The Brooklyn side of life

Why do all my walks in Brooklyn seem to end up in BAM? Because there is always something interesting going on there, that’s why; like that discussion with Alec Baldwin for the promotion of his memoir, Nevertheless. As expected, it was a funny, timely, thoughtful and honest account of his life. Thoroughly enjoyable, but I have yet to read the book.

April 9th, 2017

Christmas in the City

Enjoying an extended and-of-year break in New York City!

  • Extra days off from work – check.
  • Elbowing way through to Fifth Avenue Christmas windows – check.
  • Putting newfound navigating skills on ultra-packed streets to test – check.
  • Baking Greek Christmas cookies – check.
  • Go see the Rockettes – uh, maybe not this year. This type of variety show still has to grow on me.

A Radio City Stage Door Tour for an insider’s look at the Art Deco details, a walk into the – otherwise off-limits – Roxy Suite, a photo with a Rockette, cheesy as this may sound – check, check!

Starting point, a view over the Grand Foyer. Art Deco elements are omnipresent, floor to ceiling: the carpet we are walking on was designed by Ruth Reeves in 1932 to form a tile collage, each tile an abstract depiction of a musical instrument. Reeves had studied with French painter Fernand Léger in Paris in the early 1920s. Léger’s influence is evident in Reeves’ innovative design – so innovative that it looks every bit as modern today as at the time it was conceived, 85 years ago.Radio City’s interior designers Edward Durell Stone and Donald Deskey spared no expense nor effort to make the place as grand and stylish as possible. That is evident everywhere and restrooms are no exception. Here we are at the Ladies’ lounge, adjacent to the restroom on the third level, with a ”Panther” Mural of 1932, by Jenry Billings at its centre. Stylistically leaning towards Surrealism, still very much in place in an Art Deco environment. A ”Wild West” Mural, by Edward Buk Ulreich graces the Gentlemen’s lounge.The period leading to Christmas and New Year is the high season for the Rockettes who regularly go through their grueling routine of high kicks and tapping up to seven times a day and still do it with precision, impeccable style and – most difficult of all – a radiant smile (albeit a teary one at the end of the day). Here, we steal glimpses of one of their routines from the balcony.

Marveling at the vast, 6000-seat auditorium, where there are no pillars to obstruct the view, our guide informs us that, actually, it is what goes on under the stage that’s most impressive – the stage elevator system. This feat of engineering allows Radio City’s massive stage to be moved as necessary, in three parts, at the push of a button. Now, if that didn’t impress you just consider that, when assessed during the building’s massive renovation of 1999, the inspectors established that it was in such excellent condition, the elevator system was more or less the only feature that could be left untouched. It was built in 1932!

Interestingly, it attracted the Navy’s interest and the same principle was used in their aircraft carrier systems during World War II. It was thus that the stage elevator system of the Radio City Hall, became a national secret and even had its own government security agent guarding it throughout the War.
That staircase leads to Roxy’s Suite, where impresario Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel, the man who opened the venue and commissioned most of the features we enjoy today in Radio City Music Hall, used to receive his glamorous guests. Today, it is available to hire as a reception space. 

The Spirit of Dance, Aluminium Sculpture, 1932 – by William Zorach. This was one of three statues removed from the Music Hall just before its opening, because they were considered risqué. They were later reinstalled after several months, following strong criticism.The Phantasmagoria of the Theater by Louis Bouche, at the main lounge of Radio City Music Hall.

The crystal Christmas Tree stealing the limelight from the chandeliers and Ezra A. Winter’s epic mural that overlooks the grand foyer. ”The Fountain of Youth”, 1932, is one of the first commissions for the Music Hall and depicts a legend from the Oregon Indians about the beginning of time.

From the Radio City Music Hall, Happy Holidays to one and all!

Tour on November 26th, 2017

LV Loves America

And the feeling is mutual. Hat trunk in leather, once belonging to Marjorie Merriweather Post

Nicolas Ghesquière embroidered dress worn by Emma Stone at the 2017 British Film Institute Festival

Marc Jacobs feathers headpiece

With this last, highly instagrammable chapter, we end our walk through the history of a House whose name became synonymous with travel. Have you packed your wardrobe/hat/shoe steamer trunks yet? Me too! The question now is… where do we go next?


at the American Stock Exchange Building, through January 7th, 2018.

Admission is free

November 12th, 2017

LV & friends

Yayoi Kusama

Robert Wilson

The Music Room

Since the founding of the House of Louis Vuitton, exacting customers have been able to place unique special orders to fulfill their private purposes and dreams. There is no fantasy or extravagance that cannot be packed. Shower, trunk, altar trunk, bed trunk or cigar trunk – in every situation, Louis Vuitton matched the traveler’s ambition and unique needs with equal expertise. Musical instruments, fragile and delicate, are probably the most vulnerable items to pack. Whether a violin, a guitar or the conductor’s baton, cases were designed by the trunk-maker as protection and enhancement. 

Skateboard trunk

Cindy Sherman
Studio in a trunk


at the American Stock Exchange Building, through January 7th, 2018.

Admission is free

November 12th, 2017

L’eau de Voyage

Because no voyage is complete unless accompanied by fond memories.
And nothing evokes fond memories faster than an exquisite fragrance in an elegant glass bottle.
As delicate as our very existence. As enduring as the spirit of a true traveller.


Louis Vuitton perfume bottles designed by Camille Cless-Brothier in early 1920s.

L’Arbre pleureur, enameled crystal perfume bottle; design by Camille Cless-Brothier, 1922.


at the American Stock Exchange Building, through January 7th, 2018.

Admission is free

November 12th, 2017

The largest cathedral in the world is, of course, in New York. And it’s still growing

Adjacent to the creepiest, most unsettling children’s sculpture garden in the city sits the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; the whole 121.000 sq ft (11.240+ sq m) of it.

Originally envisioned in a Romanesque-Byzantine style it was later changed to a Gothic Revival design with massive granite arches that support the building – which has no steel or iron skeleton – and a dome so high it could fit the Statue of Liberty underneath, made of Guastavino tile and intended as a temporary covering. The dome was supposed to be removed when the transepts were built, but so far only half of the north transept is constructed. For this 120-year-old gigantic church is, as yet, unfinished. 

St. John the Divine is the cathedral church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and, as such, the largest cathedral in the world. By some accounts, it is also the world’s third largest church – or is it the fifth?

But, size and grandeur aside, the cathedral is an active house of worship, a concert hall with excellent acoustics and an exhibition space, year-round.

On the day we visited, it was hosting ”The Christa Project: Manifesting Divine Bodies” with works by contemporary artists ”exploring the language, symbolism, art, and ritual associated with the historic concept of the Christ image and the divine as manifested in every person—across all genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and abilities.

Edwina Sandys’ ”Christa”, the project’s centerpiece, was first displayed during the Holy Week of 1984, inevitably attracting mixed reactions: positive in general, there were also those who condemned it as a ‘blasphemy” for changing the symbol of Christ and ”sexualizing” it (by depicting it as a female figure). It seems this time the statue was welcomed unanimously, since it remained on display for several months.

Seeing Christa displayed prominently in this glorious setting it occurred to me that, had this been in an Orthodox church – let alone a cathedral – in my home country (Greece), there would have been riots, threats of excommunication – the full stereotypical drama!

The Poets’ Corner was created in 1984 in honour of American writers and literature. Located in the cathedral’s Arts Bay, it is modeled after a similar alcove for writers at Westminster Abbey in London.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Avenue, 112th Street

January 21st, 2017


The French touch

Recently, the Jewish Museum presented the first U.S. exhibition on the work of French designer and architect Pierre Chareau (1883–1950). On show were mainly furniture and lighting fixtures, as well as designs for Maison de Verre, the glass house completed in Paris in 1932, in collaboration with Dutch architect Bernard Bijvoet (1889-1979) and craftsman metalworker Louis Dalbet.

Chareau’s designs were complemented by pieces from his personal art collection, since both he and his wife Dollie were active collectors.

But I only had eyes for these sleek, stylish pieces of furniture and fixtures created in the 1920s, yet so modern they could have come right out of a Manhattan penthouse overlooking Central Park.

Take your pick:

La Religieuse (the nun) floor lamp, ca. 1923. Mahogany and alabaster with metalwork by Louis Dalbet.
Sofa, 1923. Rosewood with fabric upholstery.
Telephone table, ca. 1924. Walnut and patinated iron. La Petite Religieuse (the little nun), table lamp ca. 1924. Walnut, alabaster and patinated iron, metalwork by Louis Dalbet.
La Religieuse (the nun) floor lamp, ca. 1923. Mahogany and alabaster with metalwork by Louis Dalbet.
Coat and hat rack designed for La Maison de Verre ca. 1931. – Metalwork by Louis Dalbet. Stool, ca. 1923. Mahogany and mahogany-veneered wood. – Bookcase with swivelling table, ca. 1930. Walnut and black patinated iron. – Ceiling lamp, ca. 1923. Patinated brass and alabaster.
From ”The grand salon de la Maison de Verre”. Corbeille (basket) sofa, 1923. Wood and velours, with tapestry upholstery by Jean Lurçat. – Telephone fan table, ca. 1924. Wood. – High backed chauffeuse (fireside armchair), ca. 1925.

Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design exhibition ran between November 2016 – March 2017. You can read and browse through more photos on The Jewish Museum website.

January 8th, 2017

50 UN Plaza

An elegant addition to the City’s skyline by Foster + Partners; an architecture and design practice responsible for a number of innovative and groundbreaking structures around the world, such as the Gherkin and the Millennium Bridge in London or the marvelous Reichstag Dome in Berlin – not to mention Spaceport America in New Mexico or the Lunar Habitation on The Moon (albeit in a 3D printed version only; for now)!

January 6th, 2017

Hammock time

New Yorkers love their group hammocking and won’t let anything get in their way – not even such minor inconveniences as a December evening chill!

Hammocks under glowing arches, aka Flatiron Sky-line, was the winning proposal for the annual Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition, a joint initiative by Van Alen Institute and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership.

Designed by LOT, an architectural and design firm based in New York City and Greece, it was installed at the foot of the Flatiron building, mirroring its shape and offering brief, swinging naps to weary New Yorkers throughout the end-of-year holiday season.

December 4th, 2016