This is a guest post from my friend, Monica Zugan in Geneva. And what perfect timing. Today is Swiss National Day!
Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in the world. The most expensive Mac Donalds is indeed in Geneva! Spring/Summer is the best time to visit and here are some great things to do:
The lake is great in spring and summer. You can rent bicycles for free (max 4 hrs) in several locations in the city (e.g Terrassiere, a container near Mont Blanc bridge, near the train station) and then ride along the lake.
The Jet D’Eau Fountain on Lake Geneva
Jardin Botanique and Carrousel des Fables
The most beautiful Merry-Go-Round that I have ever seen, Le Carrousel des Fables, is found in the Jardin Botanique (Botanical Gardens) – with an amazing view of the lake and mountains (including Mont Blanc).The creatures that carry the children round and round on the Carrousel des Fables are fashioned after the fables in the timeless poems of Jean de La Fontaine. Copyrart, a non-profit organization – funded largely by the canton of Geneva and providing training for the unemployed – built the carousel. The merry-go-round is the result of the collaboration between artists and artisans. Together, they gave this cheerful animals made of metal and wood shape and form.
Free Admission to the Botanical Garden (yes, some things are free)- the carousel ride is 4 ch or 3 rides for 10 ch.
Carrousel des Fables
Also, Genève Plage is a great spot not to be missed. It’s the beach of Geneva. There is a big pool, a huge slide, a pool for children, all on the lake. In this space of 42,000 m2 created in 1933 in the Eaux-Vives area, you will find an Olympic size pool, heated and sheltered from the wind, a vast wading pool, a large diving platform, a giant toboggan 9 meters high, basketball and volleyball courts, petanque, playgrounds, a giant chessboard, a private landing stage for water-skiing, a windsurfing base, a restaurant and snack bar with terrace and a boutique. This oasis, set at the entrance of the Rade, with the Jura mountains in the background, its flower beds and lawns, is one of Geneva’s prime summer centres for leisure and relaxation.Entrance fee is 7ch for adults, 3.50ch for kids, free under 6 yrs.
On the lake of Genève Plage
Water activities at Genève Plage
Nearby there is the Baby Plage. It’s a Tarzan-inspired tree park with tyres to swing from right on the lake. Kids love it.
Fêtes de Genève
The Fêtes de Genève is happening right now -the pre-fêtes de Genève started on 19 July and the whole thing runs to 12 August. This is the highlight of the summer and draws over 2 million visitors annually. The party boogies on along the shores of Lake Geneva with carnival rides, concerts, food stalls, variety shows and parades. The evenings are capped off with a fireworks show sponsored by a different firework company each night. The finale of the festival is the sensational Techno Parade where each float is a rave on wheels complete with costumed dancers and pumping beats that always get the crowd going.
Fêtes de Genève
Fireworks of the Fêtes de Genève
What handmade sweetness from Argentinian designer Adriana Torres and her brand Miga de Pan. A collection of children’s and baby toys, decor accessories – unique poufs and cushions, luxurious rugs and blankets and original dolls. Every Miga de Pan accessory is hand made according to traditional handwork techniques (crochet and embroidery), using natural materials. The crochet and hand embroidery is done in Buenos Aires by a group of women trained by herself. Check out all the whimsical things on her website, or if you want a full catalogue and to order directly, email: email@example.com.
We returned last week from a two-week epic road trip that took us to Pennsylvania, Cincinnati and all the way to Chicago and back! And this was one of the highlights: visiting the most celebrated Frank Lloyd Wright house, Fallingwater. The girls loved wandering the grounds, playing on the terrace and looking at the house. Kids under 6 are not allowed in the actual house as all the artwork and original furnishings and books are all intact, but I did go in a for a minute while they were being watched outside. And you can see into a lot of it from the outside anyway and catch glimpses of the quality art on display such as: original works by Diego Rivera, Pablo Picasso, pre-Columbian statues etc. Fallingwater was built as a mountain retreat for Liliane and Edgar J. Kaufmann of the famous Pittsburgh retail store and their son Edgar J. Kaufmann jnr (his preference for lower case letters), who opened it to the public in 1964 after entrusting it to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
What I found most interesting about the history of this house is that Wright’s commission to design Fallingwater jump-started his flagging career. The house became famous after being featured on the cover of TIME magazine in 1938. Wright was 72 when Fallingwater was completed, and many expected him to head into retirement. However, his renewed fame brought him a flurry of commissions; more than half of the four hundred structures he designed were built after Fallingwater and Wright worked right up until his death at age 91. It’s never too late! For more interesting information on the house and life there, check out this article on Unique Places blog.
Having fun on the terrace…and making sure we didn’t have FallingSolène on our hands!
View from the terrace
The natural pool of the adjoining guesthouse
These exquisite hand embroidered cushions by Charlene Mullen have me dreaming. I am especially coveting the cityscapes and the sweet cat cushion with baby kitty to go with it for the the kids. Drawing on a wide range of inspiration such as Swiss paper cuts, Stig Lindberg’s ceramics, tribal costumes, Victorian christening gowns and prison tattoos, each graphic piece is beautifully crafted with extraordinary attention to detail. She also does lampshades and throws. Available on her website or if you are in London, from: Liberty, Sigmar and Linley. Paris: Le Bon Marche. The US: Scoop.
I would love to witness this amazing festival in Taiwan one day. The Sky Lantern festival – Pingxi, Taiwan has a long history. Up high in the mountains, people used to release the sky lanterns hundreds of years ago to let their families know they were safe. These days, during Chinese New Year, millions of people head up to Pingxi to release lanterns full of dreams for the New Year. They write words of peace, happiness and love and let them drift away and around the world. The beautiful video below shows you part of the process.
Every year I excitedly await the opening of the Summer Pavilion, a programme involving a sequence of world-class architects transforming the space outside the Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens into a temporary Pavilion. This year’s efforts are by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei. It is the first time the Pavilion has been partly underground and it is a cool, contemplative space dotted with slightly mushroom-shaped cork stools. The design really invites you to plant yourself, linger, and look out and around – as opposed to just admiring the exterior. Our daughter, like all the children there, felt an irresistible urge to turn over the cork stools, line them up and otherwise personalise the space. The architects are interviewed here.
I have been eyeing these canvas portraits for a while and didn’t realize you can make your own fairly easily. These are actually transferred onto the canvas and the paper is rubbed off. I just love the effect of the imperfections. The full tutorial can be found on the lovely blog, A Beautiful Mess.
This insane waterfall restaurant at Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort has me dreaming: another place we would love to take the girls! Visitors can enjoy lunch served on bamboo dining tables while the crystalline running water flows under their feet and then they can lounge and play in the waterfall. In fact, this whole resort has me dreaming. This place looks exquisite, with loads of things to do for the kids like watching the Philippine Experience Show which showcases the culture, from its ethnic diversity to its colonial legacy. Or you can paddle a native bamboo raft on the still waters of the lake, explore the grounds, watch for the 95 recorded resident bird species, take a dip at the pool or tour the rural village in a colorful jeepney and observe how coconut is harvested. Villa Escudero is right near San Pablo which is about two hours from Manila.
Rafting on Lake Labasin
Villa Escudero House and Garden
We went strawberry picking last week for the very first time! It was at lovely organic farm of the sweet name, Golden Earthworm in Riverhead, which is about 2 hours drive from Manhattan. Not only do the friendly people who run the farm grow strawberries, but a plethora of other wonderful organic crops as well. And you can buy produce right from their little shop. And lucky we squeezed that in because the season was cut short this year by a few weeks. We hung out in the Riverhead area for the rest of the day and when we got home, we ate strawberries for a late supper and then I made jam from the leftovers – another first for me. And now the girls keep asking for more jam…
Oona proudly holding her strawberries and for some reason, showing off some balloons in a sandwich bag?!
Picking strawberries with…yes, the balloons in her hand.
Solène did not hesitate to get stuck into the strawberries and got more on her top than in the punnets.
At a neighboring farm: the first time my city girls had ever encountered ducks or chickens this close up.
Finishing off the day at Riverhead beach before heading off to dinner.
What a striking lettering stencil and postage stamp stencil, Springtime in Paris, by Royal Design Studio and applied by artist Gina Wolfum of Elegant Finishes by Gina. Not only does Royal Design have a wonderful and extensive range for children’s rooms and every other room in the house, but also the tools to make it all happen!
And you can use these walls stencils for other things: Suzonne Stirling handcrafted these using Royal Design Studio’s Skylar’s Lace stencil and Lumi Co. Inkodye for Family Circle magazine – here’s the complete DIY.
What exquisite creations from Ayame Kikuchi. These beautifully illustrated bird cards open up for you to write your message… and then the kids can play with them! They are so perfectly crafted and each and every bird is cut and folded by Ayame herself. Available here.
Rained-out tea party in New Orleans
It’s no secret that I love afternoon tea, especially on a lovely Friday afternoon! And in my quest to find a really perfect tea party set for my girls, I was inspired to do this post as an homage to The Tea Party and the classic Afternoon Tea!
I would love to take the girls one day to the Fashion High Tea at Hôtel Le Bristol in Paris. The tradition began in 2005 and since then it’s seen designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Chloé and Celine present their collections to guests at the elegant Le Bristol bar.
I can also hardly wait to take the girls to the Plaza Hotel for the Eloise afternoon tea…that’s a bit closer to us than Paris!
I am so taken with this Alice in Wonderland shoot by Annie Liebovitz for Vogue from 2009 – many top designers dressed Natalia Vodianova in their version of Alice. Ensemble above by Christian Lacroix (pictured right)
Tutu Tea Party – Via
What a charming beach tea party. Via
Some priceless vintage tea party photos -via
I have my eye on this Beatrix Potter Tea Set by Reutter Porcelain
I love Pinterest. I mean, I really. love. Pinterest! In fact, I feel like I’ve been on a mini-vacation after trolling that beautiful site. In case you want to see what I’ve been up to over there, you can check out my lovely Pinterest boards right here and maybe even follow me to keep track of my meanderings. I have categories like:
and just because…Things I Love Today, and many more.
And I’m so excited to present a little taste of my boards, with my very first slideshow. Tell me what you think.
I am completely enchanted by the flights of fancy that Oda takes and the way the designers, Angie Kim, Mandalyn Begay, and Maggie Kim, bring the fantasy of dress-ups into clothes the girls can wear every day. I love the handmade embellishments of their signature style tinged in Edwardian tradition and incorporating a Tokyo-pop flavor. The current collection is inspired by Native American and Korean traditional costume. Oda achieves all this using socially and environmentally sound materials, such as organic cottons, hemps and wools – and colors are hand-dyed or tea-stained. Details are eco-mindful as well; feathers are collected locally from molting chickens and buttons are made from found antlers and bamboo. Oda of San Francisco make clothes not only for kids but women and men too and I have included one of their romantic dresses for women below! Available in their Etsy store.
We finally finished our Paper Mosaic Collage! If you are wondering what to do with all those bits of painted paper that pile up, this is a great idea to use them up. Oona did the initial drawing and I added to it a bit and she was also my cutting assistant. It was not difficult at all and a lot of fun…just time-consuming, but we worked on it a little at a time. If you want to make one too, here’s how:
1. Do your simple line drawing of the design on the paper in marking pen.
2. Cut up the bits of one color of painted paper at a time and keep the different colors in separate sandwich bags for future use.
3. Using a glue stick, fill in one area at a time, pasting the bits of paper. It’s like coloring in with the paper bits.
That’s it. Have fun and do let me know if you attempt this. I would love to do a gallery of these so if you send me a photo of your finished Paper Mosaic, I will credit each creator!
Here are a couple more faves from New York Design Week, 2012: Alessandro Jordão’s Giant Lego Chair is one of his Lego creations as part an installation that was part of a group show called Fresh from Brasil, which featured selected works from talented Brazilian designers. I am always amazed at the stunning objects that continue to be made from the humble Lego block. You can catch a glimpse of some of his other Lego pieces on the wall.
And the Voors PicNYC Table is really quirky and original. No need to go to Central Park for that picnic with the kids when you can just eat at home. And only for New Yorkers: a one-time installation of grass comes with this table. Otherwise, there are other alternatives like white stones!
This week is NY Design Week 2012 so I will be bringing you a few of my fave picks here and there from all the shows. This first one is amazing and completely eco-friendly from company, Art of Board which makes these original tiles from broken skateboards. They also founded skateboard recycling initiative I Ride I Recycle. I had no idea that the multi-billion dollar skateboard industry is plagued by enormous waste with roughly 2 million broken skate decks going into landfills each year from skateshops alone (the 3,000 skateshops across the U.S. average about 50 broken decks a month). And the decks aren’t easy to recycle as the polyurethane-coated maple wood contains glues, pigments, and grip tape…so, lucky these guys are around to redeem them and create such beauty after the kids have had their fun!
Doesn’t everybody love the idea of an indoor swing? And I don’t just mean the kids. Here are some indoor winners that are just dying to be swung on! We do have a nice wooden kid swing that we hang in a doorway but these have me dreaming of putting one in our loft for all of us to play on!
If you are in New York and in the Chelsea art gallery area, this new installation by Ernesto Neto of his new, climbable sculptures, is really worth checking out. Unfortunately, I couldn’t let the girls in there to climb around, despite pleading from Oona, as this one is only for the older kids - ages 12 and up. The exhibition runs until May 25th at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.
Chair in Situ II, 2011
A Bedtime Story, 2011
Our latest in our Angle On Artists series is Paul Harmon, internationally exhibited artist and old friend of mine. As I mentioned in this post, we met in Paris when we were both living there – I was very drawn to his colorful and original stenciled style. Paul has a career spanning many decades and is so prolific, it was hard to narrow down the paintings for this post. So, I decided to show a couple recent ones (above) and a Tribute to Paris (below) and some of his lovely painted boxes.
Some info on Paul: In 1994, Paul had a major exhibition of his work at the invitation of Caen, France. Curated by Galerie Déprez-Bellorget of Paris, this one-man exhibition was the official art show of the D-Day 50th anniversary remembrances. He is also the recipient of many major international painting awards including the Prix de la Ville de Monaco and his painting Walking Man, from this exhibition/competition was chosen by Her Serene Highness, Princess Caroline of Monaco for her private collection. His work is featured in the Elmore Leonard Showtime movie “Pronto,” directed by Jim McBride, and starring Peter Falk, Glenne Headly, and James LeGros.
Collections include the Tennessee State Museum, the Tampa Museum of Art, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the Museum of the Principality of Monaco, and the city of Caen, France. He was chosen in 1981 to represent the U.S. in the Bienal de Arte, Medellin, Colombia, SA.
He also has come out recently with a beautifully curated book of his paintings from 1961 to present – see below.
Atget Paris, 1990
Le Jardin du Luxembourg III, 1990
Nature Morte aux Fleurs, 1990
Crossing Borders – a comprehensive survey of 526 selected paintings – available here