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Monthly Archives: December 2012

IMG_8777Istanbul is like an open book, an ancient tome, still waiting to be cracked open.  And the flourishing design culture is standing up even to the Hagia Sophia.  From the star-spangled runners to the fake eyelashes, an Istanbul hipster at the design cafe next to the 14th-century Galata Tower in Istanbul.

IMG_8768Anti-mall…the Grand Bazaar is a vast covered-market that encompasses more than 50 streets. Worth visiting for the leather, the excellent knock-off leather and piles of antiquities, like these.

IMG_8790Salt Galata, an exquisite research centre and archive dedicated to design and art… recently opened in a magisterial building that once housed the Ottoman Bank. This is how you enter.

IMG_8799Street food, Istanbul style.  Fresh cilantro, egg, tomato, cheese and salt on warm buns.  Served on a simple fold-up wooden table on a cobblestone street. Toronto has so much to learn.

IMG_8677Country breakfast at a sweet spot, Pell’s Cafe, owned by a financial young whiz turned cafe stylista. Located on the steep street of Bogazkesen Cad. No:68 in Beyoğlu, İstanbul.  A neighbourhood changing, slowly, from conservative ethos to one allowing designer chic boutiques and even the occasional liquor license.

IMG_8644Like many of the indie neighbourhoods in places like San Francisco, New York or Vancouver, Beyoglu is rich with eclectic artist houses, jewellery antiquities and family-run eateries.

IMG_8641and golden textures hanging in the air

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somebody’s version of garbage in Istanbul, and total treasure in my mind – even the cat is an aesthetic object.  Santa, if you’re listening, I’ll take one of each!

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Oscar Niemeyer rejected the square box. Instead, he honoured the curves of nature and the human body in his buildings in Brazil, France, Italy and the U.S. Here’s a blossom in his memory…dropped from the massive Hibiscus in front of Niemeyer’s studio in Rio overlooking Copacabana Beach.

203_oscarniemeyer_lehavreLifting off: Niemeyer’s joyous curves at Maison de la culture du Havre, France. P. Michel Moch

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Headquarters of the Communist Party, Paris, France.  Niemeyer was a life-long Communist who apparently waived his design fees to create this building with its sci-fi, ethereal interiors.

 IMG03598Inside the rain forest outside of Rio, Niemeyer’s house (1953) is part shelter, part sensuous sculpture.

 IMG03603At poolside, a sculpture by Alfredo Ceschiatti.  The female form inspired Niemeyer throughout his life. Obviously! When Frank Gehry visited him at his studio in Rio, Niemeyer showed him a series of pictures on his desk of beautiful women on the Rio beach…”one of her back, the next one of her stomach, the next one of her back, the next one on her stomach.”

IMG03587What every home should have: Bookshelves rolling around a curved wall.

IMG03585Niemeyer and I in his house…sadly, I had to leave Rio before his secretary returned my email confirming our meeting. Goodbye Oscar.  Boa Noite.