EL City Barometer

Experienced globetrotters – for business or pleasure – make up a large part of the  esensualliving.com community. Donning its concierge cap, esensualliving.com each month profiles a city through the eyes – or address book – of a local notable, from Louisa Guinness’s Dublin to Ennio Capasa’s Milan. Bon voyage! 

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Alda Fendi's Rome

"A life without time, without hours or obligations; always on the cusp of a surprise."  

 

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André Fu’s Hong Kong

"Hong Kong never fails to reinvent itself on a daily basis."

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Francesca Mill’s London

"There’s an enormous creative energy here, which manifests itself in fashion, music and art. It’s the fact that it’s all out there, and even if you’re short of time, then a quick window shop as you’re on the way to a meeting lifts the soul!"

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Combining a love of rare objects with an immense passion for home textiles, interior designer Francesca Mills is often branded a sensual minimalist. Having trained as a sculptor with the eccentric Barry Flanagan, known for his exuberant and quirky statues of bronze hares, Mills’s unusual sense of rustic chic has made her a favourite among the hip London crowd. A true Londoner, Mills thrives on the creative energy and dizzying cultural offering that exists in the British capital. Sadler’s Wells and the Royal Academy of Art’s Summer Exhibition are on her hit list, but when it comes to down time, she loves to relax in the Chelsea Physic Garden, one of London’s best-kept secrets. “It is a hidden away, huge-walled garden that was founded in the 1600s as a place for apprentices to study the medicinal qualities of plants. A peaceful and contemplative place to be.” In this month's City Barometer, Francesca leads us through her favourite London haunts, including its star markets and shops, and shows us how London maintains its status as the capital of trends with an energy and gravitas that other cities can only dream of.

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Liza Soughayar’s Beirut

"There is something special about Beirut that will touch you."

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Insane traffic and immense chaos create a whirlwind tempo of city life in the Lebanese capital, whilst civil war aftermath and resistance drive a life philosophy of living in the moment. Today’s buildings are layered over ancient sites and ruins from the Ottoman Empire. Vibrant street art, a beautiful light and the captivating blue Mediterranean Sea colour the city’s horizon. With an invigorating nightlife, food scene, culture and unique vibe, Beirut is a city of strong cosmopolitan contrasts and mysterious impressions.

In this fourth edition of the City Barometer we turn to local Lebanese insider Liza Soughayar to unlock the secrets and mysteries of the Lebanese capital. Passionate about local traditions, food and design, Liza brings her contemporary approach to traditional Lebanese cuisine at her restaurant, Liza, based in the second arrondissement of Paris. “We must adjust to the whirlwind tempo of the city. Despite the war, the joie de vivre of the people is contagious, along with the frenzied pace of street life it makes this city alive around the clock,” says Liza who here takes us through the invigorating streets of Beirut and shares her insights into the place she calls ‘just crazy’, ‘just amazing’… a place she will always call home. “On the surface,” she says, “Beirut is not so aesthetically appealing but when you take a deeper look you can’t help being seduced by its charm.”

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Pierre Yovanovitch’s Paris

“Paris stands out because the city remains a modern city, active and overflowing with energy whose roots date far back in time. Another thing that makes Paris unique… you are constantly immersed in aesthetics.”

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Susanne Rützou’s Copenhagen
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Taking our cues from Scandinavia, design, craft and lifestyle are high on our radar this month. With its inviting candlelit cafes, trend-setting street style, vibrant districts, designer boutiques, museums and ultra modern restaurants, we thought it the perfect time to travel to the Nordic capital of Copenhagen to launch our first edition of City Barometer.

To get a true sense of the city’s character, we met up with local tastemaker, designer and mother of two, Susanne Rützou, founder of the eponymous Danish fashion label. “Copenhagen is a lovely place for tourists, especially if you like walking. Its relatively small size makes it effortless to wander through the town and experience the ambiance of the different areas,” says Rützou over coffee in her apartment in the city’s Østerbro district. “The cultural level is high with many exhibitions and music venues of international standard, and for some reason there is an incredibly dense concentration of ambitious restaurants.” Here, she shares a sprinkling of her favourite Copenhagen addresses.

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Sally Mackereth’s Norwich

Sally Mackereth is one of London’s most inspired and sought-after architects, as well as a brilliant furniture and jewellery designer. An award-winning architect working in a private practice for over 18 years, Sally’s innate talent is her perfect and acute understanding of space, whether retail or high-end residential, down to the most minute detail.

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Her new studio, Studio Mackereth, is a collective of architects and designers that aims to expand the parameters, specialising in luxury retail and commercial and high-end residential projects around the world.

When she is not working or travelling, Sally, along with her husband and children, retreats to the family’s country abode – a converted lighthouse that was built in 1790 – near Norwich in Norfolk. Passionate about the countryside and the wild coastline, Sally is this month’s City Barometer guide, introducing us to the ancient town of Norwich, which dates back to Roman times. Brimming with heritage, meandering cobbled streets and Victorian arcades, today’s Norwich is a juxtaposition of past and present. How fortunate we are to view this bustling town and its environs through the discerning eyes of one of today’s most successful architects…

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Joseph Thimister’s Antwerp

Josephus Thimister is a true melting pot when it comes to cultural heritage. Born into a family of French, Belgian and Russian descent, he started out life in Maastricht in the Netherlands. An acclaimed fashion designer, illustrator and interior decorator, Josephus was elected by American Vogue’s powerful Editor In Chief, Anna Wintour, as one of the 21st century’s most directional fashion designers. A master of many crafts, Josephus continues to surprise, suggest and push his creative boundaries…

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His approach to creation takes root in his eclectic origins. His strong architectural vision and underlying sensuality act as a solid foundation when creating fashion collections and intriguing decors – an ideal creative soul to accompany Esensual Living’s universe. All Josephus’s creations possess a certain lightness and poetry – a subtle elegance and a singular expression. Josephus spent five years reviving the fashion house of Balenciaga, bringing the brand back to its pure and modernist vision. Later, he set up his eponymous fashion label in Paris and was eventually appointed head designer at Charles Jourdan. His unique approach to creation derives from his strong attachment to historical references. Josephus’s slightly surreal universe, where the splendours of the past mingle harmoniously with a contemporary energy, is nevertheless stamped with a great seal of modernity. Taking his cultural heritage and eclectic background into consideration, it is hardly a surprise, that he feels completely at home in the diverse and cosmopolitan city of Antwerp — home to the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts, from which Josephus graduated. The city counts numerous ancient districts and new neighbourhoods, docks, fine restaurants, secret nooks, galleries and boutiques. It is a bustle of creativity tinged with a tint of nostalgia. The Antwerp zoo remains another inspiration to Josephus, as animals play an important role in his interiors too. It is hard to imagine a better guide than Josephus to unveil the magic of Antwerp and to share with us, in our City Guide, his favourite haunts.

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Laura de Santillana’s Venice

Italy is one of the most romantic destinations for a perfect honeymoon. And the one Italian city that springs to mind when speaking of romantic destinations is undoubtedly Venice. With its winding canals, gondolas, breathtaking sights, picturesque squares, fabulous museums, charming cafes, fine food and beautiful hotels, Venice brings together culture, lifestyle and romance. 

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No place is more enticing for wandering hand in hand than this fairy tale city. We asked the globally recognised Venetian glass artist, Laura de Santillana, to share with us the places that are special to her. Unveiling many secrets of this magical city, de Laura’s guide is bound to contribute to making your honeymoon a truly memorable one…

 

Born in Venice, Laura attended the School of Visuals Arts in New York. She then worked as graphic designer at Vignelli Associates before returning to her hometown to start an active collaboration with Vetreria Venini & Co, founded by her grandfather Paolo Venini. During this period, Laura used ancient Murano glass techniques to create refined works focusing on the sculptural components of the material, collaborating with companies such as Rosenthal and Arcade. Born into a family deeply anchored in the intricate traditions of glassmaking, Laura soon developed her artistic identity through the creation of original works. She is today recognized as one of the most important contemporary artists within the glass discipline. She is also one of the few female artists in this field, as glass making in largely male dominated.

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Orsalia Parthenis’s Athens

With a nod to her heritage, Athens-based Orsalia Parthenis, the creative brains behind one of Greece’s most sought-after fashion labels, evokes the statuesque silhouettes of antiquity with her modern, sportif-chic creations, edged with a touch of bohemian flair. A family affair, it was Orsalia’s father, Dimitris Parthenis, who lay the foundations for the Parthenis brand, opening the label’s first store in Athens in 1970 followed by a second boutique in Mykonos in 1978, which opened the brand up to the international scene. Several flagships later, Orsalia took over the reins in 1996, heading up the collection which today spans elegant-yet-easy streetwear, sophisticated evening dresses and dream bridal gowns.

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A true Athenian, the sophisticated beauty relishes the chaotic, ebullient vibe of the sun-baked city where the past meets the present at every crossroad. Her home – based in a 1978 loft building renovated in 2012 by architects Stella Konstantinidis and Alexandra Stratou – is located “just outside of the whirlwind city tempo”, however, in the Ano Petralona neighbourhood. “I see my home as a comfortable minimalist haven topped with a roof garden with a view of the sea and Philopappou Hill,” she says. “I love it here because we are close to nature and the ancient sites are just around the corner. Great bars and restaurants make it easy and fun to go out at night.”

 

In this specially curated City Guide, Orsalia takes us through the streets of Athens, a fascinating and hectic city that requires a real insider to reveal its terrific cultural, gastronomic and nightlife scene. As a popular pit stop for visitors on their way to the Greek islands for a sunny summer break, it’s a city that takes a few days to get familiar with. But it’s well worth the effort. The place magically unfolds under its beautiful light and soft fragrant evenings, unveiling hidden treasures at every turn.

 

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