaurants (in private houses) are a Bangkok institution. Feast on these three additions to the culinary secret society. Le Lys 75/2 Soi 3 Lang Suan; 66-2/652-2401; dinner for two $15. With a pátanque court out back and curry inside, the French-Thai owners bridge two worlds. Best bite: Grilled stuffed squid with tamarind sauce.
Baan Khanitha 49 Ruam Rudee Soi; 66-2/253-4638; dinner for two $34. A gallery-restaurant near the U.S. Embassy, popular with diplomats and expats alike. Best bite: Cottonfish grilled in a banana leaf.
Le Dalat Indochine 14 Sukhumvit Soi 23; 66-2/661-7967; dinner for two $25. Madame Hoa-Ly's rendition of colonial Hanoi, off busy Sukhumvit Road. Best bite: Fried Hué-style crabmeat spring rolls.
Breakfast in bed is making a comeback at hotels willing to indulge their guests' Joan Crawford fantasies (you bring the satin bed jacket). Just order from the room-service menu or request the most outrageous breakfast treats you can dream up, dahling.
The Carlyle 35 E. 76th St., New York; 800/227-5737 or 212/570-7119; breakfast for two $44. Ask for "bed service" and the staff sets up a white wicker folding tray in your skyline suite.Scrambled duck eggs and Scottish haddock (the Gaelic breakfast of champions) and a bagpipe wake-up call.
Soneva Gili Resort & Spa Lankanfushi Island, Maldives; 800/525-4800; breakfast for two $34. A kitchen boat docks alongside your over-water villa and cooks a hot breakfast to order.Cristal champagne, mangosteen, and snorkeling masks.
Hotel Bel-Air 701 Stone Canyon Rd., Los Angeles; 800/648-4097 or 310/472-1211; breakfast for two $35. A wicker tray with pink and white linens arrives at your poolside bungalow (we love No. 198).Signature lemon soufflé pancakes stacked like a birthday cake, with candles and raspberry syrup on top.
Packing: Ready to Roll
Not in the mood to pack?No need. Puma has done it for you with 96 hours, a collection for stylish men. In a compact aluminum roll-aboard are 24 pieces of clothing and two pairs of shoes--everything the design team at Puma has deemed necessary for a four-day trip. Made from crease-free fabrics, the items can be mixed and matched, including pants, shorts, khakis, shirts, sweaters, a blazer, and an overcoat. Once you order the collection, it's guaranteed to arrive within--no surprise--96 hours. 800/662-7862 or www.puma.com for stores; from $3,800.
Design: Great Dane
In Arne Jacobsen's take on Modernism, body-cupping chairs were called Egg and Swan, and steel cake servers took the shape of boomerangs. This year, the centennial of his birth, the Danish designer is the subject of retrospectives in New York City and Denmark. From candlesticks to ice cream kiosks to town halls, New York's Scandinavia House shows the range of his puckish sensibility (Sept. 27-Nov. 9; 58 Park Ave.; 212/879-9779). In Denmark, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (through Jan. 12; 45/4919-0719; www.louisiana.dk), just north of Copenhagen, is packed with more than 1,000 of his creations. And Copenhagen's Radisson SAS Royal Hotel, a high-rise he designed in 1960, is letting guests tour room No. 606--a Jacobsen original down to the teal-colored upholstery. If you're looking for souvenirs, www.arne-jacobsen.com lists Danish manufacturers now reviving his housewares--Georg Jensen just brought back the boomerang.
Architecture: Urban Planning
Where can you get a glimpse of Renzo Piano's sleek new headquarters for the New York Times, Norman Foster's bullet-shaped Swiss Re tower in London, and a bold group of new villas in Beijing, known as the Great Wall Commune?At Venice's 8th International Architecture Exhibition, "Next," curated by British critic Deyan Sudjic, a panoramic survey of the as-yet-to-be-built by the world's leading architects. More than 100 projects are on view at the Arsenale, adapted for the exhibition by the minimalist architect John Pawson (best known, perhaps, for his streamlined Calvin Klein stores). Separate sections are devoted to museums, skyscrapers, urban plans, workplaces, domestic design, and transportation.
Dozens of countries will also display models and plans in their permanent national pavilions at the Giardini di Castello, on Venice's eastern edge. Unlike the world's-fair pavilions, these were built to last. The result is a strangely anachronistic panoply of national self-images. The Russian pavilion, an ornate czarist concoction, pre-dates the Bolshevik Revolution, but for years it housed art exhibitions from the Soviet Union and now does the same for the Russian Republic. Austrian Secessionist architect Josef Hoffmann conceived of his country's gemlike exhibition space, while Alvar Aalto created the Finnish pavilion, and de Stijl pioneer Gerrit Thomas Rietveld designed the Dutch one. U.S. exhibitions are housed in a 1930's neo-Palladian brick villa that has been described as "halfway between Monticello and Howard Johnson." This year's show focuses on the multitude of proposals put forth to replace the World Trade Center (Sept. 8-Nov. 3).
--Michael Z. Wise
Real Estate: Newport New
For golfers who dream of never leaving the course, there's the Clubhouse, opening next spring at Carnegie Abbey, a private club near Newport, Rhode Island. Overlooking the 18th hole of a golf course designed by Scotsman Donald Steel, the three-story Adirondack-inspired building with screened porches and fieldstone fireplaces has 22 furnished apartments, ranging from $700,000 to $3 million (plus a $140,000 refundable deposit and $7,500 annual membership dues). A yacht designer created varnished surfaces with clever use of space inside the one- and two-bedroom residences, which are named after America's Cup challengers. In addition to the 18-hole course, members are granted access to yachting, tennis, and equestrian centers, as well as a 5,000-square-foot European-style spa. Carnegie Abbey 401/682-6000; www.carnegieabbeyclub.com.
Originally developed for the Marines, the compact paratrooper tactical mountain bike is the ultimate piece of travel gear for civilians. The green folding machine collapses in two quick, tool-free steps--and can practically fit into your suitcase; $650. 800/736-5348 or www.militarybikes.com.
First Look: Angel Art
Though a host of A- and B-list stars helped finance it, Los Angeles's latest landmark has nothing to do with celebrity, at least not of the celluloid variety. On September 2, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony dedicates the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, around the corner from Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall. Pritzker Prize-winning Spanish architect Rafael Moneo designed the monumental building with sharp geometric lines and a solid skin of honey-colored concrete. The soaring 2,500-seat interior is a spare, modern take on a Mission church, with panes of translucent alabaster in place of stained-glass windows. Adjoining the church are a 156-foot campanile, a 21/2-acre plaza, and a conference center. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels 555 West Temple St., Los Angeles; 213/680-5200.
Fitness: Yogi Air
To help passengers relax and blow off steam, JetBlue Airways has teamed up with Crunch, the innovative gym chain. Yoga cards in the seat-back pockets of the airline's planes illustrate simple positions such as Uttita Hastasana (an overhead arm stretch) and Bidalasana (a forward spinal bend). And in the JetBlue terminal at JFK airport, in New York, there are punching bags printed with one-liners ("Miss your flight?"). Next stop: travelers landing in cities where a Crunch gym is located can show their boarding pass and get a day's workout.
Exhibitions from Poland, with Love
"Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland," opening this month at the Milwaukee Art Museum, demonstrates that Poland was once a cosmopolitan cultural crossroads, blessed with royal patronage and enriched by Italian, Netherlandish, and French influences. From Cracow's Princes Czartoryski Museum comes Leonardo's Lady with an Ermine, bought by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski in Italy and incorporated into his family's collection in the 1800's. It rivals the Mona Lisa in perfection and is the show's most haunting image. But there are other masterpieces, too, drawn from both public and private collections: Bernardo Bellotto's spacious views of 18th-century Warsaw and Hans Memling's Last Judgment, an elaborate depiction of smiting angels, benevolent saints, and naked souls. Of the 77 works on view, from the Renaissance through the early 20th century, a number were stolen or displaced during World War II and only recently recovered. Sept. 13-Nov. 24.
Art News: Turner's Royal Flush
England's greatest landscape painter, the 19th-century artist J.M.W. Turner, shuttled restlessly among his patrons' estates, sketching at each stop. At Petworth House, the Earl of Egremont's 17th-century mansion 50 miles southwest of London, he produced nearly 120 watercolors and dozens of oil paintings (the earl bought at least 20 canvases). Petworth now has the largest Turner collection outside London. The National Trust recently restored parts of the house, including the library where the artist worked (the easel purported to have been his is still there) and a limewood-paneled room (carved by Grinling Gibbons, a royal favorite) hung with his Petworth landscapes. Through September 29, Tate Britain is supplementing the permanent displays with 70 works Turner created on-site, many of which depict rooms crowded with the kindly earl's other houseguests. Petworth house, West Sussex; 44-1798/342-207; www.turneratpetworth.com.
The Bee's Knees
The appetite for Richard Avedon's photographs doesn't abate. This exhibition claims to be "a vast collective portrait of America in the second half of the 20th century." Believe it: Buster Keaton, Truman Capote, Alger Hiss, Ike, Willem de Kooning, Warhol and his superstars, the Chicago Seven, Vietnam War generals, grizzled drifters, and Avedon's own father are all in this glorious gallery of the famous, the infamous, and the anonymous. "Richard Avedon: Portraits," Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Sept. 26-Jan. 5. ¥ "Pierre Bonnard: Early & Late" takes a fresh look at the French master's diverse work. The more than 130 paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and decorative screens make clear that this artist, often dismissed as bourgeois, was a radical innovator who circumvented Cubism to embrace color. Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; Sept. 22-Jan. 19.
Performance: Heavenly Creatures
French composer Olivier Messiaen's masterwork, Saint François d'Assise, had its premiere in Paris in 1983 but has been staged only three times since, and always in Europe. Now, thanks to the adventurous San Francisco Opera, Messiaen's modern retelling of the life of the early-13th-century monk receives its American debut. Intensely mystical, yet dazzlingly sensuous, the complex score gives full expression to Saint Francis's spiritual journey, including a re-creation of his sermon to the birds--with birdsong. The production, in eight tableaux, involves the largest number of performers in the company's history: a 100-member orchestra and a chorus of 120, with bass-baritone Willard White in the title role. Soprano Laura Aikin sings the radiant Angel's music. Six performances, Sept. 27-Oct. 17; 415/864-3330.
--Mario R. Mercado