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"The Rubber Duck" Makes U.S. Debut in Pittsburgh

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Move over penguins, there’s a new bird in Steel Town.

Currently floating down the Allegheny River is a 40-foot-tall (and 30-foot-wide) inflatable yellow duck. An art installation that simply goes by “The Rubber Duck,” created by Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman.

Since its launch in 2007, the giant duck has swum the shores of Amsterdam, Belgium, Osaka, Sydney, São Paulo and most recently, Hong Kong.

The international sensation has debuted stateside as part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. The festival is a four-week long series of dance, music, theater, performance and visual arts, presented by international artists making their U.S. debuts.

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Oscar de la Renta Designs Bath Amenities for Peninsula Hotels

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We’ve discovered a new—and very fabulous—set of bath amenities to pilfer. This fall, Peninsula Hotels will introduce a custom collection of soaps, shampoos, and lotions conceived by Oscar de la Renta into hotel guestrooms worldwide. The scent—a citrus, aromatic floral musk, with notes of mandarin, bergamot, freesia, and cedar—was developed with Firmenich, while the amenity line was produced by Gilchrist & Soames. T+L talked travel with Mr. De la Renta at the Peninsula New York’s 25thanniversary gala.

Q: Tell us about the amenity line. Why now, and why Peninsula?

A: I’ve been approached several times to do a product line for a hotel, but when this project came about, I was unbelievably intrigued. I have fond memories of the Peninsula Hong Kong and my experience there, taking the tram to the top of The Peak, and eating at the floating restaurants in Aberdeen. They kept pouring, pouring on the food!

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Tips for Antiquing from Interior Designer Stephen Sills

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Anna Wintour. Vera Wang. Tina Turner. The client list of interior designer Stephen Sills reads like a who’s who of the style world. Since the 1980’s, Sills—one of Elle Décor’s Top 25 Designers—has decorated everything from a penthouse on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue to a modern mountain retreat in Aspen. (Back in the day, he also worked on hotels, including London’s Connaught Hotel and the St. Regis in New York.) As for his own Bedford, New York country house? Karl Lagerfeld has called it the “chicest house in America.” His latest book, Stephen Sills: Decoration (Rizzoli), which celebrates 16 design projects, hits shelves this month. Here, Sills shares some inspiration, advice on navigating antiques markets, and more.

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“Archtober” Celebrates Design and Architecture in New York City

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In New York City, incredible feats of architecture and design are all around us (like the New Museum, above)…if only we’d look up from our cell phones to notice while walking down the street.

Well, New Yorkers now have reason to stop and look around, as this week ushers in the beginning of Archtober, a month-long, citywide celebration of architecture and design organized by the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY) and the Center for Architecture.

Now in its third year, Archtober offers over 150 curated programs, ranging from exhibits and walking tours to panels and workshops, and draws some of the biggest names in the industry—David Rockwell, MoMa’s Paola Antonelli, Jonathan Adler, Todd Williams and Billie Tsien, and more.

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Nancy Novogrod, Editor-in-Chief, on Seeing the World Through T+L

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Twenty years ago last Friday I arrived at Travel + Leisure. I had been the editor in chief of House & Garden; a book editor at Clarkson Potter; and, fresh out of college, an assistant and then a reader in the fiction department of The New Yorker. I thought of myself as reasonably well traveled, though outside of what I’d read and edited, the closest I had come to South America was Mexico and the Caribbean, and to Asia, Hawaii. The world I entered in the summer of 1993 extended far beyond these boundaries to places that remain tagged in my memory for qualities that were then entirely new to me. My mental notes from a trip to Hong Kong in the fall of that year still remain: East-meets-West glamour; bamboo scaffolding; crossing Victoria Harbour on the Star Ferry. From Auckland, New Zealand: green-lipped mussels for lunch on Queen Street; Waiheke Island sheep; grass; New Age shops. And so on, from Botswana (sandstorm; hippos) to Japan (textiles; ceramics; lacquerware), and from Buenos Aires to Tromsø in Norway’s Arctic Circle.

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Greek-American Film, "Hello Anatolia," Premieres in New York City

When Greek-American filmmaker Chrysovalantis Stamelos took his first trip to Turkey in 2008, he was immediately besotted with Istanbul’s minarets, markets and countless layers of multicultural history. “I went knowing a lot about the Greek community’s past there,” Stamelos admitted, referring to grisly incidents like The Great Fire of Smyrna (present-day Izmir, a lively port city on the western peninsula of Anatolia), a monstrous blaze that prompted the systematic evacuation of Greek residents, circa 1922. “But it felt like home to me,” he continued, adding that he eventually moved from New York City to Izmir—permanently—approximately three years ago.

“Hello Anatolia,” Stamelos’s latest documentary, co-produced with Paras Chaudhari (the two launched their Queens-based production company, Crescent Street Films, in 2005) shadows Stamelos as he rediscovers the birthplace of his ancestors. “I couldn’t shake off the stories I grew up with…of old Smyrna and Asia Minor,” Stamelos recalled. Equal parts vibrant travelogue and poignant self-discovery, the film is a thoughtful blend of interviews, neighborhood exploration and artistic immersion.

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New York City's "Falls for Dance" Festival Opens

Ten years ago, New York City Center came up with an inspired idea: invite dance companies—ballet, modern, contemporary—and popular and national troupes from throughout the United States and around the globe; present sampler programs (four works by four companies each night); and offer all tickets at a rock-bottom price: $15. Ideal for the hard-core dance fan or the curious first-timer. The Fall for Dance Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary now through October 5 with performances by 24 international companies, Royal Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Bodytraffic, among them, and three commissions from up-and coming choreographers: Annabelle López Ochoa, Justin Peck, and Liam Scarlet.

The dance cavalcade continues at City Center with the New York premiere of British choreographer-iconoclast Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, set in turn-of-the 19th century and advancing to the modern day, with a gamekeeper instead of prince to woo Princess Aurora (October 23-November 3).

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Nico Mulhy's Fall 2013 Music Tip Sheet

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The hot ticket at New York’s Metropolitan Opera is Two Boys (Oct. 21–Nov. 14), in which Internet duplicity leads to murder. The anticipation is no surprise, considering the composer, wunderkind Nico Muhly. T+L asked the 32-year-old New Yorker, who has worked with everyone from Philip Glass to Björk, about the music-world events he’s looking forward to most.

London: “Australian composer Ben Frost has written a stunning music theater piece, The Wasp Factory, based on Iain Banks’s violent novel. Frost is directing it himself at the Royal Opera House (Oct. 2–8). Also, the English National Opera is reviving Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch’s insanely genius production of Glass’s Satyagraha (Nov. 20–Dec. 8).”

U.S./Europe: “The Icelandic band Sigur Rós is touring this fall (Sept. 14–Nov. 28). I love their live shows, a poetic mix of high- and low-tech unique to them.”

New York City: “I’m thrilled that Benjamin Britten’s opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be running at the Met at the same time as Two Boys (Oct. 11–31), so I can see it on my nights off.”

Photo courtesy of Nico Muhly

Anna Nicole Opera Premieres in New York City

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The New York City Opera and Brooklyn Academy of Music present the highly anticipated American premiere of the opera Anna Nicole now through September 28.  The work about the one-time Playboy Playmate, femme fatale, and reality television personality Anna Nicole Smith is by English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and librettist Richard Thomas and was first produced at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2011. American soprano Sarah Joy Miller takes on the title character and speaks with T+L about the opportunity and the challenge.

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Preserving the Charm of Beijing's Hutongs

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In and around the Gulou district of China’s development-hungry capital, an enclave of hutongs—alleys formed by walls of traditional courtyard residences—has managed to dodge the wrecking ball. Determined to preserve the charm (and avoid the fate of hutongs in nearby Nanluoguxiang, now overrun with souvenir shops), entrepreneurs have moved deeper into these narrow streets. French-owned Wuhao showcases one-off furniture and accessories by emerging talents. At Good Design Institute, everyday objects get a twist, such as lampshades made of bed slats. Serk stocks carbon-fiber bikes—and doubles as a bar serving Belgian beer. For a more local tipple, head to Mai (40 Beiluoguxiang, Dongcheng), known for its craft cocktails.

Photo courtesy of Serk

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